My Great-Great- Great-Grandparents, Valentin and Marie Elizabeth Brautigam immigrated to Texas in 1845/46, arriving in Galveston on the Johann Dethard from Bremen, Germany. Valentin died shortly after making land, never reaching the destination of Fredericksburg. His widow and children continued on, purchasing land near the Llano River in the Fisher Grant. They also bought land on Drei Kricken (now Luckenbach) from the Joseph H. Moore Grant.
In 1870, my Great-Great Grandfather, Valetin’s son, Johann Wolfgang Brautigam (March 17, 1829, Kaltenlengsfeld, Germany – September 3, 1884, Fredericksburg, TX) purchased land 2 miles east of Fredericksburg on Hwy 290, the old San Antonio Road. This land held the remains of Ft. Martin Scott, which had been abandoned shortly after the Civil War. Johann and his family renovated the few remaining buildings, the officer’s quarters and a large rock stable. A small store and saloon were built near the road; grapevine arbors, cedars, hackberries and other plants were added. This place, known as Braeutigam Garten, was an entertainment center for the pioneers.
The first Gillespie County Fair was held here in 1881, as well as Easter, Fourth of July celebrations, and many music festivities. At the fairs, the featured entertainment besides the exhibits, was horse racing. Many dollars exchanged hands at those times. On September 3, 1884, four men came to Brautigam Garten with robbery in mind, and Johann was murdered for refusing to hand over the money. The saloon closed, never to open its doors again. Fairs and holiday celebrations continued, never the less.
Johann’s descendants, and those of his brothers and sisters, have spread to cover the entire United States, from some still here in Fredericksburg to Minnesota, from California to New York. We range from nurses to musicians, from doctors to professors.
This letterbox is a small tribute to the tenacity, bravery, resourcefulness, and God-fearing family named Brautigam. Please, when you sign the guest book, tell me something great about your family. Let this box be a tribute to all of our emigrant ancestors.
Directions to the Box:
PLEASE BE CAREFUL OF RED ANTS AND SCORPIONS!!!! WATCH WHERE YOU WALK !!!
As you find yourself in Fredericksburg, visit the Veriens Kirche in the center of town, the Nimitz museum, and many other really fine places. If you like German food, you will be in heaven. Follow The Old San Antonio Road (Hwy 290) east about 2 miles from the town square. You will find yourself at the modern day location of Brautigam Garten (Clue in the above story), and will know you are there when Gillespie County “Eyes of Texas” are upon your back. The visitor center is open Tuesday – Sunday 10-5, and contains a lot of information and artifacts from the Brautigam years. Find the pictures of my Great-great prandparents, Johann and Christine. Once you have researched the layout of the homestead, begin your walking tour. Start with the officers’ quarters nearest the Visitor Center and proceed clockwise round the site. Enjoy your visit, noting the old oven, the laundry and the Brautigam Barn. See the well? Can you imagine getting water from this to drink? What about the huge old live oak tree in the center – I know that my mother has played in that tree. The current guardhouse is the site of the Brautigam homestead. Johann added a wooden rood to the front and his family lived here. Visit the cells on the far east side of the guardhouse. Make your way completely around the guardhouse to the horse trough. You will find your quest here. You may take the box to the picnic table around the bend to sign in and leave me a tale of your great family, but please replace the box as you found it.
Can you imagine growing up with all these wonderful trees? If you are lucky enough to visit in the early summer or spring, the wildflowers are breathtaking.
Thank you for coming to Brautigam Garten. Return to Fredericksburg and drink a Pearl Beer in memory of my Grandfather, Ernest Wilhelm Brautigam, Johann’s grandson.