KLEBERG, ROBERT JUSTUS [I] (1803–1888).Robert Justus Kleberg, leading German settler, son of Lucas and Veronica (Meier) Kleberg, was born on September 10, 1803, in Herstelle, Westphalia, and named Johann Christian Justus Robert. His father was a prosperous merchant. Kleberg was educated in the classics at the Gymnasium at Holzminden and then attended the University of Göttingen, where he studied law and received a J.D. degree. After graduating he was appointed a justice of assizes in Nieheim and received several other judicial appointments. He married Rosalie von Roeder (see KLEBERG, ROSALIE) near Paderborn, Prussia, in 1834. They emigrated to Texas that year with their families and settled in Cat Spring in 1836. In the Republic of Texas Kleberg was associate commissioner and president of the Board of Land Commissioners (1837–38), justice of the peace (1841), and chief justice of Austin County (1846). In 1847 the Klebergs moved with the Roeder families to Meyersville, where Kleberg was elected county commissioner in 1848 and chief justice in 1853. He was also a leading Lateiner (see LATIN SETTLEMENTS).
Kleberg fought in the battle of San Jacinto in Capt. Moseley Baker's company and subsequently served as one of the Texas guards around Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna. After the revolution, he volunteered for six months' duty in the Texas army. In DeWitt County he was a member of John York's retaliatory campaign against the Indians on Escondido Creek. He is credited with saving German botanist Ferdinand J. Lindheimer's life when Lindheimer was wounded in the Brazos River bottom near Cat Spring. Kleberg was a loyal member of the Democratic party and supported the cause of the Confederacy. When the Civil War broke out he raised a company of militia but because of his advanced age was not received into active service. He had no official religious affiliation but like most Lateiner had his firm individual moral convictions. Robert and Rosa raised their own seven children in addition to several young Roeder relatives. Their youngest son, Robert Justus Kleberg, became the head of the King Ranch in 1885.
Kleberg died on October 23, 1888, at his daughter's farm near Cuero and was buried there. He was a longtime member of the Texas Veterans Association, and his grave is marked by a stone monument in the form of a soldier's tent with the words "Remember the Alamo" carved at the base. Kleberg County was named in his honor in 1913; a marker at his homesite near Cuero was erected in 1936.
Written by Les Walker
Robert Justus Kleberg II (born December 5, 1853 in DeWitt County, TX; died October 10, 1932 in King Ranch, Kleberg County, TX) the son of German immigrants Robert Justus Kleberg and Rosalie (Philippine Sophie Caroline Luise) von Roeder, was born in DeWitt County, Texas, on December 5, 1853. At age thirty-two, he left a promising career in law, and, having no experience in the cattle ranching industry, became the sole manager of the historic King Ranch. Kleberg led the King Ranch from 1885 until his death in 1932. During that time, it became not only the largest cattle ranch in the United States but also one of the most prosperous. Today, the ranch remains an iconic feature of American frontier life, harkening back to a mythical age when the Wild West was tamed and settled.
Robert Justus Kleberg II was born into a distinguished German-American family. In the early nineteenth century, the Kleberg and Roeder families were among the first German immigrants to settle in Texas, where they founded the town of Cat Spring. Life on the frontier was difficult, but first-generation immigrant Robert Justus Kleberg I made a name for himself in the community and played a key role in the political and social life of Texas throughout much of the nineteenth century. His son Robert II was born into privilege and certainly benefited from the opportunities afforded by the family’s position. Like his father, he received a university education and worked, at least for a time, as a lawyer. In 1885, while serving as opposing counsel in a court case in Corpus Christi, Robert Kleberg II first encountered legendary cattle king Richard King. That meeting, and his eventual win against King, marked a definite turning point in the life and career of this young second-generation German-American.
