Following their marriage May 5, 1851 in Albany, NewYork Joseph and Helena Landa traveled to New Orleans via ship. From New Orleans they took a schooner to Indianola, Texas. This was the same port—although renamed—used by the German immigrants who founded New Braunfels.
Joseph and Helena's mode of transportation to New Braunfels was quite different than the early immigrants' means of travel. Helena's father had given the couple a buggy for a wedding gift. Joseph purchased a horse and harness in Indianola. These were joined with the buggy and the newlyweds' transportation was set to go the 150 miles to New Braunfels.
When they arrived at their destination they found lodging at the Samuel Millett boarding house. The Millett's establishment was located on the site where presently stands the Comal County Courthouse.
After several months, the Landas purchased the adjoining property and built their homestead across from the Plaza. The family lived there 75 years and grew to include seven children: Isadore. Fanny, Hannah, Rachael, Morris, Harry, and Sarah.
In 1859, Joseph purchased the Meriwether property that included the Comal Springs, the water rights, the mills, and the cotton gin. He was looking forward to getting out of the mercantile business once the property was paid in full. To that end, he had in the mill yard cotton bales which he planned to sell.
When President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves in 1863, the Landas immediately freed their slaves. They were four French Creole house servants and Steven Carter who was the driver of their oxcart. Upon receiving their freedom, the former slaves walked out the door and around the house and entered the house once again. Although free, they chose to stay with the Landas for the remainder of their lives. Their homes were built by the Landas on Peace Avenue.
There was a secret society in the surrounding area called the Golden Circle. The purpose of the society was to seek out abolitionists and lynch them. Because the Landa slaves were emancipated, Joseph Landa was suspect as was a jurist from San Antonio, Judge Devine. To escape lynching, both Joseph and the judge made their way together to Mexico. Before leaving, Joseph arranged for four oxcarts to haul the bales of cotton he stored in the mill yard. Steven Carter was in charge of getting the bales to Mexico. There were bushwhackers along the way who stole a portion of the cotton. Carter managed to get the remainder to Matamoras. There Joseph sold the cotton for $1.00 per pound in gold. The problem that remained was how to get the gold back to Helena Landa for safekeeping.
At that time there was no axle grease. Tar was used and each wagon had a tar bucket hanging on its rear axle. Joseph wrapped the gold in a rag and placed it in the bottom of the tar bucket. Trustworthy Steven Carter took it safely to Helena Landa. Just as her husband instructed, Helena Landa gave the gold to two of his trusted friends who, in the dead of night, buried it beneath a large oak on Landa property.
While the Civil War was going on, Joseph and Judge Devine remained in the Matamoras, Mexico area. During that period, they sometimes rode in a buggy along the border. Between Brownsville and Rio Grande City, Joseph noted the lemon trees, wild oranges, and the delicious vegetables that were watered by irrigation from the Rio Grande. Joseph wisely predicted that the Rio Grande Valley would become the “Garden Spot of Texas”.
The years while Joseph was away, his wife, who was not yet 30 years of age, managed all the property including the mills, cotton gin, store, and a household filled with young children. Times were unsettled. There were bushwhackers that assaulted the town just as they attacked those on the road. There were attempts to steal the Landas' old horse. The attempts were all unsuccessful. Helena Landa never allowed the horse to be out, unattended. When the horse was in the barn, she saw to the barn being safely secured. Some bushwhackers came into the store making demands for free goods. Mrs. Landa, no more than five feet tall, with little children hanging on her skirts, held a pistol and warned each of the intruders to get out if he valued his life. Her daring, her courage, thorough conscientiousness, and her devotion preserved the Landa properties and kept all in the household safe until her husband's return. It is not surprising that as the years went on her family always considered her a remarkable woman. Indeed, she was.
In 1865, when the Civil War was over, Joseph and Judge Devine returned to their homes. Once again in the dead of night, Joseph's two trusted friends took Joseph to the large oak on Landa property and retrieved the buried gold. Shortly thereafter, the debt on the former Meriwether property was fully paid. To be continued---
Joseph Landa believed in his sons learning how to carry through with hard work. The boys shoveled sawdust from under the sawmill. They also worked in the flour mill and the cotton gin. Harry, being the youngest son, handled the family's herd of cattle, that consisted of twenty milk cows and their calves. Every morning he was up at four a.m., and had breakfast. After breakfast he milked the cows. He then took the cows to one pasture, and the calves to another pasture. By then it was eight o'clock and time for school. When school was out, he brought the cattle from the pastures to the cow pens. He then joined with his brothers to do whatever work was needed on the properties or in the plants until dark.
Harry was to become a lawyer but that plan did not work out. He quit school because the family had financial difficulties that took Joseph away from home. The oldest son, Isadore, took charge of the mill operations. Morris took over the wagon hauling of the mill products, flour and corn meal, to San Antonio, Laredo, and neighboring towns.
Harry's job was to open the family's store. He was 13 years old at the time.
The store was located across from the main plaza. It was operated as a grain exchange with a sales room for flour, meal, and bran. The farmers brought their corn and wheat and exchanged them for flour and corn meal.
When there were no customers, his mother brought her knitting and listened to Harry read aloud the classics that she introduced to him. She hoped to help with his education since he had to quit school at such a young age. Together they made many friends. Harry became a favorite of the farming community. All admired his hard work and courteous, helpful manner. As he grew older, if there was a wedding, a party, or a dance anywhere within twenty miles of New Braunfels, Harry was invited. Furthermore, he attended.
In the years ahead the two older Landa brothers began to lease the business from their parents. This continued until the mid-1880's when they took their business expertise to San Antonio. After his brothers took over the operation of the Landa properties, Harry took off on his own and successfully did entrepreneurial work in Burnet, Austin, and Galveston. He wisely saved his money as he had been taught.
In 1887 Harry had a double misfortune. He was on a train when it was robbed and he was shot. The bullets shattered his left hand. The railroad physician believed it necessary to remove Harry's hand. Harry was determined to keep his hand if at all possible. He had a telegram sent to his parents regarding his situation and to tell them he was on his way to San Antonio for medical assistance. When he arrived at the San Antonio rail station his parents were waiting. They had with them the excellent surgeon Dr. Ferdinand Ludwig Herff, Sr.
Dr. Herff had an interesting background. He was born in Darmstadt, Germany November 29, 1820 the son of Christian von Herff and Eleanora von Meusebach. He also was a nephew to John Meusebach, the second Commissioner General for the Adelsverein that founded New Braunfels.
Herff had an exceptional medical education and training in Germany. Because of the political environment in Germany in 1847 along with a small group of fellow University educated professionals Herff emigrated to Texas to begin the idealistic commune of Bettina on the Llano River near what is now Castell. The commune Bettina was unsuccessful.
He went back to Germany knowing that he would return to Texas to live permanently. Upon his return, he and his wife lived in New Braunfels briefly before making San Antonio their permanent home in 1850.
Herff worked tirelessly to achieve the highest standards in medical practice and he helped form the Bexar County Medical Society in addition to other medical groups. Also he practiced scrupulous attention to cleanliness that resulted in low infection rates prior to antisepsis. Not surprisingly with such dedication others in his family followed him in the practice of medicine.
Dr.Herff saved Harry's left hand except for the index finger. Harry and his parents were most grateful.---To be continued.
Harry Landa had the misfortune of being on a train when it was robbed. His left hand was shattered by gun shots during the robbery. He had the good fortune to have the exceptional surgeon Dr. Ferdinand Herff, Sr. operate and save his hand other than his index finger.
There was further difficulty when Harry's right side became swollen and paralyzed. It was believed the bullets that entered his hand were poisoned. It took several years of hospitalization and more surgeries in New York and Germany before he was completely healed. His funds that he had saved so faithfully were gone and he found it necessary to accept help from his parents.
When he was finally pronounced well he returned home with the determination to assist his parents, as they had helped him during his difficult time.
Once again in New Braunfels Harry found the Landa property had fallen into almost total disrepair. The only things left on the property were a rusty old 40 hp turbine water wheel and a three and a half-story rock flour mill building that was constructed in 1875 by Joseph Landa. The building remains today.
