"GAMBLER WITH HEART" by Mac Abel . . .
Since its founding in 1878, Marble Falls had become a thriving city, small enough to be opinionated and large enough to be justifiably supportive of its schools, its churches and its people. A community where the lineage of proud families is reflected in their illustrious descendants; the Gieseckes, Goeths, Wennmoths, Richters, Vanhagens, Materns, Nunnallys, Schnelles, Crownovers, Schroeders, Eberlings, Burnams and many others related in one way ore another. A good, gentle, caring community, life was somewhere between champagne and grits, with sufficient sophistication to be appreciated in either category. No town for miles around could equal the ambience of its unofficial community center, the Blue Bonnet Café.
This particular day, June 11, 1970, the local weekly newspaper "The Highlander" was the hottest thing in town. Its blazoned headlines announced the "Coca-Cola Ranch would become a $12,000,000.00 quality resort-residence community." For which its new owners, Hurd Properties, Inc., equitably owned by Norman and Wayne Hurd, had paid more than $2 million. Another announcement of great importance to the community, was the proposed building of a new $40 million L.C.R.A. Granite Shoals electric power plant; both destined to play important parts in the future of Marble Falls.
Normally a gentle community, the town became divided over such prospects. Some were confident, yet doubtful; others were confused, but hopeful. Enthusiasm, skepticism and controversy became as habitual as their way of life. By the time the citizens realized the great financial impact the sale could have upon the economy, their thinking changed. Adversity turned to hope, skepticism to optimism, and churches were playing to confident full houses.
Located outside the city limits, some six miles southwest of Marble Falls, across to the "Coke Ranch" was by Farm Market #2147. Purchased in 1930 by the Luptons and Browns of Ft. Worth, Texas it was often referred to as the "Coca-Cola Ranch" due to the prominent familys ownership of Coca-Cola Franchises.
For many years Ira Gibson ran the Ranch. Son, B.A. (Hoot) Gibson, who was born there, was appointed Ranch foreman upon the death of his well-known father. It was Ira, who in earlier days, popularized weekend fox races on the Ranch. A fox was turned loose and two selected dogs would vie for the honor of making the catch. Bets were made as to the winner. Even then, the Ranch was a popular place for family gatherings and picnics, destined to continue on through generations.
Raw beauty of intensely populated oak, mesquite, persimmon shrubs, vines, cactus and thickets enveloped the land. Hazardous to cattle who became lost and if not found, starve. Cowhands carrying butane tanks burned spines from the cactus so the cattle could savor its juicy meat. Whiteface Herefords, registered horses and goats roamed the Ranch, used mainly for entertaining by its owners where the cool waters of the Colorado offered the finest fishing in the state. Hunting white dove, wild turkey and deer. The latter, considered of no monetary value, were sought by hunters eager to ply their skills.
The original Ranch house (where historic preservation won over lesser cost to build anew) is known as Quail Point, on Twilight off Red Sails Street. The bunkhouse and corrals were located at High Circle North and Red Sails Streets toward the water. A landmark was a houseboat owned by W. Smith which never ceased its lazy rocking from "catch to catch."
Mr. Gibson was known to give permission to selected dedicated hunters and fisherman for "overnight" camping, but woe unto those invading the property to savor the cool rapid waters of the Colorado with its tree covered banks, grassy mounds and moonlight fantasies! Understandable why it was the favorite spot of the young, especially on school "Prom" night. Such events did nothing to enhance Mr. "Hoots" viewpoint or disposition. Comparatively calm, however, in contrast to his reluctance to accept the sale of his beloved Ranch. Even today, his parting words reveal his concern "They sure did mess up a fine Ranch when them folks got hold of it, didnt they?"
Since 1963, Norman and Dorothy Hurd had been interest in purchasing four or five acres of lake front property in the Hill Country for their own personal use. Living in Houston at the time, their plan was to establish a second home. Time and again, their searchings had been unsuccessful. Nonetheless, they continued.
A year later, while driving through Marble Falls, they noticed the realty sign of their old friend Clayton Nolen, Mayor of Marble Falls. Deciding to stop by for a brief visit, they inquired about the possibility of one of the peninsulas jutting out into the lake from the "Coke" Ranch being for sale. Again, the answer was negative.
A few months later while again scouting the area, they discovered an island adjacent to the "Coke" Ranch, located east of the present Horseshoe Bay Resort and Conference Center known as Gibson Island, now Island Drive.
With the help of Mayor Nolen and extensive negotiations, the island was finally purchased.
