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The Story of Bulverde


Pieper’s Settlement



August Anton Pieper arrived in Texas soon after the first settlers came to New Braunfels.  Leaving Germany on September 21st 1845, he arrived at Galveston on November 25th 1845 on the Ship “George Dillus.”  He was a single man of 21, the son of Johann Pieper and Catherin Nee Gable.  August was born June 13th 1824 in Klein Bergwedel, Hanover, Germany; the oldest of 4 children.  The others, 2 sisters and a brother, came to Texas a few years after he arrived.  The 1850 census of Comal County, Texas shows August Pieper living with the Julius Dresel Family at New Braunfels, his occupation listed as laborer.  It was soon after this census was taken that he settled on Cibolo Creek.


August became good friends of Johann Kabelmacher and Heinrich Voges.  They hauled freight and settlers to Fredericksburg.  They often camped at the low-water crossing on Cibolo Creek, which is the Mexican word for “buffalo.”  This creek is the boundary border between Comal and Bexar Counties, and courses through very rugged terrain.  They soon had friends among the  Indians, who came into camp to drink coffee and smoke their tobacco.  One morning they were having coffee, talking about not having received their 160 acres yet.  Pieper had bought a land contract in Germany in 1843, Certificate #484, for 320 acres in the Fischer-Mueller Grant, but so many new settlers were arriving he had not yet received the land.  The men talked about how the government was giving land to those who worked and improved it for three years.  They were sitting on land beside Cibolo Creek that no one wanted because it was not a steady flowing stream, and water was important to the settlers.  Only after a rain did it have deep water holes.  The German geologist, Dr. Ferdinand Roemer, in his account of his 1845 visit to Texas, speaks of crossing this dry stream many times, passing between New Braunfels and Fredericksburg.  He reported that just below the dry-crossing there was a waterhole where horses could obtain water, and then after a thunder storm the stream swelled so that it could not be crossed on horseback.  The men liked the place and decided to try and settle along the stream.  Since Mr. Kabelmacher was a surveyor it was no problem.  They surveyed each a 160 acre tract, and began improvements.  Pieper set up his tent brought from Germany.  Kabelmacher and Voges had wives and children at New Braunfels.  They worked long hours building rock fences.  August build a long lean to shed, preparing for the coming winter, and acquired a milk cow.  Then he began digging a well.  He built pens for the livestock and lean-tos for cattle, grubbed up trees and bushes to clear the land for crops and a garden.  Deer was plentiful for his meat.  He began building a herd of longhorn cattle.

His friend, Johann Kablemacher, had married the widow of Christian Kamm, Ne Sophie Theis on December 12th1847.  She had 3 children; Johanna Henrietta, age 17, Heinrich, age 9 and Carl, age 7.  Mr Christian Kramm and two of their children, Helena and Johann, apparently died at sea on the crossing.  After she married Johann Kabelmacher inTexas, they had two daughters, Wilhemine and Friedricke.  Wilhelmine died at age 16 and Friedricke married Fritz Leesch and had 11 children.  Johanna Henrietta was born on December 22nd 1830, and Gross Lafferde, Hanover, Germany, and she is the girl who married August Pieper.


His other close friend, Heinrich Voges, came to Texas with wife Sophie Nee Ehlers, with children Heinrich, Jr., Friedrick and Dorothy.  They arrive on the ship “Hercules,” leaving Germany on August 14th, 1845, and arrived at Galveston on October 16th 1845, from Oberg, Hanover, Germany.

August Pieper’s homestead begun, he married Johann Kabelmacher’s step-daughter, Johanna, on April 27th 1851, recorded in Comal County.  Together they worked to improve their land; they dug rock from Cibolo bottom, near the low-water crossing, dragged them up the east bank of the stream with oxen.  August cut some of the larger oak trees and made beams, some 16 inches square, according to the German style of building, and began constructing a rock barn, with two large rooms on the east end.  Peter Lex was a stone mason and helped cut rock.  This rock barn was the first home to be built in Bulverde, then called Pieper’s Settlement, and this barn is still standing today.


Later, a two-story stone house was built, with a cellar; two rooms and kitchen down and a large room upstairs.  The cellar had a ceiling with insulation made of clay and oxen hair, then the downstairs floor laid over that.  Thus, August and Johanna Piepers were the first couple to settle this Bulverde area.  This house is still standing today, on the Bexar County side of the Cibolo, and is used for storage.

The dug well has a date of 1851 on it.  This well is lined with the rock out of Cibolo, all done by hand, and is still there.  At first all their water was bucket drawn from this first dug well in the community.  Then a hand pump was bought – oh! What a thing it was!  August built a “wasser schlucht.”  People came from miles around to see the first wasser schlucht, which carried water from the well to the barn.  Then came the windmill.  Soon windmills appeared throughout the neighborhood; today August’s well has an electric pump.


