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TOEPPERWEIN, ADOLPH

TOEPPERWEIN, ADOLPH (1869–1962). Adolph (Ad) Toepperwein, noted marksman, was born in Boerne, Texas, on October 16, 1869, the son of German immigrants, Johanna (Bergman) and Ferdinand Toepperwein. Soon after, the family moved to Leon Springs, where Ferdinand Toepperwein was a well-known gunsmith. When Adolph was thirteen his father died, and the boy went to San Antonio, first working in a crockery shop and then as a cartoonist for the San Antonio Express. After seeing the famed "Doc" W. F. Carter in an exhibition of marksmanship, he began perfecting his own shooting talents. In 1889 he quit his newspaper job and went to New York with San Antonio theater manager George Walker, looking for a vaudeville job. In 1901, after touring with a circus for eight years, Toepperwein began his fifty-year association with the Winchester Repeating Arms Company as an exhibition publicity agent and sales representative. In 1903 he married Elizabeth Servaty (see TOEPPERWEIN, ELIZABETH S.), of New Haven, Connecticut, who had never fired a gun in her life. Within two years the Toepperweins were traveling as a team, billed as "The Famous Topperweins" (their name Americanized). "Plinky," as she was called, became an outstanding woman marksman, representing American Powder Mills. They traveled throughout the world until her death in 1945.

Ad Toepperwein's first official record was made at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. In 1906, during a three-day exhibition, he made 19,999 hits out of 20,000 hand-thrown wood blocks. It was in San Antonio during a ten-day period from December 13 to December 22, 1907, where Toepperwein made his famous world record and performed what the San Antonio Daily Express described as "the greatest shooting exhibition ever given." Using three 1903 model Winchester .22 automatics, he fired at a total of 72,500 wood blocks and missed only 9 during sixty-eight and one-half hours of target shooting. He used up all of the ammunition for sale in the city. He attracted both rural and town dwellers to exhibits wherever Winchester guns were sold. After his retirement in 1951 Toepperwein conducted a shooting camp in Leon Springs. He was elected to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Ad Toepperwein died in San Antonio on March 4, 1962, and was buried beside his wife in Mission Burial Park. A Toepperwein museum was opened in May 1973 on the Lone Star Brewery grounds in San Antonio to house some of the memorabilia of the team's long years of marksmanship. In late 1998 the Toepperwein Gallery was moved with the Buckhorn Collection to the new site of the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum located downtown.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Austin American-Statesman, December 27, 1969. Charles Merritt Barnes, Combats and Conquests of Immortal Heroes (San Antonio: Guessaz and Ferlet, 1910). San Antonio Daily Express, August 5, 1894, May 26, 1901, December 22, 1907, San Antonio Express, January 28, 1945. Norman Wiltsey, "Riflemen in Retrospect," Frontier Times, August–September 1964.

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

"TOEPPERWEIN, ADOLPH," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fto09), accessed October 26, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.