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New Braunfels newspaper has changed with the times

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

When our town was only 7 years old, citizens saw a need for a newspaper. These citizens organized themselves into a company and through public subscription financed what became the second oldest continuous newspaper in Texas. It was in German because that was the mother language, but time changed that. This change paralleled the same changes that have taken place in every aspect of life here in New Braunfels.

At a town meeting, Ferdinand Lindheimer was chosen editor of the Neu Braunfelser Zeitung. Educated in classical culture in German universities, Lindheimer possessed a rebellious nature against the system of political and economic oppression of the German Confederation. He found it necessary to flee his homeland in 1833 when the school in which he was teaching became involved in the Frankfort Riot. This failed attempt by students to gain control of the treasure of the German Confederation was in order to finance a revolution.

Leaving for the United States, he arrived in Illinois, where he found a haven for German intellectuals. It was here that he met a well-known botanist, George Englemann. The field of botany became a vocation for him the rest of his life.

In 1834, Lindheimer left Illinois and made his way down to Mexico, collecting plants and insects. When he heard of the fight for Texas independence, he went to Texas, joined the Texas army and arrived just after the battle of San Jacinto. Out of the army, he tried farming, all the while collecting plants, sending specimens to Engleman. He revisited Illinois and another influential botanist, Asa Grey, offered him money to collect plants. This became a livelihood for something he was fiercely interested in.

He came back to Texas, collecting plants along the way. On the coast, he made the acquaintance of Rev. Louis Ervendberg who introduced him to Prince Carl. He was asked to act as quartermaster and accompany the first emigrants to the interior.

Lindheimer was given land on the Comal River (where the Lindheimer house now stands on Comal Street). Here he lived, botanized, and edited the Zeitung for 20 years. He was well-known throughout the state for his outspoken editorials, especially leading up to the Civil War. A legendary story is that a group who did not agree with his anti-Union stand during the Civil War threw his printing press into the Comal River. Nonetheless, he was well-respected and his last issue was on Aug. 16, 1872.

The next Zeitung editor was Anselm Eiband followed by Ernest Koebig, Ludolph Lafranz and Eugen Kailer. Editor G.F. Oheim was a respected editor from 1899 to 1941. His son, Fredric Oheim succeeded his father as editor and owner.

In the 1890 census, New Braunfels had about 2,000 inhabitants and after the town became more Americanized, the time was right for an English newspaper. This came about in 1892 when some local businessmen supported the idea of an English paper. They called it the New Braunfels Herald. Those supporters were J.D. Guinn, Harry Landa, B.E. Voelcker, S.V. Pfeuffer and they chose Sharp Runnels Whitley as the first editor.

Fast forward to 1929 when Charles Scruggs moved to New Braungels and bought the Herald.

Now the town had two newspapers, the Zeitung edited by Fredric Oheim and the Herald edited by Charles Scruggs. Their offices were across the street from each other on Seguin Avenue. Records showed that the German readers had dropped from 4,000 to 800 subscribers. (Source: Fred Oheim, 1977 Herald)

After the death of Charles Scruggs, his son, Claude Scruggs, took over as editor of the Herald.

He and Oheim agreed to consolidate the two newspapers. All assets were transferred to the Herald and by 1960, the newspaper emerged as the Herald-Zeitung.

In today’s newspaper, the Herald-Zeitung, there is little left of the German, with the exception of proper names like Schmidt, Welsch, Staats and names of old businesses like Henne Hardware, Naegelin Bakery, Ludwig Leather and plenty of “Vereins” and “Fests.”

The newspaper has and is changing with the times.

Inside the Neu Braunfelser Zeitung office in 1890. From left, Mac Church, Hans Herbst, Ben Nebergall, Walter Koebig, Ernst Koebig, and Emil Merz. [Sophienburg Archives]