“Tenax propositi” or “finish what you begin”

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Baron Otfried Hans von Meusebach (later John O. Meusebach) and Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels represented two philosophies and cultures of Germany in the early 1800s. Prince Carl was a feudalistic, aristocratic, ultraconservative wanting no change in the politics of Germany. It was a collection of feudal kingdoms. Prince Carl was chosen as the commissioner general of the Adelsverein, a group of aristocrats who formed an organization for the purpose of sending immigrants to Texas. Meusebach was the second commissioner general. He was one of the young Germans that wanted the unification of the Germanic states. This would, of course, take away the rule by the individual aristocrats.

Prince Carl’s background was one of military schooling emphasizing the strict following of rules. His was raised as an aristocrat in a German state where the aristocracy made all the decisions for everyone.

John O. Meusebach, although from a family of aristocrats, his name after all was Baron Otfried Hans von Meusebach, grew up in a household of intellectuals. Students, university professors, artists, musicians, scientists, and philosophers were frequent visitors. The Grimm brothers, Alexander Humbolt, the poet Hoffmann von Fallersleben. were all part of a group of friends of Meusebach’s father. They were a group that could basically be called free-thinkers. The group believed in individual freedom, freedom for all, separation of church and state, and freedom from oppression. They were against military conscription. Fallersleben’s poem about Texas, although he had never been there, tells it all:

The world with its joys
Is a spring gone dry.
Without freedom, the fountainhead
Of virtue and of light. (Translated from German)

Upon their departure to Texas, Fallersleben wrote “The Star of Texas” as follows:

Off to Texas
Where the star in the blue field
Proclaimed a new world

Prince Carl and the members of the Adelsverein advertised land in the Republic of Texas. The Adelsverein hoped to establish a market for German goods. They envisioned a colony in Texas to be another German state. The idea of individual freedom was not at the top of the list.

But it took a certain type of person to immigrate to Texas. They had to give up everything back home and strike out into unknown territory. Prince Carl played a large part in organizing the immigration. Once he got here though, his aristocratic philosophy did not work. The military uniform did not help the immigrants farm. Lucky for them, many were farmers back in Germany.

Many Americans found Prince Carl comical with his mannerisms and his garb of the old military uniform, the hat with the rooster feathers and the sword hanging around his waist. Much has been written about how the prince had no admiration for the Americans and Texans. Mentally, put yourself in frontier Texas and imagine what Prince Carl would look like to you. He also had 20 soldiers dressed in the same manner.

Prince Carl stayed in Texas two months after the immigrants crossed the Guadalupe and right before he left NB, he raised an Austrian flag on the grounds of the Sophienburg Hill and shot off the cannon. Is that symbolic? At the same time, a group of immigrants went to the Main Plaza and raised the flag of the Republic of Texas. The “off with the old, on with the new” philosophy is pretty clear. Once the immigrants had a taste of their own destiny and freedom, there was no turning back.

When he arrived in Texas, Baron Otfried Hans von Meusebach dropped his old name, changed it to John O. Meusebach, thereby declaring his transition to a new way of life.

Let’s look back at the events leading up to Meusebach’s arrival. Meusebach had been lead to believe that the immigration project was extremely successful and that the finances were in good shape. He was to meet with Prince Carl who would show him the financial status of the project. Unfortunately, the prince did not meet Meusebach when he arrived in Galveston. Instead, D.H. Klaerner, agent for the Verein in Galveston met Meusebach and told him of the dire financial straits, about drafts and overdrafts coming into his office.

Klaerner said that with the five Bremen ships arriving in July, November and December, 1844, only 200 out of the 439 immigrants had actually survived and reached New Braunfels.

Meusebach was then determined to take the same route from Galveston as the immigrants, and all along the way to the settlement of New Braunfels, he was presented with bills from people who found out he represented the Adelsverein.

When he got to New Braunfels, he went to present himself to the prince only to be told by J. Jean von Coll, treasurer of the Adelsverein, that the prince had left to go back to Germany. When asked for an explanation of the finances, von Coll told Meusebach that the prince did not require a record of promissory notes and that no accounting was necessary until all funds were used up. Von Coll said that one big expense was the prince’s food. He required fresh meat provided three times a day. The colonists wrote home about this extravagance because in Germany meat was scarce.