The great success of the King Ranch started with the vision of Robert II and his commitment and devotion to the land and the people who worked it. Over the years, he made key improvements to King Ranch in the areas of livestock and health, pasture management, and ranching facilities. His story, though, would be incomplete if one failed to mention the significant contributions he made to the urban and economic development of South Texas: for finding artesian water that allowed for the introduction of farming and ranching in the area, for his role in the development of a railroad line from Corpus Christi to Brownsville, and for his efforts to build up towns and create community life.
Written by Les Walker
Lone Star Brewing Company
Harry Jersig possessed a full head of thick, curly hair at age 79. Jersig was born in 1902 in Comfort, about fifty miles northwest of San Antonio. His father was the well-to-do son of German immigrants. After graduating from the University of Texas, Harry became an enterprising candy salesman who paid a Hill Country youngster named Lyndon B. Johnson 25 cents a day to tag along with him and open the ranch gates. Jersig prospered even after his employee left for other pursuits, and by 1940 he was enough of a success to be invited to buy into San Antonio’s sputtering, twice-defunct Lone Star brewery, which had been founded in 1868. Jersig, who had a brother-in-law in the beer business, took a more ambitious approach to the proposition. He talked two established brewers into buying the entire operation, engineered a public stock offering, began building a brand- new plant, and kept only the name of the old brewing company.
Jersig became president and took full control of the financial reins in 1948, but by that time Lone Star was already Harry Jersig’s beer. Jersig wanted to build an image for his beer, and he felt that the best way to build his beer’s image was to become involved in the community. That was a commitment that Jersig assumed personally, and he ended up heading everything from the United Fund to the chamber of commerce and was honored for his civic accomplishments by everybody from the Catholic College Foundation to the Exchange Club. He was also one of the handful of San Antonians who helped start the San Antonio River Authority, which has been so vital to the city’s development. Jersig wanted his brewery to be just as involved as he was, so he built a lake and picnic grounds next to the plant, throwing parties and running an aquacade to bring people in, and when the aquacade closed in 1957 he replaced it with a museum adjacent to the plant. Over the years Jersig sent traveling shows to little towns all over Texas, entertaining the citizens with teams or ponies, trained dogs, and chimpanzees.
Written by Les Walker
The Latin Settlements
Many German immigrants to Texas were called “solid peasant stock.” Many were. The first generation largely farmed, but very quickly some of the first and second arrivals sought employment in urban areas. Some settlers came with a variety of skills and quickly engaged in various trades or professions. A few Germans, however—and they would be known as idealists rather than farmers—established the so-called “Latin Settlements” in Texas. Five settlements were founded by highly educated Germans, almost all younger man, who departed a troubled mid-19th century Europe. The 1848 revolution in Germany, an example of failure in its object to shift political and economic power, did add to the reasons for emigration and not necessarily for farmers. Some men who did not otherwise see opportunity in frontier farming became exiles. Latin, until three generations ago, was an academically common language necessary for higher learning and a sign of a proper and worthwhile education. But where major human goals are to bring in a crop or earn a profit, Latin is no necessity. A small number, therefore, of university students and young professionals who found Europe politically hostile tried their hands on the Texas frontier. Milheim in Austin County, Latinum in Washington County, Bettina in Llano County, and Sisterdale and Tusculum in Kendall County were founded. Bettina is one of the most interesting examples of the effort. Nearly 40 young men, calling themselves Die Vierziger (both in reference to their number and to the troubled 1840s in Europe), subcontracted settlement rights from the German immigration society that managed much land beyond New Braunfels and Fredericksburg. Nearly all of these men were—or had just been—students at Giessen and Heidelberg. Experience they had in architecture, languages, medicine, education, mathematics, and law; they had no experience in farming. Yet their idea was to establish a communistic agricultural community on the Llano River which would soon attract 200 German families. The settlement was named Bettina after Bettina von Arnim, a German writer and