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Friday, February 26, 2010

418 W. Austin - Vogel Sunday House

As the town grew, Fredericksburg's Sunday Houses gradually became more than just a weekend home. Amandus Vogel and his wife, Elizabeth, had a farm at Cave Creek, and a little one room Sunday House with an attic on this lot in 1890. Amandus passed away in 1898. Elizabeth moved to town, and added an identical room and attic on the east side of the house in 1900. Later, the back porch was enclosed to provide indoor plumbing. It was about this time, too, that the metal siding was added to the house. In the 1970s, new owners added an addition at the back of the house. It was recorded as a Texas landmark in 1982.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Faces & Places in Gillespie County Art Show through 4/25

See the faces and places in Gillespie County in this juried art show at Fredericksburg Art Guild, 308 E. Austin Street until April 28. Please call 830/990-6914 or 830/997-4949 for more information.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sustaining the Hill Country Workshop - 2/26-27

Sustaining the Hill Country: Now and for Future Generations is the topic of an upcoming environmental workshop at Fredericksburg Inn & Suites, 201 S. Washington Street, Saturday from 8 am - 5 pm. For registration and details, visit This event follows a reception and presentation of the Inaugural Keystone Award on Friday to conservationist David K. Langford, 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. at Becker Vineyards.

Art Lovers Show and Sale - 2/6 to 3/5

Visit Fredericksburg Art Gallery at 314 E. Main Street and enjoy new works of art by at least 20 renowned Texas artists, including miniatures. This event is free and the public is welcome.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Peach Tree Planting Day at Vogel Orchard - 2/27

Vogel Orchard, a family-owned peach grower and market located at 12862 East US Hwy 290 near Stonewall, will hold its first Peach Tree Planting Day on Saturday, February 27 at 9:00 a.m. Join the fun and learn more about peach tree planting and care, take orchard tours, and enjoy a Texas German-style barbeque picnic all provided with registration fee. Registrants will also receive two to three bare peach trees. For information and to register, call 830-456-2337.


Friday, February 19, 2010

414 West Austin - Strackbein-Roeder Sunday House

When the town was settled, the colonists received 10 acres of land and a lot in town. Many farmers lived on their country property during the week and came into town on Saturday to do their shopping. Rather than drive their wagons back to the farm on Saturday and then return to town on Sunday morning, they built small houses called Sunday Houses on their town lots. As the first settlers became older, they built more substantial homes in town.

Christian Strackbein purchased the lot in 1870 from John Walter. The original floor plan had two rooms downstairs, and a large room upstairs. A frame kitchen was built behind the house. A hand-dug well in the courtyard once provided water for this home and the Vogel Sunday House next door. William Roeder Sr. purchased the house in 1916. After he passed away, his son lived in the house. A more recent addition is a bedroom and bath at the back of the house, and a courtyard to the left.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Relay for Life Kick Off - 2/18

Relay for Life Gillespie County Kick Off. Survivor and Volunteer Registration - Free. Team Registration - $10 each team receives a team packet and Relay Tote (while supplies last). Theme: Birthdays - A world with less cancer and more birthdays. Walkers, cancer survivors (anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer), community leaders, team captains and hard workers are needed. The Kick Off meeting will be held to begin planning the event designed to raise funds and awareness of the fight against cancer. Refreshments will be served. Let's get the word out on the Relay Kick off. Come to Marktplatz on February 18 at 6 pm. Call 830-456-9009


Friday, February 12, 2010

408 W. Austin - John Walter Home (aka Austin Street Retreat)

From Cross Mountain, go back towards town, turn right on West Austin Street.

John Walter, a bartender, bought this property in 1867 for $50, and built the log cabin on the right for his family. Behind and to the left of the log cabin was a rock kitchen, connected to the back of the cabin by a durchgang, or enclosed walkway. The addition to the left of the log cabin was built in front of the old kitchen. In 1876, Walter was elected sheriff and tax collector for Gillespie County, a post he held for 10 years. After the county's third jail burned down in1885, Walter used the kitchen as a jail.

In the 1976, new owners added the faux-fachwerk addition to the left of the log cabin. The walls are made from concrete block and the wood and plaster facade laid over that. Today, the John Walter Home is better known as Austin Street Retreat, Fredericksburg's premiere guesthouse complex.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Walking Tour - Cross Mountain

Walk to FM 965 and turn right. Go 2 miles until you find the entrance to Cross Mountain Park, on your left, and take a left. (You might want to do this in your car.)

