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Pictures can be painted with words

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Thanks to some early settlers, we have pictures painted with words of what early NB looked like from writers like Roemer, Lindheimer, Brach and the most prolific of all writers, Hermann Seele. Let’s not forget all those personal letters that were saved by families.

One of the best descriptions of the early Mission Valley area was written by Wilhelm (Bill) Adams, the older brother of my grandfather, Louis Adams. In 1937 Bill Adams told his story to his son, Harold Adams, who fortunately for us all, typed Bill’s story as he was speaking.

The paper was copied in its entirety in Alton Rahe’s book, “History of Mission Valley Community”. Excerpts from that paper bear repeating.

Bill Adams and my grandfather Louis were sons of Heinrich and Katarina Doeppenschmidt Adams. Katarina’s father was Jacob Doeppenschmidt, Sr. whose ranch was in the Honey Creek area. Heinrich’s ranch was in the Mission Valley. Both families were ranchers from the beginning. Honey Creek Ranch is now under the care of the Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Heinrich Adams, as a single man, came to Texas and New Braunfels in 1850 from Prussia. A family tradition states that Heinrich was educated in Germany and was in an elite military unit – elite because one had to be over six feet tall to be eligible. That was tall for Europeans in those days. Supposedly he had to leave Germany because he hit an officer. In 1856 he married Katarina Doeppenschmidt, daughter of Jacob and Anna Marie Doeppenschmidt. There were six children; my grandfather was the youngest.

In 1894 after both Heinrich and Katarina had died, second son Bill bought the ranch from his sisters and brothers. My grandfather, Louis, being a minor, went to live with his uncle, Jacob Doeppenschmidt,Jr. Bill was a successful rancher and eventually expanded the ranch to 1100 acres.

Bill was also involved in politics. He served as a Deputy Sheriff and then Comal County Commissioner for eight years and then was elected Sheriff and Tax Collector in 1908-1920. (Source of above by Marilyn Thurman and Jane Brummet, granddaughters of Bill Adams).

Bill’s paints a word picture of the early Mission Valley area. At one time there were no fences and sedge grass was as high as a horse “waving in the wind like waves of the ocean” with no brush and cedar and an occasional live oak. The game was deer, wild hogs, wild turkeys, javelinas, geese, ducks, swans, pelicans, flamingos, wild pigeons (an extinct bird sometimes referred to as the wandering dove because it would drift south in the winter and return in the spring.) There were panthers, various wolves, coyotes, bears, leopards, wild cats, raccoons, opossums, ringtail civet cats, skunks, armadillos and other smaller animals.

Farming in the area started when the settlers arrived and they needed tanks and waterholes. This explains all the types of waterfowl. The most remarkable of all the watering places was the Post Oak Sea, a mile from Adams’ ranch house. It was a large body of water never known to go dry until 1887 and since then held water for only a short time following a series of heavy rains. When all other watering holes were dry and the Guadalupe was down to a trickle, this large body of water was full. If you want to see it, drive out Hwy. 46 and from the intersection of Loop 336, on the right side about four miles, you will see a large tank near the road. That’s not it! Drive a little further and off in the distance you will spot the “Sea” with a small amount of water. Speculations about the “Sea” going dry have gone on for years; some thought there was an earthquake, some felt it had to do with a storm in 1886.

“We young fellows from our neighborhood would get together at the Sea all on horseback with several trained dogs, and waited for the wild hogs to come to the water. The lake was several acres across and a mile in every direction. Good rodeos would take place there between the dogs and hogs.”

Other Bill Adams stories are reprinted in Rahe’s book that can be purchased at the Sophienburg.

On the Adams ranch, early 1900s. Left to right – Gus Reininger, Henry Adams, Bill Adams and H. Dittlinger.

On the Adams ranch, early 1900s. Left to right – Gus Reininger, Henry Adams, Bill Adams and H. Dittlinger.