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J. C. Mueller Family - Part 9: The Robert Mueller Family

Part 9 of "The J. C. Mueller Family"

THE J. C. Mueller Family

VIII. The Robert Mueller Family

My mother and father were married on Sept. 25, 1912 by Rev. Romberg, in a rather simple ceremony. Dr. Hans Harthan, who had been one of mother's music teachers, and who was distinguished enough to merit mention in Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Music, was the organist. Mother's comment many years later was that "we surprised a lot of people." The newspaper report of the wedding bears this out. The only attendants at the wedding were mother's sister, Emilie, and my father's brother, Carl.

The article states that my mother had already served as organist for St. Martin's for two years. It also mentions my father's involvement in business and community welfare.

They left on an extended wedding trip, that took them to New Orleans, then by steamer (the S. S. Creole) to New York. A souvenir tea spoon of the ship found its way into Leona's collection of spoons. From New York, they went on across the country to Chicago, and then finally to St. Louis before their return to Austin. Mother must have traveled with a number of trunks, judging from the comments in her diary. After they returned, they lived with my grandmother, Louise S. Mueller, until her death in 1914. Carl and Leo were also living there, and after the death of Louise in 1914, Robert and Leona apparently bought the house.

The announcement of their wedding reads as follows:

"Mr. and Mrs. Carl Mayer/ announce the marriage of their daughter/ Leona/ to/ Mr. Robert Mueller/ on Wednesday evening, September the twenty-fifth/ one thousand nine hundred and twelve/ Austin, Texas/ At home/ after November first/ 508 East Sixteenth Street/ Austin, Texas"

Mother's own description of her wedding is as follows:

"Wednesday was rather a nice day - tho after dinner a norther blew up & it grew cold by eve which made a coat suit or overcoat feel quite comfortable - We were all ready for our wedding by 8 oclock - Robt & Carl came about 8:15 - We all left the house [616 Trinity] by 8:30 - Emily & Carl Mueller & Robt & I in the first carriage - We were married promptly at 8:45 by Rev. Romberg [in the 13th or Peach Street Church] - Dr. Harthan playing the wedding march - there was no one present at our wedding except both of our immediate families - Some of the choir members were up stairs but we didn't know they were going to be there - Our wedding was very quite [sic] and quite a surprise to many - We had the ring ceremony immediately after the ceremony at the alter Robt kissed me - then turned & marched out - there we recd congratulations, then took the carriages for the depot - All the family went to the depot except mama & papa & they couldn't go as papa wasn't very well - & was too cold for him - Our train left promptly at 9:30 - tho happy as could be with the dearest & best man in the world for my husband it was hard to bid all our loved ones goodbye - "

* * * * * *

My father and mother did a lot of traveling, beginning with their wedding trip to New York via steamer from New Orleans. Mother's diary of the trip includes many details, such as whom they saw, where they went, etc. A Worlds' Series game was one event that was included. After New York, they went overland to Ohio and Chicago, visiting friends Mother had known from her Chicago days.

The Creole was a popular steamer; it was the one that R. G., Laura, & Tillie took to New York in 1910, and in 1922. Robert and Leona took the same ship when they went to New York.

One of the couples they met on their wedding trip on the Creole was the Albert Tolle family of San Antonio. The friendship continued for the lifetime of the Tolles. During World War II, while stationed at Hondo, Texas, I would frequently stay at Mrs. Tolle's apartment at 139 Dakota Street, and used the address for my off-post residence. Mrs. Tolle arranged many blind dates for me, I think every single girl she knew!

John Tolle was our tour guide to the Chicago Fair in 1934, and during World War II, Mrs. Tolle, Mother, and I started out on a trip to Mexico via auto. We reached Laredo and gave up because of all the tire troubles we were having!

* * * * * *

Leona became a Communicant Member of St. Martin's Church by confirmation on Sept. 6, 1914. Her confirmation certificate was delivered to her many years later, after Rev. Roesner had ceased to be minister. This delay was a source of much irritation!

In 1926 she became president of the Sewing Circle (p. 94, FMD)

My father was serving as Sunday School Superintendent at the time of his death (p. 26, FMD).

* * * * * *

Three years before his marriage to Leona, Robert Mueller purchased the firm known as the Austin Trunk Factory on Sept. 28, 1909 from C. F. Kettenburg, for the sum of $2741.18. In the Bill of Sale, "the entire stock of trunks, suitcases, bags, show-cases, safe, horse, and wagon and etc." was conveyed to Robert Mueller. Responsibility for merchandise bought by Kettenburg, either ordered or in transit, was also assumed. The Kettenburg family was related in some way to the R. H. John family of Galveston, and the John family also operated a trunk store in Galveston. The relationship of Kettenburg to the Johns is not clear at this time.

