Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary

Biographical Note

Scope and Content Note

Organization of Collection

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Series 1: Business and professional papers

Series 2: Personal papers

Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library at the Alamo

A Guide to the Dittmar Family Papers, 1874-1944 (bulk 1909-1944)



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Dittmar Family
Title: Dittmar Family Papers
Dates: 1874-1944 (bulk 1909-1944)
Creator Abstract: Part of the wave of German immigration to Texas in the mid nineteenth century, Albert Dittmar (1833-1887) came to south-central Texas with his parents in the 1850s. He amassed a considerable amount of San Antonio-area real estate, which became the basis of the family business. After serving in the Civil War, Albert Dittmar returned to his hometown of Darmstadt, Germany, and married Emmy von Rehfues (1850-1941), a relative of the Herff family, likewise prominent German-Texans.
Content Abstract: Correspondence, property records, legal and financial documents, printed material, and photographs record the business and personal activities of several Dittmar family members. The first, and more extensive, series is Business and Professional Papers, which relate primarily to business entities formed to develop family real estate holdings. A significant portion is connected to the Emmy Dittmar Improvement Company, and a majority of these papers are associated with Charles Dittmar and his brother John. The second series, Personal Papers, documents the non-business activities of the family and is primarily related to Emmy Dittmar and her daughter Mattie.
Identification: Col 1276
Extent: 12.05 linear feet (16 document boxes, 2 oversize boxes, 11 oversize folders)
Language: Materials are in English and German. German-language letters in Subseries 2.1 are accompanied by English translations.
Repository: Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library at the Alamo, San Antonio, Texas

Biographical Note

Part of the wave of German immigration to Texas in the mid-nineteenth century, Albert Dittmar came to south-central Texas with his parents in the 1850s. He began the study of law after coming to Texas and practiced in New Braunfels before moving to San Antonio. After serving in the Confederate army during the Civil War, Dittmar returned to his hometown of Darmstadt, Germany, and married Emmy von Rehfues, a daughter of a German baron and relative of the Herff family, likewise prominent German-Texans. The couple moved to San Antonio, where their children Charles, Lily, Guido, Mathilde (Mattie), and John were born.

Prior to his death in 1887, Dittmar amassed a considerable amount of San Antonio-area real estate, which became the basis of the family business. Charles Dittmar practiced law after receiving his degree from the University of Texas, but also devoted much of his time to the family property holdings. John Dittmar had business interests in San Antonio, in particular the Southern Welding and Machine Co., and also was involved in management of family holdings. Guido Dittmar studied law at the University of Virginia and then worked in Washington, D. C. and New York before returning to Texas, where he pursued real estate interests. Lily Dittmar married Dr. Richard A. Goeth of San Antonio and had two children, Richard L. and Lily, before her death in 1907. None of the other Dittmar children married.

The Dittmars were active in the social life of San Antonio, particularly within the German-American community. They also maintained close ties to family in Germany and frequently returned for visits.

Property owned by the Dittmars included commercial buildings within the city of San Antonio and undeveloped land which, at the time, was outside the city limits. One of the family’s most ambitious projects came under the Emmy Dittmar Improvement Company, which was formed in 1929 to build a new apartment-style hotel adjacent to the family residence on Howard Street in San Antonio. Designed by architect Richard Vander Straten, the Aurora Apartment Hotel was built in 1928-1930. Consisting of over eighty apartments with varying floor plans, the building was furnished with antiques and artwork gathered from around the world. Retail space occupied the first floor of the ten-story structure. A parking garage and other support buildings were also constructed. After the 1929 stock market crash, additional financing was necessary to complete the project, and a bond issue of $550,000 was arranged, secured by a deed of trust to the Aurora Apartments. Default on a second mortgage note by the company led to the appointment of a receiver for the property in 1932. Bondholders later organized and purchased the building at a foreclosure sale in 1936, under a company called Aurora Apartments Hotel, Inc.

The financial difficulties led the Dittmars to obtain additional financing of $408,000 in 1930, secured by various properties of the Dittmar Properties Company. This agreement eventually led to lawsuits by the Dittmars against the lenders over title to the property, the Dittmars claiming the formation of a conspiracy to defraud them of their land.

Other entities in which the Dittmars were involved included the Central Development Company, primarily involved with downtown San Antonio property, and the Herff and Dittmar Land Company, which controlled 1,200 acres in the Olmos basin of San Antonio, originally owned by Albert Dittmar and Ferdinand Herff.

References

Barnes, Charles Merritt. Combats and Conquests of Immortal Heroes. San Antonio: Guessaz and Ferlet Co., 1910.

Chabot, Frederick C. With the Makers of San Antonio: Genealogies of the Early Latin, Anglo-American, and German Families with Occasional Biographies, Each Group Being Prefaced with a Brief Historical Sketch and Illustrations. San Antonio: Artes Graficas, 1937.

