The Zuehl Family
By Robert & Billie Zuehl
The Zuehl family has been a prominent influence in New Berlin and the surrounding communities for seven generations, having immigrated to this area of Texas in 1846. The original Zuehls settled mainly in two local areas: the town of Zuehl and the area between New Berlin and La Vernia called Zuehl Crossing. In the not so distant past, many local residents were students of Enid Zuehl, (wife of Edgar Zuehl Sr.), who taught at the New Berlin School for a number of years, and later at La Vernia school. Elsie Zuehl, wife of Robert Zuehl Sr. is a life time resident of this community and active in Elm Creek Lutheran Church, as well as many other community organi~tion5. Their son, Robert and his wife Billie are key players in the New Berlin Community Club and the New Berlin City Council. The first Zuehl to immigrate to Texas was Carl Christian Zuehl (Zuhl in Germany) who was born in Tribsees, Strausund, near Griefswld, in Pommern, Prussia (now in northeast Germany) on March 7, 1797. His wife Johanna Maria Wreede, was also born in Tribsees on May 4, 1800. They were married November 22, 1822 at St Thomas Lutheran Church in Tribsees when Carl was 25 and Maria was 22 years old. To this couple, five children were born. (all in Tribsees) and baptised in St. Thomas Lutheran Church. They were Fritz (March 11' 1824), Wilhelmine (February 8, 1826), Wilhelm (May 4, 1828), Johann Carl Herman (died in infancy 1830), and August Conrad Elias (1832-1834). Carl Christian Zuehl was a tailor by trade and provided a substantial living for his family. The eldest son, Fritz, was apprenticed as a butcher's helper in Germany. In 1846, Carl decided to do what many other German families was doing, and emmigrated to Texas. He believed his sons would have a better future in America, after hearing so much about Texas from other families who had already gone over.
The following account of the Zuehl family's immigration and resettlement in Texas was written by Wilhelm Zuehl for the Neu Braunfelser Zietung in New Braunfels, Texas. At the time he was in business in Zuehl, Texas and was Postmaster.
Ii was in the year 1846 that my father got the idea to emigrate to America. House and business were sold, Chest and boxes packed, and we were off. We engaged a wagoner, who, after an eight day troublesome trip put us off at Bremen. Here we boarded the two-masted "Mercur", naturally a sailing vessel, there were no, steam vessels as yet. The voyage was a slow one. For days, the vessel would lay absolutely still, for there was not a breeze. Three months were required for the voyage. As we finally reached Galveston, we had to anchor way out in the bay for the water was to shallow for the vessel. We could see Galveston in the distance. Now came a so-called brig, a one-master, which was to take us to Indianola. We were 60 immigrants on board, and whenever the brig ran into a sand bar, which happened quite often, we had to run back and forth from one end to the other until the vessel again was bouyant. At Indianola, a boat came which was to take us with our baggage to the land. In order to do It as fast as possible, a number of boxes were thrown overboard and fastened to the boat with a rope. We were to go into the "Vereinshaus" a kind of a shed, but because the cholera raged in it and because it already was overfilled with people, my mother did not want to go in. For a few days, we camped among our possessions. When it started getting cold, Father and Mother sewed sheets of linen together to make a tent, which we attached, on the north side of the shed. When we had the tent put up, a man came to my mother and said "DearMadam, you put the tent up on the wrong side of the shed should we get a Norther." Mother answered: North winds should not be any more destructive than other winds. "We were Soon to find out. After a few days a "Norther" with rain came. The tent was torn into shreds "Ach!" our Mother moaned "What is to become of us!" Sympathetic neighbors took us in. My brother Fritz and I had to wrap ourselves in scraps of linen and with teeth chattering sit on the boxes so that these would not be stolen.
