Edited Journal of Fritz Schellhase by Warren W. Schellhase
What follows is an attempt to transcribe a brief handwritten document apparently dictated by Fritz Schellhase to A. D. Stork sometime before 1913. That date is based on a phrase in his journal in which he states that the five Schellhase children who came to Texas were still alive at the time this journal was dictated. Since Minna, one of the five children, and the first to die, died in 1913 this should confirm that the journal was written earlier. The title page reads: "Fritz Schellhase Gebornen in Klienen Brandenburg 1846 [unintelligible phrase] 1853 in Comfort [unintelligible word] 1854 One can guess that the first unintelligible phrase is a statement on immigrating to Texas since 1853 is the year the family arrived. The second unintelligible word probably refers to arriving in Comfort in 1854. According to Fritz, the family moved to the Hasenwinkel Creek in 1856 which was the year Gottfried received a Texas land grant of 160 acres on that creek. If Fritz is correct, the family moved to the Hasenwinkel, not to Cypress Creek as we previously thought. It makes some sense since in a grove of trees about 500 yards south from where Ernst Schellhase built his house in 1913, and where I was born, there are old foundation stones in the outline of a small house. If Gottfried did move to the Hasenwinkel, it is logical that he would remove to Cypress Creek where there was year round flowing water. The Hasenwinkel is a seasonal creek and it is dry most summers. Klienen, Brandenburg is the first time this location appears in any text I am familiar with. In Gottfried, Sr.'s oath of citizenship, he states he was born in Gliene, Prussia. Of course, there is no particular reason to assume that his children were born in the same place. Confusion about dates and places is understandable because Fritz told his story when he was in his late 60's, and he was known for his fondness for strong drink which he pursued with some dedication. The story begins when he was 8 years old. He went to work for Ed Steves when he was about 12 years old. In August of 1866, he went with a group of 24 Comfort friends and relatives to recover the bones of the Nueces Massacre victims when he was 22. He died in his 82nd year in 1928. He is buried in the Comfort Cemetery, row 18, grave 14. The journal is handwritten and very difficult to read. There is no punctuation, limited capitalization and run-on sentences so I have inserted punctuation where it appears reasonable to do so. Additionally, I have corrected spelling and have also added other information, including some historical information. For example, I find no reference to Camp Bertha so I assume Fritz was talking about Camp Verde which was closed by the U. S. Army in 1869. I could not find a "Mason Creek" anywhere near Bandera, but have used the name because there may have been a creek by that name in Fritz's time. Fritz says he was a soldier after the Civil War, but as far as I know, there is no record of his military service. From the context of the narrative it appears likely that he drove a freight wagon for the Army, perhaps under contract. I note in the text that Fritz may have confused the true Stieler Nueces Massacre story with a fictional account for which there is no history (Stueler and Brokes, marked with * in the text). I have taken some editorial license with my editing of Fritz's dictation which follows:
The Journal of Fritz Schellhase
I, Fritz Schellhase, my brother Gottfried, Jr., and sisters Friedricke, Sophie and Minna and parents, Gottfried and Sophia, we were five of us children, arrived in Texas on December 20, 1853, and came to Comfort in 1854 . We were the first settlers, or some of the first. All of them, except my parents, are living yet. My father bought a lot in Comfort and improved it, and built a house. We lived in Comfort for 2 years when my father got 160 acres of government land. Then we moved 5 miles from Comfort on Hasenwinkel creek. Our neighbors were 4 brothers, Gus, Edward, Robert and Heinrich, Jr., (Henry) and 2 sisters, Laura and Emilie, and their widower father, Heinrich Steves. One day Ed Steves came to my father and asked him if he could get me to work for him. I was 10 or 11 years old at the time. My father agreed for me to work for him, and my wages were one bushel of corn meal a week so that my parents had something to live on. Times were hard. Ed Steves was a bachelor so I and he batched together for about a year and got along fine. Finally Ed got disheartened with batching, and decided to do so no longer. One day he asked me, "Fritz, can you tend to things here at the home?" I told him I could, "But what do you want to do?" His reply was, "I want to go to New Braunfels and get me a wife." The next morning he hooked 2 yoke of oxen to his wagon and drove to Braunfels. And he stayed 12 days before he came back with his new wife. Late in the evening I heard the whip in the distance announcing that he was coming so I opened the gate for him to drive in. He got off his wagon and said to me, "Fritz, here is my wife. Her name is Johanna Kloepper. Now we don't have to batch any more. She will wash and cook for us." She was very nice to me. She would come to the field where I was working and bring me cool water and lunch that I enjoyed very much. She would say, "Boy, now eat. If a person is young he wants to eat. It always taste good" Laura Steves was the last one at home. She married Wilhelm Boerner, but Boerner did not live with his dear wife