On February 15, 1842, Henri Castro, an empresario of the Republic of Texas, received contracts for two grants of land on which he was to establish 600 families. One grant lay west of San Antonio; the other was along the Rio Grande between Camargo and La Sal del Rey. Castro recruited his colonists in France, particularly in Alsace. On September 1, 1844, he left San Antonio for his land grant beyond the Medina River with his first thirty-five colonists. On September 3 the group reached its destination and began building homes. On September 12 an election was held for two justices of the peace and a constable, and the name Castroville was adopted for the settlement. During the colony's first year 558 headrights were issued, and 485 families and 457 single men were introduced, for a total of 2,134 settlers. The colony suffered from Indian depredations, cholera, and the drought of 1848, but population increased sufficiently for the formation of Medina County in 1848. The present towns of Castroville, D'Hanis, Quihi, and Vandenburg were founded by the colonists.