Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Texas Hill Country Trail Region

Map of Gillespie County Historic Sites
Markers (click on a topic to jump to that section.)
Cross Mountain | Easter Fires | Enchanted Rock | Engel Family | Site of Fort Martin Scott | Gillespie County | Gun Cap Factory | Homestead of Karl Itz | Johnson, Lyndon Baines | Johnson, Lyndon Baines | Old Kammlah House | Keese Home, H.C. | Kensing, Heinrich and Johanna Borchers | Lange's Mill | Luckenbach | Market Square | Marschall-Meusebach Cemetery | Site of the McDonald Massacre | Meusebach, John O. | Pinta Trail | Smith, Texas Ranger General E. Kirby, C.S.A.
Uncommemorated and Unmapped Sites
James Billings and Son, James | Henry Meier | Rudolph Fischer
Uncommemorated Active Battle Map (Stories below are on map.)
Killing of Mr. and Mrs. Kensing | Killing of Burns | R.A. Walker | Henry Grobe and Berg | Peter Hazzlewood | Ammie and Ennie Metzger | Henry Arhelger | Herman Stohl | Captain Jack Hays Fight on the Pedernales | Mr. Ferg and Tom Neil, Sr. | Mathis Pehl
Cross Mountain

Marker Title: Cross Mountain
City: Fredericksburg
Year Marker Erected: 1976
Marker Location: from intersection of US 290 and Milam St. (RR 965), take Milam St. north 1 mi., then west on Cross Mountain Trail approx. 100 yards.
Marker Text: This marl and limestone hill, elevation 1,915 feet, was an Indian signal point, advancing news of the intrusions of white settlers. The hill was first recorded and described by the German geologist, Dr. Ferdinand Roemer in 1847. A timber cross found on the hilltop the same year suggests that Spanish missionaries recognized it as a landmark on the path from San Antonio to Mission San Saba. John Christian Durst (1825-1898), arriving with his family in 1847 from Germany, received a town lot and 10 acres of land, including this hill. On finding the cross, he named it "Kreuzberg," or Cross Mountain. The Easter fires on Cross Mountain and the surrounding hills recall a German tradition of burning the old growth to make way for the new, and also commemorate the 1847 treaty made by John O. Meusebach and the settlers to establish peace with the Comanche nation. In 1849, a Bohemian priest, Father George Menzel, erected a more substantial cross as a symbol of redemption and civilization. Easter Sunrise Services were held on the mountain for many years prior to 1941. In 1946 the Very Rev. F.X. Wolf threw the switch to illuminate the permanent cross of metal and concrete built by St. Mary's Catholic Church.

Within the town of present-day Fredericksburg, Colonel Karnes Comanche fight occurred on November 1, 1839.

Easter Fires

Marker Title: The Easter Fires
City: Fredericksburg
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: take US 290 E 3.6 miles to rest area ROW.
Marker Text: Blazing on the hills around Fredericksburg each Easter Eve, combined with a local pageant, these fires recall an old tale. In March 1847, when Comanches and whites signed a major peace treaty, the Indians lighted huge signal fires on these hills. To calm her children's fears, one mother-- recalling Easter fires in her native Germany-- told them the smoke came from pots in which the Easter Bunny was dying eggs with flowers. As the tale spread and pioneers kindled the fires in each year of peace with the Indians, the local yearly celebration arose.

Enchanted Rock

Marker Title: Enchanted Rock
City: Fredricksburg
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: FM 965, 18 mi. N. of Fredricksburg
Marker Text: From its summit, in the fall of 1841, Captain John C. Hays, while surrounded by Comanche Indians who cut him off from his Ranging Company, repulsed the whole band and inflicted upon them such heavy losses that they fled.

Engel Family

Marker Title: Engel Family
Address: Main St.
City: Luckenbach
Year Marker Erected: 1996
Marker Text: The Rev. August Engel (1818-1904), a circuit riding Methodist preacher and teacher, immigrated to Texas in 1846 from Germany. In 1859 he married Katharina Ernst (1837-1920). They had six children. August Engel served as postmaster for five years in Blanco County, and for 32 years at Cranes Mill in Comal County. He was succeeded as postmaster by his son August Engel, Jr., in 1904, who purchased six acres in 1885 in Gillespie County from Carl A. Luckenbach. A post office was established in Engel's home in 1886 with August Engel, Jr., serving as postmaster. His sister Minna was asked to name the new post office. Married to C.A. Luckenbach, Minna chose the name of Luckenbach. A general merchandise store with a post office area, blacksmith shop, cotton gin, saloon and warehouses were added to the property. A dance hall (tanz halle) also located there was a center for local gatherings. William Engel replaced his brother August Engel, Jr., as postmaster of Luckenbach in 1890. William's son, Benno W. Engel, Sr., was appointed postmaster in 1935, and served in that capacity for 36 years. The Luckenbach Post Office was discontinued in 1971 after 85 years of continuous service to Gillespie County and to the community.

