By Myra Lee Adams Goff
There’s an old German legend in which a village comes alive only one day every 100 years. The musical “Brigadoon” was loosely based on this same idea. The small settlement of Anhalt reminds me of this legend. Driving up to the gate, this sleepy dance hall remains closed most of the time except for the third Sundays in May (Maifest) and October (Oktoberfest) or special occasions.
Anhalt means “Stopping Place” and is 27 miles from NewBraunfels in western Comal County. Back in 1859 Louis Krause owned a store in the area called Krause Settlement.
Shortly after the Civil War when some of the breadwinners didn’t return, organizations were formed for the protection of survivors. Indians had all but disappeared by 1875, but cattle rustling and general lawlessness prevailed.
According to Harvey Schaefer (“Germania Farmers Verein”), who researched Anhalt, herds of livestock ran loose on unfenced land and rustlers raided easily. Unbranded cattle were there for the taking. To solve this problem, on October 4th, 1875, ranchers met at Krause’s store to organize the Stockman Club, immediately renamed the Germania Farmer Verein (organization). Valentine Fuhrmann was appointed to design a cattle brand “G” as the official brand of the Verein. Those cattle with that brand were avoided by rustlers for fear of reprisal by all the Verein members.
The Verein purchased the land from Krause and built a hall. By February, 1876, 50 members were on the rolls.
My neighbor, Will Hofheinz, wrote short stories for the “Houston Chronicle” way back when and shared his article about Anhalt with me. According to Hofheinz: “There on the days of the May Festival and the Harvest Festival, only good spirits prevail.” Dancing begins at 1:00 p.m. all the way from old fashioned waltzes and polkas to more modern music. Dining begins at noon consisting of pot roast and all the trimmings served family style. Hofheinz said that in 1878 the festival in May included a fair with members bringing exhibits of their best products, but that over the years this practice was dropped.
Reading the minutes of the Verein from Schaefer’s book revealed some interesting activities. Once a member of the Verein was expelled for branding a calf that wasn’t his. Preperations for the 1880 Maifest, for members only, included purchasing six kegs of Boerne beer, six kegs of St. Louis beer, and 12 gallons of wine. There were 44 active members.WOW! The Verein also gave generously to organizations like the American Red Cross particularly during war time…
Alton Rahe who attended Anhalt most of his young and adultlife remembers the bands. There were both modern and old-time bands. The ones he remembers were Al Schnabel, Premiers, Cloverleaf, Village Band, The Travelers, Little Fishermen, Seven Dutchmen, Herr Loui, and the Hi-Toppers.
Then there was the Grand March. It’s hard to explain that practice. It’s a little like “follow the leader” only to march- time music like “Under the Double Eagle”. Rahe’s parents, Albert and Linda Rahe, led the Grand March at Anhalt for almost 50 years.
Anhalt attracts people from all over and has changed from a drowsy meeting place to a well-run packed festival, but in its purpose – Spass (fun), it has remained the same. Come out and join the fun this Sunday.