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What a woman!

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

One of the more exciting stories concerning the early settlers of New Braunfels was that of Betty Holekamp charging across the Guadalupe on a horse after Prince Carl’s spectacular show of bravado. The story was probably somewhat embellished over the years, but nevertheless it’s a good one.

Prince Carl was of the highest class of aristocracy and I doubt seriously if he appreciated anyone trying to upstage him, much less a woman. He would not be leading the parade for women’s sufferage, but I think Betty would have.

Here’s the story: Georg and Elizabeth Holekamp had married in Germany on March 17, 1844. They set out for Texas to make a new life for themselves. They were on the brig Johann Dethart which was the first ship of the Adelsverein. They arrived in Galveston November 24, 1844.

Georg Holekamp, the son of the royal architect Daniel Holekamp, was educated at the University of Hanover and could speak German, English, French and also studied music and medicine. His father discouraged him from being a musician. He couldn’t have gone farther away from that career – a brick maker and a farmer. Music did become his hobby. For that matter it was while pursuing this hobby that Georg met Elizabeth Abbenthern. While playing the piano, Georg asked for a vocalist and Elizabeth (Betty) came forward. She was 10 years younger and he was impressed.

Betty’s father was the ministerial accountant in the royal court of the King of the state of Hannover. Betty was educated along with the king’s daughters to become a governess.  She had been around the aristocracy before so that may explain her willingness to challenge the prince.

Georg and Betty married and set out for the Republic of Texas. They arrived in Galveston on November 24, 1844. They made their way to New Braunfels and when they could, crossed the Guadalupe to get to the settlement.

Now Betty is the one that tradition says would not want to be outdone by Prince Carl. Supposedly he was riding a white horse and   plunged into the raging flood waters. This white horse story made me question the accuracy of the story. After all, “good” cowboys ride white horses. We don’t know what color Betty’s horse was but she followed suit in true pioneer fashion. Don’t you know Georg was impressed?

In New Braunfels they enrolled in the German Protestant Church. Their town lots bordered Garden St., from Comal St. to the Comal River.

When Texas became a state of the Union, Betty Holekamp sewed a 6 ft by 3 ft United States flag with the 13 red and white stripes and a lone star on a field of blue in the left corner. This earlier Texas flag was known as the Texas Lone Star and Stripes flag. Tradition says that the Holekamp flag was flown on the Plaza and believed to be the first American flag flown in town. Some think that the flying of this flag could have been a message to the aristocratic Prince Carl. What do you think?

Two years after arriving in New Braunfels, the Holekamps moved to Fredericksburg where they received property and Georg became an administrator in property settlement. They never gave up their properties in New Braunfels. Georg built a home and a saw and grist mill on the Comal River at the foot of Garza St. It was also a paper pulp mill and an ice plant. A flood nearly totally destroyed the mill in 1869. This property became Camp Landa and finally the property of Schlitterbahn.

In 1854 the Holekamps moved to Comfort as one of their first settlers. A small rock house is still preserved by the Comfort Historical Society. They also lived in Sisterdale and San Antonio. The Sisterdale house still stands also.

When the Civil War broke out, Georg enlisted in the Confederate army as a surgeon. His  small amount of medical training qualified him to do that. He was the company’s band director at the same time. Unfortunately he was killed in Brownsville in 1862 and neither the cause or burial site was revealed.

Betty Holekamp continued living in Comfort and raised her seven children alone. She outlived her husband by 40 years. What a woman!!

Mill at the end of Garza St. built in 1850 by Georg Holekamp. This 1890 photo shows L-R John Peter Nuhn and son, Ben, and possibly H. G. Koester who owned the mill at the time. (Source: Roger Nuhn)

Mill at the end of Garza St. built in 1850 by Georg Holekamp. This 1890 photo shows L-R John Peter Nuhn and son, Ben, and possibly H. G. Koester who owned the mill at the time. (Source: Roger Nuhn)