OLPH celebrates beliefs, history and traditions

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Our Lady of Perpetual Help congregation is celebrating its 90th year of existence. It is a good example of a group of people who held on to their beliefs and held on to their culture and traditions. Sts. Peter and Paul Church, the oldest Catholic Church in New Braunfels, sent a request to the Motherhouse of the Holy Family in Holland asking for priests to work among the Spanish-speaking people in New Braunfels. In 1926, the church became a reality and still serves the community at 138 W. Austin Street

The idea of serving the needs of the Spanish-speaking people in the area began much earlier at Las Calera or The Lime at Dittlinger, four miles west of New Braunfels. In 1907, Hippolyt Dittlinger founded the Dittlinger Lime Company four miles west of New Braunfels. It is said that Mr. Dittlinger recruited workers from Mexico. Immigrant workers brought their families and immediately a settlement began close to The Lime.

Mr. Dittlinger provided housing and a school for the children in the vicinity. He also built a house for the Sisters of Divine Providence who had come to teach the children in that school. In 1926 space was provided in the school for a chapel. Worship services were held in a room partitioned off in the building, the same year that the Sister’s House was built. The Lime was sold in 1934 to the United States Gypsum Company, but the school continued until 1936 when it became a public school of the New Braunfels Independent School District.

The year 1926 was a very important year for the congregation of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and that is the reason for the celebration. It was this same year that the late Henry Moeller bequeathed a house on Austin St. in Comaltown to Archbishop J.J. Droassarts for the purpose of establishing a church for Spanish-speaking people. Emily Moeller also gave property on Austin St. adjoining the house.

The Archbishop appealed to the Holy Family Fathers in the Netherlands for missionaries to help organize a church. Four missionaries accepted the call in March of 1926.

Reverend Anthony Elsing, M.S.F. headed the group. Since there was no church building, the house given by Henry Moeller at 158 W. Austin St. was used as a temporary chapel and a rectory. A small church was built and Our Lady of Perpetual Help became the official name on December 5, 1926 with 40 families in the parish. Two years later a fire partially destroyed the interior of the chapel. The church was rebuilt and enlarged to accommodate a larger congregation, which had grown to 509 parishioners, plus living quarters for the sisters. A home next to the one given by Mr. Moeller was purchased and used as a new rectory with the old house being remodeled into a school. In 1931 a parish hall was built on the back of the property. Also in that year the parish purchased land for its own cemetery on Peace Avenue, taking the place of the Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery and the Hidalgo Cemetery for its parishioners.

In 1948, it became necessary to enlarge the school so a larger more modern structure was built. In the 1960s the parochial school was closed and most children entered the public schools. Nuns from Indiana took over the Catholic religious instruction of the children going to public school. This lead to a strong program for youth that is still active as the Catholic Youth Organization.

A beautiful structure was built in 1969 on the corner of Austin and Union Sts. In the 1980s a new Parish Hall, CCD Center and bazaar booths were constructed on the premises.

Many Spanish-speaking people lived on the western edge of New Braunfels due to the influx of industry in that area. Growth was inevitable and so became the necessity for a church in the area. Out at Dittlinger, the Sister’s House that had remained on the property of Servtex Material, was purchased by Mrs. Amalie Dittlinger Mengden of Houston in 1944. She was the daughter of Hippolyt Dittlinger and she donated the building to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in New Braunfels. The building was dismantled and the materials from this house became the beginning of the Holy Family Church which is now at 245 S. Hidalgo Ave. This church, as well as another church in Hunter, St. Johns Church, were both mission churches of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

The church is very active socially, bringing people together. Some of the original organizations live on and some were abandoned. These activities exemplify the strong love of family and friends that the Mexican culture is known for.

The love of music has always been important in the Catholic Church. Going back to early Europe, all denominations honored the great classics like Hendel’s Messiah or the Vivalde Requiem. Different denominations adopt their church music to their beliefs and culture. An example of that took place in 1978 when the Lady of Perpetual Help formed the Mariache Choir and then later the First Conjunto Choir when the Latin Mass was eliminated.

The Bazaars or Jamaicas is a time for fellowship when parishioners pool their talents for the betterment of church funds. A dance with a D.J. raises a large part of funds for improvements on the campus. The dance takes place inside the hall and the Bazaar is not outside as it used to be.

Another important occasion is Las Mananitas which is a tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe and her apparition to Juan Diego on the morning December 12th. The grotto called El Cerrito (the mountain) which was constructed on the grounds in 1940 is the site for the celebration of Las Mananitas. After singing Las Mananitas, the celebration is concluded with Mass. This practice has been conducted in many, many Catholic churches. Although this ceremony is no longer at church, many parishioners carry it out as a tradition in their family.