Unfortunately, their joy was short lived. Not only did they discover their property was completely surrounded the "Coke" Ranch, but there was no access except by water! They also discovered their island with no land access, was being claimed by a San Antonio oilman by adverse possession! Not uncommon in Texas law, it provides someone who lives on and cultivates a piece of land, with what is comparable to legal title. In this case, its supposed owner had planted a sprig of a banana tree approximately 10" high, scattered a few bottles and cans around, and assumed proof of possession. After months of lawyer fees and negotiations, things were anything but encouraging. Just before taking their case to court, a settlement was reached and Norman and Dorothy held claim to their land!
No sooner had their legal claim been established, than rumors were the heirs of the "Coke" Ranch might consider selling! Clayton Nolen, former mayor of Marble Falls and owner of Nolen Realty, was selected to act as on-site representative during the initial investigation, continuing on to play an important part in its development. Nolen built the first commercial building in Horseshoe Bay, the "Clayton Nolen Center," on Horseshoe Bay Blvd., now known as the "Breedlove Bldg."
Let there be no doubt as to Normans qualifications for the road ahead. Born in Brady, Texas, where he received his primary schooling, his choice of Baylor University to study law and psychology proved to be one of his most auspicious choices, for it was here he met and married his delightful devoted wife, the remarkable Dorothy Crippen of Waco, Texas.
After serving in the Air Corps during World War II, Norman returned to San Antonio to enter the finance business, later settling in Houston. Extremely successful as a lone operator in oil, minerals and real estate, he developed mines in northern California, one molybdenum, the other Tungsten. Developing claims in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado brought uranium and copper. He has developed two successful resorts (neither of which were the magnitude of Horseshoe Bay) from which he received astonishing yields. Developed mens clothing stores, jewelry businesses, a chain of watch repair shops and a trade in diamonds. Produced in pre-production on Broadway, two different Broadway productions, been in the finance business and automobile dealerships, gaming concessions in Haiti and developed certain nickel mining claims in Cuba. But most astonishing of all, borrowing $267 from his dad when he and Dorothy married, he was never a salaried man after two years. From then on, all of his many business ventures were successfully developed from "scratch" and hard work. They have two daughters, Gina, wife of Ed Furley of Houston and Cheron, wife of Bill Lucy, now living in Horseshoe Bay.
The property in question, consisted of 3,000 acres near the dam of Lake Lyndon B. Johnson, with 700 of those acres lying under water. They were subject to a flooding easement in favor of the Lower Colorado Authorities which had built and operated the chain of seven lakes reaching from Lake Buchanan west of Burnet, to Town Lake in Austin. There were over 433,000 feet of waterfront on the property.
Norman contacted his cousin, Wayne, who as involved in real estate, building, and land development in Irving, Texas, explaining his interest in purchasing, suggesting he meet with him with the possibility he too would be interested in the development of the ranch. Wayne explains: "It was Norman who was first interested. I told him I wasnt." Nonetheless, Norman invited him to visit the site at his convenience. At the same time, he announced his intent to continue with his original plan to purchase.
Arriving in Marble Falls some weeks later, Wayne was surprised at the tremendous growth in the Hill Country during his absence from the area. He immediately understood Normans enthusiasm and determination. He was ready to change his mind. He was definitely interested. It was decided at that time, if they could purchase the land, put it together and do it right, then they should do so. As Wayne was in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, Norman asked him to check out the sale "rumor", suggesting a method and approach he might use. Wayne would commute from Irving, Texas, once or twice each week for the next two years.
Wayne was born in Brady, Texas where he received his primary education. Wayne and Normans fathers are brothers. In later years, the boys trails had seldom crossed other than an occasional family holiday due to business obligations. Wayne received his engineering degree from Texas A&M. In World War II he served with the Army in the China Burma-India Theater as a member of the last regiment of the legendary "Horse" Calvary. Since 1949 he had been with the Las Colinas Corporation where he later served as president. In the developing of the 5000 acreage adjacent Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport, the University of Dallas and the Las Colinas Country Club, into a multimillion dollar community. In recent years, he has pursued wild game hunting, proof of his success, the display on his Bay Center office walls. His lovely wife Eileen is a native of Cambridge, England. They have two married daughters, Donna Sue of Irving, Texas and Donna Lynn of Georgia.
In preparation for dealing with the possible purchase of the "Coke" property, permission would be needed to enter the premises in order to make an in-depth survey. Not a simple task. Learning interested persons in the past had met with no success, Norman questioned its actual availability. However, he continued his research.