At 1951 feet above sea level, the hill called Cross Mountain was once an Indian signal point, advancing news of the intrusions of white settlers. German geologist Dr. Ferdinand von Roemer first described the hill in 1847. John Christian Durst (1825-1898), arriving with his family in 1847 from Germany, received a town lot and 10 acres of land, including this hill. He found a timber cross on the hilltop, suggesting that Spanish missionaries used it as a landmark on the path from San Antonio to Mission San Saba. Durst named the hill “Kruezberg,” or Cross Mountain.

In 1849, a Bohemian Priest, Father George Menzel, replaced the first cross with a larger one. For almost 100 years afterward, Easter services were held on the hill. In 1946, St. Mary's Catholic Church built a larger metal and concrete cross decorated with lights.

Cross Mountain is also a big part of the annual Easter Fires celebration in Fredericksburg. On the Saturday evening preceding Easter, bonfires are lit atop as many as twenty-two specified hills flanking the town. At the appointed hour the church bells of the town toll, lights are extinguished, and the hilltops burst into flame.

In recent times the Easter Fires have become a tourist attraction, complete with a now-defunct pageant at the fairgrounds, but the custom originally was part of the local German folk tradition. The fires, dating from the first Easter celebration in 1847, are almost as old as the town itself. According to local tradition, the custom originated when Comanche Indian scouts lit signal fires in the night to communicate with their chiefs, who were negotiating a treaty with German leader John O. Meusebach many miles to the north, beyond the Llano River. The scouts presumably were informing their chiefs concerning the movements of the town's inhabitants.

According to this tradition, the signal fires terrified some German children in Fredericksburg, prompting one imaginative mother to tell her children that the Easter Rabbit and his helpers had lit the fires to cook eggs before decorating and distributing them among the children on Easter morning. As a result, many residents believe the Easter Fires are a custom linked to the founding of their town.

However, the Easter Fires have a much more ancient history. The people of northwestern Germany, especially in the provinces of Westphalia and Lower Saxony, practice an identical custom of lighting Easter-eve fires on specified hills. The practice originated in pre-Christian times as part of a spring festival and, along with the rabbit and egg, represents pagan customs that passed intact into Teutonic Christianity. The German provinces where Easter Fires occur contributed almost half of the settlers who came to the Texas Hill Country. The most likely agents of diffusion were Hanoverians, one of the two largest groups in early Fredericksburg.

More damaging to the signal-fire story, is that the Meusebach-Comanche negotiations occurred on March 1 and 2, 1847, while Easter eve in that year fell on April 3. Perhaps these two major events in Fredericksburg's first spring later merged in the popular mind, or possibly the initial Easter Fires frightened German children from Hesse or some other southern province where the custom was unknown. In any case, the Old World origin of the fires is incontestable.

After the local pageant was canceled, the fires continued. Currently, there are groups hoping to resurrect the Easter Fires Pageant. The City of Fredericksburg, which owns the property, has plans to develop the park and add facilities in the future. A master plan has been developed, but its implementation has not yet been funded and may be a few years away. It is accessible to the public free of charge. There are nature trails at the base of the hill, and several trails that lead to the top where one can enjoy a panoramic view of the town. There is a paved parking area a short distance from the entrance (but currently no restroom facilities).

The Fredericksburg Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas conducts field trips to Cross Mountain several times a year, and some members visit the park on a regular basis, and has compiled a list of plants found in the park and so far have identified over 130 species.


Main Street Trolly Saturday Shuttle Service

For only twenty-five cents per ride or a $1.00 day pass Fredericksburg visitors now have access to the new Main Street Trolley Saturday shuttle serving the downtown Fredericksburg area, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. every Saturday. As part of the Alamo Regional Transit (ART), the new service runs between the Visitor Information Center, 302 E. Austin Street, and the Pioneer Museum, 325 W. Main Street with stops at each corner along the way. The shuttle runs every 10-20 minutes. For more information, call ART Customer Service at 1-866-889-7433.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sweetheart Dinner at Chisholm Trail Winery - 2/13

Chisholm Trail Winery, 2367 Usener Road (9 miles west of Fredericksburg on Highway 290) will hold formal dinner of five courses, each paired with our wines. There will be live music and a silent auction that will benefit the Shriners Hospital. Cost is $85 per person, plus tax. Reservations required. Call (830) 990-2675 for details.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Walking Tour - John Joseph Knopp House - 309 West Schubert

The land on which this house sits once belonged to Christian Crenwelge, who sold the corner lot to John Knopp on December 8, 1871. Knopp was a stonemason and built the house. He had a farm a mile from here that his wife and children worked. Knopp died in 1917. In 1929, Albert Keidel, who owned the old Crenwelge home next door, purchased the property and began renovation. After many sales over the years, the right half of the stone building between the two larger houses is a part of both properties.


