Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

 

William Klattenhoff House
Historical Marker
Hutto - Round Rock, Texas


at Hutto on 79 --
2.4 miles south on FM-685 - past 130 to an unpaved road and go 500 feet north.
The house is on the west side of the road. 2450 FM 685

 

Marker Text:
German native William Klattenhoff (1855-1928) immigrated to Texas in 1872 at age 17. His work on the International and Great Northern Railroad brought him to Hutto, where he purchased land in 1876. Upon his marriage to Alvina Plattow (1860-1958) in 1878, he built their first house on this property. The Klattenhoffs purchased more land here and in Tom Green County, where in 1905 they helped establish a school that later became the Klattenhoff Community Center. William's success as a farmer, rancher and businessman led to the construction of a second home in 1896. The homestead, which remained in the Klattenhoff family at the turn of the 21st century, is a reminder of German settlement patterns.

 
 

 
     
   
William Klattenhoff House
Historical Narrative Researched  by Earl and Jan Klattenhoff
Written by Jan Klattenhoff
 
William Klattenhoff was born on September 30, 1855, from the union of Johanas Henry and Margarethe (Meyer) Klattenhoff of Fritzenberg, Germany. At the age of seventeen, he left Germany from Bremerhaven to come to the United States of America. The thirteen week trip was made on a sailboat, and Galveston was his entry port in the year of 1872. The Texas State Library and Archives' records of that year were destroyed by a hurricane. From Galveston, William took two children to relatives in Washington County, Texas, whose parents had died on the trip. William then traveled to Travis County working first for William Luedtke at Manor and also at a cotton gin at Merrilltown (a small community thirteen miles north of Austin). [1] His next job, building the railroad between Round Rock and Taylor brought him to Hutto. At this time Hutto was merely a station stop for the International and Great Northern Railroad near Cottonwood Creek and the home and cattle ranch of James Emory Hutto. Railroad officials named the stop Hutto Station after James Hutto donated five acres for a depot. In the next few years, Hutto Station became known as Hutto. [2]
 
In 1878, William Klattenhoff (9/301855-7/11/1928) married Alvina Plattow (4/6/1860-8/11/1958) and built their first home on property which he had purchased in 1876. It was approximately three miles south of Hutto. [3] The first home was a simple shotgun style house with a large sleeping loft. Ten of their twelve children were born in that home. Also under William's influence and sponsorship his two brothers, Johanes Henry (9/30/1863-5/25/1956) and Magnus Friederick (5/7/1867-1/6/1945) Klattenhoff, joined him here and lived for a short time in the small house with the family. They too were escaping the harsh work and living conditions of Germany at that time. Their parents worked as tenant farmers for one eighth profit. Magnus Friederick later became one of the pioneer farmers of the Slayton-Lubbock area and assisted in colonizing it.
 
During this time, William increased his landholdings. In 1881, he added acreage to the homeplace and extended it to Brushy Creek. [4] In 1889, he also obtained more grazing and ranch land in Coupland. [5] Before building his next home, William Klattenhoff became a naturalized citizen on January 28, 1892. His Final Naturalization papers were granted from Williamson County Judge W. M. Key, and in them he denounced his allegiance to the Emperor of Germany.
 
William's success in raising sheep, cattle, horses, and mules allowed him to build his second home on the property in 1896, and it has been on the Williamson County's Appraisal District's records ever since. [6] The two storied home's style is simple Victorian. It is set on a cedar pier and beam foundation. The wide porch wraps the home with railings and gingerbread trim details with decorative shingles. On the second floor is a balcony (porch and balcony face south), and the roof form is hip and gable with one conical structure. The downstair windows are six feet in length, and most of the second floor windows are four feet. In an early photograph, the windows are shuttered and lightning rods are in place. Most of the exterior wood is drop shiplap. The interior has details of beaded ceilings, molded door frames, beveled glass and paneled doors, built- in cabinets, and beaded wainscoating. [7] Brass gas ceiling lights were used throughout the home. The flooring is long leaf pine. An addition was added in 1906 that allowed for the continued growth of the family. A wide hall on the lower floor extended and added two more rooms, and a large sitting area with three small bedroom alcoves was the addition upstairs.
 
Two more children were added to the family when they moved into the second home, but only ten of the twelve survived to an adult age.(Photograph 4) The youngest son, Christian William (2/20/1902-5/18/1972) and the last daughter, Alvina Francis (8/11/1899-11/27/1991), passed down many stories of details about the home and daily life on the farm. For example, according to them the home was built from plans purchased by William through a company from Chicago by local craftsmen, relatives, and neighbors.(Photograph 5) Exterior buildings included two sheep barns, a smoke house, a two storied cattle, horse, and hay barn, and chicken/turkey coops. Vegetable gardens and fruit orchards were maintained to supplement the family's food source.
 
William Klattenhoff was able to make many contributions to his community due to his land holdings and business ventures. His success enabled him to fulfill his dream of securing a future in a land of opportunity and freedom which was imperative to him because of his determined journey from a country that was being controlled by an emperor. One of his first contributions in the early 1890's was to help fund a private school one mile east of the homeplace because no public schools had been funded in that area. [8] Burnap was the name of the school, and the teachers were supported by the families in the community. [9] In Hutto, he was a founding stockholder of Farmers and Merchants State Bank (Charter Number 317). Its charter date was December 14,1907. [10] Family papers include the bank's letterhead that designates William Klattenhoff as vice president. [11]
 
In 1900, he invested in five sections of land in Tom Green County. [1]2 The New Handbook of Texas has an entry for Klattenhoff, Texas, which was near Farm Road 1692 and Runnels County line in northeastern Tom Green County. [13] This was where his five sections of land were located, and it was also where he added later four more sections of land. [14] In 1905, William donated two acres from one of his first sections of land for a public school. [15] It was a two teacher school in 1931 and in 1934 had thirty seven elementary and five high school students. The master thesis of Julia Grace Bitner notes that the school was named Klattenhoff. [16] Klattenhoff School is now named the Klattenhoff Community Center and is located on Farm Road 1692 and Klattenhoff.  It is also the Tom Green County's Voting Precinct 131. [17] The New Handbook of Texas states that by the 1980's the school no longer was on the state highway maps, but that a community hall was there.
 
In the early 1900's, William sent his two oldest sons, John William and Albert, to ranch and farm his Tom Green property to further settle that area. An altar was also donated to the Trinity Lutheran Church in Miles and is still being used in one of the educational buildings today. [18] Property was also also obtained in Gaines County. Both of these West Texas holdings were to ensure grazing for his sheep herds. His children were sent with the stock by rails to pasture the sheep. Family records dating to 1926 show the cost of fencing and maintaining the land in Gaines County which was directed by H. Giesecke, a real estate broker of Ballinger, Texas. [19] After William Klattenhoff s death in 1928, a church altar was donated to the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Pflugerville in his memory by his wife and family. [20]
 
Alvina Klattenhoff lived for thirty more years in the homeplace , and the youngest son Christian William Klattenhoff brought his wife Alma Hebbe Klattenhoff (10/2/1905-8/19/1987) to live there in 1933. Following a tradition in farming families, Christian being the last son at home remained and farmed and ranched the property and cared for his mother. In 1959, he purchased from the Klattenhoff estate three hundred acres and the family homeplace, the William Klattenhoff house. Christian was involved with 4-H and FFA organizations all his life and was director of the Williamson County Youth Stock Show. Christian and his wife Alma were active in their children's academic and athletic activities in the Hutto School District. They were both baptized, confirmed, and buried at the Immanuel Lutheran Church where they were active life-time members.
 
During their residence, few alterations were made to the existing property. Vinyl and carpeting were laid over the pine floors and the ten foot ceilings were dropped. New cabinets were installed in the main kitchen, and a side kitchen was added using part of the porch for their family's use when his mother was still living. Just as the house had been passed down to the last son Christian, he passed his home at his death on to his only son Earl William Klattenhoff (1/28/37-. ) Earl assisted with family land payments and land improvements while his mother Alma lived in the home. The William Klattenhoff house has been Earl's only home excepting a few years for college and five years of teaching jobs. Earl married in 1978 and brought his wife Jan Karen Mohon (1/15/47- ) and son Deron Austin (9/9/73- ) to the William Klattenhoff house. Earl' mother insisted Earl build her a small home for herself just filly yards away from the homeplace because she wanted to live independently. Renovation began in 1979 by Earl and Jan to restore the historical character to the homeplace. Original flooring was uncovered and reconditioned. Dropped ceilings were removed to reveal the ten foot beaded ceilings. Beaded board cabinets were created for the kitchen area to match the original home's existing dining room cabinets. Brass gas lights that were found in the attic were converted to electric and restored and now are the major source of light. Many original glass fixtures were also found and are used with the brass light fixtures. Electrical rewiring throughout the house was done for safety reasons. Central air conditioning and heat was installed with limited exposed duct work. One extra bath was added using wood and square nails from the first William Klattenhoff A frame house. The 1906 addition covered up a well that had been on back porch of the 1896 home. The floors in that hall area over the years continued to buckle and warp due to the moisture and during restoration at this time a stoned well site with a hand pump was installed.
 
Exterior changes were minimal. An existing screened porch was extended to become a sun room. Great effort was made to use custom made wooden windows to blend with the originals. The only other exterior alteration was to extend the porch to the western side making it identical to the eastern wrap around. The original lightning rods are still in use. Earl has contracted to paint the exterior in the fall of 2000 with a new sealant paint that will ensure for twenty five years the protection of the wood.
 
The Texas State Film Commission has recognized the significant architecture of the William Klattenhoff house and its stately position on top of one of the highest points in Williamson County. Contact was made by the Commission in the 80's to contract work for a JC Penney national commercial. The homeplace in the commercials was to be JC Penney's home. The director remarked to how similar it looked to pictures he had seen of JC Penny's house. This would be only the beginning of many ventures to be filmed on, in, and around the house. To date there have been two major films that have used it as their location, Flesh and Bone and Courage Under Fire. Many TV commercials have been made including ones for national companies such as Century 21, ReMax,WalMart and Greyhound Bus. Also Mademoselle Magazine and Tommy Hilfiger used it as pictorial back drop for still advertisements. One music video by Keith Whitley, DoiftClaseiourEyea, was filmed at the homeplace and became a top ten video of the 90's for country/pop music.
 
Earl and Jan Klattenhoff as current residents promise to continue their effort to maintain the house as a landmark and to promote its proud heritage and historical integrity. Earl and Jan were both educators in the Round Rock Independent School District with a combined total of fifty three years of service. Both are actively involved with the Texas Baptist Children's Home of Round Rock. Earl began in 1967 and Jan after their marriage in 1978. After his teaching experience, Earl followed in his grandfather's footsteps by becoming a founding stockholder and officer of the Hutto State Bank in 1985 and continued to work there as Marketing Director for twelve years until his retirement. To help build Hutto's future just as his grandfather did he served as director of the Hutto Chamber of Commerce in 1989-91 and has for ten years been a member of the Hutto Independent School District's Future Physical Facilities Committee.
 
The William Klattenhoff house is a visual symbol to many of Hutto's development in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century's and a reminder of a prominent rancher, farmer, benefactor, and business leader; the residence is an important Williamson County landmark.
 
Researched by Earl and Jan Klattenhoff Written by Jan Klattenhoff
August, 2000
 
endnotes and bibliography



 





 



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