Heinrich Theodore Mordhorst and the spring fed watering trough

Classen, J.H. - Ranch

Watering Trough

Classen, J.H. - Ranch

Signatures in the trough

Classen, J.H. - Ranch

New Braunfels, TX

Classen, J.H. - Ranch

Completion date: Feb. 24, 1909

Classen, J.H. - Ranch

Example of the decorative sea shell motif placed on gravesites by Heinrich T. Mordhorst throughout the Hill Country


The watering trough on the J.H. Classen Ranch is located in a creek bed at the Canyon Springs Golf Club. It is made of concrete with the north end being shaped like the point of an arrow, pointing to the north. The trough is approximately 54 feet long, 3 feet wide and 2 ½ feet deep.  Carved into the north end of the trough are three names: H.T. Mordhorst, W. Luersen, and E. Kellerman.  Also carved into the concrete are the words, “New Braunfels Texas, 1909.  It is likely that these three names are the men who constructed the watering trough. 

Ms. Connie Krause, historian from New Braunfels, Texas, has done extensive research on Heinrich Theodore Mordhorst.  She has received approval from the Texas Historical Commission’s, Untold Marker Program, to have a commemorative marker erected that will honor Heinrich T. Mordhorst. The marker will be located in the Comal Cemetery in New Braunfels.  The majority of the following information was provided courtesy of Ms. Krause.

Mordhorst, a German craftsman, is known for making decorative grave coverings of giant Atlantic cockle shells that were ordered from Rockport and Galveston.  He also made cemetery plot curbing,  monuments, cement blocks used on exterior walls of homes in New Braunfels, wells, sidewalks, cisterns and dipping vats for cattle.  Examples of his work are found throughout the Texas Hill County.

Heinrich Theodore Mordhorst was born in Rostock Germany on Feb. 4, 1864.  He immigrated to the U.S. in 1882 with his parents, Heinrich Theodore Mordhorst, Sr., his mother, Louise, and his three sisters.  He became a naturalized citizen in 1886.  Mordhorst arrived in Texas in 1900 and soon began working in cement while living in New Braunfels.  On Sept. 2, 1907, he married Hulda Dora Dierks, whose parents were Herman Dierks and Christine Ludwig.  Heinrich and Hulda Mordhorst subsequently had two daughters, Emma and Dora.  Mordhorst died at the age of 64 on Feb. 6, 1928 and is buried in the Comal Cemetery in New Braunfels. Hulda continued to live in New Braunfels and died on Jan. 10, 1965.  She is also buried in the Comal Cemetery.

Emma Louise Mordhorst, born on April 12, 1908 in Comal County, married at the age of 18 to Herbert Walter Waldschmidt.  She died on Jan. 25, 1972 and is buried in the Sunset Memorial Park in San Antonio, Texas. Dora Christine Mordhorst married Valentine Schriewer.  She died on April 13, 1987 in Seguin, TX and is buried in the Guadalupe Valley Memorial Park in New Braunfels as is her husband.

The other two names inscribed on the watering trough, W. Luersen and E Kellermann, were probably helpers of H.T. Mordhorst. The name of W. Luersen was likely Washington W. Luersen.   There are, however, two Washington W. Luersen’s, one who born in 1846 and who was 53 years of age in the 1900 census and whose occupation was that of a farmer.  Mr. Luersen had a son by the name of Washington Luersen.  He was born on Feb. 22, 1891 and was single, 19 years of age and living at home with his parents in the 1910 Comal County, New Braunfels census.  His occupation was that of a farm laborer. The younger Washington Luersen married Anna Koltermann, who was born on Nov. 14, 1889 and died on May 3, 1969. She was the daughter of August Koltermann and Bertha Manzke.  Washington Luersen died on Jan. 15, 1958 and is buried in the Comal Cemetery in New Braunfels as is his wife, Anna. Washington Luersen’s death certificate indicated he was a retired electric welder.

The third name on the watering trough was that of E. Kellerman.  It is likely this is Edwin Kellerman, age 22, in the 1910 Comal County Census. His parents were Franz Kellerman and Caroline Luersen.  Edwin Kellerman was born on May 3, 1887 and died on June 21, 1972.  He is buried in the Guadalupe Valley Memorial Park in New Braunfels.  It is likely he was related to Washington Luersen.


Compiled by Pat Ezell, Vice-Chair,

Historic Farm and Ranch Complexes Committee

San Antonio Conservation Society

March, 2017

Heinrich Theodore Mordhorst and the spring fed watering trough