Chronology of Central European

Colonization in Texas

Lera Patrick Tyler

1831                                                                                             Friedrich Ernst receives land at Mill Creek in Austin County and begins writing letters to friends in Oldenburg and Westphalia.

The German settlement of
Biegel develops along Cummins Creek in Fayette County.

1834                                                                                                                     Several German families, including the Kelbergs and the von Roeders, are encouraged by the Ernst letters to come to Texas.  They settle at Cat Spring in Austin County.

1835                                                                                              Texas Independence

1838                                                                            Fredriech Ernst founds the town of Industry in Austin County.

William Frels establishes the German settlement of Frelsburg in th northern corner of Colorado County.

1841                                                                                                Carl Sealsfield (Karl Anton Postl) publishes the The Cabin Book, a popular novel about Texas which had great influence on the immigration of German-speaking Europeans.

1842-45                                                                                                           Shelby (Roedersmühle) becomes a small German farming community in Austin County.  A number of families sponsored by the Adelsverein populate the village in 1845 and 1846.

1943                                                                               Count Boos Waldeck buys a plantation in Fayette County for the Adelsverein.  On this purchase Nassau Farm, a "manor house" retreat for the Society's officials, is built.

1844                                                                             Voyage from the Continent to Galveston or Indianola takes about 12 weeks.

High Hill, first known as Oldenburg, Wursten and Blum Hill. develops as a German community in southern Fayette County. In 1860, however, Czech families arrive there to start a Catholic settlement, the mother colony of Schulenburg.

Henri Castro lays out the town of Castroville west of San Antonio on the Medina River.  By 1847 over 2,000 French, Alsatian and German Colonists live on Castro's grant.

1845                                                                                     Carl, Prince of Solms-Braunfels and first commissioner-general of the Adelsverein, founds the town of New Braunsfels with about 200 German immigrants on Good Friday.

Ross Prairie, another small German settlement, develops in eastern Fayette County.

In Austin County, the German of Millheim, an offshoot of Cat Spring, grows as some Adelsverein settlers venture into the more populous eastern regions of Texas.

Johan Reinert Reiersen's colony of Normandy in Henderson County attracts Norwegian immigrants.

1845-50                                                                           New Ulm is settled by former inhabitants of Nassau, Industry, and Shelby.

1846                                                                                              Annexation of Texas

Baron Ottfried Hans von Meusebach, second commissioner-general for the Adelsverein, lesds German families farther into the Hill Country of western Texas to establish Fredericksburg.

United States and Mexico at war

1847                                                                                            Meusebach ventures into Indian territory to conclude a treaty with the Comanches allowing Germans to settle on Indian lands.

"The Forty" a fraternity of young students under the leadership of Dr. Ferdinand von Herff and Gustav Schleicher, establish communistic Bettina on the north bank of the Llano River.

Four other settlements--Castell, Meerholz, Leiningen and Schönburg--are attempted by the Adelsverein on the lands of the Fisher-Miller Grant.

1848                                                                                                  The United States and Mexico conclude the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending Mexican claims to Texas and a large portion of western North America. 

The Forty-Eighters, refugees from the revolution of 1848, arrive in Texas.  A number of prominent and well-educated Germans from this group of refugees settle in Sisterdale on the Guadalupe.

Swen Swenson returns to Texas with about 25 Swedes.  between this date and 1861 over 200 Swedes come to the state under the leadership of Swenson and his uncle Swante Palm.

1849                                                                                  Victor Witte and other  German intellectuals establish Latium in Washington County.

Five members of "the Forty" organize a German intellectual communistic farm named Tusculum which develops into the town of Boerne in the Hill Country.

1850                                                                                                  The boundaries of Texas are fixed by the U.S. Congress in the compromise of  1850.

1852                                                                                                                     Sixteen Czech families journey inland to start the New Bremen community in Austin CountyFayetteville, originally a German town, becomes the center of Czech settlement.  

Four Oldenburger schoolmasters establish the town of Welcome in northern Austin County.

Steamships begin to replace clippers in the trans-Atlantic passenger traffic.

German farmers disperse from the towns first established by the Adelsverein.  Small farm communities like the Cypress Creek settlement begin as these immigrants are drawn by cluster migration and by availability of land into the fertile river valleys.

