Week of October 15
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Redcreek Nature Ranch

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Redcreek Nature Ranch, Texas

The Kothmanns came to Texas from Germany, landing at Matagorda Bay on December 31, 1845, after a three month journey at sea. They spent the remaining winter months in miserable conditions on the Read more...

The Kothmanns came to Texas from Germany, landing at Matagorda Bay on December 31, 1845, after a three month journey at sea. They spent the remaining winter months in miserable conditions on the coast, finally making their way inland to New Braunfels in April 1846. After a brief time there, they became part of the first wagon train of 120 original settlers to Fredericksburg, arriving on May 8, 1846.

Heinrich Conrad Kothmann, born January 31, 1798, died August 27, 1881, and his wife Katherine Pahlman Kothmann, born March 1, 1810, died February 15, 1905, left Hanover, Germany, September 26, 1845. My great-grandfather, Heinrich Friedrich Kothmann, born February 10, 1835, died September 1, 1915, was their oldest son.

They were part of the very first founding families of Fredericksburg. Heinrich worked as a cabinet maker and served as the town musician, often playing the violin for money. During some of the most trying times, Friedrich walked barefoot with his father 80 miles to Austin where they found work splitting railroad ties for 25 cents per day. From those earnings, they had to feed and board themselves.

The Kothmann family was integrally involved in the early life of Fredericksburg, and with Providential protection, survived wide-spread disease and death. While life in the young town became increasingly more comfortable as time passed, Heinrich was drawn by the desire to own land and raise large numbers of livestock. In 1856, the opportunity to do just that presented itself when he was finally granted 640 acres of land in the Fisher-Miller grant. The original passage he had bought for the family in Germany for $240 had entitled him to this property located west of the Colorado River between the Llano and San Saba Rivers. A strong Indian presence and political and institutional financial problems had prevented the completion of this grant at an earlier date.

Holding strong to his dreams of giving his family a new start, he saved his money during the early years in Fredericksburg. With that he was able to buy an additional 640 acres, along with his grant of 640 acres, when the area opened up and the family was able to move to the Willow Creek region in eastern Mason County.

Starting over once again as pioneers in the wilderness, this time at the age of 58, Heinrich and Katherine built a new home, raised their children, and helped the older sons get started in the ranching business on their own. After a dozen very difficult years and some unbelievable good fortune, the Kothmanns were now living their dream of raising large numbers of livestock in the fertile Hill Country of Texas. Their burial site on the original family homestead at Art, Texas, seven miles east of Mason on HIghway 29, is designated with a Texas Historical Marker.

Their oldest son, Heinrich Friedrich (Fritz) Kothmann, my great-grandfather, became a very successful businessman and rancher. He was appointed the first sheriff of Mason County. He established the Premier Ranch, on the Llano River, raising pure-bred Hereford cattle. The original entry gate to the ranch still stands on the east side of Highway 87 between Mason and Fredericksburg. In the 1870’s he built a large and modern home on the ranch which drew attention from near and far. It is still in use today.

Fritz and his brother Dietrich were business partners in a number of various enterprises, including several cattle drives out-of-state. Fritz’s first wife was Sophie Hartwig, born March 16, 1833, died July 24, 1883. Their fifth son was my grandfather, Eli Henry (Lee) Kothmann, born September 10, 1872, died August 1, 1951. When he died in 1915, Fritz’s ten children were all established on their own ranches and each inherited $25,000.

This sum was a remarkable amount of cash for someone whose sole source of income was ranching in the raw territory of the Texas Hill country at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Eli Henry and his wife Amelia Hahn, born November 8, 1875, died January 28, 1972, were married on her birthday in 1899, in Mason. They ranched and began raising their family on the Llano River in Mason County. Ten years later they decided to make a significant change, and in the spring of 1909 bought 6,000 acres for $3.00 per acre in eastern Kimble County between Junction and London.

It is the southern portion of that purchase near the headwaters of Red Creek that is now Red Creek Nature Ranch. This land, which was a virtual wildlife refuge and untapped wilderness in 1909, is still pristine in many ways 106 years later. When someone visits the ranch today there is considerable evidence of forward thinking, creativity, and hard work that left the environment intact, while functioning as a productive working ranch for four generations.

My father, Howard Harris Kothmann, born March 6, 1904, died December 24, 1974, was the third son of eight children raised by Lee and Amelia on this property which became the passion of their lives. They taught their children to have great respect for the land and to be good stewards of it. Each child was given educational and economic opportunity.

For many years my father ran his own ranching operation and assisted his mother with hers after his father died. My father was able to purchase more and more land over the years from no other source of income but the raising of sheep, goats, and cattle. In August of 1941, Howard married my mother Mable Perkins, born July 9, 1918, died April 18, 2002. She was a devoted wife and mother.

Howard and Mable raised three children. I was the oldest, born October 6, 1942. I had two sisters. Amelia was born December 30, 1943 and died in 1999. Marlene, born March 25, 1949, lives on her part of the family ranch two miles north of my home, which was built by my parents in 1954. It is located at the headquarters of Red Creek Nature Ranch.

I have two sons, John James, born May 16, 1968, and Kevin Cameron, born April 4, 1970. James has a daughter, Kristin Lynn, born August 1, 1990. James and Kevin live with me on the ranch and work diligently to maintain its character and integrity. Kristin and her husband Afshawn currently reside in Florida.

It is the desire of my family and I to open the land we have been given dominion over, so others may have an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate its uniqueness and beauty.

Nature is an open book for those who care to read.

Upon each grass covered hillside is revealed the history.

Of the past, the condition of the present, and the hope of the future.

Read, Observe, Learn, Enjoy!

Family and ranch history compiled by John Howard Kothmann on December 25, 2004.

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Red Creek Nature Ranch
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