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.

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Sophienburg again brings Christmas traditions

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

There is something really magical about the Christmas season and especially in New Braunfels, with its rich history and traditions. The stage is set when the Main Plaza lights are turned on. There are several Christmas events sponsored by the Sophienburg, so you know they are going to have something to do with history.


Sophienburg’s money-making event that allows the doors to stay open, is Weihnachtsmarkt. That long word means “Christmas Market”. The Sophienburg brings exciting shopping for Christmas gifts to Comal Countians. Every year that event at the Civic Center is more than a shopping experience, it really is a place to meet friends, to eat German food, to shop for unusual gifts and to really get into the Christmas spirit.

As I listened to the plans for this year’s market, I realized that Weihnachtsmarkt is also a great art experience. Yes, just like last year, the artists in the group that volunteer to decorate have created an artistic experience not to be forgotten. In other words, when you go to Weihnachtsmarkt, you experience interesting shopping plus a side effect of an artistic experience or if you go to see the art, you have a side effect of shopping. The decoration committee, headed by Beverley Wigley and Donna Debner, plus about 75 helpers, have chosen the theme this year to be “The Nativity”. Talk about an appropriate theme for Christmas, they have it! The Nativity is the traditional iconic Christmas symbol. About 300 volunteers put on the event. Besides the decorating, there’s the Sophienburg’s prime shopping booth, Sophie’s Shop that so many volunteers are involved in.


The origin of the Nativity has many different interpretations but many historians claim that the birth date of Jesus Christ was adopted as December 25th in the fourth century. For two centuries after the birth of Jesus Christ, His birth was considered unimportant, for at that time, only death dates were recognized. Also because Christ was considered divine, a natural birth was played down. Supposedly sometime along the way, the church legitimized Dec. 25 as the date of Christ’s birth to compete with the Roman holiday, “Natalis Solis Invicti”, a popular Roman celebration that honored the birth of their sun god of agriculture on that date.

The Church officially recognized Dec. 25 as the Nativity of Christ and it became a day of holy prayer by celebrating a “Christ Mass”. The name stuck as “Christmas”. When the Roman emperor, Constantine, united his emperorship with the Church, he declared Christianity to be the state religion in the year 354 A.D. Not only Christ’s death was emphasized, but also his birth. December 25th became the Nativity, a holy day, or holiday.

At the Weihnachtsmarkt, different interpretations of the Nativity theme will be carried out throughout the building. The stage is the main focus of the Nativity decorations. Two giant arches with scenes depicting the Nativity are surrounded by fir trees. Between the two arches are life-sized mannequins of Joseph, Mary and the Christ Child. Sophie’s Café is located in front of the stage where shoppers may sit and enjoy German food. Each of these tables are decorated with a different Nativity and these centerpieces are for sale.

Scherenschnitte and strudel

Several other features this year are Santa’s Workshop for children where a child can take a “selfie” of him or herself with Santa. A new activity called “Schnitt & Strudel” is being offered. Enjoy eating strudel and coffee and learn the art of paper cutting, Scherenschnitte, taught by Betty Spain. She has created a whole Christmas tree of Scherenschnitte ornaments. There is a $15 fee and everything is furnished. Call the Sophienburg 830-629-1572 for times and reservations. Strudel will be enjoyed during the class. Strudel recipes actually go back to early Austria, but strudel is a descendant of the Turkish Baklava pastry, introduced into Austria in 1453. New Braunfelsers know about strudel.

Lindheimer decorates for Christmas

Up on the hill, in keeping with the Lindheimer exhibit, decorations are “au natural”. Would Lindheimer have decorated with glitz and glitter? No way. For months the volunteers, mostly the collection ladies, under the direction of Keva Boardman, have been collecting nature’s fine decorations – acorns, berries, wood, leaves, bird’s nests, butterfly wings, honeycomb and Spanish moss. Decorations throughout the museum with garland and wreaths take you back in time. They are doing their best to make Ferdinand Lindheimer, the naturalist, feel at home. I found this rather interesting: Keva Boardman accepts these natural materials and then puts them in the freezer. It is not wise to introduce bugs and spiders into a museum.

