Austin County

Industry, Texas



Site of the first permanent German settlement in Texas, 1831. Founded by Friedrich Ernst, born at Varel, Oldenburg, Germany. Immigrated to America, 1829 and to Texas in 1831. Died here in 1858. The town was laid out in 1838.- Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 1936. Located .3 miles off FM 109 (in Lions Club Park) of Ernst Memorial Park Industry.

Friedrich Ernst. Christian Friedrich Ernst (Dirks) was born in Germany in 1796. Friedrich Ernst was inducted into the German army in 1814 and served for five years. He married Louise Gesine Auguste Weber in 1819. They became the parents of Caroline, John Friedrich, Ludwig, Wilhelmine, and Hermann Ernst. In 1829 the family sailed to the United States and settled in New York. In 1831 they came to Texas as part of Stephen F. Austin’s second colony and are thought to be the first German family in Texas. Ernst received a land grant of 4,428 acres of land on Mill Creek in present day Industry where he grew produce and tobacco and was the first recorded European to manufacture cigars in Texas. Ernst became active in civic affairs in the area, serving as a Justice of the Peace and as a member of the commissioners court. He supported the establishment of Hermann’s University and served on its first board of trustees. Ernst, who wrote a series of letters to German officials to encourage their citizens to move to America, was called the Father of German Immigration to Texas. Ernst died in 1848 and is remembered through this park located on land he once owned and a scholarship in his name. – Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 1996. Located at FM 109, Ernst Memorial Park, Industry.

John Friedrich Ernst, Jr. A native of Oldenburg, Germany, John Friedrich Ernst (1820-1863) emigrated to the United States with his family at the age of nine. In 1831, they traveled from New York City to Texas, finally arriving in what is now the town of Industry. The Ernsts were one of the first families to settle in what became a center of German culture in Texas. Ernst’s life spanned the period of Texas history from the days of Mexican occupation to the Civil War. His family fled their home with others during the Runaway Scrape, as Santa Anna’s army began its march across Texas in 1836. Shortly after the Texian victory at San Jacinto, Ernst joined the Texas Rangers and was given land in Comal County for his service. He participated in other local militia organizations during the days of the Republic and served as a Justice of the Peace in Round Top (15 mi. NW). Ernst was married to Maria Ann (Krumm) Brey in 1845. In 1861, John Friedrich Ernst joined the Confederate Light Artillery company recruited for Civil War duty from Fayette County. He died two years later in Waco, after serving twice as the company’s commanding officer. – Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 1985. Located at FM 109, Ernst Memorial Park, Industry.

Industry Brethren Church Cemetery. The Industry Brethren Church is the third oldest congregation of the Unity of the Brethren located in the German settlement of industry. Periodic worship services were conducted in industry beginning in 1860. The Rev. Josef Opocensky was the first minister to serve the congregation, moving to industry from Fayetteville in 1860. In 1875 the rev. Ludvik Chlumsky organized the church with nine charter families. The Brethren church is a congregation based on the principles originated from an area east of Bohemia in the state of Moravia in Czechoslovakia. Construction of a church building began in 1878 and was dedicated on November 1, 1879. The cemetery was established by 1880, and the church incorporated in 1888. The church was renovated in 1929. A new sanctuary was built and dedicated September 29, 1968. After that the original church building was disassembled and rebuilt by the Christian faith church members of Bellville where it remains. In 1966, it was agreed by church members to exchange 0.367 acres of land with Robert Spiess for enlarging of the cemetery. The Industry Brethren church cemetery has more than 200 graves, with the oldest being in 1880 of l. and Rosalie Marek. Some of the headstones have verses written in Czech that when translated are beautiful, as is the case of Jan Coufal (1842-1902). The picket fence was constructed in the 1930s. There are at least twenty-one veterans buried in this cemetery with Ernst Maeckel, Bennie Dockal and John Ripple, Jr. being the earliest burials. This cemetery was originally referred to as the bohemian Moravian Evangelical Reformed Church Cemetery and the Czech-Moravian cemetery, short for Evangelical Unity of the Czech-Moravian Brethren of North America. – Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 2012. Located at 2758 Main Street., Industry.

