How we got here: Book list offers a primer on Fredericksburg's early years
By Joe Kammlah - Special to the Standard-Radio Post
In less than one year, Fredericksburg will be celebrating the 175th anniversary of its founding. While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly put a damper on the planning, a 175th committee has been meeting over the past two years to plan this celebration.
One such committee that has been meeting is the history committee. Its purpose is to present to one and all an accurate picture of the settlement and growth of our Texas Hill Country town.
One thing we discovered early on is that there is much to discuss in regard to what “really” happened during various periods of our history.
Fortunately, numerous books have been written about not only the settlement of Fredericksburg but why Germans emigrated to Texas at all.
So, with that in mind, the 175th History Committee would like to provide you some suggested reading over the next 9-plus months so you will know everything you ever wanted to know about the beginning of Fredericksburg, Texas.
The settlement of Fredericksburg was not really about a bunch of Germans coming to Texas to set up a peach stand and have a festival each year. Instead, the beginning of this community and its first 50 years, to be sure, contains as much intrigue, pain and hardship as you can possibly imagine.
From the fiscally irresponsible Adelsverein (which founded New Braunfels as well as Fredericksburg), to disease, which befell so many immigrants before they could first set foot on their promised land, our community was lucky to survive.
Several German authors were on hand to witness the beginning of Fredericksburg and their accounts are worth reading.
The committee has compiled a list of books and would like to share those. Some are available in the Pioneer Museum bookstore if you wish to own your own copy or, if not, the Pioneer Memorial Library has many that are available to either check out to take home or to the library reading room.
If you have not utilized our library, you may do a book search by name or author by going to its website, www.pmlfbg.com. And once you have your library card you can reserve a book online.
Of course, for some of you, the idea of delving deeply into the history of Fredericksburg may not be on the top of your list of things to do. But some of these books provide an easy read into the early life of our town that provides a quick snapshot. For the serious-minded, there are a number of books which need to be on your list.
From time to time, members of the committee will summarize some of these books and tell you why they provide a good read. Keep in mind the list of books the committee provides are “history books” and not historical fiction, although there are sure to be mistakes and misinterpretations in those as well.
Certainly, a good starting point would be “Fredericksburg, Texas...The First Fifty Years.” Originally in German and later translated to English, the book by Robert Penniger provides a quick snapshot of the “the first fifty years.”
Now out of print you can find it at the Pioneer Library.
Beyond that, the history committee has compiled these books to help in your history search.
The following are books available for purchase at the Pioneer Museum but may also be available at the Pioneer Memorial Library.
• “Voyage to North America 1844-1845, Diary of Prince Solms,” translated by Wolfram M. Maszewski;
• “Turning Germans into Texans,” by Matthew D. Tippens;
• “Fort Martin Scott,” by Joseph Luther;
• “Comanches and Germans on the Texas Frontier,” by Daniel J. Gelo and Christopher J. Wickham;
• “Journey to Texas 1833,” by Detlef Dunt translated by Anders Saustrup;
• “German Pioneers in Texas,” by Don H. Biggers
• “A 'New Look' at Nine Years with the Indians,” by Herman Lehman;
• “Captured,” by Scott Zesch;
• “The History of the German Settlements in Texas,” by Rudolph Leopold Biesele;
• “The German Settlement of the Texas Hill Country,” by Jefferson Morgenthaler;
• “A New Land Beckoned,” by Chester W. & Ethel H. Geue
• “New Homes in a New Land,” by Ethel Hander Geue
• “John O. Meusebach,” by Irene Marschall King
• Nassau Plantation by James Kearney
The following books are out of print but may be available at the Pioneer Memorial Library:
• Two volumes of “Pioneers in God's Hills”;
• “Roemer's Texas,” by Ferdinand Roemer;
• “German Seed in Texas Soil,” by Terry Jordan;
• “The German Texans,” by Glen Lich;
• “Texas in 1848,” by Viktor Bracht;
• “History of the German Element in Texas,” by Moritz Tiling;
• “German Artists of Early Texas,” by Marjorie von Rosenberg.