Las Posadas is the reenactment of Joseph’s and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem for the birth of Christ. This is concluded at midnight on December 24th. It is a tradition of “blessing of the home.”

In the early years, going back to Father Elsing’s time in New Braunfels, a tradition carried on for many years was Las Tamaladas. This tradition was made famous by the Guadalupanas preparing tamales from hand ground corn meal. Father Elsing would collect the corn from the farmers and the Guadalupanas would grind the corn into cornmeal and make tamales. From their sale of tamales, funds would be used to benefit children.

On the anniversary of its 90th year, Our Lady of Perpetual Help finds itself a congregation of diverse backgrounds. An early 7:30am Mass is still conducted for the Spanish-speaking parishioner but the two other morning services are in English. Winter Texans from all over have found the church to be a welcome home.

1937 photo of Iglesia Del Perpetuo Socorro

1937 photo of Iglesia Del Perpetuo Socorro

Posted in Around the Sophienburg, Sophienblog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on OLPH celebrates beliefs, history and traditions

Saengerbund lives on

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Dr. Rudolph Biesele, writer, historian, and expert on German culture, stated that when the immigrants traveled over the ocean towards Texas, they brought along with them an invisible passenger: Das Deutche Lied (the German song).

This invisible passenger accompanied the immigrants across rough seas and on the dreary trek inland from the coast. It established itself on the beautiful banks of the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers. The love of music answered a need for expression of emotions and this love manifested itself in song. When the immigrants came to Texas, they sang at home, in church, at social events, morning, noon and night. A good voice brought honor to the one who had it.

Das Deutche Lied was born in the old country, Germany. All over the world people are familiar with German classical musicians, even by their last name only. Names like Bach, Handel, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wagner, Mozart, and Strauss are familiar to everyone.

Even before classical music, the forerunner of German music was dominated by Minnesingers, aristocrats who traveled and sang from court to court. A monk named Hermann combined folk music from the Alpine region. These Minnesingers were replaced by middle class Meistersingers who were usually craftsmen who had their profession but sang as entertainers.

Immigrant children learned folk songs in Germany and then early schools and teachers passed those songs on to children here. Over one hundred years later they were still singing the same songs, many of which recent Germans from Germany had never heard. Classics were for those who were taught instruments like piano and violin. Over the years many programs for children like German singing, and folk dancing have helped keep some of these songs alive.

Hermann Seele in his “Assembled Writings” told the story about when the site of New Braunfels had just been established, settlers shared with each other all they possessed. An organized group of young men for the protection of the colony marched through the streets singing into the night. Seele said a piano had been installed in the Zinkenburg. The “young unmarried men assembled in jolly fellowship.” Seele’s description of the place and activity makes me wonder if his description was of the Lustige Strumpf. (See Sophienburg Column: May 31, 2011) Where did the piano come from? I read that the Kleberg family had a piano in the 1830s near Nassau Farm but it is unlikely that this was the piano that Seele referred to. Hauling a piano from the coast all the way inland and across the Guadalupe would be too good a story to ignore.

Seele goes on to say that the immigrants had strung a cable across the flooding Guadalupe River and made a boat out of the bed of an oxen wagon to bring provisions over the river. A humorous story related to singing goes like this:

One day a barrel of wine was being hauled across the Guadalupe up a stone embankment. The barrel sprung a leak and the men used hats or pots and pans to catch and drink the wine until “their jubilation rose above the rush of the waters, singing the song put to verse by Prince Carl and set to music by Captain Alexis Bauer.” The song was “Durch der Weltmeers Wogen,” meaning “Through the Ocean Waves.” If that same incident happened today, the song probably would be “Roll Out the Barrel.”

It was only natural and inevitable that Der Lied would perpetuate itself by organizing into Vereine (clubs) A group of singers got together on March 2, 1850, to form a Saengerund (singing club) in New Braunfels and they called themselves “Germania.” That first year the group performed at the July 4th celebration and again July 4th in 1851, 1852 and 1853. They were located on the banks of the Comal River in the area that would later become Camp Warnecke and now Schlitterbahn. All of those celebrations were opened by firing the two cannons that Prince Carl had made in Victoria.

In 1851, a dance platform was erected at the Zinkenburg. The Germania joined the Rifle Company and marched up Seguin Ave. to the Plaza. Songs were sung at the Plaza and at the rifle range. The proceeds from the celebration were used to purchase 200 bottles of wine to sell for 50 cents a bottle.

In 1852 there was a cholera epidemic in New Braunfels and two of the German singers died of the disease. The Germania participated in a concert given for the benefit of a fund to purchase a printing press. The purchase was the start of the Neu Braunfelser Zeitung.

