town of Anhalt
began as a way station along 50 miles of bad road between New
Braunfels and Boerne.
It was a place for bone-tired travelers and swearing teamsters to
stretch their legs, wet their whistles and rest their numb and battered
keisters after several grueling hours of intimate contact with a hard
and bouncy wagon seat.
Actually calling Anhalt
a town is a stretch. It's more of an area, hidden away in the hills
of western Comal County,
about a mile off Texas 46, just west of U.S. 281.
Anhalt dates to 1859, close on the heels of New
Braunfels and Fredericksburg.
The Krause family had a house and a store there in the 1860s. Back
then locals called it Krause's Settlement.
In 1875, 35 local men met at Krause's Settlement and founded a Stock
Raising Club to fight cattle rustlers. Club members marked their livestock
by branding a "G" on the left shoulder in addition to their individual
The following year the Stock Raising Club changed its name to the
Germania Farmer Verein. Members broadened the scope of their activities
to include the study of improved farming methods.
The Germans looked out for each other, and they had a knack for organizing.
In the 1870s about a hundred farming families around Krause's Settlement
began pooling some of their money to help each other during emergencies
- a sort of mutual insurance fund.
Then in 1879 Krause's Settlement got a post office and a name change.
The place officially became Anhalt
- a German word that means "stopping place."
Settlers may have chosen the name because it fit the situation, or
the name may have come from the Duchy of Anhalt in Germany.
| Anhalt Hall
Germania Farmer Verein sign
Photo courtesy Michael
Barr, November 2021
Farmer Verein met regularly at Anhalt Hall, a wooden structure built
in a live oak clearing. Then someone had a brilliant idea. Since members
were getting together anyway, why not throw a party at the same time?
Around 1880 Anhalt Hall hosted the first spring festival (Maifest)
to celebrate the end of planting season. That party was so much fun,
the Verein threw a harvest festival (Erntenfest) in October to celebrate
the end of harvest season.
Farm families lived isolated, lonely lives, so they jumped at the
chance to socialize with neighbors, shake a leg on the dance floor
and blow some foam off a brew.
They came from miles around, camped out for the weekend on the grounds
of Anhalt Hall, cooked over a campfire and slept under the stars.
They brought their own instruments and made their own music.
As years passed the celebrations grew. The fall festival became a
fair where farmers showed off their fruits and vegetables. Cattle
raisers brought their prized livestock. Wives brought preserves and
The Germania Farmer Verein and the annual festivals at Anhalt Hall
held the community together.
| Anhalt Dance
Photo courtesy Anhalt Hall
| In 1887 the
Verein built a larger hall. The current hall, still in regular use,
dates to 1908.
Tradition is paramount at Anhalt, but over the years the Verein has
reluctantly made a few concessions to the modern world. Members built,
in order of importance, a beer garten (1951) and a kitchen (1953).
More recent festivals provided a family-style meal at noon featuring
pot roast, sauerkraut and all the trimmings.
There was something for everyone at the spring and fall festivals.
For the sporting crowd there was a double-elimination horseshoe tournament.
If you scoff at the notion that pitching horseshoes is an athletic
event, try tossing a ringer with one hand without spilling your beer
in the other.
Highway 46 is smooth as a countertop. Travel time between New
Braunfels and Boerne
is less than an hour and easy on the backside.
The landscape around Anhalt is changing too. Housing developments,
fast food joints and strip malls of suburban San
Antonio are just down the road and getting closer by the minute.
But while tomorrow closes in, Anhalt clings to yesterday like a June
bug to a screen door.
The historic hall is a relic of horse and buggy days. It has the warmth
of a country church and the character of a well-used Stradivarius.