In 1887, the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad cut right through land owned by Henry Shiner, making way for a new wave of German and Czech settlers. A town sprung up around the railroad station, named for Mr. Shiner in 1890. In 1884, Mr. Shiner sold a home and land to Charles Welhausen, a native of Germany who’d become a prominent rancher and banker in Fayette and Lavaca counties. Today, the land is still in the Welhausen family, and Shiner’s Welhausen Park and Bandstand is the site for picnics, cattle roundups, baseball games, and other town events.
Other notable points of interest in Shiner include the 1891 Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church, comprised largely of German and Czech members, and the 1895 former Ehlers Cigar Factory—now home to the Chamber of Commerce — which made the “Becky Brown,” “Katy Lee” and “Good Company” brands. More local history is found at the Edwin Wolters Memorial Museum in a 1915 former residence. Displays include an old-time country store, antique guns, furniture, utensils and Shiner memorabilia. In the mood for entertainment? Catch dinner and a play at the Gaslight Theatre. It’s located in the revitalized Shiner Opera House, the town’s social center from 1895 until 1927 and a warehouse for decades afterward. Thanks to a local nun, her drama students and community support, the theater was reborn in 1975.
To meet their thirst for “the old country,” Shiner established a brewery in 1909 and hired Bavarian brewmaster Kosmos Spoetzl to make it authentic. His legacy survives in the Spoetzl Brewery name, and in handcrafted Shiner beer. The brewery is open weekdays for tours and tastings.