The next year, 1853, saw the Germania locating at Seele’s farm called “Elisenruhe.” Elise was the woman who Seele wrote to asking her if she would join him in Texas. That didn’t happen. Elisenruhe means “Elise’s rest.” The farm was in the area on the west bank of the Guadalupe River just north above the Nacogdoches road crossing. Look at the photographs. The members cleared a round spot and stomped the clay soil and roofed it over with wagon tarpaulins. The club sold three bottles of French wine for $1.00. Music and singing lasted until the sun came up.

Aside from those July 4 celebrations, the Germania decided to hold a Song Fest, or Saengerfest in New Braunfels on October 15th ,16th and 17th, 1853. It was held in New Braunfels on the banks of the Guadalupe. Singing groups from San Antonio, Austin, and Sisterdale entertained the town and sang acapella.

The next year the second Saengerfest held in San Antonio almost turned into a political rally. A group from Sisterdale brought up resolutions demanding the abolishment of capital punishment, the forbidding of speculation in land values, and declaring slavery a monstrous social wrong and should be abolished in conformity with the Constitution of the United States which declared in emphatic terms that “all men are born free.” These issues were leading up to the Civil War.

Oscar Haas’ translation of H. Seele’s minutes of the singing club stated that from 1861 to 1867 during the Civil War, songs and music were replaced by sorrow and tears. The first post-war Saengerfest occurred in 1870 in San Antonio. From this time on, the singing emphasis changed by adding bands and orchestras and Saengerfests were becoming gigantic festivals. The small rural singing societies in the Hill Country withdrew from the state Saengerbund and founded their more conservative Westtexanischer Gebirg-Saengerbund. As a result, smaller groups formed whose primary purpose besides singing was sociability. The small individual societies were pushed to the background.

Change was taking place in society and German was becoming less popular in the United States. In New Braunfels there were several of those small singing groups established at the same time. The last group to form was the Gemischter Chor Harmonie in 1937, and by 1953 it had become one of the strongest mixed choirs in the region. This group lived on even as others in New Braunfels ceased to exist. The Gemischter Chor Harmonie was down to nine members in the early 2000s but a steady interest has made this group of around 40 singers still live on.

A love of singing and German Geműtlichkeit has held this group together while having fun and inadvertently preserving the German language and culture. One need not speak German to join. The only thing necessary is the love of music. If interested, contact Tommy Daum at 830-625-8937.

Painting by Iwonski of the Seele farm prior to the building of the Saengerhalle with the Seele home in the center.

Painting by Iwonski of the Seele farm prior to the building of the Saengerhalle with the Seele home in the center.

Circa 1930 photo of the Saengerhalle in disrepair.

Circa 1930 photo of the Saengerhalle in disrepair.

Ploetz painting of the Seele farm with the early Hermann Seele residence center and the Saengerhalle on the right.

Ploetz painting of the Seele farm with the early Hermann Seele residence center and the Saengerhalle on the right.

Iwonski painting of Germania, the first singing society in New Braunfels.

Iwonski painting of Germania, the first singing society in New Braunfels.

Posted in Around the Sophienburg, Sophienblog | Tagged | Comments Off on Saengerbund lives on

Groos home one of few remaining on Seguin Avenue from early New Braunfels

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

In the early days, when Seguin Ave. was considered the main street in New Braunfels, the first houses and businesses were constructed there. Possibly Seguin Ave. was so named because most people entered the town from guess where? Seguin. When the settlers first crossed the Guadalupe River in 1845, they traveled from Nacogdoches Road to Seguin Ave. and then on to the location where they would camp above the Comal Creek. Hermann Seele wrote about coming to the town on Seguin Ave. Early traveler and historian Friedrich Olmstead, commented that he found Seguin Ave. in New Braunfels three times wider than Broadway in New York.

Nicholas Zink, surveyor and engineer for the Adelsverein, set up our Main Plaza, and intersected it with Seguin Ave. and San Antonio St. By May of that first year of settlement in 1845, Zink had plotted the town lots and a drawing was held for each lot.
Let’s look at one of the old homes built on Seguin Ave. in 1870 or maybe as early as 1866. The house which still stands is located at 228 S. Seguin Ave. on lot #56 between the Faust Hotel and the Taco el Tapatio. This house has been the home or office of some very influential people and the house itself has received some very prestigious designations. In 1968 the Texas State Historical Survey Committee awarded a marker to this building. In 1999, it became a New Braunfels Historic Landmark and in the year 2000 the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The person responsible for having the house constructed was Carl Wilhelm August Groos, born in Prussia, Germany in 1830. He immigrated to Texas with his brothers and sisters and his widowed father in 1848. His two brothers, Friedrich and Gustav, became very important in his life. For two years Carl lived in Fayette County and then moved to Gillespie County where he lived with relatives.