Marine Corps Brass Quintet Concert - 2/12

The Own Marine Corps Band Brass Quintet will perform a free concert in the Nimitz Ballroom at the National Museum of the Pacific War, 340 E. Main St. in Fredericksburg, on Friday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m. For information, call 830-997-8600.

Monday, February 08, 2010

"Romantic Valentine's For Two" Cooking Classes 2/12

Fredericksburg Culinary Arts will hold a “Romantic Valentine’s Dinner for Two” cooking class and wine tasting on Friday, February 12 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Fischer & Wieser’s Das Peach Haus at 1406 S. Hwy 87 in Fredericksburg. Cost for the class is $139 per couple. For information, call 830-997-8396

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Friday, February 05, 2010

Walking Tour of Fredericksburg - Christian Crenwelge Home

Christian Crenwelge arrived in New Orleans on January 1, 1854, and made his way to Fredericksburg. He was joined later in the year by his younger brother Philipp later in the year. After Christian married Elisabeth Margaretha Mohr in 1860, Philipp sold his half interest in the house at 307 West Schubert to his brother.

Christian had a ten acre lot two miles away, near Cross Mountain. He also owned the land across the street, and had a molasses press and lime kiln by the creek. Christian was also a cabinet maker and raised six children to adulthood.


Thursday, February 04, 2010

Walking Tour of Fredericksburg - Christian Crenwelge Place

From the Probst Home and Brewery, turn right and walk back to Orange Street. Cross the creek and turn left on Schubert. There is a historic marker at the end of the block on the right.

Christian Crenwelge, who owned the property across the street, purchased this land in 1872 and operated a molasses press. In 1903, Crenwelge built the frame house on the corner for his daughter and her husband, but sold the house in 1906. The property changed hands many times until McAdoo White bought in 1974 and began landscaping the grounds, creating a beautiful creekside patio.


Old Time German Smokehouse Secrets at LBJ State Park & Historic Site

Experience some of the 1900's meat processing methods used on an old German farm at LBJ State Park & Historic Site Highway 290 East in Stonewall from 10 am to 3 pm. Watch the curing of bacon and the art of stuffing sausage. Visit with interpreters at the farm on methods and ways of handling foods and compare them to today's techniques. This event is free, with donation graciously accepted.


Texas Tech Alum Hosts Signing Day Dinner Today

Texas Tech earned the attention of national sportscasters and networks this year with a terrific football season. Tech has already recruited an outstanding group of athletes for the 2010 season and the Texas Tech University Hill Country Alumni is hosting a signing day event at the Pioneer Pavilion at Lady Bird Johnson Park on Highway 16 South at 6 p.m. Beer and BBQ will be served (along with lots of football stories, and actual clips). Jim Douglass and Travis Cram will be speaking on the recruits. Anyone wanting to be knowledgeable on the 2010 football season needs to attend this party. The event, including beverages and dinner, will cost $30 per person. Please RSVP to Lynn at Proceeds from the event will go to the scholarship fund for Texas Tech Hill Country students. Call (830) 896-1574 for more information.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Art Lovers Show & Sale - 2/5 to 3/6

Fredericksburg Art Gallery, 314 E. Main Street, hosts "Art Lovers", featuring new and original works from 20 award-winning artists. A free First Look Preview will be held from 6:00-8:00 p.m. as part of the First Friday Art Walk on February 5! For information, call 830-990-2707.

Jewelry Trunk Show at The Secret Garden

Jacqueline Smiley who owns Western Vintage Revival Jewelry will be The Secret Garden, 102 E. Main Street, with her Broken China Jewelry Collection. Jacqueline is regularly featured in Cowboys and Indians magazine and Texas Monthly. She designs beautiful one of a kind jewelry pieces from broken china. As a special feature this weekend we encourage customers to bring in their own broken china and sit down with Jackie to design your own personal one of a kind piece. Store hours are Thursday 10:00am - 5:30pm, Friday & Saturday 10:00am - 8:00pm and Sunday 11:00am - 4:00pm. Call 830-997-5507 for more information.

Walking Tour of Fredericksburg - Probst Brewery

From Marktplatz, go south on Crockett street, the Left on Austin Street. Go down two blocks to 314 West Austin

After the Civil War, one of the things served in the Nimitz Hotel Saloon was, more than likely, a locally produced weissbeir brewed by Frederick Probst. As life returned to normal across the country, there was a brewing boom. Hundreds of breweries opened. In Fredericksburg, as in other German communities in Texas, life was unimaginable without beer.

