Finally, after all these years, the book will be published

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

I was born in New Braunfels in 1932 on Camp Street in a home built by my grandfather. My parents were Marcus and Cola Moeller Adams. I am a fifth-generation New Braunfels, Comal County, Texas, and American citizen and proud of it.

It is 2006 and I have just been asked to write a column for the Herald-Zeitung newspaper and I am on my way to a meeting about the column.

I left my home on Camp Street where I was born, turned left on Union Avenue towards East San Antonio Street, reflecting on the changes since I grew up in New Braunfels. At this time of year (early spring), there are no river floaters and I recalled that my swimming was done almost entirely in the spring-fed pool at Landa Park and the rapids at Camp Warnecke. I don’t even remember swimming in the Comal and never in the Guadalupe. Hinman Island was a wilderness area.

Many of the homes on Union Avenue have been beautifully preserved and many are now businesses. This practice of conservation has become a satisfactory practice for homes that are now on commercial streets.

Turning right onto San Antonio Street, I drove over the old bridge towards the Plaza. I decided to drive around the Plaza, just to prove that I could do it. There used to be two-way traffic around the Plaza. All the locals knew the rules, but it sure was confusing for newcomers and visitors.

Driving through town on San Antonio Street, all the old buildings are there. I know those buildings because A.C. Moeller, my grandfather, built lots of them. His name is on the cornerstones as well as on the sidewalks. Of course, the beautiful Landa House on the Plaza is gone and on the corner of West San Antonio Street and Academy, one of the loveliest homes in town, the Holz home, gave way to changes that took place here in the late 1960s. That same era eliminated the Garwood home on Seguin Avenue and the bathhouse and other buildings in Landa Park. Those in town who see the value in historic buildings are fighting hard to save existing artifacts. Many people have witnessed the conversion to the “concrete and asphalt” jungle in other parts of the state.

Now I’m on Academy Avenue, one street within the first named historic district in New Braunfels, the Sophienburg Hill. The Sophienburg Museum and Archives is in this district and it’s where I research my facts for their column, “Around the Museum and Archives.”

Writing this column is as close as I can get to living the life of Brenda Starr, Reporter, of the comic strip of my younger days. Her character was the inspiration that began my long-time journalistic career.

In New Braunfels High School in Hallie Martin’s journalism class, my dream of being Brenda Starr was inspired when the San Antonio Light contacted her to recommend a student to report New Braunfels news to be printed in that newspaper. My friend, Phyllis Reininger and I took on the challenge. My next journalistic experience came when I was a senior and had an invitation from Helen and Joe Baldus who wanted me to write a weekly column for their newly established Town and Country News. It was embarrassingly called “Myra-Go-Round” but it could have been the launching of a history column 50 years later.

I began my study of journalism at Texas Christian University, but after a year, found out that journalism was more than Brenda Starr had portrayed. I switched my major to education to be able to teach history, German and English. I met Glyn Goff at TCU and we got married in 1952. I wanted badly to move back to New Braunfels and so we did.

I began my teaching career of 31 years in 1953. I had three children, Karen in 1956, Patty in 1959 and Marc in 1962. After staying home for eight years, I returned to teaching.

After retiring in 1991, Rosemarie Leissner Gregory and I formed a writing partnership that resulted in the publication of three books about New Braunfels history, Kindermaskenball, Past and Present; New Braunfels, Comal County, A Pictorial History; and A Journey in Faith, the History of First Protestant Church. The last book that I wrote independently was about the Comal County Fair, It’s Fair Time.

All of the research for writing these books led me to become well acquainted with the Sophienburg Museum and Archives. In 2006, Linda Dietert, Executive Director of the Sophienburg, asked me if I would be interested in writing a column about New Braunfels and Comal County history for the Herald-Zeitung. Of course, I said yes. Linda, Doug Toney and I worked out the details for a column twice a month and I have been doing that ever since for 11 years.

My creed is what my mother told me, “Always write the truth,” and “Never write down what you wouldn’t want everyone in the world to read.”

After eleven years, people are still asking me how I come up with my subjects and the answer is simply “There is no end to history and those who make it are so interesting.” I hope you have enjoyed reading this column as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Can you just imagine how future generations will view us? Change will happen and the “good old days” are now. I love living in New Braunfels. “In Neu Braunfels ist das leben schön.”

