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J. C. Mueller Family - Part 8: Later Years In Austin, After 1914

Part 8 of "The J. C. Mueller Family"


VII. Later Years In Austin, After 1914

Louisa Mueller's death coincided with the outbreak of World War I, and with the war came a general avoidance of German culture. None of the Mueller men served in the war, but I was always told that Leo was close to being called. The years before and after the war also were years of civic promotion. Many service clubs and fraternal groups were organized or grew in prominence. All of the Mueller brothers were at one time or another members of Rotary, and humorous descriptions of the brothers appear in the programs of the Rotary Reues of the postwar period.

As the family increased in numbers, there continued to be many family gatherings for various occasions. One photo, apparently taken in 1924, shows the entire family on the steps of Aunt Pina's house. Carl Edward is not in the picture; very likely he took the picture. The occasion may have been his Confirmation dinner.

We gathered at various places for outings, such as picnics, an overnight stay at a cabin at Fischer's Store, near Wimberley, car caravans to Fredericksburg and other places. There were excursions to Camp Giesecke and Camp Warnecke in New Braunfels, where we would float down the Comal River in chains of innertubes. One of the last family Fourth of July picnics that I remember was at Lohman's Crossing on the Colorado, now under the waters of Lake Travis. It seems to me to have been about 1934-35. By then, many of the younger generation were in college, or going their individual ways.

Carl Edward was the leader of our musical group, "The Jolly Muellers," which used the Trio of "Our Director" as our theme song. "We're the Jolly Muellers, all one family!" Carl Edward, who seemed to be able to play any instrument, was the leader and played violin. Frances played the piano, Bobby, the cornet, C. B., the saxophone, R. G., clarinet, Louis, trombone, and I, by default, I suppose, played the drums. As each member of the family took up an instrument, there seemed to be an understanding that it would be something that no one else played, in order to provide variety in the group. We played for many church dinners and other affairs, one of the last of which was the graduation ceremony one summer for the nursing class of Brackenridge Hospital.

In the summer there were usually a series of outings, going to "spend- the-day" at another cousin's house.

In the ensuing years, members of the family gradually left the home place (some had left before their mother's death). Guido Bock apparently left my Aunt Pina and Carl Edward sometime around 1916-18 (see directory listing). Nothing much was said about him when I was growing up, but he must have had some mental problems. We would see him occasionally in the yard at his brother's home and his former home at West Fifteenth and Lavaca Streets. Aunt Pina later worked at Carl Mueller's shoe store, where she sold socks at the front counter.

Uncle Gus and Aunt Tillie returned to Austin after living in New York state, and after living in Ridgetop, returned to the family hill on Sixteenth Street, in the house formerly occupied by the Otto Mayers. Uncle Gus worked as a carpenter, although now it seems very irregularly, and from his obituary, worked at Calcasieu Lumber Co. for eighteen years until his retirement. I think this would have been in the 1930's.

My father, Robert, was the first of the six Muellers to die.

Obituary, Pina Eva Bock, Austin American, Mon., June 26, 1939

Obituary of Gus F. Borner, no date, Dec. 6?, 1953: Austin resident for 31 years=1922; worked for Calcasieu for 18 years before retirement=1940?

Uncle Rudolph became very successful as manager of Calcasieu Lumber Co., and also in real estate management. He and my father were partners in a number of holdings, as were various members of the family. Uncle Rudolph and Aunt Laura lived for a time on West Sixth Street in a duplex or an apartment. In 1927, the R. G. Muellers built a very elegant mansion at 1400 West Avenue (see newspaper clipping). The house is now occupied by Frances M. Danforth. The lot on which the house stood extended down to House Park, and later, I think part of the lot was given to the public schools. They built a summer house or pavilion on the edge of the hill overlooking Shoal Creek Valley, and I remember spending at least one night there.

From the previously quoted article on Rudolph Mueller in the St. Martin's newsletter of 1955:

"He [Rudolph] was chairman of the building committee for our present Gothic structure, and has served as trustee and deacon intermittently for 50 years.... 'When I was treasurer of the old church, many times I had to add the salary to pay the minister, which was $50.00 per month, and the largest contributor then gave $1. per month. I remember at Christmas the Sunday School always had a huge cedar Christmas tree, and I used to sit close by the tree, with a long pole that had a wet sponge, trying to prevent a fire as all the lights were candles.'"

"He [Rudolph] was a member of the Austin Rotary Club and holds membership in the Hill City Masonic Lodge No. 456, the Scottish Rite Bodies, is a 32nd degree Mason, Ben Hur Shriner, former director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Austin Community Chest, and the Lumberman's Association of Texas. For 17 years, Mr. Mueller served as vice-president and chairman for finance for the Austin School Board. For 15 years, he has been a member of the directors of the Fidelity State Bank."

