Heidemann Complex History

The Heidemann Ranch Complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 6, 2011, having been nominated by the San Antonio Conservation Society.  It contains excellent examples of log and stone buildings, structures and sites typically associated with traditional Texas Hill Country ranches of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Located in northwest Bexar County, the complex includes nine historic structures built from the 1860s to the 1930s all located on the original tract of land sold to William Heidemann and William Hausmann in 1856.  As one would expect, in an active agricultural family, many of the individual buildings have been altered to accommodate growth and new agricultural techniques.  However, the resources retain their integrity to an extent that clearly portrays ranch life of an early immigrant family in the historic period. In March 2016, Gilbert E. Barrera, a well-known local artist and sculptor, was honored with a Historic Preservation Award for the Built Environment by the San Antonio Conservation Society for his restoration of the triple pen log cabin, the barn and the stone smokehouse.  It was the first time the Society has given this award for a residential project.

According to Kay Hindes, City Archaeologist for the City of San Antonio, “The Heidemann Complex represents one of the most intact historic Texas 19th Century Vernacular Farm and Ranch Complexes with the City of San Antonio, Bexar County and the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction.  The vernacular complex consists of log and stone buildings built in the tradition of the German influenced architecture in Central Texas in the mid-19th century.  As such, the complex is a rare example of construction utilizing indigenous materials and resources from a ‘memory-template’ lacking a formal architectural plan. The complex represents a surviving visual vestige of the once common German farm and ranch complex that dotted the landscape but is now threatened and endangered.”

(Please see the section on Architectural Descriptions for specific information regarding the structures and the restoration.)

William Heidemann, who was born in Hanover, Prussia in 1825, was one of the new wave of immigrants to this country.  He arrived at the Port of Galveston on July 1, 1852. On Oct. 12, 1859, he filed a Declaration of Intention in Bexar County to become a citizen of the United States and renounced his allegiance to the King of Prussia.[1] He was granted citizenship in the U.S. on August 5, 1867 and at the same time registered to vote.[2] [3]

Shortly after arrival in Bexar County, William Heidemann entered into a business partnership with William Hausmann.  On Jan. 22, 1856 they purchased 320 acres of land on Leon Springs Creek in northwest Bexar County from Benjamin R. Sappington, assignee of Mateo Casillas.  The purchase price was $350.00.[4] Sappington had patented the land on behalf of Mateo Casillas on Nov. 24, 1854, only 14 months prior to the sale to Heidemann and Hausmann.[5]  Heidemann and Hausmann apparently entered into a ranching and farming partnership in which they shared land, farm implements, livestock and crop production. The 1858 Bexar County Tax record reflects joint ownership of the 320 acres, valued at $500, ownership of 2 horses valued at $40, ownership of 4 cows valued at $60 and ownership of 1 wagon valued at $40 for a total value of $650.  Both men paid $1.00 poll tax.[6]In the following years, the records were individualized per each man.  On Sept. 14, 1863, Hausmann sold his 50% undivided interest in the 320 acres along with some other land to George W. Clark.  In this transaction, reference is made to the ranching operations and livestock held in common with William Heidemann including 82 stock cattle, a crop of corn, 12 hogs, 1 horse and 1 wagon. George W. Clark subsequently defaulted on the terms of the sale and it was declared void.[7]  William Heidemann and William Hausmann continued to jointly own the 320 acres until 1873 when a lawsuit was filed by Augusta Hausmann and her husband, William against William Heidemann.  At this time the property was divided with the Hausmann’s receiving the western portion of the property consisting of 145 1/3 acres and Heidemann receiving the eastern portion consisting of 171 2/3 acres. Later, Augusta Hausmann, a widow, filed another suit seeking a re-determination of the division of the “permanent water hole.”  The water rights were equally divided between the two families.

Many early German immigrants first established their homes with relatives and friends who had arrived previously. In the 1860 Bexar County census, William Heidemann, age 35, is living in the household headed by William Hausmann, also age 35, and his wife Augusta and their two children, William age 6 and Earnest age 2.[8]  It is not been determined that Heidemann and Hausmann were related to one another. 

