University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the Ferdinand Louis Huth Papers



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Huth, Ferdinand Louis
Title: Ferdinand Louis Huth Papers
Dates: 1778-1937
Bulk Dates: 1843-1892
Abstract: Personal and business correspondence, financial and legal records, manuscript material, printed material, photographic material, and translations and transcriptions, 1778-1937, bulk 1843-1892, (1 ft., 5 in.) in German, French, and English, document the business, personal, and civic activities of Ferdinand Louis Huth as he immigrated to Texas, assisted in the administration of a new colony, and served in public office.
Extent 1 ft., 5 in.
Language Materials are in English.
Repository Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Ferdinand Louis Huth immigrated to Texas from Germany and assisted in the primarily French and German colonization of Castroville, Texas, in the 1840s. He was born January 3, 1813, in Baden. His father, Ludwig Huth, was a merchant and insurance agent in Neufreystadt, and his mother, Catherine (Leicht) Huth, was Alsatian. Louis had three brothers, August, Albert, and Cellirius, and one sister, Emilie.

In 1842 Louis Huth met Henri Castro in Paris. Castro held a contract with the Republic of Texas to establish a colony and believed that he could make a fortune by importing and exporting goods between Europe and Texas. In 1843 the Huths entered into a deal with Castro to assist in colonization of and trade with Texas. Castro provided expertise and ships for the movement of goods and people across the Atlantic, and Huth and Company in Neufreystadt provided capital for the initial investment in merchandise. Louis moved to Texas to assist with the settlement of colonists there and to trade Castro's European goods for hides and cotton, which he would ship back to Europe. According to the agreement, the Huths would obtain part of the land grant Castro expected to receive from the Texas government, and Huth & Company, Louis Huth, and Castro would share evenly the money earned from the import/export business.

On October 25, 1843, Louis Huth left Antwerp on the ship Jean Key to sail to Galveston. When he arrived in Galveston on January 2, 1844, he found the first group of Castro's immigrants waiting there, and no sign of the agents assigned to take care of them. Huth took responsibility for the immigrants and they continued on their way, arriving at Porta LaVaca on about January 11. From there they proceeded by oxcart to San Antonio, where they arrived by March. Castro joined the group in San Antonio in July, and up to this point no one in the party, including Castro, had seen the land they were planning to settle. On September 2 the group left to found Castroville. During their first election on September 12, 1844, the people of Castroville elected Huth as Justice of the Peace.

Just over two months later, on November 20, 1844, Castro left the colony and put Huth in charge in his absence. Though he planned to be back in less than a year, Castro did not return for 20 months. During this time, Huth arranged for people to get from Galveston or Porta LaVaca to Castroville and acted as director of the colony, organizing the planting of crops, lending money, and distributing supplies to new immigrants. In Europe, Louis's family found people interested in emigrating and helped them get to Antwerp, where they boarded Castro's ships to Texas.

Huth worked hard for the enterprise, which did not always run smoothly. Difficulties in getting to Castroville caused many would-be colonists to remain in Galveston or San Antonio. Immigrants colonizing Castroville spoke French, German, and English, so it is fortunate that Huth spoke these languages. In March 1845, Huth led a group of settlers to found a town called Quihi, but tragedy struck a week later when several Quihi settlers were attacked and killed. Money was tight, and Castro's credit was being stretched. Castro's financial troubles led him, while in Europe in 1845, to enter into business with G. Dhanis and Company, forming the Société de Colonisation au Texas, à Anvers (the Antwerp Society for Texas Colonization). This alliance put Huth in the awkward position of having to take orders from both Castro and the Société.

Castro returned to Castroville by September 1846, and in mid-October he fired Huth. For at least a time, relations between the two men were strained. Neither the Huths nor Castro ever became rich from their endeavor, and Castro owed Louis money for years after the end of their partnership.

After the end of his employment with Castro, Huth remained in Castroville, where he participated in business and government through the early 1860s. He ran a brewery and a gristmill, opened a store with partner George Louis Haass, and was a charter member of Zion Lutheran Church. During the years 1848 and 1849, Huth served as Tax-Assessor-Collector for the newly established Medina County, and in 1849 he became County Treasurer. From 1849 through 1858, Huth acted as County Clerk, and from 1860 to 1862 he served as Chief Justice.