but one year. He was killed by the Confederate Home Guard at the Nueces Massacre on August 10, 1862. A few weeks later she gave birth to their son, but she died of childbed fever shortly afterward. The child lived and was baptized Henry [Heinrich]. Henry was brought to Laura's sister Emilie, who had married Rudolf Voigt, to be raised. Henry went to high school and grew up to be a good man. Ed Steves and Johanna had 3 boys, the oldest Albert, then Ed (Edward Jr.,) and Ernst was the youngest one. I have played with them many times. Just Before the Civil War started, Ed Steves went to his father and asked for a loan. His father asked him what he wanted the money for. Ed said he wanted to buy a machine to thrash wheat. So his father loaned him the money, and Ed sent for the machine. The machine arrived just before transportation was closed in anticipation of the war, but it was here. Then the war started. In 1861 was a hard time. The Northern soldiers in the area were arrested and taken as prisoners to San Antonio, and what they had was sold at auction. So Ed Steves went to San Antonio and bought 6 mules to work the thrasher. So the work began, but the mules were not trained for that kind of work. We finally got them to go. Gottlieb Saur was the mule driver then. One day Mr. Saur came to my father's and called me out. He said Ed Steves had sent him to get me to drive the mules. I went to see Ed and he said, "Fritz Schellhase, I want you to drive the mules." I asked him, "What are you going to do?" He said he was going to escape and go to Mexico with the bushwackers. So I took his place and drove the mules. We worked up the Guadalupe Valley to Wilvirn. At that time there was only wheat and the crop was good that year. Then the news came that the Confederate Home Guard soldiers under Col. Duff had overrun and massacred the bushwackers on the 10th August 1862. The bushwackers were 74 men from Comfort and nearby who were intending to go to Mexico, but they had the misfortune of staying too long in their camp to go hunting. The Confederate soldiers found out where they were but did not know how strong they were. So they sent 10 men to get a 150 more from Fort Clark. On August 9th Franz Weiss and Henry Stieler went hunting after dinner, and came to a place where they saw 3 men sitting on a hill. They knew that they were soldiers so they returned to the camp and told their comrades, "We saw 3 soldiers on a hill." But their words were in vain. One of them later said, "They laughed at us. Our commanders did not believe us." Someone who was there told me:
"The next morning before daylight, about 3:00, they fired on us so we fired on them, but we were too weak for good fire. So we disappeared in the brush, one here the other yonder. Louis Boerner was on guard. He was one the first ones that fell."
Then the Confederates went into the Unionist camp, murdered the wounded by shooting them in the head as they lay on the ground. Then they put ropes around the necks of the dead ones and drug them into the chaparral bushes to a pile about 150 yards from the camp. The soldiers stayed in the camp for they had good shade from cedar trees. The next day, 2 bushwackers, Henry Stieler, who was 16 years old, and Wilhelm Boerner (sic) [Boerner was captured elsewhere after the battle and executed, the man captured shortly after Steves was captured was 18 year old Theodor Bruckish] were hiding, but got lost and stumbled into the Confederates' and were asked what they were doing. They said they were hunting oxen, but could not talk English. The soldiers put a ropes around their necks and hung them. When they were dead the soldiers took them down and drug them to others and piled them on the same pile. Two other bushwackers who survived the massacre, Henry Stueler and Brokes came together and went to a fork in the river. There they fell out with each other. One said, "We have to go right." The other said, "We have to go left." But Stueler knew that he was right so he went along the North Fork of the Guadalupe. He went down the river until he got to the Kerrville Road. One mile west of Kerrville he went to a man by the name of Ries (Rees). He wanted to get a furlough (probably a Confederate passport). He was too young, he was not 18 years old yet, but Ries knew him well so he gave him the furlough.* Then Stuehler went to Kerrville and stopped at Mrs. Degener. As he came into the house, Mrs. Degener said, "That is my Fritz's gun, how did you get it?" Stueler said, "I traded with your Fritz." So she asked, "Where is Fritz, did he come through?" He said, "I don't know, me and Fritz were separated and were not together for some time."* At that time a man named Lowrance, along with Brokes came in, and at the same time some Confederate soldiers came in, too. Lowrance turned Brokes over to them. The soldiers asked Brokes if Henry Stueler was in the war too? He said he was. The soldiers took Stueler and Brokes prisoners. At that time the soldiers had their camp on the waters of the Pedernales River. They took their prisoners with them, but 10 miles from Kerrville they shot and killed them. Then they sent word to Stueler's parents and told them they had killed their son.