In 1854 Carl joined his brothers Gustav and Friedrich in Eagle Pass. Brother, Friedrich had secured a contract in 1849 with the United States Government to send freight into Eagle Pass. He formed the F. Groos and Company.

During the Civil War in 1862 Carl was arrested by Confederate authorities and taken to San Antonio. A letter that had been addressed to him was found on the body of a Mexican killed near the border of Texas and Mexico. Carl was eventually released and returned to Eagle Pass. He then moved to Matamoros where the Groos Company had a branch office. The firm weathered the Civil War by freighting cotton to Mexico.

After the war, Carl moved to San Antonio where the F. Groos and Company was relocated. In 1870, Carl married Hulda Amalia Moreau. She was the daughter of Franz Moreau, who was a cotton broker in New Braunfels and a German consul. Shortly after their marriage, Carl had a home built on Seguin Ave. Family history notes that it was a wedding gift to Carl and Hulda. Hulda’s father, Franz Moreau lived at 190 S. Seguin Ave. His home was built in 1854 and is still standing and serves as an office complex. Between the Groos home and the Moreau home was a store that became known as Moreau and Groos. After the Civil War, the economy in New Braunfels was suffering but business was booming in San Antonio. In 1872, Carl and Hulda moved to San Antonio but kept the home at 228 S. Seguin Ave. for summer visits until 1879.

The history of the property goes like this: The first immigrant to draw lot #56 was George Kirchner. If Kirchner built some sort of house on that lot, it wouldn’t be surprising, because he could easily go to the German Protestant Church, where he was a member. Kirchner died very soon in 1846 and the administrator of Kirchner’s estate conveyed the lot to Jacob Winkler for $60. In 1857, Winkler sold the lot to August Forke who sold it in 1866 to Charles Bender and four years later it was sold to Carl Groos, the subject of this information.

When Carl bought lot # 56 on Seguin Avenue he also bought lot #72 directly behind this lot on Castell Ave. It is believed that he had the house built on lot # 56 in 1870. The adobe brick L shaped, Gothic Colonial house with its cypress floors was beautifully crafted. The front door contains ruby glass and the cement frame windows are of original rolled glass. In 1879 the house was sold to Groos’ sister, Emilie and her husband Johann Friedrick Giesecke, Mayor of New Braunfels. After that, Giesecke sold the house to Fritz Scholl who owned it until 1946, when it was purchased by Arlon and Faye Krueger. After Arlon Krueger’s death, the house ownership remained in the family and became home of the New Braunfels Art Center and then the business office of Ambassador Robert Krueger.

Here is more of the story that resulted in the transformation of F. Groos and Company to the Groos National Bank. Carl’s brother Friedrich, a graduate engineer and architect, had a United States Government contract which he procured in 1849 for sending freight into Eagle Pass. The freighting business was successful despite the danger operating in Indian Territory. Branch businesses were located in New Braunfels, San Antonio, and Matamoros, Mexico. Carl and Gustav joined Friedrich in a mercantile company in 1854. It was called F. Groos and Co. A primitive form of banking was necessary for the operation of a frontier store. Saved money was hidden in boxes, cotton bales, axels of wheels or just about any hiding place. This resulted in the brothers forming the Groos National Bank of San Antonio. This bank became a very successful financial institution in San Antonio. The banking business prospered so well that the freighting was discontinued. Carl became the first president of the firm and in 1879 built the first building in San Antonio devoted exclusively to banking at the corner of Commerce and Navarro.

What happened to the original builder of the house on Seguin Ave.? After Carl and his brothers became founding members of the Groos National Bank, Carl built a beautiful home in 1880 at 335 King William Street in the King William Historic District in San Antonio. He hired famous architect, Alfred Giles, to design the San Antonio home. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was eventually purchased by the San Antonio Council of the Girl Scouts of the USA who sold it to Charles Butt, founder of the grocery chain.

The King William Historic District, the state’s first historic district, was created in the late 1800s on the south bank of the San Antonio River. Prominent German merchants brought with them a distinct architectural style and created an elegant residential area of 25 blocks. For a real treat, log on to the King William Historic District and view these magnificent homes.

Carl Groos died in 1893 and is interred in San Antonio City Cemetery #1. His first home still remains on Seguin Ave. in New Braunfels, Texas.

The photo of unknown date is a stereoptican photograph of the Groos House on Seguin Ave.

The photo of unknown date is a stereoptican photograph of the Groos House on Seguin Ave.

