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This transcription copyrighted © 2004 by William C. Hood.


{Title Page}

With the Makers of Texas:
A Source Reader in Texas History

Herbert Eugene Bolton, Ph. D.
Eugene C. Barker, M. A.
Instructors in History in The University of Texas


With an Introduction by
George P. Garrison, Ph. D.
Professor of History in
The University of Texas



New York -:- Cincinnati -:- Chicago
American Book Company

{Copyright Page}

copyright 1904
By Herbert Eugene Bolton and Eugene C. Barker

E-P 2


{p. 139}

38. A Little German Girl in Early Texas
By Caroline von Hinueber (1831-1835)

             {Why we came to Texas.} When my father came to Texas I was a child of eleven or
twelve years. My father’s name was Frederick Ernst. He was by profession a bookkeeper,
and emigrated from the duchy of Oldenburg. Shortly after landing in New York he fell in
with Mr. Fordtran, a tanner and a countryman of his. A book by a Mr. Duhde, setting forth
the advantages of the new State of Missouri, had come into their hands, and they determined to settle in that State. While in New Orleans, they heard that every settler who came to Texas with his family would receive a league and labor´ of land from the Mexican government. This information induced them to abandon their first intention. We set sail for Texas in the schooner Saltillo [Säl-teel´-yo]. Just as we were ready to start, a flatboat with a party of Kentuckians and their dogs was hitched to our vessel, the Kentuckians coming aboard and leaving their dogs behind on the flatboat.

{p. 140}

             {An unpleasant voyage.} We were almost as uncomfortable as the dogs. The boat was jammed with passengers and their luggage so that you could hardly find a place on the floor to lie down at night. I firmly believe that a strong wind would have drowned us all. We landed at Harrisburg, which consisted at that time of about five or six log houses, on the 3d of April, 1831. Captain Harris had a sawmill, and there was a store or two, I believe. Here we remained five weeks, while Fordtran went ahead of us and selected a league of land, where now stands the town of Industry.

             {San Felipe in 1831.} While on our way to our new home, we stayed in San Felipe for several days at Whiteside’s Tavern. The courthouse was about a mile out of town, and here R. M. Williamson, who was then the alcalde, had his office. I saw him several times while I was here, and remember how I wondered at his crutch and wooden leg. S. F. Austin was in Mexico at the time, and Sam Williams, his private secretary, gave my father a title to land which he had originally picked out for himself. My father had to kiss the Bible and promise, as soon as the priest should arrive, to become a Catholic. People were married by the alcalde also, on the promise that they would have themselves reunited on the arrival of the priest. But no one ever became Catholic, although the priest, Father Muldoon, arrived promptly.

{p. 141}

             {Advertising Texas in Germany.} My father was the first German to come to Texas with his family. He wrote a letter to a friend, a Mr. Schwarz, in Oldenburg, which was published in the local newspaper. This brought a number of Germans, with their families, to Texas in 1834.

             {A miserable home.} After we had lived on Fordtran’s place for six months, we moved into our own house. This was a miserable little hut, covered with straw and having six sides, which were made out of moss. The roof was by no means waterproof, and we often held an umbrella over our bed when it rained at night, while cows came and ate the moss. Of course we suffered a great deal in winter. My father had tried to build a chimney and fireplace out of logs and clay, but we were afraid to light a fire because of the extreme combustibility of our dwelling. So we had to shiver. {illustration: An Old Spinning Wheel}


1. From the Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, 11, 227-30. This account was translated from the German by Rudolph Kleberg, Jr.
Read: Pennybacker, 61-69, 77-81; Garrison, 145.
2. Oldenburg is a state in the northwestern part of the German Empire.
3. A league is 4,428 acres of land.
4. A labor´ is 177 acres.
5. See page 124.

             Our shoes gave out, and we had to go barefoot in winter, for we did not know how to make moccasins. Our supply of clothes was also insufficient, and we had no spinning wheel, nor did we know how

{p. 142}

to spin and weave like the Americans. It was twenty-eight miles to San Felipe, and, besides, we had no money. When we could buy things, my first calico dress cost fifty cents per yard.

             {Many hardships.} No one can imagine what a degree of want there was of the merest necessities of life, and it is difficult for me now to understand how we managed to live and get along under the circumstances. Yet we did so in some way. We were really better supplied than our neighbors with household and farm implements, but they knew better how to help themselves. Sutherland used his razor for cutting kindling, killing pigs, and cutting leather for moccasins. My mother was once called to a neighbor’s house, five miles from us, because one of the little children was very sick. My mother slept on a deer skin, without a pillow, on the floor. In the morning, the lady of the house poured water over my mother’s hands and told her to dry her face on her bonnet.

             {Little to eat; corn bread and peas.} At first we had very little to eat. We ate nothing but corn bread at first. Later we began to raise cowpeas, and afterwards my father made a fine vegetable garden. At first we grated our corn, until father hollowed out a log and we ground it as in a mortar. We had no cooking stove, of course, and baked our bread in the only skillet we possessed. The ripe corn was boiled until it was soft, then grated and baked. The nearest mill was thirty miles off.

{p. 143}

             {Few neighbors.} The country was very thinly settled. Our three neighbors, Burnett, Dougherty, and Sutherland, lived in a radius of seven miles. San Felipe was twenty-eight miles off, and there were about two houses on the road thither. In consequence, there was no market for anything you could raise, except for cigars and tobacco, which my father was the first in Texas to put on the market. We raised barely what we needed, and we kept it. Around San Felipe, certainly, it was different, and there were some beautiful farms in the vicinity.

             {A fashionable school.} Before the war, there was a school in Washington, taught by Miss Trest, where the Doughertys sent their daughter, boarding her in the city. Of course we did not patronize it.
             We lived in our doorless and windowless six-cornered pavilion about three years.

             1. Who was the first German to settle in Texas with his family?  2. Why did he come to Texas?   3.
Describe some of the hardships of the voyage from New Orleans.  4. Describe Harrisburg in 1831.  5. What church did immigrants have to belong to before they could get land in Texas?  6. Describe the home of the first German family in Texas?   7. Were the American settlers much better off?  8. Describe some of the most common hardships of the settlers.  9. What was the price of calico in San Felipe before the revolution? 10. Were there any schools in Texas at this time?