Lavaca County Biographies
The articles below appeared in A History of Texas and Texans, by Frank W. Johnson (Edited and brought to date by Eugene C. Barker with the assistance of Ernest William Winkler. To which are added historical, statistical and descriptive matter pertaining to the important local divisions of the State, and biographical accounts of the leaders and representative men of the state.), Chicago and New York: The American Historical Society, 1916.
OTTO C. HENKHAUS is one of the live and enterprising business men of Shiner, where he is serving as public weigher for Precinct No. 3, and has been a resident of Lavaca County since 1893, when he came from Austin County with his father and mother and they established their home at Spring Branch, between Shiner and Moulton.
He is the third generation of a very old and prominent family of South Central Texas. His grandfather, Otto Henkhaus, was born in Germany, and when still a very young man took passage on a boat that sailed from Bremen to Baltimore. He was employed for two or three years in a whip factory at Baltimore, and then came to the Southwest and located in Texas between the years 1832 and 1834, when Texas was still a province of Mexico. He was one of the earliest German colonists in Texas, and considering his opportunities and advantages had a somewhat remarkable career. For a time he was employed at his trade as chairmaker in Houston, and continued in the same line for about five years at Seguin. In the latter locality he then invested his capital in a horse ranch, but disease carried away all his stock, and he made a new beginning at Frelsburg. There he worked at his trade and at any other legitimate employment which he cold find. All the capital he had was what his hands brought him, and by dint of careful saving he accumulated enough to buy some work cattle and engaged in freighting from Houston to interior points. This was his regular business for about ten years, and was followed with profit. He then settled down to farming on the Pettes League in Austin County. His land cost him about $3 an acre, and at that time it was utterly untouched by the plow. He built the first house on the league and was its first permanent inhabitant. Some of the logs of the pioneer cabin are still part of one of the farm buildings owned by his son Henry.
Otto Henkhaus became a cotton and corn raiser, and when the time came to him to surrender the cares and responsibilities of human life he owned about 300 acres of land. During the Civil war he had followed freighting. He was exempt from military service because of a crippled leg, and for that reason also did not participate in the war for Texas Independence. The Republic of Texas issued him a headright, but it was never used because he believed the land he owned was sufficient for his needs. Though German born he made himself into an acceptable American, acquired a knowledge of the English language, and usually voted as a democrat. He was a member of the Catholic Church. In Colorado County, Texas, he married Miss Gertrude Miller, a daughter of William Miller, who came to America from Muenster, Germany, and was also in Texas before the war for independence. William Miller was a farmer for many years on Pipper's Creek in Austin County. The Miller children were: Mrs. Henkhaus; Christof; William; Minna, who married Charles Ehlinger of Ellinger, Texas; and Meta, who married Eugene Gulley. Otto Henkhaus died in 1883. His first wife died in 1870, and their children were: Mina, who married Ben Maukotter of Roena, Texas; Lizzie, wife of Ben Wilde of Falls County; Mary, Widow of Gerhardt Eggermeyer Otto, who was the father of Otto C., first mentioneed above; Julius, who died at the age of sixteen; and Henry A., who lives on the old home farm in Austin County. For his second wife Otto Henkhaus married Lizzie Weller, and her children were: Julius, of Roena, Texas; and Alous, who died unmarried.
Otto Henkhaus, a son of the pioneer just mentioned, was born in Austin County, was reared to manhood on a farm at the homestead in the vicinity of the town of New Ulm. Such were the conditions of time and place that he received but limited educational advantages in his youth, but his alert mind and studious habits enabled him to overcome this handicap and he was long known as a man of strong intellectuality, broad information and mature judgment. His active career was spent in farming and stock raising, and he passed his last years at Shiner, where he died September 8, 1904, at the age of fifty-two years, ten months and twenty-two days. His widow still maintains her home at Shiner. Her maiden name was Magdalena Wendel, who was born at Biddesheim on the Rhine, Germany, December 22, 1850. When she was three years old her parents came to America. Her father became a prosperous Texas farmer and spent his last years at Shiner in Lavaca County. The other Wendel children were: Mrs. Paul Peiper of Falls County; Mrs. John Weigelt of Cheapside, Gonzales County; Adam of Shiner; Richard A., a farmer near Shiner; and Adolph, a resident of Yoakum Dewitt County. A brief record of the children of Otto and Magdalena Henkhaus is a follows: Henry, who died at the age of thirty-one, married Miss Antonia Meitzen, a daughter of Judge Meitzen of Fayetteville, and she and her five children are still living. Richard died at the age of thirteen years. Lillie is the wife of Julius A. Krueger of Snyder, Oklahoma. The next in order of birth is Otto C. Katie is the wife of William Fehrenkamp, of Shiner. Joseph is a resident of Ballinger, Runnels County. John B., a farmer near Shiner, married Reta Pannewitz and has three children. Elo is a prosperous farmer and dairyman near Shiner, and by his marriage to Minnie Kasper has a daughter named Alice. Hattie is the wife of Emil Zander of Ballinger. Jack is assistant public weigher at Shiner, being deputy to his brother Otto C. Freida lives with her widowed mother.
It was on a farm between the towns of New Ulm and Industry in Austin County that Otto C. Henkhaus was born August 12, 1877. He grew up in his native county, attending the rural schools, and found plenty of practical training on his father's farm. For a year he farmed at Spring Branch in Lavaca County, and in November, 1899, established his residence at Shiner. The following six years he conducted the leading transfer and draying business of the town. He then became a candidate for the office of public weigher to succeed John H. Niemeyer, and was victorious at the pools and has been chosen at each successive election so that he has been the incumbent of that position ever since 1905. He is also manager and superintendent of the Shiner Cotton Compress and has some valuable farming interests adjacent to the village. His homestead is partially within the corporate limits of Shiner. He has a modern residence, which he built, and while it is in town it enjoys the situation of being removed from the more closely settled district.
Politically Mr. Henkhaus is an advocate of democratic principles, and is very progressive and liberal as a local citizen. He was reared in the faith of the Catholic church, while his wife grew up a Lutheran and is a communicant of that faith.
At Shiner February 7, 1898, Mr. Henkhaus married Miss Minnie Fehrenkamp, representative of an influential and numerous family of that name in this section of Texas. Her father was Benjamin Fehrenkamp of Shiner, and more details concerning the family will be found on other pages. Benjamin Fehrenkamp married Annie Mueller and of their children William is a resident of Shiner. Mrs. Henkhaus lost her mother when she was a child, and her father married Katie Rabe, and by that union there were the following children: Lillie, Hattie, Walter, Hilda and Benjamin, Jr. Mr. and Mrs. Henkhaus have three children: Erwin, Walter and Irene. pp. 1758-1760.
WILLIAM HERDER. Another of the native sons of Texas who has here achieved distinctive success in connection with the great fundamental industry of agriculture and who is the owner of a large, well improved and valuable landed estate near the Village of Shiner, Lavaca County, is William Herder, and he is entitled to recognition in this history not only by reason of his own achievement and advanced status as a citizen and man of affairs but also as a scion of a now numerous family that was founded in Texas more than eighty years ago and that has been one of prominence and influence' in connection with the social and material development and progress of the southern part of this great commonwealth.
The honored father of William Herder figures as the founder of the family in the Lone Star State, and this sterling pioneer, George Herder, was a youth of sixteen years when he came from his German Fatherland and established his residence in Texas, then on the very frontier of civilization, other members of the family having later come to America and established their home in Texas, including his sister, Mrs. William Winkelmann, who passed the closing years of her life in Colorado County.
George Herder was born in the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg, Germany, in the year 1818, and there received good educational advantages. In 1834, at the age of sixteen years, he severed the home ties and set forth to seek his fortunes in America, though he could have little foreseen that it would be his portion to gain broad experience in connection with life on the frontier of civilization and to aid in gaining independence for what is now the largest State in the greatest of all American republics. In the year that marked his arrival in the United States he came to Texas, and his loyalty to the land of his adoption soon came into effective play, for he joined the forces of Gen. Sam Houston and did effective service as one of the valiant soldiers who won independence for the Lone Star State, which was freed from the domination of Mexico. He took part in the historic battle of San Jacinto and his record of gallant service as a soldier in the war for independence makes it but consistent that his name and memory shall be held in lasting honor and given recognition on the pages of Texas history.
George Herder, the youthful soldier and adopted son of Texas, was one of the pioneer German settlers in the vicinity of Frelsburg, Colorado County, where he reclaimed land and became actively engaged in agricultural pursuits. Just prior to the inception of the Civil war he removed to the High Hill community, in Fayette County, and there he. continued his successful operations as a farmer for many years, besides building up also a substantial business as a general merchant, his ability and enterprise bringing to him splendid prosperity and giving him prestige as one of the most influential, even as he was one of the most honored, citizens of Fayette County. In the early '80s Mr. Herder removed to Lavaca County, where, in "half-moon Timber," he purchased a tract of open grazing land, over which occasional bands of cattle had roamed. He fenced his land and brought a portion of the same under cultivation, besides continuing his operations in the raising and handling of cattle. He remained on this place about three years, and the closing days of his long and useful life were passed at Schulenburg, Fayette County, where he died in 1887. He was a democrat in politics, was identified with no religious or fraternal organizations, was not given to garrulousness or self-exploitation, but, was a strong, upright, reserved man who was a person of thought and action rather than of useless loquacity.
As a young man George Herder wedded Miss Minnie Wolters, a daughter of another prominent pioneer, Jacob Wolters, concerning whom special mention is made elsewhere in this work, in the comprehensive article dedicated to the Wolters family and its various representatives in Texas. Mrs. Herder passed her entire life in Texas and died at High Hill, Fayette County, in 1877. Of the children the eldest is Meta, who is the widow of Julius Seydler and who still maintains her home at High Hill; Annie is the wife of Charles Eschenburg, of Schulenburg; Fritz, who died in Dewitt County, married Miss Ida Arnim, who, with several of their children, survived him; Augusta became the wife of Moritz Richter and both died at Shiner, leaving children; Minnie is the wife of Adolph Richter, of Weimar, Colorado County; Charles died in 1874, when a young man; August was a resident of the City of Houston at the time of his death in January, 1916, Eliza is the wife of Fritz Hillje and they reside in San Antonio; Henry, who died at High Hill, married Josephine Russek and left children; William, the immediate subject of this sketch, was the next in order of birth; George, who resides at Weimar, is one of the substantial capitalists of Southern Texas; and the other child of the twelve died in infancy.
William Herder was born at High Hill, Fayette County, on the 5th of April, 1861, and in that locality he was reared to adult age, in the meanwhile gaining youthful experience of practical order in connection with the work of the home farm. His education was not neglected and he was favored in being able to prosecute his studies under the direction of such able instructors as Professors Seydler and Heyer. He continued to be associated with his father in the work and management of the home farm until he had attained to the-age of twenty years, and for the following year he was employed for wages in the vicinity of his home. Shortly before attaining to his legal majority he took unto himself a wife, and the youthful pair established their first home at Engle, Fayette County, where he purchased a farm, in the locality formerly designated as "Black Jack Oso." After having there been engaged in agricultural pursuits four years Mr. Herder purchased and removed to the Half Moon Ranch, in Lavaca County, where he and his wife have since maintained their home and where their lives are compassed by smiling plenty and fair prosperous days. Mr. Herder owns 446 acres of the old ranch bearing the name designated above and situated in the Lockhart League. The estate is given over principally to the raising of cotton and corn, and since the property has come into his possession Mr. Herder has effected the reclamation to cultivation of an additional area of about 100 acres of the tract, besides which he has made many substantial improvements of permanent order, including the erection of two tenant houses. In addition to this fine landed estate he is the owner of a well improved farm of 296 acres in Gonzales County.
Mr. Herder cast his first presidential vote for Grover Cleveland and has since continued his allegiance to the democratic party, though he has had naught of ambition for public office or the activities of practical politics. He was reared in the faith of the Lutheran Church, of which his mother was a communicant, but is not formally identified with any religious or fraternal organization.
