Kampmann, John Herman (1819–1885)

By: Aragorn Storm Miller

Type: Biography

Published: April 15, 2011

Updated: April 14, 2016

John Herman Kampmann, architect, public contractor, businessman, and Confederate officer, was born in Leveringhausen, Markischer Kreis, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Prussia, on December 25, 1819. He was the son of John Peter and Elizabeth Finniman (Selingshof) Kampmann. Before immigrating to Texas, Kampmann was raised as a Catholic and attended the University of Cologne. After leaving the university, he worked as a stone cutter and architect's assistant in Cologne and along the Rhine River.

In 1848 Kampmann left Europe and settled in San Antonio, Texas. He continued working in building and construction. In 1850 Kampmann married Caroline Bonnet, also of Prussia. This couple had three sons and one daughter. When the Civil War began, Kampmann raised a company of Germans for service in the Confederacy. This unit was incorporated into the Third Texas Infantry in the autumn of 1861, with Kampmann elected as captain, and served along the Texas coast at Brownsville and Galveston but never saw action. During this time, Kampmann received promotion to major but, due to ill health, was eventually ordered to establish a factory in La Grange for the manufacture of uniforms.

After the war, Kampmann returned to Bexar County, where he played an important role in the public affairs of San Antonio. He operated a furniture factory, which boasted 150 employees as well as the city's first steam engine. He supervised the construction of several hotels and houses. During the 1870s Kampmann was regarded as one of Bexar County's leading builders and contractors. In 1879 he provided office space for the Bexar County courthouse. In 1884 he helped fund the construction of the Lone Star Brewery. Around this time, Kampmann lived in semi-retirement and devoted time to the raising of exotic cattle. On September 7, 1885,, while in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Kampmann died. He was returned home and buried in San Antonio. In 1891 his estate, by virtue of his wife Carolina, donated land for the construction of a new courthouse for Bexar County.

Beyond the Alamo, Neighborhood Discovery Tours Guidebook copy: East Side/Ellis Alley, City of San Antonio, Office of Cultural Affairs, 2002 (http://www.americansforthearts.org/napd/files/10993/beyond%20the%20alamo%20sample%20neighborhood%20discovery%20tour.pdf), accessed March 17, 2011. Biographical Encyclopedia of Texas (New York: Southern, 1880). Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]). Memorial and Genealogical Record of Southwest Texas (Chicago: Goodspeed, 1894; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Sylvia Ann Santos, Courthouses of Bexar County 1731-1978 (San Antonio: Bexar County Historical Commission, 1979). Texas Archival Resources Online: Alfred Giles: An Inventory of his Drawings, 1878-1907 (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utaaa/00044/aaa-00044.html), accessed June 8, 2006. San Antonio Light, September 14, 1885.

  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Business
Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

Aragorn Storm Miller, “Kampmann, John Herman,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/kampmann-john-herman.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

April 15, 2011
April 14, 2016

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: