Woodson Research Center, Rice University

Guide to the Dresel and Spiess families records, 1785-1914 MS 239



creator Porter, Clyde H.
Title: Dresel and Spiess families records
Dates: 1785-1914
Abstract: This collection consists of several hundred typewritten pages and many photographs of people and places concerning the immigration of Germans into Texas, most notably the Dresel and Spiess families. Most of the material focuses around the middle of the nineteenth century when Gustav Dresel and Hermann Spiess settled in Galveston and Waco Springs, respectively. Clyde H. Porter compiled the material.
Identification: MS 239
Quantity: 0.25 Linear Feet1 box
Language: English
Repository: Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas

Biographical Sketch

The main portion of this collection focuses on the families of Dresel and Spiess. Gustav Dresel (1818-1848) came to Texas in 1837, and while in Galveston, served as business agent of the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants into Texas. His brother Julius (1816-1891) immigrated to Texas in the fall of 1848 and settled near Sisterdale on the Guadalupe River.

Hermann Spies was born circa 1818 in Offenbach, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, the son of Luise (Werner) and Johann Balthasar Spiess. Coming to Texas in 1848, Hermann Spiess settled near Waco Springs. In 1851 Spiess married a Mexican woman who had been held captive by Indians and together they had ten children, three of whom died in infancy. In 1867, however, he moved with his family to Missouri where he remained until his death. While in Texas, he encouraged German immigration into the state by being a member of the “Association of Noblemen” and a land commissioner.


Scope and Contents

This collection consists of several hundred typed pages and many photographs, deals with the early immigration of Germans into Texas (ca. 1835-1860). Clyde H. Porter of Kansas City, Missouri collected the material and then sent about a dozen copies of his work to various libraries and individuals. Oswald Mueller of Houston received the material and donated this collection to Rice University.

The main portion of the material focuses on the families of Dresel and Spiess. Gustav Dresel (1818-1848) came to Texas in 1837, and while in Galveston, served as business agent of the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants into Texas. His brother Julius (1816-1891) immigrated to Texas in the fall of 1848 and settled near Sisterdale on the Guadalupe River. This collection contains an English translation of his “Sisterdale Diary.” In this diary, Julius Dresel describes his immigration from Germany to Texas, his life as a farmer, and several encounters with Indians.

The collection contains both a notebook containing some of Hermann Spiess’ personal papers and a group of interesting letters sent to his family in Germany. In his personal papers, he describes his appointment as General Commissioner of the Adelsverein (Association of Noblemen) in Texas, as well as the monetary and organizational difficulties that this association faced. He goes on to describe a gunfight as well as several court trials he was involved in, all regarding the rightful ownership and occupation of Nassau Plantation in Fayette County. In his letters to his family in Germany he describes the land, climate, growing conditions, and community of New Braunfels. Spiess writes often to his sister, telling her how important education is for her children, and also expressing his personal opinions regarding American and German politics and Christianity.

The collection also contains letters from Ernst and Ida Kapp, settlers of Sisterdale, a company contract of the “German Colonization Company,” and numerous photographs of people mentioned throughout the papers.


Restrictions

Access Restrictions

This material is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via woodson@rice.edu or call 713-348-2586.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the Dresel and Spiess families records, 1785-1914, must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.


Index Terms

genealogies (histories)
German Americans -- Texas -- History
corrrespondence

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Dresel and Spiess families records, 1785-1914, MS 239, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Acquisition Information

This collection was a gift donated by Oswald Mueller in 1968.


Detailed Description of the Collection

Dresel and Spiess families records

Folder
1 Hermann Spiess biographical information [Intro., pp. IV-58]
Folder
2 Spiess family: Lena Spiess’ funeral; photos of Hermann and Lena Spiess; Notes
Folder
3 Hermann Spiess letters to family, 1840-1870 [pp. 117-198]
Folder
4 Letters from Ida and Ernst Kapp, 1850 [pp. 86-114]
Folder
5 Letters and notes: Clyde H. Porter to Oswald Mueller, no date
Folder
6 Dresel [pp.1-23a incomplete]
Folder
7 Company contract of German Colonization Company in and for Texas in Biebrich [pp. 71-78]
Folder
8 Dresel [pp.1001e-1018c incomplete]
Folder
9 Sisterdale diary by Julius Dresel
Folder
10 Dresel Family Genealogy
Photographs
Folder
11 Notes on Dresel and Spiess