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La Grange

La Grange TX Real Estate

History of La Grange

La Grange was established near the site where La Bahía Road crossed the Colorado River. The first known European settler in the region was Aylett C. Buckner who settled near the Colorado River about 1819. In 1826, John Henry Moore built a twin blockhouse he called Moore’s Fort which area settlers came to depend on for shelter from Indian attacks.

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By 1831 a small community developed around Moore’s Fort and in 1837, the settlement of La Grange was platted. In 1838, the Congress of the Republic of Texas established Fayette County and area citizens voted to name La Grange as the county seat. The county had been named after the Marquis de Lafayette, and the county seat took its name from his chateau. A post office was established at La Grange in 1838, and that same year the Texas Congress passed a bill intended to place the capital of the Republic of Texas on a site contiguous with La Grange, but the bill was vetoed by Sam Houston.

La Grange grew as a trade center for the area’s developing plantation economy. Its first newspaper, the La Grange Intelligencer, began to publish in 1844, and in 1846 the La Grange Female Institute was established. The first Methodist and Presbyterian congregations in La Grange were organized in the 1840s. La Grange was incorporated in 1850, and by 1855 it had four major schools, including the La Grange Academy and the La Grange Male and Female Seminary and Boarding School.

Homes for Sale La Grange TX

German and Czech Settlers Pour Into Fayette County

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By the 1850’s, the word was out in central Europe that Fayette County was a Czech and German friendly region and increasing numbers of Germans and Czechs immigrated into the county. The first Lutheran service in La Grange was conducted in 1851, and in 1859 the Casino Association of La Grange opened the area’s first German Free School. In 1860 Heinrich Kreische, a German immigrant from Saxony, established in La Grange one of the state’s first commercial breweries.

La Grange Booms In Late 1890s

A three-story stone county courthouse was completed in 1891. By 1896 the city had electric service and a waterworks, as well as the opera house, two bridges, four schools, five churches, three banks, three gristmills and cotton gins, and three newspapers, including the Deutsche Zeitung, a German-language publication. By 1900 some 2,392 people lived in La Grange.

Chicken Ranch

La Grange received national attention during the late 1970s and early 1980s when the story of the Chicken Ranch was publicized through the Broadway production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and by the movie starring Dolly Parton and Bert Reynolds.

In 1905, Jessie Williams, (“Miss Jessie”) bought a small house along the banks of the Colorado River and opened a brothel maintaining a good relationship with local law enforcment and admitting politicians and lawmen. After receiving word of an imminent crusade against the red-light district, Williams sold her house and purchased 10 acres just outside the city limits of La Grange, and only two blocks from the Houston-Galveston highway.

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The brothel looked like a typical Texas farmhouse, with whitewashed siding and a few side buildings, which held the chickens. The entrance was located in the back of the house, and led to a house with fourteen rooms. No lights or signs indicated that the building housed a brothel.

During the Great Depression, Williams implemented the “poultry standard,” charging one chicken for each sexual act. The number of chickens at the brothel exploded, and soon the place became known as the Chicken Ranch. Williams supplemented her income by selling surplus chickens and eggs.

In the 50’s, the Chicken Ranch was highly successful employing sixteen prostitutes. On weekends there was often a line of men, mostly students or soldiers from nearby military bases, at the door.