Startz Café receives Texas Treasure Business Award

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

The Startz Café has the distinction of being one of the only small businesses in Comal County still in operation by the same family for over 50 years. They just received the Texas Treasure Business Award in 2014. They were nominated by Representative Doug Miller. This story is about how the Startz Café in Startzville came to be.

Looking at family trees can be both enlightening and mind-boggling, especially if it traces the Startz family. Their family tree reveals to me that if they had a family reunion of all the descendants, there wouldn’t be a hall big enough to hold them. The Texas story of the Startzs’ began with the arrival of Johann Startz and wife Margarethe Loeffler Startz on the first ship sent by the Adelsverein to Texas, the Johann Dethardt in 1844. Traveling with them were her three children, Katherine Loeffler, Christian Loeffler, and Louise Loeffler and the couple’s children together, Heinrich Startz, Friedricke Startz and Caroline Startz.

Johann Startz received a town lot in New Braunfels on Seguin St. but soon after arriving in New Braunfels settled in the area of Mission Hill and then moved to Smithson Valley. After Margarethe died, Johann married the widow Catherine Wenzel and they had one son together, Ludewig. It is thought that the family then moved to Buffalo Springs Settlement on the upper Guadalupe near the third river crossing.

Johann’s oldest son, Heinrich, moved to an area known as Hillview, near where our story of the Startz Café takes place. Heinrich married Louise Artzt and where they lived would later be known as Startzville. It was 17 miles northwest of New Braunfels near Tom Creek. Startz Hill, originally called Hillview, was changed to Startz Hill to honor Heinrich Startz. With its height of 1,400 feet, it is the highest point in Comal County. Later land owner, Carl D. Allen, donated the hill to Comal County and it is now named Allen Park. It was considered the first county park in Texas. From its summit, one gets a view of Smithsons Valley and a stunning view of Twin Sisters Mountains 32 miles away. Author Laurie Jasinski in “Hill Country Backroads” reveals details of an ancient sea bed which can be viewed at the park providing travelers with interesting fossils and water-formed rocks. The Sanders family found many geodes, some round and some split open revealing their crystalline centers.

This land in the hill country (Bergland in German) is what my grandmother called “the mountains”. Her description of the mountains was any place above the Balcones Escarpment. She had lots of friends in the mountains and it was a long time before I associated this area with mountains. It wasn’t what I learned in school as mountains.

Now let’s get to the Startz Café. Just down the road from Allen Park (Startz Hill) at the intersection of Cranes Mill and Sattler Road, Bruno and Viola Elbel had a cedar yard and a store in 1939. The Elbels built a house with a small grocery store inside where they sold mostly to the cedar choppers in the area. Cedar chopping was a big business. This home burned down in 1942 and so they built a rock home in its place. This was the building that Curt and Alice Schlameus Startz leased from the Elbels in 1944 and bought in 1946. Curt Startz was the son of Heinrich and Louise Startz.

In addition to the home there was an ice house which still stands, and two gasoline pumps later removed. Ice was in demand even before tourists arrived. Because Startzville was not on the Guadalupe River like other settlements, they had to rely on well water with a windmill. Also standing is a hand pump for kerosene.

Curt and Alice Startz were the sole owners of the store. Alice ran the store after Curt’s death in 1959. The Startz’s son, James Sr. and his wife Lorine, were the next generation to run the store. It was James Startz, Sr. who added the café next to the house.

The area was first called Startzville by Dr. E.J. Duffin who did a painting in 1950 of the front of the store calling it Startzville after the original members of the Startz family. By that time they had lived in the area more than 100 years. His humorous comments painted on the side of the building were: Startzville – Paradise Valley of Comal County; Population, same; Elevation, unchanged; Temperature, delightful; ice, groceries, beer. According to local author and historian, Alton Rahe, Dr. Duffin was possibly a good friend of the Startzs and owned 310 acres of land adjoining the Startz property.

