A Guide to the Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas Records, 1842-1858
The Adelsverein, also known as the Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas (Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas), and later as the German Emigration Company, was provisionally organized on April 20, 1842, by twenty-one German noblemen at Biebrich on the Rhine, near Mainz. The Adelsverein was composed of German noblemen whose intent was to settle emigrants on the Fisher-Miller Land Grant in Texas, but instead they became the founders of New Braunfels and Fredericksburg and ran up a huge debt that they were never able to repay.
The members of the Adelsverein hoped to solve some of the economic problems of the time and turn a profit for themselves while establishing an American trade base for Germany. After various attempts to secure land, the society finally acquired the Fisher-Miller Grant on the Llano River. Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels was sent to Texas in July 1844 as commissioner general for the society, and in December he received the first group of emigrants with whom he founded New Braunfels in March of 1845. Almost from the beginning the society was in financial trouble; and although Otfried von Meusebach, later called John O. Meusebach, who took over as commissioner general after the first year, was able to keep the settlement running and also to establish Fredericksburg in 1846, the noblemen themselves were never able to pay off their debts and suffered serious personal financial losses. Few of the emigrants ever claimed their land in the Fisher-Miller Grant; but after surviving the ordeal of the first two years, New Braunfels and Fredericksburg became thriving communities. New Braunfels had become the fourth largest city in Texas by 1850.
Source: Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. “Adelsverein,” http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/AA/ufa1.html (accessed June 2, 2010).
Correspondence, legal and financial records, and inventories comprise the Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas Records, which document the society’s operations. The materials are primarily in German. The records make up the portion of the Archiv Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas, which went missing in Germany after 1931. They contain the records of Louis Becker, Louis Bene, P. Cappes, Count Castell, and Henry Fisher. Furthermore, the collection contains the sick books of New Braunfels and Fredericksburg and ship lists, as well as various financial and legal records.
The collection is open for research use.
A knowledge of the history of the peregrinations of the records of the Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas is necessary for an understanding of the contents of this collection. They were originally kept in Wiesbaden, the government seat of Nassau, since Duke Adolf of Nassau was the protector of the society. These records remained more or less intact and active until all shares of stock sold to pay off the society's debts should reach maturity and become obsolete. In 1891 the finance councilor who handled the society's business died, and the new director who was from Braunfels asked for permission to store the archives of the society with the Braunfels archives. On January 8, 1893, the archives were moved, and in 1894 the remaining stock certificates that had been redeemed were burned and the society became inactive. A few items such as newspapers and clippings were added to the collection through the years, especially New Braunfels publications, but the archives remained almost untouched. In 1929-1931 the collection was taken to Berlin where about 17,000 of the approximately 45,000 pages were photostated for the Library of Congress under the direction of Georg Smolka. An inventory of the collection was made at this time. Then in 1933 Rudolph Biesele, history professor at The University of Texas, and his students made transcripts of these photostats. In 1960 another inventory of the collection was made and a sizable number of documents was found to be missing. In 1965 a request to sell the archives to interested parties in the United States was received and submitted to the German Minister of the Interior who placed the question before a committee of experts to determine if this sale could take place in the light of a 1955 law to protect German cultural heritage against exportation. It was decided that this would be legal because the archives were not a real part of the Braunfels archives and because they would be of more value for research in the U.S. After the collection had been microfilmed, it was sold to a dealer in New York and disappeared from this time until 1985 when Yale University purchased them. All of these documents were microfilmed in 1966 and many of them photostated in 1931. Meanwhile the documents that had disappeared from the collection between 1931 and 1960 surfaced in Germany. A part of them was purchased by The University of Texas in 1965 and became the Verein Collection. Some of these documents were photostated in 1931; none of them was microfilmed. The second part of these missing documents was purchased by Yale in 1987 and became the Friedrich Armand Strubberg collection.
Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas, 1842-1858, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers