A Guide to the William A. Trenckmann Papers, 1931-1933
As a teacher, publisher, and author, William Andreas Trenckmann (1859-1935) had a profound effect on Texas during his lifetime. Born to German immigrants in Cat Spring, Texas, Trenckmann attended the frontier school of Ernst G. Maetze. He entered Texas A&M College in 1876 as part of the first class and graduated as valedictorian in 1879. Trenckmann began his teaching career in Frelsburg, and then taught in Shelby before serving as principle of the Bellville school. He married Malthilde Miller in 1886 with whom he had four children.
Trenckmann began publishing Das Wochenblatt in 1891. The German-language weekly newspaper was edited and published continuously by Trenckmann until 1933. Das Wochenblatt was a respected voice in the Texas-German community, used primarily to educate German-speaking immigrants and their offspring about politics, current events and American institutions. During World War One, the U.S. Postmaster exempted the paper from the censorship that was often imposed on German-language publications.
Trenckmann was a prolific author, contributing numerous stories, essays and reviews to Das Wochenblatt, he also published Austin County, in 1899, the first geographical and historical account of the county. He also published a play entitled Der Schulmeister von Neu-Rostock and a novel Die Lateiner am Possum Creek, one of the few works on Texas Germans who supported the Union during the Civil War.
Active in public life, Trenckmann represented Austin County in the Texas Legislature from 1907 to 1909, supporting civil liberties and opposing Sunday Laws and the Ku Klux Klan. He also served as chairman of the boards of directors of Texas A&M and the Blind Institute (now the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.)
Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed March 8, 2011.
The William A. Trenckmann Papers, 1859-1933, comprise Trenckmann’s 1899 book Austin County, and his autobiography, Erlebtes (Experiences) and Beobachtetes (Observations), both were likely translated by Trenckmann’s children. Austin County covers the Texas county’s geography and its history through the eyes of German immigrants. The first half of the book provides information about soil conditions, weather, land prices, population, and administrative information, along with various data. The section of the book titled “All Sorts of Historical Facts” documents the history of Austin County from 1821 to the end of the 1890s and contains numerous encyclopedic entries for a variety of topics.
Trenckmann’s autobiography chronicles his childhood, education at Texas A&M College, his teaching and political career and the history of Das Wochenblatt, his family, and the German-American experience during the First World War. The memoir also discusses general reminiscences about life in Texas in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
This collection is open for research use.
William A. Trenckmann Papers, 1931-1933, 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