By Myra Lee Adams Goff
Recently, the Ludwig Leather Company on Seguin Avenue was purchased by Terri Moore Cocanougher, originally from New Braunfels. The new name of the company is Ludwig and Marglin. Why Marglin? Marglin is the French name for Mergele and First Founder Peter Mergele is Terri’s ancestor. Steve Moore, her father is the ggg-grandson of Peter Mergele (Pierre Marglin). The Marglin family hailed from the French area of Alsace. Terri and her parents, Steve and Marlene Moore, are very interested in the Mergele family history.
Terri graduated from New Braunfels High School, got a degree from A&M University and is dealing with what she has always been interested in, horses and ranching. She spent 20 of the past years living in Decatur, Texas, raising children and working at the Cocanougher Feed Stores. The building next to the leather company that now houses Water to Wine, was originally the Mergele Building where Terri’s ancestor had a butcher shop. Directly behind the Mergele Building is a restored brick home at 166 Comal Avenue that was built by the Mergele family on their original lot. Even though Terri did not buy the actual Mergele building, being next door is meaningful. When Terri bought the Ludwig Leather and changed it to Ludwig and Marglin, she also bought a Victorian home directly behind Ludwig’s at 184 Comal Avenue. She is in the process of restoring this home.
Before we talk any more about Peter Mergele, here’s a little background:
The first Adelsverein immigrant ships from Germany to Texas were the Johann Dethardt, the Herschel, the Ferdinand and the Apollo, and we know these immigrants as First Founders of New Braunfels.
Would it surprise you to find out that many ships arrived before the above? Four of them were the Jean Key de Teau, the Heinrich, the Ocean and the Weser. Although these ships carried immigrants, they were not initially sponsored by the Adelsverein. The Jean Key de Teau, the Heinrich and the Ocean were bound for a land grant given to Henri Castro whose purpose was to establish a settlement west of San Antonio near the Medina River. When established, the settlement would be called Castroville. The immigrants were from Alsace and they were French, Swiss and German. The fourth ship, the Weser, arrived under the colonization contract of the San Saba Company of Henry Fisher and Berchard Miller.
The Jean Key de Teau was the ship on which Peter Mergele arrived. This ship departed from Antwerp in Belgium. In Everett Fey’s book, The First Founders Volume I, he prints a letter from Edward Mergele, a descendant of Peter Mergele, one of the Castro immigrants. He tells of stormy weather causing the captain to tell the immigrants that the seasickness that they were feeling would quickly pass and sure enough, as soon as the brig passed by Puerto Rico and Dominique in the West Indies, the seas became calm. After arriving in Galveston, the water was too shallow to allow the passengers to disembark. Eager to get ashore, 30 of the immigrants boarded the small pinnace and started rowing towards the shore. The pinnace began leaking and the immigrants on the over-crowded little boat began bailing out water with their hats and shoes. Since the water was only four feet deep, the new Texans waded proudly ashore.
Family tradition fills in information about the Mergele family. Alsace, their home, became part of France in 1789, after being a part of the Swiss Confederation. It was taken by Germany in 1871, and remained with Germany until 1918. The World War I Armistice settlement gave Alsace back to France. During World War II, Germany again took over this area. Back in the 1800s, after much strife in the area, Peter Mergele probably read posters that Count Castro was distributing in the area. He was looking for 7,000 immigrants to sign up to go to Texas. By 1843, many had signed up.
The fifteen original immigrants of the Jean Key de Teau were Blasius Albrecht, Jacob Ernst, Peter Mergele with four family members, and Joseph Schertz with seven family members. Peter Mergele was born in Habsheim, Haut/Rine, France, in 1810. He married Barbe Schertz and they emigrated from Germany in 1843. After arriving in Galveston, they made their way with other immigrants to San Antonio and there they camped on the Alamo Mission grounds for over a year. They had heard rumors of other settlers having trouble with the Natives near the Medina and the Texas Rangers could not guarantee safe passage to the grant. Many became ill and some died. Castro was not sympathetic to their plight and the settlers realized that Castro would not live up to his promises. They decided to travel back to the coast to Indianola and then back to Germany. During this period of time, they met Prince Carl and he convinced the Mergeles and others to join the Adelsverein.
There is little information on the Castro immigrant ship, the Heinrich, as much of it has been lost. The main families that joined the Adelsverein from this ship were Gabriel Sacherer and five family members, Sylvester Simon and Nicolaus Zercher and wife. The third Castro ship, the Ocean, transported nine immigrants that joined the Adelsverein, Johann Lux and three family members, Carl Brockhuisen, George Humand, Jacob Kaderli and his brother Johann Kaderli, Germain Moritz and Jacob Schmitz. Like others, these settlers joined with Prince Carl and were granted lots in New Braunfels by the Adelsverein.
The Weser arrived in Galveston on July 8, 1844. My g-g-grandfather Johann Georg Moeller was in this group. They were part of the ill-fated San Saba Colonization Company. Weser immigrants that joined the Adelsverein included Thomas Schwab, Peter Reis, Johannes Schneider, Johannes Arnold, Andreas Eikel, Sebastian Moesgen with wife and daughter, Valentin Fey and Johann Schulmeier with wife and children. It was unknown where my ancestor Johann Georg Moeller was located after arriving in Texas but he arrived on his own in New Braunfels very early.
Some of the immigrants listed as First Founders were already in Texas before the March 21, 1845, Guadalupe River crossing. They joined the Adelsverein group with the encouragement of Prince Carl. This group included Louis Ervendberg, Ferdinand Lindheimer, Daniel Murchison, George Ullrich and Jean von Coll.
Peter Mergele and family crossed the Guadalupe with the Adelsverein in 1845, and received lot #43. He built his cedar log home on Comal Avenue in 1845. The family lived in this cedar log home for years. Eventually Peter’s grandson tore it down and built a brick home that still stands. There’s lots of history in that small area downtown.
Terri Moore Cocanougher has developed a wonderful vision for her company, Ludwig and Marglin. She employs several of the long-time Ludwig Leather employees including a silversmith and leatherworkers that make all kinds of purses, tack, chaps, belts and more. They repair saddles and other leather items. Terri has deep roots in New Braunfels and is glad to be home.