Wunderlich Family History

The Wunderlich family was part of a large number of German families who settled in the Klein area in the last half of the 1800s. Political conditions in Germany were unsettled, land there was scarce, and the United States offered a new beginning. Here new immigrants found freedom and vast open spaces.

In 1852 Johann Peter Wunderlich became the first of the Wunderlich family to immigrate to the United States. Later his brother, Jost, and a sister, Marie Katherine, would immigrate to Texas with their families. Other family members stayed in Germany, where their descendants still live.

In Texas Peter and the other immigrants had to adjust to the hot, humid climate, and many of the early immigrants suffered from the fever. Peter Wunderlich married Marie Katherina Hofius, and the couple rented land and a room from Jacob Theiss as they began farming. Soon they bought land of their own – 120 acres for $175 (About the same time they bought a horse for $45). Besides farming, Peter made charcoal and syrup to sell, as well as pine tar for pitch, a lubricant for wagons, stagecoaches, and buggy wheels. His house was located just north of us, closer to Spring-Cypress Road. The stagecoach line from Houston ran on a trail by Peter’s home, along what became Theiss Mail Road.

Peter and Katherine had six children. The last son, also named Peter, was born two months after his dad died in an unfortunate accident. The North and South were fighting the Civil War, but the German immigrants were not interested in the war. They had seen enough fighting back in Germany. Nevertheless, they were conscripted into the war effort. Peter and several others were working at a gunpowder mill which had an explosion in April, 1864. Peter and two others were killed – and little Peter was born to Katherine two months later. A historical marker in Spring Creek Park near Tomball marks the site of the gunpowder mill explosion.

After Peter’s death, Katherine kept her family together. (The house Katherine built in the 1870’s has been moved and is now part of the Klein Museum complex). The Wunderlichs became charter members of Trinity Lutheran Church, established in 1874. Four of the children later left farming and became involved in education and ministry in the Trinity Lutheran Church. Sons William and Peter continued to farm the Wunderlich land.

In 1891 Peter married Sophie Krimmel, whose family had come to Klein in 1846. Peter and Sophie built the Wunderlich Farm house when they were married. The lumber in the house was processed by the Jacob Strack sawmill south of Cypress Creek off Stuebner-Airline Road. The house is built of pine with no knots in the lumber. The front rooms are the oldest part of the house; the back rooms were added just a couple of years later.

In 1911 everyone in the family had typhoid fever, except two year old Leona, who was staying with godparents. The youngest child died two days after she was born; mother Sophie died ten days later; and oldest son Phillip died two months thereafter. Dead rats in the water well apparently brought on the disease. The next year Peter married Helena Kaiser.

Peter died in 1941, and his wife in 1958. When the eight surviving children divided up the 360 acre homestead, son Alphonse acquired the house and surrounding land. When Alphonse moved out of the house in 1995, the Klein Historical Foundation converted the house into a museum to portray the way of life in Klein, Texas in the 1890-1925 era.