KERR COUNTY, Texas – They say they bear no resemblance to the Republic of Texas group that staged a West Texas standoff and kidnapping that ended in murder in 1997, but members of the group are still around in the Hill Country.
Among the people who live in the Hill Country, north of San Antonio, is John Jarnecke, president of the Republic of Texas.
“We just co-exist until we can get our independence back,” Jarnecke said.
Jarnecke and his followers believe that Texas never legally became part of the U.S. and remains a separate nation. They have elected leaders, have their own flag and even their own currency. They maintain a cordial relationship with the sheriff in Kerr County.
"I've never had any aggressive-type contacts. They've always been very nice and polite,” said Rusty Hierholzer, Kerr County sheriff.
Hierholzer said he’s still concerned. He remembers the 1997 West Texas standoff.
"They can get extremely violent in their beliefs. They truly believe those things,” Hierholzer said. “We have not had any violence associated with them here.”
There is contract with the group. The evidence of that is the volumes of lawsuits filed against the county and the state. The sheriff said all the litigation the Republic of Texas files in court is costly and time-consuming. He calls it “paper terrorism.”
Jarnecke attributes the litigation to a small group of radicals in the republic ranks.
“There are others who say, “'Look, let’s run it up the hill and see how it goes,'” he said.
Jarnecke’s focus is to work toward independence. The group’s latest tactic is to take their case to what he calls “the international courts.”
“We’re going the international route. The same as the ballistic states,” Jarnecke said. “I have to follow their laws. Don’t like them.”