St. Nikolaus

St. Nikolaus will be at the Sophienburg again on Dec. 5. St. Nikolaus is thought to be the forerunner of our modern Santa Claus. Like other old legends, there are many variations of the St. Nikolaus story. He was from Turkey and in the 4th century entered the seminary. He soon became the Bishop of Myra, Asia Minor, and won many converts. Because of his popularity, the Romans imprisoned him. Finally, the new emperor, Constantine, released him from prison and even made him a church council member. Because of his generosity, he became the patron saint of children in several countries. During the Protestant Reformation, St. Nikolaus was banished from most European countries. The Dutch made him the protector of sailors and began the tradition of children filling wooden shoes with treats. Americans went from wooden shoes to leather shoes to long socks, even stretchable panty hose. In American New England, where the Dutch settled, they spelled St. Nicholas “Sint Nikolass” which, with time, became “Sinterklass” and finally Santa Claus.

Clement Moore wrote the poem, “The Night Before Christmas” and he described St. Nicholas as a little man in a red robe with a belly that “shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.” This description contradicted the vision of a tall stately man in a red Bishop’s robe trimmed in fur with a long white beard as described before.

Then cartoonist Thomas Nast drew a picture of what he thought Santa looked like for Harper’s Weekly in 1881. Nast’s picture definitely put on weight. He looked like the Santa of today. Our St. Nick at the Sophienburg is a combination of several versions, although he does wear a hooded red robe trimmed with animal fur and has a long beard. Our Nikolaus speaks only German and hollers out to the children, “Kannst du beden?” or “Can you pray”? and without even understanding what he said, the wide-eyed children say, “Yes, I can pray”. Early St. Nick stories were brought to New Braunfels with the immigrants. Come to think of it, so did Lindheimer and so did the idea of the Christmas Market, Weihnachtsmarkt. See you there.

Time: Market – Nov. 20 th, 10 to 5, Nov. 21st, 10 to 6, Nov. 22nd, 10 to 5

Place: New Braunfels Convention Center, 380 S. Seguin Ave., New Braunfels, Texas

Sophienburg volunteer Bette Spain will teach a class of paper cutting called Scherenschnitte at Weihnachtsmarkt.

Sophienburg volunteer Bette Spain will teach a class of paper cutting called Scherenschnitte at Weihnachtsmarkt.


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The year 1898 was a news-filled year for the Neu Braunfelser Zeitung

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

In 1998, the late Dr. Robert Govier, native New Braunfelser and volunteer at the Sophienburg, translated the 1898 Neu Braunfelser Zeitung, one hundred years later. The weekly newspaper is on microfilm at the Archives and had to be translated from German script to English.

Govier was looking for outstanding national and local events that might give clues as to how people lived in the very late 1800s. In additional other notable events, two events stood out, one being the Spanish-American War and the local big event which was the building of our present Comal County Courthouse. Stories about the shortest war in American history that began and ended in 1898 took up more space in the paper than all the other stories put together.

Spanish-American War

Here’s the Spanish-American War history in a nutshell:

Cuba was one of many colonies of Spain. Revolts broke out in 1895 in Cuba. Spain sent an army to crush the revolution. In the US, people were shocked by what was happening to the Cubans. This conflict in Cuba was a threat to American property owners who had invested vastly in Cuban sugar plantations. When the battleship, Maine, was blown up in Havana Harbor, the US Congress declared war against Spain on April 25, 1898. Spain ultimately lost the war plus all its other colonies in North America. The US took temporary control of Cuba as a protectorate.

New Braunfelsers were well aware of this war through the newspaper. The paper asked for volunteers to fight in the war and there was a list of items needed in Cuba. Most of the items I can understand, but not all of them. The list included summer dresses, quinine, lard, and various dried foods. Texas Gov. Hogg says he intended to enlist in the army. “One surmises he was rejected by being overweight” (Editor Kaiser). Hogg was known for his large size.