Joseph had the Comal Springs property that he had purchased from Meriwether for sale but had no buyers. Quite a few years before at a more prosperous time for the family Joseph wisely purchased property in downtown San Antonio. Shortly after Harry returned home, Joseph received an offer on the San Antonio property that he considered most generous and he accepted. The amount made from the San Antonio property sale assured Joseph and Helena financial security the remainder of their lives.
The timing could not have been better. While hospitalized those many months in New York and Germany, among other things Harry studied the modernization of the milling industry. Harry borrowed $20,000 from his parents who were now in a financial position to loan him the money. He borrowed the money with the specific purpose of revitalizing his parents ' property. With that financial underwriting he was able to install a modern Hungarian roller system for milling flour and built a 400-barrel flour mill, a 200-barrel corn mill and a power turbine. These up-to-date systems were constructed on the Landa property where the former mills once stood.
Following the International and Great Northern Railroad Company (IGN) building a train depot in New Braunfels, Harry induced IGN to construct a railroad spur alongside the mill building. The railroad spur revolutionized the milling business by expediting all shipments.
As careful as he was the $20,000 loan from his parents was spent. Harry still needed funds to purchase grain. He went to the local bank. Joseph Faust, the bank president and future mayor of New Braunfels, was impressed with Harry's accomplishments and loaned him the $5,000 needed to purchase grain. This final loan completed the financial transactions that made possible a milling operation which ran night and day, seven days a week. and became the largest employer in New Braunfels. A mill to extract oil from cotton seed and the Landa Ice Plant both also became part of the Landa industries that was known as the Landa Milling Company.
Later when there was some surplus water power available, Harry built the Landa Electric Power Plant that brought the first electricity to New Braunfels. Initially he could sell only 150 lights but it so pleased the customers that before long the entire town was using electricity. By 1893 the Landa Electric Power and Light Company erected posts for streetlights and electric service furnishing New Baunfels with lower priced electricity than any other community in Texas.
In all his long life Joseph Landa had never had a vacation. Harry encouraged his parents to take an extended trip to New York to visit family and friends there. This they did. Before they came back to New Braunfels in 1891, Harry, with the business thriving, completely rebuilt the family home. It was another way to show his parents how much he valued them. Upon their return Joseph and Helena found their former house gone. In its stead was a beautiful large dwelling that became their home. It was known and admired as the Landa Mansion.
On August 7, 1896 Joseph Landa, the patriarch of the Landa family, died. He was 86 years old. Joseph left all the Landa holdings including the water rights in the capable hands of his beloved wife, Helena.
By 1890 an area of the Landa properties became known as Landa's Pasture. Today it is the site of the Landmark Apartments.
At the time of Landa's Pasture the large magnificent trees gracefully draped with long strands of gray moss and the soft ripple of the crystal clear water flowing from the nearby sparkling springs provided an ideal setting for picnics; large and small. Family gatherings included not only excellent food and an abundance of laughter but fun games such as kick ball, Red Rover, hide 'n seek, and foot races. There were also card games and dominoes and of course always there was music. If no one brought an accordion or fiddle they still joined their voices in happy harmony.
The Landas requested only two things of those using the property. They wished for no one to fish in the immediate area. Also, they expected everyone to leave the site as they found it. The Landas' requests were faithfully honored. The community was most appreciative of the opportunity to utilize the beautiful site of Landa's Pasture.
In 1893 the Comal County Fair Association was formed. Harry Landa was named its first president. This was good news to the many friends he made in the farming community during the years when he ran the Landa family's grain exchange located across from the main plaza.
The Fair Association's first Comal County Fair was held in 1894 in Landa's Pasture. It was initially scheduled for the previous year but was canceled due to drought.
Beloved Comal County historian Oscar Haas had a column in the New Braunfels Herald that contained his translations from German to English of the Neu Braunfelser Zeitung. Through the column we learn about Comal County Fair activities in Landa's Pasture and the charm of the white tents set amongst the picturesque ancient oaks all ready for the fair.
It was a most successful event with one major suggestion. The 1894 County Fair was held in November and the recommendation was to hold future County Fairs at least a month earlier because the harvest was more plentiful earlier in the autumn. The Comal County Fair continued at Landa's Pasture through 1897.