[Letter from Mildred John Wegner, July 17, 1988, MOVED TO PREVIOUS CHAPTER

The Austin Trunk Factory later became known as "Robert Mueller and Brother," as noted in the city directories (see above). The firm operated for many years in the 500 block of Congress Avenue, and after the death of Robert Mueller in 1927, the business was run by Leo O. Mueller, who had been the partner.

Robert had become involved with the operation of the Carl Mayer jewelry store. After the death of the elder Carl Mayer in 1914(?), the store was run by Arthur Kreisle (check this), and later the younger Carl Mayer, who was only 22 years of age at the time of his father's death. Apparently, the widow of the senior Carl Mayer felt that additional experience was needed to operate the store, and Robert Mueller was persuaded to make the move. Robert Mueller and Leona Mayer, the daughter of Carl Mayer, were married in 1912, and it is believed that when Robert moved to the jewelry store there were assurances >made that he and Leona would have an increased share of the ownership of the store, and possibly in the estate of Louise K. Mayer. See document of agreement in files.

My recollection of my father's chief working location was on the mezzanine of the store, a rather curious half story level, with a balcony that overlooked the main part of the store. It was here, apparently, that he kept the accounts or "books" of the store. The jewelry store and the trunk store were highly-prized locations to view the many parades that made their way up Congress Avenue during my childhood.

I was born at home, at 508 East 16th St. One of Mother's close friends over the years was Mrs. Edna Schulz. Mrs. Schulz was a R. N., and held various positions at Brackenridge Hospital, the city hospital that is still located in its original location between Sabine Street and East Avenue, with 14th and 15th Streets on the North and south. Of course it has expanded vastly since then. Mrs. Schulz loved to tell the story of how she delivered me, without the assistance of an M. D.! Doctors were scarce at the hospital at that time, perhaps a continuation of the flu epidemics of World War I. At any rate, she apparently came when Mother sent word. And she used to say she was leaving when the doctor (Dr. Frank McLaughlin?) came up the front steps. See account in Mother's Diary.

I guess my Baptismal certificate reappeared when we were clearing Mother's house, and I rediscovered it in 1988. It has my birthdate wrong, Jan 29th instead of Jan. 28! I was baptized June 13, 1920, at St. Martin's, by Rev. F. G. Roesner. Witnesses listed are Mrs. G. C. Bock (Aunt Pina), Emilie Kreisle (Mother's Aunt), Carl H. Mueller, and R. H. John, the brother of my Father's first wife, Clara. When we were growing up, we called them "sponsors," and usually we had special attention from them on birthdays and other occasions. Aunt Pina, who died of cancer in 1939, tucked away three dollars or so in a little box and marked it for my college graduation in 1941!

I was confirmed in Aug, 14, 1935, also at St. Martin's; the date is engraved on the garnet birthstone ring that Mother gave me for Confirmation. Carl Edward Bock and Caroline Battersby were married the following Sunday, April 21, the first wedding of our generation

As we were growing up, Mrs. Schulz was always the first aid when we stepped on rusty nails, bad cuts, or the like. Later, as the hospital grew, Mrs. Schulz opened her own nursing home, hardly heard of at the time, at the corner of 17th Street and East Avenue. Mother and Mrs. Schulz were very close, and I usually went by to see her when I was home. Her daughter, Lillian, married Vernal (?) Irons, an M. D. with the state health department. I think Louis and I were ushers at her wedding.

Other trips that my parents took included a trip to San Francisco for an early Rotary convention, and a trip to New York in the early 1920's. For the latter I have vague recollections, refreshed by seeing postcards from the trip, of Aunt Pina staying with us. My parents saw most of the current shows in New York, judging from the programs that she saved.

Mother's record of this trip is recorded in a simple little notebook, in which she noted her day to day events.

"Friday, Aug 18th 1922 After supper we all went to concert at Woolridge except R went to Scout meeting... Monday Aug 28th Got up early -... Emily came out - we ate little dinner & then E took us to the station - R Jr. & C.E. along - Sid Carl RG all at the station Mrs. Roberts [wife of Gordon Roberts, mgr. Littlefield Bldg.?] & Virginia left on the same train with us -.... Tuesday 12th?? Was raining when we got up & continued right hard till noon .... we ate lunch in the Museum - about 3:30 we left the Museum took the bus to Schirmers Music Store 43rd St. bet 5th & 4th Ave. saw Mr. S. a few min. then R. bought me an organ book - [MORE: Muellers, got Victor] .... Friday Sept. 22nd Got up early - .... took the Parmalee Bus to Atlantic Hotel [12 years later we stayed at the same hotel when visiting the Chicago 34 Worlds Fair] -we got a room...."