During this time, Lt. Col. Teddy Roosevelt trained his Rough Riders in San Antonio and the Zeitung congratulated him for their performance when they charged unswervingly toward the hidden enemy, forcing them into open combat and finally to flee. After training in San Antonio, the Rough Riders were sent to Florida and then taken to Cuba. Author James Adams from his book, “The March of Democracy” said: “The most noted minor engagement was at San Juan Hill where Roosevelt under C. Leonard Wood led the Rough Riders on foot (their horses were still in Florida) against the enemy.” Roosevelt made a name for himself as a rough and tumble leader with this battle which no doubt led to his being elected president later.

Roosevelt’s reputation was really enhanced in New Braunfels in 1905, five years after the end of the war, when he made a train stop here on his way from Austin to San Antonio. When State Senator Joseph Faust found out that Roosevelt was coming to San Antonio for a reunion of his former Rough Riders, he invited him to stop in NB to hear a song in his honor sung by 1,000 children. The president accepted the invitation and said he had always been interested in NB because of its unique history. The song by the children was written by Prof Baumann of the NB Academy. All Academy students plus students from Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School, plus all area school children were invited to sing to the president.

In addition, a group of young girls in Rough Rider costumes greeted the president. This was really a big thing because the girls had to sew their own costumes and history shows that these costumes showed up at many dances and parades at later times. For more information on this event, log on the and look for the column on June 30, 2009.

Comal County Courthouse

From beginning to end of the year, the war was covered in detail in the Zeitung. The other well-covered event was the building of our present courthouse. Every decision that was made about the contracts made headline news. The Commissioners Court had the responsibility of choosing an architect and a plan. This led to a spirited debate which was really big news. The conflict was finally settled but not until one of the commissioners refused to have his name on the cornerstone.

The cornerstone laying was May 19th and the paper reported that the event was like a folk festival. Two bands, Schuz’s and Waldschmidt’s accompanied a long procession of flag-waving children to the old courthouse and then on to the new courthouse. The contractor was given all the items that were to be placed in a metal box and fitted into the cornerstone. This cornerstone was opened 100 years later. After this, all went to Gottleib Oberkamp’s Garden for lemonade and beer.


As far as recreation was concerned, NB was a hopping place in 1898. Dances were held every weekend in dance halls all over town and in the country. A masked ball sponsored by the Fire Dept. #3 advertised an evening of “folly and tom foolery” at Matzdorf’s Hall, or how about a Children’s Masked Ball sponsored by the Women’s Support League, offering free coffee for children and adults paying 10 cents a cup. Possibly this dance, since it was on May 5, was the Kindermaskenball which in the past was traditionally held the first Saturday in May. Also at Matzdorf’s was a performance of all children, the purpose being to pay for starting a library. A surprise to me was the holding of at least six dances on Easter Sunday and two more on the Monday after Easter.

If dances were not your thing, you could take a train trip from NB to Austin to attend a Baseball game for $1.25 for the round trip.

If none of this entertainment appeals to you, I’ll bet the last one will. At the Gottlied Oberkamp’s Garden (Next to the Phoenix), a famous diver, Fenton, performed by diving from the roof of the high building into a basin of water only 3 ½ feet deep.

Then you could attend the Comal County Fair which organized this year.


Newspaper articles reflect the prejudice against minority groups, Native Americans, and particularly against women. All public offices were held by men, and women were not permitted to vote. That brought on some street demonstrations later on. Notice the subtle insult in this advertisement:

“B.E. Voelcker advertises Electric Bitters for the woman of the future who visits her clubs while her husband stays home taking care of the kiddies, as well as the woman who stays at home cooking and cleaning. A miraculous cure.” By the way, birth announcements were in the father’s name only.


Gold had been discovered in the Klondike and there were mentions of local farmers finding gold when they were digging water wells. Petrified mammoth were found in a gravel pit. “Circa Trova” or “Seek and you will find”.

These are just the highlights that stand out to me for the year 1898. If you want to read the rest of the story, the book, Neu Braunfelser Zeitung 1898 is for sale at Sophie’s Shop at the Sophienburg. You will definitely be entertained.

Etelka Holz, Elsie Pfeuffer, Lottie Tolle (Reinarz), Erna Heidemeyer (Rohde) wearing Rough Rider costumes in the Kindermaskenball.

