Ratcliffe, originally known as Five Mile, in south central DeWitt County, was established by German immigrants in the late 1840s and early 1850s. Most were college graduates. These scholars and professionals-teachers, lawyers, a naturalist, engineers, and chemists-who had fled the German revolutions of the 1840s, wound up in the vicinity of Five Mile Coleto Creek (now Fivemile Creek), where they became farmers. Their Lateiner community (see LATIN SETTLEMENTS) organized a singing society, Sunday afternoon socials, and, in 1860, a school, which was conducted originally in a building used for weekend dances and for Methodist services on Sunday. The private school was moved three times and finally called Ratcliffe School, probably after a local farm family, though old-timers persisted in calling it the Five Mile School. The community's first public school, also called Ratcliffe School, operated from 1872 until it was closed in 1954. Sometime before 1910 the Germans organized a Woodmen of the World lodge in a hall that also served as the community center. The prosperous community had two dairies, and the stock raised there included cattle and turkeys. Freighting from San Antonio to Indianola also contributed to the local economy. The community received telephone and rural mail service in 1907 and electricity by 1941. That year State Highway 29 (now U.S. Highway 183) from Cuero to Goliad was completed through the area. The 1948 county highway map shows a Ratcliffe School, a few scattered dwellings, and a church in the vicinity. In 1962 area homesteads were still owned by descendents. The 1983 county highway map shows a school at Ratcliffe on Farm Road 2718 eight miles east of Yorktown. The Five Mile homesite of Robert Justus Kleberg received a historical marker during the 1936 Texas Centennial.
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