Amid explosive growth, New Braunfels works to preserve its past

Pile of cedar logs was town’s first Protestant church

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – Still an active congregation, the First Protestant Church of New Braunfels began on March 25, 1845, the day German settlers arrived in what became the City of New Braunfels.

Since it was also Good Friday, “They immediately started worshiping under the trees initially,” said Linda Dietert, a member of the church now made of limestone.

All that remains of the original church is a pile of cedar logs.

Dietert said those first settlers chose cedar for a good reason: “Termites did not like to eat cedar.”

Since many of the logs are still usable, the plan is to incorporate them into a replica of the church at Heritage Village, where other historic structures have been restored and are open for public viewing.

However, the church will represent more than an early place of worship.

Ball and Dietert said it became the heart of the community.

“Every activity that happened within the city at that time went through the doors of that church,” Dietert said.

Ball said, “It was our first school. It was our first post office. It was our first district courthouse. It was our first hospital.”

He said it also served as a temporary morgue and, eventually, a barn.

Dietert said it would have a lot to say if that pile of logs could talk.

She said, “It tells the story of the heartaches and the hardships of those early founders.”

A major million-dollar fundraising campaign will go toward the project over the next two years, according to Justin Ball, executive director of the Heritage Society of New Braunfels.

Ball said it is up to the organization, along with the New Braunfels Conservation Society and others, to preserve the past.

He said it is important that places like Heritage Village, Historic Old Town, the Museum of Texas Handmade Furniture and the Sophienburg Museum maintain the culture and history of New Braunfels.

If not, he said, “The German Texan culture and heritage will fade away.”


Memorial planned in New Braunfels at unmarked graves of German settlers

About the Author

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

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