When New Braunfels celebrated the 50th year of its founding in 1895, Landa's Pasture was a joyous destination. The festivities began at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 11, with bells ringing, a cannon salute, and band concert on the plaza. On Sunday, May 12, at 10 a.m. a short parade led to the plaza where Mayor Joseph Faust gave a welcome address followed by folk singing. After the singing, a delegation from Fredericksburg presented a message of congratulations. The parade proceeded to a barbecue in Landa's Pasture and in the afternoon there were speeches, and later both vocal and musical concerts. The evening brought dancing and fireworks. On Monday, May 13, there was an elaborate historical parade down San Antonio Street. Landa's Pasture was the scene of a picnic and popular amusements beginning at 3:00 p.m. Again, dancing and fireworks followed in the evening with the Fifth Calvary Regimental Band playing rousing music to complete the celebration.
When New Braunfels was celebrating the 125thanniversary of its founding in 1970, New Braunfels Herald reporter Marjorie Cook interviewed two New Braunfels residents who remembered celebrating the 50th anniversary in 1895 in Landa's Pasture. They were Lina Coreth Windwehen (Mrs. C.V.) and Louise “Lulu” Voelcker Wagenfuehr (Mrs. R.H.).
Lina was 9 years old and the daughter of Franz Coreth who was the parade marshal
in 1895. Her brother Rochette was the parade marshal when the 100th anniversary was celebrated as well as the end of World War II in 1946.
Lina's favorite recollection of the 1895 celebration in Landa's Pasture was a phonograph. For ten cents she listened for five minutes to a Edison wax cylinder that played an operatic aria and a waltz.
At the time this was a unique experience.
Louise Voelcker Wagenfuehr was 12 years old at the 1895 celebration in Landa's Pasture. Her favorite remembrance was when the young people were taken to a clearing in Landa's Pasture for group singing and folk dancing. She happily recalled they had a wonderful time.
Louise's Voelcker ancestors were included on the Founding Family Memorial researched by Oscar Haas. The beautifully designed memorial is placed in Landa Park. It was sponsored by the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce to commemorate New Braunfels 125thanniversary in 1970.
As New Braunfels prepares to celebrate the 175thanniversary of its founding, Anne Louise Miller is at the helm of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce planning committee. Her husband Doug Miller is heading the financial end as treasurer. Everything is excitedly underway for the best celebration ever. Just as in 'days of yore' there are always things to look forward to in our hometown.
Harry Landa was among the first to have an automobile in New Braunfels. The year was 1907. Landa’s Park continued to be a favorite destination as the automobile became a more common means of transportation.
By 1910 a covered dance pavilion and nearby drink stand were completed. Built adjacent to the pavilion was a bandstand. On the weekends and holidays a live band began playing by mid-morning. There was continual live music into the evening.
The quick- step and waltz were favorites of the time and enjoyed at every park’s dance. Being a German community, the schottische and polka were also popular dance selections . The Paul Jones was a group mixer with dancers changing partners when the whistle blew. This was an acceptable way to meet new people. The mixer was part of every evening of dancing.
There were frequently free concerts on Sunday afternoons such as performances by the 25- member Carl Beck Military band with Under the Double Eagle, a favorite march played at every performance. The 20 member Beethoven Mens’ Singing Society from San Antonio was another popular musical group that also presented free concerts enjoyed by the many park visitors.
Erwin Scholl became the manager of Landa’s Park in 1909, and in that position did all the hiring. He remained park manager through 1934. To Scholl’s credit and Harry Landa’s expectations, the grounds. the spring-fed pool, and the entire park were kept in immaculate condition.
The positive, helpful attitude of all the employees hired and trained by Scholl helped to create the pleasant experience of being in Landa’s Park. Not only was the site exceptional but everything seemed to add to the time spent there being filled with happy memories. It was and remains a magical place.
Among the park’s many jewels, the spring-fed pool was a thing of beauty and refreshing delight. The pool on the original course of the Comal River that was damned off by 1850 to divert a portion of the river into the mill race to power William Hunter Meriwether’s mills. The additional dividend of this diversion was the pool that became known as the most outstanding spring-fed pool in the southwest.
A large bath house overlooked the pool. Towels and bathing suits embroidered with Landa’s Park were furnished for a small fee. As many as 3,000 people were in the pool on any summer week-end.