Father had bought a lot and had a house built on it in which he conducted a tailor business. Brother and I hired out on an Fnglish surveying vessel, my brother at $16 and I at $12 a month. We liked it very much on the vessel, and although we could not speak any English we were well treated. Six weeks we stayed on the vessel. When we returned to our house, we discovered strangers living in it. They told us they had rented the house for $120 annual rental. Our parents had gone on to New Braunfels and we were to follow. That was our greatest wish-but how to reach there. Fortunately for us, a man, Adam Wuest came from New Braunfels bring letters. Mr. Wuest said we could go with him; he even would let us ride at times. He only had one horse. So we departed for New Braunfels. At Peach Creek my brother hired himself out to a Frenchman who operated a sort of lnn at $10 a month. Mr. Wuest and I went on. For the second night out we camped on the San Marcos. The following night we had planned to sleep in Seguin; however, when we arrived, It was yet quite early in the after-noon, andMr. Wuest, inquired if I would like to go on, I answered yes. We covered 48 miles in that last day. He did not know where my parents lived. Mr. Wuest only had a one-room house in which he lived with his young wife. There was no room for me. But Mrs. Wuest knew how to solve this problem. There was a pile of cedar logs out In the street. She provided a bed for me on the logs, and I slept the first night in New Braunjels out in the street, and that even on main street,for the Wuest's house was what now is the Homann Saddlery business site. (Now, the C. J Haag Office Building). The next morning I inquired where my parents lived; and just think! They lived next door near to where today the New Braunfelser Zeitung "Druckerel", (print shop) is (Half a block from where he slept). My mother died of cholera the following year. Mother had gone to nurse my sister who had contracted cholera. Mother died the second day she was there. We waited until my sister had completely recovered before we told her of mother's death.
The fo11owing information was excerpted from the Zuehl Family Book, published by Joyce Zaiontz in 1994.
Fritz married Wilhelmine (Hermine) VonKarbach in 1849 (Von was dropped after arriving in Texas). After the death of his mother, Fritz and his wife Hermine moved to the Santa Clara Communitv. His father and brother, Wilhelm went with them to the newly purchased farm. In 1879, Fritz and Hermine bought a farm which was located three miles west of the hamlet called New Berlin. The land bordered the upper end by the "big road" to La Vernia, (now paved road 775). The lower end lay in the gentle reaches of the Cibolo Creek. Fritz and Hermine moved to their new homestead with their family of six children, including Louisa, who had married august Gutz when she was sixteen. Louisa, August and their baby, Fritz Gutz, lived with the Zuehls until August completed the business of buying the place that lay just across the creek from his father-In-Law. Someone was always stopping by the Zuehl home any time of the year and always found a cordial welcome. The home was on the Cibolo Road crossing known as "Zuehl's Crossing", that connected at St. Hedwig with the old San Antonio road, now known as part ofthe historical Old Chihuahua Road. Stories are told about how a table was always set on the east portico of the house with coffee cake ready for relatives and friends who would stop by. The Zuehl's were blessed with seven children,' Louisa (1850), Bertha (1854), Albert (1855), Emil (1857), Charles (1858), Otto (1860), and Ottilie (1863). The children, like a number of other German children whose families had moved in and settled the area, were educated at Professor Gustav Conrad's school (The school was located in the New Berlin area). The Zuehls were a hospitable family and nearly always had one or two outsiders at their table. These travelers could have heen passing through to San Antonio, or cotton buyers, as Fritz owned and operated a cotton gin on the farm. Fritz was a character of the first waters, with a great sense of humor and was well liked over the countryside. His wife was the daughter of a prominent German family who stood high in church circles. She was friendly with a more reserved personality. Fritz was a great reader and would often "read out loud" to his family on winter evenings by the fireside, while his wife and daughters mended, sewed, or knitted. During farming and harvesting season, Fritz was not noted for a great affection with laborious tasks. He was, never the less, well-versed in the art of gentle persuasion. He would sit on the portico and watch the farm help down in the "creek land". Rather than pick up and hold the long spy glass while watching the workers (which he would do between chapters of the book he was reading), he had one of the boys drive a forked stick in the ground at the portico edge. Thus he rested the telescope in the fork of the stick, and it certainly beat holding it. Fritz died on March 19, 1895. Hermine died on February 20, 1908. both lie buried in Concrete Cemetery (formally Bethesda Cemetery) in guadalupe county near the Wilson county line on FM775.
The epitaph on Grandfather Fritz Zuehl's tombstone says: "Im Grab ist Ruh" (In Grave is Rest). This is consoling, but the records show that this funloving and humorous did not need the grave to find rest... he loved every day of his life in this world.
What is left of the original farm (originally 600 acres) has been in our family for 129 years. In 1971, it was registered in the Texas Family Land Heritage program. At that time it had been divided into three sections. The Zuehl Farm, the Broken Heart Farm, and B & B Farm. At the present time the land is owned by a 5th generation Zuehl family, with 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th generations living on the property. Our family is descendant from Albert Zuehl (who was the son of Fritz Zuehl) born December 14, 1855 and died November 27, 1893. Albert is buried in the Concrete Cemetery, Guadalupe county, Texas, along with his wife Hermine Haenel Zuehl (born July 26, 1860; died September 29, 1948).