According to the October 17, 1909, Sunday Edition of the San Antonio Light, a San Antonio landmark was razed just the week before in order to widen South Alamo Street. The old home of Gustav and Augusta Haenel, which had been on the City's condemned list for fourteen years, finally came down.

In 1849, sixteen year-old Gustav and his brother Julius, left their home in Prussia arriving in Texas at Indianola. Traveling inland, they stopped off briefly in San Antonio and New Braunfels, and then traveled to Louisville, Kentucky but after a year, they returned to South Texas where they would remain.

 

In 1857, Gustav married Augusta Tewes on a ranch near Yorktown, Texas. In 1865, the Haenels settled permanently in San Antonio where they bought three lots at the corner of South Alamo and Cedar Streets. The lots were purchased from Ernst Wehrhahn for $500. The next year, their stone house on the corner lot facing South Alamo was completed. (current site of B&D Ice House). Gustav built a rental house next door in 1896, which now has the address of 1008 South Alamo.

Gustav Haenel's primary occupation was that of a carpenter but he was also noted for his skill in cabinetry and furniture making. Behind the family home, facing Cedar Street, Gustav had his workshop. In 1909, when South Alamo was widened, the Haenels were forced to sell twenty feet of their property to the City of San Antonio. Like many of the early houses, theirs was built so close to the street that it could not be saved. When the family home was razed, Gustav enlarged his workshop, which would become their final home. Here, at 111 Cedar Street, in somewhat more modest accommodations, the Haenels lived until they both died in 1917. The 1909 edition of the San Antonio Light quotes Augusta Haenel as having experienced much joy but also sorrow during the forty-three years of living in "Roof Tree" as she called their South Alamo Street home. Here, five of their nine children were born but sadly, a young daughter died soon after they built their home in 1866. She went on to say, "all our seven daughters were married at 'Roof Tree', then they left to make homes of their own. Just two years ago we celebrated our golden wedding anniversary when from far and near came all the seven daughters, their husbands and our grandchildren to join in the celebration."

Augusta Haenel said that one of her greatest regrets was losing her beautiful flower garden out front, "where I reared so tenderly, all the old fashioned flowers….but now, they are just part of the dust of the street". Also destroyed was a magnificent black walnut tree planted by Mr. Haenel the year they moved into their new house. Gone too was the "well tilled garden across Cedar Street toward town (current site of Ben's Vending) where grew the choicest vegetables and delicious fruit." When they built their home, she said, "it was the furthermost place out on South Alamo Street - nothing but wild prairies beyond."

In 1881, Gustav Haenel bought two additional lots, which would become 1032 and 1036 South Alamo. He built the cottage at 1032 (now the KWA office) in 1884 for his son, Edward who married the next year. He built the house next door at 1036 South Alamo about the same time as rental property.

(Source: October 17, 1909 edition of The San Antonio Light, and Mary Burkholder's Down The Acequia Madre)

Bill Cogburn


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