we enter the holiday season, we are reminded of many old Christmas customs, one of which is cookie making.
cookie cutters, this star and this rabbit, have been cutting out cookies in the
Hill Country of Central Texas for over a century.
They represent just one of the many fine, old world
traditions that have been preserved by the people of Fredericksburg.
is the main street of Fredericksburg.
only is it one of the widest, but its two mile length makes it one of longest
main streets in Texas.
neat and friendly town was founded May 8, 1846 by German colonists, who left
the crowded cities of their native land to build new homes in Texas.
of the more famous of these old homes standing and still in use is the Peter Tatsch House.
its simplicity, sturdiness and craftsmen-like use of native materials, it is
among the most beautiful of all early Texas homes.
When Peter Tatsch discovered that the stone found in this area could support its
own weight, he constructed this thick-walled limestone dwelling.
The Tatsch house is a masterpiece of ingenuity.
must be remembered that when it was built in 1857, there was a scarcity of
tools, but the builder adapted his ideas brought from his native land to the
materials he found on the frontier.
The most striking thing about the Tatsch house is the huge Dutch chimney which is
attached to the side room or kitchen.
It extends some nine feet across the east side of the room.
fireplace heated the kitchen and was used for cooking family meals.
It was used also for the making of syrup, the curing of meat for the whole
chimney was specially constructed to carry away all smoke and soot and to
regulate the draft.
the first stone was laid until today, the structure has served a century of Tatsch descendants.
Peter Tatsch was an expert woodcarver.
was a necessary skill for the early settlers.
staircase, the spinning wheel and the furniture, in good condition today, were
made by Tatsch himself.
Whether for ceiling beam or chest of drawers, all of the woodwork in the house
is from trees felled in the vicinity of Fredericksburg.
Black Walnut and Hackberry were chosen for their durability and beauty when
Christmas approaches, the 9 foot wide fireplace, large enough to accommodate
whole logs, becomes a focal point again, as it did in the old community.
charm and warmth of this part of the Tatsch house, is never more appealing than
those times when the present occupants celebrate some special occasion.
it be a Sangerfest, a Centennial Celebration or a holiday, you can be sure of
one thing, the accent will be on good things to eat.
Germans are much like their grandfathers who settled the valley, frugal and simple in tastes, with a talent
for cooking that is known all over Texas.
delicacy that will always be made as it was in the old days is animal form
only are the recipes unchanging, the cutter patterns for rabbits, geese and
horses are handed down from mother to daughter as the seasons go by.
holiday in the Tatsch house that requires a lot of cookie making is Christmas.
because the delightful custom of tying cookies onto the tree is still observed
in many parts of the Hill Country.
course, with children around the house, this is taking quite a chance, but no
one really minds too much if some of the rabbits or star cookies disappear
fine customs and traditions were transplanted along with the people themselves.
was the early appearance of Saint Nicolas, the German counterpart of Santa
candles on the tree and lighting them to greet Saint Nick is another custom,
this is done only while adults are in the house.
how thoroughly the century old tradition of an early Saint Nick is interwoven
into the lives of the people, is evident as Christmas approaches.
how the custom began in the first place doesn't bother the youngsters of
They all agree that it was a wise and generous ancestor who
thought it up.
Yes, Tatsch house has echoed the sounds of many Christmases.
from young and old, and in this atmosphere of simple pleasures, a warm fire,
good, wholesome food, laughter of children, and good talks between the
grownups, in this atmosphere can be found good reasons for Tatsch house remaining
as it has.
For Peter Tatsch, built not so much with stone and lime as he
did with love, love of friends and family, love of time honored holidays with
the welcome of a candle's light.
This clip, originally shown as part of the December 16, 1957 "Texas in Review" episode, presents the history and a tour of the Peter Tatsch House in Fredericksburg. Built in 1857 of native limestone, the house features a large kitchen and hand carved woodwork and furniture made from local trees. The clip also highlights the Christmas traditions of the largely German-settled Texas hill country.
"Texas in Review" was a television series sponsored by the Humble Oil & Refining Company. Originally produced in a news-like format by Fort Worth's Channel 5, the series was later given to the Jamieson Film Company, who developed its newsreel and TV-magazine style. For five years, Jamieson produced the program in its entirety (writing, filming, editing), until recession-induced budget cuts caused Humble Oil to cancel it in 1958. While on air in Dallas, it enjoyed the prime time spot between the popular "Burns & Allen" and "I Love Lucy."