By Myra Lee Adams Goff
Before the Spaniards crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas, there were no roads, only trails made by Native Americans walking single file. The Spaniards were responsible for introducing cattle, burros, and horses into Texas. Can you imagine Texas without these animals? The Native Americans quickly saw the advantages to the horse and began following these individual trails dragging the 12 foot poles for wigwams and meat and skins on top. Thus, single trails became the early roads.
With the availability of wagons, transportation took a giant leap forward. By the mid- 1800s, primitive roads were fairly well established, mainly following tracks freshly made by wagons of emigrants along the Guadalupe River.
In 1845 Nicholas Zink was hired by the Adelsverein to survey the land purchased by Prince Carl that would become the settlement of New Braunfels. Prince Carl’s eleventh report back to the Adelsverein in Germany states that he had transferred half acre city lots and 10 acre farm plots to the immigrants in the settlement.
The first street in New Braunfels as described by Hermann Seele was comprised of a wagon track road from the present Nacogdoches Street after crossing the Guadalupe to the highest point on Comal Creek, the area where the Sts. Peter and Paul Church is located. The distance is approximately a mile and a half long.
Historian Oscar Haas states that the earliest maps showing street names were found in the first book of Comal County deeds in 1848-49. Only two streets were named – Seguin Strasse and San Antonio Strasse. These names were used because they ran in the general direction of these two towns. Both towns were older than New Braunfels. After that Comal Strasse was named parallel to the river. Nacogdoches Road or Camino Real was on the earliest maps.
The early maps showed nameless streets at the time and referred to them merely as Strasse (street). Eventually the main streets were Mill Street, named after the Torrey Mill situated on the banks of the Comal. Next to and parallel to Mill St. was Bridge Street, leading down to the Comal Bridge. Another early street was called Zink Strasse, named after the surveyor Nicholas Zink. A street that is no longer there was called Yankee Strasse after the Connecticut Yankee, John Torrey. This street ran along the Torrey Mill site. A street from the Market Plaza to the Comal River was named Solms but later changed to South Market.
By 1847, the Comal County Commissioners Court appointed men to act as road masters and to construct necessary roads. Road construction was by citizens petitioning and doing the work. A road tax by the Texas Legislature was passed in 1852 to finance road construction. Each county could have their citizens vote on whether the road tax should be levied in their county, but the tax election failed in Comal County, so roads were paid for and constructed by community-minded men.
In 1854, mile posts were set on Comal County roads. There are two surviving, one in Landa Park along Fredericksburg Road and the other at the intersection of Post Road and Gruene Road. Post Road is short for Postal or perhaps Military Post.
Streets are traditionally named after people important to the area, like Meriwether or places like Seguin, or functions like Mill or Bridge. An exception to this pattern occurred across the Comal in an area called Comaltown. At the end of Bridge Street at the Comal River was a low-water crossing leading into Comaltown. River crossings were always at the shallowest part of the river. This crossing was shallow and narrow. A bridge was made by cutting two pecan trees on each side of the river, falling on an island in the middle of the water. This island disappeared after the construction of Clemens Dam. Maps show that this bridge led from NB to Comaltown.
Comalstadt, or Comaltown, was a separated settlement from the mainland of New Braunfels, however, separated only by the Comal River. Comaltown had been laid out by Daniel Murchison in 1846. It was a separate settlement until New Braunfels was incorporated by the legislative act of May 11, 1846 and then Comaltown was joined to New Braunfels. In 1850 forty-five citizens petitioned to become separate from the city and change the boundaries of the settlement. The petition was rejected so Comaltown remained a part of New Braunfels. I have three ancestors who signed that petition, Heinrich Koehler, Jacob Rose, and Johann Georg Moeller.
A person who had a big influence of the future of Comaltown was J.J. Groos who plotted out the first subdivision in Comaltown called Braunfels. Groos had been educated in Europe and emigrated in 1845. He was well qualified to do this surveying since he had set out the boundaries of Comal, Bexar and Kendall Counties. He was the County surveyor and made maps for the City of New Braunfels.
In 1862 he had been elected County Clerk, making him an automatic Confederate agent. After the Civil War, all elected County officials were ousted by the Provisional Government. In 1865 Groos found himself without a job so he moved to San Antonio. He was eventually elected commissioner of the General Land Office.
Braunfels subdivision lots were ready to sell in 1868. Is it deliberate or accidental that so many of the street names in Braunfels had some connection to the Civil War? There are 28 blocks in the subdivision with 12 lots in each. Main boundaries are North St., Union St., South St., and East St. Let your imagination grasp this: The North and South are joined together by Union. The word Common has many meanings but one that fits is “belonging equally to more than one”. Each block is divided by an alley. How’s that for separation? I heard years ago that at the end of Camp St., close to the Fairgrounds, there was an army camp ground during the Civil War. I can’t prove that. Then there’s Grant St. and Houston St. and Washington St. thrown in for good measure. Just outside the subdivision is the greatest of all – Liberty.