The Joseph Klar Family

By Janice Brazil

There’s a street just outside one of the gates of Cordillera Ranch that goes to SH 46, east of Boerne. It’s called Joe Klar Road, and I always wondered who Joe Klar was. Now we all know.

Joseph Klar, Jr. was only eight years old when his family left the port of Bremen, Germany, and immigrated to America. His parents, Joseph and Josepha (Rathmann) Klar, and siblings Paul, August and four-month-old Wilhelm, were steerage passengers on the ship Oder and docked in the New York harbor July 23, 1880.1 Joseph Sr. was a farmer and he and his wife decided to immigrate because of difficult economic times and because Josepha did not want her sons to be conscripted into the German military. They came to Texas and settled in Bulverde. Joseph Sr. was on the Comal tax rolls in 1889 and 1890. Even though he took out naturalization papers and wanted his sons to become American citizens, he never went through the naturalization process.2 Joseph, Sr. died in 1896 and Josepha died in 1924 and they are buried in the Saint Joseph Honey Creek Cemetery #2 off of SH 46 in Bulverde. 

When Joseph, Jr. was twenty-five, he married the daughter of Mathias and Marie Gertruta (Sueltenfuss) Schwarz. Gretchen “Gertrude” was born in 1875 and was twenty when she married Joseph in 1895. Her father was from Bavaria and had immigrated to America in 1855 with his parents, Michael and Margaretha (Hof) Schwarz.3

By the time of the 1900 census, Joseph and Gertrude had three boys — Bruno, Edwin and Emil. They owned their home in Bergheim and Joseph farmed. In their household was Gretchen’s father, who by then was a widow. The teenager Charles George was also in their household working as a laborer, as well as was forty-six year old Hannah Rathmann. Perhaps she was a relative through Joseph’s mother. Ten years later, their children Frieda, Arnold and Josie had joined the family. Charles George was still working and living in their household.

At one time, Joseph operated a saloon and chili stand in Bergheim. His son Bruno cooked the chili and soldiers from Camp Stanley often ate there during WWI. Joseph was also one of the early organizers of the County Fair Association.4

For forty-three years, Joseph and Gertrude lived in Kendall County raising livestock and farming in Bergheim. In 1943 they moved to New Braunfels where Gertrude died in 1947. Joe outlived her by eighteen years, dying in 1965. He was ninety-four years old. Both are buried in the cemetery near his parents, Joseph and Josepha.

Children of Joseph and Gertrude Klar

1. Bruno C. Klar was born on January 7, 1897 in Bulverde, Comal County. He worked for his father and owned a farm and ranch in Bergheim. He married Hedwig Anna Simon, and died on February 4, 1992. Both he and Hedwig are buried in the Boerne Cemetery. They had three children — Harry, Emmeline and Rueben.

2. Edwin Melchior Klar was born on January 21, 1898 in Kendall County. He and his wife Lorene O. Rippstein moved to San Antonio where Edwin first worked as a tobacco salesman and later for a security company. They had three children — Louraine, Barbara and Edwin Jr. Edwin died on December 28, 1986. He and Lorene are buried in the San Jose Burial Park in San Antonio.

3. Emil W. Klar was born on April 30, 1900 in Boerne. He and his wife Cecile Sultenfuss lived in San Antonio where Emil worked as a machinery salesman for an iron works company. At some point they moved to New Braunfels, where they were living when Cecile died in 1963. Emil died the following year. Both are buried in the St. Peter and Paul Cemetery in New Braunfels. They had at least two children — Anita and Marjorie.

4. Meda Emma Klar was born on June 30, 1901 and died that same year on the 25th of November. She is buried near her parents.

5. Frieda Gertrude Klar was born on May 15, 1903 in Kendall County. 

6. Arnold August Klar was born on October 15, 1906. In 1930, he was living in the household of his brother Emil. He was a shipping clerk in a machine supply company. Arnold died on May 5, 1971 and is buried in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. He served in WWII.

7. Josephine “Josie” Marie Klar was born on March 19, 1909 in Bergheim. She married Ben Francis Fritz, who outlived her by three years. She died on March 10, 1978 in San Antonio. They had at least three children — Joe, Beatrice and Gertrude. Josie and Ben are buried in the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery and Mausoleum in San Antonio.


1. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo,  UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Technically all passengers left from Bremenhaven, even though passenger lists all say “Bremen.” Steerage often housed hundreds of immigrants in one large room below decks. Conditions were horrible but the poor endured the passage for a better life.

2. His son Paul discovered this when he investigated Comal County naturalization records and contacted his brothers. Even though they always believed they were American citizens, they had to file their own papers years later to become citizens.

3. Gertrude’s parents, Mathias and Gertruta Schwarz, and grandmother Margaretha are buried in the Schwarz Family Cemetery. The cemetery is on private land off SH 46 west of Bergheim and north of the Pleasant Valley Community Center. 

4. Whitworth, Emmeline, family file in Boerne Archives Collection at the Patrick Heath Library.

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