On April 20, 1842, twenty-one German noblemen met at Biebrich on the Rhine river, near Mainz and organized the Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas, or in words most of you will understand the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas. Most often you’ll see it referred to as the Adelsverein. Adelsverein means Society in German.
The creation of the Adelsverein marked the beginning of the very significant German impact on Texas history and heritage.
Why would these German noblemen decide to do such a thing on April 20, 1842? From the early 1830s to the early 1840s, several publications had appeared in Germany praising Texas as a land of great personal liberty that was rich in abundant and productive land. These publications caught the attention of many people in Germany who were interested in finding a great destination for increasing German emigration. Texas sounded like the ideal place to settle.
The reason for the emigration scheme was to provide the German proletariat with economic relief with direct emigration to Texas. There was a surplus of German labor and they needed a home where they could thrive. They also hoped that the establishment of German settlements in Texas would provide German industry with markets abroad help develop German maritime commerce.
The Adelsverein sent two members to investigate and purchase land, counts Joseph of Boos-Waldeck and Victor August of Leiningen. Sam Houston offered them a land grant west of Austin but they declined out of their fear of Native American raids. Instead they purchased 4,428 acres in Fayette County. Later, they did indeed also select land to the west.
The first German immigrants arrived in Texas in December 1844, and over time over 7,000 Germans arrived to their new Texas home and planted deep roots into the Texas heritage and soil. Even more would follow after the Adelsverein finally ceased to exist.
New Braunfels and Fredericksburg were the society’s first colonies. Bettina, Castell, Leiningen, Meerholz, and Schoenburg followed. The Adelsverein eventually fell apart but German migration to Texas continued.
By 1850 Germans made up 5 percent of the population of Texas. Today about 3,000,000 people in Texas, or close to 20%, have German ancestry.
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