Comal, Texas was once known by names such as Wenzel (in tribute to a founding family), “Eight-Miles” and “Seven Miles Creek” (creek beds that run through the community and are situated seven to eight miles from New Braunfels, Texas). The families that settled the community were first generation immigrants from Germany who arrived aboard the first group of ships carrying prospective immigrant settlers to Texas. The names of a few of these immigrant families dot the landscape of Comal in the manner of streets within the community that bear their names (i.e., Friesenhahn Lane, Hubertus Road, and Schwab Road). These named families and several others built Comal into a thriving and prosperous farming community that survived against difficult odds due to floods, draughts, and pestilence that from time to time struck the town, Below are abbreviated histories of but a few of the families that made Comal, Texas such a storied and historic place.
On November 20, 1845, the Friesenhahn family arrived in the Port of Galveston (Texas). The father, Anton, had died aboard ship during the voyage (Reference: Notes of shipmate Rev. Whalen) leaving Anna Maria, the mother, a widow with five children (Reference: Ship list for Brig Strabo as reported in “The Fey Family 1587-1989”, by Everett Fey, p. 51). Anna Maria married Christoph Syring and according to the 1850 and 1860 U. S. Census, was living in Comal County (outside the New Braunfels, Texas area – Comal) with her children. Anna Maria passed acreage to her sons. Eventually Roman Friesenhahn undertook operations of the homestead farm, the cotton gin, corn sheller and the seed house. The cotton gin closed sometime around 1940 and the corn sheller operation ended in 1959. The remnants of the cotton gin still stand on the Roman Friesenhahn family farm off Old Nacogdoches Road near FM 482 (Attachment #2). Roman Friesenhahn was a community (rural school district board member)(Reference: Notes prepared by Comal resident Sharlene Fey, dated 10/19/2010) and a church leader. The homes of Roman and his son Mark remain on the family property as they were built over 100 years ago and are currently lived in by Friesenhahn family members. Mark Friesenhahn has undertaken a major restoration of the Ferdinand Friesenhahn homestead to bring it to its original condition when built in 1911. Fifth generation Friesenhahns now farm 200 acres of Anna Syring’s original land.
The Peter Ignaz Wenzel family farm was a prominent piece of Comal landscape. Ignotz purchased 100 acres of land in the Rodriquez Survey #99 (Comal) from William Bracken in 1851 (Comal Co. Deed Records, Vol. D, pp. 70-71). Peter Wenzel was an educated man and had been a teacher in his native Germany. The community’s need for a school prompted Wenzel to sell two acres of land to the Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio for the specific purpose of building a school(Reference: “St. Joseph’s Chapel, Comal, Texas” by Rev. Samuel Heitkamp, New Braunfels, Texas, p. 1). The one room school (known as Wenzel School) opened December 1, 1868. Peter Ignaz Wenzel died February 2, 1884. In 1905, Saint Joseph Chapel was constructed on the original two acre tract of land donated by the Wenzel family. The Chapel still stands at that location (Attachment #2). The foundation stones of the 1881-1885 school building can still be seen at the property site next to Saint Joseph’s Chapel. The Chapel has been designated as a “Historical Landmark” by the City of Schertz, Texas.