On Tuesday, May 23rd from 2-4 pm, a special event will occur at the Sophienburg. This event is the release of the book, Around the Sophienburg and it contains all of the articles that I have written over the past 11 years. It also contains the photographs that appeared in the newspaper. My daughter, Patty, painted the artwork for the cover and illustrated 26 pictures that will be on display on the 23rd. Due to the generosity of some special Sophienburg donors, the cost of the publishing of the book was underwritten so all proceeds go to benefit the Sophienburg Museum and Archives. Many people over the years have cut the articles out of the newspaper and saved them in very large notebooks. The published book contains over 250 articles and photos and is almost 500 pages.

Front cover of the new book, Around the Sophienburg. Artwork by Patricia S. Arnold.

Front cover of the new book, Around the Sophienburg. Artwork by Patricia S. Arnold.

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Ullrich homes on Mill Street tell the story of early home construction

What do three houses on Mill Street have in common? The homes located at 502, 528 and 554 West Mill Street are part of New Braunfels’ Mill Street Historic District and they are homes built on the property owned at one time by George Ullrich in the 1850s through the 1860s.

George Ullrich bought the partitioned lots in 1850 from Jean Jacque von Coll. They were part of the larger acre lot #168, acquired by von Coll in 1847 from the German Emigration Company. Von Coll served as business manager for the Adelsverein. Ullrich was the Adelsverein wagon master.

George Ullrich was one of those First Founders who, along with his wife, Margarethe, were in Texas before the Adelsverein immigrants. Prince Carl met Ullrich in Frelsburg in the early 1840s. The prince asked him to lead the immigrants inland from the coast as head wagoner. He lead the 31 wagons across the Guadalupe River on Marcy 21, 1845.

Mill Street runs parallel to San Antonio Street all the way to the Comal River at Clemens Dam where the Torrey Mill was located, therefore Mill Street. It is one of the earliest named streets in New Braunfels. Many of the homes on Mill Street are the oldest surviving homes from the time of the city’s settlement. Several of the homes are log homes and many are fachwerk. A home’s core building materials were typically covered over with layers of plaster or wood for insulation and protection from the environmental elements and when restoration occurs, the construction is revealed. The log home and fachwerk home were the earliest building techniques used, with the use of cut limestone blocks to follow. The log home is made using walls of horizontally placed logs with chinking in the spaces between the logs and the fachwerk home is constructed using timber framing with some type of infill, usually brick, rubble or rock.

554 West Mill

The home at 554 W. Mill has a historical marker titled the Pioneer Home. The marker reads: “Sand brick home built 1855, by Geo. Ullrich, who had driven first wagon of German Emigration Co. settlers in 1845 across the Guadalupe River.” On July 7, 1962, this home belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Chester W. Geue, was awarded the Texas Historical Building Medallion, the first awarded in New Braunfels and Comal County. The Geues had purchased and restored the home because the Ullrichs were his ancestors. The home was originally built as two front rooms and kitchen. By 1865, a daughter of George and Margarethe Ullrich, Sophie, married William Froelich and they lived in the home adding rooms to accommodate a growing family. The Geues bought the home from Blanca Froelich Bading. In 1965, the home was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. The Comal County Historical Survey Committee is now known as the Comal County Historical Commission.

528 West Mill

The home at 528 W. Mill is owned by Marvin and Ann Giambernardi. This home was recently on the New Braunfels Conservation Society tour of homes and it was this tour that piqued my interest in the homes on Mill Street and about the people who so lovingly restore them, the Giambernardi’s being two of them.

Marvin and Ann met when he was helping her with electrical work involving the restoration of her home at 581 E. Camp Street. Ann had been an antique dealer here in New Braunfels for several years, having shops in downtown New Braunfels. She grew up in San Antonio but decided in 1990, to purchase the home on Camp St. so she would not have to drive back and forth from San Antonio to New Braunfels for her business. Her description of the home when she moved in is priceless. It had been in the same family from the time it was built and Ann bought it from the family. Ann lived in the home while restoring it. It had only cold running water. The previous owner heated her water outside in a tub. The electricity consisted of a bulb hanging on an electrical wire from the ceiling and there were no outlets. This did not deter Ann from living in the home while restoring it. Ann’s abilities in home restoration, expertise in the antique business, eye for color coordination along with her abilities as a seamstress, combined with her endless energy, contributed to success in the restoration arena. All she needed was an electrician, plumber and wood craftsman. This was when Marvin entered the scene.

Although Marvin was retired from the military as an aircraft inspector, he was also an electrician, plumber and wood craftsman. Marvin was living at Lake Dunlap at the time in a home he had restored that had belonged to his father. Marvin did some work for Ann on the Camp St. house and the rest is history. They married, eventually sold the Camp St. home, bought the 528 W. Mill home, restored it and now are working on another restoration. Home restoration is the perfect outlets for their creative talents and energy. They love the local history.