In December, 1880, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Herder to Miss Theresa Nitschmann, who was born in Fayette County, Texas, on the 27th of February, 1858, and who is a daughter of the late Frank and Anna (Gallus) Nitschmann. Mr. Nitschmann was one of the earliest of the German settlers of the High Hill district of Fayette County, and later removed to the vicinity of Engle, that county, where he was not only a successful farmer but also followed the trade of blacksmith. He had much mechanical and inventive skill, and is accredited with having invented the first turning plow and "middle buster," which he patented and for which a certain implement manufacturing company offered him the sum of $10,000. He declined to let the patent pass from his control and the same was later practically stolen from him, so that he realized but meager financial profit from a valuable device which brought large monetary returns to others, who had taken advantage of his genius. He was a resident of Schulenburg at the time of his death and his widow passed the closing years of her life in the home of her daughter Theresa, wife of the subject of this review. Concerning the other children of the Nitschmann family the following brief data are available: Joseph was a resident of Lindenau, Dewitt County, at the time of his death; Edward died at Flatonia, Fayette County; Mrs. Anna Bucek resides at Engle, Fayette County; Emil maintains his home in Victoria County; and Hermann is a resident of Guadaloupe, Victoria County.
This concluding paragraph is given over to a brief record concerning the children of Mr. and Mrs. Herder: Adaline is the wife of Edward Busch, of Shiner, and their children are Lonnie and Emmett. Edmund, the present postmaster at Shiner, is individually mentioned on other pages. Ella is the wife of Edward Cordes, a farmer near Shiner, and they have one child, Marvin. George remains at the parental home. Mrs. Annie Ahrens resides at Shiner and has two children, Avery and Melvin. Hattie is the wife of William Hewig, of Gonzales County, and they have one child Ed. Walter, who married Miss Eva Turk, likewise resides in that county. pp. 1337 -1340.
EDMUND HERDER. On other pages of this publication is entered a review of the personal career and family history of William Herder, father of him whose name initiates this article, and thus it were but redundant to repeat in this connection the data there offered. Suffice it to say that Edmund Herder is proud to designate himself a native son of Texas and to know that he is a scion of a sterling pioneer family of this state, in gaining the independence of which his grandfather, George Herder, played a worthy part, as he served as a soldier under the renowned patriot, Gen. Sam Houston and took part in the historic battle of San Jacinto.
On the homestead farm of his father, just two miles north of the Village of Eagle [Engle], Fayette County, Edmund Herder, the present postmaster of Shiner, Lavaca County, was born on the 4th of October, 1882, and thus he was a lad of about five years at the time of the family removal to Lavaca County, in 1887, the family home being established on the famous Half Moon Ranch, where his parents still reside, his father there being the owner of a valuable landed estate of more than 400 acres. To the public schools of Shiner the present postmaster of this town is indebted for his early educational discipline, and he well recalls that as a boy he remembers that the site of the village was marked only by the unbroken prairie, so that he has witnessed personally the inception and rise of this thriving municipality, his home having been in this immediate locality from the time of his boyhood.
At the age of fifteen years Mr. Herder left the parental roof and became a clerk in the Shiner postoffice, under the administration of R. G. Seydler. He continued his service in this capacity of virtual deputy until another postmaster assumed charge of the office, and he then passed the required examination and proved himself eligible for service as a rural mail carrier. He was appointed the first carrier on Rural Route No. 1, from Shiner, and he continued his active and efficient work on this route for ten and one-half years, during which entire period he only once failed to make his regular trip, save for the intervals of his annual vacations. His last official trip over the route was made on the 4th of January, 1915, but he did not find it incumbent upon him to bid farewell to the patrons of the route, for on the 29th of the preceding month he had received his commission as postmaster at Shiner, in which office he succeeded the late G. A. Pannewitz, his commission having been signed on that date by the President of the United states and his assumption of office having occurred on the 14th of January, 1915. His long and practical experience in the local office and as a rural mail carrier makes him a specially able and discriminating incumbent and his administration is giving unqualified satisfaction to the community which he serves and in which his circle of friends virtually is limited only by that of his acquaintances. Since he initiated his service the postoffice has been removed to its present eligible quarters, its equipment and facilities have been much improved and extended, and the office is now headquarters from which are served four rural free-delivery routes. As many naturally be inferred, Mr. Herder is found aligned as a stalwart in the local ranks of the democratic party, and as a loyal citizen he is liberal and progressive, the while he takes specially vital interest in all that touches the welfare of the community that has represented his home since childhood.
At Flatonia, Fayette County, the 23d of September, 1902, recorded the marriage of Mr. Herder to Miss Martha Finkenstein, who was born and reared in that county, daughter of Leopold and Ida (Kuegler) Finkenstein, honored pioneers of the High Hill district of that county. Mr. Finkenstein is deceased and his widow now resides at Flatonia, Mrs. Herder being the fifth in order of birth in a family of six children. Mr. and Mrs. Herder have one child, Elvera, who was born October 19, 1903, and who is a bright and ambitious young student in the public schools of her native Town of Shiner.pp. 1278 - 1279.
FERDINAND HILLJE. Oone of the solid Germans of Southwest Texas, a leader among his nationality which more than any other countryment have developed many of the most prosperous counties of the state, Ferdinand Hillje has spent most of his business career at Hallettsville, is chiefly prominent as a cotton oil mill man, and is also a banker and a factor in public affairs.
Ferdinand Hillje was born at High Hill in Fayette county, Texas, December 12, 1862. He represents the second generation from the Fatherland. His father, John F. Hillje, who died in Colorado county, Texas, in 1893, at the age of seventy-six, was a native of Oldenburg, Germany, the son of a wagon maker, and the son learned the same trade. He came to theUnited States when a single man, landing at Galveston, and his first location was Frelsburg, where he invested his small capital in the construction of a cotton gin. Although this was to him a new business, he ran it with success for a few years, and then sold the plant to his brother, who had followed him the the United States after two years. John F. Hillje then located in the High Hill country of Fayette County, built there another gin, and also owned and operated a small farm. The ginning business was his principal work during his active career. During war times he was exempt from military service owing to the fact that he was a miller and was more useful in his capacity as grinding the grist for the "war widows" and others than as a soldier in the ranks. In politics he voted as a republican, but held no office. John F. Hillje was married in Colorado County to Miss Mina Fahrenthold, who was born in the town of Pritzwalk, Prussia, and came to America with her father who was a farmer. Mrs. Hillje died at La Grange, Texas. Aside from Ferdinand, her children were Fred, who died while in the oil mill business at Weimar, and left children; Mary, wife of Rudolph Klatt of LaGrange; Louis, an oil mill man in San Antonio; Anna, who married Herman Reissner of Weimar; Bertha, who married Gus Seydler of Wharton; William, who is in the oil mill business at Weimar.
The boyhood of Ferdinand Hillje was spent in the country, where he attended the public schools, learned the arts of farming and the mechanism and operation of a cotton gin, and remained at home in managing these different interests until twenty-seven years of age. At that time Mr. Hillje became interested in and connected with the oil mill businesss at Weimar and was superintendent of the Hillje Brothers mill one year. In 1893 he removed to Hallettsville, and here purchased the Lavaca Oil Company's plant, which had been built by the Baumgarten interests, and since that time has been secretary and manager of the mill. The Lavaca Cotton Oil Company has a capacity of forty-five tons daily and is the chief manufacturing industry of Hallettsville.
Mr. Hillje has steered as nearly clear of politics as possible for a business man to do, although at the present time he is an alderman and is city treasurer of Hallettsville. A business man and manufacturer who has increased the facilities of his home town, and also a capable banker, he succeeded Mr. Henry J. Strunk in the office of president of the First National Bank of Hallettsville. The Hillje home, which he erected some years ago, is one of the best in the city. Mr. Hillje belongs to several fraternities, but is not an ardent lodge man.
Ferdinand Hillje was married at High Hill, Texas, in 1890 to Miss Marguerite Seydler. Her father, Julius Seydler, was a native of Saxony and came to the United States before the war between the states, and followed farming. Julius Seydler married Miss Herder, and they became the parents of a large family. Mr. and Mrs. Hillje have no children. pp. 1270-1271.
JOHN J. JARESH. One of the recently elected members of the first city commission of Yoakum is a prominent young business man, enterprising, popular, and in every way qualified for such responsibilities, the bearing of which will make his name honorably associated with the records of the city for all time to come.
A member of the firm of Jaresh Brothers, hardware, groceries and implements, John J. Jaresh is a native of Texas, born at Sweet Home, Lavaca County, July 26, 1883. His father, Lawrence Jaresh, now a farmer at Sweet Home, and his grandfather, Motis Jaresh, were among the early Texas settlers of the Bohemian nationality. Lawrence was born in Austria in 1847, and six years later, in 1853, his father brought the family to America, landing at Galveston and settling in Fayette County. Motis lived many years near Flatonia, but died at Sweet Home in 1885 at the advanced age of eighty-four. He identified himself thoroughly with American life and customs, learned the English language, and after getting citizenship was a regular democratic voter. He accumulated a considerable amount of farming land before his death. He and his wife, who are buried at Yoakum, had the following children: Lawrence; Simon, who died in Flatonia and left children; Motis of Sweet Home; Frank, a farmer of Lavaca County; Charles, who died at West, Texas, leaving a family there; Mrs. John Boca, of Flatonia; Mrs. Mary Meitsmann, who died near Schulenberg [sic.], leaving children; Mrs. Charles Schroeder, of Smithville, Texas; and Mrs. John Ulmann, of Moulton, Texas.
For more than sixty years Lawrence Jaresh has lived in Texas, is a product of its conditions and environment, and has made himself a factor in farming and the establishment of a home and family. His education was limited, and during the war period in his early youth he did some freighting to Mexico. He moved into Lavaca County in 1883, and has since pursued his industrious career in the Sweet home neighborhood. In politics he has gone no further than casting his vote. The maiden name of his wife was Mary Migel, one of a family of several children born to a German farmer in Texas. The Jaresh children are: Antone W.., now one of the firm of Jaresh Brothers at Yoakum; John H.; Tennie; wife of Charles Kananeck of Lavaca County; and Thomas, who is a farmer and cotton weigher at Sweet Home.
The public schools of Sweet Home and Yoakum supplied John J. Jaresh with his early advantages, but only until he was seventeen, at which age he became a clerk in Yoakum and for several years was in the employ of several of the leading merchants of the city. With a somewhat matured experience and with a fair amount of capital, in 1910 he engaged in business for himself, under his own name as a grocer. He was prospering up to February 9., 1913, when his store was destroyed by fire. This caused only a temporary interruption, however, and at the beginning of June after the fire and after he had resumed business his brother Antone joined him, making the present firm of Jaresh Brothers. The scope of trade was at that time extended so as to comprise implements and hardware, and they now handle a large volume of business. Mr. Jaresh erected the large building in which the store is located, with a frontage of seventy-five feet and a hundred feet depth.
Reared in democratic atmosphere, Mr. Jaresh has acted rather independently in political matters, as is indicated by the fact that his first presidential vote was given to Roosevelt in 1904. His business record and well known efficiency in handling any issue in his personal affairs furnished the chief recommendation to local citizens when his name was proposed as one to be voted on in April, 1915, for the first board of city commissioners. The commission succeeded the old mayor and council form of government, and so far its chief work has been in selecting a manager and getting the affairs of the municipality shaped on their new course. One result already noted is that the community is getting full value for all money expended upon labor and supplies, and it has also effected a purer moral atmosphere for Yoakum.
Mr. Jaresh was reared a Catholic, and is a member of the S.P.J.S. and the Sons of Herman. His comfortable home, which he erected, is at 702 Grand Avenue, in Dewitt County, while he has erected several other houses in that section of the city which lies in Lavaca County. On November 21, 1904, he married Miss Ida Svoboda, whose parents, John and Theresa (Hollub) Svoboda, were both natives of Bohemia. Her father was brought to the United States in childhood, was reared in Iowa and married in that state, but came to Texas and died at Yoakum. His children were: Mrs. Mary Pustjovsky; Joseph, Mrs. Annie Jilek; Rudolph; Mrs. Jaresh, who was born June 24, 1886; Antone; Miss Katie; and Mrs. Emma Vrazel. Mr. and Mrs. Jaresh have two children: Walter Lawrence and Dorothy Catherine. pp. 1271 -1272.
RICHARD EWING KIRK. This is one of the most prominent railroad men of the State of Texas. Mr. Kirk lives at Yoakum, was for many years a locomotive engineer, having first become identified with the railroad work at Yoakum as a fireman in 1894, and he is now general chairman for the order of locomotive firemen.
By training and early environment he was a farmer boy and was born and reared in Fayette County. He attended country schools chiefly in the Schulenburg community, and at the age of eighteen, on account of the death of his father, had to take a place of large responsibilities at home. Soon afterwards his mother took her family to Yoakum where the sons might get in touch with work the better to aid the family.