Mr. "Tiny" Gooch, Sr., partner of a prominent Ft. Worth law firm, represented the Lupton ranch interest. After numerous conferences, telephone conversations, meetings scheduled and rescheduled, permission was finally granted.
Securing consultants and architects for preparing aerial surveys and topographical studies of the multitude of elevations of the ranch, and the worlds largest renowned real-estate feasibility appraisers, retained to study how best the ranch could be developed was quite an accomplishment. Norman remained confident. Just as expected, the firms results indicated the property to be ideal for a quality resort-resident community!
Planning and aerial surveys were completed and all accumulated data was in the hands of Mr. Gooch. The owners of the ranch were now convinced to give an option to purchase on March 11, 1970, which would require an initial purchase of a portion of the ranch in 90 days.
After horrendous hours of preparation and tremendous odds, they were now prepared for serious dealings with the "Coke" Ranch heirs. Calling upon Mr. Ralph Giesecke, chairman of the board of the then Home State Bank of Marble Falls, (now First Interstate Bank) he was profoundly impressed with their data. So much so in fact, Hurd Properties, Inc. was now able to exercise and purchase the first option, which gave one year to try and arrange overall financing. This also explains why one has often heard the Hurds say: "Make no mistake about it. There would have been no Horseshoe Bay had it not been for Ralph Giesecke!"
Norman, aware if he was going to play in the big league he needed to be where they were swinging the bat immediately moved his family from Houston to "headquarters" at a hotel in Austin, later to a hotel in Burnet and finally to the development when housing was available. He and Dorothy devoted full time to their proposed acquisition. With an option to purchase, and only a long shot chance, Norman Hurd, unfamiliar with the coldness of defeat, plunged headlong into the greatest gamble of his lifetime!
While Norman was in Houston endeavoring to arrange financing, Wayne was covering Dallas. Each had received less than favorable response. Wayne recalls one old gentleman who replied: "Dont show me your pretty pictures! Its all goat pasture and theres lots of goat pasture in the country. Go find me a sales outfit that knows how to market this kind of project and a financing source to factor the paper they generate, and then come back to talk with me!" That advice proved to be the key to finding a financing source.
Financing was obtained, and construction began on May 5, 1971 with thirty days to spare before the expiration of their Lupton option.
Norman and Dorothys search for a four to five acre homesite had turned into 2400 acres, 6 miles of lake frontage, composed of elevations ranging from 831 ft. to 1100 ft. Within thirty days it would turn into over 3000 acres upon the purchase of an additional 676 acres back in the hills. Their combined land would be located in two counties, Llano and Burnet.
Those 676 acres in the hills known as the Hedges Ranch, now Horseshoe Bay south, where Mr. Hedges housed his tractor in the basement of the yet to be renovated historic Fuchs House of the area, while his friend, A.R. Crownover, leased it as a goat shelter.
Though development has encroached the area, those 676 acres are saturated with history. Looking out over the hills, one easily drifts back to yesteryears, when automobiles, trailers, nearby airport with private jets, a mausoleum and beautiful roads, were unimaginable.
During the reign of Texas President Sam Houston, soldiers serving in the War of Independence against Mexico, were awarded 2 leagues of Texas land (8856.8 acres) for their services. By 1844 many of those leagues were being offered for sale on the streets of Maklenburg, Germany at very low prices. Mayor Lueders of Marlow, had inherited a number of these certificates from his brother, who was killed in the war. Finding no buyers and no interest in using them himself, he tossed them aside, dismissing them from his mind.
For several years, Konrad Adolf Fuchs, pastor of the Koelzow Germany Church had become increasingly disillusioned with the restrictive and economic views of the church. So strong was his concern, he was seriously considering taking his wife and children and immigrating to Texas. Learning of his friends interest, Mayor Lueders gifted his leagues to the good pastor.
On November 13, 1845, Pastor Adolf, wife Luise Ruemker and seven children, Lulu, Herman, Conrad, William, Ino, Ulrike, and Ottilie, embarked on the ship "Gerhard Herman" for Texas. Landing at the Port of Galveston, on January 10, 1846, they immediately boarded a small steamer traveling through Buffalo Bayou to Houston, where the next eight days was spent recovering from the ravages of their voyage. Their anticipated destination would be Independence, Texas, where they were told lived those who could assist6 in legalizing their grants.
Drawn by five pair of oxen, the monotony of dry shrub covered unsettled land passed beneath their wagon wheels. Chill winds and the fear of Indian attacks were their ever-present concern. There were moments of doubt as to the wiseness of their gamble. They had no choice but to continue onward. Never reaching Independence, confusing directions had led them to the small settlement of Cat Springs. True to their heritage, the inhabitants were so warm, hospitable and helpful, the Fuchs family went no further. This would be their home.
