Walking Tour – 312 West Schubert – The Christian Crenwelge Place

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

Walking Tour – FM 965 – Cross Mountain

At 1951 feet above sea level, the peak of Cross Mountain was once a place Indian signaled news of the advancing white settlers. John Christian Durst arrived in Fredericksburg in 1847 and received a town lot and 10 acres of land, including this hill. He found a timber cross on the hilltop, suggesting that Spanish missionaries had used it as a landmark on the path from San Antonio to Mission San Saba. Durst named the hill “Kruezberg,” or Cross Mountain.

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

Cross Mountain was also a big part of the annual Easter Fires celebration in Fredericksburg.

On the Saturday evening preceding Easter, bonfires were lit atop as many as twenty-two specified hills flanking the town. At the appointed hour the church bells of the town tolled, and the hilltops burst into flame.
The fires, dating from the first Easter celebration in 1847, are almost as old as the town itself. According to local tradition, the custom originated when Comanche Indian scouts lit signal fires in the night to communicate with their chiefs, who were negotiating a treaty with German leader John O. Meusebach many miles to the north, beyond the Llano River. The scouts presumably were informing their chiefs concerning the movements of the town’s inhabitants.

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

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

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

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

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

Go back towards town, turn right on West Austin Street.

314 West Creek – Ahrens-Langehennig Home

After an Indian attack that killed Conrad Ahrens’ father, Dorthea, his mother, moved the family from their farm into town. The oldest part of the house is on the west side, a two-room rock house. The family once used the front room as their bedroom and parlor—a common practice at the time. The kitchen was in the back room. Above the front room is an attic, with a laden, or opening, in the west wall, but there was no outside stairway. Two bedrooms were added to the old house, with a front door in each opening onto the porch and one window flanking each door in the front wall. Later owners, the Langerhennigs, remodeled these rooms to include a bathroom and a small storage and laundry area.

Turn left on Crockett street, then turn left on San Antonio Street.

105 West San Antonio – John Ruegner Home

This lot was originally deeded to Daniel Weiershausen, and by 1852 had brought rocks to the site. In 1854, he sold the lot to Johannes (John) Ruegner for $200. Ruegner built the original two-room limestone rock home. Ruegner was a stone mason and worked on several projects still standing in Fredericksburg, including the old college building at the Middle School Campus, and the stone wall on the lower side of the oldest part of the cemetery.

The original front room was a combined bedroom/sitting room and the back room was the kitchen/dining room. Later owners divided these two rooms into four. After Ruegner’s death in 1899, his family sold the lot to A. Walter, a pioneer Swiss jeweler who founded the Walter Jewelry firm, lived here until 1904. It was sold to Louis von Hagen, whose children included Else Mayer, wife of prominent Austin jeweler Carl Mayer. It changed hands several times until 1972, when Raymond and Eugena Kneese bought and restored the building. A new addition as made to blend in with the old construction.

Turn around and walk West on San Antonio, cross Orange Street

Walking Tour – 418 West Austin – Vogel Sunday House

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

Admiral Nimitz Foundation Distinguished Speaker Series with George P. Shultz – March 4

Join us in Fredericksburg, Texas, the birthplace of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, for the initial event of the 2015 Admiral Nimitz Foundation Distinguished Speaker Series, at 304 W. San Antonio Street.  Featuring George P. Shultz, former Chairman of President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory board and Secretary of State from 1982-89.  All tickets include dinner and open bar.  Cocktail Party begins at 6 pm, Remarks and Q & A at 7 pm, followed by Dinner.  Signed copies of Issues on My Mind: Strategies for the Future by George P. Shultz will be available at the Cocktail Party.  To be held at the St. Mary’s Parish Center.  Space is limited and is on a first come basis.  To purchase tickets immediately, contact Laura Nelson at (830) 997-8600 ext. 200 or nelson@nimitzfoundation.org

Individual tickets are $250.

The Original Texas Star Trail Ride – February 28 to March 8

480_A_IMG_1477Join us as we ride The Original Texas Star Trail through Fredericksburg, Luckenbach, Stonewall, Johnson City, Blanco, Fischer, Wimberley and Driftwood. Each year, about 300 people take part in the 112 mile ride. It’s the experience of a lifetime and one you will not forget. We cross 40 cattle guards through more than 20 Texas Hill Country ranches, including the LBJ Ranch. Spectators welcome! Please visit the website for more information.

Phone: (512) 791-2503

419 West San Antonio – Hoffman-Keller House

In February 1869, Johann Hoffman built the house of solid limestone with two rooms on the first floor, and a large bedroom and storage room on the second floor. The front room, larger in size, was the combination bedroom and sitting room. The smaller room behind it was the kitchen. Originally there was a narrow, ladder-like stairway that led out of the kitchen into the storage room (or rumpelkammer) at the back of the second floor. A small window in the east wall lit the stairway. Martin Keller, a Cain City farmer, bought the house when he retired. By 1938, the Kellers had died, and the family sold the home. It passed through several hands and many of the changes seen today were made, perhaps including the removal of the plaster that originally covered the limestone walls.

Continue down San Antonio to Edison Street and turn right, towards Main Street.