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1850s Mill Street house being restored

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

What’s happening to the old house at 230 W. Mill St? I found out. Jeff and Denise Mund have bought the old Georg Pfeuffer house and they are restoring it. Records show that this is the sixth time that there have been major additions and renovations.

Ownership of the lot on which the house stands was conveyed to Johann Georg Pfeuffer in 1852 and it is assumed that the house was built shortly thereafter. It is one of the early houses in New Braunfels built with fachwerk walls, a custom brought from German architecture. One can see fachwerk construction in present day Germany. Casement windows with unique latches can be seen upstairs. Hand-hewn cedar beams throughout the house and wide cedar beams were used in the ceiling. The full basement contained the kitchen and has a brick floor. In the downstairs area are two original black walnut doors, a wood that was plentiful along the banks of the Guadalupe.

Johann Georg Pfeuffer was born in 1799 in Bavaria. He married Barbett (Barbara) Broschel in 1829 and six children were born to the couple.

Pfeuffer was a tanner and owned several tanneries in Germany. He was quite a prosperous businessman. The children were all educated and servants tended to their needs.

The family does not know why in 1845 Pfeuffer sold all his tanneries, uprooted his family, and signed up with the German Emigration Company to come to Texas. They were among the second group of emigrants and arrived in Galveston in November of 1845. From there the family took a schooner to Indianola.

A near tragedy occurred when they were put on an overloaded schooner. It sank in the bay outside of Indianola. The lives of the family were saved but most of their possessions were lost. Now they were virtually penniless and were stranded on the coast along with the hundreds of other emigrants. They didn’t arrive in New Braunfels until 1848. The 1850 Comal County census lists Georg as 51, Barbett as 44, Valentine as 18, Christopf as 16, Daniel as 12, Barbette as 9, and Anna Marie as 6. The oldest son, also named George, was 20 years old and wasn’t listed in this census. He was known to have moved to Corpus Christi at the time.

Sometime between 1852 and 1860, the elder Georg Pfeuffer began a tannery in the basement of his home on Mill St.( Source: “Texas and Texans”,1914 translation). Inquiring about the process of tanning, I asked Al Ludwig, the g-g grandson of Georg Pfeuffer and owner of Ludwig Leather Co. on Seguin Street. He said that the process was done by soaking the hide in tannin extracted from oak trees to produce leather that was soft and durable. The word Tanne is an old German word for oak or pine trees (hence the word Tannenbaum). How did this family survive with the tannery in the basement?

Family records state that Georg Pfeuffer was very opinionated about the politics of the day. He signed the petition in Comal County calling for secession. Four sons fought in the Civil War.

About that time the young Georg Pfeuffer returned to New Braunfels from Corpus. This Pfeuffer son became the most prominent in the family, as he was a Texas Senator and responsible for the capitol in Austin being constructed of Texas Granite. Later he became president of Texas A&M College. To read more about him, log on to Sophienburg.com Nov. 26, 2008.

Johann Georg Pfeuffer (Sr.) died in 1886. Thereafter the house was conveyed to the Baetge family. In 1942 Arthur Baetge as executor of the Baetge estate sold the house to Annie Lehman who, in turn, conveyed it to her son Leroy Lehman in 1954.

Leroy Lehman and his wife Agnes raised one son and four daughters in this home. Some changes were made to the home to accommodate their growing family. The August Koch map of 1881 shows the house without the side porch that the Lehmanns added. Ernest Lehman, son of the Leroy Lehmans, recently brought the original pillars to the Munds.

The City of New Braunfels designated the house as a historic landmark. All of us in New Braunfels benefit from restoration projects like the Munds have taken on.

Johann Georg Pfeuffer

Johann Georg Pfeuffer