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The last remnant of an era

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Would you like to know what was on the property on which our present Comal County Courthouse sits? If so, read on.

When Nicholas Zink laid out the town of New Braunfels, with its main plaza and streets leading to it, he was given the town lot #32 by the Adelsverein for his efforts. Town lot #32 is the lot on which our present courthouse is built. Zink built a house on this lot in 1845. In 1847, the year that Zink and his first wife were divorced, he began selling his property in New Braunfels and eventually left altogether.

Zink sold lot #32 to Samuel Millet dated January 21st, 1847, who used the house as a hotel. Millet, in turn, sold the house in 1852 to Dan Wheeler and Wheeler sold it to Karl Floege in 1866. (Source: County Clerk’s office, book A, deeds p. 35) The family moved to a farm outside of Seguin.

Samuel Millet who was originally from Maine has a Texas Historical Marker at his gravesite in Guadalupe County. It states that he had come to Texas in 1827 and died in 1863. Records show his birth as 1801. He came to Texas as a member of Stephen F. Austin’s colony. During the Texas Revolution, he took part in the battle of San Jacinto.

In 1833, he married Clementina Bartlett and they had nine children. She was also with Austin’s colony and from Tennessee. She married her teacher, Samuel Millett, who was a graduate of Bowdoin College. Family tradition claims that Clementina at age 90 could recall early history of the Republic and those who were instrumental in its founding.

Harry Landa, in his memoirs “As I Remember” writes that his father, Joseph Landa, made this statement about the hotel: “Old lady Millett, mother of the well-known cattleman, Alonzo Millett, was operating a boarding house at the corner where the Comal County Courthouse now stands. The Landas boarded for a few months at Mrs. Millett’s establishment until they bought the adjoining property on the Plaza”.

Alonzo Millett, one of Samuel Millett’s sons, made a name for himself in the ranching business. In “The Traildrivers of Texas”, Alonzo Millett is described as spending his boyhood days in Bastrop County and Seguin where he attended school. When the Civil War broke out, he and his brothers volunteered in the Confederate army. Alonzo was only 16 and his twin brother, Leonidas, was killed. After the war, the surviving brothers returned to Texas and over the years that followed, gained wealth by accumulating ranches in several states. “Misfortune came and their wealth was swept away”.(Traildrivers…)  Alonzo persevered and when he died, he owned a large ranch in San Juan Valley, Colorado. He was killed by being thrown by a horse and then buried in San Antonio. Thirty-five miles south of San Antonio was a small settlement named “Millett” after Alonzo. Many local and Seguin Milletts are descendants of Alonzo Millett and his wife, Arlene Wilson Millett.

Now back to the present courthouse: Early on, Comal County conducted its business in rented rooms, then to a privately owned building on Seguin St. (Elks parking lot). In 1860 the first two-story courthouse was built on the corner occupied by Chase Bank. In 1999 the present courthouse celebrated its 100th birthday. (For more information about this courthouse, log on to Sophienburg.com, Jan. 20, 2009)

Our present courthouse was originally designed to sit in the middle of the Main Plaza with four easy accesses. When that plan fell through, the present location was chosen. The jail was added later, obscuring two entrances and another closed to add more office space. When this present restoration is complete, the original four entrances will once again be usable.

Nothing is left of the Millett Hotel, as the building was torn down shortly before the new courthouse was started. Behind the present courthouse where a parking area was located by the jail, a water well was discovered. The Texas Historic Commission evaluated the dry well and said that it pre-dated the Courthouse.  The well would have been in the right spot for use by the hotel. It was recently filled in with sand to protect its integrity and to prevent a cave-in. The last remnant of an era.

The Millett Hotel is shown in the top photograph left under the trees. The bottom photograph shows the area before the courthouse was built. The large home in both photos is the Landa House. Late 1800s photos courtesy of the Sophienburg Museum and Archives.

The Millett Hotel is shown in the top photograph left under the trees. The bottom photograph shows the area before the courthouse was built. The large home in both photos is the Landa House. Late 1800s photos courtesy of the Sophienburg Museum and Archives.