Davis, Ellis A., and Edwin H. Grobe, eds. The New Encyclopedia of Texas. Dallas: Texas Development Bureau, undated.

Dittmar Family Papers, 1874-1944 (bulk 1909-1944), Col 1276, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.

Wharton, Clarence R. Texas Under Many Flags. Chicago: American Historical Society, Inc., 1930.

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Scope and Content Note

Correspondence, property records, legal documents, financial records, printed material, and photographs record the business and personal activities of several Dittmar family members. The first, and more extensive, series is Business and Professional Papers, which relate primarily to business entities formed to develop family real estate holdings. A significant portion is connected to the Emmy Dittmar Improvement Company, and a majority of these papers are associated with Charles Dittmar and his brother John. The second series, Personal Papers, documents the non-business activities of the family and is primarily related to Emmy Dittmar and her daughter Mattie.

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Organization of Collection

This collection is organized into two series.
Series 1: Business and professional papers
  • Subseries 1.1: Correspondence
  • Subseries 1.2: Memoranda and notes
  • Subseries 1.3: Legal documents
  • Subseries 1.4: Financial records
  • Subseries 1.5: Miscellaneous business records
  • Subseries 1.6: Plats, maps, and architectural drawings
Series 2: Personal papers
  • Subseries 2.1: Correspondence
  • Subseries 2.2: Financial records
  • Subseries 2.3: Miscellaneous personal papers
  • Subseries 2.4: Photographs
  • Subseries 2.5: Printed material
  • Subseries 2.6: Artifacts

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

No restrictions. The collection is open for research.

Usage Restrictions

Please be advised that the library does not hold the copyright to most of the material in its archival collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure those rights when needed. Permission to reproduce does not constitute permission to publish. The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming to the laws of copyright, literary property rights, and libel.

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Index Terms

Personal Names
Dittmar family.
Dittmar, Charles, 1871-1944.
Dittmar, Emmy, 1850-1941.
Dittmar, John A., 1885-1948.
Dittmar, Mattie, 1882-1940.
Knowles, William L.
Murrill, Lynn B.
West, S. D.
Organizations
Aurora Apartment Hotel (San Antonio, Tex.)
Central Development Co. (San Antonio, Tex.)
Dittmar Properties Co.
Emmy Dittmar Improvement Co.
Fulbright, Crooker and Freeman (Houston, Tex.)
Herff and Dittmar Land Co.
Subjects
Apartment houses--Texas--San Antonio--Finance.
Business records--Texas--San Antonio.
German Americans--Texas--San Antonio.
Germans--Correspondence.
Real estate developers--Texas--San Antonio.
Real estate development--Texas--San Antonio--Finance.
Locations
San Antonio (Tex.)--History--1901-1950.
Genres/Formats
Family papers.
Artifacts.
Correspondence.
Financial records.
Legal documents.
Memorandums.
Photographs.
Printed ephemera.

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Related Material

Herff and Duerler Families Papers, 1853-1995, Col 10441, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Dittmar Family Papers, 1874-1944 (bulk 1909-1944), Col 1276, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Don Estes and Evelyn Cooper, circa 1970-1979.

Processing Information

Preliminary processing by Virginia Davis, Kathryn M. Jones, Linda Mechler, Theresa L. Miller, students in the Archives and Manuscripts class, University of Texas at Austin, 1995 December.

Final processing by Warren Stricker, 1998 May.

German-language letters in Subseries 2.1 translated by Lore A. Senseney, 2010-2011.

Finding aid edited and encoded by Tom D'Amore, 2011 October.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Series 1: Business and professional papers