Meusebach decided to overtake the prince who was in Galveston on his way to Germany. When Meusebach got there, he was greeted enthusiastically by the prince because the creditors of the Verein had detained him because of debt. Meusebach on his own letter of credit, assumed the debt. He also supplied the prince with travel money. Prince Carl blamed von Coll for the financial woes. Meusebach wrote a letter to the Adelsverein telling about the financial situation and it was to be delivered by the prince to the Adelsverein. The letter was never delivered and Prince Carl never mentioned the financial situation to the Adelsverein upon returning to Germany.

Back at the colony, one of the first moves by Meusebach was to disassemble the military and change it to a work battalion. After this move, von Coll resigned.

After assessing the financial situation in New Braunfels, Meusebach requested funds from the Verein. He felt that his objective was still to strive towards colonization of the Fisher-Miller territory under the control of the Verein. He left for two months to scout the area and also to allow the financial situation to cool. Upon returning to New Braunfels, he found that the Verein had advanced a credit of $24,000, just enough to cover the debts. Meusebach also knew that there were over 4000 settlers already at the coast ready to move inland and there was no additional money.

Meusebach had Klaerner published an article in the Bremen newspaper concerning the dire circumstances of the colonization effort. The situation in Carlshafen had not been felt by the Verein and the article exposed the situation. Relief from the Verein came as an additional credit of $60,000. This unfortunately was received too late and in addition to severe weather, too many immigrants, war with Mexico, and epidemic diseases, tragedy was inevitable.

Stay tuned for the rest of the Meusebach story and note that the Meusebach family moto, Tenax Propositi or “Perseverance in Purpose” or as his mother would say, “finish what you begin,” was a personality trait inherent in John O. Meusebach.

Most of the information for this article was gathered from the book John O. Meusebach, German Colonizer in Texas written by his grand-daughter Irene Marschall King.

One last P.S.: Thank you, Prince Carl, for bringing your German culture to New Braunfels, and thank you, John O. Meusebach for helping us become Americans. The transition was often painful, but well worth it in the end.

John O. Meusebach and his tombstone at Cherry Spring near Fredericksburg.

John O. Meusebach and his tombstone at Cherry Spring near Fredericksburg.

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Summer camps on the Comal

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Growing up in New Braunfels, I was well acquainted with the name Giesecke. I knew the names of all the watering holes from early age on – Landa Park pool, Camp Ulbricht, City Park (later Cypress Bend Park), Camp Warnecke, and Camp Giesecke. Camp Giesecke across the street from Camp Warnecke (now Surfenberg) changed its name to “The Other Place” long after I plunged into the icy 71 degree Comal River.

The name Giesicke is not an easily pronounced name. Like most German names, the accent is on the first syllable and it sounds something like “Gee sick ee”. Later owners changed the name from Camp Giesecke to The Other Place because tourists were constantly asking if they were at Camp Warnecke. “No, this is the other place.” And that’s what it became.

Fredrick Ernst Giesecke was owner of the 60 acres on the Comal River. He was born in Latium, Texas, on a farm near Washington-on-the Brazos in 1869. He was the son of Capt. Julius Giesecke, Fourth Texas Confederate Cavalry, and his wife Wilhelmina Groos. After the Civil War, Capt. Giesecke moved his family to New Braunfels in 1873. He became the technical manager of the New Braunfels Woolen Mills. After this mill declared bankruptcy, Capt. Giesecke became one of the owners of the Neu Braunfelser Zeitung and their bookkeeper. The Sophienburg is the owner of the original desk made by Jahn furniture maker for Julius Giesecke. When he moved out of the mill, he took the desk with him to the Zeitung office.

The house in which Julius Giesicke’s family lived is still standing at 276 E. Coll St. on the Comal River. It was built in 1881. Growing up near the Comal probably had an effect on Julius’ son, Fredrick. He entered school in New Braunfels after the move from Latium and graduated from the NB Academy in 1882. Then he entered the German-American school in San Antonio.

Fredrick enrolled in Texas A & M College and received his first degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1890. Throughout his college years, he was head of his class and maintained the highest military rank at A & M. He won both the physics and mathematics medals. During his senior year at age 19, Fredrick began teaching at A&M and became head of the department. When Fredrick married Hulda Gruene in 1891, he designed their home of the campus. Hulda Gruene was the daughter of Ernst Gruene, Jr., a prominent family in New Braunfels.

