Das Waisenhaus (The Orphanage)
New Braunfels was founded on March 21, 1845, when the original immigrants crossed the Guadalupe River. Many immigrants died on the long trek from Indianola to New Braunfels, some died on the banks of Guadalupe River, and others after arriving in New Braunfels. Over 80 children were left orphaned when parents died. Pastor Louis Ervendberg and his wife Luise put up tents on the German Protestant Church property to house the orphans. Friends and family claimed all but 19.
In March 1848, Pastor Ervendberg secured from the legislature of Texas an act to incorporate the Western Texas Orphan Asylum to support and protect the orphans. In August 1848, acreage was given to the Ervendbergs by Maria Antonio Veramendi Garza and husband Rafael Garza and on this property Pastor Ervendberg built the home in 1848, which was completed in 1849.
In this home was the orphanage “Waisenhaus” and school where the Ervendbergs raised their own children and the orphans. After living in tents for over two years, the children finally had a home and a place to make memories.
In 1935, Augusta Ervendberg Wiegreff, daughter of the Ervendbergs recalled: “The location is a beautiful one, and we were all very busy and happy at the Waisenfarm as it was generally known, though my father liked to call it Neu Wied and said it was his ‘college’; he taught us in regular classes and saw that the boys were instructed in agriculture and that each did his share of the work. My mother taught us girls how to cook and sew while we helped with the housekeeping. We had a happy childhood even if we did have to work. We played in the park and managed to have our fun as children always have.”
The home is on private property and owned by descendants of one of the orphans, Christian Guenther. The orphanage was recognized in 1970 with a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark marker.
Prepared by Comal County Historical Commission member, John B. Coers, a descendant of orphan Nathalia Schmidt (1843-1928), his Great Grandmother.