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Friday, January 29, 2010

Walking Tour of Fredericksburg - Krueger-Weihmuller House

With the Maibaum facing you, turn left and walk to the edge of Marktplatz.

The original townlot at 112 North Crockett was granted to Ferdinand Wilhelm, but Franz W. Kreuger built the oldest of the two houses, and the fachwerk portion of the house on the north side is the oldest part of the house.

Kreuger operated a drug store here. He died in 1865, and the executor of his estate tried to find a renter for the house. But by 1866, no renter had been found, so the administrator rented the building himself for 6 months to clear the inventory.
The house was sold to Freidrich Weihmiller in January 1867 for $140. Weihmiller operated a blacksmith shop from the older house. The house stayed in the his family until 1938. Later, Richard Tatsch ran a blacksmith shop here. When Tatsch retired, he rented out the property as a restaurant. Later, Reinhold Enderlin operated his Lone Star Beer Distributorship from the building. After Enderlin built a new warehouse, Charlie Svatek operated the Falstaff Distributorship from here.

The houses later served as a liquor store, bed and breakfasts, and a bakery.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Texas Water Symposium - 1/30

The population of Texas is expected to double in the next 50 years. Some parts of Texas are water-rich; others are water-poor. There is a great need for a water-literate public to make informed decisions. The second in a series of Texas Water Symposium co-sponsored by Schreiner University, Texas Tech University - Fredericksburg and Texas Public Radio will be held at the Llano River Field Station of Texas Tech University in Junction. The symposium's topic will be "Climate Change and Impacts on Floods, Weather and Drought in Texas: What Controversy?" moderated by Tom Arsuffi. Panelists will include Robert E. Mace, deputy executive administrator, water science and conservation, at the Texas Water Development Board; Todd Votteler, executive manager of governmental relations and policy for the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and executive director emeritus of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust; and Katharine Hayhoe, research associate professor of atmospheric sciences at TTU in Lubbock and an expert reviewer for the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This event is free and open to the public. All of the water forums are taped and aired on Texas Public Radio. Call (830) 792-7405 for information.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Walking Tour of Fredericksburg - Marktplatz 4

Another old German tradition was brought to Marktplatz on 1991 is the Fredericksburg Maibaum. The figures on the pole's crosspieces symbolize the town's history and community life: dancing, hunting, farming and ranching. On the bottom crosspiece, Meusebach is depicted negotiating a treaty with the Comanches.

The Maibaum was installed by the Pedernales Creative Arts Alliance, a local group who sponsers the annual Oktoberfest. Proceeds from the hugely popular event go towards art scholarships, and city beautification. Marketplatz' conversion into a true town square was made possible by Oktoberfest.

Fredericksburg's Oktoberfest is held on the first Friday and Saturday in October. If you plan to attend, make reservations early. Most hotels, Bed and Breakfasts and guesthouses book a year in advance!


Monday, January 25, 2010

Walking Tour of Fredericksburg - Marktplatz 3

Behind the Vereins Kirche is a statue commemorating the treaty between the German settlers and the Comanche Indians.

The land between the Llano and Colorado Rivers made up the Fisher-Miller Land Grant to the German Adelsverein for settlers from Germany. However, this land was also the hunting grounds of the Comanche Indians. Government officials weren’t able to guarantee military assistance and surveyors refused to enter the region of the grant for fear of being attacked by the Indians. Since the grant required that the land had to be surveyed by the fall of 1847, surveyors had to enter Indian Territory. The Adelsverein always planned to make an agreement with the Comanches, it wasn’t until John Meusebach became the commissioner that any progress was made.

On January 22, 1847, a party made up of well-armed Germans, Mexicans, and several American surveyors set out from Fredericksburg. Meusebach joined them in camp a couple of days later. Also in the party was geologist Ferdinand von Roemer, who wrote a detailed report on the expedition in Roemer's Texas 1845 to 1847 (With Particular Reference to German Immigration and the Physical Apperance of the Country: Described Through Personal Observation). Despite warnings from the governor of Texas, James Pinckney Henderson, Meusebach made contact with the Indians and began negotiations. The final session took place on March 1 and 2, 1847, at the lower San Saba, about twenty-five miles from the Colorado River. Comanche chiefs Buffalo Hump, Santa Anna, and others, met with Meusebach (who was called El Sol Colorado by the Comanches, because of his red flowing beard) and his party.

