The date was December 3, 1874 when the Texas & Pacific train pulled into the Dallas station. Among the passengers arriving were Rudolph F. Eisenlohr, a 28-year-old pharmacist from Cincinnati, Ohio, his wife Erma, and two year old son, Eddie.
This was not Rudolph’s first trip to Texas. In 1850, at the age of four, he arrived in New Braunfels with his father, Reverend Christian Gustave Wilhelm Eisenlohr, a widower from Emmendingen, Germany. Eisenlohr’s liberal viewpoint and his belief in personal freedom and democracy in government were factors in his emigrating from Germany to Texas.
Here the father became pastor of the Protestant Evangelical Church in New Braunfels. While in Texas Eisenlohr was married to Elise Deutshe. They had three sons: Gustave Adolph, Hugo Gottfried, and Berthold A. Of the three, only Gustave Adolph returned to Texas. In 1857, the Rev. Eisenlohr moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and was minister at St. Paul’s Evangelical Church.
Rudolph, the eldest son by the first wife, was interested in chemistry and studied pharmacology both here and abroad. In Germany he met his future wife, Erma Hellner. After their marriage in 1870, they returned to Cincinnati where Rudolph began working as a druggist.
When the financial panic of 1873 affected the eastern part of our country, the railroad had just come to Dallas and there were glowing reports of a growng city thriving on the prairie. So with a small amount of capital and his drug store equipment Rudolph arrived in Dallas with his family on that cold December day, 1874. The first months they lived in the Crutchfield Boarding House. The following year he built a two-story white stone building on the corner of Main and Field.
The drug store was downstairs with family living quarters upstairs. Close to the cotton market, the courthouse, and the farmer’s market, it was appropriately named Market Drug Store by R. F. Eisehlohr – German Pharmacy.
On Januray 25, 1876, a daughter, Valerie Emma, was born. Little Eddie and Valerie grew into healthy youngsters, playing along the creek (Town Branch of Mill Creek, where the Adolphus Hotel now stands). One of Eddie’s close friends was George E. Kessler, who later became a city planner. (Dallas still refers to his work here as the Kessler Plan.) Christmas was always an exciting time. Weeks before, a variety of German cookies were baked for family and friends. On Christmas Eve the parlor doors opened, and behold, there stood a cedar tree aglow with tiny candles, tinsel, and glittering ornaments. With mother Eisenlohr seated at the piano, father picked up his violin, and they played Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht and sang carols before opening gifts. On the street below, children and adults stood enraptured by the Christmas tree, the first they had ever seen.
The Eisenlohrs were active members of the German community and in civic affairs. He was on the board of the State Fair of Texas. In 1883, as his business expanded, his half brother, Gustave Adolph, came from New Braunfels to join the pharmacy. By 1887 the family made plans to visit relatives in Europe and to further the education of their children. For the next two years Eddie and Valerie went to school in Switzerland and
Inheriting the talent from his mother, Eddie devoted his life to studying art. As a young man he worked for the American Exchange National Bank while continuing art studies with Frank Reaugh and Robert J. Onderdonk, painting at night and on Sundays.
At age 35 Edward Eisenlohr decided to become a full time artist, returning to Europe for advanced studies. During his lifetime his oil painting, drawings and water colors of Texas and New Mexico brought him many honors and national recognition. He died in 1961 at the age of 88. Edward never married.
Sister Valerie met her future husband, Carl A. Helmle, while vacationing in Karlsruhe, Germany. They married in Dallas on June 4, 1902. Carl became a naturalized citizen and was active in the banking business until his death in 1941. Their son, Carl Edward, now lives in Houston with his wife. Their daughter, Gertrude, became an advertising artist. She remains a Dallas resident. Mother Helmle died on August 28, 1961.
The name Eisenlohr is still well known in Dallas as several of Gustave Adolph’s descendants are living here, including his son, Otto H., his grandsons David O. and Dr. John E. Eisenlohr and his family.
By Gertrude Helmle from Proud Heritage, Volume I by Dallas County Pioneer Association.