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Many early immigrants didn’t last long, buried in Verein Cemetery

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

The Comal County Geneology Society has researched NB records over the years, such as census, birth, marriage, death, cemetery records, ship lists, maps, and many more. If you come to the Sophienburg to do research, you have these booklets available. They are also for sale at Sophie’s Shop. Right now Connie Krause, Alton Rahe, Everett Fey and Vivian Zipp are working on new cemetery records to be made available soon.

Paging through those booklets made me wonder about some of the early well-known settlers, the kind that streets are named after. Want to know where they are buried? Rather not? Come on, it might be fun to dig up some information, maybe even dig up some dirt.

Probably the most well known person was Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels. He came in 1844, only stayed 10 months, and went back to Germany to marry Princess Sophie (whom the Sophienburg is named after). He never returned to Texas and was buried in Germany in 1876.

When the first settlers were on their way to NB in January, 1845, a two year old child died at Agua Dulce and was buried there. In March of that same year, another child died and was buried on the “right bank of the Comal.” By June the Verein Cemetery (now NB Cemetery on Bus 35W) had been established.

In 1846 and ’47, immigrants that arrived at Indianola were not provided the promised transportation inland from the coast. Disease broke out and many perished there. Others decided to make the trek walking and, consequently, an unknown number died and were buried along the way. Many more died after arrival and were buried in the Verein Cemetery. Some of the graves in this cemetery have headstones and many do not. One large open expanse of land was used as a mass grave for epidemic victims.

Using many sources, my main one being Everett Fey”s “The First Founders”, I have chosen to look for the graves of the main members of the Colonial Council chosen by Prince Carl (Zink, Ervendberg, Koester, Von Coll), lest this become a “Who’s Who in What Cemetery”.

Nicholas Zink, an engineer, was employed to plot the streets and town lots in the settlement. He was charged with the responsibility of leading the first immigrants to NB. In 1850 Zink left for various towns in the Hill Country. He died in 1887 and is buried near his last home in Welfare.

Rev. Louis Cachand-Ervendberg was hired to tend to the religious needs of the immigrants (as promised by the Adelsverein). He began the German Protestant Church, and when so many immigrants died in 1846, he and his wife Louisa took in 19 orphans. They established an orphanage about 3 ½ miles from town on the Guadalupe.

Much of Ervendberg’s time was spent at this orphanage trying to make ends meet and in 1851 he asked the church council for a definite salary instead of a free-will offering. The congregation refused, and he resigned. He was unsuccessful at generating funds without his church income.

In 1955 Louisa became aware of her husband’s interest in one of the orphans, Franzeska Lange. The sad ending of this story is that Ervendberg and Lange left together for Mexico. After a few years living around Mexico City, in 1863, bandits murdered Ervendberg in his home and he is probably buried in Mexico.

Dr. Theodor Koester, doctor, pharmacist, and baker was hired as the Verein’s physician for the colonists. His home is now a historical landmark on Seguin Street. Throughout his life, much controversy surrounded his medical practice. He was buried in the Verein Cemetery in 1877.

The financial officer of the colony, Jean Jacques von Coll, helped lead the immigrants to NB, was given lot #25 ( later Plaza Hotel and NB Coffee). He and partner Adolph Nevendorf operated a lucrative saloon and store at that location and in 1852 he was elected mayor but served only two months before he was murdered.

It seems that von Coll was in his office in the back of the saloon when he heard a settler complain about the Adelsverein. Von Coll confronted the settler and challenged him to a duel. Grabbing von Coll’s gun, the settler shot him in the back. He is buried in the Verein Cemetery.

There you have it. The expression “dig up the dirt” takes on a new meaning. Two out of four murdered. A quote from Charles Dickens seems appropriate: ”It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

“An unknown number died and were buried along the way”. Artist: Patricia S. Arnold. Artwork ©