Part of the fun was the impromtu performances put on in the pool by local divers Claude Platz, Noyes Starr, Frank Overshook, Fred Simon, Gene Schmidt, and Jack Bergfeld who also served as lifeguards at the spring-fed pool.
When performing, the lifeguards wore old-fashioned swimsuits for their comedy routines. The routines left the crowds laughing and cheering.
Although their performances were mainly comedy, there were some exceptional divers in the group. Noyes Starr would on occasion do a diving exhibition that received huge applause and shouts of “more, more”.
The “Flying Dutchman Antics” was a crowd favorite performed only on Sunday. In the middle of the spring-fed pool was the Flying Dutchman Swing. The poles holding up the swings were 40 feet high telephone poles. Each pole was held up by guy wires connected by a cross beam.
The selected lifeguard who was to take the role of the “Flying Dutchman” that particular Sunday climbed the guy wire to the top to dive off. To continue the drama, he put a spare tire around his waist, started swinging and grabbed the wire to climb up to the crossbeam.
For the observer, there were many tense moments. For the performer, it appeared to be fun. For the record, it was a real crowd pleaser!
By 1920 to accommodate automobiles into Landa's Park the entrance was over a narrow steel bridge. Leading up to the bridge was tall pampas grass that served as a handsome sentinel along the roadway.
A second story was added above the Camp Placid bathhouse to accommodate the overnight guests that automobile travel made possible. The addition provided 86 screened-in sleeping rooms allowing both a view of the pool and the opportunity to catch the southern breeze. Canvas curtains gave privacy. Known as the tourist hotel of Landa's Park, it was called Camp Placid and was advertised “to insure guests ample breeze”. Many guests stayed for a week or more. There also was a campground available a short distance behind the bathhouse.
The nearby Landa's Park Cafe offered a la cart service at all times. The cafe's kitchen was built on stilts in Landa Lake making it convenient for fishing and then cleaning the catch. There were also a variety of other selections on the menu.
Swans gracefully glided on Landa Lake near the cafe so that guests could admire their beauty while enjoying their meal. Another romantic possibility was a moonlight picnic on the lakeshore. For those wishing to cook-out, there were 50 brick-walled grills throughout the picnic area.
There was a variety of further entertainment that included miniature golf, horseback riding, rowboats, canoes, and the magnificent steamboat on Landa Lake. There was no lack of activity in Landa's Park.
Across from Camp Placid was an excellent baseball diamond and grandstand where the local team, the New Braunfels Tigers, played baseball. The Tigers were founded in 1909 and played for 43 years at Landa's Park and later at Landa Park. Area businessmen made up the team that was on a circuit known as the South Texas Semi-Professional League. The team had the enthusiastic support of the townsfolk. Every Sunday during baseball season the grandstand was packed full of cheering Tiger fans.
Members of the first New Braunfels Tigers baseball team in 1909 included Walter Sippel, Ted Eggeling, Ernest Stein,Walter Grosse, Christian Druebert, Edwin Staats, and Walter Staats. Among the team managers in the early years of the Tigers baseball team was Wilhelm Hartmann who had served as Harry Landa's building superintendent for Landa's Park.
Several Minor League teams came for training during the winter months. Among them were the Toledo Mudhens, and Minneapolis Millers. The Philadelphia Phillies, a National League team, trained there as well.
Topping the excitement chart was the famous Dizzy Dean. Jay Hanna Dean, better known as Dizzy, spent a season and a half playing for the Tigers in 1925.He was stationed at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio when he played with the local team. It was Walter Sippel who contacted Dizzy to pitch for the Tigers and paid him $5 a game. Dizzy went on to play in the Big Leagues and in 1934 became the National League's Most Valuable Player.
During the summer another popular event in Landa's Park was the frequent free Sunday concerts by various musical groups. The gazebo was transformed into a Japanese Tea Room. A favorite concert there was presented by the Chaminade Choral Society of San Antonio under the direction of Prof. Julien Paul Blitz who also performed beautiful violin-cello selections.
