(Encore of article that first appeared November 26, 2008.)
By Myra Lee Adams Goff —
Recently I went to the Comal Cemetery to visit family and friends. Don’t tell me that I’m the only one that does that; someone brings the flowers! Since I started writing this column I have greatly increased the number of people that I know in the cemetery, particularly those born in the 19th century.
Take an over-all look at the cemetery and certain things stand out. One is the number of obelisks, particularly in the old section of the cemetery. The dictionary describes an obelisk as a four- sided stone monument that rises to the point at the top. Ancient Egyptians used to place obelisks at the entrance of tombs.
The granddaddy of obelisks in the Comal Cemetery is the one dedicated to Senator George Pfeuffer. This monument is 24 feet tall and towers over all the others. It was given in Pfeuffer’s honor by the Granite Association of Texas. Here’s the story:
In 1877 George Pfeuffer was appointed Comal County Judge, filling the unexpired term of Dr. Theodor Koester and was elected to that position in 1880. In 1882 he was elected to a seat in the Texas Senate. During his tenure, he led the fight within the Senate to have the State Capitol in Austin built of Texas granite instead of Georgian marble. The obelisk is made of that Texas granite and that’s the reason for the memorial.
Pfeuffer had other irons in the fire besides politics; he owned a dry goods store in NB on the south corner of San Antonio St. and Castell Ave. After he died in 1886, the business was carried on by the family until the 1920s. The building is the one with the mural of Prince Carl on the side. Pfeuffer also owned a lumber yard in NB and other lumber yards elsewhere.
Pfeuffer as a young man worked for Ferguson and Hessler Dry Goods store. He was sent to Corpus Christi by Ferguson to tend to businesses in that city. There he met and married Susan Gravis. In 1861 when the Civil War broke out, they returned to NB because he felt his family would be safer here.
When Pfeuffer became County Judge, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of A&M College in Bryan. He is given credit for putting the finances back in order, allowing A&M to build its first dormitory, Pfeuffer Hall. Sophienburg President David Pfeuffer is George Pfeuffer’s g-g-g-grandson.
So many families have plots in the Comal Cemetery and if you know NB history, you will recognize the names of Ferdinand Lindheimer, Hermann Seele, the Hennes, Guenthers, Fausts, and the list goes on and on. Many of the older family plots have ornate iron fences and elaborate tombstones.
A practical and decorative grave covering can be seen scattered around the old cemetery section. I’m referring to the shell-covered graves. Made by H.T. Mordhurst, I found about 10, most of who died in the early 1900s. Mordhurst, born in Germany, came to NB in 1900 and began a business of producing concrete blocks for buildings, several of which are still in NB. He went into this business with Emil Heinen.
In the meantime, Mordhurst developed this technique of decorating graves. Using a wooden form to create a mound, he covered it with iron mesh, and then poured concrete into the mold. Cockleshells from the Texas coast were brought to NB by train in barrels. They were filled with cement and a wire was twisted inside before they were attached. Mordhurst died in 1928 and that was the end of the shell-covered graves.
There’s a lot of history out there — some we know and some we don’t.
“May they rest easy in their final abodes beneath hallowed soil, these hardy pioneers, these staunch characters who built a nation.” (From a Centennial editorial, Chas.W. Scruggs, Editor, New Braunfels Herald, 1946,)