One Friday afternoon an unexpected call from Austin, TX, came to us in Boerne. Mrs. Jean Sutherland was sorting through family pictures and found an old photo of her late husband’s great uncle and his wife. That photo was a previously unknown picture of the well-known William Kuhlmann and his wife, Marie of early pioneer days in Boerne, TX. Mr. Kuhlmann was a leading citizen near the turn of the century in the new town of Boerne, established primarily by German immigrants in Texas.
William Kuhlmann was born in Bremen, Germany in 1856, as was his wife, Marie in 1854. He had a home built in 1885, and became a naturalized citizen in 1890. In he returned to Germany to marry his sweetheart and bring her back to live in the house. They came to the Texas with dreams of growing their livelihood and, of course, a family. But in 1896, Marie died in childbirth. The infant never lived. Mr. Kuhlmann died of pneumonia in 1918. He, Marie, and the infant are buried in the Boerne Cemetery.
The house still stands today on the lot where it was built on Historic Hill in Boerne. It was a rubblestone, two-story structure with gallery on the front of the house. Originally the house had two upper and two lower rooms. The gallery on both floors extended around to the entire south side. The stairs to the upper floor were on the outside of the house on the East, or back side. As was the custom, there were no closets in the entire house. The house has one central chimney, with the fireplace on the southwest room. The remaining three rooms had openings into this same chimney and wood stoves were used for heating. The walls in the house are approximately 15″ thick and the 9 foot ceilings inside are beaded board. The upstairs floors are still the original random width planks varying between 10″ and 12″ in width. The floors on the first floor have been replaced and are now of 3″ narrow pine flooring. The house had a gabled roof and 6×6 sash windows. Today the gallery on the south side of the house is gone. It is believed that the south portion of the porch was removed in the late 1920’s when a major change in the house was made. The wooden portion of the house was added to the east side about the same time the south side gallery was removed. This new addition brought the house the newest conveniences. The outside stairs were removed. Traces still show on the rock and the door upstairs is still there. New stairs were built inside the southwest room. Closets were built in this room as well as the room directly above. A gallery and a modern kitchen (to take the place of the separate outdoor kitchen) were added to the first floor. On the second floor, a bathroom was added above the new kitchen and a second floor gallery was added above the new one on the first floor. With this new addition all the plumbing and water pipes were installed without having to go through the thick rock walls.
On the next day after the phone call, the president and liaison officer of the Boerne Area Historical Preservation Society met with Ms. Sutherland and two of her sons in the Kuhlmann-King house where she presented the Society with the remarkable photo of William and Marie Kuhlmann. It will be in a place of honor in the house they built and called home. It has been 100 years since Mr. Kuhlmann’s passing, but he and Marie are home again.