The trip seems to have a combination of a vacation, tenth anniversary, and business. Mrs. Tolle was with them in New York, Chicago, and other places. The boat from New Orleans to New York was the Creole, the same liner that they had sailed on ten years earlier on their wedding trip. There are some references to trying to call the Muellers, and a "Victor" is mentioned. Victor was one of the sons of Uncle Henry Mueller, brother of J. C. They had visited the Henry Muellers ten years earlier. They went to many shows, vaudevilles, etc. as indicated by the programs that were saved. They saw Ed Wynn in person in Chicago, the Rudolph Valentino movie, "Blood and Sand" with orchestral accompaniment. We were 6, 4, & 2 years old at the time, and Aunt Pina stayed with us, I think Theresa as well, and Aunt Tillie some.

It seems that 1922 was a very eventful year for our family. The house was remodeled (see specifications), Pat, our dog, died, and the New York trip took place!

Growing up seemed like a perpetual round of Sunday dinners at home or with friends and family. Many of the families were old friends of the family, like the Wendlandts, the Speckels (who worked for the Wendlandt firm?), and Hegmans (who ran one of the local movie houses). "Girlie" Wendlandt was the church secretary for many years, and later married the organist, Fred Savage. My father and Charley Wendlandt, Girlie's brother, were good friends; I think Charley had also married into a Galveston family, as my father had in his first marriage. Charley Wendlandt was younger than my father, but in summer, they would frequently go for an early morning swim at the Barton Springs pool. Many times we would go with them, and hear the standard jokes about the cold water, and who put the ice in the water!

Rewritten, 6-18-93:

An extended trip to Yellowstone National Park had been planned for sometime, apparently, for 1928. In 1927, however, my Father died, but we made a trip to Colorado in 1928, nevertheless. We rode in an eight passenger Hudson, which included two little "jump seats" between front and rear. There was a place on the front fender for a small trunk, I believe. I think Daddy had probably bought the car with the Yellowstone trip in mind.

I think Carl Edward Bock, our cousin who lived next door was the main "instigator" of the trip, and this is not meant in an unkind way. Carl Edward was simply usually the catalyst that made things happen. He was in the university then, He was going through military training at Fort Logan that summer (CMTC), and taking summer military training (CMTC)Carl Edward Bock and his mother, our Aunt Pina, went with us, and Carl Edward did most, if not all, of the driving. and we stayed most of the time at an early tourist court (Hammond's) between Colorado Spring and Manitou.

Needless to say, the highways left a great deal to be desired babk in those days! We were to make stops at Wichita Falls, Amarillo, Raton Pass, on the way up, and return via Santa Fe and Carlsbad, N. M asnd west Texas.

Although my father died when I was not quite seven years old, I have many memories of him. I remember his work with the Boy Scout troop at the church, Troop 13, to which Carl Edward Bock belonged. His work with the Scouts was not too long after the beginning of the national organization. I recall driving out to Barton Springs early one morning when he was on an overnight hike with the troop. The "trek-cart," which was designed, apparently, to carry camping gear, and to be pulled by the hikers or campers, remained in our back yard or chicken yard for many years.

Another strong memory of my father was his interest in pecan trees and the property near Barton Springs, which I believe he carried in his accounts as the "Barton Springs Pecan Orchard." He did a lot of the grafting himself, and the pecan trees on either side of the residence at 508 East l6th were designated as "our" trees, the one on the east side for Bobby and me as January birthdays, and the one on the west side for Louis and Daddy with June birthdays! Sunday afternoons, it seems to me, were generally spent at the Barton Springs farm. Sometimes, it seems that he and "the boys" would go out early and Mother would come out later with a picnic supper. The farm consisted of about 32 acres, half on the creek bottom, and half on the hill above

One special project of my father's was the construction of a rustic stairway from the upper part to the lower part. My father spent many hours working on the cedar posts that were to serve as railings and as supports for the dirt steps. The lower part of the acreage was cultivated by the family that lived there, the Teagues. I guess they were "share croppers," but no one used that word. I remember that they lived at a near-poverty level, paid little rent, were frequently behind in payments, and that they had no inside plumbing. The house may have only had two rooms. There was a water well with windmill nearby, and it seems to me this was used to irrigate some of the fields. There was also a natural spring that flowed most of the time, I think, but we also had a pump and a pump house to help it along. There were many pecan trees in the bottom land, and also berries were cultivated, it seems to me blackberries. We would go out to pick berries and pecans at the proper time. Pecan thrashing seemed to involve cousins and other family members as we spread blankets or something similar on the ground to catch the pecans as they fell.