* Stueler' mother and sister hitched 2 horses to a wagon and went to Kerrville and inquired where the dead men were. When they found them, they loaded them on the wagon and took them to Comfort for burial. When the war was ended, the people here were notified to get together and go to Mason Creek at a large watering place. There we met; we 24 men. The next day we went to Bandera, from there we went over the Sabinal River. We went down the river until we struck the San Antonio Road. We followed that until on the other side of the Frio River. Then we went right toward Fort Clark to cross the Nueces River. On the other side of the Frio we broke our wagon axle so we had to cut a tree to make a replacement. On our wagon Professor Brinkman and Mr. Serger [Emil] were good carpenters. When the axle was ready we started again. In the evening we came to Fort Clark, close to Fort Clark Springs, the water being very nice. The old buildings were about all gone. Only one post still remained there. And Mr. Serger climbed up on it and tied our Union Flag on top. We stayed until the next morning, then we went to an old shoemakers and asked him to give us information about the road. He told us to go to a man who lived 2 miles from Fort Clark. That man was acquainted with the area for he had lived there for some time. He went with us to the place on this side of the river near where the battle had been. We had to leave our wagon and 2 mules there. Gottlieb Saur, the mule driver, and Mr. Ed Steves, the owner of the team and wagon, could not get it through the brush. The next morning we saddled our horses and rode through the brush up to the Nueces River and arrived at the old camp site where the massacre took place. Five or 6 big Cedars stood there, and being very nice shade, we stayed there. Mr. Serger climbed up on a high cedar and tied our Union Flag on the top of it. Then we went through the brush to find the bones. At last we found them on a pile surrounded by rocks. The bones were all there, there being 18 skulls. They were all on top. Each of us had a sack and so we filled our sacks with the bones. Then we went back to our wagon. We had a big box on the wagon where we put the bones in the box and put a lid on it. Then we started back. Someone remarked that we had better cut another tree so if we should break another axle we would have a replacement. So we cut a tree and tied it under the wagon because there was no room for it on the wagon. The next morning we hooked up but did not get far. The road was rough, and about 3 miles on our way back we broke the second axle. We had a young mare that we tied to a cedar limb. She got frightened, and rearing backward she broke the limb. And away she ran dragging the limb behind her which made matters worse. We thought she spied Indians. She ran toward home. Five of our men followed the runaway mare. We told them that as soon as we got the axle done, we would travel toward Fort Clark, but we decided to wait for them. But they were not back at sundown, and not back at 11 that night. So we decided that 10 more of us should go and see what happened that they did not come back. I and nine others were going to look for them, and as we were saddling our horses they rode into camp. We sure were glad to see them. We thought they had trouble with Indians and got killed. They told us that when they found the mare she was rundown and still had the limb on the rope. But she was so tender-footed that she could hardly walk. So the men went in the bottoms and gathered some old rawhide. They made shoes and tied them under her feet so that she could walk, but it was slow. Since we now all were together we traveled homewards. We came through Bandera, and four miles above Comfort we crossed the Guadalupe. Then we were on the Kerrville and Comfort Road where we met a company Union soldiers. The first company we met swung their hats and bid us good day. Two miles from Comfort we met a second troop. They gave us the road and as we drove by they joined us back to Comfort to Serger's home. Mr. Serger, known to be an excellent cabinet maker, made a special box to bury the bones that we brought. When they were buried the soldiers fired a 3 shot salute over the grave. There men who gathered these bones; I was the youngest one and the only one still living. The others are all dead and gone. I was a freighter for the soldiers for 2 years after the war. My home was around Comfort then. I took my oxen and hooked them to my wagon and hauled wood planks to San Antonio and brought back provisions for the government soldiers so they had something to eat. Camp Verde was their camp then. The soldiers invited me to come to Camp Verde where they were going to have a ball. That was my favorite entertainment in those days. They had a large platform and a big crowd was there. There were 3 couples that were engaged to marry. Mr. Otto Brinkman and Miss Ochser, Mr. Anton Heinen and Miss Allerkamp, Mr. Meyer and Miss Perner were the three couples, and I went together to the ball. It was a happy time and I enjoyed it fine until midnight when a crowd of Irish soldiers got drunk and got into a fuss that broke up the pleasure. Anton Heinen came to me and asked me to leave with him. I said I would so we went together until we crossed the Guadalupe toward Comfort. When we got on the Kerrville Road, Anton held up and asked me to take his bride home. I said yes, but asked him what he was going to do? He said he was going to Kerrville. He was going to marry tomorrow, so I guess he wanted to have a little fling. Anton left and the crowd whooped and hollered hurrah. Miss Allerkamp was a close neighbor to me so I carried her home just at sunrise. We had a happy time. End
* There are no other references to this incident that I can find. It may be that Fritz got it confused with the Henry Stieler incident described above it.