Purchasing a couple of acres of land which neighbors plowed for him, it was soon planted with peach and plum trees. Peach stones, known to bear in 3 years, were added to onions, peas, and corn, to which was added 13 hens, a cat dog and a cow.
The family remained in Cat Springs for eight years. During that time, daughter Lulu married William Von-Roeder. Two months later she tragically died with an acute fever of unknown origin. The Adolf Fuschs added another son to their family in 1848whom they named Benjamin. Life continued to be no more than acceptable and bearable.
In place of the paradise they expected, Texas was confusing and disappointing. Wife Luise, a kind and gentle woman, was the daughter of a prominent German merchant where her life of plenty in spacious comfortable surroundings was in stark contrast to that of an immigrant farmers wife on the frontier. Lady that she was, she never mentioned her former life. None the less, Adolf and his family were deeply grateful for the manner they had been received. They never forgot all they learned from those good people who remained their life long friends.
Pastor Fuchs held three university degrees, spoke six languages and was an accomplished musician and theologian. He was not equipped with the necessary skills needed to prosper in his new life. It had become evident the family could not make a living on farming alone. Drawing upon his tremendous musical talent, he taught music in the grand homes along the Brazos and nearby Baylor University.
After 8 years of struggling, Adolf finally received claim to this league grants. Retaining 100 leagues along the Brazos, he sold the remaining smaller leagues. At about the same time, he came into possession of some 620 acres in Burnet County, Texas. It was decided they should sell out and move on. Adolf Wennmoth purchased their Cat Springs land for $500.00, and the family made the move which would be their last.
Settling on the south bank of the Colorado River in Burnet County, in the vicinity of what is now "Oak Lane" the land was referred to as the "Armin Matern Ranch", now Cottonwood Shores. The land was purchased from Walter Giesecke for $2,500.00 who had purchased it from Matern.
Necessity had made Conrad, their eldest son, a lover of the soil. There seemed no end to his newly found abilities. Conrad made the seemingly impossible possible. Gathering the family together, it was he who organized the planting, the fence repair, the building of their log cabin home, the allocation of duties surrounding livestock and the girls responsibilities, all of which seemed to make life easier.
Joining in their new found happiness were illustrious members of the area. The Gieseckes, Metzgers, Vanhagens, Richters, Wennmoths, Heinrich Von Struve (former Russian officer) and his father Hoghanna Gustav Von Struve (Russian envoy in Karlsruhe), Schroeders, and Eberlings.
One late afternoon in 1860, two lovely young ladies rode in on horseback from Black Springs, in Fayette County. They were Anna Perlitz and Luis Romberg. Accompanied by Luises father, Johan Romberg and her uncle, Getrulius Kellersberger. They came to learn more of Burnet County of which much interest was being shown throughout their area.
Soon Conrad paired with Anna, while brother Willie paired with Luise. It was the first time since their arrival the boys had seriously enjoyed a bit of feminine pulchritude. They worked so hard, it was as if fun had been rationed. Every hour was filled with boating., fishing, tramping through the rugged roadless countryside and even included a wagon trip to the fabulous falls (Marble Falls was not established until 1879). Those glorious hours of singing and exploring passed all to quickly. Their most welcome guests must return home. The boys soon learned they could not remove the memory of those ladies from their minds, nor did they make any effort to do so.
Cited at the Texas Hemisphere in 1868, Pastor Adolf Fuchs' citation reads:
"Typical of the pioneering drive of the Texas Germans for publicly supported education, was the petition of Pastor Adolf to the Texas legislator for financial aid to the Cat Springs School in 1949. This was the forerunner of a petition by Texas Germans for general state support of public schools, the first promotion of this new accepted practice in Texas. Though he left the ministry to try farming, his real love was education. He was among the first persons on the staff of Baylor University".
The good Pastor Adolf died in 1885. One year later his devoted wife, Luise joined him. Buried in the family cemetery on Oak Lane, 2000 ft. from the south bank of the Colorado River at Cottonwood Shores, their final resting place is shared with Bennie Fuchs and wife Emma Kellersberger, Herman Fuchs and wife Carolyn Romberg, Conrad L. Fuchs, Roland B. Fuchs, Coney A. Graves, Adolf Varnhagen and wife Ino Fuchs, Ulrich Varnhagen and wife Hedwig Pressler, Cora Luis Vonstsruve, A.W. Fox and Henry Krumn. Only the remains of a chimney of the Fuchs family home can be seen on the weed infested historic land, located between the cemetery and the Conover fence , a neglected unkempt tribute to an illustrious Texas pioneer family.
