Founding Family-The Tewes Family by Kathy Hale
Carl August Edward "Ed" Tewes had a great impact on the settlement and founding of the German community of New Berlin. He made significant contributions in education, commerce and government service.
Ed Tewes was born in Furstenberg, Waldeck, Province of Hessen, Germany on March 16, 1842. He immigrated to Texas at the age of twelve with his mother Christiana Emden Tewes, age 44; his brother Louis, age 8; and half-sisters, Auguste, age 18 and Marie, age 16. They came to America on the U.S.S. Minerva, which landed at fort New Orleans, Louisiana on June 26, 1854.
As had most of the German immigrants who settled in Central Texas, the family took a ship to Galveston and then a smaller boat to Indianola, Texas. Then they went by stagecoach to New Braunfels to join the father and older brother. His father, Louis Johann Christian Ludwig Tewes, had previously immigrated to Texas with his eldest son, William, on the ship Colchi in 1846. They had been in Texas eight years prior to the arrival of the rest of the family.
Within a year (1854), Ed's mother died, probably of the dysentery epidemic of that time. She was buried at Yorktown. A year later (1855), Ed and his father were ambushed by Commanches between the Cibolo Creek and San Antonio. Ed hid in a mesquite thicket and saved himself, but his father was scalped. Ed took his father's body to Lindeneau in a wagon (a 3 day journey) and buried him. He and his brother, Louis, were orphaned. Ed's half-sister Auguste, by then married, took Ed into her home. His other half-sister, Mattie, took Louis.
Ed Tewes served in the Civil War for three years as a Confederate soldier. He was a member of Company One of the Third Texas Volunteers. He joined the regiment in San Antonio; the headquarters then were located where the Gunter Hotel now stands. As a member of the unit, he marched from San Antonio to Fort Ringold, Fort Brown, Fort Davis, and from there to Arkansas and on to Louisiana.
After the war he returned to New Berlin and began building his sizable business holdings.
His first store was so small it was called the Speckbox. Later, a larger store and dance hall were built. He was a self-made man and his wealth and influence in the New Berlin area can be clearly traced through records of his transactions at the Guadalupe County Courthouse, Seguin, Texas.
The first recorded deed involving Edward Tewes was recorded in August of 1867, when he was granted a mortgage by J.J. Dunn for horses and mules for his stables.
In 1870 he purchased 137 acres on the Cibolo Creek from Rudolph Hellman. Family history indicated that the house was built prior to Tewes' marriage to Texanna Wooten Newton of Guadalupe County in 1876. Four children were born in the house: Annie, 1877; Walter Edward, 1878; Mary Auguste, 1879; Robert Emden, 1880.
As one of the original settlers, Tewes was instrumental in founding the town of New Berlin in 1868. Over the course of the next 15 years, he amassed 1,356 acres in and around the town of New Berlin. He established three general stores: one in New Berlin, one in LaVernia, and one in Karnes City. "In the Beginning: A History of Marion", indicates that after 1883, Tewes also had a store in Marion.
He was appointed Postmaster of New Berlin on April 1, 1878 and held this position for 26 consecutive years.
In 1891, he and several others petitioned the county to organize a school community at New Berlin. The petition was granted; New Berlin School Community #53 was established and the school was built on land donated by Tewes. Tewes was appointed as a trustee and served as such until he moved to San Antonio in 1894. His photo still hangs inside the school, which is now the Community Center of New Berlin.
In 1894, Ed and Texanna Tewes moved with their children to the King William District of San Antonio. They kept the house in New Berlin. Emil Brietzke occupied the house and ran the store at New Berlin, but Tewes retained the room in the rear of the house for Mr. Tewes when he came to New Berlin to check the store.
Ed Tewes died in December of 1936, leaving the 'country home' at New Berlin to his son Walter, who had been born in what is now the kitchen of the house in 1878. He and his wife, Elsie Clara Wagner Tewes, owned and occupied the house for the remainder of their lives. After their deaths, the house was sold. It had been in the Tewes family for one hundred years.
Additionally, the house is architecturally significant because it exemplifies early Texas pioneer techniques using indigenous materials. It has been completely restored by the current owners, Mike and Kathy Hale following the guidelines for historic restoration.
The house received Texas Historic Landmark designation in 1996 from the Texas Historical Commission and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 9, 1997.