By Tara V. Kohlenberg —
There are times, during the course of researching a topic, that we come across a story that just says it all. The following, a reprint of a story written by Susan Flynt England, is exactly that. It appeared in the Herald-Zeitung on Sunday, January 7, 1996.
Local family traces heritage to prominent pioneer hotel owner
When Prince Solms of Braunfels, Germany came to Comal county, the area was occupied and its residents weren’t all Native Americans. Some of them were Milletts. Nathan Millett of New Braunfels is their great-great-great-great grandson.
Samuel Millett, born in Maine, came to Texas in 1827. Millett’s wife Clementine was born in Tennessee. Samuel and Clementine moved to New Braunfels in 1845. They bought Lot # 32. Joshua Bartlett, Clementine’s grandfather, signed the Declaration of Independence. The Milletts opened a hotel, called the Samuel Millett Hotel. It stood about were the Comal County Courthouse does now.
They bought the hotel and the property on which it sat from Nicholas Zink, the original surveyor of New Braunfels. Joseph Landa with his young bride lived in Millett’s Hotel until Landa bought the north corner lot where the family lived for more than 75 years,’ said the Haas history of New Braunfels.
Samuel Millett also fought for Texas independence. He volunteered in Captain Moseley Baker’s company at the battle of San Jacinto. He received land donation certificates for his part in the battle. The Samuel Milletts eventually moved to a farm near what is now Navarro School. They also operated a school out of their farm house.
Samuel and Clementine Millett had seven children, two of whom were twin brothers, Alonzo and Leonidas. Both twins fought in the confederate army. Leonidas died at Manses, according to “The Trail Drivers of Texas” in the Texas State Archives.
Alonzo signed up with General Wood when he was 16 years old. He distinguished himself in battle and was promoted three times, said “Trail Drivers.”
Nathan Millett traces his ancestry to Alonzo Millett. He married Arlene Wilson, who was a slave. Alonzo Millett prospered as a rancher after the Civil War. Millett brothers’ ranches were scattered over Kansas, Idaho, Texas and the Dakotas. The town of Millett, Texas, about 90 miles south of San Antonio, was named after Alonzo Millett, who had a ranch in the area.
The 20th Century
Early New Braunfels ancestry did not exempt the 20th Century Milletts from 20th-Century discrimination. Cora Coleman, 22-year nursing assistant at McKenna Memorial Hospital, remembers many changes in New Braunfels during her long life in the area.
“Segregation was the biggest change, “Coleman said. “I came through when it was the back door.” Coleman grew up on a farm near the Comal-Hays county line. “My daddy worked on the farm and had a business down at the county line, “she said. “He ran it. We worked a farm and raised our own food.”
“Back in those days the blacks who lived in New Braunfels spoke German very well,” Nathan Millet said.
Coleman’s brother, Eddie Millett Jr., was a Methodist minister. “He had churches here – Allen Chapel in New Braunfels with others in San Marcos and Luling. He passed on in 1988,” Coleman said.
Mary Johnson grew up on a Millett farm. “My growing up years were beautiful,” she said. “We were poor, but Mama and Daddy were together. We grew about everything we put in our mouths. Farm life would benefit today’s young adults,” Johnson said. “Maybe they wouldn’t sit and watch those idiot boxes and not do anything else.”
Nathan Millet teaches in Austin and owns High Sierra Company in New Braunfels. A charter member of the Greater Comal County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, he served as its first treasurer.
Millett is also instrumental in the success of the New Braunfels Black Heritage Society.
(Sources provided by the Sophienburg Archives, Annette Boenig Waite and the Millett family.)
Since this article appeared in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung in 1996, the Millett family legacy continues. Nathan Millett, a 1974 graduate of New Braunfels High School, completed his Ph.D. in Education and moved to the Austin area. He has since retired from public school systems and teaches math at Gary Job Corp. in San Marcos. Nathan has one son and three grandchildren living in New Braunfels. High Sierra Company, owned by his father Robert Millett, is run by his son, Kevin Millett.
The Black Heritage Society dissolved around 2002 due to declining membership; however, Beverly Millet and Karen Wilson are working to get it started again this spring. If you are interested in helping re-establish the New Braunfels Black Heritage Society, please send inquiries to email@example.com