Prior to the marriage of Conrad L. Fuchs to Anna Perlitz at Black Springs, Texas in 1861, Conrad had purchased the following land, signed by Texas Governor F.R. Lubbock:
"Grant to C.L. Fuchs in Burnet County survey No. 419, 160 acres of public domain on the south side of the Colorado River about 16 miles south, 24 degrees west, from the town of Burnet, C.L. Fuchs having purchased and paid for same approved February 1, 1858, and the act amendatory thereof approved February 1, 1860 beginning at the S.W. corner of the Ferdenand Lueders Survey, hereby relinquishes to him (C.L. Fuchs) all rights and title to said land."
High on the sloping flat of a rocky hill top, lay the site where skies and the green juniper forest, stubborn tangled brush and thickets met. For more than a century it had commanded a view of the Texas valley of scenic hills. Magnetic, yet frightening, the sun illuminates the sparse flow of waters of the creek below. I close my eyes as I scan the scenic terrain, straining my mind to capture the harsh, rugged sacrificing life of those who dared to believe in tomorrow. What courage, what strength, brings a man t6o make such sacrifices? Faith.
Conrad and Anna would eventually build their home here. In the meantime, just 20 yards away, a log cabin would suffice. Its lone rocky path surrounded by raw unpenetrable thickets. Vines entwined like Jacobs Ladder, snared the tempted who dared penetrated their mysteries. This historic location is in Horseshoe Bay South on Stagecoach and Mountain Dew.
Six months after the marriage of Conrad and Anna on October 12,, 1861 brother Willie and Louise Romberg were wed. They too settled on Tiger Creek, just one-quarter mile below Conrad and Anna, and a mile from Brother Hermans place (now Henry Krumm Home). While Willie and Louise were clearing away a dense thicket on their land, Luise wrote "A large old live oak tree appeared, its thick trunk rising on a slant before it stretched upward. On this slant the Indians had cut steps to make it easier to climb the tree. Apparently a camp, a little to the front stood several large poplars under which were visible the stakes where the Indians slept. The trees had been partially stripped of their bark and the thick bark had been placed within the stakes and used for beds. There were also drinking vessels made of horn."
Men busied themselves with providing grains, fish and game for the table, planting fields, feeding cattle and building fences, while the women were sewing suits for their men, clothing for the family, preparing meals, gathering wild berries for jelly made with honey (sugar was not available), washing, ironing, cooking and anything else their willing hands could do to make life a little easier.
Shopping was drudgery. Sixteen miles to Burnet, Texas, the closest village, was by horseback. Crossing the river slightly north of the bridge (at what is now Marble Falls) and continuing on through Mormon Mills. Only when needed to transfer freight, did the men make the trip by wagon. A stop at a branch at Mormon Mills to refresh their horses, where the Mormon colony washed out pure gold in 1850 and 1851, was a welcomed rest spot. The Mormons, on their move to Utah, left without fixing to make it pay. This alluvial mine has not been worked since that time.
Time consuming, the need for making soap. First they collected fat until they thought they had enough. While waiting for the fat, a wooden hopper was built in which they collected stove and fireplace ashes. Over the ashes they poured sufficient boiling water to make the lye drip out the bottom. When an egg would float on the top of the drip, the fat was added. The mixture was put in a big kettle in the yard and boiled until they felt they had hit upon a usable mixture, which sometimes took days. Finally, it was placed into wood molds, and when set, cut into usable sizes. Bread making was a daily chore. First the corn was ground in a steel mill. Coarse, but healthy, it was filling, and was cooked in the fireplace, or stove if you were one of the fortunate few who owned one. Coffee was unobtainable. Different substitutes, such as grape seeds, black persimmon seeds or roasted potatoes. The latter not always available could be roasted and stored for emergencies.
These were uneasy times. The frontier was not well guarded and the Indians constantly returned here and there, stealing food, horses, and killing white folks who got in their way. Usually alone, because Conrad and Brother Willie "RAN" a large herd of cattle, Louise frequently stayed with Conrads' wife Anna. One day, Ino, Conrads' sister from Cottonwood Shores, decided to start out on horseback one moonlight morning to visit the girls. Learning she had ridden off alone, brother Hermann decided to try and overtake her and persuade her to cancel her dangerous plans. Between their house and the Little Castle Mountain, he noticed many fresh horse tracks. Indian horses!