Etelka Holz, Elsie Pfeuffer, Lottie Tolle (Reinarz), Erna Heidemeyer (Rohde) wearing Rough Rider costumes in the Kindermaskenball.

The 1898 parade of Jolly Rough Riders Marching Group formed to greet Pres. T. Roosevelt at IG&N Depot. Vera Voelcker, Marg Hamilton and Nellie Thompson were the only names noted on the back of the photo.

The 1898 parade of Jolly Rough Riders Marching Group formed to greet Pres. T. Roosevelt at IG&N Depot. Vera Voelcker, Marg Hamilton and Nellie Thompson were the only names noted on the back of the photo.

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Here’s a whale of a tale

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

In our downtown New Braunfels, there is a pub at 367 Main Plaza on the south side of the plaza called the Black Whale Pub. Strange? Why would anyone call a pub a black whale? It’s not as strange as it seems because supposedly there are many pubs called “Zum Schwarzen Wallfisch” (Black Whale) in Germany and that’s what this pub was called in the mid-1800s. Now the Black Whale Pub has returned and is located where Zum Schwarten Wallfisch was located.

It is thought that these pubs referring to a whale were named after an old German student drinking song that can be traced back to the early 1800s. The first owners of the pub in New Braunfels had just “gotten off the boat” and no doubt they were familiar with this old song.

The song, “The Black Whale of Ascalon”, tells the story of a drunk being thrown out of a pub because he couldn’t pay. Here are the translated first four lines:

In the Black Whale of Ascalon,
a man drank day by day.
Till stiff as any broom handle,
Upon the floor he lay.

The last two lines to the song say:

And he who would drink in peace,
Must pay the money down.

I think the moral is that if you drink, you better be prepared to pay.

Lot #47, where the Black Whale Pub is located, was one of those lots set up by Nicholas Zink. Zink was chosen by Prince Carl to divide the tract into town lots. These lots were, in turn, drawn and claimed by the immigrants. Zink drew up the town lots and included in the plan several smaller plazas or lots designated for certain activities. He drew the Main Plaza (Marktplatz) as the center of the town. It became what Zink intended, the center and it remains so to this day.

Let’s go back to 1845, the beginning of New Braunfels. Three siblings of the Johann Riedel family of Nassau, decided to immigrate to Texas. They were Anton, Nikolaus and Catharine Riedel Arnold. The brothers and their families arrived in Galveston on the brig Herschel and their sister arrived at the same time with her husband, Peter Arnold. They made their way to New Braunfels along with the other first settlers. All three siblings were awarded one-half Bavarian acre town lots.

Nickolaus Riedel arrived with his wife, Magdalena, and their two children; Therese, aged 3 and Franz, aged 1. He received town lot #47, which faces the Main Plaza’s south corner. The original lot#47 stretched from the present Black Whale Pub to Seguin Ave. where the UPS is now located. Two and a half months after arrival, Nickolaus Riedel died, and his wife died a few months later. Anton Riedel, Nickolaus’ brother, was appointed guardian to the children and consequently protected the children’s interest in their father’s property. The children eventually received the rights to town lot #47. Over time, this lot would be divided up by the heirs and bought and sold by various individuals.

Then Ferdinand Simon Sr. entered the picture. Ferdinand Simon was given the job of contracting the first courthouse in New Braunfels finished in 1860. It was to be built on the corner of San Antonio St. and the south side of the Plaza, close to town lot #47. Simon built a small wooden house there and this small building became known as the Simon house or building and in time there were several small businesses located in this building. In 1885, Carl (Charles) Schumann moved his saloon, location unknown, but named Zum Schwarzen Wallfisch Saloon to the Simon building. An old story tells of prisoners singing along with saloon goers.