The treaty was signed in Fredericksburg two months later. The treaty allowed German settlers to go unharmed into Indian territory and the Indians to go to the white settlements; promised mutual reports on wrongdoing; and provided for survey of lands in the San Saba area with a payment of at least $1,000 to the Indians. The treaty opened more than 3 million acres of land to settlement.

In 1970, Irene Marschall King, John Meusebach’s granddaughter, brought the original Meusebach-Comanche treaty document from Europe in 1970. She presented the document to the Texas State Library in 1972, where it is on display.

On Memorial Day in 1997, the near-life-size statue called “Gathering, Lasting Friendship, 1847-1997” was dedicated as a part of the city's 150th anniversary.


Walking Tour of Fredericksburg - Marktplatz 2

Also on Marktplatz is a monument to Jacob Brodbeck. Jacob Brodbeck was born in the duchy of Württemberg on October 13, 1821. He sailed for Texas with his brother George on August 25, 1846. He reached Fredericksburg, Texas in March 1847, where he became a teacher. Brodbeck eventually became the county surveyor, district school supervisor, and county commissioner. But he is most famous for his attempts at powered flight almost forty years before the famous success of Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Brodbeck worked on his design for twenty years. In 1863, he built a scale model of the craft with a rudder, wings, and a propeller powered by coiled springs. He would show the model at various county fairs, and bouyed by the success of the model, began looking for funding to build a full scale version.
Brodbeck wrote:

“I will give a few ideas indicating generally the character of the air ship, and what it will be able to accomplish. The air ship consists of three main parts:

“1. The lower suspended portion, formed like a ship with a short prow to cut the air; it serves to hold the aeronaut, and also the power of producing engine with all the steering apparatus. This portion is shut up all around to prevent the rapid motion from affecting the breathing of the man within. In this, as low as possible, lies the center of gravity of the whole structure, so as to steady the motion. At the back end of the ship, there is a propeller screw which will make it possible to navigate in the water, in case by any accident the aeronaut should have to descend while he is above water. In this case, the ship can be detached from the flying apparatus.

“2. The upper portion, or flying apparatus, which makes use of the resistance of the air, consists of wings, partly movable, partly immovable, presenting the appearance of horizontal sails, but having functions entirely different from the sails of vessels.

“3. The portion producing the forward motion consists of two screws, which can be revolved with equal or unequal motion, as to serve the purpose of lateral steering, or of wings of a peculiar construction. The preference to be given to one or the other depends on the nature of the motive power.

“Another apparatus regulates the ascending motion. The material is so selected as to combine the greatest strength with the least weight. When the air ship is in motion, the aeronaut has in each hand a crank, one to guide the ascending and descending action, the other the lateral steerage. Immediately in front of him is the compass, while a barometer with a scale made for the purpose, shows him the approximate height. Another apparatus, similar to the ball regulator of a steam engine, shows him the velocity, as well as the distance passed over. It is self-evident that the speed of the air depends upon motive power and on the direction of the winds; according to my experiments and calculations it will be from 30 to 100 miles per hour.”

Now, it depends on who you talk to as to what happened next. Some say that Brodbeck made his first attempt in Luckenbach, Texas. The reports indicate that the craft got twelve feet in the air and traveled about 100 feet before the springs unwound completely and the machine crashed to the ground.

Some folks say that he made his first flight in San Pedro Park, San Antonio, where a bust of Brodbeck commemorates the event. There are some who say the flight took place in 1868. But everyone agrees that the flight wasn't successful.
After the crash, Brodbeck couldn't find any local investors, so he began a US tour to raise funds to continue his work. But after his papers were stolen in Michigan, he couldn't persuade anyone to invest in his scheme.

