Knibbe Ranch History
Founded over 150 years ago in 1852, the Knibbe Ranch is one of the few remaining Century Heritage Ranches in the State of Texas. Century Heritage Ranches must be owned and operated by the same family in a direct line of descent.
Located only 28 miles north of downtown San Antonio in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, the historic ranch is rich in German heritage and culture reminiscent of the early European immigrants.
From Germany to Spring Branch, Texas
In 1848, Hans Heinrich Dietrich Knibbe, of Bissendorf, Germany immigrated to Texas on the sailing vessel George Dillus. Before arriving at Indianola, Texas, the George Dillus ran onto a reef. Passengers had to throw all their farming equipment overboard to get the ship afloat. Dietrich started his new life in Texas with no farming equipment and very few personal belongings.
He had on account with the German Emigration Society, funds to buy land. He had a choice between good farmland in the New Braunfels-Seguin area for 50 cents an acre, or the area around Spring Branch along the Guadalupe River for a dollar an acre. The higher-priced Spring Branch area reminded Dietrich of Germany, so he became the first settler in Spring Branch.
Eventually Dietrich Knibbe acquired about 22,000 acres of land. He raised oxen for farming and transportation. He built a sawmill, flourmill, and shingle mill on 20,000 acres skirted by the Guadalupe River.
In the late 19th century, Spring Branch became quite a thriving community with
• The Spring Branch post office
• The Knibbe General Store
• The Knibbe Brothers cotton gin
• A blacksmith shop
• The Spring Branch dance hall, and
• The Spring Branch one-room school.
All these sites are still on or near the present ranch. Up until the early 1900s, the main route from San Antonio to Blanco and places north was through Spring Branch.
The Knibbe Ranch Today
Dietrich Knibbe’s great-great grandson, fifth-generation descendant Charles J. “Chuck” Knibbe, still operates and manages the Knibbe Ranch with the help of his wife Sharon, their children Shannon and Chad. The seventh generation is underway, thanks to Chad's wife Callie and their daughter, Addison. The land has been in continuous agricultural operation by the same family since 1852 and is therefore recognized as a Century Heritage ranch by the State of Texas.
The ranch is representative of the Texas Hill Country with rolling hills, beautiful meadows, the Guadalupe River as its southern boundary, and the Spring Branch Creek with its many springs flowing through the middle. Hundreds of beautiful, sprawling live oak trees cover the hills, and cypress, sycamore, and pecan trees line the creek and river bottoms.