Site of Fort Martin Scott

Marker Title: Site of Fort Martin Scott
City: Fredericksburg
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: take US 290 E approx. 2 miles to ROW.
Marker Text: Established by the United States Army, December 5, 1848, as a protection to travelers and settlers against Indian attack. Named in honor of Major Martin Scott, brevet lieutenant colonel, 5th United States Infantry, killed at Molino Del Ray, September 8, 1847. Its garrison participated in many Indian skirmishes. Occupied intermittently after 1852. Held by the confederates, 1861-65. Permanently abandoned in December, 1866.

Gillespie County

Marker Title: Gillespie County
City: Fredericksburg
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: take SH 16 S approx. 5.5 miles to roadside park.
Marker Text: The trails of roving Indians crossed these hills settled by German pioneers in 1846. A group of Mormons settled at Zodiac in 1847. Created February 23, 1848; organized June 5, 1848. Named for Richard Addison Gillespie, a Texan from 1837, a defender of the Texas frontier, and captain in the Mexican War who fell at Monterrey, September 22, 1846. Fredericksburg, the county seat.

Gun Cap Factory

Marker Title: Gun Cap Factory
Address: 306 W. Main
City: Fredericksburg
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Text: In the Civil War, at this site, E. Krauskoff, gunsmith, and Adolph Lungkwitz, silversmith, made gun caps. Inventing machinery, they rolled copper thin and cut it to cap-size pieces. Saltpetre and quicksilver went into the caps, to detonate rifle and pistol ammunition. Saltpetre came from nearby bat caves. Quicksilver and copper had to be brought through neutral Mexico or the coastal blockade. Rifles, cannon, gunpowder and pistols were made at Austin, Houston, Bastrop, Waxahachie, san Antonio, corpus Christi, Burnet, Lancaster, Rusk and Tyler.

Homestead of Karl Itz

Marker Title: Homestead of Karl Itz
City: Fredericksburg
Year Marker Erected: 1987
Marker Location: take SH 16 N approx. 1.2 miles to Lower Crabapple Rd.; then north on Lower Crabapple Rd. approx. 3.6 miles.
Marker Text: Karl Itz (ca. 1838-1908), a native of Westerburg, Germany, arrived in Texas in 1852 and settled in Gillespie County. He married Henrietta Evers (1839-1923) in 1856. At the outbreak of the Civil War Itz joined a group of German immigrants in support of the Union. Marching toward Mexico in August 1862, the men encountered Confederate forces at the Battle of the Nueces. Though many of the Germans were killed, Itz was not injured and lived in hiding until the war ended. He moved his family to this site and built a stone home in 1875. A log house was later added. Texas Sesquicentennial 1836-1987

Lyndon Baines Johnson

Marker Title: Lyndon Baines Johnson
Address: Loring and Peach (at school entrance)
City: Stonewall
Year Marker Erected: 1971
Marker Text: The 36th President of the United States of America As a 12-year-old student attended classes of the 8th grade here at the old Stonewall school from October 1920 to June 1921.

Lyndon Baines Johnson

Marker Title: Lyndon Baines Johnson
City: Stonewall
Marker Location: LBJ National Park (near entrance on PR 49).
Marker Text: The 36th President of the United States was born here on August 27, 1908; son of a state legislator (1905-1917), Sam Ealy Johnson, Jr., and Rebekah Baines Johnson, a teacher. The house was built in 1906 with the help of neighbors. The Johnsons and Bainesses-- early settlers-- were ministers, Indian fighters, newspapermen, college professors, ranchers. Original house burned, and was rebuilt by the President. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1967

Old Kammlah House

Marker Title: Old Kammlah House
Address: 309 - 315 W. Main St.
City: Fredericksburg
Year Marker Erected: 1966
Marker Text: Four front rooms with outside stair to attic, built 1849 by German settler Henry Kammlah I. Smokehouse and rooms at rear added 1875. Old world technique of wall plaster over woven twig supports used in interior. Henry Kammlah II and wife Amalia, opened a general store in front room in 1870. This was continued by Henry III until 1924. House purchased 1956 and restored as museum by Gillespie County Historical Society. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1966

H.C. Keese Home

Marker Title: H.C. Keese Home
City: Fredericksburg
Year Marker Erected: 1981
Marker Location: from Crabapple take RR 965 N approx. .75 mi. to Welgehausen Rd.; then west on Welgehausen Rd. 3.4 miles to site on right.
Marker Text: German native Henry C. Keese (b. 1834) built this farmhouse soon after he purchased the land in the 1870s. Constructed of wood and hand-hewn native rock, it included a large downstairs living area, a kitchen, and second floor bedrooms. Keese and his wife Caroline survived the hardships of frontier life, including attacks by hostile Indians, and members of their family owned the homesite for almost a century. Traces of the early farm are still evident. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1981

