History of the Peaceful Habitations Ranch





Before the European Settlement of Texas

The Texas Hill Country had scattered Paleo-Indian camps and settlements that dated back approximately 12,000 years. Notable among these was the Pavo Real Site on Leon Creek near the intersection of IH-10 and Loop 1604 in northern San Antonio. In the last centuries before European settlers came to Texas, the land was sparsely populated by Indians. Apache and Comanche Indians roamed freely through the land that is now the Peaceful Habitations Ranch.

The land was quite different in those days, being mostly open grasslands with occasional Live Oak trees. The Ashe-Juniper (Cedar) trees were mostly confined to the deep canyons and river beds, because there were numerous prairie fires that killed all of the young cedar trees that were exposed.

Buffalo roamed freely in the area, as did white-tailed deer and elk. There was abundant small game and predators, including mountain lions, bobcats wolves and coyotes.

The Indians, of course, were significant predators as well.

The German Immigration

All of that changed around 1845 when the German Immigration to North America began. There was great civil unrest accompanied by economic hardship in Germany, and between about 1845 and 1853 around 8,000 German immigrants came to Texas in ships that landed in Galveston and Indianola. The immigration of the German settlers was sponsored by the Adelsverein, and Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels was in charge of the immigrants’ affairs in New Braunfels. However, Prince Solms returned to Germany and was replaced by Baron Otfried Hans von Meusebach, who discarded his title upon arrival in Texas and became known as John O. Meusebach.

John O. Meusebach realized that the situation in New Braunfels was deteriorating rapidly and in January of 1847 he sent an expedition north to the Pedernales River to establish Fredericksburg, Texas. He also negotiated a treaty with the Comanche Indians which created a relatively peaceful environment for the German Settlers.

John O. Meusebach resigned from the Adelsverein, which was always under-funded, and soon went bankrupt. After resigning, John O. Meusebach settled at Comanche Springs, which was located on the main road between New Braunfels and Fredericksburg in what is now Camp Bullis near Leon Springs. However, the main road north from New Braunfels to Fredericksburg moved and so John O. Meusebach sold his property at Comanche Springs and moved with his new wife to property that he purchased on the Sabinas Creek. That property that property was on the Pinta Trail (and the New Braunfels to Fredericksburg road, and it adjoined what is now the south boundary of Peaceful Habitations Ranch.

The German settlers traveled from Indianola and Galveston to New Braunfels at their first opportunity, but the trip was very difficult for them because carts and wagons were almost impossible to find. The Mexican-American War had started and the U. S. Army was utilizing every available cart and wagon. Therefore, many of the German immigrants simply had to walk from the Texas coast to New Braunfels.

When the immigrants arrived in New Braunfels, they found that there was rampant disease in the city, including cholera, and they quickly departed for Fredericksburg, Sisterdale, Comfort, and the surrounding countryside, where they settled and built their homes.


Sisterdale is located at the confluence of the Guadalupe River and Sister Creek, about eight miles north of the Peaceful Habitations Ranch. The town was established around 1847 by Nicolaus Zink, and Ernst Kapp and Baron Ottmar von Behr were among the early settlers in that area.

At the time, Sisterdale was a Latin Colony which was populated by atheistic “Freethinkers” who were highly cultured intellectuals. During this period, Sisterdale was the most important community in what was later to become Kendall County, Texas.

Early Settlers in the Vicinity of the Peaceful Habitations Ranch

There were many German families that moved south from Sisterdale, and north along the road from New Braunfels to Fredericksburg, to settle and build their homes in the vicinity of the Peaceful Habitations Ranch. These included The Herbst family, who settled north of the Peaceful Habitations Ranch, the Langbein Family, who settled east of the Peaceful Habitations Ranch, the Cravey family who settled northeast of the Peaceful Habitations Ranch, and John O. Meusebach, who settled south of the Peaceful Habitations Ranch.

Establishing Peaceful Habitations Ranch

In 1967, Dr. M. J. (Jack) Cooper and his wife, Dr. Jean Cooper, purchased a ranch that adjoined the Herbst family property to the north and east. At the same time Howard Head, who was the brother of Jean Cooper, purchased a ranch that adjoined the south boundary of the Cooper Ranch.

Joe Cooper managed both ranches from 1967 until the deaths of his uncle, Howard Head, and his parents, Jean and Jack Cooper. The properties were purchased by Joe Cooper and his wife Juanita from the estates of his uncle and his parents, and were consolidated into a new ranch, The Peaceful Habitations.

Gilbert Langbein, who owned the ranch adjoining the Peaceful Habitations Ranch to the east, leased the grazing rights for a period of about 25 years before Joe and Juanita Cooper established their own herd of registered Red Angus cattle.


Joe Cooper

Peaceful Habitations Ranch

Kendall County, Texas

August 7, 2010