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Parks & Recreation

Memorial Square Park

Memorial Square Park

Location: 402 N DeLeon
Size: 1.20 acres
Classification: Historical Park
Date Acquired:
Purchase Price:

Park Description:
Aside from the fact the Memorial Square holds the dust of many old Victoria pioneers, it is hallowed for another reason,  Within its present bounds were laid the remains of many of the brave soldiers of the Texas Ware for Independence of 1836 and 1837.

In 1846, when Zachary Taylor's men were on the march to Mexico, they pitched camp at Victoria.  While in this vicinity a most terrible epidemic of cholera raged in the ranks of the army.  Men suffered and died in agony,  Their bodies were laid in the consecrated earth of Memorial Square, Victoria's oldest cemetery.

The Victoria City Council of 1854, being especially solicitous of the health of the township, provided in an authorized purchase from Mrs. Ryan, late McCrabb, a tract of land adjoining the Widow Harrison above - containing about twenty-seven acres, provided it can be obtained for $300, said land to be used for a graveyard.

People still clung to the old cemetery, and in many instances buried their dead there in preference to the newly purchased grounds.  Many of the Confederate soldiers who gave their lives in the War between the states were transported to Victoria to be given up to the cemetery.  Some of these veterans were sons of Victoria.  Others, however, were not residents of the township.

After the War between the States, when Victoria was placed under martial law, a Negro regiment of the Federal Army was quartered in Victoria.  Some of these Negroes took great delight in demolishing the monuments which had been placed to mark the graves of those buried in Memorial Square.  Incensed by this indignity and fearing that they would lose the graves, everyone who could, located the resting place of any of their family and had the remains removed to the "new" cemetery.

Numerous people, however, after the destruction wrought by the Federal soldiers, were unable to locate their dead.  Those unlocated had to be left in their unmarked graves.

In the course of time, as the ground became entirely leveled and completely carpeted with beautiful grass, the residents of the town deemed it proper to designate the square as a playground for the Victoria Public School children.  When, however, the school authorities made known their intentions of building the present Mitchell School on the square, an injunction was placed against them and it was approved that the square had been designated only as a playground and that the erection of any building on the site would be a violation of the letter of the law and the spirit of the gift.  The board of trustees for Victoria then turned the property back over to the town.  It was then given to the custody of the newly organized Memorial Association for the Preservation of Historic Landmarks, hence the name "Memorial Square."

Also on the location is the Old Dutch Wind Mill.  The two grinding stones were brought from Germany, through Indianola to Goliad before 1860 by the Rudolph Witte family.  Later Louis Albrecht moved the mill to Coleto Creek near Raisin.  In 1870 Fred Meiss, Sr., bought the mill and installed the original stones in the present mill which he built at Spring Creek.  In 1935 the Meiss grandchildren deeded the mill to the morning Study Club to be moved to the present site.

The old steam locomotive on site is the Southern Pacific's "Old No. 771" which made its last run right onto Memorial Square in 1957.  The engine was a gift to City of Victoria by Southern Pacific as "an emblem of the friendly spirit between the people of Victoria and Southern Pacific."  The locomotive was built in 1913 by Baldwin Locomotive Works.  The old steam engine was partially restored in 1987.