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Contributed by Jon Todd Koenig
The Oldsmobile, Pontiac and International Harvester/Farmall dealership with the tall red brick chimney, flat roof and shiny plate glass windows located at 427 Travis Street in La Grange, just east of the Colorado River Bridge heading out to Smithville, started out in the early 1950s as a family business between Mr. and Mrs. Lester von Rosenberg and Lester’s sister, Lois von Rosenberg Todd and Mrs. Todd’s husband, Berger “B. E.” Todd, a native of South Texas.
Prior to World War II, Mr. Todd had been a vocational agriculture teacher at Fayetteville High School from 1937-1940, which is where he crossed paths with his future wife, Lois Marie von Rosenberg, who was also teaching at Fayetteville High at the time. Miss von Rosenberg and Mr. Todd met and married in Fayetteville in 1939, and in 1940 the young couple had their first child, Terrye Jean Todd who was born in Brenham since that same year, the Todd family had relocated to Washington County after Mr. Todd had become a vocational agriculture teacher at Brenham High. He continued in this role from 1940-1942, during which time they celebrated the birth of their second daughter, Becky Ann (Rebeca) Todd, just before World War II broke out.
B. E. Todd went into military service in 1942, entering as a reserve officer due to his tenure at Texas A.& M., and was discharged in 1945, after having trained troops in New Orleans, among other places. The Todd family continued to make Brenham their home during the latter 1940s where Mr. Todd first encouraged and then initiated in Brenham and Washington County what we know of today as one of Texas’s largest dairy producing regions, through his work starting the first receiving plant in Brenham with the Carnation Company in 1946.
Mr. Todd continued his work in the dairy industry, both in Brenham and then later in Austin, when in 1952, the family decided to “come home” to Fayette County and La Grange, where Mrs. Todd had grown up and where a local car and tractor dealership was up for sale by Mr. Pete Looney.
Knowing agriculture from his early days on the farm down in South Texas (Riviera, Gregory, Robstown, Taft, and then Beeville) and from his education in the business at Beeville High School (Class of 1933) and Texas A.& M. College (Class of 1937), Mr. Todd saw an opportunity to pursue his interest in agriculture and business at the same time, while Mrs. Todd saw an opportunity to be closer to her family; parents, Albert and Monica Struve von Rosenberg and brothers, Sam, Lester and A. L. von Rosenberg. So it was in 1952 that Rosenberg-Todd, incorporated was formed by Mr. and Mrs. Lester von Rosenberg and Mr. and Mrs. B. E. Todd.
The business flourished in the 1950s and 1960s, through the local sales efforts of Mr. Todd and his staff, examples of which were Mr. Todd’s support for the Fayette County Fair’s livestock shows, when he purchased the 1956 Reserve Champion ewe and the 1965 Grand Champion Hereford. The dealership was named the regional Pontiac sales winner in 1967. In addition to the sales side of the business, service was an integral factor in the dealership’s success, as was the service station which was located just next door and which operated under the Humble Oil franchise for many years.
Numerous family members were involved in the business in addition to Mr. Todd, who served as President and General Manager, and Lois von Rosenberg Todd, who acted as book-keeper, including Mrs. Todd’s younger brother Albert Lee “A. L.” von Rosenberg, who was bookkeeper before her, as well as Mrs. Lucille Freytag von Rosenberg, who was Mr. Todd’s secretary for many years.
In 1966, Lester von Rosenberg and his wife, Mary Alice, decided they wanted to pursue a different path, so they sold their interest in the business to Mr. and Mrs. Todd. Shortly thereafter Mrs. Todd passed away unexpectedly, leaving Mr. Todd to lead his life and his business on his own. His daughter, Terrye Jean Todd, who had previously been married to Mr. Harvey Bohot, took Mrs. Todd’s place in the business as bookkeeper, and her husband became a partial owner and Assistant Manager. It was this addition to the management and ownership team which was the impetus in 1970 to change the name of the business from the long-standing name, Rosenberg-Todd, to the name Bohot-Todd, which was so well known in Fayette County during the 1970s and 1980s.
After almost four decades in the car and tractor sales and service business, B. E. Todd who had since been remarried to Mildred Louise Willmann, decided it was time to retire. The Oldsmobile and Pontiac dealership business was sold in the late 1980s to the Brasher family who ran the local Chevrolet dealership in La Grange and a comparable dealership in Weimar in Colorado County (the International Harvester part of the business had been non-operating for some time by then).
Following the sale of the business, the Todd family retained the real estate block where the original business was located at Travis and Water Streets and currently operates a real estate management firm there, Todd Ventures, Limited.
1881 La Grange Businesses