In 1910 Fredrick and Hulda purchased a 60-acre piece of property that that had been the Reeh farm. The location of the land can be described more easily using today’s landmarks. Across the river from New Braunfels and across from the old Woolen Mill, the Comal River makes a bend towards the Guadalupe River forming a peninsula. The property went all the way to San Antonio Street on the northwest side. This area later became The Other Place and Camp Warnecke property. Camp Warnecke became part of Schlitterbahn, making up the 60 acres. The Gieseckes would use the property as a family summer retreat. Since both sets of grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Ernst Gruene, Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Julius Giesecke lived in New Braunfels, this would give the four children an opportunity to be with their grandparents.

At first, the only way to get to the town of NB from the Gieseke property was by a suspension foot bridge until a permanent bridge was located in the same spot at Garden St. The bridge still stands.

Professor Giesecke started a summer school on the 60 acres for A & M and UT students to prepare them for college entrance or for those with a deficiency. On the peninsula, the family and faculty lived in small cabins and Giesecke built his house on the tallest point on the peninsula. That house is the only one still standing and has never been flooded. It is on The Other Place property. The students stayed in tents on the river and helped in the construction of small cabins that were added gradually.

Some of you might remember the water wheel (gone with a flood) at the rapids area at Camp Warnecke. In the late 1800s, Harry Landa had created the first electric power plant. Electricity did not extend across the Comal River into the Gieseke property. Gus Tolle furnished the water wheel and his wheel was to furnish electric power for lights. Giesecke borrowed a motor and generator set from A & M College the first summer. The light produced from the waterwheel was unsatisfactory because the paddles were water-logged on one side and the wheel ran with a lope that caused the lights to dim and flare up with each revolution. The second year, Harry Landa had a power line run to the camp from his power plant at the entrance of Landa Park.

Drinking water was hauled from the headwaters of the Comal. Classes were held in the shade of the trees along the river where blackboards and seats were arranged according to the direction of the light. The A & M football squad trained there for two seasons under Coach Chas. Moran. (100th anniversary edition of the Neu Braunfelser Zeitung in 1952)

In 1912 Professor Giesecke left A& M College and accepted a position as head of the University of Texas, Austin, Dept. of Architecture. He wanted his three daughters to be educated there and also his son would be able to do graduate work. Aside from teaching at U.T. and running the summer school, Giesecke had time to study at the University of Illinois and receive his PhD.

Realizing that 60 acres was a lot of land, more than he needed, he sold all but four acres to Otto and Martha Warnecke, who developed the famous Camp Warnecke, home of the rapids. Eventually 103 cabins were built on this property plus a screened dance hall and a restaurant run by Martha Warnecke.

In 1927, Dr. Giesecke was back at A & M College and became the director of the Engineering Experimental Station. He was also a professor of architecture and appointed as the college architect. As architect he was responsible for designing over 15 buildings on campus, most of which are still standing.

When Dr. Giesecke died in 1935, his daughter Alma Hodges managed the property and moved from the Camp Giesecke home that had been turned into a motel, to the original Julius Giesecke home on E. Coll St. She managed Camp Giesecke until 1946 when the camp was sold to Dr. Stanley Woodward, Jack Krueger, and William Hovestadt. The new owners named the camp “The Other Place”. The present owner is Woodward’s daughter, Sarah Shea and her husband Barry.

As I have said many times before, “Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end.”

The water wheel on an early postcard of Warnecke’s.

The water wheel on an early postcard of Warnecke’s.

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Collecting, restoring, repurposing, categorizing, and identifying at the Sophienburg

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

What’s going on at the Hill? The Sophienburg Hill, that is. Busy, busy. There is constant change by collecting, restoring, repurposing, categorizing, identifying, and just about all of those “ing” words.

Probably the biggest change in the museum itself is the closing of the year-long Lindheimer exhibit and preparation for a new exhibit. The Ferdinand Lindheimer exhibit had a great response from garden clubs, school children, and other botanists. You know of course, that Lindheimer was called the “Father of Texas Botany.” Now over 1,000 third graders in the NBISD and CISD have been exposed to that fact.

The whole exhibit was under the direction of Keva Boardman, program director at the Sophienburg. All of those third graders not only came to visit the exhibit but they were given a deck of cards with Lindheimer’s picture on the pack and cards on the inside that had some pictures and stories that related to him or botany. This memorial souvenir was a gift from volunteers that believe in the project and I’m sure these cards will be shared with the child’s family. Records show that people visited the exhibit from all over Texas and several universities.

We’re sort of sorry to get rid of Lindheimer but we’ll just put him to sleep for a while. The next exhibit will definitely not put you to sleep. It’s called “Jump In” like the advertisement for the New Braunfels tourist trade so often used. Jump In is an exhibit of early bathing suits, particularly from around the 1920s, a time when bathing suits became a little more fashionable and less functional.