Heinrich and Johanna Borchers Kensing

Marker Title: Heinrich and Johanna Borchers Kensing
City: Cherry Spring
Year Marker Erected: 1972
Marker Text: (November 11, 1822 - July 26, 1865) (August 4, 1823 - July 29, 1865) German immigrants, arriving in Texas in 1845, and migrating to Gillespie County by 1850. In 1862 the Kensings moved into Mason County (about 7 miles NW) On July 26, 1865, the couple were attacked by Indians near Platt Kopf (1.5 miles N). Kensing died instantly; his wife died on the 29th, at the conrad Welge house (1/3 mile NE), leaving 7 children

Lange's Mill

Marker Title: Lange's Mill
City: Doss
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: from Doss, take FM 648 approx. .5 mi. to Lange's Mill Rd., then northwest on Lange's Mill Rd. 3.3 miles.
Marker Text: Established in 1849 by Doss brothers. Operated 1859-1878 by William F. Lange, 1878-1888 by Julius Lange. Its products were famed throughout the region. One of the last of the old burr mills in Texas, one of few in as perfect a state of preservation. Near by on a cliff are Indian pictographs.


Marker Title: Luckenbach
Address: near Post Office
City: Luckenbach
Year Marker Erected: 1986
Marker Text: Members of the Luckenbach family and other German immigrants moved here from Fredericksburg (11 mi. NW) in the 1850s. They settled along Grape Creek and soon established a school for their children. the Grape Creek Post Office was in operation briefly after 1858 with William Luckenbach as first postmaster. Later settlers included August Engel, who served as first postmaster when the post office was reestablished here in 1886 under the name of Luckenbach. John Russell "Hondo" Crouch and others bought the town center in 1970 and promoted its rustic atmosphere. Texas Sesquicentennial 1836 - 1986

Market Square

Marker Title: Market Square (Mark Platz)
Address: 100 block of West Main St.
City: Fredericksburg
Year Marker Erected: 1992
Marker Text: This Square, originally a two-block area which included what is now called the Courthouse Square, has been at the center of Fredericksburg since the city's founding in 1846. The area was still heavily forested when the town's Vereins Kirche was built in the center of Main street in 1847. The octagonal building served as a community church, meeting place, school, and refuge from possible Indian attacks. A county jail was built on the Square in 1852. In 1856 a public schoolhouse was constructed and the school classes moved out of the Vereins Kirche. In 1911 the schoolhouse was converted to serve as headquarters for the volunteer fire department. The Vereins Kirche, demolished in 1897, was reconstructed in 1934-35 as a pioneer memorial, serving as the county's first museum (1936) and library (1939). As part of its centennial celebration, the State of texas erected a monument on Market Square in honor of Baron Ottfried Hans Freiherr Von Meusebach, whose colonization efforts led to the founding of Fredericksburg. In 1987 the city purchased the property from the school district. The Market Square has served as a gathering place for special community activities and has remained a focal point of the city.

Marschall-Meusebach Cemetery

Marker Title: The Marschall-Meusebach Cemetery
City: Fredericksburg
Year Marker Erected: 1976
Marker Location: take US 87 NW approx. 17 miles to Cherry Spring Rd.; then east on Cherry Spring approx .5 miles to Marshall Cemetery Rd.; then north on cemetery road .2 miles.
Marker Text: Members of the families of two former German noblemen, related by marriage, are buried in this cemetery. John O. Meusebach (1812-97), who came to the Republic of Texas in 1845 as leader of the German Emigration Company, established (1846) the town of fredericksburg and signed (1847) an historic peace treaty with the Comanche Indians. Wilhelm Marschall Von Bierberstein (1822-1902) settled in this community in 1848. First burial here was that of Marschall's sister-in-law, Mathilda Weiss (1824-91).

Site of the McDonald Massacre

Marker Title: Site of the McDonald Massacre
City: Harper
Year Marker Erected: 1976
Marker Location: from US 290 in Harper take RR 783 S approx. .1 mile to ROW.
Marker Text: Pioneer preacher Matthew Taylor and the families of his daughter and two sons moved here in 1863 from their homestead on the Llano River. They built a cabin on this site near the source of the Pedernales River. In August 1864, Matthew and his son Jim returned to the Llano for a load of hay, leaving in charge Eli McDonald, husband of Matthew's daughter Caroline. On August 8, 1864, at a nearby spring, Jim Taylor's wife Gill was surprised by a band of Kiowas and wounded by an arrow. Before she died, she warned the others, who took refuge in the cabin. After a brief fight, the Indians killed Eli McDonald. They captured his wife Caroline and daughters Mahala and becky Jane; and Alice, James, and Dorcas, children of Matthew's son Zed. Matthew's wife "Aunt Hannah" escaped and hid in a cave in what is now Harper Community Park. Matthew and Jim Taylor discovered the tragedy the next day and sought help from Eli McDonald's nephew Monroe. The two victims of the massacre were buried near Spring Creek, twelve miles east of Harper. "Aunt Hannah" was found and reunited with her husband. the captives wandered as far north as Oklahoma with the Kiowa tribe before they were located and ransomed by the U.S. Government.

