Comal County’s Historical Commission was anything but quiet during the pandemic, and it continues to work toward celebrating and preserving the county’s rich history.
According to the county website, the CCHC, launched in 1963 as the Comal County Historical Survey Committee, is charged with preserving the historical heritage of Comal County. It locates and nominates selections for Texas Historical Commission historical markers that recognize individuals, events and structures that formed or changed local or state history.
THC markers cite historical designations at homesteads, cemeteries and landmarks throughout the state. The most recent markers were unveiled in the county in dedications held at the 711 Ranch and Haas Cemetery, which was honored in September.
“It is very important for us to protect historical resources and this cemetery is certainly one of those,” CCHC Chair Cindy Coers said of the Haas Cemetery, established in 1887 and is the oldest living cemetery in the New Braunfels area.
The marker honors the family legacy of Karl and Catherine Hass, who owned a few hundred acres near the Fischer Store that their son, Adolph, grew into more than 3,000 acres and includes what’s now Canyon Lake.
Descendent Mike Hass helped sponsor the designation.
“I want to thank everybody on the CCHC and commissioners court for making this happen. It’s been a long haul. It started in 2018. We really appreciate it and the recognition.”
Coers commended the Haas family for their efforts “in making sure this resource is protected because if we don’t protect these types of resources then we are lost.”
Among the CCHC’s ongoing projects are historical designations for Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Panteon-Hidalgo cemeteries.
“The people buried in these cemeteries reflect the migration of Mexican workers and their families during the late 19th century and 20th century,” Coers said. “They had a dramatic impact on the industrialization and successful economy of New Braunfels and Comal County that changed the community. It is important to protect, preserve and document this important piece of history.”
Coers credited local historian Estella Delgado Farias, who archived local Hispanic history through her gatherings of photos, newspaper articles and oral recordings of family histories.
Farias’ exhaustive efforts helped map locations of graves and documented burials at both Hispanic cemeteries.
The CCHC funded the scanning of the funeral home death records that were added to individual entries in a genealogical database. Farias worked with Angie Morales Sanchez to scan numerous records from the Morales Funeral Home that confirmed burials that were blended with information gleaned from gravestones at both cemeteries.
CCHC Cemetery Committee members created mapping grids at both cemeteries and assigned location numbers/letters to grids of more than 1,600 known gravesites at OLPH and 700 at Panteon-Hidalgo.
The mapping allowed for grave location identification in the first attempted accurate recordings at both cemeteries, the CCHC said. The records and gravestone photographs will eventually be available at the Sophienburg Museum and Archives and Comal County Genealogy Society.
This year, CCHC members Wilfred and Marlena Schlather, along with Joe Ayala and Ramiro Ayala placed signage at the cemeteries assisting in locating gravesites utilizing the mapping grid numbers and letters.
The work also led to Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s designation as a Historic Texas Cemetery in 2018 and an Texas Historical Undertold Story Marker in 2020. THC’s Undertold Story Marker program address historical gaps, promotes diversity of topics, and proactively documents significant underrepresented subjects or untold stories.
“Even though the two cemeteries are located next to each other, their stories are different,” Coers said. “We have been approved for OLPH, and we will be submitting a historical designation application soon for Panteon-Hidalgo.”
County Judge Sherman Krause recently commended CCHC for working through the various processes involved in seeing local sites achieve state and national notoriety.
“I often talk about how important it is to preserve our history and thank them for their hard work and dedication in preserving that history,” he said. “I look forward to working with them more as we continue to preserve our historical properties.”
CCHC does not have another THC marker dedication scheduled this year. Pending marker dedications are set for Cypress Bend Park, and the Comal Cemetery gravesite of earthenware maker Heinrich “Henry” Mordhorst sometime in 2022.
Other area sites approved for THC markers include the Weisser-Pfeiffer Ranch, Franz Heimer homesite, the Kopplin-Leitch House, New Braunfels Gemischter Chor Harmonie, the Rebecca Creek School, which also honors Julius Bremer and his wife for donating property used for the school, Market Plaza, York Creek Cemetery and Comal Cemetery.
Other sites are being added to the National Register of Historic Places , the official list of United States sites deemed worthy of designation and preservation by the National Park Service division of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The Kappelmann-Mayer Homestead, New Braunfels Central Fire Station, Pape-Borchers Homestead and Mission Valley School and Teacherage have received NRHP listings, New Braunfels’ downtown Main Plaza is pending, and CCHC is seeking a grant to nominate the Frueholz House and Frueholz Medical Building to the NRHP.
“We have a lot going on with several pending dedications,” Coers said. “We have also kept busy with reviews of properties that are Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks, which we started last year. We are required to review them to see if they are being properly maintained and present any problems to the Texas Historical Commission.”
“Hopefully you will see us back in commissioner’s court very soon with more markers for historical properties,” CCHC member Linda Dietert told county commissioners after accepting a proclamation celebrating the county’s 175th anniversary. “We’re working on it – and it’s good to be back, and congratulations to Comal County.”