On March 20, 1862, William Heidemann married Lizy Obert in Bexar County.[9] Lizy appears in the 1860 Bexar County census as “Eliza” Obert, age 17.  She is living in the Menger hotel and her occupation was given as “servant.”[10]  It is likely that William Heidemann began building on his property at this time and establishing a home for his new wife.  The Bexar County tax rolls indicate a significant increase in property valuation and state tax from 1861 to 1862, with the property valued at $319 in 1861, taxed at $.50 and in 1862 a valuation increase to $400.00 at $2.00. This may have the period of time when the first pen of the log house was constructed. During the Civil War period, property values dramatically decreased to less than $300.  However, in 1867, the property was valued at $344 and in 1868, the property was valued at $372.00.  This may indicate another period of construction. During these same years, William and Eliza were adding to their family with the birth of 5 children, William, Jr. (1863), Frederick AKA Ferdinand (1866), August (1868), Ernest (1872) and George (1874).  The property increased again in value from $186 in 1876 to $400 in 1878 with a  significant tax increase from $7.83 in the year of 1876  to $11.37 in 1878.This may indicate additional buildings being added to the property.  Tax records indicate a steady growth of ranching operations as cattle increased from 4 in 1861 to 22 by 1874, to 25 by 1883 and continuing on until 1888 at which time there were 30 cattle.  At the same time, the presence of horses remained steady at 1-2 from 1858 to 1882 at which time there was an increase to 7 horses, followed by 12 horses in 1883 decreasing to only 7 horses in 1887 and 3-4 horses during the years of 1908 – 1911. In 1880 Heidemann also reported ownership of 16 goats and 10 hogs, valued at $8.00 and $20 respectively. 1882 was an exceedingly good year as William Heidemann reported Cash on hand in the amount of $2500.[11]  A 1938 Tobin aerial survey map of the property reveals the presence of a large barn type structure immediately to the north of the log house.[12] To date, it has been undetermined what this structure was and when it was demolished. In addition to the original acreage jointly purchased with Hausmann, William Heidemann also owned 181 acres in the following surveys:  H. Haberman, M.F. Watson, J. Casillas, and E. Flores. This ownership continued at least through the 1880’s and 1890’s.

Although it has not been determined if William Heidemann was operating a dairy, it is likely that he was doing so.  Dairy farming was big business in Bexar County and it was rare that a prosperous rancher did not engage in this occupation.  In the 1870 agricultural census, Heidemann reported ownership of 12 milk cows and 20 other cattle, as well as 6 horses and 8 working oxen.  He grew corn and sweet potatoes, yielding 150 bushels of Indian corn in 1860, 100 bushels in 1870 and 26 bushes of sweet potatoes in 1860.[13]

In 1893, William Heidemann died and was buried in the Heidemann Cemetery.   The sons, William, Frederick and Ernest relinquished their rights to the property to their brothers, August and George Heidemann.  Apparently, William, Jr. was not interested in ranching and had chosen his occupation as an engineer at a flour mill. Frederick and Ernest both married and established their homes in Uvalde. George and August continued the ranching operations together for a period of time and appeared jointly on the tax records for 1896 and 1897 as owning cows, horses and jennets. George married Bertha Emilienberg on Nov. 21, 1895 in Bexar County and August Heidemann married Sophie Emilienburg on May 15, 1901 in Kendall County, sister to Bertha. Bertha and Sophie were the daughters of Frederich Emilienburg and Anna Braden Emilienburg who lived adjacent to the Heidemann property. Other children in this family were: Cecilia, Kurt, Bertha, Ella and Alex.[14]Prior to the death of William Heidemann, he had entered into an agreement with Frederich Emilienburg to build a fence 700 varas long, running along the southeast line of a 21 acre tract belonging to William Heidemann, survey #228.  The fence was to be built of posts to be furnished and placed in the ground by Heidemann.  The boards and wire were to be furnished and fastened to the posts by Emilienburg.  Heidemann agreed to lease the 3 acres of land on which the fence would be built on the Emilienburg side and Emilienburg agreed to pay Heidemann 50 cents per annum.  This agreement was to be in force for a period of 25 years.[15]

On Dec. 12, 1899, George Heidemann sold his undivided interest in the original acreage, as well as other acreage to his brother, August for $770.00.  George and Bertha, who had begun their family (two girls Mary, age 2 and Rosie age 6 months) were living in Utopia, Uvalde County, Texas at the time with George’s brother, Frederick.[16]  George and Bertha later returned to Bexar County and were living on Dietz-Elkhorn Road in Leon Springs in the 1910 census, on Fredericksburg Road in the 1920 census and on Van Raub Road in the 1930 census. George’s occupation was consistently listed as being a farmer.[17] In 1917, when he registered for the draft, he was 44 years of age and listed his residence as Leon Springs.[18]

With the moving of George Heidemann to Uvalde County, August scaled back his ranching operations considerably.  From 1900 through 1911 he reported owning 3 to 4 horses and averaged owning 6 to 8 cattle, decreasing to 5 cows by 1911. The total value of the property in 1911 was $1,980.[19] August and Sophia Heidemann began their family in 1902 with the birth of Helena Sophia, followed by the birth of Emil August in 1905, Minnie Elsie in 1909 and Ella Bertha in 1915. On March 27, 1916, August Heidemann deeded a 40 foot strip of land encompassing 1 84/100 acres of land to Bexar County for the extension of Toutant Beauregard Road through his property.[20]  This land was said to beginning at the point of Mrs. E.C. Riley’s property and was at the end of the present day Toutant Beauregard Road. 