With the building of Canyon Lake and Dam, nearby Cranes Mill and Hancock were submerged. Possibly the only advantage of not being on the Guadalupe River, Startzville remained and the area’s population increased as it became a tourist spot.

After the death of James Sr. and Lorine Startz, their two children assumed ownership of the business. They are James Startz Jr. and Sandra Startz Duncan. A fourth generation member of the Startz family is presently running the thriving café. She is Monica Startz Wetz, daughter of James Startz Jr.

Sandra Startz Duncan has some interesting memories of her grandmother, Alice Startz. Sandra and her brother James spent lots of time with her at the café. Like a few other early business women that I have heard of in Comal County, Alice had her opinions and didn’t mind sharing them. She was strict about a “no shoes, no shirt, no service” policy. Once she went out with a shotgun during the night when some teenage males were confiscating beer and soda and were putting them in the bed of their truck. She held them at gunpoint and used the pay-phone to call the law.

Sandra remembers activities like domino games and cards with lots of beer. She said her grandmother, although she had a “raw” sense of humor, was well liked.

Café hours are: 6am-2pm Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday; 10am-2pm Tuesday; 6am-8pm Thursday and 6am-9pm on Friday. Some of the old time family favorites include such items as Oma Startz’s (Alice) original chili and enchilada recipes, and Mamo’s (Lorine) pies like she made them.

It’s still a family operation with family members helping out. They “stayed put” and “bloomed where they were planted” in Startzville, Comal County, Texas.

Alice and Curt Startz in front of the Startz Store.

Alice and Curt Startz in front of the Startz Store.

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Dr. Wilhelm Remer, early medical doctor with the Adelsverein

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Have you heard of Dr. Wilhelm Remer? He was an early medical doctor with the Adelsverein for the protection of German immigrants in Texas and he was a friend of Hermann Seele. Here is the story of how they met and their lifetime friendship.

First a little reminder of Seele’s arrival in Texas. Twenty one year old Hermann Seele came to Texas in 1843. He didn’t originally join with the Adelsverein, but after two years in the coastal area, he joined the second group of immigrants who eventually arrived in New Braunfels in May of 1845, two months after the very first group crossed the Guadalupe. While at Indian Point a group of Texan teamsters from Victoria arrived to accompany this second group and take freight belonging to the Adelsverein to the new settlement, fifteen miles north of Seguin.

In April 1845 when the group left Indian Point, the whole coastal area was flooded as a result of too much rain, leaving behind mud in the trails. Even on the first day they traveled only 12 miles. It took four weeks to get as far as Seguin. Mud is very hard on oxen pulling wagons full of goods. To give the oxen rest, they were unyoked and turned out to pasture. A roof type tent of sailcloth was set up to prepare a fire to cook cornbread, bacon, and coffee.

In the evening while sitting around the fire, a tall, strongly built young man with brown hair and beard approached the men around the fire and in German asked, “Guten Abend, meine Herren. Kann ich bei Ihnen bleiben?” (Hello, gentlemen, can I join you?) Although Seele and the others were surprised by the stranger’s arrival, they were very pleased to hear him speak in their native German. The wagoners were American and spoke no German.

The men welcomed this stranger and thus began a lifetime friendship between Hermann Seele and Dr. Wilhelm Remer. From this point on, Seele and Remer were together on their trek inland.

Dr. Remer said that he had arrived in Texas from Breslau, Germany and first practiced medicine in Memphis. From there he went to New Orleans and in April headed back to Texas intending to join the colony. Immediately Remer and Seele began talking about the colonization project and the Adelsverein.

After a terrific thunderstorm, from the north, the group moved on and soon Seele and Remer were witnesses to a barbaric orgy in which a group of Tonkawa Indians had fried and boiled a Waco warrior. Ritual cannibalism was part of their way of life. The Tonkawa squaws felt that if they ate the flesh of the warrior that they admired, that they would pass his good qualities on to their children. For the whole story, see the Sophienburg.com Archives column for August 29, 2008.

As they made their way to the Guadalupe, they were detained because it was impossible to cross the flooding river. All the freight and personal belongings were unloaded. In the distance across the river they could see shimmering white tents of the settlers. On a hill that would later become known to them as the Sophienburg, a black and yellow flag of Germany had been placed there by Prince Carl. At the same time, some of the early settlers had strung up a flag of the Republic of Texas on the area where the Plaza would be. There has been much speculation about the significance of this action.

Waiting on the north side of the Guadalupe until the water had receded, Seele and Remer were finally carried across the river in a canoe hewn from the trunk of a cypress tree by the Smith brothers of Seguin who were cutting cypress shingles. They crossed approximately where the Faust Street Bridge would later be constructed.

They walked into the beginnings of the town and visited with some Germans that they had known in the old country. Remer remained in town and Seele went to pick up meat from the Society’s butcher, H. Burkhart.

According to historian and author Everett Fey, surprisingly Dr. Remer did not receive a town lot. According to others who were First Founders, he should have received a lot since he was a First Founder. Records show that he was listed as an Adelsverein doctor but was not on their payroll. This has caused much speculation especially since he presented a petition to the Colonial Council asking to be treated more fairly. The Council took no action on his request.

During the arrival of thousands of new immigrants in 1845 and 1846, Remer was sent by the Adelsverein to the coastal area to care of the sick immigrants. Dr. Remer eventually set up his medical practice in New Braunfels and married Franciska Kuehn in 1850.

In 1855 a gruesome crime took place in New Braunfels. One of the original founders of NB, Christoph Moeschen, was murdered during the night by his wife, daughter, and son-in-law. Dr. Remer was the doctor called upon to examine the victim and pronounce him dead. According to Hermann Seele, the doctor asked the coroner, “What am I supposed to do now?” to which the coroner replied, “You are to state if the man is dead”. He pronounced that the man was indeed dead and the coroner called for an autopsy right there. After the autopsy, Remer said, “The old man has been murdered. Put the people under arrest.” Seele felt that Remer’s remarks were strange. In the end, mother, daughter, and son-in-law were arrested, tried, and sentenced to nine years in prison. The mother died in prison, the daughter paroled in 1860 and the son-in-law paroled in 1862. For the whole story see Sophienburg.com, Feb 7, 2012.

Not much more is known about Dr. Remer except that he died in 1870. Seele in his writings shows a great deal of respect for the medical profession. Although we don’t have much personal information about Dr. Remer, we can conclude that Seele and he continued a friendship that began in their early days in Texas and lasted throughout their lives.

Dr. Wilhelm Remer confronts a group- of immigrants on their way to New Braunfels.

Dr. Wilhelm Remer confronts a group- of immigrants on their way to New Braunfels. On the right is Hermann Seele. Artist: Patricia S. Arnold.

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Devil’s Backbone leads you to Fischer’s Store

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Ranch Road 32 West is worth a drive into a scenic part of Comal County. From New Braunfels, drive out FM 306, right on Purgatory Road, then left at RR 32 over a section called Devil’s Backbone. Probably named for the spine of the devil, it winds and winds and you are sure to get car-sick if you are prone to such an affliction.

At the intersection of RR32 and FM484 you come to a settlement called Fischer. Just to tell you how long this settlement has been there, the area (Hermann Fischer Ranch) received the Texas Department of Agriculture Family Land Heritage 150 year designation in 2004, which is given for continuous agricultural operation in the same family beginning at 100 years.

Hermann Fischer and his wife Anna were the first to settle in the valley on 160 acres where they built the first log cabin in the area. They came to Texas in 1846. Otto Fischer bought land next to Hermann’s, and both brothers were in the cattle business. Otto married Adolfina Schlameus. Other Germans that settled in the area were– Schlameus, Spangenberg, Linnartz, Luehlfing, Sachtleben, Pantermuehl, Kaderli, Haas, Schubert, Wersterfer, Krause and Wiechman. With this many families in the valley, Hermann decided to build a store in 1866 at one end of his log cabin. The store became the center of the community. With a large assortment of merchandise, Hermann soon expanded the store to three buildings selling groceries, farm machinery and household goods.

