Bickler, Martha Lungkwitz (1855–1937)

By: Cynthia Castellanos

Type: Biography

Published: December 18, 2017

Martha Lungkwitz Bickler, first female employee of the state of Texas, was born in Fredericksburg, Texas, on February 22, 1855. She was the third child born to Karl Friedrich Hermann Lungkwitz and Elizabeth “Elise” (Petri) Lungkwitz. Martha’s father was a well-known painter of Texas Hill Country scenes and was employed as a photographer at the General Land Office by his brother-in-law, Commissioner Jacob Kuechler. Around 1872 Martha, at the age of seventeen, took on the clerkship position at the General Land Office’s blueprint division and assisted her father with blue prints and general office work. In this capacity, she was later credited as the first female employee of the state. When recounting her life, the Austin American later noted that Marth Lundkwitz was no “ardent feminist or serious scrapper for women’s rights, she quietly appeared on the state payroll in the early 1870’s.”

Martha Lungkwitz met Jacob Bickler when he began working for the General Land Office in 1873. They married on January 24, 1874, in Austin and had nine children. In 1887 the Bicklers left Austin when Jacob was hired to be the superintendent in Galveston, Texas.

In December 1891 the Bicklers’ three-year-old son Jacob died in Martha’s arms from the “membranous croup,” which developed after a cold. The Bickler family returned to Austin in 1892, and her husband founded the Bickler Academy. Martha Bickler was a devoted wife and mother who enthusiastically joined in furthering her husband’s educational career. Martha and her family were charter members of the First Congregational Church in Austin. Jacob Bickler died in Austin on April 30, 1902, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. After Jacob passed away, Martha Bickler continued to live in Austin, where she used her home as a boarding house for boys. Martha Lungkwitz Bickler died of pneumonia in her home on November 18, 1937. She was buried beside her husband at Oakwood Cemetery in Austin. When she passed away, her son Ralph was left with her beloved Eucharis lily plant, which he carefully divided so that each of her seven surviving children could have a part of the living plant.

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Austin American, February 9, 1960. Bickler (Ralph) Papers, Austin History Center, Austin, Texas. “Martha Lungkwitz Bickler,” Find A Grave Memorial (, accessed December 15, 2017. “Political Pioneers,” Austin History Center (, accessed December 15, 2017. 

  • Women
  • Business
  • Politics and Government
Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era
  • Central Texas
  • Austin
  • Hill Country and Edwards Plateau Region
  • Fredericksburg

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

Cynthia Castellanos, “Bickler, Martha Lungkwitz,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 20, 2022,

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December 18, 2017

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