The exhibit is from the Sophienburg collection and many, many photographs of New Braunfels residents will be on display. You will know many of these bathing beauties. The purpose of the exhibit is to show changes in styles and really show how important swimming was and is in New Braunfels on the Comal and the Guadalupe. Watch for a June opening of the exhibit.

Another change in the museum is the merchandise in Sophie’s Shop which is a very popular stop for visitors. Sophie’s Shop has the largest collection of books about New Braunfels, Comal County, and its people anywhere in town. After moving out the Christmas merchandise, springtime predominates. There are many gift items for very young children and babies. Don’t forget the shirts proclaiming that “In Neu Braunfels ist das Leben Schon.”

Another year has passed and the Sophienburg is proud to announce the winner of the Myra Lee Adams Goff History Scholarship writing contest. This year’s talented writer is Marissa Young, a senior at New Braunfels High School. Her essay was chosen from about 40 entries. The rule for winning the $500 scholarship is to write a 500-word essay relating to anything about New Braunfels or Comal County history.

Marissa chose to write about her great-uncle, Nayo Zamora. She tells about his life and about his political involvement in the 1960s-80s dealing with the imbalance of racial composition in the New Braunfels schools. Marissa is very proud of the accomplishments of her great-uncle and I’m sure he would be proud of her. She is a real scholar and will begin her education in the field of medicine this fall.

You all know about the involvement of Prince Carl with Sophienburg Hill. It was his site of choice to build a fort to protect the settlers with his cannons. And it was in his mind to be the site of a castle for his fiancé still in Germany. On the Sophienburg Hill are historic buildings, some remodeled, and some repurposed. Because of this historic Sophienburg Hill significance to New Braunfels, the Sophienburg Museum and Archives Association has made the decision to pursue a Texas Historical Marker for this site. John and Cindy Coers with the Comal County Historical Commission are researching the history of all of the buildings on the property.

Originally on the hill property there was a log house and several small buildings used for Prince Carl’s headquarters. This building actually bit the dust in 1886 with the big hurricane that also destroyed Indianola. Pictures show that it was well on its way to falling down long before the hurricane.

In the late 1920s, the H. Dittlinger family made a trip to Germany and received a gift of a portrait of Prince Carl. The purpose of the gift was that it be hung in a museum in New Braunfels. Back in NB there was no museum so Mrs. Dittlinger volunteered to keep the portrait until a museum on Sophienburg Hill could become a reality.

A committee was formed to organize the Sophienburg Memorial Museum. Over the years, the hill property had been divided and sold several times and finally Mrs. Johanna Runge, the last owner, sold the property to the association for $5,025 to build a museum.

A rock building on the corner of Academy and Coll Sts. was built and completed in 1933. Eventually the Sophienburg Museum and Archives outgrew this building and then purchased the New Braunfels City Hall on Seguin St. The archives moved in the old city hall but the museum part remained in the rock building on the hill.

Another building that is on the hill property is the Emmie Seele Faust Library at the corner of Coll and Magazine Sts. This building is being nominated for historic designation by the Comal County Historic Commission and being researched by Wilfred and Marlena Schlather and Rosa Linda delaCerda.

In 1928 the New Braunfels Public Library Association was formed. Books were collected in the “small” Landa house on the plaza. The next move was to the Eiband property at 174 E. San Antonio St. In 1938, the Sophienburg Association donated land on Sophienburg Hill for the site of a public library. The library contents were moved into a small area of the 1933 Sophienburg Museum until the new library could be built.

Emmie Seele Faust donated over $7,000 to build the library on Sophienburg Hill that became the Emmie Seele Faust Memorial Library. It was the primary library in town until 1967, when the city built the Dittlinger Memorial Library on adjacent property. The library remained there until the city built the library on Common St. in 1999. The city then donated the Dittlinger Library building to the Sophienburg. It was remodeled and became the new home of the Sophienburg Museum and Archives. The original 1933 museum still stands on the Sophienburg Hill property and is now the home of the collections.

The old Emmie Seele Faust Library building was remodeled in 2001 to serve as a public meeting room.

Groups of people working together on projects are very important to the Sophienburg. For example, the collection ladies are always busy working on some project. A new group headed by Estella and Robert Farias are rounding up friends and researching Hispanic history in NB. Robert Morales uses the Microfiche to find information on old Hispanic history; John Serda is a Vietnam veteran obtaining military veteran’s information using the Sophienburg database; Elvira Villarreal is working on the Herald obituaries for Hispanic genealogy; and David Rutherford is researching the West End baseball teams.

