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Homesite of John O Meusebach

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Homesite of John O. Meusebach

CountryUnited States
StateTexas
CountyMason
Elevation1,522 ft (464 m)
Time zoneUTC-6 ( Central (CST) )
Summer ( DST )UTC-5 (CDT)
Area code(s)325
FIPS code48

Fredericksburg was founded on May 8 1846 by German Immigrants under the Society for Protection of German Immigrants in Texas. John O. Meusebach chose location for the second of Societys colonies four miles north of the Pedernales River between two creeks. He named the settlement Friedrichsburg to honor Prince Frederick of Prussia. Settlers receive lots in town with an additional 10 acre lot outside of town. Colonists plant corn, build storehouses to protect their provisions and trade goods, and prepare for the arrival of more immigrants, who come throughout summer. By 1850, Census records state that the town had 754 residents, and Gillespie County had 1 235 residents. On March 1 1847, Meusebach met with several Tribes of Comanche Indians unarmed to negotiate a Treaty between the Tribes and the town of Fredericksburg. Meusebach asked that townsfolk be allowed to farm land along Llano in return for Comanche being allowed in town at any time. He further offered by promising that in times of hunger, town would provide Tribes with grain in return for game, honey, and bear fat. The Peace Treaty was made and Peace pip smoke. The first few years of town saw great growth. Within two years of establishing the town, first road from Fredericksburg to Austin was laid out. JL Ransleben opened the first privately owned store, and the Nimitz family opened their hotel, which quickly become most famous hotel in Central Texas. Nearby Mormon settlements of Zodiac have become important resources for learning to live and farm in new area. Fort Martin Scott was established by the US government in 1848 to provide protection against Native Americans, as well as opportunities for work. The UC Census of 1850 States that Fort house 100 men, four officers wives, and seven children. Fort closed in 1853 without any record of negative encounters with Native Americans. Religion was an integral component of life for German settlers of Gillespie County. Residents attend services at Vereins-Kirche, which serve as local church, school, and meeting hall. Devout farmers drive as much as twenty miles into town for religious services and build Fredericksburg's characteristic Sunday houses for use on weekends and religious holidays. The first public school and first official Catholic school in Fredericksburg were established in 1856. The first newspaper in the County was German-language Fredericksburg Wochenblatt, established in 1877. As the town grows in its German population, its insular community is open to outside visitors and companies. The first Gillespie County Fair was held in 1881 at Fort Martin Scott and moved to Fredericksburg in 1889. The town got its first electric-light company in 1896 and its first ice factory in 1907. The Northern Railway came to Fredericksburg on November 17 1913. The Railroad was reorganized as Fredericksburg and Northern in 1917 and remained in operation until July 1942. The 1930 United States Census, first in which Fredericksburg was include, gave the town's population as 2 416.

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Loyal Valley

In 1875, Mason County Hoo Doo War erupted over cattle rustling and those who take law into their own hands. Arm bands raid settlements, spreading fear and unrest. John O. Meusebach was shot in the leg during a raid of his store. In the midst of the war, Loyal Valley home owner Tim Williamson was murdered by a dozen masked vigilantes who accused him of cattle theft. Williamson's adopted son, Texas Ranger Scott Cooley, seeks revenge. Cooley and his desperadoes, which include Johnny Ringo, create a reign of terror over the area. It was during this episode that Ringo committed his first murder, that of James Cheyney.

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Death

Meusebach became engaged to Elizabeth von Hardenberg in 1842. Before they could get marry, she died in Germany of Typhoid fever while he was administering establishments in New Braunfels and Fredericksburg. On September 28 1852, forty-year-old Meusebach married seventeen-year-old Austrian-born Countess Agnes of Coreth, daughter of his friend Count Ernst of Coreth. The couple had eleven children, but only seven lived to adulthood. Meusebach died on May 27 1897, on his property in Loyal Valley, and was buried in the family cemetery in Cherry Spring. John and Agnes' daughter Elizabeth married Leo Burchheardt Zesch and had two daughters named Leonie and Leota. The family moved to California after Leota's birth, and was living in San Francisco at the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Leonie von MeusebachaZesch became a dentist, living in both Texas and Arizona and providing dental services to military personnel. In Arizona, she provides dental services to Hopi people. She relocated to Alaska and became a traveling dentist who serves remote areas around the state. When her mother Elizabeth was no longer able to care for herself, Dr. Zesch returned to California and spent the rest of her life and career there. Alaska Women's Hall of Fame induct Dr. Leonie von Meusebach-Zesch in 2012. Barons Creek in Fredericksburg, Texas is named after Baron Meusebach.