Following the tracks, over the Colorado, he found a discarded Indian saddle and rocks still damp from the horses wet6 feet. Arriving at Annas soon after Ino had arrived, her learned she was aware she was being followed. Remembering she had hear Indians believed , "Those with voice that sing are protected by the great spirits", she sang all the way with her full loud voice and a prayer in her heart. It worked!
The Indians of Burnet and Llano Counties were a source of never ending sufferings. Violent killings of women and children to say nothing of babies was a constant concern for the men when fields and cattle needed their attention. It is written, "Burnet County suffered more from Indian raids than any county on the frontiers". Known to be in the area at one time or another were the Lipans (Apaches), Kiowas, Yojnare, Mayeye, Yerplame, Caddos, Erripeaine and Comanche (which Im told, means snake in the grass). Some tribes such as the Caddos, were not violent. They had permanent homes, but roamed all over the state on hunting trips. The Comanches were the most violent, continuing their reign of terror until 1870. The dense undergrowth of the Hill Country, their refuge, made it almost impossible to track them down once they disappeared into the hundreds of paths and trails. Generally, the most effective way, was to catch them on paths leading to or from watering spots and crossings along the creeks and rivers.
While speaking with Norman on the subject of Pack Saddle Mountain (located just west of Horseshoe Bay) and its famous Indian raid, he recalled seeing an account of that raid on a wall of the office of Mr. Hubert Schnelle, then president of Home State Bank, some years ago. Contacting them, Mrs. Schnelle graciously issued an invitation to come to their ranch and she would assist me in copying the plaques contents. Its contents, by Mr. Bill Hoffman, follow.
Indian Raid on Pack Saddle Mountain
"A pack of 21 Comanche Indians had slipped into Llano and established a camp on Pack Saddle Mountain from which vantage point they proceeded to reconnoiter the valley below in order to determine the best location plunder.
Later in the evening in 1873 as the cattle were coming in off the range and milling around the corral at the Moss Ranch the persistent bellowing of a cow attracted the attention of the ranch hand and upon investigating they found the shaft of an arrow protruding from her body. It was the first indication the people had of the hostile Indians in the vicinity.
It so happened there were eight cowboys at this ranch. W.B. Moss and his two brothers, J.R. and Obry Moss, Eli Lloyd and Archer Marsh. Early the next morning each man armed with rifle and six shooter rode off in a wide circle in an endeavor to pick up the trail of the Indians.
They had gone perhaps seven or eight miles when they came across signs of a fresh trail which appeared to have been made by about 20 mounted Indians. Although out numbered, the cowboys were determined to track down and find the Indians at any cost. Following the trail, which led off in the direction of Pack Saddle Mountain they soon, arrived at its base where a trail merged with a well-worn path leading to the top of the mountain. Since the path showed signs of recent travel, the boys were confident that they would find the Indians somewhere on the summit.
After first checking their arms, they began the ascend making as much speed possible over the rough trail until they reached a point at about half way to the summit where they discovered a lone Indian perched on top of a ledge of rock, left there as a look-out, no doubt to watch the valley below and guard the approach to the camp. When first discovered, the Indian had a small looking glass in his hand and was busily engaged in painting his face with stripes of black and white. So engrossed in his work, he did not notice the approach of the boys until they were almost upon him. Then he dropped his mirror and with a cry of alarm, dove into the underbrush. They followed as fast as the rough terrain would permit and after a short distance came out on top of a flat plateau or mesa.
The Indian camp was located at one end and their horses staked out to graze on the other. Taking in the situation at a glance the boys dashed between the camp and the horses, in order to cut the Indians off from their mounts. But the Indians having been warned of the cowboys approach by the sentinel, were waiting for them, and with the very first volley four of the men fell to the ground. Three were wounded and were put out of action, leaving only five men to carry on the fight. Hastily dismounting, and taking such covers the terrain afforded, they turned to face the yelling Indians just as they began their charge in a desperate effort to dislodge the cowboys and regain possession of their horses. But the valiant five forged such a deadly fire upon them that the broke and ran for cover. Again and again they performed and made their charge only to be driven off by accurate and deadly fire of the defenders.
Finally they retired behind some rocks and the Chief could be heard exhorting his braves to make another attempt to drive them from the mountain. Shortly, the Chief appeared and placing himself at the head of his yelling braves, charged headlong at the little band of defenders. But at the first volley, they again broke and ran, except their Chief who continued to forge straight ahead until he fell dead almost at their feet, his body pierced by half a dozen rifle balls. The surviving braves seeing their Chief fall gave up the fight and could be heard retreating through the brush carrying their dead with them, but leaving their Chief and two of his braves, dead on the mountain top.