Posted in Around the Sophienburg, Sophienblog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Groos home one of few remaining on Seguin Avenue from early New Braunfels

A football game to remember

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Believe me, I’m not a sports writer, but there is one high school football game that stands out like no other. Actually, it was in the fall of 1948. In a year’s time, the New Braunfels High School Unicorns had racked up the highest number of points in Texas Class A football. Undefeated, they were the first team of Unicorns to go to the State finals.

On a very bleak and frigid day, they disappointedly lost the state championship game. The game with Monahans was played in Odessa on December 25, 1948. Although Monahans was also undefeated, the general consensus was that the Unicorns would easily beat the Monahans Lobos. The Unicorns had sailed through their District, Regional, Quarterfinals, and Semifinals games. In District, the only team that gave the Unicorns any competition was their old nemesis, Seguin, with a one-point win.

Unicorn coach, “Weeping” Weldon Bynum, lost the coin toss as to where the state playoff game would be held. It would be in Odessa. This was something to weep about, considering the difference in weather between south Texas and Far West Texas.

The Unicorn team left by bus on December 24th, Christmas Eve, for San Angelo where the balmy weather allowed the team to work out in shorts and t-shirts. The next day, arriving in Odessa, the weather turned into a blue norther. In Far West Texas, when the norther comes down from Canada, there are no mountain ranges to stop it. Often this area of Far West Texas is the coldest spot in the United States.

Most of the boys were away from home for the first time in their lives and had a most unusual Christmas Eve in their small hotel room, while their opponents were celebrating as usual with their family and friends at home amidst a normal, friendly atmosphere.

Confidence was not lacking in the Unicorns. They had won 14 games, for a total point scored at 568 to opponent’s scored at 83. The Unicorns were the highest scoring football team in the entire state of Texas.

The road to the state championship went like this:

  • Unicorns 26, Alamo Heights 0
  • Unicorns 38, Fredericksburg 0
  • Unicorns 53, Brackenridge B 0
  • Unicorns 69, Jefferson B 0
  • Unicorns 69, Yoakum 0
  • Unicorns 56, Luling 0
  • Unicorns 40, Lockhart 0
  • Unicorns 34, Gonzales 13
  • Unicorns 66, San Marcos 6
  • Unicorns 7, Seguin 6

They were the District champions.

  • In Bi-District: Unicorns 27, Navasota 7
  • In Regional: Unicorns 19, Cameron 13
  • In Quarterfinals: Unicorns 23, Van 18
  • In Semi-Finals: Unicorns 41, Falfurrias 6
  • In State Finals: Unicorns 0, Monahans 14

With their point-scoring ability of 568, is it any wonder that the Unicorns were favored by almost all of the sports writers? And is it any wonder that the Unicorns became the nemesis of every team they played for years thereafter?

But the Monahans game was different. Being totally unprepared for this kind of weather, the Unicorns were clad in thin uniforms, no undershirts and one of the biggest handicaps was how this rain, snow and sleet affected hands and arms. The team members immediately complained of frozen hands and arms numb from the cold. It became impossible to throw, to pass and to catch the ball. One really wonders what the game would have been like had it not been for the weather.

An estimated 500 Unicorn fans plus the Unicorn Band traveled to the Bronco Stadium in Odessa, altitude 2,000, to hopefully see the Unicorns beat the Monahans Lobos who brought 9,000 fans. Radio announcer Herb Skoog told the story of fans who had traveled a long way suffering in the stands as they found their clothes frozen to the bleachers. The Unicorn band left by chartered busses on the night of Christmas Eve, December 24, and arrived in Odessa the next morning.

The final score in the agonizing game was Monahans 14, Unicorns 0, a first for the Unicorns. Statistics actually looked better for the Unicorns. “Fancy” Bindseil and running mate “Wild” Allen Pittman each had better yardage per carry than Monahans Lobo’s backs, Waldo Young and Roy Cathey.

When all was lost, Coach Bynum called out the entire team, and replaced them with the second string, a thoughtful play, to run the final two plays facing the second string against the champions.

Bynum’s coaching record in the 10 years he was in New Braunfels, compiled 86 wins, 18 losses and 4 ties, for a victory percentage of 80 percent. Unicorn coach, Jim Streety in 17 years as the New Braunfels coach from 1974 to 1990, had the greatest number of wins 149-45-2.

Unicorn fans numbered at 2,500 gave a rousing welcome home at the Plaza for their team and the Unicorn Banquet was the best ever. The Honors Banquet was at the Oasis Dinner Club. Honors for individuals were plentiful. Receiving All State honors were Jerome “Fancy” Bindseil and Harry “Rock” Pantermuehl, first team;”Red” Wersterfer, second team; and James Froelich and Stanley Reinshagen, honorable mention.

