The Mason County Historical Commission and the family of Franz Kettner will conduct Texas Ranger Memorial Cross services on Saturday, November 17th starting at 10:00 A.M. in Gooch Cemetery. The commission will honor James Ranck, known as the Father of Mason, and his half brother, Martin Vanburen Bridges. Both served as Texas Rangers in the 1870’s. Their stories will appear in next week’s paper. Kettner’s memorial cross service will be held in Crosby Cemetery following Ranck’s and Bridges’. The public is invited to attend these services and hear about the men that shaped our city and county.
The following is the brief biography of Franz Kettner written by Charles Kettner, PHD.
Franz Kettner (1826 – 1907) served in the Texas Rangers and held other early law enforcement positions in the Texas Hill Country: (1850) he was in Capt. Conner’s company and participated in campaigns against the Indians near Medina. (1855) His ranger company was mustered into the U.S. Army to escort wagons to a fort near El Paso.
(1858) Franz served as sheriff of Gillespie County. (1861) He was the second sheriff of Mason County. (1864) He was mustered in the Texas State Troops (Minute Men), Precinct No. 1, 2nd Frontier District. His company helped rout out vigilantes responsible for hanging pro-Union sympathizers in Gillespie County. (1868) He was the Tax Assessor for Mason County. (1869 – 1874) Franz was the Cattle and Hide Inspector.
Franz also contributed to the development of Texas Hill Country in other ways. After emigrating from Germany in 1848, he was involved in early agriculture in Comal and Gillespie Counties, and later in Mason County. He opened a store with Emil von Kriewitz in Castell in 1853 and hauled freight from the coast to Fort Mason. Franz and his family moved to Foley’s Crossing (James River Crossing) in 1859 soon after Mason County was established. There he had numerous encounters with Indians and was forced to move to the McSween place on Comanche Creek, six miles south of Mason. Franz was elected County Commissioner in 1868 and is credited with putting the county on a cash basis, avoiding bankruptcy. He moved to town in 1901.
Franz and Katherine Kettner had 5 children, Louis, Alice Gamel, Ida Keller, William, and Charles. Their descendants still own the property that Franz acquired on Comanche Creek. Fred Kettner, Joan Kettner Lindley, Henrietta Kettner Keener, and Diane Kettner Equell live on the property while Charles Kettner (Delaware) and Emelia Grosenbacher Winjum (Iowa) are part time residents. Other descendants in Mason are Patsy Kothmann Ziriax, Clay Lindsay, and their families.
Franz exchanged letters with his family in Germany. Thirty-nine of these letters, covering the period of 1850 – 1874, have been preserved and published in Die Kettner Briefe. They give a detailed description of events that shaped the Texas Hill Country and provide a window on early everyday life shared by many frontier families during this time.
The memorial cross was furnished through the Former Texas Ranger Association by a grant provided by the Texas Historical Foundation and generous donations of Texas Ranger descendants.