Kalteyer, George Henry (1849–1897)

By: Charles F. Kalteyer

Type: Biography

Published: September 1, 1995

Updated: November 25, 2017

George Henry Kalteyer, chemist, pharmacist, and industrialist, was born on July 27, 1849, in New Orleans, the son of Frederick William and Henrietta (Leonardt) Kalteyer. Frederick Kalteyer, from Dillingburg, Grand Duchy Nassau, Germany, emigrated to San Antonio after having lived in New Orleans, Galveston, and Boerne. Reportedly, while he was in Galveston in the 1830s, Frederick opened the first soda-water business in Texas. On moving to San Antonio in 1857, he founded the Eagle Drug Store on Military Plaza. When George became a junior partner, the name was changed to F. Kalteyer and Son Druggists. George studied chemistry and pharmacy in Germany and graduated from Wiesbaden University, having worked under the famous Professor R. Fresenius in evaluating cements for the Association of German Cement Manufacturers. He returned to San Antonio in 1869 to assist his father in the flourishing drugstore business. In 1871 he was an incorporator of the Llano Mining Company and the Alamo Literary Society of San Antonio. That year George was appointed state chemist, and in 1873, in San Antonio, he married Johanna Gloetzel of Elderfeldt, Germany.

Around 1879 William Loyd, an Englishman with some experience with cementmaking in his native country, took rock samples from an old quarry in San Antonio to Kalteyer for analysis; he pronounced the rock suitable for making true portland cement. The Alamo Portland and Roman Cement Company, located at what is now the Sunken Garden in Brackenridge Park, was chartered January 19, 1880, with directors George H. Kalteyer (president), Frank V. Weise (treasurer), B. J. Maurermann (secretary), William Loyd (superintendent), and William E. Jones (director). It was the first portland cement plant west of the Mississippi. In 1881 the name was changed to the Alamo Cement Company. Armed with tests and the endorsement of Alamo cement by an authority on hydraulic cement-Lt. Col. Q. A. Gillmore of the United States Army Corps of Engineers-George Kalteyer was instrumental in the amendment of the original contract for constructing the current state Capitol building, allowing the use of the much-desired native material. In the construction of the Capitol between 1884 and 1887, 5,191 barrels of Alamo cement were used. Alamo cement was also used in the construction of the Driskill Hotel in Austin. In 1883 the Lone Star Brewing Company was built in San Antonio by Adolph Busch of the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association; Kalteyer owned a substantial portion and at one time served as its president. In 1887 Kalteyer (as president) and George Bartholomew (as general manager) organized the Buckeye Portland Cement Company near Bellefontaine, Ohio. Buckeye cement was used in the first concrete-pavement project in America in 1891, when part of the Bellefontaine town square was paved. Kalteyer was elected president of the Texas Pharmaceutical Association in 1885 and 1891. He served a four-year term as an alderman in San Antonio city government and was a director of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway. In 1892 he incorporated his expanding retail and wholesale drug business into the San Antonio Drug Company, of which he was president. In 1897 George traveled to Germany and obtained the DeCamp patent rights and equipment for use of burning powdered coal in rotary kilns in cement manufacturing. He returned to the United States seriously ill and never saw the process after it was put in operation. He died in a Philadelphia hospital on August 4, 1897. His San Antonio mansion at 425 King William Street in the King William Historic District has been painstakingly restored to its mid-1890s splendor.

Joanna Blumel, History of the San Antonio Drug Company and Pharmacy in Texas, 1854–1954 (San Antonio Drug Company, 1954). Frederick Charles Chabot, With the Makers of San Antonio (Yanaguana Society Publications 4, San Antonio, 1937). S. W. Geiser, "Men of Science in Texas, 1820–1880," Field and Laboratory 26–27 (July-October 1958-October 1959). Richard K. Meade, Portland Cement, 3d ed. (Easton, Pennsylvania: Chemical, 1926). Adolf Paul Weber, Deutsche Pioniere: zur Geschichte des Deutschthums in Texas (San Antonio, 1894).

  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Business

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

Charles F. Kalteyer, “Kalteyer, George Henry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/kalteyer-george-henry.

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September 1, 1995
November 25, 2017