On the All Central Texas team were Rock Pantermuehl, Red Wersterfer, (also outstanding player of the year, and captain), Jerome Bindseil and Jack Elbel, as best blocking back. Coach Weldon Bynum was named outstanding Class A Coach of the Year in Central Texas.

All District 24 A named by the Austin American Statesman were Roger Reininger, Stanley Reinshagen, Rock Pantermuehl and Jerome Bindseil, first team; Oscar Cantu, C.C. Ford, James Schmid, second team; and Elwyn Stobaugh, Jack Elbel, honorable mention.

All District, All Star team selected by coaches were Roger Reininger, Stanley Reinshagen, Rock Pantermuehl, Red Wersterfer, Oscar Cantu, Jerome Bindseil, James Schmid, first team; James Froelich and CC Ford, second team; and Archie Heimer, Curley Villela, Gilbert Katt, Jack Elbel, Elwyn Stobaugh, honorable mention.

All South Texas Class A Iron Men were Red Wersterfer, Harry Pantermuehl, Stanley Reinshagen, Roger Reininger, and coach of the year Weldon Bynum.

Finally, the Class A-All Star, All State Team by sports writers were Rock Pantermuehl and Jerome Bindseil, first team; Red Wersterfer, second team; and Roger Reininger and Stanley Reinshagen, honorable mention.

This team was a tough act to follow; however, many of the underclassmen players on the 1948 team went on to be on the winning Unicorn team. The next year 1949 season went as far as quarter-finals before they were defeated by Mexia 26 and Unicorns 6.

Here is the list of the Unicorns of 1948: Richard Gregory, back; Clarence Schmid, back; James Schmid, back; Allen Pittman, back; Jerome Bindseil, back; Merlyn Murphy, back; Jack Elbel, back; Elwyn Stobaugh, back; Tom McCoy, guard; Gilbert Katt, guard; Harry Pantermuehl, guard; C.C. Ford, tackle; Wilford Ott, tackle; Charles Schriewer, end; Roger Reininger, end; Manuel Wilkinson, back; Oscar Cantu, guard; Curley Villela, tackle; Stanley Reinshagen, tackle; Herman Hitzfelder, guard; Louis Jonas, center; Arlon Jonas, back; Weldon Wersterfer, center; Harvey Pape, back; William Kneuper, back; Archie Heimer, end; James Willis, end; James Froelich, end; and John Jerome, end.

The 1948 New Braunfels Unicorn football team.

The 1948 New Braunfels Unicorn football team.

Posted in Sophienblog | Comments Off on A football game to remember

Agricultural Society of Fischer’s Store history sometimes violent

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Rural communities in Comal County outside of the City of New Braunfels formed mostly around land for farming and ranching. Stores, post offices and dance halls sprang up around these farming communities. Around Comal County roughly 30 of these small settlements developed. One of those communities was originally called Fischer’s Store. It was one of the largest and luckily it still exists because it wasn’t swallowed up by Canyon Lake.

One of the reasons for the success of this community was a social but cooperative organization called the Agricultural Society of Fischer’s Store organized in 1875. As you will see, as time goes by, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for this group.

Go back to 1853 when two brothers, Otto and Hermann Fischer emigrated from Germany to Texas and made their land claim. A few other families made their claims in this area in the late 1850s but up to that point, it had no name.

Due to the difficulty of clearing land for agriculture in the hill country, the Fischer brothers started their cattle ranching business. They encountered many hazards, such as Indians, wild weather, wolves, and rustlers. This was a time of open ranges (no fences) and the cattle roamed from the Pedernales to the San Antonio Rivers. During the Civil War, cattlemen had to have a pass to move from one county to another to retrieve lost cattle. Neighbors worked together to round up cattle to send on the trail drives to markets in Kansas. A trip to Kansas took about three months. Trail drives did not last very long due to these hazards.

On their ranch, the Fischer brothers not only raised cattle but also Merino sheep, a breed that was introduced by George Kendall. When fencing became possible, they were able to raise a better brand of cattle. At this same time, Hermann Fischer began a general store and the area became known as Fischer’s Store and finally, just Fischer. Hermann Fischer eventually became a successful mercantile business man and Otto became a successful rancher. This store is still standing at Fischer.

The Fischer Agricultural Society was formed to promote agriculture and animal husbandry and to acquaint families in the area through social activities, like dances. Dances were held outside or in someone’s home. A mixture of alcohol and the ability to carry a fire arm resulted in sometimes violent behavior at the dances. The first incident was an altercation between attendees in 1877 at which time a fiddle player was killed by a stray bullet. Can you just picture the scene? This caused the Agricultural Society to close down.