Back to 528 W. Mill Street. The home was thought to have been built in 1865 by George and Margarethe Ullrich. Around the same time, the 554 W. Mill Street home was given to their daughter and husband. The home is a beautifully crafted fachwerk home with handmade brick infill. The Giambernardis have exposed the fachwerk in several areas to show the construction. It was originally three large rooms with very high ceilings (about 14 feet), divided with one large room on the right and two smaller rooms on the left. One of the rooms on the left was the kitchen. There are two fire places, one on each side of the home. Additions were made throughout the years and provide ample room for Ann’s extensive collections of antiques. She began collecting as a teenager.

502 West Mill

Marvin and Ann recently purchased the small home next door at 502 W. Mill. The home had belonged to Elsie Roeper. Elsie was born in 1916 and lived in the home her whole life, caring for her grandparents who also lived there. Elsie’s mother was Alma, and Alma’s parents Julius and Julia Krueger Buske (Elsie’s grandparents) bought the home in 1890. The home was built on property owned by George Ullrich and was possibly built by him in the 1850s but may be much older. The home is a combination of log cabin and fachwerk with homemade brick infill construction.

The home originally was a small, single room log cabin with front and back porch. This single room is constructed of hand-hewn horizontally placed logs on all four sides that was revealed when Marvin and Ann removed the plaster. At some point, the back porch was closed in using fachwerk with handmade brick infill. A kitchen was built behind the home and at some time, the front home and kitchen were connected and also a bathroom added to the south side of the front structure. Marvin noted that termites where only present in the bathroom addition and nowhere else in the older parts of the home. Marvin and Ann are continuing their restoration and are in the process of researching more to find the exact construction date of the home. It is surely one of the oldest in New Braunfels and worthy of preservation.

Author, Myra Lee Adams Goff in front of the 502 W. Mill home with Ann and Marvin Giambernardi.  Karen Boyd photo collection.

Author, Myra Lee Adams Goff in front of the 502 W. Mill home with Ann and Marvin Giambernardi. Karen Boyd photo collection.

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Martin Luther important to the Protestant Reformation

 

Happy Easter today while you celebrate the Resurrection and the coming of Spring. It’s a particularly exciting time for members of St. Paul Lutheran Church of New Braunfels. They have chosen to build a new church on their historic property. While traveling down San Antonio Street towards the plaza, I noticed a building program going on at St. Paul Lutheran Church. There was a wonderful old stone building, still part of the campus and they were building around it, still preserving it.

Lutherans In Texas

Lutherans have been in Texas for a long time. On November 8, 1851, the first Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Texas was organized by the St. Chrischone Missionaries. They were interested in establishing mission churches in the Guadalupe Valley of Texas. At the second convention of the Synod in May, 1852, Pastor Braschler and Pastor Kleiss were present. Pastor Kleiss had been in the Neighborsville-Hortontown area as pastor for a newly formed group of Lutherans for two years and now Pastor Braschler was going to become the minister. Pastor Braschler served as both teacher and pastor of the Lutheran group. On August 13, 1854, a formal congregation organized under the name of the Evangelical Lutheran Saint Martin Congregation. It embraced both Neighborsville and Hortontown. The St. Martin Evangelical Lutheran Church is known as the oldest Lutheran Church in Texas.

Incidentally, Pastor Braschler’s home is still standing and located at 249 Kowald Lane. It has a Texas Historical Marker and is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. The land was sold to Pastor Braschler by Jacob de Cordova. De Cordova, along with church parishioners helped Braschler build the home.

Rev. Milton Frueh compiled the history of St. Martin Church and he writes that the 1850 beginning of St. Martin is associated with founder, Pastor Theobald G. Kleiss from Germany. In 1851, the Neighborsville-Hortontown congregation erected a church building and the services were conducted in German. In 1852, Pastor Braschler became the minister followed by Rev. Albert Kypfer, who served from 1857 to 1880. Kypfer was the last full-time pastor. In 1870 a school was built next to the church. It was the Church Hill School that is still standing on Church Hill Drive across from Conservation Plaza. It is owned and maintained by the New Braunfels Conservation Society. It also has a Texas Historical Marker and is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. Near 1900, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Texas congregations ceased to provide a resident pastor for the church. Many members left and joined other German-speaking congregations like Friedens and First Protestant Church.