The Sophienburg welcomes and could not exist without its volunteers. There’s always some collecting, restoring, repurposing, categorizing, and identifying to do.

Scholarship winner Marissa Young and Museum interim director Tara Kohlenberg

Scholarship winner Marissa Young and Museum interim director Tara Kohlenberg

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City-owned water works to provide affordable, clean water

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

The Comal Springs Conservation Center will begin its five phase project this summer. The 16-acre site was once Klingemann Springs and was the first water work property owned by the City of New Braunfels.

One of the necessities of human survival is availability of water and this need played an essential part in the choosing of the site of New Braunfels for a settlement. Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, commissioner general for the Adelsverein project, became aware that Las Fontanas or The Fountains (Comal Springs) were the biggest of the principal springs along the Balcones Escarpment. These springs had a daily flow of 196 million gallons.

Early settlers carried buckets of water from the springs of Comal Creek and the Comal River for their use. Hermann Seele tells of drawing water out of the river at the foot of San Antonio St. Another source of fresh water from a large spring was at the end of a path leading from Seguin Ave. to the Comal River. The path called “water alley” was located next to the Lindheimer home. The alley was included in the original plans set out for the city. This was one of the springs used primarily until the settlers dug their own wells for water.

With Julius Rennert as mayor of New Braunfels in 1857, the city council first began to investigate the possibility of acquiring a city-owned water works. Aldermen at the time were Julius Eggeling, Jacob Rose, Andreas Eikel, Dr. Wm. Remer, Ferdinand Dietz, Wm. Ludwig, Jacob Langkopf, and Christian Krause. By the way, Jacob Rose was my great-grandfather. A committee was appointed including six citizens to begin the investigation.

When the city council convened on Oct. 18, 1857, a preliminary report was given, but action was tabled. Oscar Haas speculated that this tabling was possibly due to a severe drought which had occurred in 1856 causing crop failures and high prices for food supplies.

Nothing was done about the water issue and in 1861 the Civil War began. Everything came to a standstill during the war, as the emphasis was on war issues. After the war more time could be spent on other problems. In 1880 with the advent of the railroad, people began moving back into town. Some who had moved away during the war, returned. An enterprising spirit entered the picture.

In 1885, the San Marcos Water Works Company made a proposition to the city council to construct a water works and this proposal spurred a renewed interest in looking into a city-owned water works. With Hermann Seele as chairman, the water works committee recommended that a pump be placed on the bank of the Comal River at the site of the New Braunfels Woolen Manufacturing Co. “This pump would be set going by the steam engine of the factory.” The water would be pumped out of the Comal River into a reservoir with a capacity of 700,000 gallons of water. The Woolen Manuf. Co. requested that for every 20,000 of water, the price paid be $1.50. Seven councilmen accepted this proposition and two voted against it. This vote was not acted on and eventually repealed.

Shortly thereafter the owners of the Torrey Manufacturing and Power Co. owned by William Clemens, Julius Runge and Leon Blum offered a new proposal to build the city water works. This proposal was accepted and a contract signed for 25 years. Mayor Giesecke accepted the proposal in the name of the city of New Braunfels.

The city then entered into contract with Gustav Gerlich to supervise the pumping of water and to lay pipes onto private properties. His contract was for six months and he was to be responsible for any faulty work after the construction was finished. A report of the council meeting states that the water works had been in operation with 51 consumer connections since August of 1888.

I asked Roger Biggers with NBU what the pipes were made out of at the very beginning. He said they were most likely made from cypress wood and he had seen one of the old wooden pipes while excavating downtown.

Volunteer fire-fighting companies began organizing due to the availability of water. They practiced regularly and insurance rates were reduced.

At a meeting of the city council on Nov. 5, 1906, based on an inspection of the Comal Head Springs on the Klingemann property, mayor C. A. Jahn told the council that filth had washed into the springs from nearby cattle feed pens and clogged up the springs. However, upon cleaning the area, the springs on the Klingemann place would furnish more water and be the best drinking water. He recommended that the city buy the springs and adjacent property. A committee was appointed to study the feasibility and reported that they did not recommend purchasing it.

Thus, the council decided to bring the issue to a city vote. On Dec. 18,1906, 116 voted to purchase the property and 112 against.

On Feb. 1st, 1907, Fritz Klingemann for $2,500 conveyed to the city of NB, a portion of the Klingemann homestead at the headwaters of the Comal River in Comaltown at the corner of what is now Klingemann and Lakeview.