Now we enter the second half of the story, and historically what makes this site so important. The first English newspaper in town, the Herald, was located on lot#47 from the late 1800s until to the end of 1907, and then returned for 20 years beginning in 1924. The history behind the Herald was that the Neu Braunfelser Zeitung announced that on March 10, 1892, “our German settlement will get an English weekly newspaper.” The Messrs. J.D. Guinn, Harry Landa, B.F. Voelcker, S.V. Pfeuffer and Sharp Runnels Whitley of Austin spearheaded the project and chose Whitley as editor. There were several locations of this first English Herald before and after it first moved to lot #47. Publishers and/or editors following Whitley included E.M. deAhna, who first moved the Herald to the Plaza location, A.C. Coers, Fred Tausch and A.R. Ludwig. The last editor was D.O. Bell. It was he who purchased the Simon property and built the 1924 building. The Simon wooden building was removed and a 1924 brick building contracted by A.C. Moeller was built in its place. The Herald once again was relocated at this building site as it had been years before when it was in the wooden Simon building.

In 1952, the exclusive hundred-year-old German newspaper, Neu Braunfelser Zeitung, began writing some stories in English in its weekly edition. The large Zeitung’s 100th Anniversary Edition was the last one to carry German on its front page and promised not to drop German altogether. Soon it became difficult to obtain linotype for the German section. When the English section became dominant, the name had been changed to the Zeitung-Chronicle.

Gradually the town was giving up its predominant German language. Finally in 1957, after WWII, when Claude W. Scruggs took over as owner-publisher, the Herald merged with the former German language newspaper the Zeitung-Chronicle.

Not only saloons and newspapers made the Simon house and that property their home. The Christian Science Society met at the Simon building from around 1912 to 1924.The Herald moved into their new building and stayed there until they built another building in 1944 on Castell Ave. After the move, the Dean Office Supply moved in there from 1945 and stayed until 1974. Until the Schwarzen Walfisch LP bought the property in 2002, various cafes located there.

The present owner of the lot#47 site is Donna Byrd. Realizing the significance of such an historic site, she is requesting to commemorate it with a Texas Historical Marker. The research for her request and the information for this article were done by John and Cindy Coers of the Comal County Historical Commission.

Early 1880s photo of Charles Schumann’s Zum Schwarzen Wallfisch (The Black Whale) with the jail to the right.

Early 1880s photo of Charles Schumann’s Zum Schwarzen Wallfisch (The Black Whale) with the jail to the right.

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Morales Funeral Home early business in Comaltown

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Dr. Ferdinand Roemer in his book “Roemer’s Texas,” when he arrived in the village of New Braunfels in 1846, wrote that a speculative American had laid out a new city in between the fork of the Comal and the Guadalupe within view of the city of New Braunfels and it was called Comaltown. This American citizen was Daniel Murchison, a land agent for Maria Antonia Veramendi and her husband Rafael Garza. Maria Veramendi Garza was the daughter of Juan Veramendi, governor of Texas under the Mexican regime who had received this land grant.

When Prince Carl laid out the city of New Braunfels on the west bank of the Comal, the Garzas laid out their inheritance on the east side of the Comal. Although Comaltown was separated from New Braunfels by water, it was soon annexed to the city of NB.

There has been very little history written about this thriving community so David Hartmann and I have begun a research project about Comaltown. We are collecting information on people, businesses, schools, churches, recreational activities and much more. David and I have a lot in common, including sharing a common ancestor here in Comaltown, Johann Georg Moeller (1844). We both grew up in this area and attended Lamar School. But when David went to Lamar, I was teaching there. David was in my music class at Lamar and so was Angie Morales, the daughter of Charlie and Francisca Morales who owned Morales Funeral Home on Common St. The funeral home was the first business that we researched in our new project.

The Morales Funeral Home, which was located at 171 Common St., was a thriving business until it was closed. Angie Morales (Kieny) was its last director and mortician. Her parents were Charlie and Francisca Sanchez Morales. Charlie was born in 1897 in Gruene and Francisca in Laredo in 1903. Together the couple had seven children. Angie, who was born in 1945, was the youngest. The other children are Carlota, Alfonso, Virginia, Francis, Martha, and Henry.

In 1921, Charlie Morales bought the property on which the Morales Funeral Home would be located. On the property was a small Sunday House and next to that was a two-story structure which, over the years, had served as a saloon downstairs and a small hotel with rooms for rent upstairs. There was a full basement for making wine and beer. Attached to this two-story building was another one-story addition probably used as a residence for the innkeeper. The buildings were constructed in the true German fachwerk style of clay bricks and cross timber. The clay used was plentiful in the Comaltown area, as many buildings were made of this easy-to-get material.

