In one way, the story begins in 1829 with the day that Johann Friedrich Ernst (born Diercks) left Germany with his family to settle in America. A trip he might have paid for by embezzling money from the post office, where he worked. By 1831 he had become the first German to settle in Texas. He wrote to friends in Oldenburg and Westphalia describing Texas as a land of opportunity.
The letters inspired an immigration fever back in Germany. A Society for the Protection of German Immigrants (the Adelsverein for short) was created in 1842. It was in that year that Dietrich Bohls, a widower about to turn 50, booked passage to America. He settled in Austin, TX, where he married 24-year-old Annie Kramer. They would have seven kids together. In the 1850s the family moved to an area just southwest of Austin and began building a small community that would attract other German settlers.
The community became known as Bee Cave. Various stories are given for the origin of the name. One involves a man named Carl Beck who built the first business there--a combination grocery store/post office--in the 1870s. A swarm of "Mexican honey bees" built a nest under the eaves of his store, which grew to an enormous size. What were thought of as bees were probably Mexican honey wasps. They live in south Texas and build large paper hives that often resemble papier-mache rocks, so people referred to them as "bee caves." The community needed a name for the post office, so it became Bee Cave.
Sam B. Morgan, his wife Diana, and their three children arrived Austin early in 1868. They were part of a group of Welsh descended settlers originally from Virginia who had settled in Kentucky. After the Civil War ended, they left Kentucky and the aftermath of the war for the relatively untouched and open land in Texas. They had to wait four years, but they finally settled permanently in an area called Cedar Valley, near Bee Cave, in 1871. The oldest son, John, was very ambitious and left the farm when he became of age. Not many records remain of their daughter and oldest child Laurinda. She might have been developmentally disabled. She became blind later in life. She lived all her life on the farm. She died in 1907. The youngest son, Samuel Septimus--my great-great-grandfather--stayed on the farm (nicknamed Rockmoor) and raised seven kids.
This is how his youngest daughter Mattie (back row third from the left in the picture below) came to be invited to a picnic by Ottomar Beck (the short gentleman to her left) in 1918. Alas, romance did not blossom. But they'll always have Bee Cave.
I wanted to share this family photo of Rockmoor Farm with the community. Location: Bee Cave, TX.. Date: unknown.
Click here for the image details page or here for the full-sized version (924 x 473).