KEY HISTORICAL FIGURES
Born Baron Otfried Hans Freiherr von Meusebach on May 26, 1812 in Dillenburg Germany, he was the founder of Fredericksburg and peacemaker with the Comanche Indians. In 1845, Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas named him commissioner general in Texas. In May of 1845 he arrived in Galveston and rode horseback to New Braunfels, 165 miles away. Eventually he set aside his German title of nobility and adopted the name John O. Meusebach. Battling numerous hardships he took charge at New Braunfels and also founded Fredericksburg, Castell, and Leiningen. He played a critical role in the Meusebach-Comanche Treaty, a legendary peace pact between settlers and Indians.
Friedrich Richard Petri, painter, was born on July 31, 1824, in Dresden, Saxony. He studied under Adrian Ludwig Richter and Julius Hübner at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden. Petri befriended an older student, Hermann Lungkwitz, who became a well-known Texas landscape painter. Embittered by the failure of the revolution in 1849, he and Lungkwitz immigrated with family to the US in 1850. (Lungkwitz had married Petri’s sister Elisabet.) And by 1852 they had purchased a farm southwest of Fredericksburg. Through ill health, he painted portraits of his family, friends, local Indians and many scenes of pioneer life. Two of his best-known paintings are The Pioneer Cowpen and Going Visiting.
One of the great composers and musicians of America and Europe in the late 1800’s and early1900’s, he was born October 15, 1858 in his parents’ home on Main St. in Fredericksburg. His birthplace still stands today. Young Frank’s father, a native of Antwerp, Belgium, sold everything in 1865 to return his family to Antwerp where the boy began his musical education at age 8. By 16, Frank had completed 2 original works, “TE Deum” for solo voices produced in St. Jacob’s Church in Antwerp and his orchestral ballet, presented in Antwerp’s royal Theater. His musical fame in America flourished and he divided his time between Europe and America directing, composing, and performing. He died August 18, 1929 in Hamburg, Germany.
A native of Gillespie County, Jordan was the first Texas officer killed in action in WW I and awarded the Croix de Guerre. Born Jan. 30, 1890, he was the son of William J. Jordan and Auguste (Keller) Jordan. He received his state teaching certificate at 16 and taught at Honey Creek School. In 1910, he went to West Texas Military Academy. Then attended the University of Texas on scholarship as an engineering student. A star athlete and the first Longhorn to be named All-American, he was one of the first 4 inductees, and the first athlete, into the Longhorn Hall of Honor. Jordan passed up a promotion to join the military. In 1921, his body was returned to Fredericksburg and buried with full military honors.
Among the first local settlers, Justina and Jacob Luckenbach were born in Germany and came to Texas in 1845. Eventually they sold their town lot and ten-acres outside of town to Reverend August Engel to move near six of their 12 children in Boerne. Rev. Engel established the Post Office in 1886. When she was appointed postmistress at the site, his sister, Sophie Engel, named the post office Luckenbach in honor of her fiancé, Jacob and Justina’s son, Albert Luckenbach. In 1892, neighboring town Martinsburg got a new post office, and a new name. After Albert sold his store in Luckenbach, and arrived to register a new post office in town, under the name Albert. So, he has two communities named after him.
A pioneer Mormon leader and second chief justice of Gillespie County, he was born in New York in 1796, enlisted in the Army and fought in the battle of Sackett’s Harbor. In 1826 Wight moved his family to Ohio, where he converted to Mormonism. He helped establish Mormon settlements in Missouri and Texas. In 1847, he founded a colony on the Pedernales River, 4 miles outside of Fredericksburg. He believed the German settlers, with their religious tolerance and opposition to slavery, would make good neighbors. The community of Zodiac quickly became a central element in the Gillespie County economy. He was disfellowshiped by the Mormon church in 1849 after rufusing to leave Texas for Utah.
Brodbeck was a pioneer school supervisor and considered the first man to fly an airplane. He was born in Württemberg on October 13, 1821, and sailed to Texas with his brother George in 1846. He became the second teacher at the Vereins Kirche, and taught at other Gillespie County schools. He became a US citizen in 1852, and in 1858, married Maria Christine Sophie Behrens, a former student; and had twelve children. He is best remembered for his attempts at powered flight almost 40 years before the Wright brothers. A 20-year project, his air-ship’s flight has varying legendary stories, leaving his aviation credits shrouded in doubt.
The top US naval leader in WW II and Chief of Naval Operations after World War II until his retirement, is this Fredericksburg native born on Feb. 24, 1885. This leader that led the US to victory over the enemy that attacked Pearl Harbor, was born in a typical pioneer home. He was the grandchild of one of our earliest settlers. Named in his late father’s honor, young Chester and his mother, Anna (Henke) Nimitz moved to Kerrville, but still spent time playing in the Old Nimitz Hotel, built by his grandfather, Charles W. Nimitz. After Annapolis, Nimitz served with distinction and was appointed by President Roosevelt to command the US Pacific Fleet, the most formidable naval fleet the world has known.
Our 36th President of the United States was born near Stonewall, Texas on Aug. 27, 1908. He became a senator, and one of the most powerful men to serve on Capitol Hill. Johnson married Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor of Karnack, Texas in 1934. With his proper family background and a savvy for debate, LBJ’s entry into politics was not surprising. Despite numerous political achievements, he is best know for his sudden oath of office after the assassination of President Kennedy. He served the remainder of Kennedy’s term with distinction and was elected to a term of his own in 1964. Johnson died of a heart attack at his Texas Ranch in 1973 and is under the magnificent live oaks which he loved.
Lady Bird Johnson, Texas’ first First Lady, was born on Dec. 12, 1912 in Karnack, near Caddo Lake. Although named “Claudia Alta Taylor,” one of the family’s maids said she was “cute as a Lady Bird,” and the name stuck. She married Lyndon Johnson in 1934 and served as his most-listened-to advisor, involving herself in programs concerning poverty, arts, humanity and her “baby” the Highway Beautification Bill. After LBJ’s death, she stayed involved with his Presidential Library but her true love was conservation. That passion led her to establish “The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center” in Austin. Mrs. Johnson could often be seen at the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall until her death in 2007.
Albert Keidel’s early efforts in the 1930’s and beyond to restore old rock structures and turn them into modern homes inspired many others to do the same. He has been acknowledged as a forerunner to the renovation work that is being done throughout the state of Texas. Today, these homes are in high demand and have strong retail value. In 1909, Dr. Victor Keidel (Albert’s father) purchased the Priess building on Main St. and had it converted to a hospital. In 1938, it was renovated by Albert Keidel with the assistance of architect Edward Stein. The building served as a hospital until 1973 for 4 generations of Keidel physicians, dentists and pharmicists. It now houses a variety of shops.
John Russell (Hondo) Crouch, humorist, writer, and owner and self-proclaimed mayor of Luckenbach, Texas, was born on December 4, 1916, in Hondo, Texas. He was an All-American swimmer at UT, navigator in the Air Corps and cattle rancher. But perhaps best known for “development” of Luckenbach Texas, a small community established as an Indian trading post by German immigrant Albert Luckenbach in 1849. There Crouch presided as mayor over a population of three plus a single parking meter. As “clown prince” he brought to life the town’s motto, “Everybody’s Somebody in Luckenbach.” He was married for 30 years to Helen Ruth (Shatzie) Stieler. Crouch died of a heart attack in 1976.