The cowboys did not attempt to follow the retreating Indians but instead turned their attention to their wounded comrades who were carried to the John Duncan Ranch, located two miles from the scene of the fight. All eventually survived and recovered from their wounds. This was the last Indian raid to take place within the compounds of Llano County."
While Conrad and Anna were preparing to construct their permanent dwelling, the Civil War, still in progress, caused them to postpone their plans. Conrad and Brother Willie decided to move their young families to Blackjack Springs for safety and involve themselves in the war effort. Willie made army hats at a La Grange factory while Conrad went on to Houston to join a confederate artillery unit. After the war their families were reestablished at Tiger Creek, where Conrads first project was a steam mill used to grind wheat, corn and rye into flour and to saw boards and shingles for their home, located in Horseshoe Bay South.
By late 1870 their tall, stately, rock home gracing the beloved hill top, was alive with laughter, singing and activity of their six children; Frederick, Adolf, Werner, Bennie, Ina and Ino. (Two sons, Conrad and Roland died of Diphtheria when young). Nestled on a sloping hill leading down to their, so named, Tiger Springs, the main floor consisted of two room on the east and two on the west separated down the middle by a long wide hallway. Each room had a fireplace. The one in the kitchen was constructed with a higher hearth to facilitate cooking. A stairway led to the upper room. Another stairway led to the lower level, formed in an angle. All supporting beams, timber and wall studs were cedars. Floor joists were oaks. All sawed from Conrads mill. Several huge cedar logs were put in place to hold the floor of a porch planned to cross what is now considered the rear of the house but never completed by Fuchs. An impressive feature, was the outside rock steps to the kitchen. Each level was a perfect half circle. Limestone, from a nearby kiln was burned to produce lime. Mixed with water and sand it became mortar, used to hold the stones in the house together. Today the walls are as sturdy as the day they were built. Proof their lime mix was truly a permanent bond. They used the same process, of different proportions, to plaster over the inside stones in all rooms, except the northwest room.
Conrad routed a channel of water from Tiger Spring, below the rear of the house, into the corral to provide water for all his stock. A large two-story barn on the north side of the corral was fitted with a wheel on the outside of the upper story. A rope was placed over the wheel with a hook on the other end. A man on the ground would put the hook into the bale of hay and pull it to the second story loft. A short, short distance southeast of the springs was once the site of Conrads steam powered cotton gin press. The steam from that boiler also powered the sawmill and gristmill for grinding grain for the entire area. Northeast of the sawmill was the press used to squeeze juice from sugar cane, which in turn was boiled into syrup. To the west of the spring was the site of the Blacksmith shop. Henry Krumm recalled when he was a boy, around 11 years of age, World War I was in progress, and all the lumber and iron works of all mill outer houses on the place were hauled away for use in the war efforts.
The present doorway, now used for the front door, was in fact the back door. The front door was where what is now considered the back of the house where the upper porch is built, the front of the house faced the springs and buildings, and the road ran through there, instead of where it does today.
The more I thought about that road the more curious I became. Finally, consulting nearby Tony and Betty De Lisle about the possibility of a road anywhere nearby that would be approximately one mile from the old Krumm place, "Well, perhaps", responded Tony thoughtfully. "If you got out our driveway and turn to the left, there' an old road leads right up to the property line of the old Krumm place."" History had been validated!
Tiger Mill Post Office was opened on September 2, 1876 in the Fuchs home with Conrad as postmaster. It was in operation fifteen years before Marble Falls was founded and was on the mail route between Burnet and Willow City. In 1895 brother Hermann was named postmaster, and moved the post office to his house on Highway 2147, now the Krumm Ranch. The post office was officially closed November 26, 1901.
Using his brother Conrads floor plan, Herman began building his stone house in 1877 and completed it in 1879, reportedly built on an extensive Indian burial ground. When Henry Krumm became its owner, he never discounted the possibility, though he never ceased searching. His only findings were caches of arrowheads and bits of bullet shells.
Herman Fuchs and wife Caroline were a very affluent family. On the land surrounding their three-story brick home, (now known as the Henry Krumm Place on the left side of Highway 2147 leading from Marble Falls before the Wirtz Dam). They imported, introduced and raised angora goats from Turkey into this country, shipping them all over the states. His articles in German and English appeared in every known magazine and publication pertaining to farming and goat breeding.
