A Guide to the Joseph Bruckmüller Notebook, 1868-1883
Peter Joseph Bruckmüller, known to friends as Joseph, was born in Mainz, Germany, in 1828 to Roman Catholics. His father was a tailor and his grandfather a musician in the Mainz electoral court. For three years, he apprenticed with a shoemaker, leaving for Paris in 1844 to stay with an aunt and learn French. In 1845, he returned to Germany after being drafted into the Army, although he was subsequently rejected for service. For several years, he worked in Munich, leaving town after falling out with his master. During the German revolutions of 1848, Bruckmüller founded the Democratic Association with 400 charter-members and established a club to educate workers in Mainz about republicanism and current political affairs. The next year, his club participated in a campaign against the Prussian Army. After losing, the government accused the club of treason and confiscated all its papers. When a summons appeared on his door, Bruckmüller fled to America, arriving in New Orleans, Louisiana, in June 1850 and traveling to Marshall, Texas, the next year.
After an unsuccessful business partnership and job as a hired man, Bruckmüller moved to Tyler, where he opened a shop with a British candymaker in 1852. When the partnership dissolved due to financial mismanagement, Bruckmüller returned to Marshall to open a shoemaker’s shop, which he closed in 1860 in order to start a bar and grocery store. In 1857, Bruckmüller met Juliana Garbe on a trip to Germany, and the two married upon their arrival in Marshall. The couple had a son, Charley (1858-1866), and a daughter, who died during the Civil War.
In 1861, Bruckmüller enlisted the Confederate Army and traveled to Hopkinsville, Kentucky. There he joined in the Seventh Texas Volunteer Infantry and was elected as tambour-major. After the Confederate troops surrendered at the Battle of Fort Donelson on February 16, 1862, Bruckmüller was taken as a prisoner-of-war to Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois, until he escaped. Recaptured at Clinton, Louisiana, he was sent to New Orleans. Following his parole in 1863, Bruckmüller returned to Marshall, where he invested in cotton and opened a clothing and textile shop after the war.
The Joseph Bruckmüller Notebook, 1868-1883, contains a German handwritten notebook by Bruckmüller and an English translation with drafts. An 1868 narrative in the notebook recounts Bruckmüller’s life in Germany and in Texas, his experiences in the Civil War, and his political views about slavery and Reconstruction. Additionally, the notebook includes numerous poems and transcripts of his correspondence, dated from 1868 to 1883.
This collection is open for research use.
Joseph Bruckmüller Notebook, 1868-1883, 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.
A negative microfilm copy of the notebook is available for viewing and printing with call number 828.38.
Detailed Description of the Papers