Rural Scenes in Texas

About a decade ago I was so intrigued with old, weathered Texas barns that I was moved to do pen and ink sketches of them. My wife and I would drive down the back roads in various parts of Texas, starting with our own area, and take photographs of old weathered barns that seemed to have “character.” Then, at home in my studio, I would sketch the barns from the photos. In those days, I sold many an old barn sketch at a delightful place now called Creative Impressions in East Bernard.

Eventually this expanded into photographing and sketching not just barns, but rural scenes in general, as well as doing some in water color. A few of these pieces of rural art were displayed and sold at The Picket Fence in East Bernard. Some of these sketches were also on display and for sale at The Country Rose in Wallis and at The Brenham Fine Arts League Gallery.

Of all the art work I ever did, the old barn sketches were the most popular and even in demand, but I finally just got tired of sketching old barns and have done very few since then.


Old Abandoned Barn in Winchester


Broken Down Fence in East Bernard


Old Barn Between Wharton and East Bernard


Early Texas Wendish Barn and Tractor


Old Barn and Tractor in East Bernard

(Bamboo pen and Japanese ink)


Farm Near Winedale, Texas


Old Barn Somewhere in Texas


On the Way to Dime Box, Texas


Wendish Barn in Texas


Symmank Family Patents

Herman Symmank and his grandson William Daniel Symmank were awarded a total of 15 patents in the United States during their lifetimes. Herman was awarded 2 patents with his co-author Ernst Matthijetz on their plow designs in 1893 and 1896. William Daniel Symmank was awarded 13 U.S. patents between 1959 and 1988. Del Symmank, son of William Daniel Symmank has helped me compile the information listed here.

Herman Symmank was born on June 23, 1863 in Germany to Johann August Symmank and Johanna Golner Symmank. I am not sure if his full name was Gustav Herman or Herman Gustav. I have seen his name listed both ways, though most places I have only seen Herman Symmank. Herman Symmank married Augusta Wobus and they had 7 children according to the 1910 U.S. Census taken April 18 in Lee County, Texas. Herman and Augusta’s children as listed in the 1920 U.S. Census were: Eddie, age 22; Herman, age 15; Lydia, age 14; Willie, age 8; August, age 2; and Annie, who was 6 months old. Herman was a blacksmith by trade, and he was 61 when he passed away on November 3, 1924.

Herman’s co-author on the plow patents, Ernst Matthijetz, was born on May 25, 1863 in Bastrop County Texas to Matthaus Mathiez and Dorothea Rehle (passengers on the Reform in 1853). Ernst only lived to the age of 36 and died on June 17, 1899. He married Theresia Deo and they had four children: Maria Mathilda born July 13, 1884; John Hermann born July 17, 1886; Carl August born August 28, 1888; and Minnie Theresia born November 26, 1891.

On August 12, 1893 Herman Symmank and Ernst Matthijetz filed a request for a patent on their plow design. They were awarded their patent on October 21, 1893. That patent number was 507,854. They improved their plow design and filed for another patent on December 26, 1895. They were awarded patent number 559,229 on April 28, 1896.

Herman Gustav Symmank’s son, Herman Helmuth Symmank was born December 6, 1894 (Herman age 15 in the U.S. Census of 1910 listed above) followed in his father’s footsteps and was a welder/blacksmith. According to the 1940 U.S. Census taken on April 18 in Giddings Texas, Herman Helmuth Symmank was a widower and had 2 sons; Fred age 19 and Dan age 12. Herman Helmuth was married to Ida Goebel. Ida was born January 23, 1895 and died at the age of 42 on October 20, 1937. Herman lived to the age of 63 and died September 1, 1958.

Dan Symmank, or William Daniel Symmank, the grandson of Herman Symmank was born June 30, 1927. Though most of his relatives called him Danny, he was called Bill or Tex on the job. I am not sure what kind of education Danny Symmank had, but based on his patents I think he would be considered a mechanical engineer in today’s world. He was awarded 13 patents during his lifetime. His first patent was filed on July 27, 1957 while he was working for Crown Engineering, Corporation. It was for a “Hydraulically operated power mechanism” for which he was awarded patent number 2869327 on January 20, 1959. Danny’s second patent was filed on April 8, 1959 while working for Tellepsen Construction Company in Houston, Texas. Danny was awarded patent number 3004392 for his “Submarine pipe line trencher and method” on October 17, 1961. Danny Symmank’s third patent was filed on August 2, 1963 for the design of an “Excavating and load handling apparatus”. He was awarded patent number 3166205 on January 19, 1965 for his design.

From 1962 to 1965, Danny worked for a company named Yumbo in Lyon, France. While there, he filed for three U.S. patents. The first patent he filed for was on February 25, 1963 for “Earthmoving machine having a protected turntable seal”. He was awarded patent number 3184867 for his design on May 25, 1965. His second patent was filed on April 26, 1965 for a “Stabilizing device for rolling vehicles” and patent number 3310181 was awarded to him on March 21, 1967. Danny’s third patent while working for Yumbo in France, and his sixth patent to date was for a “Hoisting machine”. Danny filed this patent on May 18, 1965 and patent number 3278058 was awarded on October 11, 1966.

After leaving France, Danny and his family moved to Schofield, Wisconsin. Danny worked for a company named Drott Manufacturing which later became Case and then Tenneco where he became Chief Engineer. While there Danny was issued another six patents. His first design he filed for a patent was for a “Mobile excavator with adjustable boom” on July 22, 1970. Patent number 3680722 was issued on August 1, 1972. His next patent was filed on June 1, 1972 and on October 9, 1973 Danny was awarded patent number 3764185 for a “Shoe for track chain assembly”. Danny filed for another patent on August 24, 1973 for his “Hydraulic summating system” for which he was issued a patent on October 7, 1975. His tenth patent design was filed on April 22, 1974 and was granted on June 24, 1975 for a “Removable counterweight mounting mechanism”. The patent number was 3891095.

William Daniel Symmank’s eleventh patent was filed on November 24, 1975 for an “Adjustable boom for material handling equipment”. He was awarded patent number 4015730 on April 5, 1977. His twelfth patent was filed on March 15, 1976 and awarded on January 1, 1977 for a “Multi-engine multi-pump hydraulic summating system”. The patent number was 4000616. Danny’s last patent was filed on March 23, 1984 and issued on February 2, 1988. Patent number 4722461 was awarded for his design of a “Pressure relief liquid spray dispenser apparatus”. Del Symmank related to me that his father taught him drafting while working on these three patents.

Here is a picture of Gustav Herman Symmank’s blacksmith shop.  Gustav is standing under his trademark bell (painted ion the building). This picture is courtesy of Barb Symmank. Thank you for sharing it! symmank_blksmth.jpg


The Wends and Dancing

This blog wants to encourage you to tell us how your parents or grandparents felt about dancing. To start off this investigation, George Nielsen has offered up his first recollections about dancing.

At the wedding of the sister of my buddy, Eldee Hingst, the ladies were sitting in the living room, talking. Mother was in the group, so was the wife of Pastor Stelzer, and so was an out-of-town relative of the family. The hour was getting late when the stranger asked out loud, “Has the pastor left yet so that we can dance?”

The rest of the story: Shortly thereafter the Stelzers did leave and the sinners rolled back the carpet and began dancing. I was still in grade school but I was horrified and told Eldee that he should get them to stop. I could not imagine that good Lutherans would dance. When I was about to be confirmed, Mother gave me a booklet “Why Was I Not Told?” and said that the family was against dancing and requested that I not do it. No big deal, I thought, and said “OK.”