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New Braunfels 25th Birthday (Part 1)

25th Parade participants on Main Plaza, May 16, 1870.

25th Parade participants on Main Plaza, May 16, 1870.

By Keva Hoffmann Boardman —

New Braunfels, founded on March 21, 1845, traditionally celebrated the city’s anniversaries in May, because of agricultural and weather issues. The 25th Anniversary was held Sunday and Monday, May 15-16, 1870. Jubilee committees worked from March through May to plan the event. At 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, the committee handed over the festival grounds to the Jubilee president. A cannon shot, fired by first founder Fr. Heidemeyer from the Sophienburg, was answered by cannon shot, fired by first founder Hugo Loep, from the festival grounds. First founders Seele, Rennert, Wetzel, Lindheimer and Moreau signed a telegram to J. von Wrede in Wiesbaden: “Send the following dispatch to Prince Carl Solms Braunfels: All hail from the Citizens of New Braunfels at their Jubilee!”

Sunday hadn’t even dawned when at 4 a.m. twenty-five cannon shots were fired from the Verein cannons on Sophienburg Hill. People were stirring bright and early on that partly cloudy, breezy day. The Catholic and Protestant churches held shortened services with sermons based on Deut.28: 3-4: “Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field…”. After services, 37 young ladies presented an embroidered white silk banner to the Türnverein in front of the old courthouse (Chase Bank corner of Main Plaza).

Mrs. Edna Faust (first director of the Sophienburg Museum) translated Lindheimer’s musings on that day.

As Lindheimer went through the streets that Sunday morning he saw many decorated residences and business houses. There was a triumphal arch at the entrance and exit of each main street [4 at Main Plaza]. There were many inscriptions and symbols. A few of the houses were decorated only with American and German flags, but most of them were decorated with garlands, wreaths, and festoons. The dates 1845 and 1870 could be seen on many of the houses and on the triumphal arches. At the entrance to San Antonio street the arch showed a view of a log hut with an Indian nearby and a wilderness out of which the tents of the immigrants were showing. On the arch reverse, a woolen factory was painted with its high chimney. A farmer was returning from his field, and from the blue sky a cornucopia was blessing the land with its gifts.

Hermann Seele’s home on San Antonio Street was richly decorated and on its front was the coat of arms of his native city Hildesheim. It bore an inscription in Latin: “Give peace, O Lord, in our days!” A rope was strung from Pfeuffer’s Store diagonally across to Gruene’s Store with garlands, wreaths, and streamers and a United States flag right over the middle of the street. A large US flag thirty feet long was fastened to a cable strung from the courthouse to the two-story house of Halm and Mueller. The stores of Wetzel, Scherff, and Simon were tastefully decorated. Over the entrance to Bernhard’s Store was a scene depicting an immigrant under the figure 1845 who was grinding his corn into meal on a mill fastened to a tree. Moreau’s Store was decorated with columns and festoons to resemble a Greek temple. It reminded Lindheimer of “Die Götter Griechenlands,” a poem by Schiller.

A verse from a church hymn was lettered [in German on a slate] above the door of the Protestant Church. The front of the Neu Braunfelser Zeitung building was decorated with foliage and festoons, and in a large wreath of roses and foliage appeared a verse. On the front of the New Braunfels Academy the following verse in German could be seen: “Long live New Braunfels! May future generations find here a site for morals and right!”

There were triumphal arches at the east end of Seguin Street between Brun’s house and Forke’s Store, on Comal Street between the residences of Julius Rennert and H. Lister, between the homes of Ziegenhals and Boerner, between the homes of Lawler and Mergele, on Market Square between the residences of Floege and Landa, and on Mill Street between the homes of G. Weber and Goldenbagen and those of W. Ludwig and Dr. Lehde [7 crossing over the streets].

Sunday’s procession formed at 10 a.m. in front of the school at Academy and Mill streets. Turning left on San Antonio, it was led by Grand Marshall Friedrich Hoffmann, the US flag and a 12-member City Band. Citizens followed in specific order:

  1. Eight white-dressed girls strewing flowers
  2. First Founders and their descendants
  3. County officials (Governor Davis and legislators declined invite)
  4. Mayor and city council members
  5. Principal, teachers and pupils of the NB Academy with a blue silk banner
  6. Teachers and students of the Catholic School, Wipprecht’s School, and Union School of Comaltown
  7. NB Gesangverein with two banners
  8. Schuetzenverein men marching with their rifles
  9. Guests from Fredericksburg, Boerne, Comfort, San Antonio, Bastrop, Austin, Seguin and San Marcos
  10. Citizens of New Braunfels and their families
  11. Group of men on horseback made up of sons of Comal County farmers
  12. Decorated coaches and carriages of rural families from Comal County

The procession passed through three arches on the Plaza before turning right on Comal Street. Proceeding south through four more arches it turned right again to Seguin Street and headed north to Mill Street passing under another three arches. Turning right at Mill, the procession crossed the bridge over the Comal to the festival grounds. Another arch had been constructed over the bridge upon which bore the words, “Vivat Neu Braunfels!”.

The festival grounds (Prince Solms Park area) were entered through a large triumphal arch. Further back was a smaller arch painted with 1845 and a vase of wild flowers and 1870 and a vase of cultivated flowers. To its right was a tall flagpole flying an American flag with the cannon furnished by General Reynolds of San Antonio at its foot and to its left were wooden scaffoldings for fireworks. A sixty-foot dance floor had been laid, with railings and a platform for the speakers and musicians. The gymnastic equipment of the Türnverein was set up behind it.

Passing through the triumphal arch, the individual groups placed their flags, banners and standards at designated spots around the dance pavilion. The City Band played “Hail Columbia!” and Hermann Seele gave a welcome address to the 6000 people on the grounds! After the band played “Yankee Doodle”, lunch was served from tables piled with platters of barbecue, knives and forks and “new” plates.

The New Braunfels Gesangverein and other singing groups serenaded the crowds with “The Shepherd’s Sunday Song”, “The German Fatherland”, “The Rhine”, “Hunters”, and “Farewell and Homecoming from France”. At 3 p.m., Hermann Seele delivered the Julbilee speech which was followed by a shooting contest won by William Habermann. Later, Türnverein members wowed the crowds with horizontal bar routines and there were games for the children.

A Bürgerball (Citizens’ Dance) began at 7 p.m. and included a grand march. The first day ended with a fireworks display of red and white Bengal’s Fire, Roman candles, fire wheels and firecrackers.

Next time: 25th Birthday, Day 2

Sources: Faust Collection, Heilig album, Seele collection, Neu-Braunfelser Zeitung: Sophienburg Museum & Archives.