The more extensive of the two series, Business and Professional Papers are primarily related to business entities formed to develop family real estate holdings. A significant portion is connected to the Emmy Dittmar Improvement Company, formed to construct the Aurora Apartment Hotel. Other corporations, the Dittmar Properties Co., Herff and Dittmar Land Co., and Central Development Co. are represented to a lesser extent. The majority of these papers are associated with Charles Dittmar and, to a lesser extent, John Dittmar.
Subseries and folders within this series often contain items on a particular business entity, though many of the Dittmar’s companies had overlapping interests and are difficult to identify.
Box Folder
1 Subseries 1.1: Correspondence, 1921-1944, undated
Correspondence consists of letters sent and received. Much of this is related to efforts to refinance the development process and to legal actions over property. Significant correspondents include attorneys, agents, and employees of the Dittmars, notably William L. Knowles, Lynn B. Murrill, S. D. West, and the law firm Fulbright, Crooker and Freeman.
Letters sent, 1925-1944, undated
1 1925
2 1928
3 1929
4 1930
5 1931
6 1932
7 1933
8-10 1934
11-13 1935
14-15 1936
16 1937
Box Folder
2 17 1938
18 1939
19 1940
20 1941-1944
21 Undated
Letters received, 1921-1944, undated
22 1921-1926
23 1928
24 1929
25-26 1930
27-28 1931
29-30 1932
Box Folder
3 31 1933
32-33 1934
34-35 1935
36-37 1936
38 1937
39 1938
40 1939
Box Folder
4 41 1940
42 1941-1944
43 Undated
Subseries 1.2: Memoranda and notes, 1921-1944, undated
Memoranda and notes include outlines of business proposals, summaries of meetings, chronological narratives, and brief notes and outlines. Most of these items are dated, and a number provide details on the Dittmar’s perception of their business difficulties.
44 1921
45 1928
46 1929
47 1930
48 1931
49 1932
50 1933
51 1934
52 1935
53 1936
54 1937
55 1938
56 1939
Box Folder
5 57 1940
58 1941
59 1942
60 1943
61 1944
62-63 Undated
Box Folder
6 Subseries 1.3: Legal documents, 1920-1943
Legal documents include articles of incorporation and bylaws for various business entities, contracts, leases, and deeds. Most of this material is associated with property transactions, many of them at the center of the legal controversies involving the Dittmar family.
Charters, bylaws, and articles of incorporation, 1927-1941
64 Aurora Apartments Hotel, Inc., 1936
65 Aurora, Inc., 1941
66 Central Development Company, 1927-1933
67 Dittmar Properties Co., 1930
68 Emmy Dittmar Improvement Co., 1929
Contracts, deeds, leases, and agreements, 1920-1943
69-73 Emmy Dittmar Improvement Co./Aurora Apartments, 1928-1943
74-75 Aurora Apartment leases: apartments (blank) and retail space
76 Dittmar Properties Co., 1920, 1930-1932
77 Herff and Dittmar Land Co., 1926-1931
78 Central Development Co., 1933-1934
79-80 Commerce/Navarro Street property, NCB 116, 1927-1932
81 Commerce Street property, NCB 106, 1932-1934
82 E. Guenther Street property, NCB 3576, 1924-1932
Box Folder
7 83 Houston Street property, NCB 416, 1921-1932
84-85 General, 1920-1939
86 Blank forms
87 Abstract of title
88 Affidavits, 1928-1932
Box Folder
8 Subseries 1.4: Financial records, 1909-1943, undated
Financial records include reports and summaries in a variety of forms, financial statements, promissory notes, appraisals, loan documents, bond coupons and other records from the Aurora Apartment Hotel project, tax records, insurance documents, account statements and receipts, and bound items containing Charles Dittmar’s records of payments and notary fees.
Financial reports, audits, and summaries, 1928-1943, undated
89-100 Emmy Dittmar Improvement Co./Aurora Apartments, 1930-1943, undated
101 Central Development Co., 1932
102 Dittmar Property Co., 1929-1939
103 Herff and Dittmar Land Co., 1928-1932
104 Commerce/Navarro Street property, NCB 116, 1928-1931
105 Commerce Street property, NCB 106, 1931-1935
106 General, 1930-1940
107 Financial statements, 1927, 1935
Box Folder
9 108 Promissory notes, 1927-1940
109 Appraisals, 1928-1940
Loan applications, 1931-1942
110 Central Development Co., 1932
111 Central Development Co., 1933
112 212-214 Commerce Street mortgage loan, 1935
113 Miscellaneous loan documents, 1931-1942
Bonds
114-115 Coupons
116 Statements
117 Notes
Box Folder
10 Tax records
118 Emmy Dittmar Improvement Co./Aurora Apartments
119 Central Development Co.
120 Dittmar Properties
121 Charles Dittmar
122 Emmy Dittmar
123 Insurance records
Account statements and bills, 1925-1943
124-127 Emmy Dittmar Improvement Co./Aurora Apartments, 1929-1933
128-130 General, 1925-1943
131 Receipts
132 Deposit slips
Box Folder
11 133 Stock certificate
134 Notary fee book, Charles Dittmar, 1909-1927
135 Payment register, 1928-1931
136 Day book, Charles Dittmar, 1930-1939
137 Miscellaneous financial documents
Subseries 1.5: Miscellaneous business records, 1893-1944
Miscellaneous business records gather descriptive material related to the Aurora Apartment Hotel as well as printed material and a scattering of property-related items and other material received in the course of business. Included here is a docket of Charles Dittmar’s legal practice.
Aurora Apartment Hotel
138 Descriptive narratives
139 Prospectus
140 Promotional material
141 Mailing list
142 Inventories
143 Newsletter
144 Minutes
145 Property listings
146 Field notes
147 Specifications
148 Petitions
149 Organizations: Houston Street Association
150 Notary record of acknowledgments, Charles Dittmar, 1929-1944
Box
Oversize 1 Office docket, Charles Dittmar, 1893-1939
Box Folder
11 151 Letterhead
152 Clippings
153 General printed material
Subseries 1.6: Plats, maps, and architectural record
Plats, maps, and architectural drawings include plats and plans for various family properties, particularly the Aurora Apartment Hotel. Some items are unidentified.
154 Small plats
Drawer
Map Case 1 Aurora Apartment Hotel, plats and plans, 17 sheets
Aurora Apartment Hotel, plans, 19 sheets
Aurora Apartment Hotel garage, plans, 6 sheets
City Block 566, plats, 11 sheets
Dittmar Building, floor plans, 7 sheets
Emmy Dittmar Irrigation Project, plat, 9 sheets
Herff and Dittmar property, plats, 10 sheets
NCB 109, plats, 4 sheets
NCB 416, plat, 5 sheets
Survey 20, Original Survey 24, plat, 5 sheets
“H” Building, architectural drawings, 6 sheets
Warehouse and associated buildings, plans, 8 sheets
C. Simmang office, sketches, 2 sheets
Dawson Street paving plan, plat, 1 sheet
NCB 106, plat, 2 sheets
Devine and Dittmar estates property, plat, 1 sheet
Unidentified building, floor plan, 4 sheets
Unidentified storefront, plan, 1 sheet
Unidentified building, sketch, 1 sheet
Unidentified building, freight chute, plan, 1 sheet

