VATTMAN, TEXAS. Vattman is at the intersection of Farm roads 626 and 772, sixteen miles southeast of Kingsville in Kleberg County. In 1907 Theodore F. Koch, a land developer from Minnesota, purchased a large tract of land from the King Ranch. Shortly after acquiring the land he established the town of Riviera on the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway, five miles southwest of the site of Vattman. The Koch Land Company ran trains once or twice a month to Riviera carrying persons who were shown the land and encouraged to buy it. In his search for prospective buyers, Koch approached Father Edward J. Vattmann, the secretary of the Catholic Colonization Society of America, to try to interest him in sending Catholic families to the Riviera community. A committee of the Catholic organization visited Koch's land and was impressed with the Riviera area. As a result the society began encouraging Catholic families to move there. The first German Catholic family came from Westphalia, Texas, and purchased land. Edward J. May came in 1908 and bought forty acres. Then several German-American Catholic families from Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio came. Among these were Jacob and Edward Hubert and Leonard L. Huff. In 1909 the Koch Land Company and the Catholic Colonization Society constructed a frame building as a place of worship. Following the 1916 hurricane the citizens built Our Lady of Consolation Church and a parish school. The social life of inhabitants centered mainly around the church and school. The settlers named the community Vattmannville (later shortened to Vattmann) after Father Vattmann, who accompanied them to the site. A one-room public school that offered classes through the eighth grade was constructed and was expanded from time to time to accommodate the growing number of children. In 1948 the public school was consolidated with the Riviera school. In the early days vegetable growing and dairying were the main industries of the people living around Vattmannville. During the 1920s May supplemented his farming income by operating a store. Annually, on Thanksgiving Day, the members of the church serve a dinner prepared by the women of the community, and people from all over the area come to celebrate. Except for one year during World War II, this event has occurred every year. By 1989 it attracted about 2,000 people. From 1939 to 1948 the population of Vattman was estimated at twenty. In 1989 it was fifteen. The population reached 125 by 2000.
Sterling Bass, History of Kleberg County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1931). Leah H. Crocker, Riviera (MS, Riviera Historical Museum, Riviera, Texas). Kleberg County Historical Commission, Kleberg County, Texas (Austin: Hart Graphics, 1979). Theodore F. Koch Collection, Riviera Historical Museum, Riviera, Texas. Frances Marie Schroeder, Theodore F. Koch and the Founding of Riviera (M.S. thesis, Texas A&I University, 1975).