The Theiss family is (clockwise) Emma, Fritz, Mary, Will, Amelia and Jacob. The Theiss family is (clockwise) Emma, Fritz, Mary, Will, Amelia and Jacob.[/caption]

The names of streets and businesses in Spring and Klein hint at the stories of the families that helped to build the community when rural mail routes traced paths between neighboring farms.

The Theiss family name today is a familiar sight to the Spring and Klein community.  Residents can drive down Theiss Mail Route Road, visit Theiss Farms Market and send their children to Theiss Elementary School.

A major piece of the family’s history will see new life when the Theiss family house off Spring Cypress Road is moved to Wunderlich Farm this month and its interior restored to its original 1920s and ’30s appearance.

Theiss history in the area stretches back to the family’s arrival from Germany in 1846 as part of a wave of European immigrants in search of affordable land. Texas, which was granted statehood in 1845, became home to many immigrants from Germany in the mid-19th century.

Johann Heinrich and Katharina Theis first settled in the Rosehill area, where Heinrich purchased 200 acres of land for $1 an acre in 1847 and began farming cotton, a principal cash crop in the area, according to Klein ISD historian, Steve Baird.

Jacob, one of four Theis children, later purchased
557 acres for $700 nearby in the area now known as Klein.

The original spelling of the name, Theis, was changed to Theiss after confusion arose in postal deliveries to two cousins with the same first name.

“The cotton checks kept getting delivered to the wrong place,” Baird said.

As a result, the Klein branch of the family began to use the “Theiss” spelling.

Edwin G. “Butch” Theiss dressed for softball outside the family home in the 1940s. Edwin G. “Butch” Theiss dressed for softball outside the family home in the 1940s.[/caption]

During the Civil War, Henry Theiss made wagon wheels for the Confederate States Army at the Spring Creek powder mill until it was destroyed in an explosion.    

Other prominent families in the area have similar stories, Baird said. Adam Klein made Confederate uniforms, and Wunderlich family members were among those employed at the powder mill.

Another significant moment in the early history of the family was its involvement in the founding of Trinity Lutheran Church. The nearest Lutheran church, Salem Lutheran Church in Rosehill, was an hour and a half or more away by wagon, which led to a popular saying in the area: “Jacob Theiss must be a very good man because he travels so far to attend church with his family,” Baird said.

In 1874, the Theiss family, along with several other families in the area, founded Trinity Lutheran Church on what is now Spring Cypress Road. The congregation purchased 160 acres of land and erected a one-room school building, Baird said. Gottlob Theiss, Jacob’s son, was one of the original ministers.

Other bits of local history can be detected in the streets that bear the family name. Theiss Mail Route Road earned the name because it was the route the area’s first postmaster, Charlie Klein, used to deliver mail to the Wunderlichs and the Theiss farm, Baird said. Theiss Mail Route Road is now the location for Doerre Intermediate School and Wunderlich Farm.

Additional evidence of the family’s effect on the area can be found in surprising and out-of-the-way places. A historical marker at Fernbluff Drive and Mayglen Lane memorializes the location of a Theis family cemetery, where Johann Heinrich and Katherina Theis are buried along with their son, Christian. The tombstones are missing, and the site is nestled in a cul-de-sac in a suburban housing development.

Development has changed the landscape of the area where she grew up, replacing farms with houses, Theiss family member Stacey Watthuber said.

“It was all farmland, a two-lane road and woods,” Watthuber said.

Although the family sold much of the land over a decade ago, family members have continued farming and own vegetable market locations in both Spring and Klein, selling vegetables grown on family land.

Watthuber said even her 10-year-old son is interested in the family farm business. He loves to play in the dirt.

“It’s great to show our kids the family history and keep the tradition going,” Watthuber said.