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2024 Myra Lee Adams Goff Sophienburg History Award Winner

Photo Caption: Myra Lee Adams Goff and scholarship award winner Nathan Martinez. (Photo courtesy of Grace Pfeiffer Pfotography)

Photo Caption: Myra Lee Adams Goff and scholarship award winner Nathan Martinez. (Photo courtesy of Grace Pfeiffer Pfotography)

The 2024 Myra Lee Adams Goff Sophienburg History Scholarship was awarded to Nathan Martinez. In a ceremony during the Sophienburg Museum’s annual meeting on April 18, Nathan was presented with the award ― a $1000 scholarship ― and got to meet and visit with Mrs. Goff. He is the eleventh recipient of this annual award and scholarship.

Nathan will be graduating from Pieper High School (CISD) where he played and lettered in both varsity football and track while maintaining a 3.70 GPA. He plans on attending Texas State University this fall and majoring in marketing and business. Nathan’s essay was chosen by Mrs. Goff from 36 applicants and addressed the prompt, “Write about an historically significant person or event in Comal County.”

The Sophienburg Museum is delighted to partner with Myra Lee Adams Goff in this scholarship program which encourages young people to learn and understand the history of Comal County. Congratulations Nathan!

Knibbe Ranch ― by Nathan Martinez

I had just moved into my house in Spring Branch and was hanging out in my room at night when I heard a loud explosion. I got up to see what was happening and went to look outside. I was walking slowly up my driveway, when I heard another explosion and then saw fireworks. I remember thinking how strange it was that my usually quiet neighborhood had fireworks so close. It wasn’t long before I learned the fireworks were from the nearby Knibbe ranch. Now I drive by the ranch at least twice a day. I watch the long horns and other cattle roam over the hills and watch to see if the recent rains have filled the tank. The scorching summer had left the indentation cracked and dry. Before writing this essay, I didn’t know the history of the ranch or what Knibbe meant. Now I do.

Dietrich Knibbe, who came from Germany, founded the settlement in Spring Branch in 1852. He was the first settler in Spring Branch, and ended up owning 22,000 acres of land along the Guadalupe River where he built a sawmill, flourmill, and a shingle mill. He raised oxen on the land. He helped to establish the many different places in Spring Branch including a Knibbe General Store, the Knibbe Brothers cotton gin, the Spring Branch dance hall and saloon and a one room Spring Branch school. His family has lived on the ranch for seven generations now. The Knibbe ranch has raised cattle for over 150 years and have even bred a specialty breed of cows called F-1 Tiger Stripes. They are a cross between Hereford and Brahman cattle.

There is a spring creek that runs through my neighborhood where I have spent many summers jumping off trees into the creek and swimming with the fish, turtles and sometimes even snakes. That creek runs down into Knibbe ranch too. Just like on the ranch, you can see many different types of animals and birds along the creek. One other thing I learned when doing research on the ranch is that at least 8,000 years ago, hunters-gatherers used the area now called Knibbe ranch to hunt bison. The ranch has found many artifacts such as things used to hunt like arrowheads.

I had always wanted to drive onto the ranch to see what it was like and finally last Easter I got my chance. My church was having Easter Sunday service on the ranch. I had to get up really early because it was a sunrise service, but it was cool to finally see what the ranch looked like. Now that I know the history of the ranch, I wish I could go back to see in person the cliff where the bison were killed or where different buildings are.

As I get closer and closer to leaving for college, it’s hard to imagine not driving by and seeing the ranch every day. Sometimes it’s scary to think about leaving home and moving away, but I can’t imagine how afraid Dietrich Knibbe must have felt when he boarded the boat to cross the ocean from Germany. That makes my move to Texas State University only 45 minutes away seem like such a small thing. I know I will have many new adventures when I go to college, but I will always know I am almost home when I come to visit and pass by The Knibbe Ranch.