Bernardo Plantation

By: Claudia Hazlewood

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: July 15, 2016

Bernardo Plantation, one of the plantation homes of Jared E. Groce, was located on a high bluff on the Brazos River four miles south of the site of present Hempstead in Waller County. In 1822 Groce, the first large planter in Texas, built a rambling story-and-a-half house of cottonwood logs, hewn and counterhewn, at the site. When completed, it had four large rooms downstairs, two rooms and a hall upstairs, and a house-length gallery supported by polished walnut columns. The other plantation buildings included a kitchen, the doctor's house, Bachelor Hall for entertaining guests, a dairy, and quarters for the house slaves. Removed near a lake were quarters for the field slaves, an overseer's house, a kitchen and dining hall, and a day nursery for children of the field workers. Cotton was planted in 1822, and a gin was in operation in 1825.

About 1833 Groce divided his plantation property, and Bernardo fell to Leonard Waller Groce. Jared Groce, Sr., was back at Bernardo from March 31 to April 15, 1836, when the Texas army under Sam Houston camped near Groce's Ferry. A hospital was set up for the soldiers; all plantation facilities were at their disposal. Bernardo was filled with refugees of the Runaway Scrape. There the women made sandbags for the army, and Groce melted his lead pipes for bullets. On April 12 the Twin Sisters were unloaded and placed in front of Bernardo. The army crossed the river on the Yellow Stone on April 12–14.

Jared E. Groce died in Grimes County on November 20, 1836, and was buried at Bernardo. Leonard Groce lived at Bernardo from 1833 until 1853, when he moved his family to a new home at Liendo Plantation, although he continued to own and plant Bernardo until his death in 1873. Several of his relatives occupied the house in the years following his move to Liendo. A son, William Wharton Groce, tore the log house down in 1865 in order to build a new home a few miles from Bernardo. After Leonard Waller Groce's death in 1873, another son, Dr. Leonard Waller Groce, bought Bernardo from other heirs and constructed a frame dwelling. He later sold the plantation, which subsequently had a number of owners. A historical marker at a rest area on U. S. Highway 290 three miles east of Hempstead commemorates the Groce family plantations.

Abigail Curlee, "History of a Texas Slave Plantation," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 26 (October 1922). Laura Hale, The Groces and Whartons in the Early History of Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1942). Mary Groce Mackey, "The Groce Family of Texas," Frontier Times, October 1948. Waller County Historical Survey Committee, A History of Waller County, Texas (Waco: Texian Press, 1973). Frank E. White, History of the Territory that Now Constitutes Waller County, Texas, from 1821 to 1884 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1936).

  • Agriculture
  • Plantations
  • Architecture
  • Houses, Mansions, and Plantations
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Claudia Hazlewood, “Bernardo Plantation,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 07, 2022,

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July 15, 2016