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Stories of Lustige Strumpf intrigue, puzzle historians

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Have you ever heard of a place called “der Lustige Strumpf“? In English, it means “the lusty stocking”. Sounds a little suspicious, doesn’t it? Its background and location are a little shady and a little mysterious. Der Lustige Strumpf has been the subject of curiosity on the part of local historians for years.

What was the Lustige Strumpf? We have a small amount of evidence that it was a saloon that might have had various purposes. In 1845, it was located somewhere on eight lots on the then edge of town on the Comal Creek and almost immediately next to the lots given to the Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church by the Adelsverein. The eight lots were: #190, 191, 221, 222, 223, 255, 256 and 257 as numbered by Nicholas Zink, surveyor of the Adelsverein. They were on the land originally known as the Zinkenburg set up by Prince Carl for the original emigrants.

Eventually, this whole area of eight lots became known as the Lustige Strumpf, but we still don’t know where the saloon was located.

Everett Fey in his research on first founders believes there were some colonists that arrived after the first founders sometime before 1850 and set up their homes on these lots. Whether they were squatters or exactly who they were is not known. They were given permission to live in this area without taking legal possession.

Almost immediately after the first settlers arrived in March 1845, the town lots drawn up by Zink were assigned. The eight lots referred to were deeded to “assignees.” Fey finds it curious that none of the names as assignees were among the first founders. Those names that were in the Sophienburg Archives were: Peter Sams, Fr. Kunz, J.J. Nickel, Fredrich Heidridi, Jacob Jung, Marburger, Schelper and Wetz. Among the papers was a note stating: “First settlers in cottage; as they moved away, young bachelors (e.g. of the Lustige Strumpf moved in (a) piano.” (Source: Everett Fey)

Artist Carl G. von Iwonski was 15 when he came with his family and settled in Neighborsville across the Guadalupe. As a young man, Iwonski made many sketches of people and scenes from early New Braunfels. In 1857, he drew a picture called “The Lustige Strumpf on Comal Creek.” The original belongs to the Institute of Texan Cultures and a copy was purchased to use in the book “New Braunfels, Comal County, Texas; a Pictorial History”, narrative by Rosemarie Leissner Gregory and Myra Lee Adams Goff. A caption underneath the picture was written by Roger Nuhn who was in charge of the pictorial part of this book. Iwonski is included in the picture seated with pencil in hand (for sale at Sophie’s Shop).

In 1850, a deed was drawn up by the German Emigration Co. to give the eight lots to 10 different “assignees.” They were: Friedrich Braun, Philip Hitzfelder, Hof & J. Steubing, H. Mertz, Adam Kunz, L. Schutz, H. Staats, Scholl, Wagenfuehr and Waldschmidt. Courthouse records of the area are at best confusing. While the lots had been deeded collectively to the 10 assignees, some individuals sold lots to other citizens without the authorization of the other owners.

Then came the railroads. The IGN rolled through New Braunfels in 1880 from San Antonio going north toward Austin. By going along Hill Street, five lots needed to be cleared and two of them were in the Lustige Strumpf, dividing the area into two parts. The MKT Railroad then sliced through five of the remaining lots. Deed records never refer to Lustige Strumpf again.

Over the years, word of mouth stories popped up here and there of “houses of ill repute” along the railroad tracks and along Mill Street but never in the area of the eight lots. Someone must have decided that “Der Lustige Strumpf” was much too intriguing a name for a simple saloon, so the story stuck.

Lustige Strumpf – A sketch by Carl G. von Iwonski believed to be the Lustige Strumpf. 1857