Beginning in the railroad shops, Richard E. Kirk was soon made a fireman and continued that work until 1898 when he was promoted to engineer, making his first run from Yoakum to Skidmore. He was in the active service of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass lines as engineer until January, 1912, when he was elected general chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen.
As a brotherhood man Mr. Kirk joined the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen in 1896. He has since been an active member of the order, his first official service was in his present capacity. He became general chairman in 1907, and with the increase of the business of the road, the importance of the office expanded, and he was chosen the first salaried chairman of the order. He has represented the firemen in conventions since 1908 and he has been very efficient and serviceable in looking after the firemen's side of the contract with the railroad company. He has attended various national conventions, and these conventions include not only the membership of the order in the United States but those of Canada as well. The chief topic of legislation in the conventions attended by Mr. Kirk has been insurance of members, in addition to the routine business transacted by such bodies.
The Kirk family has lived in Texas since ante-bellum days. His grandfather, Simon P. Kirk, came to Texas from Northern Alabama and established a home near Lagrange in Fayette County. The family had come across the Mississippi River with wagon and team, and Simon P. Kirk lived in Fayette County until his death of yellow fever in 1869. He was a substantial farmer and though past the age for service during the war he had three sons in the Confederate army. Simon P. Kirk was born in Alabama, and he married Miss Narcissa Belsha. She was born July 23, 1822, while Simon Kirk was born April 8, 1803. N. Kirk was the daughter of Calvin Belsha, who was born in February, 1766, and died August 21, 1827. Simon P. Kirk by a previous marriage had the following children: Benjamin, who spent his life in Fayette County and left a family of four children; William J., who was a farmer and died at Abilene, Texas, being survived by eight children; and Joseph M., who was a Fayette County farmer and left descendants. Simon Kirk's children by his marriage to Narcissa Belsha were: Richard P., whose career was spent as a teacher principally in Bexar County, but he died at Waco while principal of one of the ward schools; Zachariah C.; and Simon P., a farmer who died in Burleson County, Texas, leaving one child.
Zachariah C. Kirk was born June 30, 1849, and was reared in Fayette County, where he attended some of the pioneer schools. In the early part of his career he served for a number of years as deputy sheriff of Fayette County, but after his marriage he located on the old homestead and continued farming it. Later for eight years he was in the transfer business at Schulenburg and then returned to the farm where his death occurred January 28, 1893. He was a democrat and a member of the Missionary Baptist Church. Zachariah Kirk married Miss Sallie Moore, who is still living at Yoakum. Her parents were Clark and Jane (Whistler) Moore, who were married in Texas, and her father spent his life as a farmer in Fayette County. The Whistler family came to Texas from Illinois during the early days, making the journey with ox wagon. Mrs. Zachariah Kirk is the mother of the following children: Richard E.; Miss Nettie, one of the teachers in the Yoakum public school; Zach R. of Yoakum; and Mabel, wife of J. R. Young of Buffalo, New York.
On the old homestead in Fayette County Richard E. Kirk was born September 27, 1873. On June 13, 1898, he married Miss Minnie Williams, a daughter of Dudson C. and Amanda (Rhem) Williams. Her father was born in Texas and spent his active career as a farmer, while her mother was a daughter of Rev. Mr. Rhem, a pioneer Baptist preacher who was shot while holding a meeting near West Point, Texas. Mrs. Kirk, who was born January 13, 1877, had the following brothers and sisters: Rhem, Clay, Hugh, Walter, Leslie and David.
Mr. and Mrs. Kirk have one of the comfortable homes at Yoakum and are people of the highest standing in the social community. Their two children are: Marion Inez, born August 25, 1900: and Ewing Clay, born March 26, 1902. pp. 1764 -1765.
FRANK J. KNESEK. The career of this native son of Texas has been marked by earnest and worthy endeavor, and through his own ability and efforts he has made his way forward and achieved definite success, as is manifest in his status as one of the representative business men of the thriving Town of Moulton, Lavaca County, where he has a large and well eqiupped hardware establishment and tinshop, in the conducting of which he is now associated with his only son, under the firm name of F. J. Knesek & Son.
Frank John Knesek, who established his residence at Moulton in 1902, was born on his father's farm, on Ross Prairie, Fayette County, Texas, on the 24th of February, 1862, and he was but four years of age at the time of his father's death, his mother passing to the life eternal when he was a lad of twelve years. His childhood and early youth were passed on the home farm and his rudimentary education was obtained in the rural schools of the locality and period. After the death of his mother he was taken into the home of Doctor Webb, of Flatonia, Fayette County, where he was reared to adult age, attended school for some time and finally served an apprenticeship to the trade of tinsmith, in the establishment and under the direction of George Yeager. He completed his apprenticeship at the age of eighteen years, and for some time thereafter he was not engaged in the work of his trade but was employed as clerk in mercantile establishments, his services in this, capacity having been in turn in the employ of William Fortran, J. A. Nickol and the firm of Harrison & Lane, all of Flatonia. He continued his clerical work for a time at Sweet Home and later at Schulenburg and Hackberry, so that several years elapsed before he again turned his attention to the trade for which he had admirably fitted himself.
His resumption of his trade was in association with Augustus Krook, at Schulenburg, in April, 1886, but after two years he sold his interest in the hardware and tinning establishment and removed to Fayetteville, where he engaged in the same line of enterprise in an individual way. He there remained nearly three years in the control of a prosperous business and was then induced to assume a position as clerk in the general merchandise establishment of the firm of Nehaus Brothers, of Schulenburg. He remained with this firm about eighteen months and then resumed his individual efforts in the hardware business and also conducted in connection a general tin shop. After an interval of about eight years he disposed of his business at Schulenburg and removed to Moulton, in 1902. Here he has developed a substantial and prosperous business as a tinsmith and a hardware merchant, and besides making various improvements upon his store and warehouse, of which he is the owner, he has erected his attractive residence. On the 15th of February, 1915, he admitted his son, Edwin J., to partnership, and the business has since been conducted under the firm name of F. J. Knesek & Son.
As a citizen Mr. Knesek is essentially loyal and public-spirited, and while he has had no desire to enter the arena of practical politics he accords staunch support to the cause of the democratic party, as does also his son. Both he and his wife were reared in the faith of the Catholic Church. He is affiliated with the Bohemian S. P. J. S. T. fraternity, for which he is eligible by birthright.
At Schulenburg, on the 29th of March, 1886, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Knesek to Miss Johanna Chovanetz, a daughter of John and Apolonia Chovanetz, both natives of Silesia, Austria. John Chovanetz came to Texas in 1866 and established his home in Fayette County, where he became a prosperous farmer and valued citizen. He and his wife became the parents of two sons and three daughters, Mrs. Knesek being the youngest of the daughters and the date of her birth having been March 5, 1860; Bertha is the wife of Antone Knesek; Antonia is the wife of Charles Pustejovsky, of Moulton; Frank is a farmer near Hallettsville, Lavaca County; and Louis is a resident of the City of Houston. Mr. and Mrs. Knesek had five children. Two sons, Frank William and Alfred August, died in infancy, and the three living children are: Edwin J., who is associated with his father in business, as previously noted, was born January 8,1887, and in addition to receiving the advantages of the public schools he completed an effective course in the Massey Business College in the City of Houston; Edna is the wife of John Bucek, cashier of the First State Bank of Moulton; and Adela remains at the parental home.
Frank J. Knesek is a son of Albert Knesek, who came to Texas in 1856, a widower with four children. He settled on a pioneer farm near Fayetteville, Fayette County, but later bought a farm near High Hill in the same county, where he passed the residue of his life, his death having occurred in 1866, when the subject of this review was a child of four years. Albert Knesek was born at Frankstadt, Province of Moravia, Austria, where he continued to reside until after the death of his first wife, the four children who accompanied him on his immigration to America having been as here noted: Victoria, who is the wife of Rudolph Brauer, residing near Cuero, Dewitt County; Ferdinand, who died a bachelor, as did also Joseph; and Antone, who is a farmer near Engle, Fayette County. In Fayette County was celebrated the second marriage of Albert Knesek, who there wedded Mrs. Veronica Vanek, who was born in Moravia and who had two children by her first marriage John, of whom all trace has been lost by other members of the family and who is supposed to be deceased; and Miss Veronica, who resides at Engle, Fayette County. Of the second marriage was born two children, Frank J., of this sketch, being the elder, and Ludwig being a prosperous farmer near Hallettsville, Fayette [sic.] County. pp. 1412 -1414.
CHARLES L. KOPECKY, M.D. The same ambition and worthy purpose that led Doctor Kopecky to bend his energies to preparing himself thoroughly for the work of his exacting profession have been the dominating forces that have combined with his sterling personal character to insure his distinctive success in his profession, of which he is one of the prominent and honored representatives in Lavaca County, with residence and headquarters in the Village of Shiner. He is a native Texan and is a scion of a family that was founded in the Lone Star State nearly sixty years ago.
Doctor Kopecky was born at Sweet Home, Lavaca County, on the 31st of May, 1882, and is a son of Joseph and Philomena (Janca) Kopecky, who passed the closing years of their lives on their fine homestead farm near Shiner, Lavaca County, the latter having been called to the life eternal on the 3d of November, 1896, and the former having passed away in October, 1906, at a venerable age.
A son of a prosperous farmer and stone mason in the Province of Moravia, Austria, Joseph Kopecky was there born and reared, and he received excellent educational advantages in his youth. The Kopecky family were of the Bohemian district of Moravia, and Joseph Kopecky was not only thoroughly familiar with his native, or Bohemian, language, but learned also to speak with fluency the German language, so that his training aided him greatly in the facile accumulation of the English language after he had come to America. In 1858, when sixteen years of age, he severed the home ties and set forth to seek his fortunes in the United States. His reinforcement consisted of the mental and physical vigor of sturdy youth and an ambition to win for himself independence and prosperity through individual effort. Soon after his arrival in America he made his way to Lavaca County, Texas, and, with virtually no financial resources, he depended upon manual labor to obtain a start in the land of his adoption. As a ranch hand he was employed by Mr. Allen, the well known pioneer of the Sweet Home community, and this initial occupation, though it did not give to him more than nominal compensation in a monetary way, did afford him an opportunity to earn money, the while his good judgment and frugality made him carefully save his earnings from the beginning until he had accumulated a sufficient amount to purchase a small farm in the Sweet Home district. After his marriage he there continued his operations as a farmer for a few years, and after having made good improvements on the place he finally sold the property and removed with his family to the fine Kessler prairie, on which the Town of Shiner was later developed. He was one of the first settlers -- and the first Bohemian resident -- of this section of Lavaca County, and here he purchased 800 acres of raw prairie land, at the rate of five dollars an acre. After breaking an appreciable acreage of the wild land he engaged in the raising of cotton, and the passing years brought to him large and merited prosperity. As circumstances justified he expanded his land holdings, until he became the owner of one of the extensive and valuable landed estates of Lavaca County, his large domain providing homes and profitable employment for many tenants and his operations as a planter, general agriculturist and minor stock-grower reaching such compass as to make him one of the foremost representatives of these lines of industry in Lavaca County. He was a recognized leader in the civic, business and industrial affairs of the Shiner community, his fine homestead being situated on Rocky Creek, only a quarter of a mile distant from Shiner. He assisted in splendid degree in the development and progress of this now favored section and when the first railroad line was projected he gave for the same the right of way across his farm. Though prominent and influential in local affairs of a public order he had no desire for the activities of politics, but as soon as possible after establishing his home in Texas he became a naturalized citizen and aligned himself as a supporter of the generic cause of the democratic party. Both he and his wife were devout communicants of the Catholic Church, and he was one of the promoters and charter members of the parish organization at Shiner, besides contributing most liberally to the erection of the church edifice. His devoted wife, who was his true helpmeet during the years that he was laboring to establish himself and to win the goal of prosperity, was a daughter of Charles Janca, who immigrated to Texas from Bohemia, in the '60s, and who became a prosperous farmer in Fayette County. Of the children of Joseph and Philomena (Janca) Kopecky the eldest is Agnes, who is the wife of J.J. Kutach, of Yoakum, Dewitt County; Joseph F. is a resident and influential citizen of Hallettsville, the judicial center of Lavaca County, where he is editor and publisher of the Novy Domov, a Bohemian paper; Dr. Charles L., of this review, was the next in order of birth; Lena is the wife of Charles Strauss, of Shiner; Rosa is the wife of Philip Bartosh, of Prague, Oklahoma; Millie is the wife of Frank Merta and they likewise reside at Prague, Lincoln County, Oklahoma; August maintains his residence in the City of Lincoln, Nebraska; and Frances is the wife of Henry Strauss, of Weimar, Texas.