For safekeeping, the church records were given to First Protestant Church and in 1968, the St. Martin Church building was moved from Church Hill Drive, a short distance away to sit in a prominent location on Loop 337 within the Hortontown Cemetery. St. Paul Lutheran Church owns and maintains the beautifully restored church. It is currently used for historical tours, weddings, church services and family gatherings.

St. Paul Lutheran

Twenty years passed with no Lutheran church, and in 1920 the Mission Board of the Texas District of the former Iowa Synod had been considering establishing a mission church in New Braunfels. In 1925, Rev. Henry H. Schliesser began conducting services twice a month in a building on Seguin Avenue (Mergele building). The organization of a congregation seemed favorable, so in 1926, the Evangelical Lutheran St. Paul Congregation was organized. A small chapel was built in 1927.

In 1939, under Pastor Heineke, the building of a new church (currently the chapel that is still standing) was started and dedicated in 1940. A new sanctuary was dedicated in 1962, a full-time day school was organized in 1983 and an education complex dedicated.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther was behind the whole Lutheran movement. Who was Martin Luther and what influence did he have on the world? Martin Luther was born in 1483 and was a German professor of theology, a composer, a priest and monk, and was a key figure in the Protestant Reformation. He disputed the Catholic Church view that freedom from God’s punishment for sin could be purchased by paying money. He believed and taught that salvation and eternal life were not earned by deeds but a gift from God through believers in Jesus Christ. Those who identified with his beliefs and teachings were called Lutherans. The Reformation was aimed at the Late Medieval corruption of the Catholic Church that resulted in the Protestant movement. The word Reformation means to reform.

Luther also translated the Bible into German, using a dialect that would reach most of the German people. Each state in Germany, at the time, had developed a different dialect of the language and in many cases, they could not even understand each other. By Luther translating the Bible, the German language became standardized. The language used in the translation became a part of the German heritage and the creation of a German identity. His goal was to make the Bible accessible to everyday Germans that could be used in church, at school and at home. He translated the New Testament from Greek in 1522 and the Old Testament from Hebrew in 1534. Although not the first translations to German, they were the most popular. This translation was one of the most important aspects of the Reformation.

Luther’s hymns influenced singing in Protestant Churches. Of course, his most famous hymn is “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” sung to this day in many Protestant Churches. Luther’s Bible stirred a mighty storm in the church giving power to the clerically dominated public.

The printing press

A German, Johannes Gutenberg, invented the printing press around 1440. The invention and spread of the printing press was one of the most influential aspects of the time. It ushered in the modern age. By 1500, the printing press was in operation throughout most of Western Europe. The result was the permanent alteration of society. The circulation of ideas through the printed word, captured the masses in the Reformation and threatened current government and religious authorities. No longer were the elite only able to have access to education, the middle class emerged as educated. Other technologies contributed to the success of the printing press. About that time eyeglasses were in common use for those with vision problems. Gutenberg was able to take existing technologies to make his printing press operate successfully. The manufacture of paper had also improved and Gutenberg developed an oil-based ink suitable for high-quality printing.

Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible could not have been done at a better time. The printing press allowed for mass production of the texts that were available for all.

Once again, Happy Easter, St. Paul Lutheran, and congratulations on your new endeavor.

Early photo of the St. Paul Lutheran Chapel.

Early photo of the St. Paul Lutheran Chapel.

 

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United States enters World War I on April 6th one hundred years ago

(Published in the Herald-Zeitung on April 2, 2017)

As far as Americans were concerned, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austria-Hungary throne on June 28, 1914, was of little concern. Europe, after all, was far away, and the United States had a policy of isolation. Besides, Texas had its own problems. That very year, Texas elected James “Pa” Ferguson as their governor. He was reelected in 1916, but in 1917, he was impeached for not appropriating the entire budget for the University of Texas in 1916. Ferguson’s wife, “Ma” Ferguson, was elected governor in 1925-27, and then again in 1933-1935. Also, that same year, there were those pesky problems that Americans had to deal with – women’s right to vote and prohibition. In 1920, the 19th amendment gave women the right to vote.

Prohibition

Then there was Prohibition. New Braunfels voted 100% against Prohibition. Beer drinking was one of those cultural things that the immigrants originally brought with them to America. New Braunfels voted 100% against Prohibition.

In 1918, the state of Texas as a whole, voted for Prohibition. This set up a barrier between those of German descent and the Americans. It was a general feeling that women’s right to vote had something to do with the passage of Prohibition. A German celebrating, was associated with the drinking of beer. Also, the abundance of wild mustang grapes made wine-making easy. One brewery never stopped making beer, but made a beer called Busto or “near beer.” It had a small legal alcohol content.