By 1912 the springs were in full operation and two years later the Herald reported that the new water works system provided the purest water right from the springs and brought it into everybody’s kitchen. The spring water does much to eliminate disease.

In the early 1930s at the onset of the Great Depression, the textile industry was in decline. To provide employment, the city sought to clear out the underbrush and place a wall around the springs to control flow and prevent groundwater contamination. The city obtained assistance through to the Texas Rehabilitation and Relief Commission established under the Federal Emergency Relief Act.

In 1934 two concrete pools were also constructed on the property as part of a fish rearing pond lease. The ponds are gone but some of the 1930s structures are still present on the property as well as rock walls lining the original spring flow area.

By the end of 1936, the spring had also been capped and two drilled wells were in operation on the property. A third well was drilled in December, 1944.

The New Braunfels Utilities began in 1942 as an electric company. In 1959, the company took over the sewer and water systems and in 1960s NBU moved their operations to the water works site.

Although our water supply is no longer taken directly from the headwater springs, some of our water is still taken from the wells on the property. The New Braunfels Utilities still maintains the property and they have a great project to preserve the property and springs.

The Comal Springs Conservation Center project is being sponsored by the NBU aided by the New Braunfels Area Community Foundation. The five-phase project will take approximately five years to complete. From the project brochure: “In keeping with a longstanding commitment to the environment and to the community NBU plans to restore and develop this site into a multi-use facility which enhances the community’s relationship with nature. The development will be a teaching tool which honors the cultural and environmental history of the site and area while encouraging future stewardship of the environment, water and community.” This will include the restoration of the Comal Springs headwaters and transform the 16+ acres of asphalt into native landscape. There will be public facilities and use of historic structures to reconnect the community to its natural water and ecology.

New Braunfels and Comal County are very conservation conscious and this is another example of conservation and restoration.

Fritz and Emilie Karbach Klingemann

Fritz and Emilie Karbach Klingemann

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80th anniversary of Landa Park, a real celebration

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

The book, “Landa Park, Its Springs and Its People” by Rosemarie Leissner Gregory and Arlene Krueger Seales, is now available to pre-order. The New Braunfels Parks & Recreation Department and the Friends for the Preservation of Historic Landa Park, a non-profit organization, honor the 80th anniversary of the acquisition of Landa Park by presenting this 438 page book, including two companion volumes, “Native American Artifacts, Comal Springs” and “The Comal Springs, Landa Park.”

The book begins with the history of the area millions of years ago up to the present. In other words, everything you ever wanted to know about Landa Park. Artwork and thousands of color and historic photographs paint a picture of what the park was and is now.

It’s difficult to do justice to a book like this in a review, so I chose the last small section of the book that recalls personal recollections of the park by individuals and what meant the most to them. Over 75 people were asked those questions. If you have lived here awhile, you will relate to their recollections. If you’re not from here, you will be surprised at a lot of what you read.

In all of the stories, some subjects emerged over and over. I am assuming that these subjects were the most important to the individuals. It’s a little bit like being asked, “In one word, what did Landa Park mean to you?” Names are in the book, but only a few in this column.

Over and over, the spring-fed swimming pool came up as the most memorable spot. I recall that this pool was a byproduct of Meriwether’s damming up the lake and digging the channel. The area of the swimming pool was part of the old channel. Harry Landa later created the pool as part of his tourist business. It has been a meeting place for friends and the slanted grassy place next to the old bath house was always covered with sun bathers on towels. Participants recollected that once you learned how to swim, your parents would let you loose in the pool.

One name that will be mentioned here because it was repeated so often was lifeguard Tommy Ortiz. He meant more to swimming youth than even he can imagine. He taught hundreds of children to dive with his own diving ability. His encouraging personality inspired many young swimmers. Imagine this: Ortiz would allow children to climb on his back and he would then proceed to jump off the high diving board.

During the summer, swimming was a daily experience for city kids. The pool took the place of air conditioning that they didn’t have and with so much time in the pool, it became inevitable that children made up their own games. This was true in the spring-fed pool because it had two rafts and the game, “King of the Raft” with the winner being the last one remaining on top of the raft was invented. I remember this as a pretty tough game. The other game was “Rag Tag” where the winner was hiding under the raft so as to not be caught.

In later years, the name Bud Dallmann surfaced. Organizing the first Aquatic Club in the spring-fed pool, the club eventually moved mainly over to the Olympic Pool. He was a great inspiration to swimmers of all ages for many years.

