Fuchs' House survival crucial to county's preservation

Throughout Burnet County lies a history so rich and always worthy of preserving. One piece of history at risk of being lost in time is the Fuchs' House, located in Horseshoe Bay. Nestled among the trees off of Stagecoach lies a house that has withstood the tests of time for approximately 140 years, and with the efforts of a strong community, I hope to see it thrive for 140 more.

The Fuchs' House was built in the late 1870's for Conrad Fuchs and his wife, Anna, and their family. The patriarch of the Fuchs family, Pastor Adolf, his wife Luise, and their children came from Germany in 1846 and made a home for themselves in Texas, building and continuing homes and relationships over the years.

Many family members passed through the area over time, contributing to the ever interesting history of the area. The house served not only as a home, but a stagecoach stop (the stables are located under the house and it is a sight to see!), a community school, and a post office.

Since the death of Conrad in 1898, the life of the Fuchs' House has been one of variety, and it eventually succumbed to years of weathering and is just a few years away from being a ghost of what it once was.

The end of the house's existence does not have to happen, though, and efforts by the City of Horseshoe Bay, the Fuchs House Advisory Committee (FHAC) and the Burnet County Historical Commission have been started to save the house from the passage of time and preserve it to its former glory.

I was so excited to have the opportunity to visit the Fuchs House recently during a BCHC “field trip.” There, we were thrown back in time as we stood on the front steps of the home and learned about its history from Horseshoe Bay City Council member Cynthia Clinesmith and FHAC member Jim Jorden, who are just as persistent in the effort to keep the house standing and structurally sound.

Though the house is in serious need of repairs – especially on the roof – one cannot deny the breathtaking qualities the house holds, and as we walked the halls, toured the rooms, and explored the grounds around the beautiful building, I found myself imagining what life was like back in its prime. I wondered about the Fuchs family and how they spent their time living there, what kind of memories they made.

During our trip through the first floor of the house, we found many fascinating items, like an old bed complete with a straw mattress – I cannot imagine sleeping on one of those every night! As a group of us entered one of the rooms at the back of the house, we were amazed to find a photograph of Conrad Fuchs propped up against a wall.

The picture showed Fuchs squatting next to his dog with a rifle in his hand, as if they had just returned from a hunting trip or were having a quick rest before venturing out on one. Fuchs watched his visitors as they looked at him.

“Welcome to my home,” his lively eyes seemed to say. “Please take care of it.”

In the back, the house has a beautiful balcony – we unfortunately were not able to step out on it, as it is also in need of care – which looked out on the trees below, and the world beyond. Imagine the family sitting outside on a bright and sunny afternoon, looking out over the horizon as they planned their evening and prepared for the next day's work! It was absolutely a storybook scene, one I hope to continue seeing as the house receives all the attention and repairs it needs, hopefully sooner than later.

Many interesting stories surround the Fuchs' House, and I've learned a few from FHAC member Jim Jorden through his newsletter, The Fuchs Chronicles, a new circulation I recommend to everyone.

One particularly interesting bit of information revolves around famed musician Oscar J. Fox, known for his true Texan music, including songs like “Whoopee Ti Yi Yo, Git Along, Little Dogies” and “The Old Chisholm Trail,” songs everyone recognizes no matter their taste in music.

Though Fox used the Anglican pronunciation of the name Fuchs, the Texas State Historical Association says he did have ties to the Fuchs Family of Horseshoe Bay. Fox was the son of Conrad's brother Bennie and his wife Emma, and raised by another of Conrad's brothers, Hermann, who lived just down the road in what is now Cottonwood Shores, on the well-known Krumm Ranch, and his sister Cora lived with Conrad and Anna for a time.

Fox's musical talents apparently ran in the family, as his grandfather, Adolf, was said to have a “fine natural gift for singing,” according to the late Darrell Debo in his book, “Burnet County History, Volume II,” composed music, and made a trade tuning pianos in the community.

Upon his last sermon in Koelzow, Germnay, Debo says “Adolf Fuchs told his congregation that he felt that God was leading him to a new land, just as he had led Abraham, and that God would bless him. Surely God had a purpose in bringing this man of love, learning, and music to Texas.”

And bring music to Texas he did, passing along his talents to his grandson, who would one day become one of the most famous musicians in Texas history.

Fox received schooling in Marble Falls, and in 1893 left to pursue his career in music at the age of 14, and we now recognize the unmistakable melodies of his artwork to this day. A granite marker honoring Fox now resides on the property of the La Quinta Inn in Marble Falls, memorializing a great piece of the story of our county. Fox may not have lived in the Fuchs' House himself, but to know that a prominent man such as he had ties to this important family is so special.

Many efforts are in the works for the preservation of this precious piece of history. A donation account has been set up in support of the Fuchs' House repairs, and the City of Horseshoe Bay plans to match a $50,000 donation if the other $50,000 is raised by Wednesday, Sept. 18. All donations are tax-deductible, and can be sent to Francie Dix, P.O. Box 8848, Horseshoe Bay, Texas 78657. Checks can be made out to “Friends of the Fuchs House,” and may also be dropped off at City Hall or the bank itself.

A fundraiser I know many of our fellow community members will be interested in supporting is the upcoming Fuchs' House Golf Tournament on Monday, June 17 at Slick Rock Golf Course in Horseshoe Bay.

Players, sponsors, and donations are needed for this fun event, and registration will close on Monday, June 10. The four-person scramble is $400 a team, and $125 for individual tickets, which include green fees, a cart, practice balls, one drink ticket, a light breakfast, and the awards presentation and lunch. For information about the golf tournament, please call 830-220-2648 or visit shoplocalhsb.com/events/4428.

Fellow BCHC member Caryl Calsyn recently submitted a column about the urgency of the need for donations for the preservation of the Fuchs' House, stating that the house “does not have to die.”

“If we match the money voted for by the city council, we will have nearly enough to replace the roof and the rear porch,” Calsyn said. “If this does not happen the day will come when I stand in the front yard and cry. I will not be there alone.”

She is completely right. The FHAC, BCHC, City of Horseshoe Bay, and Burnet County as a whole will be in that front yard as well, mourning for the loss of another piece of history. But I have seen the power a community holds when it stands together for something its residents believe in, and I believe our own community can make a difference.

Most of us recognize the importance of preserving our County's history. If we do not have the historic structures that once made up our homesteads, towns, and communities, we might soon forget where we came from, forget the hard work our ancestors put in to forming their homes, eventually passing them down to their descendants, and ultimately forget who we are.

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