Dr. Charles L. Kopecky was reared to adult age on his father's extensive landed estate near Shiner, and he attended the rural schools until the Village of Shiner was founded, when he was able to continue his studies in the newly established public schools of this town. He finally entered St. Edward's College, in the City of Austin, where he remained as a student until he had attained to the age of sixteen years, when he manifested his independence and patriotic spirit by enlisting in the United States army. He enlisted as a private in Company D, Sixth Regiment of United States Infantry, commanded by Colonel Burns, and his initial service in the ranks was at For Sam Houston. He finally accompanied his regiment to San Francisco, from which point the command was sent to the Philippine Islands, where the regiment gained active and varied experience in campaign work and also served on police duty. Doctor Kopecky took part in the battle of the Waterworks at Manila, and thereafter served with his regiment on the more southern islands of the Philippine group, including Panay, Negros, Ceby, Bohol and Leyte. On Panay the regiment had frequent engagements with the insurrectos and captured the towns of Iloilo and Santa Barbara. The command next proceeded to Bohol, to avenge the massacre of the Ninth Infantry, and after successfully achieving the desired end it went to the Island of Leyte, where it took part in a vigorous campaign against the insurgent natives and followed the terse advice of Colonel Smith, to "lick hell out of them." Thereafter the regiment was assigned to police duty on the Island of Negros. Doctor Kopecky lived up to the full tension of the military operations on the Oriental isles and his experiences in jungle warfare with the natives must ever figure as an interesting feature in the history of his career, his fine mentality and alert observative powers having enabled him to gain much and varied information in the Orient, so that his reminiscences concerning his own experiences and incidents and conditions in the Philippines are specially graphic and interesting, -- well worthy of perpetuation in published form, to which he should commit them. He remained in the Philippines from March, 1899, until 1902, in the early spring of which year he returned with his regiment to San Francisco, where he received his honorable discharge in April of that year. The regiment crossed the Pacific to the Philippines on the transport Sherman, and returned on the Sheridan. The Doctor made a splendid record as a soldier and he perpetuates the more pleasing memories of his military career through affiliation with the United Spanish-American War Veterans.
In the autumn of 1903 Doctor Kopecky, a youthful military veteran, returned to Texas, and in directing his attention to the pursuits of peace he determined to prepare himself for the profession in which he has since achieved marked success and prestige. His preliminary medical course was taken in the Louisville medical College, in the metropolis of Kentucky, where he continued his studies two years. His loyalty to his native state and its institutions was then shown by his entering the medical department of the University of Fort Worth, in which he was graduated as a member of the class of 1906 and from which he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine. His professional novitiate was served at Nada, Colorado County, where he remained one year. For the ensuing three years he was engaged in practice at Hallettsville, the county seat of his native county, and since November, 1910, he has been earnestly and effectively engaged in general practice at Shiner, where he controls a substantial and representative individual practice and where he has been closely and pleasantly associated with Drs. James D. Gray and G. Shultze in the Shiner Surgical Hospital. The Doctor is identified with the American Medical Association, the Texas State Medical Society, and the medical societies of his home county and congressional district. He is one of the interested principals in the Shiner drug company, of which he is a director; is president of the St. Nicodemus Drug Company, of Shiner, engaged in the manufacturing of various pharmaceutical preparations and proprietary remedics; and at the county seat, Hallettsville, he is president of the Ledbetter-Kopecky Drug Company. Doctor Kopecky holds that his professional and business interests merit his unqualified attention, and thus had no desire for special activity along either political or religious lines, though his is essentially loyal and public-spirited in his civic attitude. He is affiliated with the Knights of Columbus and with the K. J. T. Bohemian Society, of which he is supreme medical examiner.
At Shiner, on the 29th of August, 1906, was solemnized the marriage of Doctor Kopecky to Miss Amelia Strauss, a daughter of Jacob and Amelia (Chapka) Strauss, the former of whom came from Germany to America prior to the Civil war, in which he served as a valiant soldier of the Confederacy, after which he became on of the prosperous farmers of Texas; his wife was born in Moravia, Austria, and was a child of four years at the time of her parents' immigration to the United States, the family home being established in Texas, where she was reared and educated. Of the children of Doctor and Mrs. Kopecky the first born, Edith, died when one year of age; and the surviving children are Leonard and Leonita. pp. 1288-1290.DR. A. M. KOTZEBUE. This, well known physician of Flatonia, who has practiced medicine in Lavaca and Fayette counties for more than twenty years, is a native of South Texas, and represents a fine old line of German ancestors, several branches of which have lived in Texas since prior to the Civil war.
The history of the Kotzebue family dates back to 1420. The village that gave the name to the family was Kossebau or Kossebue, and was later named Kotzebue. This village is located in Prussia, at Arendsee in the Altmark or Old Market. Denning Kotzebue, the first of whom we have any knowledge, was born in 1420 in Stendal, and later lived at Salzwebel and also at Magdeburg in Germany. A direct lineage begins with Jacob Kotzebue, who was born in 1527 in Stendall and who was Rathskammerer at Magdeburg. His oldest son John, who was born in the Altstadt (old town) Magdeburg in 1591, was a minister or preacher. He had two sons. The older of these sons was the beginning of the Hanover line of descendants, while the younger son originated the Braunschweig or Russian line. The Kotzebue family in Texas are descended from the Hanover line.
A brief account of the Hanover line of the family is as follows: Johann Kotzebue, born at Quedlinburg in 1616, died in 1677. In 1658 he was ordained a Protestant minister at Hanover. Next comes Georg Carl Kotzebue, of Hanover, who died in 1730. The head of the next generation was Georg Christian Kotzebue who was born in 1706 and died in 1779. He was the father of four sons and five daughters. Of these Christoph Carl was born in 1740 and died in 1810; Albrecht David was born 1754 and died in 1839; and Georg Christian was born in 1752 and died in 1808.
The children of Georg C. Kotzebue last named were as follows: Julie, who was born in 1785 and died in 1861; John Carl Andreas, born in 1787 and died in 1788; Carl Ernst Leopold, born in 1789 and died in 1790; Peter Heinrich Albrecht, born in 1792 and died in 1862; Christian August Meinhard, born in 1795 and died in 1880; and Stats Franz Friedrich, born in 1801.
Stats Franz Friedrich Kotzebue, grandfather of Doctor Kotzebue, was born April 14, 1801, at Hoija in Hanover. He married Christiane Jorgensen, who was born in Denmark. Franz Friedrich Kotzebue owned land at Bocksee in Holstein, Denmark, but on account of the Danish military pressure upon settlers he sold it in 1853, and came to America with his wife and four sons, locating at New Ulm, in Austin County. Franz Friedrich Kotzebue died in 1864. Of his sons, Christian born in 1836, and Johannes, born in 1839, both died in 1857. The other two were Christian Meinhard, born in 1840, and Julius Kotzebue, born in 1842. Both these sons had to go to war in the Confederate army, and after the restoration of peace they both married, and Julius Kotzebue settled down on the farm in Colorado County, while Christian M. later moved to Lavaca County. Julius Kotzebue, who was born in 1842 in Denmark was married in 1866 in Colorado County to Bertha Donlevy. He is still living on his farm in Colorado County and has one daughter and four sons, namely: Lina, Julius, Heinrich, Wilhelm and Hilly, all living and married.
Christian Meinhard Kotzebue, father of Doctor Kotzebue, was born in Denmark in 1840. In 1870 he moved to Lavaca County, locating on a farm near Moulton, sold that place in 1890 and moved into the Town of Moulton, where for the past twenty-five years he has been in the hotel business. He was married in 1866 to Louise Bauer. Her father, George Bauer, was a baker by trade and was employed in that occupation in St. Petersburg, Russia, and after coming to Texas established a home on a farm near New Ulm. Mr. Bauer's wife was Anastasia Amalie Wiese, who was born in Germany. The Bauer children were: August; Amalie, wife of Rev. Rudolph Jaeggli of Moulton; and Mrs. C. M. Kotzebue.
Christian M. Kotzebue and wife are the parents of thirteen living children, mentioned as follows: August Emil Meinhard (Dr. A. M. Kotzebue), born in 1869; Louise, born in 1870, married F. J. Helweg of Moulton; Elise, born in 1873, married W. Graves of Moulton; Alexander F., born in 1875, in the drug business at Moulton, married Erna Fehrenkamp and has two sons and a daughter; Emilie, born in 1876, married F. F. Nesrsta of Flatonia; Selma, born in 1878, married Herman Chemnitz of Flatonia; Bertha, born in 1880, married John Brunkenhoefer of Moulton, and has two sons; Wilhelm, born in 1882, married Adela Helmkamp; Emma, born in 1883, unmarried; Julius, born in 1885, married Helen Goetz, and has one daughter; Amalie, born in 1886, married Vincent Rehmet and has one son; Linda, born in 1889, married William Franke, and has three children, two girls and one boy; and August, born in 1892, married Allan Baugh. Of the sons the oldest is Doctor Kotzebue, two others are engaged in the drug business at Moulton, and three have their homes at Flatonia, including Doctor Kotzebue, one of his brothers being in the employ of the Cowdin Grocery Company, while the youngest is a druggist.
Dr. A. M. Kotzebue was born near Columbus in Colorado County, January 13, 1869, and was reared on the old farm at Moulton. He acquired his early education in the Moulton Institute, took a correspondence course in pharmacy and then engaged in the drug business at Moulton as a partner of Dr. W. H. Lancaster and continued in that line for eleven years. He took his first course in medicine in the Kentucky University of Medicine at Louisville in 1889, and finished in the Illinois Medical College of Chicago in June, 1892. After this preparation he engaged in practice at Moulton, remained there until 1907, and has since had his office and home in Flatonia, and enjoys a large practice in the town and surrounding country. He is a member of the Lavaca County and the Fayette County Medical societies, and served as secretary of the former and has been representative of that society to three meetings of the Texas Medical Association. Ever since coming to Flatonia Doctor Kotzebue has served as city health officer, and for several years has been a member of the school board. For a time he was postmaster at Moulton. In politics he is a democrat with strong prohibition tendencies, is a member of the Lutheran Church, and has fraternal affiliations with the Woodmen of the World, the Sons of Hermann, the Knights of the Maccabees and the Order of Yeomen.
At Moulton, Texas, June 7, 1892, Doctor Kotzebue married Miss Leona Yeliera Lightner. Mrs. Kotzebue was born on a farm at Clayton, near Montgomery, Alabama, a daughter of Thomas Smith and Nancy (Bishop) Lightner. Thomas S. Lightner was a son of William Michael Lightner, whose parents came to America from Holland. Mrs. Kotzebue's mother, Nancy Bishop, was a member of a well known Alabama family, and her mother was a Miss Pitts. Nancy (Bishop) Lightner had four brothers and four sisters. All the brothers lived and died in Alabama except William Bishop, who moved to Arkansas. The sisters became the wives of William Blair, Ryan Bennett, Concel Bush and Monroe Lasseter. Thomas S. Lightner's mother was a Miss Sophia Mustgrove. Mr. Lightner had three brothers and one sister: Sarah, Samuel F., John and William. The sister married a Mr. Warren and after his death married Mr. Helms. The mother of William Michael Lightner, above mentioned, was a Miss Smith. Her first husband was named Harvy, an Englishman. They had been married only a short time before the Revolutionary war. Mr. Harvy was wrongfully accused of active sympathy with the English in that war, and without any trial was hanged before the eyes of his wife. She fainted at the spectacle and when she recovered consciousness found the dead body of her husband across her. At that time they lived in North Carolina. Mrs. Harvy afterwards married a man of German origin, named Leitner, the name which was subsequently changed to its present spelling of Lightner. Mrs. Doctor Kotzebue has three brothers and three sisters: Fannie, wife of L. T. Edwards of San Antonio, and the mother of three sons and one daughter; Alabama, widow of J. S. Burns of Brownwood, Texas, and has two daughters and one son; Mollie, now Mrs. G. W. Harrison of Cottonwood, Alabama, and has four daughters and three sons; William M. Lightner, of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and has five daughters and three sons; C. E. Lightner, still living in St. Louis and Gus 0. Lightner, who lives in Monterey, Mexico, and has two sons.
