By Myra Lee Adams Goff
There was a time when teachers in the rural areas were furnished a house called a teacherage. These dwellings were either attached to the school or nearby. One such teacherage can be seen while driving along the Guadalupe River Road. The school and teacherage were located at the confluence of the Guadalupe River and Jacobs Creek between the third and fourth crossing.
A teacherage was offered to attract a teacher for the rural school. It provided a place to live, raise a family, raise animal stock, and a garden. The Jacobs Creek teacherage, one of the first built in Comal County, was built using a combination of log cabin style combined with fachwerk using handmade brick and cut limestone infill. These were prevalent building materials in early New Braunfels and especially the rural areas. Mountain cedar beams were used as well as wooden shingles for the roof. There are two rooms, the parlor with loft and the back room that was used for sleeping and storage. Can you imagine living with your whole family in a home this size?
The Friedrich family was responsible for beginning the Jacobs Creek School. Oskar Friedrich was one of those Germans who came to the United States in the 1800s. He landed in New York and there married Augusta Rudolph. They came to Texas and bought land to ranch near Sattler. The ranch was eventually 1,695 acres and it was called “Friedrichstahl” which means Friederichs Valley. In 1867, the Friedrichs donated land for the Jacobs Creek School and teacherage next to Jacobs Creek. Friedrich allowed his fellow rancher neighbors along River Road, access to cross the property to attend school. This gesture led the way for other ranchers to do the same and allow access all the way to Hueco Springs near the first crossing and also passage to Sattler from New Braunfels. Friedrich is often credited with the beginning of the Guadalupe River Road.
One of Oskar’s and Auguste’s daughters, Agnes, married Carl Pantermuehl and they built the teacherage that is still standing. Carl became a teacher at the school. He was born in 1838 in Germany to Joachim and Katherine Markwardt Pantermuehl. His mother died in Germany and the rest of the family came to Texas and settled on Rebecca Creek. They were a founding family of the Rebecca Creek area. Sons, Joachim Jr., Friedrich, Wilhelm, Carl and Christian Pantrmuehl all bought property near Sattler and were prominent Sattler citizens. Carl and Agnes had three children, Alfred, Julius and Louisa, all born and raised in the teacherage.
Pantermuehl descendant, Valeska Pantermuehl, recalled in a Reflections program at the Sophienburg, that it took all day to go to New Braunfels and back on River Road. She grew up in the teacherage and she recalled opening and closing 12 to 14 ranch gates along the trip.
Laurie E. Jasinski in her book, Hill Country Backroads, Showing the Way in Comal County, wrote that, “Sometimes getting an eyeful of reward took work like traversing many farms and ranches and encountering cattle guards and gates along the way.” Of course, it was courteous to close the gate behind you, which meant lots of getting in and out of the car. If you were lucky, there were bumper gates that were large swinging gates rotating on a pendulum that you tapped with the front bumper to swing open. The River Road was at times a narrow, rocky trail and the river had to be crossed several times. Extra tires, tree removal equipment and lots of time was required so that you could experience the beautiful river and scenic vistas.
Joe Sanders was Laurie Jasinski’s grandfather. Joe and others belonging to the American Legion, were responsible back in the 1930s, for putting up road signs in Comal County and also compiling the American Legion Scenic Road Map of Comal County, Texas. This Centennial (of the Republic of Texas) map was printed in 1936 and has some amazing little details concerning River Road. One bit of information noted is the portion of the road labeled “Shoreline proposed flood-control lake” and noted with “dots.”
The idea of a reservoir along the Guadalupe River was even talked about back in the 1930s. The flooding of the most of the time beautiful and calm Guadalupe River had always been a problem downstream. Incidentally, you can get a frame-able copy of the 1936 centennial map at Sophie’s Shop at the Sophienburg.
A problem with having a reservoir along the Guadalupe River Road was discovered when it was found that all of the sheer riverside walls and cliffs contained caverns. The extensive cavern systems would not allow the area to hold water. The alternative was to build the Canyon Dam and Reservoir where it is now. On the north side of the dam, there are cavernous bluffs that had to be plugged prior to the filling of the lake.
The area at the confluence of Jacobs Creek and the Guadalupe River would have been under water if it had not been for the caverns discovered. But, the plans for the lake were changed and the Jacobs Creek School ruins (mostly rubble) and the intact Jacobs Creek School teacherage survived.
According to Oscar Haas, the statutes of the German Emigration Company called for the immediate establishment of churches and schools upon the founding of New Braunfels. Schools and education were important to the immigrants and as early as August of 1845, Hermann Seele began teaching under the elm trees at the foot of Sophienburg Hill. In 1853, New Braunfels established a city school and in 1854, the Comal County Commissioners Court divided Comal County into eight districts with the corporate limits of New Braunfels being district one. In 1857, the Comal County Commissioners Court apportioned state funds to the several schools functioning. It was not until 1908 that funds from taxation would be used for equipment in school buildings. By this time, the rural schools in Comal County were already established as settlements spread out from New Braunfels.
Rural schools organized boards of trustees and the first trustees for the Jacobs Creek School included Gottfried Rohde, Carl Baetge, W. Schlather, Adolph Otto, Oskar Friedrich, J. Pantermuehl, Alton Kanz, John Marschall, F. Pantermuehl and F. Krause. The school was incorporated in October of 1867. Carl Pantermuehl was the third teacher and the builder of the Jacobs Creek teacherage in 1870.
The Jacobs Creek School later was incorporated into the Mountain Valley School District and ceased to be a school but the teacherage became a home for several generations of Pantermuehls and others to follow.
In 1978, Robert and Bess Story fell in love with and purchased the small cabin and restored it. They also added their own living quarters while preserving the charm of the structure. It is likely that the 150-year-old teacherage would not be standing today if it had not been restored by them. Members of the Comal County Historical Commission along with Pantermuehl family descendants, helped Bess research the property and write the story of the home and its contribution to the history of Comal County. The cabin is located at 12794 River Road and can be seen while passing by on a scenic journey.