The upper part of Bartons was mostly oak and cedar, along with prickly pear cactus. After Bobby and I sold it, it became a subdivision of Austin. There was a site between two oak trees with a beautiful view of the capitol building, and my father often said that was where he wanted to build a house someday. Getting up the hill in the automobiles of the time was sometimes a challenge. There was a clearing at the top where we sometimes played baseball, and carved our names in persimmon trees while waiting our turns at bat. Also on the upper portion was a rock circle used as a campfire for the scouts, and where we sometimes had our picnics. Our Christmas trees always came from Bartons, and we would use the truck from the trunk store to bring home the tree.

In addition to my father's interest in Scouting, he was very active in St. Martin's Lutheran Church. I think he and mother met because of her position as organist. He may have been the one who delivered the invitation to her to become organist. He was superintendent of the Sunday School for many years, and on many Sundays he would pick up Sunday School members all over the East side of Austin! The new church building was, apparently, a fond hope of his, one that he did not live to see realized. One of the memorial windows in the "new" church, now destroyed, was in his memory

When I was growing up on the hill, it truly seemed to be "Mueller Hill," although only two families actually named Mueller lived on the hill, the Robert Muellers and the Leo Muellers. Adjacent to our house was the Bock house, where Carl Edward amd his mother, Aunt Pina, lived. I never knew Guido Bock, who left before I was born, but he could be seen occasionally at his brother's home on West l5th Street. The Gus Borners lived next door to Aunt Pina, the sister of Aunt Tillie. The Borners had no children. Uncle Gus was a carpenter, or worked for Calcasieu Lumber Co., and he always had scraps of wood that I could have to build a model boat or plane. Uncle Gus was always good for a few choice German expletives that I once knew by heart, but have now forgotten.

Uncle Leo lived with us until his marriage to Sidonia, and even after their wedding, they stayed with us until their new house across the street and at the bottom of the hill by Waller Creek was finished. I remember them walking over to watch their house being built, and I remember their wedding reception at 508 East l6th, even though I must have been only three years old then. Uncle Leo's old bedroom, the bedroom in the southwest corner of the second floor became our play room after he moved out, and later on, it became my room.

Our neighbors across Sixteenth Street were the Strongs, one daughter was Marion Bess, and a son, Sterling, who was older than I, perhaps Bobby's age. Their lot was lower than street level, it seems, and I think they had a circular stairway to the second story, which was at street level. Their house was torn down after a time, and the lot was vacant until an office machine store built there, the Wilsons(?). Between Strongs and Uncle Leo, there were vacant lots, which Uncle Leo owned, and on which he later built rental houses.

Diagonally across from our house was St. Paul's Lutheran Church, a Missouri Synod church, although I never really understood why we didn't go there instead of to St. Martin's, some blocks away. Church services on Sunday nights with strong congregational singing remains a strong memory of my childhood! The St. Paul's minister for many years was Rev. Manz, who lived next door in the parsonage, until the parish school was built, and the parsonage was literally moved several lots to the East. We knew the Manz children, and many of the girls that stayed at Mother's were church secretaries from St. Paul's.

Billy Kriegel went to St. Paul's, and he was my best friend from my early years. But he didn't go to Winn School, he went to the parish school, so we grew apart, even before his family moved out to 38th (?) Street. Billy's father had a Gulf station that we used to patronize, and I remember the leggings his father used to wear as part of his uniform. Mrs. Kriegel's mother was a Wallin, a Swedish family, and it seems to me the Kriegels lived with Mrs. Wallin. There was another Wallin, who lived over on Fifteenth Street, near Red River, in property that Bobby and I later bought. I think they were the parents of Wilfred Wallin, one of Carl Edward's good friends,who worked for Pfeiffer's Music Store, in the 1400 block of Red River. One Pfeiffer lived two doors from the Kriegel/Wallin house. In between was a rental house that my father owned, and that later came to Bobby and me. It wasn't much of a house, only a single thickness of boards for walls!

Swanns, another Swedish family, lived on the north-east corner of Sixteenth and Red River, and next to them, on Red River, were the Sandbergs, related to them, I'm sure. C. W. Sandberg, and his sister, Janelle(?) were a part of the neighborhood kids. Up on the corner of Sabine and Sixteenth was Wellmer' Store, and also Lozano's butcher shop. Lozano was always good for a free raw hot-dog!

One of my good friends, Frankie Pressler, lived on Fifteenth Street, in a stone house that seemed to be as old as Austin itself. Frankie never seemed to have much in the way of food, clothing, or parents. My mother had a special fondness for Frankie, and he stopped by to see her, perhaps more than once, many years later.

