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"Hindsights"

Looking back at:

Fischer Store -
Prime Real Estate

By Michael Barr
Michael Barr
An old tin building just off the main road between Blanco and Wimberley was once the hub of Fischer, a tiny Hill Country community. Fischer is one of those places where one can still touch and smell 19th century Texas. For how much longer is anyone's guess.
TX - Fischer Store
Fischer Store
Photo courtesy Michael Barr, June 2019

Hermann Fischer, the man who started it all, left Germany rather than submit to compulsory military service. He arrived in Carlshafen (Indianola) in 1852.

He first settled on a farm along Geronimo Creek above Seguin.

Farming can be a fine occupation when mother-nature cooperates. That year she didn't. Fischer survived one of the driest spells in recent memory by doing odd jobs around Seguin.

On the boat from Germany Hermann met Anne Lindemann. A Fischer family story says the Lindemanns settled in Blanco. When Hermann went to see her, he was awestruck by the hills, the spectacular vistas, the stately cypress trees, and the soft green water of the Guadalupe and Blanco Rivers.

"There was an Indian trail through here," recalled Gertrude Fischer, "with grass up to a cow's belly. And there was water. It looked like a nice place to settle, so he did. He thought it was paradise."

In 1853 he took up a claim just west of the Devil's Backbone. His brother Otto soon joined him.

In 1855 Hermann married Anne Lindemann.

Hermann Fischer wanted to farm, but when he tried to sink a plow into the paper thin Hill Country soil, he decided ranching was a better option.

Of course ranching wasn't much better in those days of the open range. When Fischer's livestock scattered like dandelion seeds in a cyclone, he opened a store.

Over the years the store expanded. Fischer's inventory included farm implements, hardware, dry goods and groceries. He added a saloon in back of the store.

Hermann Fischer was an eternal optimist with unlimited faith in human nature. He had to be. He was a frontier merchant who did most of his business on credit.

The area around the store, originally called Fischerdale, became known as Fischer Store. By the mid-20th century, it was just Fischer.

When his neighbors asked Hermann Fischer to open a post office, he politely said "Nein Danke." He barely had enough time to run the store and saloon. He finally agreed to open a post office and serve as postmaster but only because no one else would do it.

Even then the arrangement almost collapsed when postal inspectors told Fischer that regulations would not allow a post office in the same building with a saloon. The saloon would have to go.

Hermann Fischer told the inspectors that if the government didn't like the post office in the same building with a saloon, it was free to find a new post office and postmaster. He then excused himself saying he had a beer keg to tap.

Under the circumstances the postal service inspectors took drinks on the house and went on about their business. Fischer's Store became the only post office in the country connected to a saloon.

TX - Fischer Dance Hall
Fischer Dance Hall
Photo courtesy
Michael Barr, June 2019
TX - Fischer Bowling Club
Fischer Bowling Club
Photo courtesy
Michael Barr, June 2019

In 1892 a one-eyed carpenter named Mr. Kloepper built the dance hall that still stands not far from the store and the Fischer nine-pin Bowling Club.

Fischer Store had the first telephone in the area. The phone enhanced the store's popularity and cemented its reputation as the local center for rumor, gossip and intrigue.

When the Great Depression hit, Fischer Store had thousands of dollars in credit on the books. Most people couldn't pay and the debts were eventually cancelled. Even then the business came out of the depression debt free and in good financial shape.

Generation of Fischers came and went but the store changed little until it closed in the 1980s.

Today Fischer still seems distant from the modern world, but the hills are subdividing at a rapid rate. The area is prime real estate. Housing developments are closing in on Fischer like Santa Anna's army at the Alamo.

There is a big fancy high school 3 miles down the road and rumors of a Super Walmart.

Everyone should see Fischer, but don't wait too long.

Michael Barr
"Hindsights" June 14, 2019 Column

Sources:
"Prime Development Property," The Brownsville Herald, November 26, 2000.
"Quaint Fischer Store Community 85 Years Old," San Antonio Express, September 3, 1938.
"Fischer, Texas," New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, March 26, 1996.


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