Klein Family Histories
Henry Benfer and his wife Elizabeth came from Westfalen, Germany in late 1866. They bought about 200 acres of land in the Klein area and began farming. Henry later became one of the founders of Trinity Lutheran Church. There are about 300 living descendants of Henry Benfer today.
Brothers Ludwig Wilhelm Benignus and Johann Ludwig “Louis” Benignus and their families came to Texas in 1874. Wilhelm became homesick and returned to Germany and was buried there. Descendants of these brothers lived in the current Forest North and Wind Rose area of Klein. Louis was a farmer and vinedresser. He made wine from the grapes and sold it to area churches.
William Blackshear came to the Big Cypress area around 1862 and bought land on Spring-Cypress Road around 1880. He ran a store and became Klein’s first postmaster on September 8, 1884. This store, located east of Adam and Friederika’s farm, was part of a long, straight building with a little porch and easy to find in a big bend of Spring-Cypress Road. In 1902, William Blackshear and his wife Elizabeth sold the store and land to their son-in-law, Charles Klein, the youngest son of Adam Klein.
Johannes Brill, another charter member of Trinity Lutheran Church, and his wife, Anna Elizabeth, sailed from Prussia to America in 1873. The Brills had been friends with the Hildebrandts in Germany; and the Hildebrandts, who had come to Texas earlier, had encouraged the Brills to come to Texas. Besides farming, John Brill also raised cattle. His brand was a sledgehammer, and family records show that in 1888 he paid $310 for 30 head of cattle.
Carl and Edward Doerre immigrated to Texas in the 1870’s from Saxony, Germany. Though Carl never married, Edward married Mary Klein in the 1880’s. The couple was blessed with four children. They purchased 320 acres from Mary’s dad, John Klein. When the people of the Klein Community wanted to build a public elementary and high school in 1931, the Doerre land was considered a central location. Herbert Doerre, Edward’s grandson, sold 10 acres with the stipulation that the land always be used for educational purposes. This is the land where the Klein administration offices are now.
Fritz Ehrhardt was born in Hesse, Germany and came to America in 1880 at the age of 23. Some of his relatives had probably come to Texas earlier and settled in the Bammel area. In 1885, Fritz married Louisa Strack. Several schools have been located on land originally purchased by Fritz Ehrhardt. The earliest was the Oak Grove School, built in the 1880’s.
Four Eiland brothers moved to the southern portion of Klein ISD in the 1930’s. Their grandfather, Tom Eiland, was of German heritage and his forefathers first settled in the English colony of Virginia as early as 1663. Member of the Eiland family migrated through Alabama before settling in Texas. Brother Emory, Otis, Wm. Nolan and Curtis established themselves as leaders in the development of the Klein community.
Martin Frank arrived in Texas in 1850 at the age of three with his parents but shortly thereafter was orphaned. After living with other families in the Lynchburg and Rosehill area, Martin moved to Klein in the 1870’s. Martin married Emilie Theis and they had 5 children before her death in 1886. Eleven children were born during his second marriage to Philippine Krimmel. Martin Frank farmed and raised cattle until his death in 1922. Today Frank family members own several businesses in the Klein area
The Hassler family in Germany has been traced as far back as 1750. On July 25, 1858, Marie Katherina Wunderlich married Wilhelm Hassler in the church in Birkalbach, Germany. In the next two years, the couple had two children, Heinrich and Friedrich Wilhelm. In 1861, the Hassler family immigrated to Texas. During the Atlantic crossing, baby Friedrich died and had to be buried at sea; it was a loss that Maria Katherina felt the rest of her life. In Texas, the Hasslers settled in the Big Cypress area and began farming, but William Hassler died of a fever in 1863 or 1864. In 1865, Katherina married Heinrich Kaiser, a veteran of the Civil War, and they had several children of their own together while also raising Heinrich Hassler. Descendants of Heinrich continue to live in the Klein community.
