A Historical Column From The Fayette County Historical Commission and Fayette County Judge’s Office
History of Hermes Drug Store, La Grange – Part 1
By Elva Keilers
Christian Wilhelm August (William) Hermes was born in Altona, Duchy of Holstein, Germany in 1828. In April 1846, he emigrated to the U.S. via Galveston and traveled overland to Fredericksburg, encountering various devastating illnesses during his journey and early months there. He left in 1847, traveling back to Galveston and then on to Houston, encountering more illness and hardship along the way. He found employ as a clerk for Cornelius Ennis, a leading businessman in Houston. Wishing to study medicine, Hermes returned to Germany in 1851, where he entered a three-year medical course in Berlin.
After completion of his medical curriculum, Dr. Hermes was determined to return to opportunities in the New World; he sailed to Houston on the Neptune in 1854. In 1855, he made his way to La Grange in Fayette County. At that time, Robert Janssen owned a drug store there, which had burned. Janssen asked Hermes to take over the drug store business, which he opened in 1856. Also in 1856, Dr. Hermes legally denounced his German citizenship, as he had previously sworn his allegiance to the United States at the county court in the Fayette County Courthouse in 1850.
Busy with both his medical practice and drug store operation, Dr. Hermes purchased Lot 148 in Block 20 in La Grange, then owned by Charles and Sidonia Praetorius, at the corner of Main and Colorado on the northwest corner. This, then, was the first location of Hermes Drug Store.
Personal interest intervened for Dr. Hermes. He married Mary Schaefer of Fayette County on April 9, 1859. John Cabaniss, JP of Fayette County, performed the ceremony in the courthouse. Mary was 20 years of age at the time of her marriage; Dr. Hermes was 32. Mary was said to be the daughter of Charles F. Schaefer, an immigrant with family from Holstein; Mary had been born in Hanover, Germany in 1838.