By Myra Lee Adams Goff
Do you know why our streets are named what they are? A tremendous amount of history can be learned by knowing how our streets got their names.
Using Main Plaza as the center of town, the names of Seguin Ave. and San Antonio St. are pretty obvious. The first settlers in 1845 followed the east side of the Guadalupe River by way of Seguin, then crossed at the King’s Highway (Nacogdoches St.) and made their way up into the settlement not far from where Seguin Ave. would be laid out. Seguin Ave. was considered the main street.
The street pointing in the direction of San Antonio in Bexar County was important because Bexar was one of four counties created by the Republic of Texas after Texas won its independence from Mexico. Since our area was part of Bexar, local official legal business had to be done in San Antonio. Comal became a county on March 24, 1846. New Braunfels, the county seat, is a year older.
These two main streets, plus the rest of the 1285 acres purchased by Prince Carl from the Veramendi family, were surveyed and laid out by Nicholas Zink. Prince Carl gave Zink 25 acres along the Comal Creek (in the area of Zink St.).
Bridge St. seems to be ill-named as there isn’t a bridge on it. Ah, but at one time there was. At the end of E. Bridge where it would meet the Comal, there was a foot bridge. Hermann Seele tells us that there was a small island in the water where the Comal Creek and the Comal River merged. (above Clemens Dam). Two large pecan trees had been felled on to the island from the banks and this was the Brücken (bridge) that connected NB with Comaltown. In Oscar Haas’ translation of Fritz Goldbeck’s poem, Goldbeck says that often he and his brother crossed this bridge at the break of day to shoot wild turkey-cocks that came nightly to roost in the pecan forest on the opposite bank of the Comal (Comaltown).
Another historic street is Mill St. leading down to the Comal. Prince Carl set aside 1 ¾ acres called the “mill block”. He saw the potential for water power running all sorts of mills – woolen, saw, grist, and that is indeed what happened there.
Prince Carl named Castell St. after Count Carl of Castell-Castell, a member of the Adelsverein. Prince Carl had already changed the name of Indian Point, the Adelsverein’s property on the coast, to “Carlshaven” after Castell, Prince Carl of Leningen-Amorbach, and himself.
Other dignitaries bearing street names were Jean von Coll, the accountant for the Adelsverein. Coll St. next to First Protestant Church was once called Church Street. Historian Rudolph Biesele tells us that von Coll was a former lieutenant in the service of the Duke of Nassau. He once foiled a plan by the settlers to change the name of New Braunfels to “Comal” by announcing that anyone who voted for “Comal” would get no more supplies. Von Coll was later shot in the back by a disgruntled settler.
Biesele also tells us that Magazine St. was so named after the German word “Magazin” (warehouse) for the building behind the Sophienburg, housing the Adelsverein’s supplies.
Parallel to Magazine is Academy St. and that’s a pretty easy one too if you follow it across San Antonio St. to where the NBISD has its Administration building. That is where the New Braunfels Academy was located, the first tax-supported school in the state of Texas.
Botanist Ferdinand Lindheimer was given 10 town lots on Comal Ave. and Garden St. About where the Lindheimer House is on Comal Ave. was where his Botanical Gardens were located. Comal Ave. ended there originally, and was extended later.
When you’re driving around, it might be fun to test yourself on your “street smarts”.