From the Annals of the Freedom Loving Germans – In 1854, delegates from various local German political clubs met at the annual Staats-Saengerfest (State Singers’ Festival) in San Antonio. The meeting might otherwise have escaped notice, except that the delegates adopted a declaration against slavery declaring it to be evil. The declaration went on to state that abolition was to be the work of the various states who should seek help from the federal government (in the form of payment for freed slaves) to help end the moral abomination of chattel slavery. The Texas Germans were falling in line with other organizations such as the Freier Mann Verein (Freeman’s Association) from Northern States who had enacted similar declarations. As one might imagine, the declaration was not well received in the strongly pro-slavery (and virulently racist) Texas of the time. In conjunction with ongoing antislavery newspaper articles in the German language press, many Anglo-Texans grew more and more hostile to their German-Texan neighbors. This was clearly evidenced at the outset of the Southern Rebellion by the murder of many German Texans who were attempting to go north to fight for the Union.
From the Annals of Deutschland – In 1842, the Adelsverein (officially named the Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas or Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas) was provisionally organized by German noblemen at Biebrich on the Rhine. The society was intended to promote German emigration to Texas and is credited with having arranged for more than 7,000 Germans to settle in Texas. Other than arranging for the initial resettlement of Germans the Society was largely a failure as a business venture.
Joseph of Boos-Waldeck and Victor August of Leiningen-Westerburg-Alt-Leiningen were the first to come to Texas to investigate. After declining an offer from Pres. Sam Houston for a colony west of Austin, Boos-Waldeck purchased a league of land (4,428 acres) near Industry in current day Fayette County. He named it Nassau Farm in honor of Duke Adolf of Nassau, the patron of the society. It served as a base for future German immigrants.
From the Annals of the Mob – In 1850, a mob of angry soldiers burned down the store of John M. Hunter in Fredericksburg. Hunter was one of the organizers of Gillespie County and its first county clerk. He kept the county’s records in his log store. Hunter had several confrontations with the soldiers from Fort Martin Scott. He once ejected a soldier named Kingston from his store – knocking him down with an ax handle, Kingston, in revenge, mistakenly shot and killed a German resident that night. The soldier was arrested and jailed, but was lynched before he could be tried.
On June 30, 1850, Hunter refused to sell whiskey to a soldier named Dole who became abusive. The hot-headed Hunter killed him with a stab to the chest. The next night a mob of angry soldiers returned, but Hunter had wisely fled town. The soldiers burned down his store, destroying all the county records up to that time. Several townspeople attempted to salvage the records, but the soldiers prevented them. Apparently neither Hunter nor the soldiers were punished for their crimes. Hunter returned and quickly built a new store on the same block.
From the Annals of Masonry – In 1836, Texian soldier Lewis Ayers was captured by forces under the command of Mexican General Jose de Urrea. Ayers in action under Captain Amon King engaging Urrea’s rear guard when he was captured with 32 other soldiers. The prisoners were ordered to be executed as rebels. One of Urrea officers, Colonel J.J. Holzinger intervened to spare the German prisoners. Ayers was not German but was included in the group to be spared. Legend has it that he was later released after giving a Masonic sign that Gen. Urrea recognized.
Image of Gen. Urrea from tshaonline.org.