Prejudice against Germans

Newspapers in America generally were against Germany and German-Americans and in favor of the Allies (France and Great Britain). Extreme prejudice against German-Americans took place throughout the war. Large German language newspapers in Texas tried their best to stem the tide, but the hatred for Germany was too strong. Children in particular were affected by the prejudice. In German communities like New Braunfels, school had been taught in German and suddenly even speaking German was against the law. Churches went through the same language turmoil.

Those of German descent had to choose between the German culture or the American patriotism. According to Matthew D. Tippens, who wrote Turning Germans Into Texans, any ethnic group that had a hyphen between the two descriptions was called hyphenated Americans. As long as there was a hyphen, there was a difference between the two cultures, like German-American, or German Americans. The hyphenated word showed that the first was the predominant. Only when the hyphen was dropped, could they be called German Americans and of course eventually just Americans. Do you remember the story that I told about asking my mother why she didn’t teach me German and her reply was “Because you are an American?”

The war

Eventually it became obvious that war was inevitable. World War I had initially started in 1914 in Europe. Originally, only a few nations were involved. Great Britain, France and Russia were at war with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Within a very short time nearly every country in Europe joined one side or the other. It became a world war. The United States didn’t enter the war until April 6, 1917. Congress declared war and the United States joined Great Britain and France in their fight against Germany.

The war became more personal in New Braunfels since the German descendant’s country (the U.S.) declared war against their ancestral home. Culturally, the war took its toll on the German American culture. In two generations, almost no one was speaking German in places like New Braunfels and Fredericksburg. When the U.S. entered the war with Germany, the use of the German language as the primary language was destroyed and wasn’t even retained as a secondary language. Parents taught their children English exclusively. Many years passed before any pride in the German culture was restored. In New Braunfels, years after World War II, eventually the pride of the German culture returned and then the Wurstfest put the German culture on the map again.

Loyalty Parade

New Braunfels showed its loyalty to the Americans by holding a Loyalty Parade on May 21, 1917. This parade included every group – Confederates, Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, city leaders and veterans, fraternal organizations, a brass band and a full regiment of Federal soldiers in parade dress added to the festivities. Also in the parade was Gen. George Pershing, former fighter of Pancho Villa. He became the organizer of the Expeditionary Forces. He commanded an Army group that did their maneuvers on the Landa Ranch on the plateau above Landa Park.

Also Col. Jake Wolters was introduced as a prominent Texan of German descent. The children sang “America” and “Star Spangled Banner.” Gus Reininger read a resolution of loyalty that was to be sent to President Woodrow Wilson.

The town gave generously to the Red Cross. Initially, that local organization began helping German soldiers but switched to helping American soldiers during World War I. A huge amount of Liberty Bonds were sold locally.

Armistice

After five years of war, church bells rang out the end of the war at 7:00 o’clock on the morning of November 11, 1918 and it became known as Armistice Day. A spectacular celebration took place as steam whistles screeched and church and fire bells tolled. A popping cannon entertained thousands gathered at the Plaza. People gave speeches, gave sermons and sang songs. An impromptu parade was organized that lasted until 2:00 in the morning. Then, a group of non-Comal Countyans joined the parade and hung a likeness of the German Kaiser in effigy. One account says that these men drove recklessly around the plaza and hung the effigy and ultimately shot at it. The message was clear: the discrimination against German Americans was not over. As for the crowd, they were happy for the victory but were offended by the denigration toward Germans.

Comal County had done its share to win the war. Over 500 men had been enlisted in the expeditionary forces. Statistics show that 31 men from Comal County had died but some died from the worldwide flu epidemic. The grotto at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church commemorates the victims of the flu. The War That Ended All Wars was repeated in 1941 with America’s entrance into World War II.

World War I commemoration begins on the Main Plaza April 6th

On Thursday, April 6th, the Centennial Commemoration will begin on the Main Plaza with a program at 10:30am at the World War I doughboy statue. The United States flags will be flying everywhere downtown and a fitting tribute year to World War I will begin.

New Braunfels held a rousing ceremony for the World War I inductees on Main Plaza before they boarded the train for San Antonio and their initial training at Camp Travis. G.F. Oheim, publisher for the Neu Braunfelser Zeitung, at left with his notes in hand, was the orator for the occasion. Sophienburg photo collection.

New Braunfels held a rousing ceremony for the World War I inductees on Main Plaza before they boarded the train for San Antonio and their initial training at Camp Travis. G.F. Oheim, publisher for the Neu Braunfelser Zeitung, at left with his notes in hand, was the orator for the occasion. Sophienburg photo collection.