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Early years

Here is little bit of background on the Meusebach family. Baron Otfried Hans Freiherr von Meusebach, who later adopted the name John O. Meusebach, arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1845 as the new commissioner-General for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas. In August 1845, John founded the town of Fredericksburg, which served as a second stop en route to the Fisher-Miller Land Grant. At roughly 40 years old, John married 17-year-old Countess Agnes of Corenth with whom he had eleven children: only seven of their children would reach adulthood. Two of their sons, Otto and Max, lived at a house at 414 King William Street in the 1890s. Otto Meusebach had purchased the home in 1889 from original owners Smith and Josie Ellis for 2 500, and he, his wife Martha, sons Kurt, John and daughter Anita all moved in. Max lived with his brother Otto's family until about 1892. By all accounts, Meusebach brothers were colorful characters, especially around San Antonio's bars. If YOU haven't had a chance to hear about them, I invite YOU to listen to Meusebach house's audio on our cell phone tour, King William Homes of Preservationist Walter Mathis. Now let me get back to Sarah Reveleys great-aunt, Emmy. Emmy visited Meusebachs in San Antonio all way from her home in New Braunfels in September, 1898. Write entirely in German, on September 19 Emmy told her mother how much she wanted it to stop raining so she and Anita Meusebach could go to the theater. One can only imagine how terrible it was to navigate the muddy streets of the city back then! Emmy's mother wrote back the next day saying: ho w happy I am that youre doing well and arriving safely! I am only a bit scared that YOU wo like it here anymore, when youre being spoiled in San Antonio. Weve already shied away from weather and thinking about whether it is raining where YOU are. It rained a lot here and the paths and walks are so muddy that one doesnt think about going out. Peritonitis, inflammation of the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity, is caused by bacterial infection and was a common cause of death, especially maternal death, in the 19th century. Infections spread into abdominal cavity and were typically associated with poor hygiene-The practice of washing ones hands was still in its infancy. Mortality rates fall dramatically after people begin practicing good hygiene, especially in medical field. Regardless of the reasons for Anita Meusebachs death, tragedy was surely devastating for the family. In 1902, Otto sold his home on King William Street-he died the following year. His sons go on to prosper, however. Kurt becomes coal merchant and John goes on to be treasurer of San Antonio Machine and Supply Company. Click this link to see 1880s photograph of Baron Meusebachs sons: ITC-General Collection. Very special THANK YOU to Sarah Reveley for sharing her great-aunts letters with Villa Finale.

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Education and career

Ferdinand Ludwig Herff was a 19th Century German-born physician who emigrated to Texas and became a medical pioneer in San Antonio. He was one of the co-founders of Bettina commune. In 1982, record Texas Historic Landmark 1268 was placed on Malakopf Mountain in Boerne, to honor Herff. Herff's homesite in San Antonio was designated a Texas Historic Landmark in year 2000, Marker number 12345. Early life Ferdinand Ludwig von Herff was born November 29 1820, in Darmstadt, Germany to Christian von Herff, Privy Councillor or Judge of Supreme Court of Hesse-Darmstadt, and his wife Eleanora von Meusebach, cousin of John O. Meusebach. Education Herff attended the University of Berlin and University of Bonn, where his uncle Doctor von Rehfuss was President of the University. Both universities were alma maters of Karl Marx. Fellow student was Frederick III, future King of Prussia at Bonn University. The family social circle includes naturalist Alexander von Humboldt and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Herff completed his medical education at the University of Giessen in 1843. Upon graduation, he served surgical internship with the Army of Hesse, and learnt techniques in plastic surgery and treatment of tuberculosis. Texas Bettina Herff, Gustav Schleicher and Hermann Spiess founded Socialistic Colony and Society, or Die Vierziger, which originally had plans to establish Socialistic communes in Wisconsin. Spiess and Herff were approached in Wiesbaden by Adelsverein Vice President and Executive Secretary-Business Director Count Carl Frederick Christian of Castell-Castell, who made a deal with them to colonize two hundred families on Fisher-Miller Land Grant territory in Texas. In return, they were to receive 12 000 in money, livestock, equipment and provisions for a year. After the first year, Colony was expected to support itself. In 1846, Herff and Spiess emigrate together to the United States via New York City. From there, they travel by railroad to Wheeling, West Virginia, and by stage coach to New Orleans. They then board ship to Galveston. Spiess goes to New Braunfels, and Herff goes to Indianola at the end of April 1847 to await the arrival of other Colony members. John O. Meusebach and Spiess chose the location for Bettina in 1847 on the banks of the Llano River. Commune was named in honor of Bettina von Arnim, early feminist activist and personal friend of the Meusebach family. The majority of Bettina settlers arrived in August 1847. Beneath oak tree, Herff removed a cataract from the eye of local Indian chief. Jacob Kuechler was one of the notables at commune. Bettina failed after Adelsverein funding expire, and due to conflict of structure and authorities. Some members move to other Adelsverein settlements in Texas. Others move elsewhere, or return to Germany. Herff returned to Germany for an additional period of service with the Hesse Army, to learn techniques for treating battle casualties.