Johanna’s kin, the Kabelmachers, and the Voges, soon came to live at Pieper’s Settlement, then others followed.  Travelers between New Braunfels and Fredericksburg stopped to camp there and Johanna always had big pots of food ready, the two rooms on the barn were used to sleep the weary sojourners.  She became the community doctor, cooking drugs from roots and herbs, making salves and ointments.  Many nights a neighbor came for her help w hen sickness struck suddenly.  And many nights August go up, hitched the horses to the buggy and took her to treat the sick Indians.  She had wool cloths to sweat out fevers, tonic for the tired and weak, salves for infections.  She left the mid-wife work to a Mrs. Karl Uecker.

August and Johanna Piepers had eight children, all born at this same home:

  • Mina, born June 13th 1852, on her father’s birthday; she lived 4 months and died on October 22nd 1852.

  • Augusta, born August 12th 1854; married Anton Friesenhahn after his first wife died.  She was Nee Christine Acker.  Augusta raised his children but she had none.

  • Lina, born March 23rd 1855, married Peter Lex, the stone mason; had 6 children and adopted another.  They lived on their farm, and ranched in Comal Co. Now restored by Col. Egon R. Tausch and knows as “Still Water Ranch.”  After Mr. Lex died, Lina moved to Boerne and had a nursing home for the sick.

  • Wilhelm born March 23rd 1856, married Minna Rhinehart; had 7 children.  He was a “mule skinner” and freighted out of Fort Concho, San Angelo, Texas.

  • Fredrick, born November 26th 1858, married Augusta Ahrens, had 5 children.  First they lived on the Pieper Place, then moved to MacDona, in Bexar Country, for 11 years, then to Beeville for 3 years, then to Floresville, Wilson County.  These were my grandparents; their second daughter, Elizabeth, married Paul Schulze and they are my parents.

  • Emma, born January 18th 1861, married Otto Wehe, lived at Anhalt, Comal County; farmers; 8 children.

  • Hermann, born February 14th 1863, married Helena Uecker, lived on the Pieper place, farmed all his life, had 3 children.  The boy died as a baby, Hulda never married, lived on the Pieper place till she died in 1975; Thelka married Edward Wesenberg and still lives in San Antonio.

  • Sophie, born March 20th 1865, married Gustave Uecker, farmed at Hye, the little community that has a close association with President Lyndon Johnson.  They had 7 children.


All the children attended Adolph Schlameus School in the community.  In 1945 this little school was consolidated with the Bulverde School.


The years passed, and life went on beside the Cibolo, upon this land that no one wanted; August had sold hi land contract to John Meusebach for 10 cents an acre, signed May 2nd 1853.  But still he never made application for the 160 acres he had settled on; ten years had gone by and no one questioned it.  The one morning two strangers rode up.  August went out to greet them; they said they were government surveyors and were sent to survey the land for a Mrs. Thomas J. Robinson, widow of a San Jacinto war hero.  What a shock!  August and his two friends saddled up and went not to Comal or Bexar County, but straight to Austin to see the Governor.  Johann Kablemacher, Heinrich Voges, and August Pieper told their story to Governor Edward Clark, who had succeeded Governor Sam Houston.  They explained how they had worked for 10 years improving this land, building homes, clearing fields, building rock fences, and digging wells.  But the Governor said: “I am sorry, but I was not able to see all the way from here to Pieper’s Settlement, and the map shows this land is unclaimed.  So it no belongs to Mrs. Robinson.  I will suggest you go see Mrs. Robinson and try to buy the land from her.”  They did just that, and John Burlage,administrator of the Robinson estate, signed a deed in Travis County on September 12th 1861, to August Pieper, Heinrich Voges, and Johann Kabelmacher, for 640 acres, for $320 cash, recorded in Bexar County, Vol. 34, page 203 and 204, Thad W. Smith, Country Clerk, Bexar County.  The Donation Warrant  No. 85 to Mrs. Thomas J. Robinson was signed on October 13th 1860.

Pieper acquired a hand cotton gin and many neighbors came to gin their cotton.  A molasses press again brought the neighbors together.  They worked together at hay making time also.  Since labor was scarce, each farmer took his turn at helping his neighbor.


In 1875 the farmers formed the Germaina Farmer Verein, and August Peiper was one of the 45 charter members.  He helped build the Germaina Farmer Verein Dance Hall at Anhalt; he also worked on county roads and was active in all community affairs.


His wife, Johanna, Nee Kramm, died November 12th 1884, after carrying a sack of corn; she injured herself and died within a few hours.  There were as many Indians at her funeral as white settlers.  They had lost a friend and neighbor, and their community doctor.  Her daughter, Augusta, took over the duties as doctor for the settlers and Indians.


August developed Parkinson’s disease in his later years, but lived to be 89 years, 8 months and 23 days when he died on March 8th 1914.  The Peipers are buried in the Leesch Family Cemetery, located on the Bulverde Road, in a pasture now owned by Charles Staudt.  These family graves are recorded here.

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