There is no information on the early owners, however, on the 1881 bird’s-eye view map of New Braunfels, the buildings can clearly be seen. They probably date back to the mid-1800s. They were at one time considered the oldest surviving buildings in Comaltown.

When Charlie Morales purchased the property, he removed the second story of the two- story building, probably due to the fragility of the clay. Other buildings in the area were converted to one-story due to the same situation. The basement became a cellar for can goods and vegetables. The Morales family lived in the remodeled structure and the other side became a funeral home in 1922. All of the Morales children were born at home.

Before buying the funeral home property, Charlie had worked for local contractors along with Rich Moeller. David Hartmann speculates that they worked for the Moeller Brothers Contracting firm consisting of Adolph and Alvin C. Moeller. All lived in the Comaltown area and Rich Moeller was a relative of the brothers.

Charlie Morales had several brothers who owned funeral homes in San Antonio, Austin, and Houston and so the mortician occupation was not new to him. Over the years over 30 family members were involved in the funeral business.

Angie grew up helping her dad and learning from him. She graduated from New Braunfels High School in 1965 and received her mortician’s license from the Commonwealth College of Science in Houston, doing an apprenticeship at Earthman’s Funeral Homes in Houston. Then in 1969 Angie returned to her hometown, New Braunfels, to help her father who retired, but remained active in the business. She became the first female funeral director and mortician in New Braunfels. She remembers some interesting times and she remembers hard times. Many families, due to lack of money, paid Charlie by bringing eggs, chickens, and even a goat. Some could not pay but received the funeral service anyway. Charlie Morales died in 1975.

To Angie, being a full time mortician and raising a family was no easy job. She remembers driving the hearse that the family named “Nellie Belle” hauling around young children that she helped raise.

Angie Morales maintained the funeral director position until 2006 when she closed the funeral home and turned the property over to her son. The buildings were subsequently torn down to make room for condominiums.

Most of the funeral records have been retained by Angie. Her former classmate at NBHS, Estella Delgado Farias, asked to make copies of the funeral home records. Estella was the person who did the research on the West End Hall and Baseball Parks. Angie agreed and Estella said that most of the 7,000 people in the records were buried in the Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Panteon Hidalgo Cemeteries. She also related that most of the funerals were conducted by the Morales Funeral Home. Estella and her husband, Robert Farias, are now working on the information which they are entering into a database. They are also searching for missing information and eventually will make all of this information available to the public at the Sophienburg Museum and Archives.

David and I are off to a running start. Well, maybe not exactly running, but we’re getting there. If you have information and pictures of Comaltown, we would love to use them.

The old Morales Funeral Home hearse along with Charlie and Francisca Morales on their wedding day.

The old Morales Funeral Home hearse along with Charlie and Francisca Morales on their wedding day.

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It’s Fair Time

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

A week of fun at the Comal County Fair really started off yesterday with the B-B-Cook-off and the Queen’s Contest today.

There is something for everybody at the fair. A giant carnival is the highlight for the kids. Even watching the crew set up the rides is a treat. The carnival literally rolled into town and began it’s set-up. With eager anticipation, kids watch the rides assembled like giant puzzles.

Did you know that the Ferris wheel was introduced at the Chicago World’s Fair Columbian Exposition of 1893? George Ferris built the 280-foot-high structure having 36 cars. Each car could hold 40 passengers. The Ferris wheel became the standard for every carnival thereafter.

By the way, New Braunfels had a connection with this Chicago Exposition. The City of New Braunfels entered into a contract with the Chicago Bridge and Iron Co. to build two high water bridges in NB in 1894.The company would use the steel from the dismantled Chicago World’s Fair. One of these two bridges was built at the foot of San Antonio St. over the Comal River, and the other at the north end of Seguin Ave. over Comal Creek. The total cost of the bridges was $9,895. These bridges are no more. The San Antonio St. Bridge was replaced in 1923 by the present concrete bridge and the Seguin Ave. Bridge was replaced with the concrete bridge that is the railroad underpass.

