Heinrich Mordhorst Marker
New Braunfels, Texas, the seat of Comal County, is a historically German-American city. Since its founding in 1845, immigrants culturally and economically influenced the town with skills, trades, and traditions brought with them from their homelands. By 1920, the city was a manufacturing center that supplied and assisted immigrants settling in the surrounding hill country (Greene 2010). Heinrich (Henry) Theodor Mordhorst settled in New Braunfels just after the turn of the twentieth century, a significant era of growth in the history of the county. Originally from Germany, he immigrated with his family first to Ohio and eventually settled in Texas, bringing skills that the developing city of New Braunfels and the surrounding region required in the modern, industrial age ("New Enterprise" 1905). The establishment of his Comal Earthenware Company and the craftsman techniques he brought with him also contributed to the expanding trade skills found in the New Braunfels area in the early twentieth century. His desire to create unique and meaningful grave covers influenced the regional culture and later folk artists (Clark 1972, 40-42). With these ornate sea shell and cement grave decorations, Mordhorst contributed to the cultural life of the region, providing a sense of tradition and craftsmanship in an increasingly modern, industrial world.
Born in Rostock, Germany, on February 4, 1864, Heinrich (Henry)
Theodore Mordhorst was the son of Heinrich and Louise Mordhorst. While
in Germany, Mordhorst learned the earthenware trade in his father's
factory. In 1881, at the age of eighteen, he immigrated to the United
States with his parents and sisters, Dora and Emma, and settled in the
river city of Pomeroy, Ohio. The family established an earthenware
company and Henry honed his skills in
this trade. The Mordhorst business was successful until high waters washed it out in 1899 ("New Enterprise" 1905).
Henry Mordhorst moved to the Forth Worth area in about 1901, where he worked at the Banner Brick Works at Kennedale, gaining a new skill and craft and working his way up through the company until he was a superintendent (Comal Earthenware announcement 1905; 1906). Other sources state that Heinrich Mordhorst was living in New Braunfels as early as 1900 (Clark, 1972). In 1905 he began displaying interest in establishing his own business in the New Braunfels area. His interest in the area arose when a friend brought him clay from the Comal River ("New Enterprise" 1905). Between 1905 and 1906, Mordhorst settled in the New Braunfels area with his mother and sisters (his father having previously passed away) and established the Comal Earthenware Company with a partner, Mr. Emil Heinen of New Braunfels ("New Enterprise" 1905).
Although his original focus was earthenware, Mordhorst was also skilled at creating and manipulating concrete and cement. A new building material at the time, cement became Mordhorst's focus ("New Enterprise" 1905). His work in New Braunfels included sidewalks, cisterns, cellars, wells, curbing, fireplaces, water troughs, and houses (Clark, 37). The first home built of Mordhorst's new cement block was constructed for Miss Margarethe Preiss at the corner of Zink and Pecan Streets (Newspaper clipping n.d.). As a testament to Mordhorst's skill, the home still stands at that location today, one of three Mordhorst cement block houses that survive. The cement blocks were also used for the construction of the International & Great Northern Railway station in New Braunfels in 1907.