Gen. Pershing’s camp on the Landa Ranch on a plateau located above where Landa Park is located.

Gen. Pershing’s camp on the Landa Ranch on a plateau located above where Landa Park is located.

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This next Tuesday, March 21, is New Braunfels Founder’s Day

(Published in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung on March 19, 2017)

Today, March 19, 2017, marks 172 years since Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels woke up to a snow storm in Texas. He was camping at the Guadalupe River getting ready to look over the land that he had just purchased for the Adelsverein emigration project. The date was Wednesday, March 19, 1845. In two days, the first immigrants would cross the Guadalupe into what would become New Braunfels on Good Friday, March 21, 1845. From that time on, that date would be designated as Founder’s Day for New Braunfels.

Prince Carl wrote eleven reports back to the Adelsverein telling them what he had accomplished for the organization that had chosen him to head the project. These eleven reports written in German have been translated by various historians and scholars. The reports have been published in both German and English. The information from these reports has been used by researchers for many years. But, as often is the case, other documents surface that are more personal in nature and sometimes contradictory to the original documents available.

The diary

Historian, Theodore Gish, came across the personal diary of Prince Carl while researching in Rheinland-Platz, Germany. The diary was one of two documents discovered and was called “Diary of a Trip to America in 1844-45.” W.M. Von Maszewski, the past-president of the German–Texas Heritage Society, agreed to translate the diary. The diary consists of 88 pages and begins with Prince Carl’s departure from Rheingrafenstein, his family castle. The date was May 14, 1844. The last entry was upon his return to Europe on June 20, 1845. The diary contains biographical data not found in the Adelsverein reports and contains humanizing comments about his own nature.

In the diary, the prince reveals much about his own personality and how he sees his role as “fearless military leader, mounting a defense against Indians.” This attack never came about. Prince Carl through Gish’s book, reveals himself as an aristocrat who exercised his skill in the arts. Even with the serious responsibility of the emigration project, he took time out to read the classical German authors such as Goethe and Schiller.

Diaries have a way of opening up what the writer really feels about people and places; in this case, much of it is uncomplimentary. Solms praises von Coll but not the rest of the first council that he appointed, particularly Zink. They were Dr. Theodore Koester, Nicholas Zink, von Coll and Rev. Louis Ervendberg. The prince makes some very serious charges against Zink. Also, the prince revealed his anti-American views and why he was against Texas becoming a state of the United States.

Historic background of the diary

Here is the background of the point in time the diary was written:

Prince Carl arrived in Texas on July 1, 1844, and traveled to collect information about Texas. On March 6, he rode on horseback to San Antonio with Friedrich Wrede and Gustav Hoffmann. In San Antonio, Johann Rahm, a member of Texas Ranger Jack Coffee Hays’ Company, told the prince about the Comal Tract and Las Fontanas. On the 15, Prince Carl purchased this tract from heirs of the Veramendi family. On March 18, the prince went to inspect the tract. He was accompanied by 25 men. The group set up tents at the Guadalupe and that night there was a snow storm. They woke up to the snow on their tents. This was March 19, 1845.

Two days later, the first group of German immigrants crossed the Guadalupe at the Camino Real crossing (Nacogdoches Street). A settlement was established called the Zinkenburg located where the Sts, Peter & Paul Catholic Church now stands. In February, Prince Carl had organized a militia to protect the settlers from Indian attack. These men were capable of bearing arms. The total number of men was 208, 36 with rifles, 39 with shotguns and 33 unarmed. On March 21, 1845, the immigrants crossed the Guadalupe.

Excerpts from the diary

February 26, 1845: Arrived at Carlshaven after being lost. Ate oysters and fish.

February 27, 1845: Bad roads to Victoria. Supper with Zink and Wedemeyer. Played the piano.

February 28, 1845: Rode to camp. Joyful welcome with cannon fire. Played the piano. Rain and storm.

March 2, 1845 Birthday of my mother. Departed on the way at 10:00 o’clock. Nice beautiful hilly trail. Met Romer, von Coll, Lűntzel, Hoffmann and Assel on the trail. Supper and grog.

March 3, 1845: Storm and rain. Zink arrives. Lengthy discussion.

March 4, 1845: Colonial Council meeting. Champagne in the evening.

March 6, 1845: A discussion with Dr. Kὂster. He was suspended. Cloudt is becoming uncouth. Baur is less than nothing, very malicious. Too late to ride.

March 7, 1845: Inspection of company. I praised Heidtmeyer because of training them. They need additional training on foot and field.

