Beckmann, John Conrad (1815–1907)

By: S. W. Pease

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 10, 2018

John (Johann) Conrad Beckmann, ironwork craftsman, was born on June 13, 1815, in Rülle, near Osnabrück, Westphalia, the son of Johann Heinrich and Katarina Maria (Kohmöller) Beckmann. He immigrated to New York in 1839 and traveled to Baltimore and Cincinnati. He then returned to Zurich, Switzerland, and brought his betrothed, Regina Mueller, to New York, where they were married in 1841. His brothers Joe and Bernhart were already in New York.

Beckmann had been trained in Zurich as a locksmith, as a woodworking craftsman, and as a blacksmith. He moved to San Antonio, Texas, in 1846. Later he was employed by the United States government to set up three forges in the Alamo for blacksmith work for the army and for the renovation of the Alamo. His first home, built in 1849, was behind the Alamo on Crockett Street. Later he built a home and blacksmith shop on the southwest corner of Commerce and Casino streets. With the urging of Dr. Ferdinand Herff, Beckmann fashioned hand-wrought iron bedsteads for his German friends.

He was a charter member of Alamo Masonic Lodge Number 44. As a founder of the German-English School, he took part in the cornerstone laying in 1859, the hundredth anniversary of the birth of German poet Friedrich Schiller. Beckmann was a founder and charter member of early San Antonio German organizations: the Casino Club, the Turnverein (see TURNVEREIN MOVEMENT), the Krankenkassenverein (hospitalization insurance association), Arbeiter Verein (workers association), the Beethoven Männerchor, and the Teutonia Mixed Chorus (see GERMAN MUSIC). Beckmann died on April 12, 1907, in San Antonio and was buried in the Alamo Masonic Cemetery. He was survived by one son, although the Beckmanns had been the parents of seven children; several died in a cholera epidemic. Beckmann's portrait, painted by artist Edward Grenet in the early 1880s, is said to have encouraged the young artist in his career as a portrait painter.

Frederick Charles Chabot, With the Makers of San Antonio (Yanaguana Society Publications 4, San Antonio, 1937). San Antonio Express, April 13, 1907. San Antonio Light, April 1, 1973. A Twentieth Century History of Southwest Texas (2 vols., Chicago: Lewis, 1907).

  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Visual Arts
  • Arts and Crafts

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

S. W. Pease, “Beckmann, John Conrad,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 24, 2022,

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November 10, 2018