All-day dance music was another Sunday attraction. There were Saturday and Wednesday dances as well. By the summer of 1925, the open-air dance pavilion was completed and advertised as “the largest and smoothest glazed floor in the south”. A large live oak tree was in the center of the dance floor. A stage for the orchestra was built in its colored light-adorned branches. The reflections off the water were magical.
The Gloomchasers were a popular musical group that frequently played from the dramatic stage in the oak. Among the members of the Gloomchasers were Paul Jahn, Johnny Schnabel, Gilbert Zipp, Al Schnabel, Tom Hughes, and Adolph Bading. Their soloist was Tom Hughes who used a megaphone and received much applause from an appreciative audience. According to Joline Staats Erben “Waiting for the Robert E.Lee” was one of his best renditions.
Hughes was also the floor manager and saw to what was considered proper behavior. Men were not allowed on the dance floor without a coat and tie. Also, couples danced “properly”, not too close and certainly not cheek-to-cheek. It may have been the “Roaring Twenties” elsewhere ,but not in Harry Landa's park. What Harry Landa considered the proper manner of behavior did not seem to curtail anyone's fun or attendance; perhaps it enhanced it.
New Braunfels celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1920 with a “Grand Open Air fete Concerts and Tableau Vivant” in Landa's Park. There were glorious fireworks displays over Landa Lake at the special anniversary event.
This same year also marked the return of the Kindermaskenball (Children's Masquerade Ball) to its 1856 beginning site, that in 1920 was known as Landa's Park. The after-parade festivities included dancing, picnics, and boat rides on the lake and provided the most wonderful memories for all who were fortunate enough to be involved. The customary Grand March remained an important part of the evening's entertainment. The Kindermasken event with children in costume welcoming springtime continued in Landa's Park with few exceptions for seventy years through 1990.
Harry Landa thought it might be time to add to the summer fun. It was 1925 and in a meeting with his office staff he completely surprised them. He proposed a Venetian Carnival that involved decorated boats on Landa Lake. He asked for their help in planning, designing, and decorating the boats. Soon the offices were filled with designs for boats and piles of crepe paper flowers for decorating the boats. Everyone was captivated by the project and wanted to take part in this exciting new idea.
The designs were carried out with the construction of the boats done by Alfred Weidner and crew of New Braunfels Woodworks. The creative George Eikel Schmidt did the painting and art work.
The result was colorful boats, each with a different theme. Among the themes were a Dutch windmill with masses of flowers, a moss-covered wishing well, an Egyptian style boat, and a gondola of pink roses. Other designs included a boat with Chinese decor, an intriguing spider web, a shining Texas star, and a boat overflowing in Texas bluebonnets. At final count there were sixteen lighted decorated boats on Landa Lake.
In addition, there was live music. Oliver Haas was responsible for the huge weed cutter bedecked with lights. The orchestra, seated on the cutter furnished the music for the colorful Venetian Carnival.
When Haas, reflected on it later during his 1977 oral history interview with Fred Oheim and Herb Skoog at KGNB radio, he confessed his greatest concern was that a musician might possibly fall off the cutter into the lake as all were enjoying their beverages a bit too much.
On Sunday June 14, 1925 as a result of all the preparation and advertisement there were two Venetian parades on the lake; one at 3:30 p.m. and the other at 8:30 p.m. There was a charge of 10 cents per child and 15 cents per adult. It was estimated that between 15,000 to 25,000 were in attendance at the fantastic Venetian Carnival presentations.
The crowds' enthusiastic response to the parade of decorated boats was most rewarding to Harry Landa and his office staff who had given every effort toward a successful Venetian Carnival. Further appreciation was shown the staff when Harry Landa gave a grand feast and dance in their honor. In addition he gave each a twenty dollar bill.
A little over a year later on Sunday, August 22, 1926 New Braunfels' Venetian Carnival attracted nationwide attention.
The Venetian Carnival was making its second appearance in Landa's Park. There were at least 10,000 visitors at the event. C.O. Lee, director of the San Antonio branch of the Pathe News Office, took individual photographs of each of the sixteen unique gondolas.
