By Myra Lee Adams Goff
The Sophienburg Museum has a display featuring the early physicians Drs. Frederick and Bertha Frueholz who were a husband and wife team here in New Braunfels from the time they arrived in 1926. Their son, Dr. Frederick Frueholz, Jr. (known as Dr. Fred) revealed some interesting facts about his parents. His father taught architecture in Stuttgart, Germany before becoming a physician. His mother wanted to become a doctor, so they both studied at one of the top medical schools in Germany at Tűbingen. Dr. Bertha was one of two female students at this university.
After graduation the couple practiced medicine in Esslingen, Germany, but because of political and economic unrest, they emigrated to New York and then on to Nordheim, Texas. After a short stay there, they eventually settled in New Braunfels along with their two children, Margaret and Fred.
Dr. Fred said that in those early days, the doctors did their own lab work, and that house calls were the practice rather than the exception. In the exhibit is a large cabinet full of medicine that his parents would give to those patients that could not pay, as there was a great deal of charity in the early days.
Want to see a wooden leg? There is one in the display. Dr. Fred loaned most of the items to the Sophienburg. To name a few, there is a saddlebag with bottles of medicine on both sides, an examining table, all sorts of bottles of medicine, and a sterilizer containing some pretty wicked looking instruments. The adenoid remover in particular made me cringe. And how about that tonsil remover?
Dr. Frederick Sr. was also an eye doctor, so the tools of his trade are here also – a tray with about 100 different prescription lenses. That one doesn’t fit, then try this one.
Most New Braunfelsers are familiar with the Frueholz Mansion opposite from First Protestant Church. Most know the story of how this huge building was moved from the original site of the present Faust Hotel on rollers, no less. Here’s the rest of the story: The original two story house built in 1880 by Senator and Mrs. Joseph Faust sat side by side to Faust’s brother Walter’s house (next to First Protestant Church and now belonging to them). In 1905 Senator Faust called on the well-known San Antonio architect, Atlee Ayers, to enlarge the house. At this time a third floor, porches and brick were added.
After the death of Joseph Faust, the house stood vacant for a few years. When investors wanted to put a hotel on the property, Dr. Frueholz purchased the building with the intent of moving it to its present site. This is where his knowledge of architecture came in handy. Putting the whole house on rollers, it was maneuvered out in the road (no paved streets). It was in April and a terrific downpour caused the house to be stuck in the mud for five days. Finally, Dr. Frueholz had all the bricks removed, lightening up the building and then it rolled. The whole process took about ten days and after the building was in place, all the bricks were again restored.
Looking for comic relief from that adenoid remover, I went to the microfilm machine to look up what was going on in medicine 100 years ago. I zeroed in on a medicine ad: “Castoria, doesn’t contain morphine or opium. It destroys worms, teething problems, and stomach problems”. In my childhood, Castor Oil was considered a cure-all. It tasted so nasty that it was put in orange juice. That didn’t get rid of the taste, it just ruined the orange juice.
The three Drs. Frueholz performed an important service to the citizens of New Braunfels. I’m so grateful for modern medicine! As my husband says, “These are the good old days”.