Mrs. Kotzebue was reared in Alabama, finished her high school course in the Clayton Female College of Clayton, and is a graduate of the Tuscaloosa Female College of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Before her marriage she was a teacher in the public schools at Moulton, Texas. Doctor and Mrs. Kotzebue are the parents of two sons. Meinhard Henry Kotzebue, born May 9, 1893, was graduated from the mechanical engineering department of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas in 1914, and is now manager of an automobile school at Houston. Leon Lightner Kotzebue, born September 29, 1896, is a graduate of the Flatonia High School and is now a student in the Agricultural and Mechanical College. pp. 1398-1400.
FRANZ F. A. KOTZEBUE. It has been given to this well known and representative citizen to gain status as one of the influential business men of his native county and to play prominent part in the civic and material advancement of his home town of Moulton, where he is engaged in the drug business, is a director of the village waterworks system, and is president of the board of education. He is a son of one of the honored pioneer families of this county and further details concerning his parents are given on other pages of this publication, in the sketch of the career of his brother, Dr. A. M. Kotzebue, who is now a resident of Flatonia, Fayette County.
On the old homestead farm of his father, within 1 1/2 miles of distance of Moulton, Franz Frederick, Alexander Kotzebue, who in business connections signs his name A. F. Kotzebue, was born on the 5th of May, 1875, and the conditions and influences of the farm continued to compass him until he had attained to the age of sixteen years, his educational discipline in the meanwhile having included that of the high school at Moulton, and later it having been his privilege to attend for one year the Lutheran College at Brenham, Washington County.
After leaving the home farm Mr. Kotzebue was variously employed, and at the age of twenty-one years he initiated his active business career by purchasing an interest in the drug store then conducted at Moulton by his brother, D. A. M. Kotzebue, who is now one of the representative physicians in the thriving little City of Flatonia. After two years Dr. A. M. Kotzebue sold his interest to F. P. Guenther and the firm was then Kotzebue & Guenther. Two years later he purchased the interest of his partner, Professor Guenther, and since 1900 he has been the sole proprietor of the substantial and representative business, which is conducted in one of the best business blocks in the village. This building, a substantial brick structure of two stories, was erected by him and has a frontage on each of two streets, the building being virtually in the form of an L, and the intermediate or corner building being that of the Moulton State Bank. The upper story of the Kotzebue Block is excellently fitted up as an opera house and gives to the community a most attractive place of entertainment. Mr. Kotzebue has further added to.the material upbuilding of Moulton by the erection of his fine residence, a modern house of two stories and fourteen rooms, with expensive grounds that have been beautified with trees and effective landscape gardening.
As may naturally be inferred, Mr. Kotzebue is found aligned as a staunch supporter of the cause of the democratic party, and he is recognized as one of the most vital and public-spirited citizens of Moulton, where he has been influential in the furtherance of those measures and enterprises that make for the general well-being of the community. Since 1909 he has been a valued and progressive member of the board of trustees of the public schools of Moulton, and he has served as president of the board since 1912. He is a member of the directorate of the Moulton "Water Works Company, in the promotion and chartering of which he was primarily influential, the installing of the effective water system having been instituted in 1913. Of the local camp of the Woodmen of the World he has been an active member from the time of its organization, and he has served as its clerk since 1908. Since 1898 Mr. Kotzebue has been the manager of the local telephone exchange, and in a fraternal way he is further affiliated with the Moulton Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons and its adjunct organization, the chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, and with the Hermann Sohns, his wife likewise holding membership in the Order of the Eastern Star and both being members of the Woodman Circle. They are leaders in the representative social activities of the community and their beautiful home is a center of gracious hospitality. Their religious faith is that of the Lutheran Church.
On the 22d of October, 1902, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Kotzebue to Miss Erna Fehrenkamp, daughter of Frederick T. Fehrenkamp, a prominent and influential citizen of Moulton, and the names and respective dates of birth of the three children of this union are here noted: Roy Louis, October 16, 1903; Ida Alice, October 13, 1905; and Henry Earl, February 13, 1908. pp. 1543-1545.
JOHN KUBENA. As a lad of sixteen years Mr. Kubena accompanied his parents on their immigration to America from the Province of Moravia, Austria, and the family home was established in Texas, where he was reared to manhood and where he has so availed himself of opportunities and so utilized his powers as to achieve large and worthy success and become a prominent and influential citizen of Lavaca County, his fine homestead place being situated a short distance east of the Town of Moulton. He is one of the extensive landholders and representative agriculturists and stock-growers of this section of the state, and his civic loyalty, as well as his personal popularity, is indicated by the fact that he has served continuously and efficiently as a member of the board of county commissioners of Lavaca County since 1906.
Mr. Kubena was born at Stromberg, near the City of Neutittschein, in the Province of Moravia, Austria, and the date of his nativity was December 28, 1857. He is a son of John and Susan (Janek) Kubena, the parents of both of whom passed their entire lives in Moravia, where the respective families have been established for many generations. In his native land John Kubena was engaged in the manufacturing of and dealing in lime, besides having other business interests. In 1873, at Bremen, Germany, he embarked with his family on the steamship Koeln, which afforded the transportation to the United States. They landed in the City of New Orleans, and thence came across the Gulf of Mexico to Galveston, Texas, from which point the journey was continued overland, with four oxen, to Frelsburg, Colorado County, where the family remained until the autumn of the following year when they came to Lavaca County and established a home in the vicinity of the old Town of Moulton and Youngs Store, both of which settlements have since been obliterated. In 1878 John Kubena here purchased a tract of wild land, from Henry Fordtran, and the original family domicile on this pioneer prairie homestead was a primitive box house of the type common to the locality and period. Mr. Kubena reclaimed his land to cultivation and became a successful agriculturist, his attention being given principally to the raising of corn and cotton. On his old homestead he continued to reside until his death, on the 24th of June, 1893, at which time he was seventy-one years of age. This sterling citizen acquired measurable familiarity with the English language and was able to utilize the same with discrimination in connection with his business affairs. After becoming a naturalized citizen he espoused the cause of the Democratic Party, with which he continued to be aligned during the remainder of his long and useful life. In a sense he was a political refugee from his native land, where his boldly expressed opinions had brought to him no little trouble, and he was thus double appreciative of the individual freedom and independence which became his after establishing his residence in the United States. Both he and his wife were communicants of the Catholic Church, in the faith of which they earnestly reared their children.
Mrs. Kubena survived her husband by nearly fifteen years and was summoned to the life eternal in December, 1907, at a venerable age. Brief records concerning their children is here given: Annie is the wife of Emil Gieptner, of Lavaca County; John, of this review, was the next in order of birth; Mrs. Susie Leidolf resides at Hallettsville, judicial center of Lavaca County; Mary is the wife of Joseph Kleker, of Novohrad, this county; Matthew resides at Flatonia, Fayette County; Jeffrey died at Flatonia and is survived by three children; and Albert is a resident of the State of New Mexico.
John Kubena acquired his early education in the schools of his native land and, as before stated, was sixteen years of age at the time of the family immigration to America. After the home was established in Lavaca County he supplemented his education by attending a night school near the old Village of Moulton, where he devoted himself principally to the study of the English language. He assisted his father in the reclamation and other work of the home farm and as a young man instituted his independent career as a farmer on rented land. Not until seven years after his marriage did he feel that his financial circumstances justified him in making his first purchase of land, and it is greatly to his credit that he has so brought to bear his energies and business ability as to make his way forward to his present status of substantial prosperity, his success being in all senses the result of his own efforts, and his career having been marked by that sturdy integrity and uprightness that always beget popular confidence and good will. His first land purchase was a tract of 160 acres, 1/2 miles east of the present Village of Moulton, and he made various improvements on this place, which he still owns and on which some of his children now reside. Mr. Kubenas next purchase was of a tract of 200 acres near Flatonia, Fayette County, in the Cottle League, and this land is [farmed] by reliable tenants, the property still remaining in his possession. About the same time Mr. Kubena purchased land adjoining his home place, the area of which was thus increased to 340 acres. He next purchased the old homestead of Samuel Moore, acquiring this property from the widow of Mr. Moore. It comprised 218 acres, of which he has since disposed of ninety acres. His homestead farm comprises 130 acres, and the same has the very best of modern improvements, making it one of the model rural estates of this part of Texas. On a rise of land just east of Moulton Mr. Kubena erected his substantial residence, which is conspicuous for its size and which is recognized as one of the finest farm dwellings in Lavaca County. On the homestead is also a good tenant house, and on his large landed estate Mr. Kubena has a total of seven tenant families. He is one of the progressive and specially successful agriculturists and stock growers of this part of the state and has not hedgede himself in with mere personal advancement but has shown himself loyal and public-spirited as a citizen. In addition to the lands previously mentioned he owns a tract of 145 acres five miles west of Moulton, in Gonzales County, and six lots in the City of Yoakum, Dewitt County.
At Hallettsville, in 1889, Mr. Kubena took out his final naturalization papers and became a full-fledged citizen of the United States. His first presidential vote was cast for Grover Cleveland, after he had received his first papers of citizenship, in 1884, and he has ever since given unqualified allegiance to the democratic party, whose every presidential candidate he has voted for since that time. In 1906, as representative of precincts Nos. 2 and 6, he was elected a member of the board of county commissioners, as successor of Emil Gieptner, and each successive election, at intervals of two years, has shown his re-election to this office, his continuous retention of which affords the best voucher for his efficient service and the verdict passed upon the same by the qualified voters of Lavaca County. His associates on the board of commissioners in 1915 are Louis Waggoner, August Eilers, and Calvin Deborah. In a fraternal way he is affiliated with the Hermann Sohns, and the religious faith of himself and his family is that of the Catholic Church.
At Praha, Fayette County, on the 20th of November, 1882, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Kubena to Miss Mary Caka, a daughter of Joseph and Mary (Riha) Caka, who came from Bohemia, Germany, and settled near Flatonia, Fayette County, Texas, in 1881, Mr. Caka became one of the prosperous farmers of that county. Of the children Mrs. Kubena is the eldest; Martin is engaged in farmer in Austin County; Katherine is the wife of Antone Jemelka, of Shiner, Lavaca County; Albert is a farmer near Shiner; Lizzie is the wife of Frank Janecek, of that place; and Sophie is the wife of James Lahodny, likewise a resident of Shiner.
Mr. and Mrs. Kubena have eight children, concerning whom the following data are consistently entered in conclusion of this sketch: Hedwig is the wife of Ignatz Jalufka, of Moulton, and they have two children, Emil and Annie. Frank, who is a prosperous farmer in Lavaca County, married Miss Agnes Kubenka, and their one child is Millie. Mary is the wife of Adolph Hoffner, of Charlottenburg, and their children are Mary and Edwin. John is a representative farmer near Moulton, the maiden name of his wife having been Katie Tylich and their one child being a son, Erwin. Susie is the wife of Henry Bucek, of Hackberry, Lavaca County; Annie is the wife of Frank Jurek, of Flatonia; and Joseph and Jeffrey remain at the parental home. pp. 1531-1533.
WILLIAM LAWRENCE. A resident of Lavaca County most of his life, William Lawrence belongs to some of the oldest American stock in Texas, antedating the war for independence in which his father took part. Since the war between the states, in which he was a soldier, he has applied his energies to the staple industry of Lavaca County, farming and stock raising, and has a good estate near Hallettsville.
William Lawrence was born in old Washington County, Texas, December 13, 1839. His grandfather was named William, and among his children are recalled the names of William, Absalom, Jason, Joseph and Mrs. Barbara Beaver.
Joseph Lawrence was the pioneer Texan. Born in North Carolina, he left there at the age of fifteen, spent several years at Nashville, Tennessee, and in 1833 arrived in Texas, then a province of Mexico. He identified himself with the movement for Texan independence during .the years of 1835-36, and joined Houston's army in time to participate in the culminating battle .at San Jacinto. This service entitled him to a land warrant, which was laid in Ellis County, and which his sons sold at $2.50 per acre, unconscious of the future value of acres now located in one of the richest agricultural sections of the state.
After independence Joseph Lawrence, who first lived in Washington County, moved to Dewitt County, but that locality was so exposed to Indian raids that he found a safer location in LaGrange and spent about five years there. He then moved into Lavaca County, to a place two miles north of where his son William now lives, and there spent his active years in superintending his ranch and stock. When he died, in 1897, at the age of ninety-four, he was one of the oldest residents of Texas, and highly respected both as a soldier of the Revolution and as a man. Though without education, never having signed his name, he possessed the rugged virility of the pioneer, good judgment in business affairs, and had reared and provided home and other advantages for his family of some ten children. Though a Methodist, he was like many of the older settlers rather backward in church matters.
