Maria Katherina (Hofius) Wunderlich House
Maria Katherina Hofius was 21 when she came to Texas from Weide, Germany with her sister Magdelena in 1852. She probably was on the same ship as 24 year old Peter Wunderlich, who also immigrated to Texas from Weide. Other Germans from Germany had already settled on the farmland in northwest Harris County, including the Stracks and the Theiss families. These families helped the new arrivals adjust to their new land.
Maria worked for the Jacob Theiss family, and Peter began working for Herman Strack. On December 26, 1852 the two young people were married. They rented a room from Jacob Theiss and later rented some land for farming. Jacob Theiss lived southwest of the current intersection of Spring-Cypress and Stuebner-Airline Roads.
By 1854 Peter and Maria had bought 120 acres of land for $175 from Jacob Theiss. The property was northwest of Theiss Gully from Jacob Theiss' home and had a log cabin on it that Peter and Maria fixed up as their first home. Their first child, Elisabeth, was born January 4, 1855. In the following years they had William (1856), Anna Therese (1857), Friedrich (1860), and Helena (1862). The Wunderlichs prospered in their new land, farming corn and cotton for cash and raising meat and vegetables for their own food. Peter was very hard working and able to profit from a variety of enterprises. He built and sold heavy wagons and did hauling for others. One family story handed down said in the first years of his marriage he even hauled lumber for sale in Mexico, a 400 mile round trip that took nearly two months. He also made and sold syrup, charcoal, and pine tar. In those days, tar was an important lubricant for wagon and buggy wheels.
When the Civil War broke out, Peter Wunderlich was conscripted by the Confederacy and assigned to make gunpowder. A gunpowder mill was located at Spring Creek in the present Spring Creek Park. In April 1864 an explosion occurred at the mill, mortally injuring three men. Adolph Hillegeist and William Bloecher died that day; Peter Wunderlich died the following day. Two months after Peter died, his last son was born. Maria Katherina named the little boy Peter. Maria was a widow and single mother with six children, all under the age of ten. She worked hard and was able to continue to farm the land and provide for her family. The oldest son, William, was eight when his father died, and at an early age he began to assume a man's responsibilities. When he was fourteen he drove his mother's mules and wagons to pick up a load of lumber and haul it to the rail in Cypress.
With all of the hard physical labor on the farm, Maria Katherina did not neglect the spiritual needs of her family. She and the children were all charter members of Trinity Lutheran Church, organized in 1874. One son, Friedrich, went to college at Concordia Lutheran College in Fort Wayne, Indiana and became a Lutheran pastor. Two daughters, Anna Theresa and Helena, married pastors, and Elisabeth married a teacher. Sons William and Peter remained in the Klein community and farmed the family property. Maria also helped send her nephew August Hofius to college to become a minister.
In 1874, the same year Trinity Lutheran Church was organized, Maria Katherina built the house now owned by the Klein, Texas Historical Foundation. Until that time the Wunderlichs had lived in the log cabin on the property when they bought the land in the 1850's. Peter had added on to and improved the cabin, but by 1874 Maria could afford a nicer house. Maria's son William told his son Arnold that Maria had the house built in 1874. A Mr. Schlobohm from the Westfield-Aldine area was the head carpenter for the building. Originally located on the south side of Spring-Cypress Road, approximately 1.5 miles west of Stuebner-Airline Road, the house was given to the Klein, Texas Historical Foundation by Carolyn Stonesifer in 1997.
In 1882 Maria's son William married Wilhelmina Wilder, sister of Trinity Lutheran's pastor at the time; and the couple continued to live with Maria Katherina. William's brother Peter married Sophie Krimmel in 1891 and built a house on the southern part of the Wunderlich property. Peter Wunderlich's house, near present-day Doerre Intermediate, is on its original location and has a Texas Historical marker. Maria Katherina continued to live with William and Wilheimina until her death at the age of 73 in 1904. William and Wilhelmina raised eight children in the house, which the youngest son Arnold inherited after the deaths of Wilhelm and Wilhelmina in 1935 and 1939. Arnold's daughter, Carolyn Stonesifer, gave the house to the Klein, Texas Historical Foundation after her father's death in 1997. The house had been home to three generations of the Wunderlich family. In April, 1999 the house was moved to the old Alphonse Wunderlich property next to Doerre Intermediate. Viola Hildebrandt and Hilda Doerre, granddaughters of Wilheimina and William Wunderlich, went through the old house and told us what it was like there when they were children. With the aid of their descriptions, we have tried to restore and furnish the house as it was in the period from 1870-1900. Originally the kitchen was a building separate from the house. Some time in the early 1900's a kitchen and dining room were added to the right side of the front porch. The large room was removed several years before the house was given to the Klein, Texas Historical Foundation