By Dana Stubbs – Special to the Navarro County Gazette
It was 1879 when Fritz and Adolph Levermann unpacked their bags for the first time at Mrs. Mary Johnson’s house in Corsicana. They had left their home in Germany to start a new life in America. Mary had left her native home of Prussia and crossed the big waters at an early age with her father, Andrew Nitze. Mary was a widow with two young children when Fritz and Adolph moved in as boarders.
Fred soon got a job working at a harness shop and Adolph started painting houses. In a few short years on Oct. 12, 1882, Adolph and Mary married. Fred married on Dec. 20, 1887 to Metha Engle. Fred and Metha moved to Beeville, Texas, where he became the proprietor of the “Fritz” restaurant. They had three children before he died in 1897.
Adolph and Mary Levermann lived out their lives in Corsicana. In 1897 Adolph established himself in the paint and oils business with a store front in downtown Corsicana. This was also the year their last child was born. Their children were: Emma, 1884-1972; Frieda, 1887-1981; Elsa, 1890-1891; Irena, 1892-1988; Adolph Charles, 1897-1964.
During the Corsicana building boom of 1914-15, when several businessmen built a string of buildings around the city, Adolph built the Levermann building on South Beaton street. His son, Adolph, Jr., had just turned old enough to join in the business, so they formed Adolph Levermann & Son where they were “prepared to fill your needs in paints, paper, oils, etc., than ever before.”
On the second story of the new Levermann building was the Central Texas Commercial College. They had opened in 1914 and in one year had an enrollment of 112. Adolph also let part of his building to the Telegraph School where they taught telegraphy.
This was back in a time when merchants used their large window fronts to make big eye-catching displays in order to attract people into their stores. Adolph attached a giant seven foot high weather thermometer to the front of his building. He knew how to use that advertising scheme.
In 1916, he had the Zeppelin school of instruction at his shop. A full sized Zeppelin, although it was not completely inflated, was placed in the building for Professor Smith to give lectures on the detail of the machine to the Corsicana high school students. It brought tons of people into the store just to view the big airship.
Adolph, his wife, Mary, and their children were upstanding members of Corsicana. He always answered the call for donations and help from the many different charities in the area. There was a large native German community which made their home in Corsicana. They formed the Waldersee Lodge No. 195, Sons of Hermann of Corsicana. Just about every German born resident was a member of the lodge. At the time America entered World War One, Adolph was president, and they passed a resolution that declared their loyalty to the American flag.
Adolph and Mary’s Children:
- Emma Levermann married August Weidmann. He had come to America from Germany when he was fourteen years old. In adulthood he partnered with W. T. McElwee and they organized the Collin Street Bakery.
- Frieda Levermann married Roy Miller. He was a native of Corsicana and associated with Bethlehem Supply Company and the American Well and Prospecting company.
- Irena Levermann married Carlton K. Jones. He was born in Corsicana and worked in the oil business. They moved to Oklahoma.
- Adolph Charles Levermann married Alice Mary Smith. She was the daughter of a farmer, Robert Smith, in Grimes county, Texas.
Mary Leverman died in Oct. 1919 and was buried at Oakwood cemetery in Corsicana. Adolph continued to run the paint store. He died on Oct. 2, 1948 and was buried next to his Mary at the Oakwood cemetery.
Many house painters got their businesses started by working for Adolph. He taught them the trade and helped them set up their own quality businesses. He let space in the building to Mitchell and Stubbs painters in the 1920s where they set up their early painting business headquarters. In this way, Adolph left a legacy of high quality workmanship that reached into many homes in and around Navarro County.