Joseph Lawrence was married at the old town of Washington, on the Brazos, to Mary E. McGary, an Irish lady who died in Lavaca County. Their children were: William; Bettie, who married S. G. McCown, and died in Yoakum, Texas; Cameron, of Goliad, Texas; Margaret, who married Wallace Chrisman, and died in Dallas; Mary, who became the wife of Henry Smith, and died in Floresville, Texas; Ellen, who married James A. Jameson, of Yoakum; Susan, who died in Lavaea County as the wife of Elijah Sewell; Martha, Mrs. James Brown, of Dallas County; Joseph, now deceased; and Jack, who died at Marlin, Texas.
William Lawrence has lived in Lavaca County since 1849. In his youth schools were not held so important factors in training the younger generation as they are now, and his education rather practical than bookish. Just about the time he was getting ready for life on his own responsibilities, the war came on and in August, 1861, his name was enrolled in the Confederate service. Captain Whitfield's company, which he joined, reported for duty to Gen. Ben McCulloch, in Northern Arkansas, and there Whitfield's legion was organized. He fought at the Battle of Elkhorn, armed with a Mississippi rifle, which he had brought from Hallettsville, and after that engagement his command was sent to Des Arc, Arkansas, and there dismounted and sent to Memphis as infantry. It was in the operations about Corinth, fell back to Tupelo, and there rested and recuperated from the epidemic of measles which was making havoc among the soldiers. After the battle at luka, in which they participated, the legion was again mounted and resumed rank as cavalry. They went into Tennessee, fought at Thompson's Station, and were in the raid of Gen. Van Dorn against Grant's supply train at Holly Springs and helped capture a number of Federal prisoners there. They were then attached to Johnston's army for the relief of Vicksburg. The fall of Vicksburg Mr. Lawrence regarded as the death blow to the hopes of a victorious Confederacy, and after that he fought only as a soldier's duty and not with the spirit which he had begun. He was always present for any service, and as orderly sergeant called the roll of his company every day, but he realized that it was a loss of time and waste of men to continue the struggle against the overwhelming odds on the side of the North. In April, 1864, an order directed that one man from each company should be furloughed home. When the captain presented him the hat containing the lots of those who should go and those who should remain, he scratched down to the bottom of the hat and pulled out a '' furlough.'' When he left the army for sixty days he bade his comrades farewell, for he had determined never again to engage in the war east of the Mississippi. A month after he reached home he married, and a little later joined a company that was organizing in Horton County for duty on the frontier. Capt. William Townsend was in command of this company, with headquarters near San Patricio, but they patrolled a large part of the Rio Grande district, from San Antonio to Laredo and Eagle Pass, and he had returned from one of these long rounds when the news came of Lee's surrender and the end of the war.
Once more free to take up the duties of civil life, Mr. Lawrence resumed his old vocation, farm and stock. His present estate, containing some 560 acres, is on the Woodard and Fuller leagues, and he and his good wife have labored wisely and well to accumulate and improve this substantial homestead. They have fenced it and have brought 250 acres under cultivation, have set up six sets of buildings, and have directed the work of tha tenants chiefly to producing cotton.
Mr. Lawrence was married May 11, 1864, to Miss Henrietta Coffey, who represents another family of early Texas. Her father, William Coffey, was born and reared in Kentucky, but came from Jackson County, Alabama, to Texas in 1844, and settled first in Titus County, and in 1859 came to Lavaca County, where he was a slave-holding farmer until the war. He died in November, 1875, at the age of eighty. He married Elizabeth Schooler, who died in 1871, and their children were as follows: Milton, of Morris County, Texas; Mary J., who married Millis Higginbotham, and died in Titus County; Eliza, who married William Riley, and died in Lavaca County; Emeline, who died unmarried; Catherine, the wife of John Williams, lives near Mrs. Lawrence, who is the next in the family; Margaret, who married Steve Pool, of San Angelo; and John, of Brown County.
To Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence were born five children: Ellen is the wife of Jep Griffith, of Uvalde, Texas; Willie is the wife of Allen English, and they live on the Lawrence farm; Lulu married Laughlin Simpson, a farmer in this neighborhood; Leon died in young manhood, and his twin brother died at the age of eleven years. pp. 1325-1326.
A. LEVYTANSKY. There would not seem to be very close connection between the diamond business and large ranching interests, but that an individual can be successful in both lines is being demonstrated by A. Levytansky, of San Antonio, who is now retired from the jewelry line and is now carrying on large and important operations as a stock raiser, under the most modern and enlightened methods. Mr. Levytansky was born near the Town of Suwalk, Russ-Poland, Russia, not far from Koenigsburg, in extreme East Prussia, in 1865, and is a son of R. and Golda (Gumbiner) Levytansky, both natives of Poland.
A. Levytansky was reared and received his education in his native community, and learned the jeweler's and goldsmith's trade in the Town of Suwalk, where he served an apprenticeship. In 1881, at the age of sixteen years, he emigrated to the United States, and in 1882 came to Texas, settling at Luling. There, with $8 worth of jeweler's tools, he entered business on his own account, determined to make a name and a place for himself in the world, instead of going to work for others. Although a mere youth, the expertness of his work brought much business to him, to such an extent that in the latter part of 1883 he removed to Hallettsville, in Lavaca County, where he established a larger stock and store. It was then that he began to make his own goods for his jewelry stock, a custom that he continued to follow in his subsequent business career. He made continued progress in his business, and in 1883 induced one of his brothers, L. Levytansky, to come to America and join him in his enterprise. The brother learned the trade under his teaching, and A. Levytansky then set him up in business at Yoakum, Texas, where he put up a store, and established the firm of A. Levytansky & Brother. They were pioneer merchants in the then new Town of Yoakum, which had secured its start from the building of the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad through that section of the state. It should be stated in this connection that A. Levytansky was the man who raised the bonus of $15,000 to secure the construction of this road through Hallettsville, and he was the first merchant to put up a store at Yoakum. Soon after this, another brother, H. Levytansky, came over from Poland and was established in business at Flatonia, this store being later moved to Lockhart. When A. Levytansky himself left Hallettsville, he left his store there in charge of his youngest brother, G. J. Levytansky, and himself located in business at Victoria. Soon thereafter, U. J. Levytansky removed to Laredo, Texas, where he established a jewelry store and prospered greatly, as did all the brothers, but a great misfortune, amounting to a tragedy in the family, happened to him in December, 1911, when his store was entered and robbed by burglars and he was shot and killed. One of the burglars was tried for this crime, found guilty and hanged.
After nine years of successful business in the beautiful and wealthy little City of Victoria, A. Levytansky, feeling the need for a larger territory for his trade, removed, in 1906, to San Antonio. He purchased the store building at No. 108 West Commerce Street and put in a stock of $170,000 worth of goods, making an investment, altogether, including his building, of over $300,000. It should be stated in this connection that Mr. Levytansky has always, in the eleven towns and cities in Texas in which he has done business, owned his own store building and his own home.
In his last location, at San Antonio, he built up the largest and most profitable retail diamond and jewelry business in the Lone Star State. He remained in the same location, on Commerce Street, until the fall of 1914, when, deciding to take up farming and ranching on a large scale as a life work, he sold out his business. During the years he was in this business he had become widely known, and most favorably, in the jewelry and diamond trade, and no merchant was ever more welcome in Maiden Lane, New York, than he, possessing as he did the confidence and esteem of the great wholesalers of that city and a credit rating surpassed by none. Mr. Levytansky is widely known as one of the expert jewelry workmen and manufacturers in the business, and can well be called one of the master craftsmen in gold and the mounting of precious stones. Some of the pieces of jewelry that he has wrought have attracted wide attention for their beauty in design and artistic workmanship. He invented and patented several useful devices for jewelers which are used everywhere.
We will here quote from an article which appeared in one of San Antonio's leading newspapers, December 1, 1914: "After a career of thirty-seven years in the jewelry business in Southwest Texas, several years of which he spent in San Antonio, A. Levytansky is now engaged in the occupation of a farmer and livestock man by way of proving, incidentally, the assertion that 'Texas is the garden of the Lord.' When Mr. Levytansky recently closed out his jewelry stock in this city he traded a part of it for a ranch of 3,300 acres, situated in La Salle and Dimmit counties. For several years the jeweler had listened to the call of the farm. He conceived some rather original ideas as to plans and methods, and now he is gradually working them out. Within a year Mr. Levytansky expects to have one of the most attractive and modernly improved ranches in all Texas. This he expects to bring about by means of large expenditures and the demonstration of well matured plans. He is already cultivating 1,400 acres, on which he will produce a variety of feeds. Some of these are the same as are grown generally in Southwest Texas. Others, entirely new to this section, are to be introduced, and for which the planter has high hopes. Two big silos have been erected on the farm and others are to be built as needed. Intensive methods are to be used, and practically all the feed raised on the ranch will be 'canned' in the Levytansky high efficiency plan. There are not enough pigs in Texas. Mr. Levytansky is going to increase the number in the interest of the general meat supply. He has already partly stocked his farm with hogs and is arranging to give them the best of everything, even to the erection of large sheds to furnish them with shade in the summer. There is a lake of fine water in the hog pasture. A dairy is another feature of the ranch. Mr. Levytansky is planting many shade and ornamental trees and laying out flower beds in the general plan of beautification. Living on the Levytansky ranch is going to be one long round of pleasure. In maturing his plans, the former jeweler is spending a lot of money. A graduate agriculturist has been employed to superintend the ranch. Next year, when his ranch has been put in tiptop shape and the former cactus thicket made to blossom like a rose, Mr. Levytansky proposes to go to New York City and bring a lot of men of wealth down to Southwest Texas to demonstrate to them what can be done in this incomparable region when science and capital are combined and given intelligent direction. As a result of the proposed tour of New Yorkers he believes several considerable investments will be made in Southwest Texas lands. When East last summer, Mr. Levytansky met many friends in the Maiden Lane district. He talked Southwest Texas to them more than he did diamonds. He was full of the 'back to the land' subject, and his enthusiasm planted the seed for future investments in this region."
The ranch referred to is for the greater part in the western part of La Salle County, and partly in Dimmit County, and lies five miles west of Cotula, the county seat of the former county, and about half way between the Artesian Belt Railway and the San Antonio, Uvalde & Gulf Railway. He has on the place nine buildings for his [employees], as well as necessary buildings for his livestock, machinery, etc. He intends to specialize in hogs, a part of their ration consisting of rich milk from a herd of Jersey cows which he keeps for that purpose.
Mr. Levytanksky's hobbies in the operation of this place, which means so much to the development of Southwest Texas, are thoroughness, efficiency, cleanliness and system, carrying out the same principles which gained such splendid success for him in merchandising. He believes that a farm should be made attractive, just like a store. He is carrying out a plan of having his [employees'] houses and other buildings surrounded by flowers and vines, in addition to the ornamental shade and fruit trees mentioned above, for he believes that by surrounding his men with pleasing environment he will receive from them their best efforts. He allows no untidiness or unsightliness about the place, insists upon all machinery, tools and implements being well taken care of and not allowed to stand out in the weather, and after use they are covered with oil and put under shelter. He also keeps them freshly painted, so as to make them look more attractive. A number of things like this he does, knowing that they tend to produce efficiency and ultimate profit. His hogs and other livestock are cared for in the best manner. He realizes that the more comfort animals have the more they will thrive. In his hog pens, for instance, the troughs are tarred, and he keeps the hogs in a dry place, except for an occasional trip to the water. For disinfectant he uses lime freely, wherever needed. Mr. Levytansky intends to have a variety of about 1,000 trees, or as many as can be grown in this climate. He will experiment, among other things, with the olive tree, with the intention of raising olives commercially; likewise, he will endeavor to introduce silk-worm culture though th mulberry tree. He utilitzes all manure and other waste products. He has cleared most of his land of mesquite trees, and is interested with New York captialists in plans to use the mesquite wood commercially, having promoted these plans himself. As to cotton, he will raise sufficient of this staple to furnish continuous employment to his hands.
In addition to the place described above, Mr. Levytansky has another small farm on the Nueces River, in La Salle County, eight miles from Cotula, which is irrigated from his own irrigation plant. Here he has silos, ensilage cutters, etc.