The street-car line came up San Jacinto from downtown; there was a switch in the 1400 block of San Jacinto, I think, and then the tracks came up Fifteenth Street to East Avenue. On both Fifteenth and East Avenue there was neutral ground, later parks, for them to use. Sometimes we would catch the trolley on Fifteenth, and sometimes on East Avenue (now unrecognizable as an Interstate Highway!).

Another Swedish family lived on the corner of Seventeenth and Red River, the Sjobergs, pronounced "Shubergs." Their son, Walter, was too young for me, it seemed. Later, he married my cousin, Elizabeth Ann Mayer. Just beyond the Sjobergs were a Latin (back then, it was "Mexican") family, the Ortegas, Daniel, Chester (?), and others. They were all good students, and attended Winn School with us. (I never did understand why the Mexicans were in school with us and the blacks wern't!) One of the Ortegas was a casualty in World War II, and a school was named for him.

Sometimes it seems that everyone we knew had German backgrounds, although there were many exceptions. Some of the family friends were also members of St. Martin's, where there were naturally many German families. Dr. Biesele, whom I later discovered had written much about the early German settlers in Texas, had several children, many of whom were with us in school. Dr. Suehs was an eye doctor, and his daughter, Ruth, was in school with me. The Bohns were a large family, related also to our friends, the Haenels; Louis Emil Haenel, later in the Marines in WW II, was a close friend. Fred Leisering and I later said in joking, that we had been to each others first birthday party, and we may have. We were in Sunday School and Confirmation Class together, later on in the High School Band. During the war, we were stationed near San Antonio, and saw much of each other. Mother had played the organ for the wedding of the Leiserings, and Mrs. Leisering was our Sunday School teacher, at least for a time.

In addition, there were the Duesterhoefts from church, the Kriegels, across the street neighbors on Red River Street, and the Trenckmanns, one of whom, Else, was the German teacher at the high school.

John B. Winn School was at the corner of Nineteenth Street and East Avenue, just out of the original grid of Austin, and Winn School had an irregular plot of land. [Actually, 15th Street, East and West Avenues were the boundaries of the original plat, but the grid continued to 19th Street.] I remember the principal, Margaret Reilly, who had been one of Mother's teachers, as also Laura Allison, who taught third grade in a tyrannical manner, we thought. Lanue Harris was the first grade teacher, followed next by Miss Wallis(?). She was related to Carroll Tharp, one of my high school friends, who played saxophone. His father was a university professor, and during our high school years we would get a "dance band" together to rehearse at Tharps. We played at least one engagement, at a night spot out on the San Antonio Highway. We didn't expect to get paid; no one showed up, anyway! Daisy Weed(?) was the second grade teacher, and I think also physical education. Some of the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade teachers seemed to change, but I remember Emma Virginia Gowen, Mrs. B. P. (?) Walker, and Vivian Kellams, whom I thought was beautiful!

My father was elected to the new city council of Austin on May 11, 1926 and received the highest plurality of votes, which nominally would have meant that he would become mayor. However, he deferred in favor Mr. MacFadden, who was older. (See the banner headline in the Austin American of Wed., May 12, 1926.) The election was a significant change in the government of Austin, as this was the first election under the council and city-manager form of government. The new council took office in July of 1926, but my father was only to serve six months. He died on Jan. 11, 1927.

One of the accounts of his death speaks of his being stricken by his fatal illness as a result of a long council meeting. I am not sure, however, that this was a direct cause. We had been out to Barton's on one of the Sundays after Christmas, and he may have developed the strepto-coccus infection from this. (Many years later, in the 1950's, Bobby and I and Marilyn found carved in the rock at Campbell's Hole what seemed to be our initials from 1926.) He was not ill very long, perhaps ten days to two weeks, and died on Jan. 11, 1927, when I was not quite seven years old. He died in his bedroom at 508 East 16th Street, and the funeral was held in the family parlor there.

In Jan., 1989, in talking about the causes of my father's death, Frances M. Danforth said her father, Rudolph, said my father had a habit of picking nasal hairs. She thought her father thought infection was the result of the habit. I always understood the infection was in his nose.

Robert's brother, Leo, later served on the city council(?), and was offered the mayor's position in 1931, but declined. (See obituary of Leo O. Mueller) Several years later, the council named the city's new airport for my father. The formal dedication of the airport took place on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 1930. My mother and brothers all took part in the dedication ceremony, which took place about the time that Randolph Field was being completed and dedicated. The widow of Capt. Randolph was at the dedication of the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport. Ironically, it was Randolph Field where I entered and departed the Army Air Forces in World War II.

[The obituary of Robert Mueller, Jr., in 1988 suggested that our father had given land for the airport, or had been instrumental in securing the land. I don't think this was a factor at all in naming the airport. Robert may well have been interested in developing an airport for the city, however.]

