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ART, TEXAS

Mason County, Texas Hill Country

Including the suburbs of East Art and West Art
Highway 29
26 miles West of Llano
7.5 miles East of Mason
Population: Dispersed. Est.18 (2000)

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Church and bluebonnets in Art, Texas
Church and bluebonnets
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2004
Mason County is included in the most heavily populated German part of the Hill Country, with the city of Mason being the northern most town of any real population. Mason, Gillespie, Kendall and Comal Counties comprise almost the entire German settlement area, with just a trace of overflow into Blanco, Kerr, and Llano Counties.

Art is found on detailed maps of Mason County just East of Mason (town). It will appear surrounded by five little crosses - a cluster of family cemeteries.

Art along with Hilda, Loyal Valley and Doss still have a number of beautiful utilitarian limestone buildings. The Germans settling this area were German Methodists, not Catholic or Lutheran Germans.

History of Art

Art by Mike Cox

... Until shortly after World War One, Art’s name was Plehweville, a handle that sounds something like a sneeze, followed by “ville.”... Turns out that one person who could pronounce the name Plehweville was Otto Plehwe. In 1886, he had purchased from J.A. Hoerster a one-year-old general store near the hill top Methodist Church. The area had been settled by German families in 1856 and they soon built a log church. By 1875, they had raised a stone church which also served as a school. (And 15 years later, they would build the church that still stands today.)

Plehwe thought the area needed a post office as well as a store and the government agreed. Postal officials even went with Plehwe’s suggested name, one the new post master thought had a nice ring to it: Plehweville.

Unfortunately, letters to Plehweville, not an easy name to pronounce, spell or remember, often got lost. Many residents were not content with the name and neither was the government. Phooey with Plehweville they chorused.

By 1920, Eli Dechart had taken over as store owner and post master of Plehweville. Like Plehwe, he envisioned a community named in his honor. But unlike Plehwe, Dechart had a more practical idea. He recommended the new name for the post office of Plehweville, Texas be Art, Texas – Art being the last three letters of Dechart. And so by government fiat, Plehweville was transformed into Art.

No matter its name, Art never flourished. In 2000, census enumerators counted 18 residents. You would think that being only seven miles from Mason the Art post office would have long since been discontinued by the Postal Service, but not so. It’s still there at 7866 E. Highway 29, 76820-9817. more
1890 United Methodist Church,  Art, Texas
The 1890 United Methodist Church
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2004
Art, Texas downtown
“Downtown Art”
Photo courtesy Erik Whetstone, August 2005
Kothmann Grave Site and Marker, Art Texas
Kothmann Grave Site, and Marker
Junction of Hwy 29 & Lower Willow Creek Rd.

Photo courtesy Elwin Jensen, March 2007
Historical Marker:

Kothmann Homesite and Cemetery

Heinrich Conrad Kothmann (1798-1881) and his wife Ilse Katherine Pahlmann (1810-1905) and their family sailed from Germany to Indianola, Texas in 1845. Among the first families to settle in Fredericksburg, the Kothmanns were issued a 640-acre land grant in Mason County in 1848. In 1856 they moved to Art and were among the first immigrant families in this area. A trained cabinetmaker and musician, Kothmann began ranching and acquired another 640-acre tract of land.

Located on their former homestead, the Kothmann Cemetery is all that remains of the original ranch site. Containing only five graves, all of Kothmann family members, the graveyard began with the burial of Heinrich Conrad Kothmann in 1881. His wife Ilse is buried beside him. Their son Karl, the first of their family born in Texas, is buried here along with his wife Katherine (Hoerster) Kothmann. A fifth unmarked grave is thought to be that of a grandchild.

Though most of the land was sold after Ilse's death in 1905, the family retained one acre including the cemetery property. The concrete wall and slab were constructed after 1937 to provide protection and ease in maintenance for the five graves. The family maintains the cemetery. (1996)
Kothmann Homesite and Cemetery Marker, Art Texas
Photo courtesy Elwin Jensen, March 2007
Although much can be said about Art, we would invite the serious reader to try to locate: Yesterday in the Texas Hill Country by Dr. Gilbert J. Jordan, Texas A & M Press, 1978.

This small, very entertaining book includes the tiniest details of life in Art and the other small German Hill Country communities that no longer appear on highway maps.

The 160 page book. contains details on well-digging, sausage making, courtship rituals, old-world customs and lessons in German-English language compromise.

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Yesterday in the Texas Hill Country
Mason County TX 1907 postal map
Mason County 1907 postal map showing Plehweville
(Between Mason & Llano County line)

Courtesy Texas General Land Office

Art, Texas
Area Destinations:

Mason
Llano
Fredericksburg
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