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Sunday, May 21, 2023

Masked riders threatened to hang her husband in 1862. What did this Kerr County woman do?

The 1856 Faltin Homestead, Comfort, as seen in May 2023.
Click on any image to enlarge.

One night in 1862, a “band of masked riders” rode up to a small store in Comfort, and threatened to hang the shopkeeper. The man was a German immigrant, and was suspected of not supporting the Confederacy during the Civil War. Such views were dangerous in those days.

His young wife saved his life. 

August and Clara Faltin
In a quick and daring move, she rushed up to the leader of the masked riders and ripped the mask off of his face. She was a small woman, and the man was on horseback; it was if she flew across the yard and was suddenly in his face. 

When his mask was removed, both she and her husband recognized the man.

Once their identities were known, the masked men “changed their minds and rode away,” sparing the life of the shopkeeper.

In 1862, in Comfort, Texas, when a group of masked men rode up and announced they were going to hang someone – someone usually died dangling from a tree limb, with a rope around their neck. This happened repeatedly in our area during the Civil War. The groups of men chastising the German immigrants were called the Haengerbande – or “hanging bandits.”

The woman’s name was Clara von Below Faltin (1835-1930); she was married to August Friedrich Faltin (1830-1905). They met and married in 1856 in Leipzig, Germany – back when Leipzig was part of Prussia.

August had trained as a merchant under his father in Danzig, Prussia, and continued his training in Leipzig. He and Clara began their journey to Texas almost immediately after their wedding.

1879 Faltin Store
They sailed from Bremerhaven on the Auguste, and landed in New Orleans, and then went to Galveston, traveling on to New Braunfels, and finally Comfort, Texas. In 1856, Comfort was a small settlement of German immigrants, in what was then considered the western frontier of Texas. It was here that the young couple decided to make their home. 

Very soon after they arrived, the Faltins purchased the general merchandise business of Theodor Goldbeck in Comfort. This was the beginning of a diversified business empire which included retail stores, ranches, farms, investments and banking.

After the Civil War, in 1869, Faltin entered into a business partnership with a young Kerrville businessman named Charles Schreiner, providing $5,000 in capital to start a company called Faltin & Schreiner. Their small store was in the 200 block of Earl Garrett, about where the Charles Schreiner Mansion stands today. Faltin family lore suggests it was Clara, not August, who approved the $5,000 investment.

Capital was extremely scarce in Kerr County in the late 1860s. It’s likely had the Faltins not invested in Schreiner’s enterprise, no other local investor would have been found.

Their partnership was profitable. Though Charles Schreiner bought out August Faltin’s interest in the Kerrville store in 1879, the two men were partners in a similar store in Junction, also called Faltin & Schreiner, from about 1880 to 1890. They had other business interests together, as well.

The Faltin family
Years later, Charles Schreiner found himself in a tough financial spot, when Schreiner and several partners were trailing tens of thousands of cattle to northern markets. Through a series of unfortunate events, including cattle disease and a dispute over grazing rights, one of the large herds they were taking to markets was decimated, with thousands of cattle dead or missing. Most of Charles Schreiner’s partners in the enterprise were wiped out.

Schreiner survived financially because his old partner, August Faltin, arranged a long-term and low-interest loan – just when Schreiner really needed the help.

No small part of Charles Schreiner’s financial success was founded on the capital, experience, and advice of August Faltin. It was Charles Schreiner’s capable allocation of capital locally, and for many decades, which was responsible for the early growth and prosperity of our community.

The names of those in the photo
When that young wife, Clara von Below Faltin, boldly saved her husband, she not only secured her happiness and the lives of their future children – she also saved a critical player in the history of Kerrville, Kerr County, and the Texas Hill Country, August Faltin. Without the Faltins, our community’s history would be vastly different.

Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects historical items from Kerrville and Kerr County. If you have anything you’d care to share with him, it would make him very happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times May 20, 2023.

You can help by sharing this story with someone, by forwarding it by email, or sharing it on Facebook. Sharing is certainly caring. (I also have two Kerr County history books available online, with free shipping!)


  1. My fathers family (Jacoby) were original German settlers, known as Free Thinkers. Some were hung as they were against slavery.

    1. My grandfather’s family also included Jacobi’s. I wonder if we are related way back? His uncles came over and started the town of Hackberry (no longer) just outside of Schulenburg, and their business was farming and their Neuhaus Mercantile general store! My grandfather’s father was an internal surgeon and came over at the request of Dr Cooley, but unfortunately he passed during the Spanish Flu in 1917, helping patients.


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