By Myra Lee Adams Goff
Although Johann Nicholas Zink’s stay in NB was relatively short, his impact lives on even today, for it was he that plotted the basic plan for the layout of the town. Upon his arrival at Indianola in 1844, he was hired by Prince Carl on behalf of the German Immigration Company (Adelsverein) to lead the emigrants inland and plot the plan of the town.
According to research done by Everett Fey, an interesting story emerged about Zink. He arrived on the Hershel with his wife, Louise von Kheussen, but immediately below the couple, another woman was registered by the name of W. Zink. This woman may have been Lisabeth Mangold, two years later to become Zink’s second wife.
Prince Carl must have had enough confidence in Zink, a well-trained engineer, to make him a member of the Colonial Council which was appointed to oversee the establishment of the town. After crossing the Guadalupe on March 21, 1845, the emigrants moved to the area which the prince named Zinkenburg (after Zink) and remained there until Zink could plot the town.
Town lots were drawn, 342 of them in the center of a plain with the Marktplatz (Main Plaza) as its center. As to the streets, Seguin St. was the main thoroughfare. Hermann Seele stated that he believed that Zink followed early wagon trails, more or less.
Besides a town lot, each eligible emigrant was to receive farm plots known as “Acre lots”.These 10+ acre lots were mostly located south of the main part of town (beyond Academy). As a map of 1848 shows, five streets were named – Seguin, as the main street, Creek (now Zink), Brücken (Bridge), San Antonio, and Kirche (Church, later Coll). This early map also shows the Butcher Market, Verein Buildings and Magazine (Sophienburg), the Catholic church, the Protestant church, the ferry over the confluence of the Guadalupe and Comal rivers, and Merriwether Mills.
Colonial Council members received town lots but also larger Acre lots. Zink’s town lot was where the Comal County Courthouse now stands. He had a large home built there which, by 1850, became the Millet Hotel. He had two large Acre lots, one 40 acres and one 75 acres.
Zink, somewhat controversial, received mixed reports from Prince Carl. On the one hand he was praised for his work and on the other, he received a negative evaluation. The prince made several reports back to the Adelsverein, and in the seventh report, he evaluated the Colonial Council and described Zink as a liar and a coward. He says he could not be trusted or respected and that no one wanted to work for him. Prince Carl stated that his abilities could not be denied, but are over-shadowed by his selfishness and greed. Then in his eighth report, Prince Carl charged Zink with further incompetence, all the way from dragging his feet when surveying the lots to stealing trees for himself and appropriating Adelsverein whiskey to use for personal trade.
It should be pointed out, however, that the Prince only praised two of the Council: Jean Jacque von Coll, accountant, and Lt. Wilke, Commandant of the Station at Carlshaven.
Give Zink an “A” for doing a difficult job under adverse conditions. Let’s go to the Plaza with a compass. What? North and South Seguin actually go in a NW and SE direction and West and East San Antonio go in a SW and NE direction. He’s bound to have had a compass, but apparently the wagon ruts won out.”A-“.
After about three years, Zink left NB for towns in the Hill Country, including Sisterdale, Comfort, Fredericksburg,and finally Welfare; where he is buried.. He divorced his second wife, and married a third.
Want to look at more maps? The Sophienburg has an excellent collection, or consult Everett Fey’s chapter on early maps in “The First Founders, Vol. I”.