John O. Meusebach

Marker Title: John O. Meusebach
City: Cherry Spring
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: from Cherry Spring take US 87 S approx. 2.5 miles to roadside park.
Marker Text: (1812-1897) To be a Texan, Meusebach gave up title of baron in 1845. As commissioner-general, German Emigration Company, he founded Fredericksburg in 1846 as gateway to Fisher-Miller land grant, hunting ground of the Comanche. By emptying his firearms, he won trust of Indians and made treaty to provide for unmolested settlement. Indians called him "El Sol Colorado" (The Red Sun). State senator, 1851. In 1854 issued colonists' headrights. To his family motto, he added "Texas forever." Lived in Loyal Valley. Buried near Cherry Spring.

Pinta Trail

Marker Title: Pinta Trail
City: Fredericksburg
Year Marker Erected: 1986
Marker Location: from Fredericksburg take US 290 E approx. 5.2 miles to rest area.
Marker Text: Origin of the Pinta Trail is attributed to nomadic Plains Indian tribes. Early Spanish and Mexican expeditions followed the general route of the trail, which extended from San Antonio de Bexar to the San Saba River near present Menard. A survey by German immigrants in 1845 provided a wagon road over part of the trail, and, after the discovery of gold in California in 1849, the trail was utilized by U.S. Military companies seeking to open new routes to the western states. Use of the trail declined with the advent of railroads in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Texas Sesquicentennial 1836 - 1986

Texas Ranger General E. Kirby Smith, C.S.A.

Marker Title: Texas Ranger General E. Kirby Smith, C.S.A.
City: Fredericksburg
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: from Fredericksburg, take US 290 E approx. 10 miles to ROW.
Marker Text: (1824-1893) Born in Florida. Graduated from West Point. Fought in Mexican War. On the Texas frontier in the 1850s, commanded Camps Belknap, Cooper and Colorado. In 1860 and many years afterwards was a partner of J. M. Hunter of Fredericksburg in a Texas ranch. Resigned from U. S. Army, 1861, to serve Confederacy. Was appointed 1863, to command all the area west of the Mississippi. At that time Federals held the river, all of Missouri, much of Arkansas, Louisiana and Indian Territory, and were trying to take Texas and her supplies of food, cotton and horses. The Trans-Mississippi Dept. had many problems. The French under Maximilian were approaching from Mexico. Indians and bandits constantly raided frontiers. Freighters and blockade runners had to be employed for exporting cotton-- the only product the South had for trading to get guns, ammunition and goods. Texas was chief source of the cotton Gen. Smith used for financing his army. It was place of safety to which he sent his wife and children. It gave him ovations as he went to Mexico after the war ended. Young Texans studied, 1875-1893, in his mathematics classes at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn.

Henry Grobe and Mr. Berg

    April 2, 1862, Mr. Berg, who lived seven miles east of Fredericksburg, started to town. He was alone, and while on his way, killed by seven Indians. From there, the savages went on toward the home of Henry Grobe who lived about twelve miles northeast of Fredericksberg on Willow Creek. About 8:00 o'clock in the morning, Mr. Grobe, unarmed, started to fix his field fence and had only gone about a quarter of a mile when the seven savages dashed forward and soon slaughtered him. Mr. Grobe was buried at Fredericksburg.

    Note: Before writing this section, the author personally interviewed SIB. Grobe, a son of Henry Grobe, and others.

The above story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.

Herman Stohl

    During 1867, Herman Stohl, who lived about eight miles northeast of Fredericksburg, was out one morning about two miles east of his home hunting oxen, when an old African man asked him if he were not afraid the savages would do him harm since he was unarmed. Herman Stohl reached in his pocket and pulled out a small testament or Bible and told the African as long as he carried that, he would not be harmed. A short time later, he was overtaken and killed by a band of savages.

    Note : Author interviewed Kye Danley, a brother, and others who lived in Erath in that section at the time.

Mathis Pehl

    During 1863, Mathis Pehl, who lived about ten miles southeast of Fredericksburg, was killed by Indians about three miles east of his home. He was on Dalchen Creek, alone, afoot and hunting stock.

    Note: Author personally interviewed Mr. and Mrs. F.C. Streigler, who were in Gillespie County at the time.

The above story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.

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