By Tara V. Kohlenberg —
Now in our 90th year of existence, the Sophienburg Museum and Archives has maintained artifacts and archival documents to keep the history of New Braunfels alive. Part of our mission is to not only preserve the history, but to share the stories with the generations that follow. I am beyond thrilled when the next generation can come back and share it with you, too.
The Sophienburg Memorial Association is proud to bestow the Sophienburg History Award, established in 2013, honoring Myra Lee Adams Goff for her dedication to the community and her steadfast love of history. The award recognizes a student who demonstrates a love and passion for New Braunfels history. The 2023 recipient chosen by the Sophienburg Memorial Association to receive the award is Logan Summerville. She is a senior at New Braunfels High School and will be attending Texas A&M University in the fall. The following is an essay about a historically significant event or person in Comal County submitted as a requirement of the scholarship application.
By Logan Summerville
New Braunfels, Texas, founded in 1845 by Prince Carl, values its rich German culture. The town was built by German emigrants who spent days at sea to eventually settle in their new home — New Braunfels. Much of New Braunfels’ heritage can be seen by simply taking a walk downtown. The Plaza, Naegelin’s Bakery, and First Protestant Church are just a few historic structures in Comal County that depict life in the town’s early days. Preserving New Braunfels’ historic buildings, sites, and artifacts have kept the town’s heritage alive for generations.
I am a 7th generation New Braunfels resident, and as a descendant of German immigrants, I have always been intrigued by its history. I am a descendant of the Scheel and Altwein family who left Germany in the 1800s and started a new life in New Braunfels. I have recently been researching my family’s heritage and learning more about my German roots. My family’s roots run deep in Comal County and the Scheel and Altwein family name continues to live on in New Braunfels, Texas.
As someone who has attended all 12 years of school through NBISD, I have learned that many of the schools are an important piece to New Braunfels’ history. Hermann Seele was the first school-teacher in New Braunfels and held the first class beneath elm trees. It can be said that the first class held by Seele laid the foundation for NBISD. Seele Elementary was named after Hermann, and elm trees can be seen on the front of the school, a nod to the history of the New Braunfels education system. Many of the schools in NBISD are rich in character, including New Braunfels High School’s history. New Braunfels Academy was established around 1856 and still stands as a tax office for the school district. The old New Braunfels High school, located on West Mill Street, was built in 1913 to replace New Braunfels Academy. The building also still stands and is owned by the district. I have been inside the building multiple times when I was younger, as my mom frequently had meetings there since she works as a teacher for the district. While my mom was in her meetings, I remember wandering around the building and being deeply intrigued by the old architecture and historical elements. The old high school served the district for over fifty years until New Braunfels High School moved to its current facility on Loop 337. Our unique mascot, the unicorn, has ignited a culture of school spirit that’s unlike any other. The blue unicorn was initially taken from the coat of arms of Prince Carl, a nod to the town’s German roots, but it was later discovered that the coat of arms was a lion instead. Despite the misunderstanding, the mighty unicorn continues to be the mascot that is just as unique as New Braunfels.
Living in New Braunfels and being a proud unicorn for the past twelve years has allowed me to learn about New Braunfels’ roots that are firmly planted in German heritage. Even as the population explodes, the city’s history will continue to live on through the town’s historical buildings and value for preserving its German heritage. New Braunfels’ education system also has a long-standing history, and I am proud to be a third-generation New Braunfels high school graduate who has gotten to experience the pride of being a unicorn.