Bucky Warwick Smith was remembered for her teaching of synchronized swimming and organizing the Miss Texas Pageant. This was a big event in New Braunfels and her synchronized swimmers put on a spectacular show in the spring-fed pool.

Water played an important part in collective Landa Park memories. Most remember swimming, wading, boating, fishing and even the drying up of the springs and Landa Lake in the 1954 drought.

Another word mentioned in the collection of memories was “dancing” and of course, dance floors. The wooden covered dance hall that was located between the Founder’s Oak Tree and the concrete dance slab was the foundation of many memories. Dancing stories, particularly during World War II told of entertaining soldiers stationed at San Antonio bases.

Several local bands were mentioned that played on the dance slab, particularly those that played for the public dances around the big oak tree. Some types of dances mentioned at the wooden dance hall were the Hokey Pokey, Mexican Hat Dance and Herr Schmidt. Who remembers the local band, “The Trackers” of the 60s entertaining the younger crowd?

By far the most single dance event mentioned was the Kindermaskenball. After the parade downtown, participants would stop at Bock Motor Company where, over the years, thousands of Coca Colas were given by Ben Bock to the thirsty paraders. Then they would walk on to Landa Park. Many remember the wooden dance hall being the location of dancing during the day and the dance slab being the location at night. The families would picnic and sometimes go home during the day. At night they would come back for the ever popular Grand March.

All sorts of celebrations were mentioned like July 4, birthday parties, and several New Braunfels anniversaries, especially the 1946 Centennial Celebration. Some remembered the 1926 Venetian Carnival on Landa Lake that they had heard of from their grandmothers.

New Braunfels has always been a sports-following town and so it was natural that many had in their memory bank the New Braunfels Tigers, a semi-pro team whose field was located where the Olympic Pool is now. Names like Dizzy Dean who was in the military at Ft. Sam Houston, pitched and became the most valuable player for 1934 in the pros. Also, spring training for the Minneapolis Millers took place in Landa Park.

Some bemoan the tearing down of old buildings like the bath house built by the WPA. The old meri-go-round and the spinning top in the spring-fed pool became too dangerous to keep. Many remember nature at its finest: the snowstorm, trees, and the glass-bottom boat on the lake. This column is a small smattering of the information that is in just one section of the 438 pages.

Many people were involved compiling this book, but all in all, the main writers and coordinators were Rosemarie Leissner Gregory and Arlene Krueger Seales. This is a collection of history and photographs well worth the price. Pre-ordering at a discount may be done now by calling 830-625-3186 between 2-5pm or using www.friendsforlandapark.org . When a book is ordered and paid for now, it will be ready to be picked up on Monday, May 2 at the Landa Haus at 360 Aquatic Circle in Landa Park between 2-7pm.

That same day books may be purchased at full price. Check the Friends for Landa Park web-site for more information.

1950s photo of Tommy Ortiz at the spring-fed pool.

1950s photo of Tommy Ortiz at the spring-fed pool.

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Sophienburg named for Princess Sophia

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

As far as New Braunfels history is concerned, the most important historic place is and always has been the Sophienburg Museum and Archives. This organization is now working on historic designations for the site of the Sophienburg Hill.

Here’s a thumbnail history of the place: In 1842 a group of German counts and princes met at Biebrich on the Rhine and formed the Adelsverein, or the Society for the Protection of German Immigration in Texas and later known as the German Emigration Company. Their purpose was to relieve over-population in Germany and establish a market for German goods. Besides, the newly established Republic of Texas was very generous in awarding land to immigrant agents.

A member of the Adelsverein, Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, was chosen as commissioner-general to go to Texas to buy land. He was born in 1812 near Braunfels in Hanover, Germany. He was definitely an aristocrat trained in the military. After several failed attempts at purchasing suitable land, he bought the Comal Tract from the Juan Veramendi heirs, sight unseen for $1,111. By this time, the emigration movement back in Germany was well on its way and the first emigrants from Germany had arrived on the Texas coast.

On March 21, 1845, Prince Carl and the first group of immigrants to Texas crossed the Guadalupe River. He helped the settlers set up their temporary location on the cliffs overlooking the Dry Comal Creek where the Sts. Peter and Paul Church property is now located.

Needing a separate area for a fort and headquarters of the Adelsverein, he chose a plot of land on a slightly elevated hill south of the township. “South” in the 1840s referred to the area that we now describe as the land on the south side of Academy Street. This plot of land was known as the Vereinsberg. In German, Verein means “organization” and “berg” means “hill”. Nicholas Zink, an engineer, was chosen by Prince Carl to plat the land of the town and set up land for the headquarters of the Adelsverein.