Charles Julius and Bertha Haude arrived in America in 1851 with their two children, Louise and Herman. A third child, Henry, was born shortly thereafter. The Haudes lived in Galveston until 1855 when they purchased 281 1/2 acres of land in the Klein area for cattle and farming. The land was located near Interstate 45 and Louetta and was purchased for $2 an acre. The land grant was signed by then governor of Texas, Sam Houston, in 1861. Charles had been a doctor in Prussia, and Bertha had been a midwife, but in America they mainly earned their living by farming. Charles could speak French, German, English, and Spanish, and when he first came to Texas earned fees as a translator.
Johann Hildebrandt brought his wife and five sons to the Klein area from Prussia in 1873. The family was seeking freedom from the heavy taxation, compulsory draft, and harsh rule of Kaiser Wilhelm. Shortly after arriving in Texas, however, Johann died from a heat stroke. Johann’s sons established families and farms for themselves. One son, John, built a house near the present railroad crossing on Hildebrandt road and operated a nearby sawmill. His grandson, Paul, raises cattle on the family property. Paul sold the land on which to build the present Hildebrandt Intermediate to the school district.
Henry Kaiser was born on September 9, 1825 in Hesse, Germany. In 1856 he and his first wife Elizabeth joined the Brautigams and 13 other families in coming to Texas. Landing in Galveston, the families used smaller boats to come up Buffalo Bayou to Allen’s landing in Houston. While Henry was serving in the Civil War, his first wife died of the fever. In 1865 widower Henry Kaiser married widow Katharina Wunderlich Hassler. One of the Kaiser sons, Emil, and his family, moved to the Spring/Westfield area, and a school was located on their property.
Andrew Kleb, born in 1856, grew up near New Kentucky, where his grandfather, Conrad Kleb, had come to settle years before. In 1890, the year before he married Victoria Kriegel, Andrew built a three room house, which later had additions made to it. Andrew and Victoria Kleb had seven children. In 1907 the Klebs moved to the Klein Community and began farming the area near Hooks Airport.
Adam Klein was born in Oberndorf, Germany on July 23, 1826. As a young man he became frustrated by the failure of political reform in Europe, and in 1848 he set sail for America with his young bride, Friedericke Klenk. The couple landed at New Orleans in January 1851. When Adam heard of gold in California, he went out to stake his claim. Adam and Friedericke later settled in northwest Harris County, where they bought 640 acres for 33 1/2 cents an acre. Besides farming, the family operated a cotton gin and grist mill. As settlements grew in the area, Adam Klein thought a post office was needed. When he wrote to Washington and asked that a post office be established in the area, the government consented and named the post office after Adam Klein. It was in this way the community acquired its name.
In 1874, the brothers Christian, Carl, and Gottlieb immigrated to Texas, where Aunt Fredericke Klenk had settled with her husband Adam Klein years before. Gottlieb was killed by a mule kicking him, and Carl later moved his family of ten children to Wichita Falls, Texas. The Klenks of the Klein community are descendants of Christian Klenk. In 1876 Christian married Fredericka Zwink at Trinity Lutheran Church. Christian helped build the original church building and was one of its first members. Christian owned about 450 acres of land, including the four corners where Kuykendahl and Spring-Cypress cross. Besides farming, Christian also did carpentry work, including the building of wooden coffins. His daughter Rosa often sewed the coffin linings.
Frederick Krahn came from. Burgenbuch, Poznen, Germany in 1860 to Galveston. With him were his wife Anna, his sons August and William, and his daughter. Anna died less than ten years after arrival, and Frederick married Elizabeth. The couple had one child named Fredericka. It is uncertain exactly where the first Krahns settled in Texas, but it was in northwest Harris County, probably in the Cypress area.
August Kreinhop and his wife Dorothea were the first members of the Kreinhop family to settle in this area. They owned about 250 acres of land that is located very close to Kreinhop Elementary. A street south of FM 2920 is named Kreinhop Road. Their family home, first located near Falvel and Spring-Stuebner Rd., was sold to the Hildebrandt family and has been re-located to the Wunderlich Farm museum complex.