Leading the pageant was park manager Erwin Scholl and Mary Esther Streiber in the guide boat fashioned to be a swan adorned with red roses and ribbons. As the guide boat began the parade of boats this signaled the 35- piece band on a nearby barge to begin playing. With the band's first note 1,500 lights that were strung across the lake and in the trees along with six large flood lights simultaneously flashed on, reflecting off the lake. The effect was stunning.
This time the spectacle was recorded by Pathe News for the entire country to see.
New Braunfels and Landa's Park became known as the Venice of Texas!
Many people in New Braunfels and elsewhere have memories of Harry Landa. Today's column focuses on only a few of the many members of the community who knew Harry as their employer. He was much respected in that role and his office was an excellent training ground.
A.D. Nuhn Sr. better known as Pete had his first position working in Harry Landa's office recalled Pete's children Mitzi Nuhn Dreher, Judy Nuhn Morton and A.D. Nuhn, Jr. Pete Nuhn then held the office of City Clerk for over 20 years and was described and admired as the hardest working civil servant. He later was mayor of New Braunfels serving the 10 years that included the challenging time of World War II. In the years to come Pete received the much coveted Besserung Award as “Citizen of the Year” presented by the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce in recognition for all he had done for the community. It is interesting to note that Pete's father, John Peter Nuhn, was a lead employee at Landa Industries serving as master miller and paymaster beginning as early as 1900.
Augusta Stratemann Babel began working for Harry Landa from the time she graduated in 1916 from New Braunfels High School. She rode her bicycle from his downtown office to his other business ventures in the community delivering messages. She continued to work for Landa until he sold his business. She referred to Harry Landa as a fine gentlemen. This information was made available to us by the New Braunfels Public Library through a taped interview with Augusta Stratemann made by Fred Oheim and Herb Skoog at KGNB radio.
Another tape by Oheim and Skoog made available through the New Braunfels Public Library was an interview with Elsie Schnabel. Elsie Wagenfuehr (Schnabel) worked for Harry Landa in his downtown offices receiving $75 a month. She fondly recalled designing a float, making the crepe paper flowers that adorned it and the excitement of riding in the float for the Venetian Carnival on Landa Lake. She remembered Harry Landa as a most kindhearted and considerate man. Elsie married Al Schnabel who headed a popular musical group that frequently was the featured orchestra in Landa Park . A favorite number the group played as their final rendition of the evening was “I'll See You in My Dreams”.
Rose Schulz shared with us that her mother, Emma Loftus, was Harry Landa's longtime secretary beginning in early 1900. She remembered her mother telling her that Mr. Landa was an exceptional employer and too, he certainly loved grapes. Emma also loved grapes and always included some in her daily weekday lunch that she brought from home. Invariably Mr. Landa would come by her desk and smilingly help himself to her grapes. Rose continued the family Landa connection when she married Harley Schulz who became a very able and well-liked manager of Landa Park.
Following his graduation from New Braunfels High School in 1909, Erwin Scholl began working as full-time manager of Landa's Park for Harry Landa. Erwin was responsible for the hiring, firing, and training of all employees who worked in the park. As manager he also was responsible for the park's upkeep and all activities there. In 1926 after Harry Landa sold much of the Landa holdings that included Landa's Park to comply with his mother's will, Erwin continued managing the park including the Venetian Carnival presentations until the park was enclosed by a 12' fence at the end of 1934.
Jane Adams Brummett can appreciate the many talents of her mother and how well those talents suited her for being part of Harry Landa's office staff. Jane's mother, Leonie Zipp Adams, was efficient, exceptionally well organized, and cooperative. She married Harold Adams in 1921 ending her career in the Landa offices and began her career as homemaker and eventually loving mother to Marilyn Adams (Thurman) and and Jane Adams (Brummett).
Barbara Cobb, granddaughter of Albert Ludwig, told us that following his graduation from Tyler Commercial College in Tyler, Texas her grandfather began working for Harry Landa at the office of Landa Industries. It was a good start for a young man's business career. As the years went on Albert was elected a City Commissioner in 1936 shortly before the bond issue was passed to purchase Landa's Park making it a municipal park of New Braunfels. The election placed Albert in the position of Park Commissioner when the bond issue passed. In that position Albert was responsible for the many projects which enhanced the natural beauty of Landa Park. New Braunfels was blessed by his
dedication and phenomenal success.