When the settlement received a post office named Fischer’s Store in 1876, it became well known over Texas. Then the name changed to Fischer Store and then in 1950 to Fischer.

A dance hall, bowling alley, school, blacksmith shop, cotton gin, gristmill, rodeo grounds, grist mill and last, but certainly not least, a cemetery was added.

Not far from the settlement on Ranch Road 32 is a large cemetery that has the earmarks of a caring group of people. This cemetery already is an HISTORIC TEXAS CEMETERY. Many Fischers are buried in that cemetery. Of the almost 500 graves there are other prominent family names.

In 1886 Otto Fischer gave 30 acres of his land to the Fischer’s Store Community for the purpose of building a school for their children. It was on the highest point of this land that the cemetery informally got started. It was appropriately called Fischer’s School Graveyard at Fischer’s Store. The Fischer Cemetery Association was later organized in 1976.

The first burial was the infant son of Monroe and Nettie Smith, nearby landowners and also the cemetery caretaker. Besides family members interred, there are also 21 graves of people whose remains were moved from the area that would become covered by Canyon Lake. Throughout the years, four graves were also moved from the Pantermuehl Ranch and single graves from Dripping Springs, Pleasant Valley, Schlameus Ranch and Suche Ranch.

So what happened to the rest of the 30 acres that was to be used for education? A school was built on this property and still stands. It is now the Fischer Community Center. All the one-room county school houses were consolidated under the Comal County Rural School which led to the current Comal Independent School District. Under this consolidation, the district claimed ownership of the land given by Otto Fischer. In 1976 the CISD transferred 3.851 acres of the original 30 acres to the Fischer Cemetery Association. The association divided the land into 1170 burial plots.

Leaving the cemetery, turn right on RR32 which leads you into the Fischer settlement. Located in the old Fischer Store is the Fischer Store Museum. There is so much history in that museum and so many genuine old things that tell the history of the Fischer community. One relict of interest to me was the old telephone booth that was located inside the store. It is beautifully constructed of wood. Inside the booth was a phone and at one time there were 16 parties on this one line. I even remember when there were two party lines in the city of New Braunfels. But 16?

The old cotton gin ledgers are there and their liquor license #84. The shelving and tables are all authentic to the store. Another interesting relic was a large cabbage slicer. Guess what that was used for. Right. It was used to make sauerkraut. Many people that live in the country still make sauerkraut.

Just down the road from the museum is the old dance hall. Private dances and receptions are still held and a public dance once a year. Next to the dance hall is the bowling alley where, to this day, nine pin bowling takes place.

Did you know that Fischer Store had a polo team? In the museum are homemade mallets made of a type of bamboo and wood. The open grass field measuring 300 feet long and 160 yards wide is still there across from the dance hall. The game was played with four players. One game lasted six chukkers or periods of 7 ½ minutes each. Cecil Smith who died in 1999 is given credit for starting the polo team at Fischer Store. Smith bought horses from the ranchers and trained them to be polo ponies. Polo ponies cannot be used as ranch horses once they are trained to be polo ponies. These trained ponies were temperamental and had a mind of their own. Part of the sport was the pony trying to throw off the rider.

The Comal County Fair will be this next week, Sept 24 to 28. There won’t be a polo game, but there once was. Back in 1932, the fair was reeling from the Depression, trying to stay afloat. They asked for local talent and the Fischer Store polo team challenged the New Braunfels team. The Fischer Store team was made up of Bill Fischer, Raymond Fischer, J.W. Bode, Bubie Vollmering, Reagan Calhoun and —Pape. The New Braunfels team was E.A. Maier, Hilmar Staats, Clifford Startz, Tommie Specht, Dickie Tausch, Roy Meredith, R.R. Coreth, Jackie Bergfeld, and Herbert Marion.