A few years later, the Society reorganized but in 1892 when a dance was held at the Andrea Kuhn place, a few miles from Fischer’s Store another shooting took place, resulting in the decision for the society to try and find a permanent home.

While Hermann Fischer was busy with the mercantile business, Otto Fischer had become a very successful rancher and he eventually owned over 2,000 acres. Otto’s interest in having an Agricultural Society is easy to understand. He gave a portion of his property to the Society to construct a permanent home which they did in 1897. A building for the dance hall would provide more security for Society activities. Society minutes before the last 1897 tragedy were not found and so the society’s minutes officially began in 1897 even though the Society was much older. A dance hall called Fischer Hall was built and still stands.

It is thought that members built the hall with some outside help. It is positive that most of the lumber was purchased at Henne Hardware in New Braunfels, as that name can be seen stamped on the inside boards. Like other dance halls in the county, this hall was built utilizing a lamination of pine and curved into arches, vaulting the ceiling. The wood for the arches was soaked in water and then bent in the form of an arch.

Immediately, activities and dances were held and in the first two years there was a July 4 Ball with Guenther’s Band providing the music, a costume Ball, an Easter Ball with the Bird’s Band, a Festival Ball and the Fischer Store Band performed.

Everything went well at the dances. Right? Wrong! In 1917, at a society dance a Comal County Sheriff’s deputy was shot by a man named George Burkhardt whom the deputy had suspected of robbing a watch in a recent burglary. Burkhardt had a gun in his boot, pulled it out and shot the deputy. Ironically and sadly, the deputy Alfred O. Fischer was the son of Otto Fischer.

Fast forward. The dance hall didn’t close but became the site of weddings, anniversaries, reunions, plays, school functions and masked balls. Best of all the hall became famous because it was the site of some famous western bands. Adolph Hofner started his career at Fischer Hall and Bob Wills who was named to the Music Hall of Fame in 1968, played there. His songs like “San Antonio Rose”, “Take Me Back to Tulsa”, and “Ida Red”, spilled out of the hall into Comal County.

In 1978, a Texas Crossover artist decided that Hollywood would use the hall in the movie, “Honeysuckle Rose, starring Willie Nelson. Although the scene in the hall was only a few minutes long, everyone enjoyed being entertained by Willie Nelson after shooting the pictures, where he sang for the crowds that had gathered.

In 1897, the Society built a nine-pin bowling alley adjacent to the Fischer Hall. The alley has expanded to four lanes and is still in use today. The dance hall is still used today also.

Bryan Weidner has done extensive research on the Fischer family and the Agricultural Society of Fischer’s Store. He is the son of the late Homuth Weidner and Thelma Fischer Weidner. He lives in the Fischer homestead in Fischer, where his grandfather Arnold B. Fischer lived and his mother, Thelma, grew up.

The Fischer Store Orchestra left to right, Herbert Weichmann (fiddle), Arnold B. Fischer(fiddle),Unknown(Clarinet), Hugo Wunderlich(Coronet or Trumpet), Unknown(Trombone), Waldemar O. Fischer(Bass Violin),Unknown(Fiddle) and Unknown( Baritone). Courtesy of the Arnold B. Fischer Collections.

The Fischer Store Orchestra left to right, Herbert Weichmann (fiddle), Arnold B. Fischer(fiddle),Unknown(Clarinet), Hugo Wunderlich(Coronet or Trumpet), Unknown(Trombone), Waldemar O. Fischer(Bass Violin),Unknown(Fiddle) and Unknown( Baritone). Courtesy of the Arnold B. Fischer Collections.

Posted in Around the Sophienburg, Sophienblog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Agricultural Society of Fischer’s Store history sometimes violent

New Braunfels Conservation Society gets windfall

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

A windfall of big proportions happened to the New Braunfels Conservation Society. They now own a piece of property that is known as the Arnold-Rauch-Brandt Homestead that goes back to the mid-1800s, located northwest from New Braunfels in an area known as Mission Valley. The house, barn and smokehouse are on a ten acre tract that Conservation Director Martha Rehler says “literally stood still in time.”

This historic piece of property shows how Gottlieb and Maria Arnold and their descendants lived and utilized everything possible in the way of materials available to construct buildings and make use of the land.

The year was 1846 when the widower Gottlieb Arnold and his three children first arrived in Texas from Germany. They were lured by the generous land policies of the state of Texas. After arriving in Galveston, he moved to Guadalupe County where in 1848 he married Maria Koch. In 1854, Gottlieb received a 160 acre Comal County land grant from the State of Texas. On this land, Gottlieb and Maria farmed and ranched and raised nine boys and one daughter. Land in the hill country was not suitable for large scale farming but small plots were cleared for gardens. Notice the photograph of Hulda Arnold Rauch, granddaughter of the Arnolds sitting next to a large pile of rocks that she cleared from her garden. There is still evidence of the rock piles presently.

