The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung has a long and distinguished history of being the first German newspaper in Texas.
The Herald, the community's English language paper, and the Zeitung, the German paper, merged in 1957. Collectively, they have served New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852.
Planning of the Neu-Braunfelser Zeitung began in 1851. In 1852, a mass meeting of interested New Braunfels residents elected Ferdinand Lindheimer as the newspaper's first editor from a list of three candidates. The money for payment of the equipment was subscribed publicly, and each subscriber received a certificate of partnership.
The first Zeitung issue was dated Nov. 12, 1852. By 1853, Lindheimer, a botanist who had no training in the newspaper business, became the sole owner.
The paper was unpopular for its pro-Confederacy position, as most residents were pro-union. At one point, an angry mob threw Lindheimer's printing press into the Comal River, but an undaunted Lindheimer fished out the press to continue publishing the newspaper.
Anselm Eiband succeeded Lindheimer as editor in the late 1870s and was known for his strong editorial positions.
Ernest Koebig, the third editor, installed a steam engine to run the press. Julius Halm and A. G. Startz became owners, with Ludolph LaFrentz the editor.
In the last decade of the 19th century, Capt. Julius Giesecke, McEver Church and Eugen Kailer organized the Zeitung Publishing Company.
Church sold his portion to Giesecke and in July 1899, G. F. Oheim bought out Kailer. Oheim served as editor until his death in 1947. His son, Frederic Oheim, became the sole owner until the paper's merger with the Herald in the late 1950s.
Roger Nuhn of New Braunfels is a former Zeitung and Herald-Zeitung editor who was hired by Frederich Oheim to convert the Zeitung to an English language paper.
Nuhn said a drop in German readership forced the paper to move to English.
"When I started, I was writing a column or two in English," he said. "Finally by the merger, (the Zeitung) was primarily an English paper with a small German section. We just didn't have the readership anymore in German."
Ben F. Nebergall, who started as a newspaper carrier, entered the partnership soon after G. F. Oheim's death. Nebergall died in 1948, after 60 years of service to the paper.
Nebergall's daughter, Lottie Miller, worked on the paper at the time of its 100th anniversary.
"I went into an entirely new field," she said. "(Reporting) gave me a touch with the town. The town, of course, was not near as big as it is now. There is no way (the Herald-Zeitung) could put out the same kind of paper.
"When we went bilingual, I started writing. It was very, very interesting. I did no writing until the two papers joined. Roger Nuhn was editor at the time. I liked it very much."
The Zeitung also printed the New Braunfels Herald-Chronicle every Sunday in the 1940s. Frederic Oheim was managing editor of that publication, and Nuhn was associate editor of the English section. The Comal County Chronicle eventually merged with the Canyon Lake Times Guardian in 1982.
On Aug. 21, 1952, the Zeitung celebrated its 100th anniversary, with headlines saying the newspaper still would be printed in German. In late 1958, however, the Zeitung ceased printing in German.
The New Braunfels Herald printed its first issue circa 1890. The history of the Herald is less clear. However, it was the first English-language newspaper published in New Braunfels.
The first editor was Sharp Runnels Whitley Sr. Succeeding him were E. M. deAhna, A. C. Coers, Fred Tausch and D.O. Bell.
By 1908, Coers took over the reins as editor and proprietor. Tausch and A. R. Ludwig bought the newspaper in 1914, while Coers remained as editor.
The newspaper was under the leadership of Charles Scruggs at the time of its 50th anniversary in 1940. Scruggs bought the Herald in 1928, with his son Claude succeeding him as editor in 1957.
Marjorie Cook of New Braunfels began working for the Herald in 1945 and continued until after the two papers merged.
"I learned by doing," Cook said of her first journalism position.
Cook said many changes took place during her time at the Herald and the Herald-Zeitung.
"You were much more aware of the German influence then," Cook said. "And the German accent was strong among the adult population."
The Herald and Zeitung merged in 1957. Nuhn said the paper was printed biweekly after that, with the Zeitung published on one day and the Herald published on another.
Finally, the papers merged completely in 1967 and were printed as the Herald-Zeitung. It then became the largest weekly in Texas with a circulation of 10,000, Nuhn said.
"It was much more popular (as the Herald-Zeitung)," Nuhn said. "We were running 52 pages (a week)."
Nuhn said the Herald-Zeitung was strictly a local paper.
"We were not interested in trying to compete with the big papers," he said. "We had trouble finding room for everything local in the paper."
Several of the locations of the Herald and the Zeitung offices are unknown. Some are believed to have been where Taqueria El Tapatio now stands on Seguin Avenue, on the second floor of the Coers house, in a little room where the Liebscher house on Coll Street was built and at 367 Main Plaza.
Also listed as a former office location was the Hoffmann Building on Seguin. Offices were at 186 Castell before the paper moved to its current location on Landa Street in the mid-1980s.
Nuhn said the Zeitung published in an old building where the Pizza Hut stands before moving in with the Herald on Castell Street shortly after the papers merged. The old Zeitung building now stands on Conservation Plaza.
"We had better printing where we moved (to Castell Street)," Nuhn said.
The Herald-Zeitung was sold to Taylor Communications in 1980 and became a five-day-a-week newspaper on Feb. 12, 1980. The Herald-Zeitung then was sold to Southern Newspapers on Feb. 20, 1984.
David Kramer was the general manager, according to a 1982 newspaper clipping. Claude Scruggs was the publisher. On Sept. 18, 1984, the Herald-Zeitung announced it would move from 186 Castell St. to 707 Landa St., the former home of Skate Skeller.
In the July 16, 1985, edition of the Herald-Zeitung, Kramer announced Susan Haire would be the new managing editor. Claude Scruggs retired as publisher in February 1986, after 50 years in the business.
On June 28, 1987, the Herald-Zeitung invited local residents to attend an open house at the new facility on Landa. By 1988, Kramer was editor and publisher and Wanda Lasater was managing editor.
David Sullens came to the Herald-Zeitung as editor and publisher in February 1991. Doug Toney followed Sullens in May 1996.
On May 4, 1998, the Herald-Zeitung was converted to a morning newspaper.
On Oct. 17, 1998, a devastating flood damaged the Herald-Zeitung facilities on 707 Landa. Six feet of water destroyed offices, equipment and archives and seriously damaged the eight-unit Community Goss press.
Toney and four other employees waded through waist-deep water to save a server and several computers. Composing foreman Henry Coello patched together a small network.
The newspaper was produced, and with the help of the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise, was published without missing an edition, although the Sunday edition, because of flooded highways and streets, could not be delivered until Monday.
The Herald-Zeitung rebuilt the offices at 707 Landa but moved the press and production operation to high ground. In January 2000, the press moved into its new location on Industrial Drive off Loop 337, with the newspaper operating out of both facilities.
In July 2000, the Herald-Zeitung added a Saturday edition, making it a six-day a week publication, printing Tuesday through Sunday. The circulation of the Sunday edition topped 10,000 in 2000.
In December 2011, the Herald-Zeitung relocated its business office to 549 Landa St, with the production facility remaining on Industrial Drive.
James Rainey replaced Toney upon his retirement in April 2012, with Neice Bell following as editor and publisher in October 2012. In July 2015, David Burck replaced Neice Bell as publisher after having served as the Herald-Zeitung's advertising director since January 2013. In November 2016, Burck was replaced by David Compton. Bell returned to lead the newspaper in October 2018.