Industry United Methodist Cemetery. Organized 1847 by the Rev. Henry Bauer, missionary to the German settlers. In 1867, this building was erected under the leadership of the pastor, the Rev. Karl Biel. This was an era of financial difficulty, and the funds were raised only by very great sacrifices on the part of the people. Men of congregation did the construction work. The Rev. A. M. Roos was pastor of the 100th anniversary. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1967. Marker located at 1914 Main Street, Industry.

Industry Cotton Gin. German settlers Friedrich Ernst and Charles Fordtran founded Industry, Texas in 1831. The settlement was part of the Stephen F. Austin colonial land grant and was the first permanent German settlement in Texas. Although cigar-making dominated the town’s early industry, by the 1850s cotton became the area’s major crop. Ernst Knolle, who emigrated to industry from Germany in 1844, prospered as a cotton planter and had a gin built on this location in 1857. Local German craftsmen, Andreas Buenger and Theodore Daum, helped construct the original wood frame gin with a shingle roof. It was one of the area’s first of twelve gins built between 1857 and 1890. In the 1860s, Knolle sold the gin to Daum after suffering from financial difficulties. It was during this period that the gin was converted from mule powered to steam powered energy. Three generations of the Schramm family owned and operated the gin from 1876 to 1963. The Schramms made significant upgrades to the gin including converting it to diesel power, installing a ginning system from the Texas-based firm Murray Company, and constructing a galvanized iron structure next to the original wooden gin in 1929. The gin was sold to local businessman, Milton Lindemann in 1963 who was aided in its operation by Charles Fordtran, a descendant of the original settler Charles Fordtran. The gin ran for ten years until Fordtran’s health began to fail. The last bale of cotton in Austin County was ginned here in 1973. In 1976, Milton Huebner bought the property and the original 1857 gin was razed for safety concerns. The Huebners donated the historic site to the city of industry in 1996. – Historical Marker Text. Marker dedicated 2012. Located at Gin/City Hall Building, 725 Main St., Industry.

Charles Fordtran. (May 7, 1801-Nov. 1, 1900) In Jan. 1831 Charles Fordtran, a German of Huguenot descent, joined the colony of Stephen F. Austin. His first work was to survey land for Austin’s partner, Samuel May Williams. He was given a league (4,428.4 acres) as his fee. Soon he brought in two families of settlers who worked for him for a time, then obtained their own land in present Fayette county. On July 4, 1834, he married Almeida Brookfield (1817-1887), daughter of a noted Indian-fighting family. Fordtran also fought Indians who stole livestock and kidnapped the wives and children of colonists. In the Texas war for independence, he joined the “Spy Rangers” under Capt. John Bird, defending civilians who were fleeing to escape the Mexican invaders. Charles Fordtran was one of the first Teutonic settlers in Texas–arriving some years before the main tide of German immigration. Music and good living abounded in his home. He and his wife had 14 children, with nine living to adulthood. Of four sons in the Confederate army during the Civil War (1861-1865) two survived. His descendants have made contributions to Texas history as industrialists, engineers, lawyers, physicians, and teachers. This marker stands on land he received in 1831. – Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 1976. Located on Hwy 159 about 2 miles west of Industry.

Industry Post Office. During Mexican rule of Texas, a post office was established in May of 1830 at San Felipe, the center of Stephen F. Austin’s Texas colony. On the Gotier Trace, a road connecting San Felipe to what would become the town of Bastrop, the German family of Johann Friedrich Ernst had settled and established the community of Industry by 1831. Known as the “Father of German immigration to Texas,” Ernst wrote numerous letters to his native Oldenburg, Germany. One, printed in German newspapers, attracted many German immigrants to Texas. The German settlement of Industry grew around Ernst’s property, which included his home and a store. Mail coming to area residents was addressed in care of Ernst, who had worked as a postal clerk before coming to America. By 1838, during the Republic of Texas era, Johann Gottlieb Sieper, Ernst’s partner who later became his son-in-law, acted as Industry’s first postmaster. In 1840, his position became official. He continued in this capacity after Texas joined the Union, and he remained postmaster until his death in 1855. A few months later, Ernst Knolle became postmaster, and the Industry post office moved to the Knolle store, approximately a half mile east of this site. The Ernst Store property, long held to be the site of Industry’s first post office, remains in the community today as part of Ernst Memorial Park. The restored and stabilized building is a reminder of early Texas settlement and the importance of a mail system to the colonists. Positioned along a route that crossed the early center of Austin’s Colony, Industry developed similarly to the rest of the state, with postal service first relying on an individual or small number of residents before evolving into a more established system.- Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 2004. Located Ernst Memorial Park.