On July 15, 1846, Huth married Rosalie Rhin, who gave birth to two sons, Joseph Louis and Albert. In 1849 Rosalie and Albert died in a cholera epidemic. On February 15, 1851, Huth married Sophie Louise Köhnen, and they had four children: Emelia, Lena, August, and William.

In 1863 Huth moved to San Antonio and opened a store at 226, 228, and 230 Market Street called L. Huth and Son that sold hardware, implements, and seeds. Huth belonged to several organizations, including the Turner Verein, a gymnastic society; the Kranken Kasse Verein (Krankenkassenverein) a hospitalization insurance association; the Arbeiter Verein, a workers association; the Order of the Sons of Hermann, a fraternal insurance benefit society; and the Alamo Masonic Lodge No. 44. Huth died at home on Market Street on December 24, 1892, and was buried at the Alamo Masonic Cemetery.


Scope and Contents

Personal and business correspondence, financial and legal records, manuscript material, printed material, photographic material, and translations and transcriptions, 1778-1937, bulk 1843-1892, (1 ft., 5 in.) in German, French, and English, document the business, personal, and civic activities of Ferdinand Louis Huth as he immigrated to Texas, assisted in the administration of a new colony, and served in public office. The bulk of the material dates from October 1843-April 1892, covering the time between Huth's arrival in Texas and his death. Because Huth was involved in a business venture with his family and emigrated as part of a business deal with Henri Castro, it is impossible to divide the records into business and personal. Correspondence and financial documentation are the largest series and document heavily the activities involved in colonization of Texas in the 1840s. Less well represented is Huth's business life after the end of his employment with Castro. People who are mentioned in the collection include Henri Castro, Charles DeMontel, Jules Bourgeois, and Theodore Gentilz. Page numbers and dates written in pencil on some items appear to have been made in the 20th century by translators and should not be confused with Huth's notes on the back of many items that record the date the item was sent, when it was received, and when it was replied to, as well as occasionally a brief description of the subject of the material.


 

Organization of the Papers

This collection is organized into 9 series:
Series I. Correspondence, October 1843-January 1890 and undated
Series II. Financial documentation, 1840-April 1892 and undated
Series III. Legal and legal-style documentation, August 1778 and October 1843-1886
Series IV. Notes and other handwritten material, 1784, 1832, 1846-1847, October 1888, and undated
Series V. Printed material, 1845-[ca. 1848], 1865-1892, [ca. 1934]-1937, and undated
Series VI. Photographic material, undated
Series VII. Genealogy and crest, undated
Series VIII. Blank papers and envelope, undated
Series IX. Transcriptions and translations, undated

Arrangement of the Papers

This collection is arranged by series, and within each series, by subseries, size, or chronologically.

Index Terms

Names:
Huth, Louis--Archives
Castro, Henri 1786-1865
DeMontel, Charles S. 1812-1882
Organizations:
Societe de Colonisation au Texas a Anvers
Places:
Texas--Colonization
Castroville (Tex.)--History
Texas--History--Republic, 1836-1846--Sources
Texas--History--1846-1950--Sources
Texas--Description and travel--19th century
Texas--Social life and customs--19th century
Subjects:
Emigration and immigration--Texas
Germans--Texas--History--19th century--Sources
French--Texas--History--19th century--Sources
Frontier and pioneer life--Texas
Emigration and immigration--Germany--History--19th century--Sources
Emigration and immigration--France--History--19th century--Sources

Related Material

Following is a list of related collections also available at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History:

  • Castro County Scrapbook
  • Castro (Henri) Papers 1839-1884
  • DeMontel (Charles S.) Papers 1852-1863
  • Herndon (John Hunter) Papers 1814-1872
  • James (John) Papers 1849-1868
  • Twohig (John) Papers 1835-1944


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Ferdinand Louis Huth Papers, 1778-1937, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Acquisition Information

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History acquired the Ferdinand Louis Huth Papers through several different accessions.