Sponsors of this column, 'Friends for the Preservation of Historic Landa Park' (Friends), also present excellent speakers on issues that are important to our community. Tomorrow, Monday, September 10, they will present Roland Ruiz who heads the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA). Everyone is encouraged to attend at 2:30 p.m. at Landa Haus, 360 Aquatic Circle in Landa Park. We learn more about the event through the following article written by the Friends' past-president, Tim Barker, PhD.
Comal Springs-Eternal or Not?
Living near the Comal Springs, one assumes that long-timers and newcomers know a bit about the source of the water in the Edwards Aquifer. However, with the recent and projected influx of people into Comal County and New Braunfels, perhaps a few facts about the relationship between the Edwards Aquifer and the Comal Springs would be a good reminder as to how Comal County residents should appreciate and treat this precious gift of beauty and utility.
The Edwards Aquifer consists of a thick, highly porous layer of limestone that is broken in two by the Balcones Escarpment Fault and is described as a long narrow conduit five to thirty miles wide and approximately 175 miles long. It extends from near Bracketville in Kinney County to just north of Kyle in Hays County. Water in the Aquifer originates primarily from surface water runoff that enters the Aquifer in identified reaches of streams mostly west of San Antonio. The water moves to the east and northeast and is discharged to the natural spring outlets, the largest of which are the Comal Springs in Comal County and the San Marcos Springs in Hays County. The Comal Springs is the largest springs in the southwest part of North America. The Edwards Aquifer has been described as the “Underground River of Texas” that hydrologically interconnects the Nueces, San Antonio and Guadalupe River Basins. The “drought of record in the South central Region of Texas” which occurred during the years of 1949 to 1957 graphically illustrated the interrelationship when a combination of low recharge in the Aquifer and increased pumping resulted in the historical low level in the Aquifer. At the most critical point in this drought in the summer of 1956, the Comal Springs went dry and the San Marcos Springs dropped to a low level of 46 cubic feet per second. The resulting damage to the economy and to the environment in the Guadalupe River Basin and to the estuary system at the mouth of the mouth of the Guadalupe River was catastrophic.\
This Aquifer is the primary source of drinking water for more than two million people in South Central Texas and serves the domestic, agricultural, industrial and recreational needs of the area. Consistent and sufficient flow from the Comal and San Marcos Springs (i.e.the Edwards Aquifer) is vital to protect the endangered species which are under the auspices of the United States Fish and Wild life Service(FSW). In 1993, the Texas Legislature enacted a bill that created the Edwards Aquifer Authority(EAA) and directed the EAA to implement measures that ensures “continuous minimum spring flow to protect these species” by Dec. 31, 2012. The FSW brought together stakeholders from throughout the region to develop a plan to contribute to the recovery of the federally-listed species dependent upon the Edwards Aquifer. The stakeholders process was called the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program(EARIP) and included representatives of environmental, water authority and purveyors, industrial, municipal, public utility, state agency and agricultural interests related to the Edwards Aquifer. In 2011, the EARIP reached agreement on the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan(EAHCP). The implementation of the EAHCP requires implement to increase viability of the species at Comal and San Marcos Springs and to take actions to ensure continuous minimum spring flow during a repeat of the “drought of record” in 2013, FWS issued its Record of Decision stating its intent to approve the implementing Committee in its effort to implement the EAHCP.
As we walk in Landa Park and admire the crystal clear water and float these cool waters of the Comal River, we must recognize and credit the efforts of many who have devoted their lives to preserving the Edward Aquifer waters and the endangered species of the Comal and San Marcos Springs.
An open invitation is extended to the community to attend a special presentation entitled
The Edwards Aquifer-the next 20 years to be presented by Roland Ruiz, the General Manager of the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) at the Landa Haus, 360 Aquatic Circle in Landa Park at 2:30 P.M. on Monday September 10, 2018. This presentation was arranged by District #8 EAA representative Kathleen Tobin Krueger at the request of Friends for the Preservation of Historic Landa Park.
Copyright © 2017 Friends for the Preservation of Historic Landa Park - All Rights Reserved.
Photos courtesy of : Gay Foester Woodward, Elisabet Barker, John Moler & Lesley Schlumberger