Dr. Adolph Assig was born in Prussia in 1816. Sometime before 1853, Adolph and his wife, Mathilde, arrived in Texas. Friedrich (Frederick) Probst, born in 1831, married Caroline Pahl in Wohlshagen, Germany on May 24,1856. In October 24, 1856, after the birth of their first child, Louise, the newlyweds left for Texas. They arrived in Fredericksburg in the midst of a severe ice storm on January 6, 1857.

In March 1857, Dr. Assig, who owned a house on what is now South Washington Street, borrowed $850 from Frank van der Stucken to purchase “seventy-five barrels and kegs holding from 5 to 40 gallons, one steel mill for grinding malt, one large brass kettle and one of cast iron, four large tubs, one large square vat used as a cooler, and many other utensils,” according to a 1954 Fredericksburg Standard newspaper article. Van der Stucken was to receive one third of the profits of the brewery. According to a newspaper article printed in 1906, the beer was recognized for its quality and purity. Members of visiting singing societies who visited Fredericksburg drank the beer as fast as it could be tapped. Along the north side of the building was a long low addition that may have been a warehouse. A cellar was a few feet away.

According to a 50th Anniversary account, Assig had established his brewery with Probst’s help. In the 1860 census, Assig’s occupation is not listed, and Probst is a cooper. I assume that Probst was making barrels for Assig’s beer.

For some reason, the partnership ended shortly after the census, for Probst bought property on Austin Street in 1861, and had a brewery with three cellars built there. There could be a dozen reasons for the split between the two. By 1863, when Assig sold the original brewery, he was already living in Blanco County. Maybe Assig thought the climate in pro-Union Fredericksburg was too uncomfortable. Union loyalists suffered attack, theft, and murder at the hand of die Hangerbande, Hanging Band. Perhaps Assig moved to Blanco to be near relatives. Or perhaps, he just liked Blanco.

The brewery moved to 310 West Austin Street, where the three cellars had been built. The walls were two feet thick and had arched rock roofs, which had been plastered with mortar and painted white. The largest cellar was about 14 x 32 feet. The two smaller ones were each about 10 x 15 feet. It is not clear whether or not the brewery continued to operate during the Civil War. Supply shortages had forced Charles Nimitz to close his brewery, after all. If the brewery did not stop operating, its output was surely curtailed. A newspaper article published in 1971 noted that the Probst family suffered greatly during the war.

After the Civil War, business improved, and before long the brewery was making Frederick a good living. The Probsts built a two-story limestone house next door to the brewery in 1870, at 312 West Austin.

No matter how good Probst’s weissbier was, competition from the breweries in San Antonio began to take its toll. At about this time, there were fourteen saloons in Fredericksburg. The Knopp saloon, in the Evers building on the Northeast corner of Main Street and Milam Street fired the opening salvo in a beer war that was remembered for many years. While Probst beer was selling for ten cents a glass, John Knopp imported beer from San Antonio, and began selling it for a nickel a glass. The frugal Germans flocked to Knopp’s saloon in droves. In 1895, Probst closed his brewery.

Frederick and Caroline had eleven children. Four of the girls had died by their parents' 1906 Golden wedding anniversary.

In 1906, a Golden Wedding party was held at the Probst home in Fredericksburg. Four of the Probst’s surviving children attended. In the afternoon, the choir of the Zions Church serenaded the couple. The rest of the afternoon was spent in pleasant conversation. One of the highlights of the party was automobile rides, still a fairly rare sight in Fredericksburg. That evening, the Mannerchor “Concordia,” of which Probst had been a long-time, active member, sang, followed by Klaerner’s Kapelle, a local band.

Frederick Probst died in 1910, shortly after Caroline. They are buried in the old part of the City Cemetery.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Instinct: The Art of Chimpanzees Art Show, Sale, Auction and Raffle - 2/5-20

Artisans at Rocky Hill Gallery, at 234 W. Main Street, hosts the art of chimpanzees from Chimp Haven, the National chimpanzee sanctuary in Keithville, LA. “Instinct: The Art of Chimpanzees” features the chimpanzees’ artwork incorporating the handiwork of human artists – artists like Melissa Starry who will demonstrate this unique technique at the opening reception that runs 5:00-8:00 p.m. on February 5. Starry will then donate her work toward a raffle benefitting this sanctuary that is home to 130 chimpanzees. All ‘chimp art,’ about 40 paintings, will be available for purchase plus there will be a silent auction and several raffles. For information, call 830-990- 8160.

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Mid-Winter Chorale Concert - 2/6

The Fredericksburg Chorale will host their mid-winter concert of original and classic chorale and instrumental music at St. Joseph's Halle, 212 W. San Antonio Street. Times are 3:00 and 7:30pm. Donations are welcome. Please call 830/997-6869 for more information.