The last child born to Gottlieb and his wife was Friedrich Arnold and he became the only occupant of the family after the death of his parents. His niece, Hulda Arnold married Albert Rauch and they had five children. Albert died and he left Hulda and the children without a place to live. Friedrich took in his niece and five children, Edna, Elvira, Hedwig, Almon and Agnes, and they lived on the ranch.

Time went on and eventually Agnes Rauch married Arno Brandt. They continued to live on the ranch in order to help Agnes’ mother and uncle. Agnes Brandt was the last descendant of Gottlieb and Maria Arnold to live in the home. Agnes died in 2010 and her family was able to furnish much information about how the family lived. The family said that the Producers Co-op was one of Agnes’ favorite places where she bought supplies for her productive garden. She set up the garden wherever the cows had last been. The gardens were restricted by rock fences many of which are still on the property. The rock fences held in the livestock. Wells and cisterns provided water and there was no indoor plumbing. Electricity was added much later.

The New Braunfels Conservation Society received the property in March of 2015 after five years of negotiations. Members of the Conservation Society, along with their director Martha Rehler, spent countless hours cleaning, identifying and deciphering, hundreds of objects in the house. Those members who are responsible for the clean-up are Randee Micklewright, Luke Speckman, Marvin and Ann Gimbernardi, Pam Brandt, and George Holmans. The inside and outside of the house reflected what it was like to live in the 1800s.

Very little modernization had taken place. Electricity in the form of hanging lightbulbs was added recently. The full and intact limestone barn and smokehouse are in perfect condition. Rattlesnakes had inhabited the barn but soon felt unwelcome when cleaning began. A smokehouse was an absolute necessity in the 1800s due to the lack of refrigeration. Artifacts like old tools have been left there for years. There were molasses tubs and a hand-dug well.

The limestone home began as a one-room structure and eventually evolved from one room to six rooms. The front doors and porches face southeast to take advantage of prevailing breezes. Doors and windows appear to be original. The walls are from 10 inches to 2 feet deep and many are double walls filled with rubble acting as insulation. Window openings are larger on the inside than the outside, making a large window sill and allowing light to filter in. Many windows are original glass. Stenciling at the top of the walls is still visible and the floors are likely long-leaf pine.

There was no bathroom inside the home. With no toilet, one just took a toilet seat outside anywhere. For a shower, there is a spigot in the kitchen with a hose attached to it over a pan to catch water. The house is warmed with free-standing wood-burning stoves.

Inside the house there are dozens of deer horns and cases full of canning supplies. A light bulb hangs over the sewing machine. Christmas decorations, including artificial snow made from shaved asbestos, fill one wardrobe. There is a large collection of vintage clothing, material, feed sacks and hosiery from the mills in NB. Antique toys and trophies from the Comal County Fair are there.

Winding from the bottom floor to the attic are steps that lead you to massive amounts of artifacts and personal items that show the home life of the families. It became obvious that even if the items were no longer used, they were saved. The family kept everything in case it would be needed at a later time. Collections evolve from that philosophy. Books, magazines, material for sewing, old clothes, and a curious item that workers were contemplating: a football unassembled and wrapped up to reassemble at a later time? There are milk separators, sausage stuffers, ax handles, lye soap, deer heads and large 1860s pottery jugs made by the famous Wilson Pottery in Seguin.

As you might expect, canning jars and 14 boxes of powdered sugar waiting for the next canning season. Numerous Pabst Blue Ribbon and Grand Prize beer bottles and a powder puff box full of rattlesnake rattles were real finds. Mice and raccoons for several years have lived in the attic, leaving piles of evidence of their presence.

The Arnold-Rauch-Brandt Homestead is one of the few remaining properties showing German immigrant farm life in the Texas hill country. A mile off the main road, the Conservation Society hopes to make it a living example of early farm life open to the public. The property shows the resourcefulness of this family and the love of family, plants and animals. Conservation is applying for the homestead to be a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and hopes to share it with the public soon.

940s photo of Agnes Rauch Brandt and Hulda Arnold Rauch in front of the house.

1940s photo of Agnes Rauch Brandt and Hulda Arnold Rauch in front of the house.

Hulda clears her garden of rocks. Several of these piles of rocks are in the garden area.

Hulda clears her garden of rocks. Several of these piles of rocks are in the garden area.

Posted in Around the Sophienburg, Sophienblog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New Braunfels Conservation Society gets windfall