"Mrs. Mueller, born in Austin, received her education at St. Mary's Academy. Her father, Eugene von Boeckman, was founder of the Von Boeckman-Jones Printing Company. She has always taken an active interest in the women's church activities, and is serving her 28th year as financial secretary of the Altenheim [Home for the Elderly]; her mother was one of the founders. She is a piano graduate of the late Professor Edmund Ludwig; she is a member of the Austin Woman's Club."

My father continued working with his brother-in-law, Carl Mayer at the family jewelry store, and also with his brother, Leo, at the Trunk Factory, or luggage store. I think Leo ran the store for the most part, perhaps with consultation from my father. For a time, three stores in the 500 and 600 blocks of Congress Avenue were run by relatives! The trunk store was in the 500 block, and Carl Mueller's shoe store and the Carl Mayer jewelry store were in the 600 block. We had our choice of where we wanted to go to watch parades on the Avenue!

Obituary, R. G. Mueller, Austin Statesman, Wed., Mar. 13, 1957

Carl Mueller went into retail work at an early age, and at some point opened his own shoe store. I think other members of the family may have helped him finance the undertaking. Carl was President of the Austin Chamber of Commerce when Robert was elected to the council. The shoe store was a victim of the depression, and in 1935, went bankrupt. Uncle Carl had been Potentate of the Shrine the year before, and was a very outgoing person. After my father's death in 1927, Uncle Carl frequently tried to fill in for my father's absence. He took us driving, one time he took us along when he went dove hunting, and he was the one who went with me to father-son banquets when I was a Scout. Uncle Carl and Aunt Vera lived on Ruiz Street, which later became Lamar Boulevard. In the process of having to move from Ruiz Street, they built a new home on Elton Lane. Later, Bobby and Fritzi built on the same street.

Obituary of Carl Mueller, Austin Statesman, Wed., Dec. 11, 1957:

"Former president of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, and the Retail Merchants Association of Texas in 1930. Secretary in charge of rationing for the local OPA during World War II; Business Manager at Brackenridge Hospital prior to his prolonged illness. Potentate of the Ben Hur Shrine Temple in 1934. Earliest connection in Austin was with Smith and Wilcox, later established his own firm, Carl H. Mueller Shoe Store, a leading business in Austin for some 25 years up to 1935." (More)

Uncle Leo lived across the street from us after he and Sidonia were married. Their children, Louise Ann and Fritzi, were so much younger, it seemed, than the rest of us, that they were "out of things." Uncle Leo was a shrewd business man who had his cronies, Niles Graham, and others, that he played poker with. He put in long hours at the trunk store, as I realized when I worked during the Christmas rush at the store in 1946. I had just been released from the service at the time.

American-Statesman, Sunday, Aug. 12, 1956, p. 10:

"The first city manager plan election held May 11, 1926, brought the election of Ben M. Barker, Mayor P. W. McFadden, Robert Mueller, V. H. Pannell and D. C. Reed, who took office July 1, 1926. Between that election and the next one on April 4, 1927, E. L. Steck was appointed a member of the council to succeed Robert Mueller, who died in office, and later Lee [sic] Mueller succeeded Ben M. Barker, who resigned... McFadden, Steck and Lee [sic] decided to retire in 1933...."

The obituary of Uncle Leo appeared in the Sunday American, June 10, 1962, and listed the following achievements:
Fire Chief of Austin Volunteer Fire Dept. in 1913
Exalted Ruler of the Elks Lodge
Member of the Ben Hur Shrine, 33rd degree Mason, member of Sanhedrin Rotarian, member of St. Martins Ev. Luth. Church
May 1931, elected Mayor, but declined due to the pressure of personal business.

I believe that Uncle Leo also served as President of the Austin baseball club, the "Senators," back in the 1920's, but no mention of this is made in his obituary.

Uncle Leo served as election judge in the precinct where we lived; the polling place was usually the back of Wellmer's Store. At one point during the late 1930's or even perhaps in the 1940's, it fell to him to deny the privilege of voting to a black. At that time the Democratic primary was tantamount to election, but the Democrats could determine who could be a member of the party, and blacks were excluded.

Obituary, Ottilie Mueller Borner, Austin Statesman, Wed., Mar. 24, 1965

*** Additional information may be found in Donald Danforth's 1968 essay, "The Six Members of the J. C. Mueller Family" (typescript, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library).

Owner/SourceHarold Mueller
Date31 January 1989
Linked toJohn Charles MUELLER; Louisa Friederike Wilhelmine SCHIRMER

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