Brodbeck returned to his home near Luckenbach, where he died in 1910, and was buried on the farm. Since no copies of his plans survive, Brodbeck's aeronautical adventures are in doubt.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Walking Tour of Fredericksburg - Marktplatz 1

At the edge of Marktplatz, facing Main Street is a bust of John O. Meusebach, the founder of Fredericksburg. Meusebach was born Baron Otfried Hans Freiherr von Meusebach, on May 26, 1812, at Dillenburg, Germany. As he grew, Meusebach attended the finest schools and could read five languages, and he spoke English fluently.

In 1845 the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas, the Adelsverein, appointed Meusebach to succeed Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels as its commissioner general in Texas. Meusebach, who had dropped his noble title and assumed the name John O., arrived in New Braunfels, Texas in May of 1845, and took up his duties, only to learn that the Adelsverein was in serious financial trouble.

Besides general indebtedness, the Adelsverein had too many colonist to settle. The United States was fighting the Mexican War, and there was a shortage of carts and wagons to take the colonists to the interior. Nevertheless, Meusebach managed to found Fredericksburg, Castell, and Leiningen.

In 1846, Meusebach realized that in order to settle the Fisher-Miller Grant, he had to reach an agreement with the Comanche Indians. In May of 1847, Indian leaders signed a treaty, which is the only unbroken treaty between white settlers and Native Americans. Satisfied with his achievement, Meusebach resigned as administrator. In 1851, Meusebach was elected a Texas Senator, and was instrumental in establishing Texas' public school system.

Meusebach retired to his farm in Loyal Valley in 1869 where he and his wife raised seven children to adulthood. He died at Loyal Valley on May 27, 1897, and is buried at Cherry Spring, near Fredericksburg.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Walking tour of Fredericksburg - Vereinskirche

The original Vereins Kirche was one of the first buildings in Fredericksburg, built in 1847. It served as a community hall, school house, church and, occasionally, a fort. Built in the middle of Main Street, the Vereins Kirche was used until 1897, when it was demolished.

In 1935, the citizens of Fredericksburg decided to reconstruct the building 300 feet from it's original location, in the center of Marktplatz. The new building was finished in time for the state Centennial celebration in 1936.

Today, the Vereins Kirche is in the care of the Gillespie County Historical Society and houses rotating history exhibits.


Mark Gimenez' "The Perk"

I just finished Mark Gimenez' The Perk and I am confused. The book is set here in Fredericksburg, but it's not my Fredericksburg. Although some of the stores are named, the fictional Fredericksburg bears as much resemblance to the real Fredericksburg as Roger Rabbit's Los Angeles to the real City of Angels. Some long gone landmarks still exist, and some newer buildings were never built. For example, there is no public library in the book. That building, built in the 1880s, is still the courthouse. The new courthouse doesn't exist, but the tree sculpture in front of the library is there.

If you're a fan of Rather Sweet, sorry, it's not in the book. The building is, instead, a coffee shop downstairs and an artist's studio upstairs, and is run by some "lesbians from Austin."

This book is difficult to get. It hasn't been published in the US and I think you will see why shortly. Although, you can find some used copies on (clink the link above).

The first sentence reads "She was posing outside the limo with a dozen other girls, like illegal Mexicans waiting for work on L.A. street corners." Which is perfect because that's what the book is about: illegal Mexicans.

A "Perk" is, in Hollywood parlance, a perk of the job. It can be free booze, a stretch limo, or willing young girls to sleep with.

The Perk the book is titled after is Heidi Geisel. Heidi is a sixteen year old German girl. She's so eager to leave her hometown of Fredericksburg that she goes to Austin during the New Years' South By Southwest Film Festival (the first of many divergences from reality) to seduce stars to get a screen test. Her dream is cut short when she's found dead on New Years Day just outside of town.

Four years later, Beck Hardin returns to Fredericksburg. Twenty-four years ago, after his mother's death, Beck was so desperate to leave his German hometown that he accepted a Notre Dame scholarship and became a lawyer in Chicago. After his wife died of cancer, her returns to Fredericksburg to get his father's help to raise his kids. He runs for county judge, and wins because there is a particularly nasty case coming up: The star Football player who will lead Fredericksburg High to a championship assaulted a Hispanic kid. Prosecuting will end the championship run. Not prosecuting will get "the Mexicans all riled up," as one character put it.

