Welcome to the Wilhelm von Specht Homestead Home of Lockehill Shelties.
You may find it interesting how the German Settlers built their homes followed by pictures of the restoration and finally my kennel setup. Enjoy your tour!

homestead

Christmas 2012

My home was built in 1878 by William Specht (1853-1940) for his bride Louise Imhoff.  It stands on a hill overlooking the Guadalupe River in the Texas Hillcountry.  William and Louise are pictured below in a 1921 photo.

Spects

Wilhelm Ernest von Specht(1853-1940)was the first born of Heinrich Karl Rudolf"Hans"von Specht (1825-1913) and Frau Lisette Schmidt Specht (1834-1924). Hans Specht born in Braunschweig Germany was an officer in the Huassar Regiment. As a young man, he took leave and came to Texas in 1844 with Prince Carl Solms. He established a home on the Honey Creek and made his living as a freigher of lumber from the Curry's Creek Sawmill by ox-wagon to New Braunfels. He met a beautiful Orphan girl at the Waisenhaus in New Wied near Gruene, Miss Lisette. They married Jan 1851 and William was born that same year, the first of ten children.  The Guadalupe River had a major flood in 1869 and their home was lost and they relocated on a hill near Spring Branch in an area now known as Specht's Crossing.  Hans Specht was postmaster of Spring Branch from 1875-1906.

Wilhelm like his father Hanz, worked as a teamster and was known far and wide for his three white mule hitch pictured below.  In 1878 he built the home I live in for his new bride, Louise Imhoff with whom he shared sixty two years of marriage.


Between freighting Wilhelm became a master carpenter and built several homes in the area. As a young man he moved from his fathers home to the Pruitt home (pictured bottom of this page).  He lived here until his marrage.  He became a storekeeper with the purchase of the Spring Branch store in 1897 He loved music and was leader of the Spring Branch Band.  A skilled carpenter, he made beautiful cedar coffins for the departed and was the areas undertaker.  In 1907 he left the store to the Knibbe family and then moved his family to Bulverde and purchased the Ferdinand Hanz Red & White Store which became know as “Specht's Store” a popular place to this day. His oldest son remained with his family in my home. In his last years William built the cedar coffins for himself and Louise and stored them in the cotton gin next to Specht's Store. When they were no longer able to operate the store, William and Louise returned to my home to live with their son in their declining years. He died at 86 and she followed him in death within the year. They are buried in the Lutheran cementery on the Cibilo Creek near their store.

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This is the Specht homestead as it appeared in 1947. The original home was lap siding with a cypress shake roof. The roof was worn out and corrigated tin was applied over the shakes . The rock was added in the late 30's or early 1940's. The area that juts out between the windows was built as an icebox closet in what had been an exterior doorway. It is now my waterheater closet. The chimney was the kitchen stove vent but I had to removes it during renovation as it was in danger of going through the rotted floor. A second chimney, hidden by the tree, is for a wood stove in the living room.

You can see to the left of the trees the cypress water tank. Water was precious and not wasted on flowers and landscape. They did have a vegetable plot which I still use today. The large trees were gone when I purchased the property in 1994 but an enormous stump remained.

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THE FOLLOWING ARE "BEFORE AND AFTER" PICTURES SHOWING HOW THE ROCK SPECHT HOUSE WAS BUILT!

home The foundation is made of cedar logs planed off to be flat on one side. The frame work is held together by keystone joints only. No nails are used. The framework rests on a foundation of stacked stone, chinked with no mortar. Pictured is the porch section, the part under the house has cross timbers every 24" and looks more like the frame of a ship. Note they wasted no time removing the bark from the cedar logs. The walls were filled with mud brick fachwerk. home This photo looks up into the sleeping loft from the dining room. I had removed the 7' ceiling which was raised to 9'. Note the verticle beams are caped by a horizontal beam. They are held together with mortice and tennon joints which are secured with oak pegs. On top of the beam the roof rests on cripples. The perlins are sawn pine and again they didn't bother removing the bark! The roof was cypress shakes. I removed the shakes, decked over the original pine perlins and installed a new standing seam metal roof.
loft loftdoor loftdoor

On the left looking down into kitchen from sleeping loft. Note ceiling in kitchen had been removed during restoration, originally you could not look down into the lower floor. I found written on the perlins lists of workers hours and money paid at cents per days labor. A skilled carpenter could make up to $3 per day as they were paid a premium wage. On the right I am standing on a ladder where the steps up to the loft used to be. There were no interior stairs, the loft was reached by climbing stairs from the outside. Too bad I have no picture before the cobwebs, muddaubers, and debris were removed. Left is my upstairs bedroom as it looks now. You can see the collar ties are much higher and cause no head ducking. The edge of the kneewall is visable where the stairs enter the upper floor


Above my brother supports rafters before decking is applied (center). The rafters were further supported with new interior walls. The collar ties were raised. Above right picture show the dormer that was added at top of new interior stairs for space and light.

The "before and after" of my kitchen is pretty dramatic. The original kitchen had a 1931 facelift that well, was a failure! The kitchen had so much water and termite damage that it was gutted!

