Blanco Bedrock: Bruemmers Continue Life in Historic Twin Sisters’ Home
By Billie Jean Kutzer, Blanco County News
Below is an article from the Nov. 28, 2018 edition of the Blanco County News featuring Roy & Birdie Bruemmer. Trinity Lutheran Church began at Twin Sisters and our original church’s front steps, that bear our organization year of 1906, were located there.
Lifetime resident Roy Bruemmer recently celebrated his 90th birthday. He and his wife Birdie have lived a full life on a ranch that has been in their family since both their families were the first settlers in this part of the Hill Country.
In 1952 Roy married Birdie Bindseil. However, their story begins generations before.
Seven miles south of Blanco on U.S. Hwy 281 lies the remnants of a once thriving community of Twin Sisters settled in the 1800s.
The Bruemmer’s family settled in Twin Sisters in 1860. Heinrich Bindseil, great-grandfather of Birdie Bruemmer settled at Twin Sisters in 1869, coming through the port at New Orleas at age 22. The Bindseil family came from Stotterlinger, Germany and the Bruemmers were from Hamburg, Germany.
On the south side of the Little Blanco River and east of what is now U.S. Hwy 281, the Bindseils settled and opened the first general store in the area. Later, they moved across the river to build their store and home where Roy and Birdie Bruemmer now live on Ranch Road 473 just east of the Catholic cemetery. Their historic home was once two stories with a dance hall on the second floor. Construction of the the iconic native stone barn that still stands today began in 1880, and took seven years to complete.
Edwin Bindsiel, Mrs. Bruemmer’s grandfather, ran the store until one winter he slipped on the ice and had a stroke. No longer able to run the store, his sons Roland and Hilmer moved he and his wife to a little house in Blanco, which is the current site of Bindseil Park. Six years later the boys decided to sell the store and ranch. Roy’s parents bought the property where they turned the store into their home and made a living farming and ranching, raising cattle, sheep, goats and hay.
Shortly after Roy and Birdie married, they moved in with his parents at which time his parents remodeled the house and took off the second story. The young bride moved back into the home that once had been in her family for generations, tying the bond between two of the original families that settled the area.
“My dad who was born in 1905 said he went to dances here,” Roy said. “Then in the 40s I don’t think they had dances here anymore.”
Stories of the Twin Sisters area are woven into the memories the couple shares.
“Grandpa was telling me before they built the little church, they met in the school house,” Birdie said. “They shared a pastor with Fischer Store. Blanco had services once a month. It was the Sunday of the church service and the people were waiting inside for the service to start and the pastor wasn’t there. They waited and waited and the people didn’t see him coming so they went outside to see if they could maybe see him. Shortly they did see him. Here would come this galloping horse with the pastor on it and Indians were chasing him. When the Indians saw the people standing outside, they turned around and left. Grampa must have been a little boy. But if there were Indians, he was probably a small child. He told me where Grandma and Grampa had their place that was also my great-grandfather’s place. They had fields of corn and everything else they planted, and the children had to do the work. They were working in the field and his mother would always take cookies to the field for a treat for the kids. A couple of Indians riding by stopped so she got out the cookies and gave them to them and they went on.”
Across from the Bruemmer’s house stands a massive and beautiful rock barn. It was built not only for storage, but to house their sheep flocks from wolves and coyotes. They would pasture the sheep during the day and bring them home for night. A brother of Henry Bruemmer Jr. was sent out to bring the sheep in for the evening, but he never came home. When the family went out to look for him all they found were his shoes. He was never seen again, and it was assumed he was taken by the Indians.
At one time the Bruemmer family held more than 2,000 acres at Twin Sisters. Henry Bruemmer Sr., Roy’s great-grandfather donated the land where Twin Sisters Dance Hall was built.
“Before Roy and I were married, we would go to Twin Sisters to dance,” Birdie said. “The Wuest and Jonas families made hamburgers. Roland Bruemmer was Roy’s dad and his mother was Hilda Jonas.”
“When we married, I had some cattle, some sheep and goats,” Roy said. “In 1960 to ‘65 I got rid of the goats because the fences were bad. They are always looking for a hole and if they don’t find one, they would make one.”
He still has cattle but no longer runs sheep.
“We lived across the river at Grandma and Grandpa’s and I walked to school,” Birdie said. “I had to cross the Little Blanco River. They put a little board across the river so I could cross it but I fell off of it more than one time. When the river came up it washed the board away.”
Roy attended Twin Sisters School for nine years.
“We walked to school,” Roy said. “It didn’t matter if it was hot, cold or rainy it didn’t make a difference. Sometimes Dad would take us if it was really bad.”
The home he grew up in is behind their house across the creek that flows through Chick’s Ranch and is still standing.
“The girls would go home and then spend the night with their friends,” Roy said. “The creek is totally different than what it is now. It ran all summer. We had to get across the creek. So, Daddy fabricated a so-called bridge across the creek. It was about 10 to 12-feet long, and when the girls would start across, I would get behind them and start bouncing and shaking the bridge. They didn’t fall in the creek but they started screaming so I quit.”
“My family was fifth generation of de kliena Heinrich and de grosse Heinrich,” Roy said, referring to his ancestors who were known as “Small Henry and Big Henry.”
Roy served in the Army during the Korean Conflict. At one time they were stationed at Virginia Beach, Virginia where he piloted duck boats out to ships with cargo. He later became an instructor.
Roy and Birdie have two children Rodney and Vicki.
“We spoke German at home,” Birdie said. “Vicki could not speak English when she started school. I started school in San Antonio in the first grade and could not talk a word of English myself.”
Her father told her that his grandchildren were going to learn German, so when Rodney and Vicki were growing up, they spoke German. The year before Vicki started first grade, they had a play school in the area. Mothers and their children would meet at different houses each week and only there did Vickie did learn English because the other children spoke English. When Vicki started school, the family began to speak English, so by the time Rodney started school two years later he had no problems with the language.
As their children were growing up, they were very active in school activities. Twin Sisters 4-H, FFA, football and band. Vicki was a drum major. The children exhibited cattle and pigs at the local stock shows with Roy right there with them teaching them how to properly feed and train the livestock as well as to walk, stand, wash and groom the animals for their big day.
“You have to be nine years old to be in 4-H,” Birdie said. “The kids were in Twin Sisters 4-H at the school. At nine he wasn’t very tall and he was showing this big steer. Of course, Roy was always there helping him and Vicki, too. The day came to take the steers to the show and they had to be washed and groomed. He may have gotten reserve champion that year because they could both sell. After that steer sold, it was time to go home. Rodney thought the steer was coming home with us. It was a heart-breaker.”
Aside from farming and ranching Roy worked for the national park service in Johnson City from 1970 until he retired in 1994.
Birdie began working at PEC in August of 1966 in customer service. One of her tasks was to count membership fees every month. Through the years she was able to meet President Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird. In 1970 she heard that the LBJ Boyhood home was going to be restored and applications were being taken. She urged Roy, who had been working as a carpenter building houses in Canyon Lake, to apply. He got the job. When the restoration was finished only one employee was going to be hired from the restoration crew for ongoing maintenance. Roy got the job and later became the maintenance manager. Birdie worked for PEC from 1966 until she retired in 1999. After retiring the couple has enjoyed taking care of the ranch and cattle. They also had the opportunity to do some traveling. They visited Germany, Paris, Nova Scotia, New York City, Niagara Falls, and celebrated their 60th anniversary with their children and five grandchildren in Hawaii. They have also enjoyed dancing at Twin Sisters Dance Hall as well as making new friends at dance halls in Schulenberg and LaGrange.