August Heidemann died on Jan. 17, 1919 at the age of 51 and is buried in the Heidemann Cemetery. The land passed to his wife, Sophia who continued the farming and ranching operations with the help of her son, Emil August.  On August 26, 1926, Sophie Heidemann entered into an oil and gas lease with the Bexar Petroleum Company.  The oil and gas exploration involved 348 ½ acres including the original land in this study.[21]  This lease was subsequently canceled in 1930.[22]  On Feb. 1, 1928, Sophia Heidemann married H.R. Douglas at the Baptist Church in Boerne.[23]They were divorced 4 years later on Oct. 15, 1932 in Bexar County after she alleged abandonment.[24]

Sophie Heidemann died on Jan. 25, 1938 and is buried in the Heidemann Cemetery.  On Feb. 5, 1938, the sisters of Emil Heidemann, Helene Sophie Heidemann Mockert and Ella Bertha Heidemann Pfeiffer, and their respective spouses, Edward P. Mockert and Gilbert L. Pfeiffer, deeded 305.92 acres of land to Emil Heidemann.  This included the property in the surveys of M. Casillas, J. Casillas, H. Haberman and B.F. Watson.[25]  Emil continued to live on the land and participate in ranching operations on a small scale.  Four years later he married Jewell Anderson.

Emil Heidemann, (born Dec. 7, 1905 – died August 8, 1966) and Jewell Anderson (born August 7, 1906 – died May 1999) were married at Grace Lutheran Church in San Antonio on May 25, 1942.  The pastor was John A. Scherzer.  Witnesses were Mrs. Wm. J. Moules and Velma Barrett.[26]  Jewell Anderson was the daughter of Leonard Alonzo Anderson (1874-1967) and Allie Sullivan Anderson (1882-  ). Allie Sullivan was one of nine children born to James E. and Sarah Sullivan of Guadalupe County. In the 1910 census, Allie and Leonard “Lonnie” Anderson were living in Guadalupe County and by 1920 they had moved to Bexar County where they were living on Somerset Road.  Lonnie Anderson’s occupation was listed as a farmer.  Jewell Anderson, at age 13 was the oldest of 4 siblings, Joe (11), Duke (7) and Yona (5).

Emil Heidemann and his wife, Jewell Anderson Heidemann, continued to live on the land until their deaths. They had no children. Although they had livestock on the property, they had limited ranching operations.  Emil served in World War II and then later operated a store as a civil service employee at nearby Camp Stanley on the Leon Springs Military Reservation.  Camp Stanley, a subpost of the San Antonio arsenal, operated as an ammunition supply depot. In 1985 it became a subpost of Camp Bullis.[27]  Emil Heidemann engaged in the hobby of woodworking and carpentry.  His woodworking shop is constructed of stacked ammunition crates, most likely obtained from his store at Camp Stanley.  Both Emil and Jewel loved to deer hunt.  The walls of the woodworking shop are lined with deer antlers. Emil Heidemann suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while at his ranch home on August 8, 1966 and died within six hours of onset.[28]  He was sixty years of age. Emil Heidemann was buried in the Heidemann Family Cemetery on August 10, 1966.

On July 30, 1973, the Estate of Emil Heidemann was probated by Executrix, Jewell Heidemann. His will left all properties to Jewel Heidemann.[29]  She subsequently divested herself of some of the property through sales, but the original property from the Matio Casillas survey with the historic stone and log structures remained in her possession until the sale in 1993 to Roy Barrera, Sr..