The whole book is about this case, with the search for Heidi's killer the B plot. Which makes me wonder why it's called "The Perk"? It should have been titled "Them Damn Racist Germans" or "Them Damn Illegal Mexicans".

See, Gimenez seems to believe, or at least his Fredericksburg friends believe, that all the Hispanics in Fredericksburg, except the children (who were born here to give the illegal parents an "anchor") are illegal. And all it takes is a Federal raid to get rid of them all. They are even able to bulldoze "The Barrio," the area along South Milam Street and Live Oak street. And the book ends with a Fredericksburg with almost no Hispanics. In Gimenez' Fredericksburg, there is no Escamilla Body Shop or Morales Plumbing, and the Doctors Cantu don't have a thriving practice here because they're illegal and afraid of showing their faces on Main Street lest the city police (who never really appear in the novel, but hover Gestapo-like in the minds of the lead Hispanic character) fall upon them with batons and jack-boots. But the Germans still hire the illegals to work their fields and run their factories. What the book doesn't tell you is that the Newcomers in real life also hire workers of dubious legality to build their over-sized limestone homes, lay their limestone patios, and build their limestone fences. In the book, the local stone mason in German.

The anti-Hispanic bias is not only in Fredericksburg: the lead Hispanic character was offered a scholarship to UT so they can make sure they have enough Hispanics in the student body, even though his grades would have gotten him accepted anyway. This is Reagan era anti-Affirmative Action stuff. It's so 1990s. . .

Gimenez also believes that the Germans in Fredericksburg have formed a secret cabal to keep things the same as they have always been. While there is an element of truth to that, here it's greatly exaggerated. There's also some truth in the charge that the Newcomers moved to Fredericksburg because it's predominantly white. The Germans are the only racists in the book. It all reminds me of a Lone Ranger episode where the first sheep farmer comes into cattle country, with Beck Hardin as the Lone Ranger come to bring peace between the parties. But actual peace is achieved simply by deporting the Hispanics, which is probably why the book hasn't been published in the US. Not only that, the lesbians who run the coffee shop, who also act as the moral compass of the book, are the only ones who feel compassion towards the illegals and after all the parents are deported, go door to door in "The Barrio" to feed the kids. No. Really.

Ultimately, though, the book doesn't pay off for me. The titular plot line isn't actually resolved. The killer is never brought to justice, although he does get what's coming to him. But that all happens in the last couple of chapters.

Whatever you do, don't read this book and expect an exact depiction of Fredericksburg and it's citizens. And don't be mislead by the cover, it's not an action packed page turner, either. The cover is as accurate a portrayal of the book as the book is of Fredericksburg.

Is there racism in Fredericksburg? Sure. There's racism everywhere. Are there illegal Mexicans in Fredericksburg? Sure. It's an agricultural community, and like all agricultural communities in Texas, illegals work the ranches and fields. There aren't many white high school kids lining up to do the work (unless it's the family farm). The Perk is every Minuteman's dream: deport all the Mexicans and make Texas white again. And that makes the book feel a little. . .dirty.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2010 Roots Concert Dates Set

Fredericksburg’s Pioneer Museum has released the 2010 Roots Music Schedule. The Roots Music series is a series of live, open-air, eclectic, Roots music concerts on the grounds of the Pioneer Museum on Main Street in Fredericksburg, Texas. Concerts feature both emerging and established artists in an informal, family setting. Each concert offers an optional meal that fits the theme of the music. Beer, wine, soft drinks, and water are also offered for sale on the grounds.

New this season are: New dance demonstrations, Return of the Pickers Jam under the trees, A new larger dance floor, and New online ticket purchasing at the Pioneer Museum website. Admission is $12. Students high school age and younger are free. Buy your ticket online and get $2 off for advance online tickets, or bring web page printout to gate for $2 discount.

2010 Outdoor Concert Dates:

May 22-Bluegrass/Newgrass

June 26-Classic Rock-n-Roll

July 31-Blues / R&B

Aug 21-Texas Country

Sept 25-Tejano/Conjunto

All concerts take place on Saturdays, 6 - 10 p.m.

