New Braunfels: First Adelsverein Settlement in Texas
In addition to documenting San Antonio’s history, UTSA Libraries Special Collections collects resources about nearby communities. Over the next few months, our monthly rare books post will highlight materials on some of these surrounding towns and cities. We begin today with New Braunfels, a city of approximately 60,000 located thirty miles northeast of San Antonio.
New Braunfels was first established as a German settlement in the spring of 1845 under the auspices of the Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas. The Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas, also known as the Adelsverein was organized in the 1840s by German noblemen to encourage mass emigration, both as a means of providing new opportunities to economically hard-pressed commoners and of establishing foreign markets for German industry. Oscar Haas’ History of New Braunfels and Comal County, Texas [F392 .C7 H3 1968]offers researchers an extensive study of the area’s history.
Due to its strategic location between San Antonio and Austin, as well as the water power provided by Comal Springs, New Braunfels quickly became a commercial center and reportedly the fourth largest town in Texas in 1850. By the turn of the century, New Braunfels was an important stop for both the International-Great Northern and the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas railroads.
A German language newspaper, Neu Braunfelser Zeitung, was published from 1852-1957. Although not held by UTSA, the first two years of this publication are available through The Portal to Texas History. Also of interest are the annual chronicles published by the newspaper in 1936 and 1939 [AY73 .N47 N4], and an almanac for 1916 [AY73 .N47 K3], which includes a poem to accompany each calendar month.
The area’s German heritage remained influential for generations, nurtured by various social clubs, such as the Germania Singing Society. A Chronological History of the Singers of German Songs in Texas [ML28.T4 H33 1948] (1948) by Oscar Haas offers a detailed history of this and other German singing clubs throughout Texas, with particular focus on the early days of the New Braunfels club as the first singing society established in Texas and the host club of the first Säengerfest, held Oct. 15-16, 1853. Special Collections also holds the program for the 1953 Song Festival of the Texas Hill Singers [ML38 .N43Z4 1953], which includes photographs of participating choirs, the performance schedule, and advertisements for local businesses.
In addition to print resources, images of New Braunfels from the General Photograph Collection may be viewed in UTSA Libraries Digital Collections. Included are photographs of characteristic architecture, parks and parades, and the 1926 flood.
Additional information about New Braunfels specifically and German immigration to Texas generally may be found in The History of the German Settlements in Texas, 1831-1861 (1930) by Rudolph Leopald Biesele [F395.G3 B47 1930] ; Texas: With Particular Reference to German Immigration… (1967 ) by Ferdinand Roemer [F391 .R71 1967] ; and Die Vereinigten Staaten von Nordamerika… (1853) by Gottfried Menzel [E166 .M55 1853].
Brister, Louis E. “ADELSVEREIN,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ufa01), accessed June 02, 2014. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Greene, Daniel P. “NEW BRAUNFELS, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hen02), accessed June 02, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Haas, Oscar. A Chronological History of the Singers of German Songs in Texas. New Braunfels, TX: New Braunfels Zeitung, 1948.