1853                                                                                                                          Der freie Verein organizes in Sisterdale.  With Dr. Ernst Kapp as president, the society takes a strongly-worded stand against slavery.

Dr. Adolf Douai edits the San Antonio Zeitung.  A year before, he was driven from New Braunsfels for his radical views, and in San Antonio  he rouses violent opposition of Southerners with his abolitionist platform.

1854                                                                                                Texas legislature sets aside $2,000,000 for a state school system, but not until the late 1800's does the system become a reality.  Throughout the decade Germans call for compulsory public education.

Ernst Hermman Altgelt organizes the Cypress Creek settlement as the town of Comfort, a community of freethinkers and political extremists.

Influences by the socialistic philosophy of Fourier, 350 French led by Victor Considerant and Francis Cantagel found the north Texas community of La Reunion.

Norwegian  immigrants acquire land in southwestern Bosque County and begin settling in that area, with the establishment of Norse.

Pastor Johann Kilian brings a group of Wends seeking religious freedom from the area of Dahlen (Saxony) to Texas.  These colonist establish Serbin in present Lee County.

Father Leopold Moczygemba, a Silisian priest in New Braunsfels and Castroville, along with John Twohig, a San Antonio merchant, bring Polish settlers to the confluence of the Cibolo and the San Antonio Rivers.

Panna Maria, the first homogeneous Polish community in the Western  Hemisphere, is founded by 100 families from Upper Silesia.

1855                                                                                                                            Swiss immigrants, led by Carl Burkli, settle with the French at La Reunion.  Shortly afterward, these 25 Swiss settlers disband  to form their own neighborhood in Dallas, which continues to draw Swiss to Texas.

Under the leadership of Father Felix Zwierdowski, the Parish of Stant Stanislaus is established by Poles in Bandera.

A German settlement develops at Round Top in Fayette County.

The Polish parish of St. Hedwig is founded by John Demmer.

1856                                                                                                                           Near Schulenburg, Czech immigrants settle Navidad and rename it Dubina.

1858                                                                                                                          Praha (Prague), originally Mulberry, an Anglo-American settlement in southern Fayette county, develops as Czech immigration to the area continues to increase.

1859                                                                                                                              The first Jewish congregation, with membership derived from Frances, Alsace, Bavaria, and other German-speaking lands, is chartered in Houston.

1861                                                                                            Secession and Civil War Homestead Act

1862                                                                                                                             In Comfort several hundred male Unionists reorganize the "Union Loyal League" into a German battalion with companies from Kendall, Gillespie, and Kerr Counties.  When these counties declared in open rebellion, the German cadre assembles for movement into Mexico and is ambushed by a massive Confederate force.  This Battle of the Nueces eliminates what remains of the radical German element in Texas.

1872                                                                                                                             First railroad connections between Texas and the other states.

1873                                                                               Cestochowa, a filial of Panna Maria, is established by 40 Polish families.

Cattle drives become more profittable, and by 1885 million of head of cattle are sent north.

1875                                                                                                                          The sale of railroad lands stimulates settlement of western Texas.  Approximately 32 million acres (an area the size of Alabama) werer disposed of this way.

1878                                                                             Swedes start coming to Texas again.  By 1895 over 5,000 settlers join their predecessors in Houston, Austin, Manor, and Palm Valley.

1880                                                                                                                              Ten Swiss families settle on the Guadalupe River near Seguin.  As with the other Swiss colonies in Texas, they quickly disperse to already established towns and cities.

1880's                                                                                              Windmills appear in western Texas

German farmers begin to settle in the divided and plains of west Texas where water is now available, turning their farm operations into ranches.

Germans from Colorado County found Westphalia in Falls County.

1890's                                                                                                                German farmers from the older colonies of eastern Texas move into the area around Rosenburg in Fort Bend County.

A small group of Russian Germans leave Rorbach, near the Black Seain Russia, and settles at Hurnville, Clay County, Texas.

1891                                                                                                                       Father Joseph Reisdorff brings German Catholics from the midwest to Windthorst in  Archer County. By 1911, five other colonies are established by  Father Reisdorff.

1892                                                                             Kosciusko in Wilson County is founded by 65 Polish families.

Excerpted and condensed from the book, The Texians and the Texans, The German Texans, The University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio, Texas, 1981.