Net proceeds support the mission of the Gillespie County Historical Society, 312 W. San Antonio Street in Fredericksburg. For more information, call 830-997-2835.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Scraps of History" at the Pioneer Museum - 1/16

Try your hand at stitching or learn about popular quilt patterns from years past at the Pioneer Museum, 325 W. Main Street, from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday. Youngsters will enjoy making their own patterns with basic squares, triangles and diamonds. Admission is $5 per adult and children 6 - 17 $3. Call (830) 997-2835 for more information.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Silver Creek Grill & Bar closed for Improvments - 1/16-2/28

Silver Creek Grill & Beer Garden, 310 E. Main Street, will close on Saturday for improvements. Look for their enlarged restaurant, kitchen and parking.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Texas Tech Information Session - 1/14

Hill Country residents who want to complete a college degree can learn more about local opportunities at an information session on Thursday, January 14, at 5:30 p.m. at Fredericksburg High School, Room 213, 1107 Hwy 16S at 5:30 pm. All interested students are invited to attend.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rather Sweet Too Now Open

Rebecca Rather has opened Rather Sweet Too, located in the historic building on the corner of East Main and South Lincoln Streets, adjacent to her bakery and café location. The restaurant (open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday) will feature sandwiches, soups, salads, cheeses, pastry items and drinks ready to purchase for take-out. The telephone number for Rather Sweet Too is (830) 992-3620. The original Rather Sweet Bakery and Café will now also serve a full breakfast with table service, in addition to lunch.

Feral Hogs Topic for Fredericksburg Nature Center - Tonight

Matt Reidy, Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist, will present "Feral Pigs – Where Have We Been and Where Are We Headed", tonight at the Gillespie County Historical Society Building, 312 West San Antonio Street, at 7 PM. This presentation is sponsored by the Friends of the Fredericksburg Nature Center as part of their monthly Nature Series. For more information call (830) 990-9823.

Public Hunt at Enchanted Rock

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is closed to visitors this week for its hunting season January 11 through Friday, January 15, until 2:00 p.m. The park is located at 16710 RR 965, 18 miles north of Fredericksburg. For information, call 830-685-3636.


Friday, January 08, 2010

Navajo Grill closed 1/11-1/17

The Navajo Grill will be closed for vacation from Monday, January 11 to Saturday, January 17. For more information, call the restaurant at 830-990-8289.


Two book signings at Berkman Books

On Friday, January 8, at 7:00 p.m., Berkman Books welcome author Charles Kettner to meet visitors and sign copies of his book, Die Kettner Briefe The Kettner Letters: A Firsthand Account of a German Immigrant in the Texas Hill Country (1850-1875). On Saturday, January 9 from 7:00-9:00 p.m., the bookstore, located at 416 E. Main St. in Fredericksburg, will host an evening of music and book signing when it welcomes Mike Blakely and W.C. Jameson. These talented singer- songwriters will entertain as well as autograph copies of their books. For more information, call Berkman Books at 830-997-1535.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Texas Exes National Championship Game Watching Party - 1/7

Join the Fredericksburg Texas Exes and all UT fans for the game of the year, the National Championship. Gather at the Inn on Barons Creek Conference Center, 308 South Washington Street, at 6:00pm and the game starts at 7:00. BYOB and bring a snack. Cost is $5 per person. Go Horns!


High Valley Performs at Rockbox Theatre - 1/9

The Rockbox Theater will be the site for two special performances of Nashville recording artists High Valley -- Country Music for the Whole Family – at 7:00 p.m. on both Friday, January 8 and Saturday, January 9 at the theater at 109 N. Llano St. in Fredericksburg. Cost per ticket is $10 per person, with children age 12 and younger admitted free. For information, call 830-997-7625.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

National Museum of the Pacific War on PBS tonight

The story of the Japanese midget subs at Pearl Harbor at the outset of World War II will be broadcast tonight on PBS Television’s NOVA programming – at 7:00 p.m. on KLRU/Austin and at 8:00 p.m. on KLRN/San Antonio. The one-hour “Killer Subs in Pearl Harbor” – was, in part, filmed in Fredericksburg at the National Museum of the Pacific War. Check your local TV listings to verify time.