Between chukkers, a burlesque polo team from New Braunfels put on a comedy act. That team was made up of Ernst Stein, Charles Scruggs, Paul Jahn, Pete Nuhn, Coach Rode, “Red” Babel, Barney Koepp, Dr. Rennie Wright and Jack Eiband. What a sight that must have been!

Even without a polo game, see you at the Fair!

Charlene Fischer shows a homemade cabbage slicer in the Fischer Store Museum.

Charlene Fischer shows a homemade cabbage slicer in the Fischer Store Museum.

Polo Team

Fischer Polo Team

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Felipe Delgado’s West End Park

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Felipe Delgado had a dream. It was during WWII when he was in the U.S. Army Air Corps stationed in India. He dreamed of home in New Braunfels and of creating a place of entertainment for the Hispanic people. He and his wife Elisa fulfilled that dream by building the West End Hall and West End Baseball Park.

Elisa Saenz (Delgado) was born in Seguin after her parents had come from Mexico in 1926 to find work. At age 7, Elisa and her family moved to Dittlinger or as it was called, “La Calera” meaning “the limestone”. That’s what it was, a community for employees at the Dittlinger limekiln. It was one of the businesses owned by Hippolyt Dittlinger. In 1931, he formed the Servtex Material Company.

A community grew up around the lime and rock-crushing company. Houses were provided for the workers and a building that housed both a church and a school, called the Rosa Mystica School. The teachers of the school were brought in from Our Lady of the Lake Convent. Elisa did not finish school because she, like many other children at Dittlinger, took off to be migrant workers with their families, traveling on the back of big trucks to other states to pick fruit. Those who became migrant workers were gone about three months every year during the school year.

Elisa looks back to those days at Dittlinger with fond memories. There were lots of children to play with. Her father would often make barbeque, skinning a pig with every bit of the pig used for something. Elisa also remembers how hard her mother worked washing her father’s lime-covered clothes outside in a big pot over a fire. Every day the clothes had to be washed twice to remove the lime.

Felipe Delgado and Elisa Saenz met at a baseball game being played at Carl Schurz School here in New Braunfels. As a young man, Felipe joined the U.S. Army Air Corps where he became a radio and Morse Code operator. Elisa joined him when he was on furlough in 1944 and they were married. When Felipe got out of the service, the couple remained in New Braunfels. Here they would fulfill Felipe’s dream.

Elisa had a talent that provided her with a good job. She could sew. She worked at Cater Frock, sewing top-quality children’s clothes. That business was located in the present Recreation Center in Landa Park. When that business closed, Elisa kept on sewing for other people. She sewed the ornate Mexican Folk Dresses for the Ballet Folklorico that her granddaughter was in.

After WWII, Felipe came home to New Braunfels determined to build an entertainment center for the Hispanic people in the West End. He felt that there was a need for such a business. He worked at various jobs, finally ending up with a Civil Service job. But he devoted his spare time to working on the West End Park.

The property in the West End Subdivision #2 was owned by Charles and Laura Wallace and the Delgados bought the large piece of land, about four acres, in 1947. The City gave permission for parts of Katy and Michigan Sts. to be closed to traffic because Felipe needed that property to complete his plans for his West End Park.

First, a large concrete slab was poured by the light of lanterns because there was no electricity. The park eventually contained not only the large hall, but a ballpark, a large field for outdoor activities and carnivals, and a cantina. The park became popular very quickly with its dances and special events like weddings, anniversaries, birthday celebrations, Diez y Seis celebrations, boxing matches, and the Quinceanera celebrations for girls. At times the hall with its concrete floor became a skating rink. There was a rink outside as well. Elisa cooked hamburgers inside a small area next to the stage in the hall and in the cantina.

The baseball field with its grandstand encouraged the love of baseball and many games were played with other New Braunfels teams. The West End team was called the Cardinals and later the Lions. Many teams from Mexico played on that field as well.