March 8, 1845: Departed for Gonzales. Supper at Kings. Slept on porch, saddle for pillow. American tobacco, chewing and spitting.

March 9, 1845: Cold norther at the San Jeronimo. 4.5 miles to Don Antonio Navarro’s. Interesting man. He describes the march to Santa Fe. Mr. Veramendi introduces me. Lodging with many fleas and a hard bed of feathers on wood.

March 10, 1845: Waited for Veramendi. He did not come. High ground view of San Antonio. Lodged at Rahm’s favorite old hotel.

March 11, 1845: Looked at the Alamo. Visited Veramendi and Garza.

March 12, 1845: Had discussion with Veramendi and de Vine. Companions were Wrede, Anton, two orderlies from Lindheimer’s company and from the militia of Hoffmann and Lűntzel. Mexicans no longer made brash demands.

March 13, 1845: Completed business with Mexicans. Rode to San Pedro Springs and the Powder House.

March 14, 1845: Completion of the document with Maria Veramendi-Garza, beautiful woman. Rode with Lűntzel and Lindheimer to Mission La Conception.

March 15, 1845: Signed the document.

March 16, 1845: Breakfast along Cibolo. Wrede and Hoffmann arrived in the evening.

March 17, 1845: Zink and Coll arrived with 13 men. Camped at a spring not far from the Guadalupe. Bitterly cold.

March 18, 1845: Arrived on the Comal tract. Put up tents, ate late then went to bed.

March 19, 1845: We awoke to a snowstorm. I rode out to outline the horse exercise area. Afterward I went with Rahm, Wrede, Lűntzel, Zink into the woods, with hunting knives and axes we cut a trail to the spring. 4 miles. Stopped where we came to a meadow. Bitterly cold. Snow on the tents in the morning.

March 20, 1845: With Coll, Lindheimer and five men I went on a long ride through the country. On horseback, we climbed up to an outcropping through cedars to the top of a plateau.

March 21, 1845: Beginning of spring and Good Friday. Crossing of the first 15 wagons, but what toil and what difficulty it was. Finally, they are here. Change of the camp to higher ground.

Diary continues

Prince Carl’s diary continues through the time he left New Braunfels on May 14 and then left Texas in June for Germany. The book containing this information and much more can be purchased at Sophie’s Shop at the Sophienburg. It is called Voyage to North America 1844-45.

Sophienburg Executive Director Tara Kohlenberg displays Prince Carl’s portable chair, writing desk, family seal and ink-blot sand container from the museum collections.

Sophienburg Executive Director Tara Kohlenberg displays Prince Carl’s portable chair, writing desk, family seal and ink-blot sand container from the museum collections.

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Willke brothers make significant contribution

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

The history of every area reveals that there are many individuals who live lives that help their community without fanfare. They don’t have schools or streets named after them, but they make an impact, nevertheless. People and places come and go, and their significance often is only recorded in books, buildings, photographs and gravestones, but their stories endure. Two of these individuals were brothers, Hermann and Louis (or Ludwig) Willke. They were leaders on the coast, founders of New Braunfels, founders of Fredericksburg, and important to Spring Branch, Kendall County and the State of Texas.

Louis and Hermann Willke probably came to Texas for the same reasons that most other immigrants did. The bottom line was a search for freedom in a land that offered great opportunity. They were born in Collberg on the Baltic Sea in Northern Germany. Louis was born in 1818 and Hermann was born in 1822. Both had been trained as officers in the Prussian Military. Louis was called Lieutenant Willke I and Hermann was called Lieutenant Willke II. They must have had a good education, for both spoke several languages.

Hermann arrived on the coast at Galveston and traveled from there to Carlshaven. He traveled as a single man on the ship Ferdinand. It was one of the first three ships to arrive with the Adelsverein in Texas. He transferred by schooner to the Adelsverein’s meeting place at Carlshaven to wait to begin the trek inland.

Louis and his wife, child and mother-in-law must have met Hermann at the coast. There is some evidence that Louis and family arrived in Texas “by land” on October 1, 1843. He worked at the Adelsverein’s Nassau Farm in Fayette County, but by 1844, he was at Matagorda Bay. Both brothers were at the coast together and they made a favorable impression on Prince Carl. At the first meeting of the Colonial Council, the prince announced that he was appointing Hermann Willke as an assistant to Nicholas Zink with the plotting out of the community of New Braunfels. Hermann was a surveyor and well qualified for the job. This skill would aid him in the future. He was also put in charge of supplies in the warehouse at Carlshaven. The supplies had to be protected so that a fair distribution would be made with the immigrants.