Prince Carl named the proposed building that was to be on this property “Sophienburg.” Notice the spelling. Since “berg” in Vereinsberg means hill and “burg” means castle, a confusion was born about the property being berg or burg. Obviously the prince had a dream of a castle for his intended back in Germany, Princess Sophia of Salm-Salm.

Prince Carl wanted to build a burg on a berg. She rejected the berg and the burg because she never came to Texas. Enough already!

On the Vereinsberg, the Prince resided in a hut of woven branches until a double block house could be built by the Smith brothers of Seguin.

Dr. Ferdinand Roemer described these first buildings this way: “All the houses of the Verein officers lay on a hill which arose to a height of eighty feet in the immediate rear of the city. The most prominent house was a one-story wooden building about fifty feet long, whose shingle-covered roof supported the pillars projecting on both sides, thus forming a gallery. It contained three rooms, a large middle room or hall and a small room on each side.” He further stated that the middle room was the assembly hall and dining room and furnished as a pleasant resort.

Two large folding doors opened to the north and south, allowing a gentle wind to circulate freely through the building. The view from the north side looked out over the scattered houses in the town and the forested hills in the background. The view from the south was uninhabited prairieland. This first building was located on the property where the present Sophienburg Museum is located.

In back of this main building was another house containing a kitchen and the dwellings of several petty officers of the Verein. Close by was another log house for the men who had charge of the Verein’s mules and horses. There was a pen made of strong posts for the animals. Across the pen another log house served as a magazine and warehouse.

Magazine Street as we know it, was named after the Verein’s magazine which housed the ammunition.

Immediately behind the buildings was a gentle open pasture which served as a common pasture for horses and cattle of the residents of New Braunfels.

Prince Carl left to go back home to Germany on May 15, 1845. Before he left, he celebrated a lavish dedication for the Sophienburg. He supposedly laid a cornerstone, which, incidentally has never been found. He drew a furrow in the earth where he felt the headquarters building should be built. It never was. During the ceremony, salutes were fired from the four cannons and in the absence of a German flag, the flag of Austria was raised. Meanwhile, down on the Plaza, settlers assembled and raised the Republic of Texas flag. They then organized two companies for the purpose of protecting the settlers against Indian raids. Was this an indication that the settlers were really rejecting the aristocracy? The Austrian flag flew where the aristocrats were partying on the hill and the Republic of Texas flag was flown by the settlers on the plaza.

Prince Carl was only in New Braunfels during this trip from March 21 to May15, 1845, a little over two months. Did he want to get back to Princess Sophia or get away from the financial woes that were building in the colony? The Verein had heavy expenditures which resulted from advancing money to a great number of immigrants in New Braunfels, the transport from the coast, and salaries for the officers and officials.

John O. Meusebach was chosen to take the place of Prince Carl and when he arrived, the Prince had already left. When Meusebach looked for a castle (burg) he found instead a double log cabin on a hill (berg). You see, even Meusebach was confused about the berg or burg.

Meusebach discovered that the Verein had a $19,000 debt. He inherited a great financial problem and the settlers were not happy with the situation. An insurrection in New Braunfels took place where a mob armed with clubs and pistols came up the Vereinsberg to Meusebach’s headquarters and demanded him to fulfill the promises made to the colonists. Resolutions were made but financial problems continued.

The Adelsverein eventually declared bankruptcy and various lands were liquidated including the Hill property.

Over the years the property known as the Hill underwent many owners, many mortgages and litigations. Eventually the property belonged to Johanna Runge of Travis County who sold it to the Sophienburg Memorial Association in 1926. S.V. Pfeuffer, president of the association, bought the property from Mrs. Runge for $5,000. And what happened to the main building? Christian Klinger, an original settler, lived there selling small goods and telling stories until the building collapsed in 1886 as a result of the storm that destroyed Indianola.

These excerpts are from Fritz Goldbeck’s poem, “The Sophienburg” was translated by Ingrid M. Ingle:

The prince was not a business man
He wanted the best for his people
That was unusual
The upper class is not always like that

For that he was not forgotten
Even so he rests long since in his grave.
His monument can still be seen
Here in the prairie country.

Painting of Princess Sophia from the Sophienburg Museum and Archive collection.

Painting of Princess Sophia from the Sophienburg Museum and Archive collection.

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