A tragedy almost closed the hall in 1962 when the hall burned down on New Year’s Eve. All the band instruments burned. The Delgados had two daughters, Estella and Rosalinda, and that year Estella was to celebrate her 15th birthday with a Quinceanera. The hall was rebuilt by May and the celebration went on as planned.

The Quinceanera is a Hispanic tradition celebrating the 15th birthday of a young girl’s coming of age. It recognizes her journey from childhood to maturity. The custom highlights God, family, friends, music, food and dance. Naturally when Estella’s Quinceanera was finally held, it was in the new West End Hall. It is a very formal affair with elaborate dresses, tiaras and flowers. Fourteen girlfriends are chosen by the honoree. They are dressed alike and become part of the ceremony. It begins with a religious ceremony followed by a reception and then a dance. The honoree dances the first dance with her father.

Another very important celebration at West End Hall and all over Texas, for that matter, was the Diez y Seis de Septiembre. This event celebrates Mexico’s Independence from Spain in 1810. Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla launched the Mexican War of Independence from Spain on September 16th. Hidalgo set out to spread the word, carrying a staff affixed with an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. It became a symbol of the Mexican liberation movement. The struggle against Spain had to do with the rights of the “Creoles”, those who were born in the new world with Spanish ancestry, but not given the same privileges as those born in Spain. After the war, those Spanish born Europeans were expelled from Mexico. Locally this celebration includes a queen and her court for the evening.

The Delgados leased the complex in the 1970s and the hall was torn down and sold in the 1980s. West End Park and Baseball Field fist the old saying, “Gone but not forgotten.”

ats_20140907_west_end_park_a

West End Park with the hall and cantina. Inset is Elisa and Felipe Delgado, 1944 wedding photo.

ats_20140907_west_end_park_b

Elisa, Felipe, Linda and Estella Delgado

Felipe Delgado

Felipe Delgado

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Karbach family responsible for Methodism in New Braunfels

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Methodism is a Protestant religion whose roots can be traced way back to a preacher named John Wesley in England. John Wesley and his brother Charles, while at Oxford University in 1739, began a movement devoted to helping the underprivileged. Fellow students called them “Methodists” for the methods they used to carry out their evangelistic religion. Evangelism is the process of preaching to spread the word of Christianity.

Wesley did not have in mind to start a new religion. Both brothers were ordained ministers of the Church of England but because of their evangelistic methods, they were barred from speaking in most public places. They then resorted to preaching in homes or anywhere they could find an audience.

Another leader of Methodism was George Whitefield, also a minister of the Church of England. Eventually there was a parting of ways between the Wesley brothers and Whitefield over the subject of predestination. Whitefield was an advocate of predestination and the Wesley brothers were not.

In time, several branches of Methodism developed with these in particular: Methodist Protestant Church, Methodist Episcopal Church and Methodist Episcopal Church South. In its long history, by 1930 these three branches united and then merged with another group called the Evangelistic United Brethren. This union eventually led to the formation of the United Methodist Church.

Locally, a man named David Karbach, and a circuit riding Methodist preacher, John Wesley DeVilbiss, are given credit for starting Methodism in New Braunfels. David Karbach had heard the glowing reports about Texas given to newspapers by Prince Carl after he visited Texas in 1844. Due to bad conditions in Germany, Karbach believed his family would have a better life in Texas. So in December of 1845, Karbach with his second wife and their children, set sail on the ship Johann Dethardt and landed in Indianola. With all their worldly goods they had boarded the ship just before Christmas and arrived in Texas in March, 1846.

In New Braunfels, each settler was given one lot in town and a ten acre plot to grow vegetables and feed. It is believed that this 10 acre plot was in the vicinity of the later Locke Nursery near the Comal Springs. A need for expansion led Karbach to buy ranch land on the Hancock Road (present FM 306), about five miles from town. They kept the house in New Braunfels so that the children could go to school and they would join him on weekends. Three of the Karbach children, Fritz, John, and Emilie (later Klingemann) bought land in the area that became known as the Karbach Settlement. With time, this settlement encompassed over 2,400 acres.