In an accession of ca. 1940, Miss Elizabeth Howard West placed about 300 papers at the University.

Transcriptions of items were created ca. 1940s.

Translations were made ca. 1952.

On August 11, 1983, Mrs. Donelson C. Gillis, Sr., (Patricia Huth Gillis) donated a Castroville marriage license, a Huth coat of arms, and biographical sketches of Joseph Louis Huth and Ferdinand Louis Huth to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History (accession no. 83-301).

Mrs. Betty Stieren Kelso donated approximately 289 items on December 18, 2000 (accession no. 2001-002).

Processing Information

Processed by Heather Arnold, April 2001 through February 2002, as part of the Huth Papers Project sponsored by the Elizabeth Huth Coates Charitable Foundation of 1992.


Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Series I. Correspondence, October 1843-January 1890 and undated
(181 items)

This series includes manuscript material and one telegram, in French, English, and German. Largely letters received, the items concern personal, business, legal, and civic matters. Topics covered include German, French, and Alsatian emigration, political issues, including Texas annexation and competition between colonizing groups, and what was involved in the establishment of a colony in central Texas in the 1840s. Enclosures are included.
The material is divided into four subseries. The first, Huth family correspondence, is almost entirely in German and illuminates events in the life of the Huth family in Europe, emigration, and Castro's personality. Clippings and newspapers from European newspapers appear in Series V. The second subseries is a letter book that contains copies of letters from Huth to Castro and others, largely in French, as well as a small amount of financial documentation.
Letters from the Société de Colonisation au Texas, à Anvers are combined with Castro family correspondence in the third subseries, as both Castro and the Societe were Huth's "bosses." These letters, all in French, reveal Castro's plans and persuasive personality. It is possible to track Castro's route between 1843 and 1846 by his frequent letters to Huth. In his letters, Castro recorded his trip to Washington, Texas, and his view of annexation and its effects on his plans. Documentation of financial matters between Huth, Castro, and the Société; appear in Series II., while instructions from and contracts with Castro may be found in Series III.
The fourth subseries includes scattered correspondence. Primary correspondents include William Elliot; James, Montel, and Co.; E. Martin and H. A. Cobb; Illies & Co., New Orleans; G. L. Haass; Valentin Haass; and Charles DeMontel. This subseries gives insight into the logistics of setting up a new colony, including obtaining supplies and moving colonists to their destination. This subseries is in English, French, and German.
Huth family
box folder
3K380 1 October 1843-April 1845
items (20 items)
2 August 1845-June 1847
(20 items)
3 July 1847-April 1848, June 1866, undated
(8 items)
4 Letter book, 1844-1846
(1 item)
Castro family and Société de Colonisation au Texas, à Anvers
box folder
3K380 5 November 1843-May 1845
(27 items)
6 July 1845-June 1850 and undated [bulk: July 1845-November 1846]
(36 items)
General
box folder
3K380 7 January 1844-April 1846
(27 items)
8 June 1846-November 1859
(22 items)
9 April 1870-January 1890 and undated
(20 items)



 

Series II. Financial documentation, 1840-April 1892 and undated
(186 items)

This series includes receipts, ledgers, bills, statements, and orders. The receipts are a rich source of information, as many of them record names of colonists, as well as the dates and the locations of the transactions, as the original settlers made their way from Galveston to Castroville. Many of these receipts are numbered and these numbers may be matched with entries in the ledgers. Five receipts in this series from the San Antonio Board of Trade were removed from the booklet Charter, Rules and By-Laws of the San Antonio Board of Trade contained in Series V.
Receipts
box folder
3K380 10 January 1844-August 1846
(61 items)
11 June 1850-July 1884
(16 items)
Ledgers
box folder
3K380 12 Loose pages, 1840-December 1849 and undated
(29 items)
13 Bound, November 1844-October 1846
(4 items)
box
3S174 Oversize, October 1846
(2 items)
General
box folder
3K380 14 October 1843-August 1846
(32 items)
15 February 1850-January 1872, March 1891-April 1892, and undated
(41 items)
box
3S174 October 1843
(1 item)