an “ideal woman” to the young men. Arriving in 1847, the group built two notable structures: a thatched storage shed and a shingled adobe house. In the next year, they managed a corn crop of nearly 200 bushels. By late summer—and with a Texas winter on the imagined horizon—the colonial effort failed. Some of the young men apparently worked hard; some reportedly sat in the shade of oak trees philosophizing and thinking of pleasant student days. The latter were accused of trying to live according to a perilous maxim: Ede, bibe, post mortem nulla voluptas. (“Eat and drink, for after death there is no pleasure.”) As readers of Horace’s Odes, they remembered Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero. (“Seize the day; have little trust in tomorrow.”) Whatever was on their minds, a knowledge of Latin among certain other skills was neither sufficient nor necessary for frontier agricultural success. Almost all of the men drifted away, some to other areas of German settlement, some to urban settings. The name Bettina only remains on a few older maps. And what was true of Bettina was nearly true of the other settlements. The little communities provided individuals—who were often successful in their academic fields—to places like Houston and San Antonio. Others stayed. Sisterdale, Latium, and Millheim still exist with populations of about 100 (including “newcomers”). Tusculum provided an impetus for present-day Boerne. At one of the old locations, some have seen and heard a ghost who, beyond doubt, dates back to the settlement days. Ghosts are not unusual in Texas, but this one speaks fluent, academic Latin. THE INSTITUTE OF TEXAN CULTURES 2014 Texans One and All — The German
William A. Menger's Western Brewery (1855–78), located on Alamo Square in San Antonio, is usually considered the first commercial Texas brewery. By its last year of business in 1878, it was the largest operating brewery in Texas. In 1859, Menger also opened a very popular hotel next to his brewery. The Menger Hotel still contains the large cellar, constructed of three-foot-thick stone walls, that was used to chill the beer produced by the brewery. The cellars were cooled by the Alamo Madre ditch that flowed through what is now the patio of the hotel. Menger hired Charles Degen as his brewmaster. When Menger died in 1871, Degen continued with the brewery until it closed in 1878.
KLEBERG, CAESAR (1873–1946).Caesar Kleberg, rancher and wildlife promoter, son of Mathilda (Eckhart) and Rudolph Kleberg, was born on September 20, 1873, at Cuero, Texas. Rudolph Kleberg served in Congress from 1897 to 1903. Upon graduation from the Cuero schools and after attending St. Edwards University in Austin, "Mr. Caesar" went to Washington, D. C., where he was employed as his father's congressional secretary. He moved to the King Ranch in 1900 to begin work for Henrietta King and was chief assistant to his uncle, Robert J. Kleberg. Caesar first lived and worked on the Santa Gertrudis Division, but he made his mark during his thirty-year tenure as foreman of Norias, forty miles south of Kingsville.
His numerous friends included presidents, governors, Will Rogers, and the people who worked under him. He was a Democrat, an inheritance from his father, and was a delegate to five national party conventions. He was also a Mason. As a mentor of his younger cousins, the original five stockholders of the King Ranch Corporation, he was a major contributor to transforming the ranch from a traditional western operation to a modern beef-producing and horse-breeding business. Kleberg was a member of the Texas Livestock Sanitary Commission, and he and his uncle pioneered measures in tick eradication throughout the state (see TEXAS FEVER). He had a part in the development of railroads in the Rio Grande valley and was one of the incorporators of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway. He also helped found Kingsville, as an officer of the Kingsville Town Improvement Company.
Kleberg oversaw the restoration of the white-tailed deer, the turkey, and bobwhite quail to rangeland almost completely denuded of them. In 1924 he released Nilgai antelope from southern Asia on the Texas range, the first such release in the western hemisphere. The Nilgai have multiplied to such numbers that they are commercially harvested at Norias as a gourmet wild game meat. Kleberg, who never married, died at the Santa Gertrudis Division of the King Ranch on April 14, 1946. In his will he established the Caesar Kleberg Foundation for Wildlife Conservation, endowing a fund to support wildlife research and conservation around the world. In 1981 the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute was established on the campus of Texas A&I University; it was funded by the foundation to support research in wildlife diseases, commercial uses of wildlife, and the ecology of native plant and animal species.