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Texas | Columns

"Hindsights"

Looking back at:

Bakeries Rise to the Occasion

By Michael Barr
Michael Barr

The Germans brought a love of fresh bread to the Texas Hill Country. Housewives baked bread at home until a string of bakeries in Fredericksburg made loaves of fresh bread for families, stores and restaurants.

Bread-making takes time and patience. Because the shelf-life of bread is short, housewives of the early 20th century typically made bread several times a week.

Considering the time and effort involved in making bread, it is easy to understand why a housewife would choose to save herself hours of work by purchasing a loaf of fresh bread at the bakery for a nickel.

In 1891 Franz Moritz and his wife Katherine (Stein) opened a bakery in Fredericksburg. They had recently moved into town from their farm on Palo Alto Creek.

Franz had previously worked in a bakery in Galveston. He ran the bakery in Fredericksburg until about 1913. Beginning in 1916, M. Tichmann operated a bakery in the Louis Priess Building at 141 East Main Street. Tichmann made bread, cakes and pies "of the finest quality." Fruitcake for Thanksgiving was a specialty.

Tichmann originally called his bakery Fredericksburg Bakery, but he changed the name to Tichmann Bakery. The business took orders over the phone and delivered anywhere in town.

Tichmann was a businessman who looked out for his customers. A notice in the Fredericksburg Standard (May 5, 1917) announced "On account of the high price of flour and other materials, we will have to charge 10c for a loaf of bread, beginning Tuesday, May 8th, but we will make the loaves bigger. Tichmann Bakery."

George Stucke bought Tichmann Bakery in 1917. Stucke came from San Antonio where he operated a bakery on Commerce Street. Except for a brief period, Stucke ran the business, called Fredericksburg Bakery, until his death in 1948.

In 1945 George Stucke finally joined the 20th century. He gave up his wood-fired oven for gas.

Werner Schult opened a bakery in Fredericksburg on June 21, 1924 in the Wahrmund Building (sometimes called the Clark Building) at 312 East Main Street (today Der Lindenbaum). Ed Stark bought the bakery from Schult in 1927.

Stark renamed the business Blue Bonnet Bakery. He opened a second location up the street, next door to the Palace Theater.

In 1928 H. N. Kissel bought Blue Bonnet Bakery and changed the name to City Bakery. Werner Schult took the business back in 1929.

Schult sold the business to William Moellendorf later that year. Moellendorf had baking experience in Gonzales, Luling and San Antonio.

Schwiening's Bakery opened in the spring of 1930. The newspaper described the location of the business as being "the second door next to the Post Office."

In 1932 there were 3 bakeries on Fredericksburg's Main Street cranking out bread within a few blocks of each other: Schweining's, Moellendorf's and Stucke's. A customer could buy a loaf of bread for a dime.

In 1939 William Moellendorf sold his bakery to his brother-in-law Theo Dietz. Theo, born in Gillespie County in 1880, was an experienced baker having operated bakeries in Kerrville and Kingsville. The Dietz family ran the legendary bakery for the next 70 years.

Fredericksburg TX - Dietz Bakery
Dietz Bakery
Photo courtesy courtesy Gillespie County Historical Society.

In the 1950s Bruce and Dorothy Scully opened Fredericksburg Bakery in the old Louis Priess Building next door to Dooley's. The bakery was locally famous for pastries and homemade bread. Some of the recipes went all the way back to George Stucke in the early 20th century. Mike and Patsy Penick bought the bakery in the 1980s.

In 1965 Dietz Bakery, then owned by Theo's son Edgar, moved to 214 East Main Street - the building next door to the Domino Parlor. When Edgar retired, his son Don ran the business.

Dietz customers were loyal. Until the day the business closed in 2010, bread and pastry lovers formed a line down the street, hoping the bakery didn't sell out before they got to the counter.

The reputation of Fredericksburg bakeries reached far beyond Gillespie County. The actor Jack Webb once stopped into Dietz Bakery. Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller had Dietz bread flown to the governor's mansion in Little Rock.

Michael Barr
"Hindsights" June 1, 2023 Column

[See Standing in line at Dietz Bakery ]



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