Founders Day eyes past, honors present

Docent Kay Telle, right, explains how to make “knot dolls” to young Pioneer Museum visitors Tori Van Epps and Clara Pluenneke. – Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

By Ken Esten Cooke —

Beer was on tap and the featured topic at the annual Founders Day dinner program Saturday evening.

The program followed a day of activities at the Pioneer Museum, and a wreath laying ceremony commemorating the town’s original settlers.

Founders Day is sponsored by the Gillespie County Historical Society.

The program honored the descendants of the Friedrich Probst Brewery family.

Emcee Joe Kammlah said legend has it that Southern General Robert E. Lee used to stop at the saloon in the Nimitz Hotel to have a beer when traveling through. Kammlah said beer was integral to German culture. Even during Prohibition, “back doors” were frequently open to local customers.

German settlers brought song and beer with them as they helped settle the wild expanses of Texas.

Fredericksburg’s own beer expert, Jeff Holt, who has a book coming out on Texas breweries, spoke about the history of the Probst Brewery.

“In pre-Prohibition Texas, except for El Paso, all the breweries were established in German communities,” Holt said. “The first brewery in Fredericksburg was Captain Nimitz’s brewery at the hotel.”

“Captain Nimitz brewed probably an ale, because ales didn’t need the lower temperatures to brew,” he said.

Holt said the brewery was later sold to Friedrich Probst, who moved it to West Austin Street. For several years, it was the only brewery in Fredericksburg.

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