Sponsored by the Genealogical Society of Kendall County (GSKC), The First Families of Kendall County project began in 1999. The purpose of this project is to recognize the living descendants of persons instrumental in founding and settling of the area encompassed by present day Kendall County, Texas and to preserve the history of their families and the county.
To date, 586 applications have been approved for 318 different individuals. One hundred seventy (170) Founders and one hundred four (104) Early Settlers have been documented and recognized. They represent one hundred thirty-five (135) different families in Kendall County. There are two hundred sixty-two (262) volumes of First Families notebooks on the shelves at the Family History Place.
Here we will share with you some of the stories of those First Families who settled this beautiful area of the Texas hill country. We hope you enjoy!
To learn more about The First Families of Kendall County project visit www.gskctx.org or stop by the Family History Place at 114 E. Blanco in Boerne.
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Georg Hermann Wille
1827 – 1870
1834 – 1923
Georg Hermann Wille was born in Luhnde, Hanover, Prussia, to Christopher Wille, a German Professor, and Louise Meier. Little else is known of his early life, other than he immigrated to the United States in 1849 a twenty-one-year-old man. Even less is known about Marie Metzdof’s origins. Her mother was Charlotte Sablowsky, but the family does not have a record of her father’s first name. Her father died and her mother remarried. The man’s surname was said to be Puzzas, but we cannot find that surname in either Family Search or Ancestry, nor does it appear in any of the ship’s passenger lists we checked. In 1851, Marie emigrated from Tilist, Prussia, to Texas with her mother, her sister, Sara, her half-sister, Henrietta, and her stepfather.
According to Hermann’s citizenship papers, he arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, on or about June 26, 1849. The following September, he and a man named William Ranger were lodging with a bookbinder named C. W. Klastermeyer in Fayette County, Texas. His occupation was listed as “gunsmith.” Not long after that, Hermann moved to Comfort, Texas, where he worked as a blacksmith and hauled freight to and from San Antonio.
Marie’s journey to Galveston was marred by tragedy. Her sister Sara died during the voyage and her mother, Charlotte, died shortly after the family arrived in Galveston. The surviving members of the family traveled from Galveston to San Antonio. Marie’s stepfather found her a job as a maid in the King William area and then took Henrietta and went to Mexico. Marie was seventeen years old, and on her on.
One can easily imagine how Hermann and Marie meet. He was likely hauling freight to San Antonio and lodged where Marie happened to be working. He was handsome and had a business; she was pretty, petite, and self-assured. Wille was obviously smitten by this young lady. To illustrate; family stories claim that when Wille proposed to Marie, she turned him down because he had no house or furniture. Hermann returned to Comfort and proceeded to build a house, obtain some furniture, and propose again. That’s smitten! Marie was suitably impressed, and they married in San Antonio on September 29, 1853. On August 16, 1855, Hermann and Marie became the proud parents of Augusta, the first girl born in the town of Comfort, Texas.
Hermann continued to work building and repairing wagons, hauling freight, and doing general blacksmith work. In 1857, their second daughter, Louise, was born, and two years later, they were blessed with a third daughter, Sarah. That same year, 1859, a petition was circulated to form a new county, Kendall, from parts of Blanco and Kerr Counties. Like many of the settlers in and around Comfort, Hermann signed the petition against forming Kendall County. They were satisfied living in the newly formed Kerr County and did not wish to be annexed to Kendall County. The 1860 U. S. Census for Kerr County listed Hermann as a Master Blacksmith. A man named William Kiechler was living with them. He was also a blacksmith and most likely an employee of Hermann Wille.
1861 brought the Wille family a set of twin daughters. Hermine was born February 7, and sister Bertha was born February 8. Hermann was called to serve in the Texas State Troops during the Civil War and appeared on the October 1863 muster roll of the Kendall County Squad of Cavalry, 31st Brigade as a Private. In April 1864, Marie gave birth to their first son, Otto. A second son, Hugo, was born in February 1866.
1869 began well; Marie and Hermann had another daughter, Ida, in January. The family and the business seemed to be thriving. However, near the end of the year, Hermann hauled a load of freight to San Antonio in wet, cold weather and became ill. The illness progressed and on January 14, 1870, Hermann died of pneumonia at the age of forty-two. Once again, Marie was left on her own, only this time she had eight children, ranging in age from 14-year-old Augusta to one-year-old Ida. That self-assured independence that had attracted Hermann Wille’s attention back in 1852 was still there. She took over operations of the blacksmith shop and her family continued to prosper. The census listed Marie as head of household, running a blacksmith shop. In addition to her eight children, two hired blacksmiths were living with them.
In 1873, Louise Wille married a blacksmith named Phillip Jacob Gass, who emigrated from Nassau, Prussia. By 1880, Jacob was running the blacksmith shop while Louise maintained the household. In addition to her three daughters, Louise’s brother, Otto, lived there and worked as a laborer at the blacksmith shop. Maire was living a few doors away with her two youngest children, Hugo and Ida. Augusta (Doebbler), Sarah (Karger), and Hermine (Norris) married between 1875 and 1878 and lived with their husbands on near-by farms. Otto acquired 150 acres near Waring in 1883 and married Bertha Zoeller in 1886.
Bertha Wille married a blacksmith named Andrew Anderson in 1890. By 1900, Andrew ran the blacksmith shop and Marie lived with them. Jacob Gass continued to operate a blacksmith shop at his farm that he bought in 1882. When the 1910 census was taken, Marie lived with her daughter Louise Gass. Jacob Gass was 64 and still owned a blacksmith shop. In 1920, she was living with her son Otto, and it was there that she died in July 1923. She is buried beside Hermann in the Comfort Cemetery.