2011 update on kitchen shows my orchid window. Every year the orchids grace me with blooms Jan to Sept and they are beginning to take over the house. A daily misting of water and bright light keeps them happy.

kitchen kitchen
bath-before This is the bathroom as it looked when I came to live here, too bad this isn't scratch and sniff!  Some of the contents of the commode went down the clay pipe to empty out on a field several hundred feet to the East. I soon found the source of an unpleasant odor and the bath was condemned by me and through the good grace of my neighbor I had bathroom facilities to use in their guest quarters. OH HEAVENLY DAY! After a year without a bathroom to call my own my new old bath was finished. This is a composit picture of my lovely bathroom now. The lavatory is a old hotel washstand which was very hard to locate. Most washstands were too small for my needs. bath-after2

South across a courtyard from the rock home pictured above is the James Pruitt Home(circa 1853) pictured at right as it appeared when I purchased this property. The original board and batten home was covered with similated brick sheeting in 1903. Removal of this sheeting showed termite damage so the home was stuccoed to match the adjacent smokehouse. The two room home originally had a porch across the front (left side) that was closed in to make a third room in 1903.

The Smokehouse has been converted to my puppy play yard with a petdoor installed in one of the lower panels of the door. A/C installed in the back window and a fenced covered area. Trees have grown up on west side of area for shade. The old fire pits are still there and the pups run around it for hide and seek.

Right is the cabin during restoration and as it nears completion. It was my home for a year while the rock house was being restored. It was a fun time, no plumbing but lots of dogs under foot in the 312 square foot interior. I spent one Christmas in the cabin, had an old fashion cedar tree with popcorn & cranberry strings, no lights...it was so period and fun but I would not like to spend another year without a bathroom!!! The home has now "gone to the dogs" and my shelties enjoy it as their home. They have pet doors and can come and go freely. The dogs join me in the "rock house" from time to time. My dogs are only confined in the runs when I am going to be gone or during bad weather, storms, fireworks or when I have guests.

The restored cabin as it appears now. Across the yard is the rock house is about twenty five feet to the north of the dog cabin and all are enclosed by my yard fence (rock wall). In addition the whole five acres are fenced. Outside of the front of the rock house (above center) is an acre of land fenced with deer proof fencing for the dogs to run. It is a great area with large oak and elm trees for shade, the dogs love the freedom it provides. I often begin pups on lead by walking with them as they explore this large area as they are eager to be moving.

Above is the West side of the house looking North (in the distance you see the rock yard fence and paddock beyond). This area is cross fenced for a guest yard for sheltie visitors. Gives them some freedom in this nice grass area at the same time isolating them from my herd. I am standing in my puppy pen to take the picture on the left, red flowers are in my kitchen window. The old smoke house is behind where I am standing. It now has a covered pea gravel area, pet door, A/C and heat and a large open air fenced play area for puppies. It is shaded so I have outdoor carpet installed to keep them clean. It is just two steps out my back door so I can keep an eye on the little boogers. The picture right is looking around the west corner at my fountain and pergola.

Since my retirement, I have spent a lot of time in the yard and it is beginning to show. We have had so many dry periods that I have had to do the yard in pieces as my water well is shallow and I have to take care and limit watering. I use drought resistant plants that require little water when established. The yard it is not finished but looking much better with only the East side left to plant. In 2015 I started on the East side by first replacing my ugly pup house and turning the weeds into a pea gravel area instead of trying to lay in a lawn. See that project below.

 

 

Below is my "wild" garden that borders my driveway, it is exposed to deer and therefore has "deer resistant plants. In drought, the deer eat everything and this garden can be stripped by them but flowers come back with the Spring rains. It will wax and wain with the change in rain but usually has something of interest to enjoy.

Above is my wildflower garden along the drive in the Fall of 2012. We had great rain and it looks spectacular as my Spring blooming plants have given me a second show, even the native verbina is in full bloom again. My favorite new introduction is Angelonia shown in the center. It is very drought tolerant and the deer leave it alone....it has bloomed non stop since the spring. The lantana is great with probably hundreds of plants in full bloom on my property. I found some dark orange ones at a ranch near by and will dig some when they are dormant to add some variation in color. The bluebonnets have sprouted by the hundreds and will winter over for the Spring which should really be something to see.

 

left the native lantana that is all over my property. It is happiest at the edge of the woods on the west side of my land, however it is very lush in the areas where I mow as I mow it to the grown after the first freeze and it reappears even denser in the spring. A Gift! no work, mother nature at her best!

I have started a new page to display my garden passion so go to"Lockehill Gardens" to enjoy.

 

 

 

Above is the Spring 2016 Garden. First photo is the North Garden looking east and second photo is looking West. You can see I have reduced the lawn to a narrow strip and greatly increased my gardens. the photo to the far right is the West garden looing north. Unfortunately the rest of my property has been taken over by Malta Thistle while this garden took all my time and effort. There is always something to keep me busy. Getting a bit worn down but loving the results.

 

In 2011, we lost my daughter's dog Dante who was my dear Lottie' brother and it prompted me to build a cementery for my past shelties. So now their ashes rest under a giant oak tree in the dog paddock where they can enjoy all the sheltie play time. Any Lockehill sheltie is welcome to come back home and rest here with my shelties when the time comes.

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