830-629-1572 | Open Tue-Sat 10 a.m.-4 p.m., archives by appointment.

Family research resources available at Sophienburg archives

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Even as a child I perceived that there must be some connection between one’s personality and one’s genes because when I behaved myself, both parents were quick to claim their genetic contribution. On the other hand, when I did something wrong, both disclaimed their genetic bestowal. Since my parents were complete opposites in abilities and personalities, it was inevitable that I was going to be claimed by one of them at least half of the time. They would say, “She’s from your side of the family.” or “She’s from my side of the family”. This is my favorite: “She’s from the other side of the family”. The subject of how much of your personality is inherited or how much is environmental is questionable but your genealogy is provable.

Before you can try to answer this age old question, you must know who your ancestors are (genealogy). The Comal County Genealogy Society has been the backbone of research at the Sophienburg for quite a while. Their research in booklet form can be used in family research. And some booklets are for sale in Sophie’s Shop.

The Genealogy Society has compiled a Comal County death record index from 1903 to 1931, a birth index for New Braunfels from 1910 to 1970, marriage records from 1846 to 1929, a naturalization index from 1847 to 1927, probate indexes from 1846 to 1940 and Census lists from 1850 to 1930. In addition there are cemetery records in and outside of New Braunfels.

The genealogists are never finished. They complete one project and then go on to the next. For example, Everett Fey and Marlena Schlather are compiling lists of emigrants who arrived at Indianola from 1844 until 1847. I asked, “Don’t we already know that?” to which Fey answered, “Not all the emigrants settled in New Braunfels and we want to trace where they went”.

Jane Phelps is another one of those busy genealogists. Fey calls what Phelps is doing “a genealogist’s dream”. She takes the translated obituaries from the newspaper and puts the information on the computer. The eventual aim is for a person to access an ancestor’s name, and find out parents’ names, date of birth, marriage, and date and cause of death.

Connie Krause is working on cemetery lists and preservation and Wilfred Schlather is researching Comal County’s Civil War involvement.

Through the generosity of about 400 families, Sophienburg has family books that are open to researchers. Sophienburg employee LaVerne Pearce is a good source of information because genealogy is one of her primary interests. Give her a local name and she can just about tell you who you’re related to.

Volunteer Ralph Koch’s job at the Sophienburg is to catalog the extensive Oscar Haas collection. In spite of his German name, Koch had no NB family connections until his parents moved here in 1955. Koch moved his young family here in 1974.

Now here’s where Pearce comes in: Koch received an obituary for an Alva Koch from a friend wanting to know if he was related. He and Pearce looked through the Weidner family book, found no connection between Ralph Koch and Alva Koch, but Pearce discovered her name instead and found out surprisingly that she was related to Alva Koch. That’s how genealogy works.

This next Saturday, the Genealogy Society is going to conduct a class at the Sophienburg in how to trace your genealogy – how to get started, what resources to use, etc. For a small fee of 10 dollars, members of this group will guide you in your quest to discover your ancestry (and maybe why you act the way you do, just kidding). The time is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with an hour off for lunch. Call Lil at 629-1572 for a reservation.

Ralph Koch and LaVerne Pearce examine the 1862 muster roll of Capt. John W. Stayton Co. Infantry of Atascosa County, part of the vast Oscar Haas collection at the Sophienburg.

Ralph Koch and LaVerne Pearce examine the 1862 muster roll of Capt. John W. Stayton Co. Infantry of Atascosa County, part of the vast Oscar Haas collection at the Sophienburg.