Shortly before my father's death, Will Rogers made a visit to Austin, and was entertained at a party at the Niles Graham residence, which was originally built by Gov. Pease. Later the mansion became the residence of Gov. Alan Shivers. Niles Graham was the developer, I think, of Enfield, and may have been a descendant of Pease. Dan Moody must have been governor at the time, or else was campaigning for governor, as he is also in the photo with my father and Will Rogers, taken at the occasion. (See photos and Grahman letter.)

My father had some sort of a passion for books, either a weakness for salesmen, or perhaps because he had had a rather limited education. We had encylopedias, a set of the Book of Knowledge, the complete works of Shakespeare, the Harvard Classics (two series), a complete O. Henry set (Mother would always comment that she had known Athol Estes, who was William Sidney Porter's wife), Ernest Thompson Seton, a lot of the Tom Swift books, several of the Elbert Hubbard volumes, and many, many more. We received the National Geographic regularly, and I remember many evenings spent in punching the copies for binding. There was also a set of the Encylopedia Brittanica, a rather old edition, it seemed to me, perhaps left from earier occupants of the house.

I don't remember that German was commonly spoken at home, but Bobby said he spoke mostly German until he entered Winn School. I do remember that Mother would sometimes use German phrases over the telephone or in conversation, perhaps because she didn't want us to know what she was talking about. It didn't always work! There were German services at St. Martin's church, and these were continued until World War II. At least one evening service per month was given in German, as I recall. In the summer there was German summer school, where we learned to read and write in the old style German cursive. German summer school usually culminated in a German play or entertainment performed at Saengerrunde Hall or in one of the public school auditoriums.

In the back yard, in the space between the garage, the tool shed, and the chicken yard, we had our sand box. Although approximating a square, one fourth of the area was occupied by one of the magnificent live oak trees. So we divided the remaining portions so that we each had our own turf or territory! Mine was the back one, since I was the youngest to stake a claim. The oak tree split into two limbs at a height that was convenient to climb and sit in the "v" of the limbs. It was also an excellent setting for picture taking! We could climb farther up on one of the branches and reach the roof of the garage. At the corner of the garage roof, supported by one of the branches, we rigged a platform that served as our tree house.

We also built with some help, a "fort" in the backyard, supported partially by the fence of the chicken yard. It was a two-story fort, at least two levels, although the lower level was not as much fun as the upper level. I don't think we ever quite finished the fort, but always planned to add on something or other. Some of the materials used in the fort were shutters that had been stored in the chicken yard. I'm sure at this late date that they were put there when the house was stuccoed in the 1920's. I have the feeling that the fort was more for my benefit that for Bobby and Louis. We had many rubber gun fights from the fort, the tree house, and other locations.

I think the fort may have stood until the 1940's, when the chicken yard was reduced to about half it's original size. The tool shed remained. While I was growing up, it gradually lost it's function as a tool shed and feed storage and became my "shop." A work bench was built into one side with a wood vise. I think Uncle Gus did most of the work on it. All of our wood working tools were kept there, and one year I received a lathe as a highly prized Christmas present. We also had a foot-powered jig saw that had belonged to Juliet, a clerk at the trunk store who mounted photos on thin veneer, then jigsawed around the outlines. I did the same with comic strip characters!

Sunday evenings in the summer when we were older were usually the occasion for hamburgers, and even beer when it was legal, at the Stengel's place on East Avenue and Manor Road.

"Yes, We Have No Bananas" and "My Sunny Tennessee" were two songs that I remember singing a lot for "company," even before my father died, so I must have been less than six years old. [On Aug. 13, 1923, "Yes, We Have No Bananas" was the No. 1 song hit in the U. S. - Marietta Times]

We made the trip to Chicago in 1934 in spite of the depression, etc. We went by coach, and slept in the seats the night we were on the train. It was actuallly the second year of the World's Fair, "A Century of Progress." The son of my parent's friends, the Tolles, John, was our tour guide. It was during the gangster era in Chicago. Sally Rand and her bubble dance were the big attraction. I didn't see her, but I think John took Bobby (17 years old) out to some joints or night clubs. I remember seeing the Polar ship of Adm. Byrd, hearing concerts by the Detroit Synmphony in the Ford Pavilion, the Belgian village with the famous fountain of the boy "doing his job,"the planetarium, etc. We went out to see the Limbergs one afternoon; they were living there, although Eugenia had gone on to Cincinnati.

My father was a Mason, both York and Scottish Rite, a Knights' Templar, and Shriner, although I don't remember ever seeing him in the Shrine uniform.

