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What do you call that street?

Inset from 1868 Map of New Braunfels by J.J. Groos

Inset from 1868 Map of New Braunfels by J.J. Groos.

By Tara V. Kohlenberg —

It’s happened again. While looking for an old house address in the archive, my eyes strayed across the page to an unknown item, and my curiosity got the best of me. I needed to solve the mystery of a street named Pecan. I had no idea where that was. Having lived nearly my entire life in New Braunfels, with the exception of a few years away at school, I thought I could tell you where almost every old street was in this town, but it seems that was not the case.

With magnifying glass in hand, I headed for the map drawers. I went for the earliest representation of New Braunfels as surveyed by Nikolaus Zink in 1845. Zink was an army officer on leave and at the disposal of Prince Carl. He is responsible for laying out the newly established colony in the manner of European towns, with streets and town lots arranged around a large open main plaza. Zink even added a smaller market plaza a little further from the center of town. For his efforts, Zink was granted 25 acres along the Comal Creek along with his own named street designated along the edge of his property. Early street names were in German. The two main ones, San Antonio Strasse and Seguiner Strasse (strasse means street), obviously marking the direction to those cities, intersected at Main Plaza. I also found Berg (Hill) Strasse, which ran along the base of the hill where the Sophienburg sat. There was Brücken (Bridge) Strasse, which led to the pecan tree bridge across the Comal: Fahr (Ferry) Strasse, which led to the ferry crossing on the Guadalupe; and Sack Gasse, (sack alley), which led from Lindheimer’s garden to the ferry crossing. No Pecan Street on that map.

Moving on to an 1868 map, I found it. Pecan Street was short, only two blocks long, located between Zink Street and the Comal Creek. But that mystery led to others with more streets that I did not recognize, many names of which are now different. New Braunfels more than tripled in size in just twenty-three years, challenging the numbers of today’s rapid population growth. Prince Carl settled New Braunfels on 1285 acres purchased from the Juan Martin de Veramendi Family. The Veramendis in turn, hired an agent named Murchison to develop and sell lots in Comal Town, situated across the Comal River, but that’s another story.

The two settlements were quite separate, as it required a ferry to cross the river. Two separate cities easily explains the duplication of street names: Commerce, Liberty, Washington, Union, Ferguson. It looked like a patchwork quilt, where the subdivisions and streets did not quite line up. It seemed that each developer did not take into account that it had to connect to other already existing streets. So, in October 1926, the City Commissioners voted to change all that, marking the streets in a uniform manner for city delivery.

In downtown New Braunfels, Grand Avenue, was somewhat in line with Hill and therefore changed to Hill Avenue. Both sides of Market Plaza, parallel to San Antonio St. were changed to Tolle Street. Ferry Street, one block long, was made an extension of Jahn Street. Pecan, Market and Solms (a little short street by Boy Scout Hut) were sort of in a straight line, so they all became Market Avenue. Coll Street, Church (the piece of Coll that ran beside First Protestant Church) and Warnecke (may have been the little street running from Solms to river) streets were all changed to the Coll Street that we know now. They also took Yankee (beside the mill, supposedly named for Torrey, who was from Connecticut), Gilbert and Ferdinand (possibly the short street perpendicular to Warnecke) and made a very disjointed Gilbert Street. Sack Street became Simon (See-mon) located near Lindheimer Plaza.

The 1926 action also included changing Prinz Road, where Prince Carl is said to have once owned 100 acres, to Landa Street. There is now a Prince Drive in the subdivision in the same area. High became Willow Avenue. Hoecke Street became West Bridge Street. An unnamed street in the Schulze addition on the west side of town was designated Katy Street. The street running north of Comal Creek was named Floral Avenue, as it ran along the Locke Nursery property from the hill to the creek. Later, maybe in the 70’s, a railroad crossing was put in connecting Floral and Walnut. The whole street became Walnut, except for the little dead end piece of Floral on the hill. They also changed South Union in the Kuehler addition to Kuehler Avenue.

And what of the other duplications mentioned earlier? They were not addressed in the 1926 reports, so it is not clear when the changes happened. The new names do appear on the 1936 map. Comal Town retained Commerce, Liberty, Washington and Union. In New Braunfels proper, Commerce became Clemens (named for businessman Johann Wilhelm Clemens of Clemens Dam fame) Avenue. Liberty became Hampe Street; and Washington became South Guenther. Ferguson, a one block long avenue connecting San Antonio and Mill streets, was retained by New Braunfels. In Comal Town, Ferguson Street, so named because it was adjacent to Ferguson-owned property, along with an earlier version of Basel Street, went away when Liberty Street was extended to East Dittlinger/San Antonio Street.

There is so much information to be found in these old maps, some of which can be found in articles by Myra Lee Adams Goff on our website or in her book, Around the Sophienburg, available at the museum. If all of this street information is more than you can absorb, just know that the Commissioners tried to make it simple for us when they adopted the ordinance stating that San Antonio Street is the dividing line between north and south and Seguin Avenue the dividing line between east and west. All streets parallel with Seguin Avenue would be known as avenues, and all streets parallel with San Antonio Street would be called streets. Easy, Right?

Sources: Sophienburg Archives, Around the Sophienburg by Myra Lee Adams Goff; First Founders by Everette Fey