Mr. Levytansky is blessed with a most happy family life. His first wife, who was the mother of three children, was before her marriage Miss Flora Schwartz, who was born and reared in the little City of Hallettsville, where they were married. She died in December, 1911, leaving three daughters, Callie, Anne and Jeannette. The present Mrs. Levytansky was Miss Stella Marks, who was born in one of the northern states. pp. 23382341
REV. FRANK MACHAN. The Catholic parish of the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius at Shiner, Lavaca County, has its spiritual and temporal affairs admirably ordered under the regime of Father Machan, who has been the incumbent of this pastoral charge since the spring of 1913. His consecrated zeal and devotion are on a parity with his high intellectual attainments and marked executive ability, and as a true shepherd of his flock he has the affectionate regard of all of his parishioners, as well as the confidence and esteem of the entire community.
Father Machan was born at Val Mezirici, Province of Moravia, Austria, on the 15th of April, 1865, and is a son of Anton and Christine (Kepa) Machan, both of whom passed their entire lives in that section of the Empire of Austro-Hungary, where the respective families were established many generations ago. Anton Machan was a skilled mechanic and both he and his wife were devout communicants of the Catholic Church, in the faith of which they carefully reared their children. Of the children, Father Machan, of this review, is the oldest of those surviving; Anton still resides in Moravia; and Josephine and her husband maintain their home at Radomsk, Russian Poland, a section that is the stage of horrific military conflict at the time of this writing.
In the excellent government schools of his native place Father Frank Machan acquired his early educational discipline, and after completing the curriculum of the gymnasium, corresponding to the high school of the United States, he pursued higher academic studies in the seminary or Catholic theological school in the City of Brunn, the capital of Moravia, where he completed his philosophical, classical and ecclesiastical courses and was prepared for the reception of holy orders. In 1889, in the ancient cathedral in the City of Brunn, as a member of a class of more than thirty young men, he was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Bauer. Soon after his ordination Father Machan was assigned to the professorship of pedagogy and methods of teaching and also church history, in the karlin or boys' high school maintained under church auspices in the City of Prague, Bohemia. His service in this institution continued somewhat more than six years, and he then came to the United States.
As soon as he had received holy orders Father Machan applied for a position as chaplain in the Austrian army, and he was assigned to the Forty-eighth Regiment. Each year thereafter until he came to America he reported to his command, appeared before his superiors and gave active service as chaplain during the prescribed period. The incidental oath which he took in this connection was of such character as to bind him conscientiously and loyally to his native land, with the result that he has never felt justified in applying for citizenship in the United States.
In 1895, in the City of Bremen, Father Machan embarked on the steamship Trave and by the same found transportation to New York City, from which point he came forthwith to Texas and was assigned, by Bishop Gallagher, to parish work at Granger, Williamson County, where he remained four years. There he not only exercised his sacerdotal functions and taught in the parish school, but he also had supervision of the work of the missionary parish at Corn Hill. At the expiration of four years he was assigned to the parish of St. Joseph's Church, at Bryan, Brazos County, where he remained two years, within which he effected the erection of a new church edifice and also established a parish school. After leaving this charge Father Machan served as supply priest to a Polish parish at Bremond, Robertson County, until a Polish pastor could be provided, and he was then appointed pastor of St. Mary's Church at Sealy, Austin County, besides which he prepared plans for the small church and school buildings in the Bohemian settlement of Frydek, at San Felipe, that county. He retained his pastoral incumbency at Sealy one year and then became pastor of the parish of the Church of St. John the Baptist, at Ammansville [Ammannsville], Fayette County, where he remained two years, within which time the new church edifice was erected. Impaired health compelled his retirement, and after a year of rest and recuperation he was assigned to his present charge, that of pastor of the one Catholic parish at Shiner, as the successor of Father Hudecek. In this large and prosperous parish, like in all other charges in which he has served, Father Machan has labored with indefatigable zeal and devotion and has greatly vitalized the spiritual and temporal activities of the parish. As a preacher he has excellent ability, and his addresses invariably bear the stamp of consecrated sincerity as well as of practical and vigorous humanitarianism, his aim at all times being to aid and uplift his fellow men in all of the stations and walks of life. pp. 1501-1503.
REV. ALPHONS MATHIS. Among those earnest workers in the field of church affairs in Texas, a few brief paragraphs should be given to the present pastor of Sacred Heart Church of the Catholic faith in Hallettsville. Father Mathis has been identified with religious work in Texas since 1897. He is a priest who is entirely wrapped up in the performance of the duties to which his life has been dedicated and his earnestness of purpose and his kindliness as a leader and adviser and the ability with which he has administered his various parishes, have brought hinma high esteem in the hearts of many people in Southwest Texas.
Born in Schalbach, Lorraine, Germany, July 3, 1874, he was the fifth in a family of four sons and two daughters born to Joseph and Anna (Faust) Mathis. His parents were both natives of the same section of the German Empier and his father was a farmer. Father Mathis and his brother Joseph were the only members of the family to come to America, and his brother is now a business man in Philadelphia.
It was in the atmosphere of a farm that Father Mathis grew to manhood. He attended the common schools of Germany, also a gymnasium, and in 1892 came to America and made his first location at Victoria, Texas. While there he carried on the studies in a seminary in preparation for thee priesthood, and finished his course in 1897 and was ordained by Bishop Forrest of the San Antonio diocese. His actual work as a priest began in Hallettsville as assistant to Reverend Netardus. After remaining there a trifle over three years, he was assigned as pastor of Smithville, which was his home a year and during the next thirteen years he was identified with the parish at Schulenburg. He is especially well remembered at Schulenburg, where his efforts resulted in many improvements of a material nature and in the general growth of the congregation and its spiritual welfare. In July, 1914, Father Mathis returned to Hallettsville and has since been the loved pastor of the Sacred Heart Church. On coming to America he became a naturalized citizen as soon as possible, and usually exercises his right of franchise in elections. However, as already stated, the record of his life is that of an earnest, hard working, straightforward priest, and outside of the church there are no interests that could be said to have vitally affected his career. pp. 1267-1268.
ROBERT MILLER, SR. One of the best known of Lavaca County's citizens, Robert Miller, Sr., who for forty years was engaged in mercantile pursuits at Sublime, is now devoting his attention to his extensive farming and stock-raising interests. He is one of the early settlers of Lavaca County, having come to Texas in 1852 as a youth of seventeen years or less, newly arrived from the Dukedom of Brunswick, then an independent country, but subsequently, under Bismarck, a portion of the German Confederation.
Robert "Mueller," as the name was spelled in the Fatherland, was born in the City of Brunswick, November 22, 1836, and is a son of Theodore Mueller. The latter was also born at Brunswick, and was highly educated, a talented artist with pen and ink, a splendid mathematician, and capable of filling any position the public service might demand in a clerical capacity. A lameness in one of his legs exempted him from military duty. He was, however, a government service man in the employ of the reigning duke, was the private secretary to that personage and had charge of his private seal, and served in that capacity until the use of the seal so crippled his arm that he was incapacitated for further service and was then pensioned and given permission to emigrate and bring his family to the United States. He took sick about a year later and died in Lavaca County in 1853. Theodore Mueller married Annie Premmel, the daughter of a merchant, Theodore Premmel. She died in Lavaca County during the Civil war and is buried at Sublime, while her husband lies in an unmarked grave somewhere on Mixing Creek, where the family first settled and where the father was farming when his death occurred. The children of Theodore and Annie Mueller were as follows: Charles, who is now a resident of Victoria, Texas; August, who died in Travis County, Texas; Robert, of this review; Armina, who was married the first time to August Ziegler, but who died as Mrs. Henry Schott, in Lavaca County; and John, of Great Rock, Texas.
Robert Miller received a good German education, and as a youth began learning the saddler's trade. After more than a year spent thus, he abandoned that vocation to come to America with his parents and the other children, sailing from Bremen aboard the Augusta, a sailing vessel, which was eight weeks on the water. There were no untoward incidents while making the passage and the family landed at New Orleans, from whence they made their way to Lavaca County, Texas, there joining a relative. They rented land at first and Robert worked for his mother and the younger children, his elder brother having set out for himself. His mother subsequently pre-empted a piece of land and to this the family moved, improved it to some extent, cleared up the fields, and later sold.
Robert Miller had just gotten a good start toward a semblance of independence, when the Civil war broke out and in the second year of that struggle he entered the service of the Confederacy. He enlisted in Lavaca County, in Company E, Captain Ford, of Bates' Battalion, made up in Velasco for the protection of the coast. His immediate command served in Texas and in Louisiana, where, at Opaloosas, the army took 1,700 Federal prisoners and. was driven back into Texas, where it was situated when the war closed. The company to which he belonged then disbanded and he went on to Old Mexico and was absent from the United States until a semblance of order was restored here.
Mr. Miller's experiences among the Mexicans was something new. He went into the restaurant business opposite Rancher Davis on the Rio Grande River, and when the chaotic conditions of the United States were settled, he came back to Texas, returned to the farm, picked up his plow and other paraphernalia and resumed industriously the tilling of the soil. When he had straightened up matters to some extent, he decided to become a merchant, and laid in such a stock as a dry goods box would hold, thus starting into business at his home. At that time he owned no land of his own, and his capital came slowly from his modest mercantile venture. He hauled his goods from Columbus with his own team, waited on customers when they came, and returned to his plow while other customers were arriving, thus plowing and farming and selling goods at the same time. When his trade had increased to a volume that made such a move advisable, he built a store at the farm and continued selling goods there until the advent of the Aransas Pass Railway, when he moved his business to New Sublime, and the old town of the name was abandoned. His first location and business place was called "Miller's Store" and the "Sublime" postoffice was located there several years until it was established where it now is situated.
Mr. Miller began buying land soon after he engaged in merchandising, from the E. W. Perry tract, as well as from the Coulter property. He had acquired some 300 acres when it was suggested to him that he take the remainder of the tracts, and this he did, giving his personal notes for the payment and finally paying them off. He acquired in this way some 800 acres and of this property made farms, and when the railroad came through he contracted with the company to let them plat 600 acres of his land for a townsite, he taking the "odd number" lots and they the "evens," the company to pay all the expenses. Mr. Miller moved his store to the new town, it being the third building to be used as a store there. After a period of more than forty years spent successfully in the mercantile business, Mr. Miller retired therefrom and turned his stock over to his son, August Miller, who had been his partner for some time. He has been out of business since 1907 and since then has been raising the popular staples of the region and breeding stock, giving his entire attention to his interests as a stock-raiser and farmer.
As a citizen Mr. Miller has been rather an independent voter. While he has acted with the democrats, he has also voted against them as well as against the republicans when their candidates, according to his judgment have not been men of honor and ability. His only public service has been as postmaster of Sublime and as a trustee of his school district. He has served his church, the Lutheran, as a member of the official board. He is an honorary member of the Sons of Hermann. Mr. Miller has been a man of strong and vigorous constitution, never having called a doctor on his own account. He has been a member of the church all his life, has done his full duty as a citizen as he has seen the light, and was one of the first men in his locality to start an agitation for churches and schools and has been a leading factor in their support to the present. His children, educated at home, have occupied places of honor as citizens of their community. Altogether, Mr. Miller's life has been a very full and useful one, and he is eminently entitled to be accounted one of Lavaca County's foremost citizens.
Mr. Miller was married in 1858 to Miss Louisa Kleibreng, a daughter of a citizen of Minden, Prussia. She came to the United States with her rnother and brother, and enjoyed a happy life with her husband for almost fifty years, dying November 10, 1907, at the age of sixty-seven years. The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Miller were as follows: Robert, Jr., who is engaged in business at Sublime; August, who was for some years engaged in business with his father at Sublime, where he died, leaving two children; Henry, a merchant of Altair, Texas; William, of Houston, ex-postmaster of Hallettsville; Charley, railroad agent at Shiner, Texas; and two others who passed away in childhood. pp. 1310-1312.
HENRY BINGHAM MYERS, of Sublime, Lavaca County,, has been a resident of this locality since December 23, 1869, and two years later, when he mad a purchase of land, located upon his present property, a tract of eighty-five acres located in the Breedlove League. For many years an agriculturist, at one time he cultivated 140 acres, made from thirty to forty-five bales of cotton and raised his own cattle, and it is his declaration that he has never bought any meat since coming to the state.