It must have been in 1933, when FDR was first inaugurated that I won a prize in a contest the Austin paper sponsored for selecting FDR's cabinet. It didn't amount to much, 2nd or 3rd prize. I think 1st prize was only $5.00, but that seemed like a lot back then. I must have been in the 8th grade, junior high, at the time, and picked names that were rumored to be choices from political columns in the paper.

I also won a contest a few years later that the Gruen Watch Co. sponsored. The contest was to select a name for their new speed plane that Capt. Frank Hawks flew in. Hawks was a special hero to me at the time. He had been in Austin, and I got him to autograph a picture I had of him. My Uncle Carl (Mayer) sold Gruens in the jewelry store, and thought it would be nice if someone from Austin entered. He came by the house one night, as he frequently did, and asked Louis and me again. So just to satisfy him, I said, "O send anything in. Send in 'Time Flies (Tempus fugit).'" I don't remember whether Louis or I filled out the form, but he died in the time before the winner was announced. A short time after his death we were notified that the name had won, although several had sent it in. The prize for this was the Gruen "Curvex" watch that I still have.

We went to many concerts (Schumann-Heink, Sousa, etc.) in Austin, and saw most of the musical comedies that came to town. (Mother enjoyed them too!) I listened to a lot of the service bands from Washington on the radio, especially after I got into the high school band. What really turned me on was hearing the St. Louis Symphony in Hogg Auditorium in 1935. Laurent Torno, their first flutist, played some solos, Dance of the Blessed Spirits, Carmen Intermezzo, and I thought he played like a God!

In 1936, I had a chance to go to Dallas to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra under Stokowski. They were on their famous coast to coast tour and played with bare walls at their back in the old Melba Theatre in Dallas. That changed my life forever, I think. I couldn't believe the beauty of their sounds, even when Stokowski encored with Stravinsky's "Firebird."

* * * * * *

I suspect this next section was meant as brief notes to jog my dad's memory.

Girls that stayed with us and helped out, in return for room & board: Theresa Nitsche, Adele Baker, Lucile Wilson, Jessie Rouse, Bessie Mikulastic & roommate, both of whom worked in a beauty parlor (paid roomers in WW II, I think)

Henry Dickerson, John L., both black, both worked for Mother for a long time.

Colleges & careers, war service (in VII) Concerts, musicals, etc.

Mother's music teachers, one a pupil of Liszt, DeLamarter organ, Harthan, Mickwitz

Wine making; attic; Christmas traditions; furniture;

Flute contests, depression, was I named for Mickwitz?

* * * * * *

The house at 508 East Sixteenth Street in Austin served as a residence for the Mueller family for almost seventy years, from about 1904 until 1971. Three generations of Muellers lived there, and fourth generation members were frequent visitors or overnight residents. (Also see pp. xx-xx, above.)

The house apparently was built by Rudolph Mueller, probably early in his career as a carpenter or "house-builder," with material from the company he was later to serve as general manager, The Calcasieu Lumber Company. Contractors and workers frequently commented on the quality of the construction and the material used. Early pictures of the house show all seven members of the J. C. Mueller family seated on the front steps of the house, obviously proud of the new residence in the "city." (Their previous residence at East Avenue and Manor Road was described in city directories as at the city limits. See below.)

The house underwent at least two renovations, the first, about 1922, when the frame walls of the original were changed to stucco walls, and a sleeping porch over the front porch was added. The second major renovation came in 1946-47, when central heating by a coal furnace was changed to gas, the kitchen was modernized, a downstairs bathroom added, and various rooms were redecorated.

One of the most distinctive features of the house was the attic cupola, built over a kind of bay window in a bedroom on the second floor. This bedroom, known in my time as the "blue room," was used by the matriarch of the family, Louise S. Mueller (Mrs. J. C. Mueller), as her bedroom. From this room, before the sleeping porch was added, my grandmother could observe the comings and goings on the streets below. The room was sometimes used later as a guest room and sometimes for a paying guest. During World War I, I believe that an officer or his wife from the nearby "SMA" (School of Military Aeronautics," later, the "Little Campus") lived there. The other bedrooms on the second floor were used by the four sons and two daughters of the family.

The downstairs floor consisted of a parlor, with sliding doors to close it off, a dining room, kitchen, butler's pantry, and another room, known in my time as the "library," but perhaps originally another sitting room. After the marriage of Robert Mueller to Leona Mayer, this room became their bedroom. The south side opened through French doors to the porch, although the opening may have originally been a window. In her last years, Mother (Leona Mayer Mueller) used the library as her bedroom, to avoid having to use the stairways. A hallway ran the length of the house, divided at one point by an archway and curtains between the "front" and "back" hall. The back hall included the area under the back stairway, and in the 1946-47 renovation was converted into a bath/shower room. The front stairway made an 180 degree turn in its progression through two landings to the second floor.