Jewel Heidemann was a fiercely independent and strong woman.  She taught Spanish in the Boerne Independent School system for many years until her retirement.  She has been described as a very helpful and very kind individual, who knew what she wanted to do and how to get it done.  She took an active role in the running of the ranch and was on the tractor in the fields as much as her husband, Emil.  She was also actively involved in growing vegetables and in canning vegetables and fruits grown on their land.[30]Mrs. Heidemann was an extremely frugal individual, reluctant to spend money on things she deemed to be unnecessary.  In the 1990’s, she contacted the neighboring Barrera family and stated she had run out of water.  At this time, it was learned that her water pump had been inoperable for many years and she had chosen not to spend the money to get it repaired.  She had been collecting rain water in barrels for many years from the run off of the roof of her garage.  Due to the severe drought which Bexar County was experiencing at that time, there had been insufficient rain runoff to collect for her water needs. The Barrera family came to her aid in providing water, although the pump did not get repaired until later.  Mrs. Heidemann was a very private person and in her later years had very little contact with any family members.  She did establish a strong friendship with members of the Roy Barrera family and agreed to sell the land to Mr. Barrera with the understanding that it would be maintained in its present condition and not sold to land developers.  Mrs. Jewell Heidemann died in May 1999 at the age of 94.  She is buried in the Heidemann Cemetery. Barrera family members have memories of Mrs. Heidemann sitting on her porch in her rocking chair looking out over the fields and pastoral landscape.[31]  The Barrera family has continued the long-standing ranching traditions of the Heidemann family, have improved the infrastructure on the property, have restored the historic structures and have established their own family settlement.

Pat Ezell, 2016

Historic Farm and Ranch Committee, San Antonio Conservation Society

[1] Declaration of Intention, William Heidemann, Bexar County District Clerk’s Office, San Antonio, Texas. Metal

  file box accessed by Pat Ezell, May 2007.

[2] Index to Naturalization Records of Bexar County, Texas Through 1906. San Antonio Genealogical & Historical

  Society, January 1998

[3] Alley, Jacobina and Janey E. Joyce, Abstractors, Bexar County Texas Voter Registration, 1865 & 1867-1869. San

  Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society, 2006.

[4] Bexar County Deed Records, Vol. N2 p 130-131.

[5] Texas General Land Office, Abstract #165, File #001132, Patent #916, Vol. 6, Certificate #1558.

[6] Bexar County Tax Assessment Rolls, 1837-1910. Austin, Texas, Texas State Library Records Division for Texas

  State Library Archives, 1986.

[7] Bexar County Deed Records, Vol. T1, p.53+

[8] U.S. Census Reports, Population Schedules, Bexar County, Texas, 1860

[9] Bexar County Marriage Book, D2, p.324, License #2143.

[10] U.S. Census Reports, Population Schedules, Bexar County, Texas, 1870, p.397.

[11] Bexar County Tax Assessment Rolls, 1837-1910. Austin, Texas, Texas State Library Records Division for Texas

   State Library Archives, 1986.

[12] Tobin aerial map of Heidemann property, 1938. PT Energy Solutions, San Antonio, TX.

[13] Bexar County Agricultural Census, 1860 and 1870.

[14] Anna Braden, (born Feb. 1855) and Frederich Emilienburg married on Jan. 6, 1871 in Kendall County, Texas.

   Anna’s mother was Sophia Braden who was born in Nov. 1836 in Germany.  Anna’s brothers were Ed (born April

   1870) and Alfred (born Nov. 1880).

[15] Bexar County Deed Records, Vol. 29, p.350+.

[16] Bexar County Deed Records, Vol. 185, p.244+.

[17] U.S. Census Reports, Population Schedules, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930.

[18] World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, National Archives and Records Administration., M1509.

[19] Bexar County Tax Assessment Rolls, 1837-1910. Austin, Texas, Texas State Library Records Division for Texas

   State Library Archives, 1986.

[20] Bexar County Deed Records, Vol. 478, p.566.

[21] Bexar County Deed Records, Vol. 959, p.247+.

[22] Bexar County Deed Records, Vol. 1173, p.199. Release.

[23] Kendall County Marriage Certificate, photocopy in possession of Pat Ezell, provided by Carmen Barrera Ramirez.

[24] Decree of Divorce, Sophie Heidemann Douglas vs. H.R. Douglas, No. B 68,236, 73rd Judicial District County,

   Bexar County, Texas. Photocopy in possession of Pat Ezell, provided by Carmen Barrera Ramirez.

[25] Bexar County Deed Records, Vol. 1619, p.444+.

[26] Bexar County Marriage Certificate #137261.

[27] Texas Online Handbook, Camp Stanley. Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. ","


[28] Texas Certificate of Death, Registrar’s File #3632, H.C. Day, M.D., Boerne, Texas.

[29] Bexar County Deed Records, Vol. 5793, p. 1586+.

[30] Conversation between Phyllis McCarley (relative of Jewell Anderson Heidemann) and Pat Ezell, May, 2007.

[31] Conversations between Roy Barrera, Sr., Carmen Barrera Ramirez, Pat Ezell and Joanna Parrish, 2007.