DRT Library Receives Donation of Beckmann Family Papers
On December 31, 2009, Library Director Leslie Stapleton and Archivist Caitlin Donnelly were pleased to receive a collection of archival materials relating to the Beckmann family of San Antonio. The collection was donated by David and Myrna Langford of Comfort, Texas.
The sizeable collection complements several other archival collections at the DRT Library, namely
- Beckmann family materials donated between 1999 and 2001.
- Collections such as the John Herndon James papers and the Ernst F. Schuchard papers that document the histories of families and individuals related to the Beckmann family, usually through marriage.
- Materials that document the history of Germans in San Antonio; such collections include the records of the city’s German-English School as well as a letterpress copybook and register of visitors maintained by the Casino Association.
Based on an appraisal report and a preliminary assessment, it appears that the majority of items in the collection are to, from, or about Adolph Guenther Beckmann and his wife Mary Milby Giles Beckmann, Mr. Langford’s maternal grandparents. Adolph Beckmann’s grandfathers were John Conrad Beckmann and Carl Hilmar Guenther; his father was Albert Felix Beckmann. Milby Giles was the daughter of San Antonio architect Alfred Giles; her maternal grandfather was John James. The collection contains information about other members of the extended Beckmann family, particularly their Guenther relatives, as well as their friends, social acquaintances, and business associates.
The collection contains a variety of materials including personal correspondence and cards, financial records, scrapbooks, art, certificates and diplomas, architectural plans, newspaper and magazine clippings, books, and genealogy charts and reports. One of the oldest and most interesting documents is a ledger book maintained by John C. Beckmann to document business he conducted at his blacksmith shop between roughly 1859 and 1866; the shop was located on the Alamo grounds where the DRT Library now stands. Additionally, the collection contains a large number of photographs that roughly date to the late 1800s and early 1900s. While some of the photographs document San Antonio’s built landscape – particularly Pioneer Flour Mills – the majority show members of the Beckmann and Guenther families. Almost all of the individuals shown in the images have been identified. One striking image shows a young Ernst Schuchard (whose mother was a Guenther). He is standing with an unidentified woman and a young girl identified as Mietze; she is believed to be his younger sister, Mary (or Marie).
The new acquisition will be made available to researchers upon the completion of processing by library staff.
Thank you, David and Myrna, for your generous donation to the DRT Library!