For Donna Jones, her family’s legacy is hard to miss. A fourth generation Franz, Donna and her husband Larry live on the family’s original homestead on Franz Road. The house was built in the ’20s after the original home was destroyed in a fire.
“Back in the day all the Franz’ lived out here, and then they just put the signs up,” Larry said. “It’s the same with Fry and Morton roads—they are all named after families who populated the land.”
David Peter Franz, Donna’s great grandfather, was the family’s patriarch who immigrated to the U.S. from Prussia. Abroad, he was described as a successful businessman and worked in trades such as carpentry, jewelry making and operating a general store.
In 1879 David Peter and his wife Margareta Dueck along with their three daughters traveled to Nebraska, where Margareta’s relatives lived. David Peter operated a large farm for 14 years, and the couple had four more children. The family decided to move to Colorado in search of less expensive land, and after suffering droughts and hailstorms, David Peter moved his family to Texas.
He purchased land west of Houston—about 160 acres where the Jones’ live today—in 1896 and started farming. After storms and a hurricane destroyed both his crops and his desire to farm, he founded a jewelry store in Downtown Katy.
After a fire destroyed the Franz home in the early 1900s, the only possession that was saved was a rocking chair with a pile of laundary resting on it, which Donna still has to this day.
David Peter’s children—including C.D. Franz and his twin brother Peter Dick—kept the farm alive, and it saw activity ranging from milk barns, peanut farming and rice farming in the ’60s. Now, Donna and Larry maintain hay barrels on their more than 20 acres.
As a child, Donna said she remembers riding her bike around town and spending time with another prominent Katy family, the Frys. C.D. Franz, Donna’s grandfather, was married to Carrie Fry-Franz.
“Everyone out here was related to you in some way,” she said. “I remember riding bikes around here when Franz was just a dirt road.”
Aside from their namesake forever printed on a street sign, Katy ISD dedicated Franz Elementary in honor of the family in 2004.
About 60 to 80 acres of the family land remain, Donna said. Although she has been approached multiple times by prospects seeking to purchase the Franz’ land, she has refused to sell for the sake of preserving her family’s heritage. Many members of the Franz family still live in the area and have been reuiniting for annual family reunions for the past 25 years. Donna said she still remembers the family gatherings that took place on her property many years ago.
“My grandfather was quite the story teller, and it was always fun when he got together with his brothers,” Donna said. “I can remember the family gatherings where we’d sit around and listen to the old men tell stories. We always had a very close relationship.”