• Article Image Alt Text
    Dan Jenkins points to an old schoolhouse Christian Kraus used while his ancestors lived on the property in Klein Frankreich in the 1850s. — Standard-Radio Post/Samuel Sutton
  • Article Image Alt Text
    A picture of the Strackbein family is placed in front of a wall at their descendants’ new house, showing the renovations it had since they lived there in the 1850s.

Paving over history

Proposed relief route could impact this hidden German community

Looking at a bird’s eye view of the land to the left of U.S. 87 North just off Main Street, one would be hard pressed to find any property, especially that of such historic importance.

Linda Lucksinger, Dan Jenkins, Temple and Jeannie Klett are all worried that the Texas Department of Transportation’s proposed 450-foot-wide Main Street Relief Route, what Lucksinger describes as the size of a football field, will tear up their land in the community of Klein Frankreich (Little France) and all of its historic roots.

“Fredericksburg has built its reputation on its rich German history and it wouldn’t be wise to tear it down and put a bypass through it,” Lucksinger said. “It’s disheartening to think a bulldozer will go through it.”

 

Christian Kraus Homestead

Lucksinger and Jenkins own the Christian Kraus Homestead, a house built in 1859. It housed Christian Kraus, who moved to America from Germany in August of 1851 with exciting dreams of his future, according to the book, Pioneer in God’s Hills.

He, his brother, Johann, arrived in America on Oct. 13, 1851, when they landed in New York. They stayed there for a little while until earning enough money to move to Fredericksburg. They were finally able to get here on May 2, 1852. Later on, Christian would become a teacher and a rock mason. The school where he taught is still on the property, but it’s in disrepair.

James (Mac) Burnett, a local architect, restored the homestead in the 1980’s. He had some help from a man named Clifford Hale and a Kraus family member, Trudy Kraus. They collected historic information so that the property could be designated as a Texas Historic Landmark, which happened in December 1984.

 

The Strackbein Family

Across from the Christian Kraus Homestead is a property formerly owned by the Strackbein family, who were some of the first settlers of Fredericksburg. The Strackbein family also was among the founders of Zion Lutheran Church in town.

They moved here from Franhausen, Dill Kreis, Nassau, and lived in the house at Klein Frankreich in 1854.

Their house has been upgraded through the years, but has kept the same German feel. It even still has the original fireplace.

Most of the family members from that time are buried on the property in the pioneer cemetery.

 

Residents’ concerns

All of the proposed relief route options go directly through the Klein Frankreich community. Lucksinger said there’s no way to know about this community just by looking at drawing lines on a map.

She said she feels like a relief route, especially one of this size, is not only unnecessary, but it harms the area’s rich history. She said if she could tell the ones responsible for this project one thing, it would be “to honor the heritage and contribution of the pioneers that settled and repay them by taking out their homes, and their property and our history.”

Jenkins agreed, and said it would cost too much money for the local taxpayers.

Klett also hopes a relief route isn’t built.

“(Not building the route) would save a lot of energy and heartbreak, especially up here,” Klett said.

TxDOT has informed Klett that a historic survey has not been done of the property yet. He said once that happens, he’s feels they’ll have to look at something else because the routes go directly through these historic landmarks.

Fredericksburg Standard

P.O. Box 1639
Fredericksburg, TX 78624-4228
830-997-2155