Emma Voelcker and the Murder That Shook New Braunfels

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When people think of New Braunfels, Texas a few things come to mind: Schlitterbahn, tubing the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers, visiting nearby Gruene to hear live music and eat at the Gristmill. What many people don’t know though, is that in 1874, New Braunfels was the scene of a grisly murder that involved 12-year-old Emma Voelcker.

A Grisly Case of “Mistaken Identity”

Emma Voelcker

Photo: Facebook/NBghosttours

The pharmacist in New Braunfels during this time was German immigrant Julius Voelcker. Voelcker had four sons and one daughter. On the evening of July 22, 1874, the pharmacist in Seguin had to go out of town, so he had his wife spend the night with the Voelckers in nearby New Braunfels. The wife slept in the bed of 12-year-old Emma Voelcker that night (while Emma slept in the trundle).

Sometime in the wee hours of the night, someone came into the Voelcker home and brutally attacked Emma with an ax, as she lay on the trundle bed, killing her. The wife of Faust awoke to this horrible attack and was hit once between the eyes with the ax, causing her to be blind for the remainder of her life – and also, rendering her unable to identify the murderer.

The town was outraged at the crime and innocent citizens were lynched as the townspeople demanded to know who could have possibly done something so violent to such an innocent child. It wasn’t until November of 1874 that the true murderer was caught.

Wilhelm Faust: Murderous Pharmacist

emma's grave

Photo: Facebook/hauntedmagnoliahotel

As it turns out, Wilhelm Faust, the Seguin pharmacist, was intending to kill his wife that evening (even going so far as to urge his wife in the days leading up to the trip, to “be a good houseguest” and sleep on the trundle bed). When he broke into the Voelcker home in the dark that night, he assumed that the sleeping form on the trundle was that of his wife and, sadly, he was mistaken.

After several assassination attempts on Faust, he was finally moved to the Comal County Jail where, on July 28, 1876, he was shot and killed through his jail cell window. All written documentation indicates that the person who shot and killed Faust remains a mystery, but ask anyone who knows this story and they’ll say that it was undoubtedly the heartbroken father of Emma Voelcker, exacting his revenge on the man who killed his only daughter.

Spirits in The Magnolia Hotel in Seguin

The Magnolia Hotel

Photo: Facebook/hauntedmagnoliahotel

The spirits of both Emma and Wilhelm Faust are said to haunt both downtown New Braunfels (near the site of the now destroyed home where Emma was killed) and The Magnolia Hotel in Seguin where Faust hid out in the weeks following the crime. These days, the newly-restored Magnolia Hotel is open to visitors, hosts baby showers, weddings and other events as well as guided ghost tours. It has been featured on several television shows, documenting the hauntings and is said to currently house more than 14 spirits. To learn more, go to their website or follow The Haunted Magnolia Hotel on Facebook