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Series 2: Personal papers

The second series, Personal Papers, documents the non-business activities of the family and is primarily related to Emmy Dittmar and her daughter Mattie.
Box Folder
12 Subseries 2.1: Correspondence, 1874-1932, undated
Correspondence includes family letters written by members of the immediate family, most often addressed to Emmy or Mattie Dittmar. General correspondence is arranged chronologically and is largely letters received from relatives in Germany, most of it dating from the 1910s and 1920s. Written in Kurrent German, these letters are accompanied by English-language translations. A number of incomplete and damaged letters are filed together, as are signatures and other fragments clipped from letters. This subseries also includes responses received from invitees to a reception hosted by the Dittmars in 1928.
Family letters
155 Charles Dittmar
156 Guido Dittmar
157 John Dittmar
158 Mattie Dittmar
159 Lily Goeth
160 Richard L. Goeth
General correspondence, 1874-1932, undated
161 1874
162 1905-1911
163 1914-1915
164 1916
165 1917-1918
166 1919
167 1920-1921
168 1922
169-170 1923
Box Folder
13 171 1924
172 1925
173 1926
174-177 Invitation responses, 1928
178 1932
179 Undated
180-182 Fragments
Box Folder
14 Subseries 2.2: Financial records
Financial records include a few bills and receipts and insurance records for the family residence.
183 Bills and receipts
184 Insurance records
Subseries 2.3: Miscellaneous personal papers
Miscellaneous personal papers include a draft of the will of Charles Dittmar, some genealogical notes and sketch of Dr. Ferdinand Herff, notes, the diploma of Charles Dittmar, a marriage certificate, and two scrapbooks containing articles from San Antonio newspapers.
185 Will, Charles Dittmar, 1942
Genealogical and biographical papers
186 Rehfues/Dittmar families
187 Ferdinand Herff
188 Notes
Box
Oversize 2 Diploma: Charles Dittmar
Marriage certificate: possibly Konrad Stadler and Maria Falkenberg, 1909
Scrapbooks
Box Folder
14 Subseries 2.4: Photographs
Photographs are all unidentified and include an oversize composite photo of several men, possibly a graduation photograph.
189 Unidentified
Box
Oversize 2 Unidentified, oversize
Box Folder
14 Subseries 2.5: Printed material
Printed material includes invitations, programs, greeting cards, calling cards, postcards, clippings, and travel-related items. Many of the calling cards, most from San Antonio, may have been received with responses to invitations. A majority of the postcards were collected in Europe; Texas postcards have been transferred to the general postcard collection. Most of the clippings are from newspapers in Germany, sent by family and friends. Travel brochures and souvenirs are primarily from Europe, many of them obtained during a trip in 1928. They include guidebooks, pamphlets, periodicals, programs, brochures, menus, and advertising material.
190 Invitations and announcements
191 Programs
192 Greeting cards
193 Pamphlets
194-195 Calling cards
Box Folder
15 Postcards
196 Europe
197 United States, Panama
Texas, see separation sheet in reading room
198-201 Clippings
202 Miscellaneous printed material
Box
16 Travel brochures and souvenirs
Box
Oversize 2 Subseries 2.6: Artifacts

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