At first glance, Comfort resembles a lot of quiet Hill Country towns. It has the standard Dairy Queen and a small main street with historic buildings and antiques shops. But Comfort, known as the start of the Texas Hill Country, seems to have a magic effect on the people who visit. You don't find the crowded sidewalks of Fredericksburg, Boerne, and Kerrville. Here time slows to a crawl, and the friendly faces of locals on High Street, the town's main thoroughfare, make you want to pull up a chair and stay a while.

The laid-back mentality mirrors the mindset of those who settled here in 1852 along the banks of the Cypress Creek. Unlike the austere German settlers of Fredericksburg, New Braunfels, and Boerne, Comfort was settled by Ernst Hermann Altgelt and a community of Germans known as the "Freethinkers," who fled political and religious oppression and lived a far less conservative life than did traditional Germans.

The community prospered in this new way of thinking until the outbreak of the Civil War. While most Texans were pledging their oath to the Confederacy, the Freethinkers swore loyalty to the Union army. Fearful of threats from Confederate loyalists, much of the community fled toward the Mexican border for protection. Those who didn't, or didn't make it, met their doom: on August 10, 1862, 36 men were slaughtered in the Battle of Nueces. Today Comfort is home to one of only six flags across the country that fly at half-mast year-round in remembrance of the Union patriots.

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