MUENSTER — When Franz and Elizabeth Hesse stepped off the train in Muenster, Texas more than a century ago, little did they know their story would be told, retold and told again to their descendants.
Muenster is a German Catholic community in Cooke County that will celebrate 125 years on Dec. 8. The Muenster Historical Society will host an Open House from 1 to 4 p.m. on Dec. 7. The city’s history will be on display at the Ben and Aggie Fette Seyler Museum, 420 Main St.
Franz and Elizabeth Hesse and their children traveled by train through the expansive prairies of Texas. Many longhorns were seen grazing as the train clicked along the tracks. To Elizabeth the cattle looked mean and she couldn’t wait to arrive in Muenster to a sunny little home. When the conductor called the stop for Muenster and as she and her children debarked, there was nothing but a signpost. Disappointment must have poured through the gentile lady
“Now we are in Muenster,” her husband said cheerfully.
“But where are the houses,” she asked.
Alert for the occasion, her husband quickly opened his umbrella and said, “Now dearest, we are under a roof.”
This story continues to be told as part of the city’s history.
Muenster was established in 1889 after brothers Carl and Emil Flusche answered letters written by August Pulte in a German-American periodical about suitable farmland in Cooke County.
Muenster settlers arrived to farm and crops included wheat, cabbage, potatoes, and cotton. G. Koll, Theodore, Wiesmann and Joseph Wiesmann are several of the first settlers of the Muenster colony. In October 1889, they helped build a land office near the corner of Main and Division streets.
An article ran in the Oct. 10, 1889 Gainesville Daily Hesperian stating that the new settlers arrived with “eight fine, robust and healthy looking farmers.” The settlers used one of the barns as a community kitchen and converted another into a sleeping place for the men. The few women and children slept in the Flusche Brothers Land office. During the next several weeks, many more settlers arrived. Most stayed in temporary housing in Gainesville until homes could be built. By March of 1890 about 30 families were living in the Muenster community with the number of school age children reaching 40.
The Hesperian newspaper welcomed the new townspeople and wrote that Muenster would bring an increase in commerce for the county, which it did then and continues to do so now.
Back then streets were muddy and filled with horses pulling wagons. Businesses were built and in the early 1900s the city had threshing machines, cotton gins, saloons, blacksmith shop, hotels, general store, shoe shop, bakery, drug store, and farmer’s market.
Establishing a church was important, allowing residents a place to worship, hold weddings and funerals. It was central for their lives and represented the heart of the community. Consequently, Sacred Heart Church was established in 1898.
Preserving the town’s history is important to the Muenster Historical Commission members, which include Mary Ann Arendt, Betty Blockus, Charlene Cowan, Alice Davidson, Celine Dittfurth, Marlyn Doughty, Becky Edwards, Betty Felderhoff, Maryanne Fleitman, Janie Hartman, Marianna Lawson, Jewel Otto, Bernice Sicking, and Lou Voth. They will be available Sunday to show and tell about the town’s history.
The Muenster Museum contains items dating back to the town’s founding by German immigrants. The museum resides in the former home of Ben and Aggie Seyler. He was the first fire chief of Muenster. Items on display include an 1890s Edison Victrola, an 1876 Mason Hamlin pump organ from Muenster’s first school, a typewriter from 1890 and authentic 1880s clothing.
From the 30 families, Muenster’s population has increased to 1,544 people as of the 2010 census. Located in Muenster are two long standing, exemplary schools from kindergarten to twelfth grades; Muenster Independent School District and Sacred Heart Catholic School.
Today there are more than 125 businesses in Muenster, including two machining and industrial tooling shops. Top quality products are provided by two feed mills and two meat processing facilities. Muenster is home to Nortex telecommunications company and Cooke County Electric Coop. There are several oil drilling companies, hardware stores, main street shops, boutiques, restaurants, bakery, grocery stores and convenience stores.
The Muenster area includes a beautiful golf course, motorcycle trails, lodges and a motel, and a brewing company to open in the spring of 2015.
Service groups include the Kiwanis, Jaycee’s, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Sacred Heart Alumni, Muenster Historical Society and Friends of the Muenster Library.
Citywide festivals include Germanfest and this will be its 40th anniversary - the largest festival in Cooke County. Other festivals include the annual Oktoberfest, Muenster Open Car Show, citywide Garage Sale and annual lighted Christmas parade.
Muenster has the newly constructed Heritage Park, which is a 60,000 square foot indoor facility on 62 acres. This is the current site of the Oktoberfest and will one day be the home of the Germanfest for future generations.