The State Fair of Texas was held in Dallas in 1886 and just a few years later the Comal County Fair organized in much the same way as the state fair. In Dallas, five businessmen organized the Dallas State Fair. Arguments over the location caused the group to be split and form two state fairs. One was the Dallas State Fair and the other was the Texas State Fair and Exposition. Both claimed crowds of 100,000 but both failed to meet expenses. In 1887 these two fairs merged and agreed to hold the fair at Fair Park in Dallas. They bought additional 37 acres. A series of problems forced them to sell the land to the City of Dallas in 1904. In 1930, the racetrack was removed to build a stadium later called the Cotton Bowl.

“Meanwhile back at the ranch” in New Braunfels in 1892, a hospital was being dedicated here and a small fair was held on the front grounds to raise money. People liked the idea and so a Fair Association was formed after the editor of the Zeitung, Anselm Eiband, asked why we didn’t have a fair in NB when Fredericksburg and Lockhart had one.

Right after this Krankenhaus Fair, the Comal County Fair Assosciation was organized. They elected Harry Landa as president and the fair was planned for 1893 on Landa’s pasture. Because of drought conditions, this fair was postponed until the next year. The amount of dust that would be stirred up by the horse races would be unbearable. Horse races were a big part of the early fairs. For that matter, horse races were big gambling activities in early Texas.

Four successful fair years passed and then the Fair Association bought their own land. In 1898 the organization purchased 11 acres in Comaltown on the Guadalupe River. Six hundred shares were sold at $20 a share. The land was cleared for a race track and a dancehall was built. For a few years the fair was financially successful but the situation turned around in 1905. Look back at what was happening in Dallas at the same time. Like Dallas, the CCFA decided to sell the property to the City of New Braunfels with generous lease options.

The fair was revitalized in 1908 and in 1923 the Fair Association was incorporated. Three more blocks in the Braunfels subdivision were purchased adjacent to the fair property. That same year the newly constructed grandstand burned to the ground, but the loss was covered by insurance. This helped the financial situation for a short time until the Great Depression of 1931. During this financially difficult time, the fair struggled to keep going but made some significant changes; prices for admission were reduced, no money for prizes was awarded, and most entertainment was voluntary. Local football and baseball teams put on games in front of the grandstand. For a few years the New Braunfels Unicorns held their first game of the season at the fairgrounds.

If I were asked to come up with a description of the fair, I would have to say “tradition and addition”. So many elements of the fair are as they have always been. The parade, the carnival, the exhibits, the rodeo, the queen’s contest, all are traditional.

I would have to say that the biggest change in the fair is the elimination of horse racing. One of the main events became the expanded rodeo. Some changes reflect society’s changes as well. The fair had a German flavor at the beginning and so German culture was emphasized. Then right after WWII the atmosphere of the fair changed and it became more of a western-style fair. The old Beer Garden became the Comal Corral and the music changed from oom-pah to “Cotton Eyed Joe”. The traditional Night in Old New Braunfels previously held on Thursday night has been moved to the last day of the fair on Sunday. Jeremy Richards will play music and the dance contests will still be held. The final Grand March will signal the closing of the Fair.

One big addition to this year’s fair is the unveiling of the Comal County Fair Historical Marker awarded by the Texas Historical Commission. The marker will be on display in the Comal Corral as it waits for its permanent location at the new front gate to be built soon. Being a marker sponsor shows the recognition of the historic value of the Comal County Fair and the Association’s interest in its history.

Another big additional change is the Cowboy Breakfast. It will be held at the Farmer’s Market downtown from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. the day of the parade. Donations will be accepted and are for the Comal County Fair Association’s Scholarship Fund and also the Sally Kingsbury Foundation. There will also be music.

At 10:00 o’clock when the parade begins, there will be a WWII Air Force Flyover. Leading the parade this year will be Parade Marshal Arlon Hermes, longtime volunteer and supporter of the fair.

The changes that have been made over the years still make the Comal County Fair the “biggest and bestes” Fair in Texas.

The American Legion parade entry won the $50 prize in 1929.

The American Legion parade entry won the $50 prize in 1929.

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