Conrads wife, Anna, taught school in their home to her six children, Frieda and Abano (Hermanns children), Ulrich, (son of Adolf and Ino Fuuchs Varnhagen) and Ullie, Lulu and Hermann (children of Bennie Fuchs). Anna often expressed her need for a bible to teach the children. Her neighbor Adolf Varnhagen fulfilled that need by presenting her with a large leather bound German Bible. Years later this bible was in the hands of his granddaughter, Ino Tatsch of Harper. In 1987 she and her daughter Richie called me to their home in Harper and presented me with that same bible. Some years later, in 1988, upon the founding of Horseshoe Bay Library & Museum, it was placed in a prominent place for the public to view.
Conrad and Anna Fuchs were very successful during their life at Tiger Mill and continued to acquire land. In 1879 recorded deed records show some 864 acres in Burnet County, all of which were deeded to his wife. More land was acquired in 1890, but Conrad retained only the 200 acres; the original 160 acres and the 40 acres of the Harrell land adjoining his property.
The Fuchs compound was a thriving privately owned community known as Tiger Mill. A hub of pioneering industry surrounded with ranching, farming, a gristmill, sawmill, cotton gin, molasses press, lime kiln, blacksmith shop, post office and school it was a popular community center.
Handsome, self-sacrificing, devoted, generous Conrad deserved more than he received from his life. In 1898, his beloved wife Anna insisted upon a separation. Reluctantly granting her request, she returned to Germany, with the younger children. Undoubtedly, Conrad and Anna were faithful to their union. Apparently they never found that special warmth and security love provides, they did, however, accept that rare gift of unique friendship, to which one shows great respect and devotion.
The same year Conrad died at the age of 64; February 16, 1898. History varies as to the cause. Some say while assisting a survey crew he fell from an Oak tree and met his death. Others believe while repairing his windmill he fell. Either way you choose, you will agree, it was a tragic ending to a remarkable man.
Conrads will named his son Adolf as Executor of the Estate, which consisted of two tracts of land, one 160 acres plus one of 40, together valued at $500.00; one dwelling house and outhouses and fences valued at $500.00; and household and kitchen furnishing at $20.00 . On March 26, 1899 the property and holdings were sold to Thomas M. Yett and J. Reed Yett for $1500.00. The Yetts owned it until October 29, 1914 when T.M. Yett deeded his share in the Fuch Ranch to J.R. Yett.
On October 26, 1925, H.T. Ellison bought 918.8 acres of J.R. Yetts land for $1.00 per acres, which included the Conrad Fuchs Homestead. On January 1, 1929, Ellison sold the land at the same price to J.A. Holland of Brady, Texas. Unfortunately these were depression times. After three years of ownership, Holland had to let it go back to Mr. Ellison on February 3, 1932. On August 25, 1934, Mr. Ellison sold the acreage to George Waits for $643.16. The depression had reduced the value of the land to only seventy cents an acre!
On August 26, 1940 Mr. and Mrs. Roy F. Gunn purchased the George Waits land and promptly sold 855.44 acres of it to the John A. Numans on September 9, 1942 for $13,000.00. By September 9, 1947 just five years later, the Numans sold it to the C.T. Hedges for $35,000.00. In June of 1972, 676 acres of the Hedges property was sold to Kingsland, Inc., now known as Horseshoe Bay South.
And What Became of Conrads Wife and Children?
Fred, the eldest, owned and operated a successful farm near Knippa, Texas. He never married. It was here his mother returned from Germany to live her last days. She died in Austin, Texas at the age of 84 years while under medical care. She is buried in Knippa, Texas.
Lena, a teacher, married Charlie Knippa, of Knippa, Texas, where they settled.
Ino, a teacher in Karnes County, remained single. In later years, she lived at her brother Freds farm at Knippa until her death.
Adolf, a piano turner in Austin, was encouraged by his Uncle Willie Fuchs, to build a granite quarry at Lueders. With Willies help, his investment was most successful. He never married.
Ben, the youngest, owned a general store in Da Costa, near Victoria where he was also postmaster. In 1920 he moved to Lueders, where Adolf built a store building and home for him. He operated this general merchandise store until after Adolfs death in 1947.
Werner and Ben operated the stone quarry in Lueders after Adolfs death.
Of the six children, only Werner and Ben married. Werner married Sarah Miller, and after the quarrying experience at Lueders, he served as a broker, conducting the San Antonio office of the Empire Loan Company. He was a member of the Beethoven Maennerchor, (Mens Choir) in San Antonio. Ben married Effie Pridgen and continued operating the quarry until his death.
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IQ Consulting, Horseshoe Bay, Texas - All rights reserved.