Karl and Philippine Krimmel came to Texas in 1846 with four children, making them one of the early settlers in the Big Cypress (Klein Community) area. The old Krimmel homestead was located on the southwest corner of Spring Cypress and Klein Cemetery roads. Three Krimmel children married three Kuehnle children.
There are two branches of the Kuehnle family who came and settled in the area at different times. The earliest Kuehnles were from Eichenkernberg, Germany and came in the 1850’s. The second group of Kuehnles came from Wittenberg, Germany in the 1870’s. Research has not revealed any connection between the Kuehnle branches, though their villages are in the same general area of Germany.
In the early 1840’s, Wilhelm Lemm came to Texas from Germany. In 1854, Wilhelm married Henrietta Horn, and the couple settled on Wilhelm’s homesteaded land near Spring, Texas. Wilhelm received his land while Texas was still a Republic and Sam Houston was president. Wilhelm went on to fight in the Civil War and also became a charter member of the Trinity Lutheran Church. He died in 1880, but members of the Lemm family still live in Wilhelm’s old home.
George McDougle was one of the first settlers in the Klein area, arriving in Texas by 1835. George McDougle was born in Hanover, Virginia and married Jane Laughlin of Louisiana in 1823. George joined others coming to Texas seeking opportunities for land and raising cattle. George McDougle settled north of Cypress Creek on what is now Stuebner Airline Road, near the current Five Forks Road. For a time in 1839, George enlisted in the Texas Rangers
The family patriarch, Jacob John Metzler, along with second wife Elisabeth Arnold and their five children, emigrated sometime prior to February 15, 1847 from Germany to a new colony near Galveston. Upon arrival they discovered that arrangements had not been made to provide them with the expected land. They traveled deeper into the state and ended up in the Klein area.
Carl Theodore Wilhelm Mittelstädt arrived in the United States in 1869 with his wife Wilhilmene and five of their six children. They had lived in Semlow, Franzburg County, which today is in northern East Germany. The house they built still exists. Today there are almost 2000 direct descendants of these original Mittelstädts.
Two different Mueller families came to Texas in the 1800s. William Mueller emigrated from Germany (Prussia) in the year 1879, entering through the Port of Galveston, Texas. William married Albertina Mittelstadt and they had eight children. Christian Mueller, Sr. also emigrated from Germany (Prussia), entering Galveston with his eight children in the year 1881. Christian was married to Catherine Dietrich while in Germany but she passed away prior to Christian’s emigration to Texas.
John Nitsch, born in Koenigsburg, Germany, January 27, 1860, arrived in Galveston in 1885. By trade he was a pastry cook, but after moving to the Klein area, he began farming corn, potatoes, and cotton. Produce would be taken by wagon to the Farmer’s Market in Houston, and the round trip would take two days. John married Hedwig Lentz, and the couple had five children.
Henry Roth, Sr., born in 1824, moved from Feudingen, Wesfallen, Germany to the Klein area with his wife Ana and his son, Heinrich, Jr. in 1854. Settling on land in and around what is now the Bridgestone subdivision, the Roths farmed, raised cattle, and owned a cotton gin and a sawmill. Henry, Jr. married Julia Wichman, and the couple had ten children. Rhodes Road is named after the Roths; the non-German people in the area often mispronounced the “Roth” names as “Rhodes.”
Johann Reinhard Schindewolf married Maria Magdalena Hildebrandt in 1873 in Frankershausen, Germany. That same year, several members of Maria Hildebrand’s family immigrated to Texas. Before Johann’s death in 1888, Johann and Maria had three children together: Elissa, Klous Otto, and George. After her husband’s death, Maria Schindewolf brought her three children to settle in Texas. Elissa later married and moved to California. Otto married Emma Hildebrandt and raised a family of five children in Westfield. George married Annie Strack and raised seven children in the Klein community. Descendants of Johann and Maria Schindewolf continue to live in the Klein community.