Heating in the house when I was growing up was primarily by means of wood stoves; later, gas heaters were used. The only fireplace in the house was in the living room or parlor, where there was a rather ornate double-decked mantel with glazed tile surfaces. The fireplace remained until the end of the house, but for a time, a gas heater sat in front of the hearth to warm the room. All of the rooms had flues, and most of the upstairs bedrooms had wood- burning stoves surrrounded by asbestos fences or guards when we were young. A wood-box stood in the upstairs hall, and contained both logs and kindling. Daily replacement was a necessity, as I recall. In the kitchen there was, of course, a wood-burning cook stove, as well as a gas range, and when the woodstove was removed in the 1940's, Mother was worried about being able to cook on only a gas stove. (She managed very well!) A central coal-burning furnace was installed in the early 1920's, before the death of Robert Mueller, but apparently the difficulties of maintaining, servicing, and cleaning the furnace were too much for regular operation. Installing the furnace necessitated excavating a basement and providing a coal chute and bin. This excavation was apparently in two stages, the original, and later, an extension that went under the dining room to the outside, in order that "clinkers" could be removed without going through the house. The furnace was removed, and a central gas floor furnace was installed around 1946-47.

At some point, probably during the 1920's renovation, a two-car garage was built. Sheds, a chicken-house, and chicken-yard remained. Probably the yard originally served to keep a horse or horses as well. Our footprints were marked in the concrete ramp of the garage, as well in the concrete steps to the front porch. The original wood steps of the house were probably replaced at that time.

One of the most distinctive features of the location was the magnificent grove of live oak trees. Two great oak trees in the back yard near the garage were apparently the first to go when Urban Renewal took over. Another oak tree in the back yard, on the fence line between the Muellers and the Bocks, apparently was allowed to remain. Red River Street was rerouted to permit the expansion of Brackenridge Hospital, and the new route of the street now runs diagonally across the site of the residence. The area is now the site of Austin's "Centennial Park."

Early in the occupancy of the house two palm trees were planted in the front, on either side of the walk leading to the front steps. These may be seen in early photographs, and they were still living in my early days. As they grew taller, they developed many problems that required bracing, filling in with sand, and other measures. Later they were replaced by other trees, including evergreens, and in 1957-58, I replaced these with Magnolias, but they did not do well. We had pecan trees on both sides of the house, some of which may have been volunteers, but in any case, grafted to produce good pecans, such as the Garner pecan. Because of the January birthdays of Bobby and me, and the June birthdays of Louis and him, Daddy used to say the east side trees were Bobby's and mine, and west side trees were his and Louis'.

As of May 4, 1989

* * * * * *

Added, 1-6-93:

Two people who were very helpful and influential in my high school days were Verner and Darthula Stohl. They were Swedish, and Verner worked in the capitol. He played cornet and his wife taught music in the schools I think. She was a pianist and a singer as I recall. They had no children, but took a great interest in the members of the high school band. Verner had a hugh collection of 78 rpm records. mostly instrumental solos, and he took pride in playijg them for anyone interested. They lived near us, in the 600 block of 5th street. I don;t remember if they had a car or not, but we would see Verner walking aback and forth to the capitol, always very properly dressed in coat and tie. When I first started playing solos on the flute, he found some of the pieces I played to give me an idea of how they should be done. The Donjon "Hungarian Pastorale Fantasy" and the Briccialdi "Carnival of Venice" that I played were both results of his playing records of them for me. Some of the solo recordings were particularly hard to find in those days, the 1930s.

* * * * * *

Added 6-18-93: Source of our names.

Our father, Robert Mueller, had no middle name; I assume it was because he was named for his Uncle Robert, whose middle name, if any, has not come down to us. Mother had three given names, Leona Sophie Albertine; perhaps she thought that three were too many. At any rate none of us received middle names. Bobby was named for our father, Louis was named for his grandmothers, both of whom were "Louise." There are no "Harolds" in the family line, and I wondered where my name came from. When I would ask Mother, she would usually say there was a little boy on the train (coming back from San Francisco?) who was named Harold, and they liked the name. I have no evidence to back up my assumption, however, Harold was the name of Mr. von Mickwitz, the piano teacher with whom they studied in Sherman and later, in Chicago. Emilie and Mother were very much under his influence, and perhaps it was an unconscious impulse to give me his name.


Owner/SourceHarold Mueller
Date31 January 1989
PlaceAustin, Texas
Latitude30.267153
Longitude-97.7430608
Linked toLeona Sophie Albertine MAYER; Dr. Harold MUELLER; Louis MUELLER; Robert MUELLER, Jr; Robert MUELLER

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