Industry State Bank. On February 11, 1911, a group of local citizens took the first steps in forming a bank to be called First Guaranty State Bank of Industry. Dr. B.E. knolle served as the Bank’s first President and E. Lindemann served as first Vice President. By June of that year, the bank opened for business at 1559 Main Street. Shareholder and Cashier H.L. Schulze served as the bank’s only salaried employee, while his Assistant H.H. Boelsche received hourly pay. In September 1919, Schulze’s daughter, Thusnelde, was hired by the bank and she continued as an employee for 49 years, until her retirement in 1968. When H.L. Schulze died in 1926, Boelsche was named as his replacement. Boelsche managed the bank until his death in 1956, when Arno Krebs became the bank’s president. Because of a change in the Texas banking structure, the bank’s name was changed to industry state bank in 1927. The depression caused a downturn in the deposits and income of industry state bank. While deposits had peaked at $206,000 in 1924, the low point for deposits occurred at the end of 1932 when they fell to $95,000. Deposits would not again reach their 1924 levels until 1937. A new bank building was constructed at the main street location in 1957, and by 1962, the bank’s assets had grown to $1,500,000. The bank relocated to a new structure in 1973 at the corner of highway 159 and highway 109. Industry State Bank acquired its first additional banking facility, New Ulm State Bank, in 1989. The integration of improved banking technology throughout its existence has enabled industry state bank to continue to serve the citizens of the region with banking facilities in fifteen communities. – Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 2011. Located at the Northeast Corner of Highway 159 and Highway 109.

Education in Industry. Education in Industry German settlers established the town of Industry in 1831. Shortly after they arrived in December 1840, the Rev. Louis C. Ervendberg and Dr. Joseph Anton Fischer founded the town’s first school. Fischer is recognized as the first teacher in Industry, and Ervendberg is credited as being tutor to the children of town founder Frederick Ernst. Tutors were common, with families hiring teachers to give lessons in their homes. By 1842, 37 area residents had petitioned the Texas Congress for the creation of a German institute of higher learning, Hermann’s University. The school received its charter in 1844, and although the charter was amended in 1846 when Texas became a state, the project never materialized. Accustomed to the free education offered in their native Germany, Industry settlers were part of the free public school movement in Texas. In 1864, Civil War veteran Christian William Hander opened a school in the residence of the Niebuhr family. His school grew out of the private home and became the Industry day school in 1865. Other schools at that time were operated by Rudolph Franke and John Simmons. These schools required tuition, though, from their students. Austin County established several public schools by 1880, including five in Industry, which created its own school district in 1912. Nearby Star Hill consolidated with it in 1928. Legislation in 1948 consolidated Industry, Shelby, Henkhaus, Rockhouse and New Bremen into West End Rural High School District, with grades 1-9 in Industry and 10-12 in Bellville. The district erected a new brick building in 1952, as well as a new structure for the African American campus, the Mary Bethune School. Following integration, the school consolidated into the Bellville Independent School District. The 1952 West End School building continued to serve as an elementary campus for the children of the area. – Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 2002. Located on Hwy. 109 S (7453 Ernst Pkwy).

Lindemann Store. The history of the Lindemann Store dates to 1884, when Edward Lindemann (1859-1931) and Franz Getschmann opened a general store in the German community of Industry. By 1889, the business had prospered so well that Lindemann bought his partner’s share of the store. In the early days, the Lindemann Store served as a community gathering place as well as a center where items such as groceries, medicines, dry goods, fabrics, notions, and housewares could be purchased. Farmers from the surrounding regions came to the store to exchange produce for manufactured goods. After 1889 the store offered a “peddle wagon” service, whereby goods were brought directly to the farms and produce was taken to town by wagon. When the railroad came through the area in 1892, the Lindemann Store expanded its freighting operation. By the early 1940s, agricultural products were in great demand, and the store’s emphasis changed from general merchandise to agri-business. The Lindemann Store, which has remained a family business throughout its history, continues to provide needed services to Industry and the surrounding area. – Historical Marker Text. Marker erected 1984. Located at Main Street-West, Industry.


Industry, TX 29° 58′ 20.8056″ N, 96° 30′ 7.8948″ W

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