The Sophienburg History Award was established in 2013 and honors Myra Lee Adams Goff for her dedication to the community and her steadfast love of history. The award recognizes a student who demonstrates a love and passion for New Braunfels history. The 2021 recipient chosen by the Sophienburg Memorial Association to receive the award is Mia Weidenbach. She is a senior at New Braunfels High School and will be attending Texas A&M University in the fall. The following is the essay about a historically significant event or person in Comal County submitted as a requirement of the scholarship application.
By Mia Weidenbach
Julius F. Schwandt Jr. helped shape New Braunfels while sharing his authentic German heritage with the community. I cannot help but share my excitement in learning about the impact Julius F. Schwandt Jr. had on New Braunfels! My mom is Michelle Schwandt. While she was not born in the Schwandt family, she married into it.
You can imagine how shocked we were when we learned that my mom’s favorite home, in New Braunfels, actually belonged to Julius Schwandt Sr. and then belonged to Julius F. Schwandt Jr. While traveling down Mill Street, my mom always pointed out the welcoming little green home with the large porch swing and gingerbread architectural features. One day, my mom spoke with the owner and to her amazement, my mom learned that Julius Schwandt Sr. built this home in 1900. In fact, the home is still known as the Julius Schwandt home!
The Schwandt family is steeped in German heritage and has invested in our community for over a century. By serving as the Mayor of New Braunfels, for two terms, Julius F. Schwandt Jr. played a vital role to the citizens of New Braunfels. He served on many committees and commissions in the area. Julius F Schwandt Jr.’s childhood home has been restored to its original beauty and was honored with the prestigious Historic Landmark designation in 2012. The New Braunfels City Council voted unanimously to approve the home as a designated Historic Landmark. This has preserved the history and highlighted the importance of the Schwandt House to the original Folk Victorian Architecture.
Our once small town is quickly losing our heritage to parking lots and commercial real estate development. We must do all we can to honor those who came before us and preserve the heritage that has made New Braunfels that special German town that so many have come to love and call home.
Let’s go back a hundred or so years and learn a little about the Schwandt family. Shortly before 1900, Julius Schwandt Sr. left Germany and headed to the promise land of the United States. Having traversed the countryside, Julius found Comal Town and decided to put his roots down. Not long after arriving in New Braunfels, Julius married Clara Rahe. According to the 1900 Census, Julius and Clara were full time residents of New Braunfels. At that time, the Schwandt’s had two children Julius F. Schwandt Jr. and Norma Schwandt. The 1900 census states that Julius was a blacksmith.
Prior to building their home, the Schwandt’s were able to purchase lot #9 from William Geue for $300.00. The lot was from the original 10acre farm lot #2 that was sold by Charles Seibert. William Geue bought the 10-acre parcel for $800.00 and then platted the land to create a subdivision. What makes this property unique is that it is located in the first subdivision beyond the Original Town Lots. The subdivision was located off Ferguson Road which is still in existence today. You may be wondering how this has any relevance to our community now.
My parents, Scott and Michelle Schwandt are in real estate. New Braunfels real estate is one of the most sought-after assets in all the state. The preservation of historic real estate may be one of the most important factors in being able to protect our heritage. To know that my parents share the Schwandt name but also have a love for our town and the desire to protect our most beloved heritage makes me so proud!
In order to honor the Schwandt Family name and preserve our German Heritage, I hope to serve our community one day by buying a piece of history. I plan to protect what I can from the constant destruction that growth is bringing to New Braunfels. My college career is just starting but I plan to raise my family in New Braunfels because no matter what it will always be home. My deepest hope is that we will maintain the culture, heritage, history and architecture by protecting and preserving it rather than tearing the homes down to make room for parking or office buildings. One day, I will make an impact just like Julius F. Schwandt Jr. has!