Anna Barbara and Johann Engelbert Heidgen House

Location: 121 Starr, San Antonio, TX

Anna Barbara (Heiman) (1828-1913) and Johann Engelbert (1821-1915) Heidgen (also Heitgen) came from Prussia to San Antonio in 1852. They bought property at this site, which at the time was on the eastern edge of the Irish Flats neighborhood. Their first house was a one-story caliche structure that faced Elm Street. Later additions accommodated the growing family, which included thirteen children, eight of whom survived into adulthood. According to family history, a daughter, Mathilda, was abducted from the home as a toddler by raiding Indians. A group from the nearby Powderhouse Hill neighborhood formed a posse and brought her back. Located along Texas' western frontier, San Antonio was prey to such attacks throughout much of the early 1800s. Anna Barbara worked as a midwife. Johann (or John), a stonemason, worked on the church, rectory, and St. Joseph's Society's Hall of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, a German parish established in 1871. He probably built his homes on this site, beginning work on this larger house between 1882 and 1884. The west side of the structure abuts the Acequia Madre, also known as the Alamo Madre, a major canal built by Franciscan friars and their Indian converts to provide water for Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo) and its farmlands. Originally covered with lime wash, the limestone and caliche rock house is typical of the Texas German vernacular style once common in the city. The Heidgen family lived here until 1907. Today, the Heidgen House is a significant example of an architectural form once common throughout San Antonio. It is a rare reminder of the city's early residential neighborhoods on the edge of the downtown commercial district. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2003