Louis too was given a responsible position at Carlshaven by the prince. He was put in charge of the powder magazine (guns and ammunition). With his military background he was selected to be commander of the station of Carlshaven.

You ask, “Where is Carlshaven?” In 1846, the area on Matagorda Bay was known as Indian Point and near this area was Carlshaven, named partly for Prince Carl. In 1849, the site was named Indianola. The area was the second main port in Texas and most immigrants to Texas from Europe and America came through this port city. It grew rapidly with a population of 5,000 until the hurricane of 1875. Up until that time, it had hotels, large homes, businesses and a steamship line terminal. The city rebuilt after the 1875 hurricane only to be nearly wiped off of the coast by another hurricane in 1886. If you visit the area today, it is much different than the bustling port city of the 1800s. Hermann Willke is also credited with making an accurate map of Indianola.

After the trek inland, the immigrants arrived at the Guadalupe crossing on March 21, 1845. At that time Hermann Willke was 22 years old and Louis Willke was 26 years old with a wife and children. Hermann drew lot 128 on Comal Avenue between Coll and Garden Streets. Hermann also bought lot 161, paying only $14 for the whole lot. Louis was granted lot 135 next to his brother’s where he built a house for his family.

When John Meusebach decided to move some of the immigrants to the Fredericksburg area, he asked Hermann to plot the trail. With the help of Louis, Hermann followed the El Camino Real from New Braunfels toward San Antonio, over the Cibolo and then followed an old Indian trail, the Pinto Trail, to what would become Fredericksburg. On the arrival at the site of Fredericksburg, Hermann laid out the lots of that future city.

Meusebach wanted to claim the Fisher-Miller grant that the immigrants had been originally promised and never received. He asked Hermann go with him because, as he said, “he was one of five educated men to accompany him to sign a treaty with the Comanche.” The Fisher-Miller grant could not be inhabited until this treaty was signed. Hermann surveyed the San Saba and stayed there for eight years at a salary of $100 a year paid by the Adelsverein. He made a map of the route from New Braunfels to Fredericksburg including the land grant. The map is in the Texas Archives in Austin. When the Adelsverein ran out of money, Hermann lost his salary. He was offered a job by the Texas General Land Office at a salary of $1,000 a year.

Now to Louis Willke and family. Louis built a fachwerk house on his town lot in New Braunfels (on Comal Avenue) for his family. By 1849, the family moved and was living on 40 acres, six miles outside of town. They had left town, as many did, to escape the epidemics. The 1850 census lists Louis as a farmer and a wagoner. This was a lucrative business that transferred goods from the coast to the inland settlements. Then in 1858, Louis moved his family to the Hill Country. He was a farmer and worked part-time in the Porter Store in Spring Branch. He is responsible for applying for the post office under the name of Spring Branch and by doing so, put the name of Spring Branch on the map. He became the first postmaster of Spring Branch from 1858 until 1860. The family then moved to Kendall County. Louis and wife, Elizabeth had seven children all born in Texas with the first being born in 1843 at Port Lavaca.

Not surprising, both brothers became officers in the Civil War. Capt. Hermann Willke served on the Texas coast in Galveston and Lt. Louis Willke was an officer in Julius Bose’s campaign in Arkansas. After the Civil War, Hermann left the Hill Country and settled in Galveston where he went into the surveying business. He lived there until he died.

Louis is listed in the Kendall County history as a surveyor. The family had moved to Kendall County and settled there on 160 acres. The 1880 Kendall County census lists him as a merchant and farmer. He died on the ranch and he and his wife are buried in a Willke family cemetery located on the Willard Dierks property.

In all of the references found on the Willke brothers (Fey’s New Braunfels, The First Founders and Anderson-Lindemann’s Bridging Spring Branch and Western Comal County, Texas), all of the descriptions of their work and character were complimentary.

Leo Scherer describes the house on Comal Street as actually four separate structures. It was a common practice to add on to a home as more space was needed by a family. Visible from the road, is the Victorian-style home built after 1881. Attached to the back of this home are structures built in the mid-to-late 1800s. The oldest fachwerk home originally built by Louis Willke when he arrived in New Braunfels, was attached to these structures but no longer stands.

Three structures can be seen on the map extracted from the “1881 Birdseye View of New Braunfels” by Koch. The fachwerk original home is the one on the left beside the two later structures. The Victorian home was not yet built.

Three structures can be seen on the map extracted from the “1881 Birdseye View of New Braunfels” by Koch. The fachwerk original home is the one on the left beside the two later structures. The Victorian home was not yet built.

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