Mr. Myers came to Texas from Rankin County, Mississippi, where he was born near Pelahatchie Post office, October 22, 1839. His grandfather was William Myers, a South Carolina slave holder and farmer, who died in Rankin county, Mississippi, in 1860. He married Rachel Rhodes, a sister of Henry Rhodes, the maternal grandfather of Henry Bingaman Myers, and their family comprised: William, who was a lieutenant in the Confederate army during the Civil war; Ellis; David; Lewis; Edmond, and Margaret, who married David Crook, and Daniel G. Myers, the father of Henry B. Daniel G. Myers was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, about the year 1814, and a young man moved to Mississippi, where he passed his life as a farmer, and died in 1851. He married Miss Margaret Rhodes, daughter of Henry Rhodes, also of the Edgefield District of South Carolina, and after his death she married John F. Semore, and died in 1911. Daniel G. and Margaret Myers were the parents of the following Children: Capt. Samuel C., who died at Brandon, Mississippi; John H., who died at Pelahatchie, Mississippi; Henry Bingaman, of this review; William W., who died during the war at [Culpepper] Court House, Virginia; Rachel Ann, who married Thomas P. Chapman, of Smith County, Mississippi; Margaret E., who married Sam Ragsdale, of Polkville, Mississippi; and Sarah E., who married William Knight, and died in Caddo Parish, Louisiana.
Henry Bingaman Myers was educated by a "pine-knot" fire, and his schooling was very limited in character, he walking from two and one-half to five miles to school, and his studies being reading, writing and arithmetic. His was the old-time log schoolhouse, a building about sixteen feet square, in which the writing desk extended clear across one side of the room. There were no desks for books, and the pupils carried but few, the predominating volumes being the "blue black" speller, the arithmetic and the geography, while a few pupils studied grammar, although those who did so were considered very advanced in their studies. When he left school Mr. Myers became a farmer, he having been brought up on a farm on which a few slaves were held. In 1860 he voted for Bell and Evert, the Union candidates for president and vice president, although he belonged to a whig family, and was opposed to the secession of Mississippi from the Union, although when the state went with the Confederacy he gave it his stanch allegiance and support. Mr. Myers entered Capt. S. C. Myer's company, which was raised by his eldest brother, and it was made a part of the Thirty-ninth Regiment, Col S. B. Shelby. The regiment rendezvoused at Jackson and went thence to Abbeville, where it had its first skirmish, in which, however, Mr. Myers, owing to an attack of measles, did not participate. At Corinth he was in the first big engagement, and after the battle was on detail in the infirmary corps, picking up and caring for the wounded. From Corinth the regiment went to Port Hudson, on the Mississippi River, and took part in the siege there, remaining in that locality until the surrender of the Confederates. The regiment was paroled there and permitted to return home, but after a few weeks the War Department of the Confederacy ordered the men to report at Mobile, Alabama, where they were exchanged. A second order soon came for the regiment to join General Johnston's army at Rome, Georgia, on the Atlanta campaign, and Mr. Myers' first fight was at Resaca, following which he participated in all the engagements to Atlanta, where he took part in the siege, his regiment being one of the last to leave the city. He then joined Hood's army and moved back in Tennessee, took part in federate forces to Iuka, Mississippi, where the Thirty-ninth was furloughed home. When the regiment came together again it went to Mobile, Alabama, and later camped for a time at Pollard, Florida, then being ordered within the fortifications at For Spanish, where they were besieged by the Federals for many days and finally captured. They were marched for two days down the coast to a landing and shipped to Ship Island, Mississippi, being there confined for three weeks. About this time General Lee surrendered and the regiment was sent to New Orleans and on up the river to Vicksburg, where it was paroled. The formality of paroling was merely to march the soldiers single file through a building, the men's names being called, each man answering, and then passing outside to the parole camp. The troops were sent on to Big Black River, rations were issued by the United States Government, and the troops were then released to go to their homes.
Mr. Myers were sick with fever at the time, but managed to walk to Jackson by the next evening and reached the hospital where he rested during the night and was met there the next morning by his brother John. With him he returned to his home by rail and was met at the station by his wife, who had brought a bed and wagon. When Mr. Myers looked about over his farm, which he had scarcely seen since the war commenced, he found saplings growing on the field where he had raised forty bushels of corn to the acre just before the war, being enough to make four rails to the cut. The first year he made a crop with an old army comrade on the latter's farm, but the second year resumed work on his own place, and there continued until leaving for the West. Mr. Myers left Mississippi because of the ill health of his wife, and came to Lavaca County, Texas, where he located among his relatives, and here Mrs. Myers soon succumbed to the climatic conditions. Land here was worth from $2.50 to $5.00 an acre, and Mr. Myers purchased a tract, where he has abstracted the fertility of the soil by its cultivation for almost fifty years. He has sold off much of his property, feeling that he has earned a rest from his many years of arduous labor.
Since the close of the war Mr. Myers has been a democrat. He voted for Governor Coke, and has followed the political fortunes of every governor of the state since that time, and has taken some active personal part in the political affairs of Lavaca County. For four years Mr. Myers served as justice of the peace, but his administration was not made notable by any prominent lawsuits. In 1890 he was elected county commissioner, serving on the board with Judge Green, A. Gloeckler, A. D. A. Beyer and J. H. Debera, and during the four years of his incumbency several iron bridges were erected in the county and the plans were consummated to build a new court house, which was ordered erected by the succeeding board. While his children were attending school, Mr. Myers served efficiently as a member of the school board of his home district. Since his fifteenth year he has been a member of the Methodist Church, and for the past thirty years has acted in the capacity of steward, as well as being a trustee of the church property.
Mr. Myers was married prior to the Civil war to Miss Susanna Carr, a daughter of Rev. Jacob Carr, and she died without issue at Shimek, in April, 1870. In October, 1871, Mr. Myers was married to Miss Camilla P. Allen, a daughter of John L. and Eliza (Woolsey) Allen, Georgia settlers of Texas and farming people. Mr. and Mrs. Allen were the parents of eleven children. To Mr. and Mrs. Myers there have been born the following children: John H., of Wilson County, Texas, who married Miss Susie Little, and has five children, Edith, Mabel, Philip, John and Clyde; and Charles Bruce, a banker of Poteet, Atacosta County, Texas, who married Lina McAda, and has two sons, Edgar Bruce and James Allen, and a daughter, Camilla Elizabeth. pp. 2015-2017.
Photo of Henry Bingaman and Camilla Allen Myers contributed by Charles Sherman.
HERMAN NEUMANN. Beginning his career as a mechanic, Herman Neumann has for many years been actively identified with Yoakum, where he is now manager of the Yoakum Oil Company, one of the chief local industries outside of the railroad shops.
A member of one of the ante-bellum German families of Texas, he was born at Industry in Austin County, February 28, 1860. His father, Frederick Herman Neumann, was born at Silesigen, Germany, being one of three sons and three daughters, but was the only one to come to America. He learned the trade of blacksmith, lived for several years in Berlin, and was about thirty years old when he sailed from Bremen to Galveston. A few days after landing he arrived a stranger at Industry, but soon found employment at his trade and kept at it actively until 1883. He then bought a farm in Colorado County at Shaws Bend, and upon it spent the rest of his life. He owned 600 acres and produced a number of crops of corn and cotton. His only official service was as school trustee. Soon after he reached Texas in 1858 he took out citizenship papers, but was soon living under the new Confederate government. He intended to enlist in the army under General Magruder, and but it being discovered that he was a mechanic his services were put to better advantage in the government shops at Houston. After the war he voted a republican ticket on national questions, and was a member of the Lutheran Church. He was married in Austin County to Miss Ida Seeliger, whose father, Ernst Seeliger, was a cigarmaker and merchant at Industry. Mrs. Neumann died on the Colorado County farm in 1907 and her husband passed away in 1896. The record of their children in brief is: Herman; Otto, who died on the old farm in Colorado County leaving a wife; Mary, wife of C. L. Buenger, of Yoakum; Charles and Louis, of Yoakum; Henry, of Houston; Annie, who died in Colorado County as Mrs. Henry Kuhn; William, of Houston; Robert, a Yoakum citizen; and Bernhardt, who died unmarried in Colorado County.
Born not long after his father came to Texas, Herman Neumann spent his youth at Industry. During his career in the public schools the teacher from whom he received the greatest inspiration was the soldier educator, Professor Simmons. His father directed his training to proficiency in the blacksmith trade, and with that as a means of livelihood he remained at Industry until 1890. On moving to Yoakum in that year he established a shop, and worked ahead steadily in a rising scale of prosperity until 1911, when he left his shop to become manager of the Yoakum Cotton Oil Mill. He had been one of the original stockholders when the plant was established more than twenty years ago, but became identified with its management only after a reorganization of its affairs. The present officers of the company are: William Green, president; J. B. Harris, vice president; Philip Welhausen, secretary and treasurer; Mr. Neumann, manager; and I. G. Pospisil, mill superintendent.
During the last quarter century Mr. Neumann has been one of the factors in the public life and improvement of his home city. When a young man he did his first public work as a school trustee and was made president of the board. For about ten years he was president of the Yoakum School Board, was an alderman five years, and for four years a commissioner of Dewitt County. He was one of the last members of the city council when its functions were superseded by the new commission, and he can properly take credit during his term for assistance in paving several blocks of the city streets and in erecting the two splendid school-houses.
Fraternally he is past master of Yoakum Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, is a Royal Arch Mason, is a past chancellor of the Knights of Pythias and has been a delegate to the Texas Grand Lodge, and is also affiliated with the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Woodmen of the World, and is a member of the Sons of Hermann.
He was first married in Industry to Miss Emma Schmidt, daughter of Fred Schmidt. She left two children: Alice, wife of Walter Jones of Houston, who have two sons; and Emma, who married Leonard Wade. Mr. Neumann was married in Yoakum to a sister of his first wife, Miss Eleanora Schmidt. The children of this marriage are: Annie, who married J. Gus May of Yoakum and has a daughter, Maxine; and Jesse, who is bookkeeper for the Yoakum oil mill. pp. 1312-1313.
REV. LOUIS P. NETARDUS. One of the flourishing Catholic parishes in the country around Flatonia is that of Praha, with its Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Father Netardus is the intelligent and hard working priest of this parish and is a churchman who has been identified with his calling in Texas for more than twenty years. Rev. P. Netardus was ordained at Victoria in 1894 by Right Rev. Claudius Neraz and was immediately assigned to work in Victoria as assistant priest for two years and as a professor of philosophy and Latin. His next position was at Hallettsville, where he remained six years, and had charge of the missions at Koerth, Smothers Creek and Nada. He built new churches at Smothers Creek and Nada. From Hallettsville Father Netardus came to Praha as the successor of Rev. J. V. Vrana. He also has charge of the mission of Flatonia, where he erected the church building and at Praha the pastor's residence, a commodious two-story stone structure, was built under his direction. Besides his ministerial and pastoral work Father Netardus is a frequent newspaper contributor, particularly to Bohemian publications, and under his name are occasionally published articles treating of Christian apologetics in the Houston Post.
Louis P. Netardus was born in the Province of Moravia, in the City of Frankstadt [Frenstat], June 22, 1866, and his family have been identified with Southern Texas for the past thirty-five years. His father, Francis Netardus, a native of the same community and of a family that was for many generations identified with the City of Vsetin, Moravia, and consisting largely of tradesmen, was a cloth dyer. Francis Netardus married Agnes Drozd. In 1880 the father, mother and all the children except Louis P. came to the United States, settled near Hallettsville, and took up farming. The former is still living in that locality at the age of eighty-four years, while his wife passed away in 1898. Their children were: Frank, who died near hallettsville leaving a family; Cyrill, a farmer near Hallettsville; Louis P.; Charles, a farmer in Lavaca County; Mary, wife of John Kalivoda, of Sweet Home, Texas.
Father Netardus spent the first fifteen years of his life in his native country. He attended the city schools of his native town for eight years, and in 1881 embarked on a vessel at Bremen, the Frankfurt, and a number of days later was landed at Galveston. He soon joined his parents at Hallettsville and spent four years on the farm. It was then decided that he should devote his life to the ministry and he took up his preparation at St. Joseph's Seminary in Victoria. He spent nine years there as a student of the classics, philosophy and theology and also became versed in various languages, particularly the English. Father netardus preaches in Bohemian, German and English, and has a speaking command of the Spanish and Polish. Immediately after his ordination as a priest he took up the work of his calling and has shown remarkable energy and ernestness in looking after his people and in upbuilding the various churches of which he has had charge. In 1909 Father Netardus took out citizenship papers and for a number of years has interested himself in general civic, political and social movements. pp. 1380-1381.
Thanks to Debbie Hanson and Lee Huff for their help in getting these biographies online!