 

Series III. Legal and legal-style documentation, August 1778 and October 1843-1886
(47 items)

The third series includes agreements and instructions from Castro, a hand-drawn plat, an immigration contract, a ledger in which was recorded land ownership and distribution as well as copies of deeds and a chattel mortgage, and scattered documentation of Huth's role as a civil servant. A marriage license dated 1778 also appears in this series.
box folder
3K380 16 August 1778, October 1843-November 1844
(17 items)
box folder
3K381 1 October 1845-1886 and undated
(27 items)
box
3S174 May 1866, March 1864
(3 items)



 

Series IV. Notes and other handwritten material, 1784, 1832, 1846-1847, October 1888, and undated
(33 items)

This series in French, German, and English includes lists of ships' passengers, notes, including two notes in Castro's hand, information about medical cures, and poems.
box folder
3K381 2 1784, 1832, October 1888, and undated
(13 items)
3 [1846?], [1847?], and undated
(17 items)
box
3S174 January and April 1846, January 1847
(3 items)



 

Series V. Printed material, 1845-[ca. 1848], 1865-1892, [ca. 1934]-1937, and undated
(52 items)

The fifth series contains several Alsatian newspapers in German, other clippings and pages from newspapers, magazines, and books, a brochure for a sanitarium in Michigan, a broadside, and ephemera. Three twentieth century items, a pen warranty, a cancelled check, and a press release for a book about Castroville, were not removed from the collection and are part of this series.
box folder
3K381 4 Booklets, [ca.1848], [ca. 1872]-[ca. 1887]
(6 items)
5 General, [ca. 1845]-1846, 1865-1892, [ca. 1934]-1937, and undated
(39 items)
box
3S174 1845-1846 and undated
(7 items)



 

Series VI. Photographic material, undated
(2 items)

Photographic material consists of 2 still positive images: a cabinet card of a woman and an albumen print of a young man, neither subject identified. The cabinet card was received in a frame made of an unidentified plastic, cardboard, and string and stamped Pat. Mch 24th 1891, which was removed to the artifact collection.
box
3S63



 

Series VII. Genealogy and crest, undated
(4 items)

Family histories and a photocopy of a sketch of the Huth family crest all appear to date from the 20th century.
box folder
3K381 6



 

Series VIII. Blank papers and envelope, undated
(15 items)

Series comprised of blank papers and an envelope, some of which are embossed.
box folder
3K381 7



 

Series IX. Transcriptions and translations, undated
(103 items)

Some items are transcribed but not translated, and some items are not transcribed at all. The order of the items corresponds to the order of the originals. Series I. is the most thoroughly translated series, and of that, the first subseries is the most complete.
box folder
3K381 8 Huth family correspondence dated September 15, 1843, through November 28, 1844
(12 items)
9 Huth family correspondence dated [1844?] and December 18, 1844
(2 items)
10 Huth family correspondence dated February 28, 1845, and March 5, 1845
(2 items)
box folder
3K382 1 Huth family correspondence dated March 1845 through April 14, 1846
(12 items)
2 Huth family correspondence dated April 16, 1846, through May 26, 1846
(4 items)
3 Huth family correspondence dated May 26, 1846, through October 12, 1846
(5 items)
4 Huth family correspondence dated April 21, 1847
(1 item)
5 Huth family correspondence dated June 11, 1847
(1 item)
6 Huth family correspondence dated July 9, 1847
(2 items)
7 Huth family correspondence dated July 24, 1847, through April 24, 1848, and undated
(6 items)
8 Castro family and Société de Colonisation au Texas, à Anvers correspondence dated November 15, 1843, through January 23, 1845
(13 items)
9 Castro family and Société de Colonisation au Texas, à Anvers correspondence dated February 1, 1845, through August 15, 1845
(15 items)
10 General correspondence, financial documentation, and legal and legal-style documentation
(19 items)
11 Legal and legal-style documentation, notes and other handwritten material, and printed material
(9 items)
12 Translations for 704 pages from all series, 2005
(1 CD)