Willkommen bei Fredericksburg Texas!
For Charlotte’s birthday I always try to arrange a trip somewhere that she has continuously talked about all year. The first year in Texas it was Fredericksburg. Fredericksburg is unique in that it has retained much of it’s German culture over the century of it’s existence. But wait….. wasn’t Texas settled by Americans from the east and Hispanics from Mexico. Alot of that is true but Texas was also settled by a large group of Germans and Czechs. In fact German is the largest ethnic group in Texas behind Hispanic.
More than 17% of Texans are German or claim direct German ancestry. The “German Belt” extends from Galveston on the coast northwest into the hill country ending in the Fredericksburg, Kerrville and New Braunsfel area.
The first person from Germany to arrive in Texas was Friedrich Diercks, known in Texas as Johann Friedrich Ernst. Ernst was awarded a 4,400 acre land grant in the colony of Stephen Austin. Ernst wrote home about the land and many from the provinces of Westphalia, Oldenberg, Holstein, soon followed Ernst to his self-described “paradise on earth”.
Friedrich Diercks changed his name in America as he was a wanted man in Germany.
In 1819 the Duke of Oldenburg appointed Diercks as a postal clerk of Oldenburg. The duke then subsequently charged Diercks of embezzling large amounts of money from the post office. He and his family escaped Oldenburg through Bremen Germany finally making it to Le Harve France and then on to New York by 1829.
Although originally headed for Missouri through New Orleans, Diercks read a prospectus from the colony of Stephen Austin and decided to head for Texas instead. He received a league of land, (about 4400 acres), and began writing home and encouraging other Germans to come to Texas. Known as the “Father of German Immigration”, Diercks, now known as Ernst assisted new arrivals financially and sold them lots off his land. The new city of Industry, Texas was the result of this activity. Why Industry? Ernst started to grow tobacco and established a notable industry in the manufacture of cigars.
Meanwhile some wealthy nobles in Germany hearing of Texas decided to form a colonizing company The Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas, “Adelsverein”. Through this company they proposed to settle a portion of Texas and gain some political clout since Texas was a new independent Republic.
The Adelsverein was a financial disaster for the nobles but it did manage to transport about 7000 German settlers to Texas. The Adelsverein founded the towns of New Braunfels and Fredericksburg. John O. Meusebach was the actual founder of Fredericksburg. Most of the immigrants were solid middle-class peasants in Germany and were industrious farmers, merchants and artisans.
Baron Ottfried Hans Freiherr von Meusebach , John O. Muesebach came to Texas in 1845 when he was appointed commissioner of the Adelsverein. Besides a salary and expenses Meusebach was given a 5000-acre land grant. Based in New Braunfels and overcoming many obstacles including the Mexican American War, he was able to establish the towns of Fredericksburg, Castell, and Leiningen. Only Fredericksburg prospered.
Fredericksburg was named for Prince Frederick of Prussia a financial supporter of the Adelsverein.
German migration continued through the 1850’s until the Union Navy blockaded the Texas Gulf Coast as the Civil War began. After the war 40,000 more Germans reached Texas.
Of the Germans in Central Texas the most famous is Admiral Chester Nimitz the Naval commander of the US war in the Pacific during WWII. In Fredericksburg is the National Museum of the Pacific War. Fredericksburg was the boyhood home of Admiral Nimitz. We didn’t have a chance to go this trip but will return sometime to see this museum. We did go by the old airport though.
Yeah, there was a nice breakfast restaurant there, but it was closed on this day. So, we went to the little City Cafe which was an old house. The food and service were outstanding. We also went by the Old German Restaurant for some outstanding schnitzel.
Although lacking any pictures of wineries I will speak of today’s Fredericksburg. Fredericksburg is the main town of the Texas wine country. The Texas wine country is the fifth largest wine producing region in the United States. Stretching along US Route 290 between Stonewall and Fredericksburg are countless wineries, so many that it is known as the Wine Road. In Fredericksburg are ten tasting rooms and retail wine shops along with 150 assorted shops, known as the “Magic Mile”; it is quite a place.
There is another small German village that we will visit also, Today it is considered a ghost town so………….