While he was still in Germany, David Karbach had affiliated with the Lutheran Church, as many other Protestants did at that time. After arriving in Texas, the family began attending meetings held by the circuit riding Methodist minister, John Wesley DeVilbiss. Due to the lack of ministers in early Texas, circuit riding ministers were those who became ministers on horseback, traveling from one town to another. The New Braunfels Methodists were in a circuit that included Castroville, Cibolo Settlement, Solms, the area above Landa Park hill called Geberge and finally, Schumannsville. DeVilbiss divided his time between these four settlements.

Initially the first Methodist Church held their services in New Braunfels at the home of J. Hirschleben located in the Comaltown area.

By 1858 the group had built a small wooden church on the corner of now Union and Common Streets. Abram Gentry and Conrad Seabaugh, owners and developers of Braunfels Subdivision in Comaltown conveyed two lots to the trustees of the German Methodist Society of New Braunfels.

David Karbach and his family, particularly his son Fritz, became very active in this little church. Sunday School was held frequently in homes in the Karbach Settlement and at the church. Fritz in particular was instrumental in starting the Sunday School. Family tradition has a delightful story about Fritz and his marriage to Emilie Erck. It seems that when Fritz returned from the Civil War, he and Emilie were married in the Comaltown Church. The army band of occupation heard there was to be a wedding and they came and played the Wedding March. Fritz was the superintendent of the Sunday School for 25 years.

By 1890, the Comaltown Church was no longer used and the Karbach Settlement became the center of church activities. A new pastor, Rev. Merkel and his wife, then opened a Sunday School in the unused church and it was very successful, so the church building was once again used. This building served the Methodists for over fifty years until 1913.

Then in 1928, the old first church building was dismantled. Currently a SAC-N-PAC is located on the site with only an oak tree remaining, reminding people of the past.

In 1913 the Karbach Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South was built at its present site on San Antonio St. The Karbach name was included, indicating that family’s involvement in this church. In 1940 another name change took place to Karbach Memorial First Methodist Church. The last renovation took place in 1952 and the church took its present name: First United Methodist Church.

Sixty pastors have served the Methodist church, 45 of which were circuit-riding ministers. The present minister is Rev. Jason Adams. As one of the oldest mainline churches in New Braunfels, it has been a congregation of Christian service to others, no doubt fulfilling the vision of John Wesley. Records show needs being met in the community, all the while tending to the needs of their own members. The church responded to times of tragedy in the community and was very active during the Great Depression and the two World Wars.

Aware of their historical role in New Braunfels history, the church has preserved its records from the start. Although they were written in German, they are being translated.

The first Methodist Church located on the corner of Union and Common Sts. in Comaltown. It was used more than 50 years. Job well done, John Wesley!

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Depression years affected everyone

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

The fall and failure of the Stock Market in 1929 was the beginning of an era in American history called the Great Depression. The statistics of this period are staggering. Almost half of the people in the United States had no jobs, homes or food.

Leading up to this period after WWI was a time of tremendous social change and all the turmoil that accompanies change. It was the 1920s. Women were demanding voting rights and ethnic groups were demanding equal rights.

Then the banks failed, the Stock Market fell and those who had saved or borrowed money, lost everything. Big cities seemed to be hit the hardest for that was where the factories were.

By 1931, the Great Depression was in full swing. Texas governor Ross Sterling declared a “Smile Day” in November of that year supporting the American Legion’s effort to alleviate the suffering that first winter. As if smiling could solve all the problems!

Records show that locally there were approximately 400 people affected known to be unemployed and in desperate condition. Jobs were mainly for men so there were many more people affected.

An organization calling itself the Associated Charities Group was organized to help those in need. This organization included a group of organizations that could easily be applied to today’s world, for these civic-minded groups have always been active: American Legion and Auxiliary, Concordia Singing Society, First Protestant Church and Sunday School, Jacob Schmidt Store, Women’s Civic Improvement Club, Comal County, Christian Science Church, Masonic Lodge A.F.A.M., St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Business and Professional Women’s Club, NB Fire Department, A.J. Rabe, Child Welfare Club, Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, Eastern Star, First Baptist Church, Methodist Church, Retail Merchants Association, and Lions Club. During that first year, 45 families were regularly helped.

Clothing drives were instigated by the Associated Christian Charities of America. Well known humorist Will Rogers performed in San Antonio and the proceeds were shared locally.

The local Lions Club was particularly busy. They distributed 1,400 pounds of beans that they had raised on their own experimental farm at the Comal County Fair Grounds. In addition, the club pledged a minimum of six full grown and fattened hogs a month. These hogs would be slaughtered and ready to be delivered to needy families.

Individuals and businesses had their own ways of helping out. For example, Kneuper Bros. Music Store next to the old Post Office did not repossess merchandise but allowed customers to pay what and when they could, sometimes as little as 25 cents a week. The brothers had added appliances to their merchandise so it was very important that customers could retain stoves, ice boxes and washers.

By the way, the Kneuper Bros. Store was the first business in town to have a television set in the early ‘50s. At night people would sit in front of the store window and watch the test pattern and a 5 minute film over and over.

Back to the 1930s. In my dad’s family there was a Depression story. Louis Adams, my grandfather, owned a butcher shop. During this terrible financial time, people would come in to buy meat without money. My grandfather told them that he would just write it on a slip of paper and they could pay when they could. I think he was able to do this because his source of meat was from his brother Bill Adams and the Adams Ranch. The Adams family helped a lot of people that way.

In 1931 Louis Adams died suddenly. My dad, who was left with the care of his mother plus his own family, was left penniless. Before Louis Adams died he had bought a three bedroom house on Comal St. which my grandmother then turned into a boarding house, mostly for her nieces. Their country school did not have a complete high school education, so they had to come to New Braunfels to finish school. The parents of these nieces brought ample produce from the farm to feed everyone at the house. Like my grandmother used to say, “You do what you have to do”. During this terrible time, President Herbert Hoover kept a message of resourcefulness as a way to solve problems. I think my family did that, but it wasn’t that easy for everyone.

One group of people that were affected were the farmers. Those who relied on crops and livestock were dealt another blow, the Dust Bowl and the boll weevil. The Dust Bowl was preceded by a long-lasting drought. Pictures of areas affected by this dust are hard to comprehend with clouds of dust moving across the land, pulling up plants by the roots leaving nothing but scorched earth.

Many of these farmers who had lost everything attempted to move towards the cities where they thought they had an opportunity to work and feed their families. When they got to the cities, there was no work and no transportation to return home. They survived on bread and soup lines supplied by various organizations, mainly the Red Cross. At the first opportunity they hopped on open train cars and moved from one place to another. These Hobos set up camps along the tracks, built fires to keep warm or cook whatever they were handed out in the cities.

Every big city had make-shift communities right outside of the city limits. They were called Hoovervilles because most Americans blamed the whole Great Depression on Pres. Herbert Hoover.

Here in New Braunfels, much of what we knew about the Depression came from newspapers and movies. Subtle little hints of the times can be found if you look hard enough at photographs of NB children at school during the 30s. No “store bought” clothes but dresses made of material from flour sacks. NB was fortunate to have the textile mill and Dittlinger Roller Mills. My generation even today sometimes suffer from what we call “Depression thinking”. We spent a long time appreciating handmade clothing articles. There’s a long way in between Homemade and Handmade.

Boys were lucky if they had cut-off pants from an older brother. None of the boys wore shoes and the girls went barefooted in the summer. I always wondered why, when we were constantly stepping on glass, sticker beds and rusty nails. We could have solved that problem by wearing shoes.

At the end of the 1930s the Great Depression was over, but taking its place in history was a period of much more magnitude when the US entered WWII.

Louis Adams Butcher Shop

Louis Adams Butcher Shop

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