According to the U.S. Census records, Herman Schultz came from Germany with his grandmother Hannah Olstan, in 1872, when he was six years old. He had been born in Germany on December 25, 1865. Nothing is known about Herman’s parents or the circumstances surrounding his coming to the United States. Herman Schultz was married first to Katherine Mueller, and the couple had eight children. When Katie Mueller died, Herman married Elizabeth Kreinhop Mittelstaedt. They also had eight children. Among Herman’s sixteen children were three sets of twins. As with most families in the area, the Schultzes were farmers, raising cotton and corn as well as a few hogs and cattle.
Herman Strack was the oldest of five sons who came to Texas from Prussia in 1848. He was a blacksmith who turned to farming, purchasing land near Cypress Creek. The land was part of two of the original 1836 Republic of Texas grants. The family continues to farm the land first purchased by Herman Strack.
In 1846, the same year Texas became part of the United States, Johann Heinrich Theis arrived in Indianola with his wife Katherina Theis and four children. The family was from Bottenhorn, Germany, about 100 miles from Frankfurt. Johann purchased 200 acres of land near Rosehill for $1.00 per acre. Besides farming, Johann and his sons also found work as builders. Many of the homes in the area were built by them. The house Henry built for his family is still standing and is now part of the Tomball Museum Complex. In 1850 Henry and his son John became founders of Salem Lutheran Church. Henry’s oldest son, Jacob Theis, moved his family to the Klein area in 1854, purchasing 557 acres of land for $700. Jacob and his wife Elizabeth had ten children. In 1874 Jacob was one of the founders of Trinity Lutheran Church.
The Ulrich family came to Texas in the early 1900s. Three brothers, Eric, Raymond and Herman, were born to August and Marie Ulrich. The youngest son, Herman purchased land across from the original homestead. This land was on the south side of Spring-Cypress and is now the site of present day Ulrich Intermediate. Herman married Tillie Hildebrandt and they had three children, Grace Ulrich Jones, Allen and Gladys Ulrich Krueger.
In the 1850’s, two Wunderlich brothers, Peter and Jost, came to Texas from Germany, seeking freedom of religion and better living conditions. By 1861 the two brothers were joined by their sister, Katherina Wunderlich Hassler, and her husband Wilhem. Peter homesteaded land, and in 1861 he was granted title to 577 acres. In 1864, during the Civil War, Peter was fatally burned in a gunpowder explosion near Spring Creek. Peter and his wife Katherina (was a Hofius) had six children. Their descendants have continued to farm the land for over 100 years. In the early 1870’s Jost Wunderlich bought 100 acres of land on the west side of Kuykendahl Road, between Spring-Cypress and Rhodes Road. Bridgestone West subdivision is on this land today.
The Zwinks, Johann F. Sr. and Soonia Eckerman Zwink, were from the village of Lippoldsweiler near the town of Backnang north of Stuttgart in the old southern state of Wurttemberg, Germany. They had seven children, Louise, Sophie, Johann, Friedericke, Gottlieb, Nanna and Adam. Louise lived in the New York area. Sophie came to Texas in 1880 and married Julius Hirsch of Rosehill/Tomball, Texas. Friedericke Zwink came to Texas in 1874 and married Christian Klenk Sr. Gottlieb Jacob lived in Oklahoma and Anna lived in Halettsville, Texas. Adam married the widow Emma Strelau in 1884. Johann F. Zwink Jr came to Texas in 1881 and married Fridolina Frommherz. Fridolina died two months after the wedding and Johann later married Elise Wunderlich in 1884. Johann or John Jr. and wife Elisa lived with Elisa’s father Jost Wunderlich, brother to Peter Wunderlich. They farmed on the land on Kuykendahl Road, just north of Spring-Cypress. They had nine children with six living to adulthood.