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Adelsverein

Baron Otfried Hans Freiherr von Meusebach, founder of Fredericksburg and peacemaker with Comanche Indians, was born on May 26 1812, at Dillenburg, Germany, one of four surviving children of Baron Carl Hartwig Gregor von Meusebach, judge solicitor, and Ernestine von Witzleben Meusebach. He attends parochial school at Rossleben. In 1828, he enrol in the Mining and Forest Academy at Clausthal in the Harz Mountains. In 1832, he enrol at the University of Bonn, where he specialized in law, with cameralism and finance as supporting fields. During the course of his studies, Meusebach learnt to read five languages and speak English fluently. He eventually transferred to the University of Halle and took his bar examinations at Naumberg in 1836. Afterwards, he worked in various administrative posts in Trier, Berlin, Potsdam, and elsewhere. In 1845, the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas, Adelsverein, appointed Meusebach to succeed Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels as its Commissioner General in Texas. As executive administrator for Adelsverein, Meusebach received an allowance of 2 000 for the purchase of scientific equipment, salary of 790 annually, commission of 2 percent of all net profits of Society, and allocation of 500 acres of land. If society should dissolve within five years, he was to receive an indemnity of 5 000. In early May of 1845, Meusebach arrived in Galveston. He and his small entourage rode horseback to New Braunfels, 165 miles away, finishing the trip with six overnight stops. Meusebach labor to serve the needs of new Immigrants with diligence, true to the motto on his family's crest, Tenax Propositi. However, indebtedness, lack of cash, arrival of too many immigrants in too short time, shortage of necessary vehicles for transporting them to the interior of Texas, outbreak of War with Mexico in immediate disembarkation area, unexpectedly severe winter, and disease of epidemic proportions all hamper his efforts. Nevertheless, while he took charge of affairs at New Braunfels, he also found settlements in Fredericksburg, Castell, and Leiningen. Soon after his arrival in New Braunfels, Meusebach put aside his German title of nobility and adopted the name John O. Meusebach. Convince that use should be made of Land in Fisher-Miller Land Grant, he acquired headrights to it on credit. Before surveying and settlement of the site could occur, it was necessary to arrive at an agreement with Comanche Indians. In December 1846, speaking through Indian interpreter Jim Shaw, Meusebach arranged to meet with ten Comanche chiefs on the lower San Saba River in early March 1847. Despite current reports that Comanches were on warpath, Meusebach and a delegation of German settlers met with head chiefs-Buffalo Hump, Santa Anna, and Mopechucope-and their people. He promised Indians presents worth 3 000 in return for Indians' pledge not to disturb surveyors or harm colonists.

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Texas State Senator

In 1851, Meusebach made a return trip to Germany to spend time with his remaining family. His father had died in 1847. During the trip, he also took the opportunity to completely sever any remaining ties to Adelsverein. While in Germany, Meusebach was elected to represent Bexar, Medina and Comal counties in the Texas State Senate. Meusebach took office on November 7 1851. His first act as Texas senator was to request that the inaugural address of Governor Peter Hansborough Bell be printed in English, Spanish and German. He serves on the Committee on State Affairs and the Committee on Education.

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Special state commissioner

In 1854, Meusebach was appointed by Governor Elisha Pease as special commissioner to settle colonist titles to Land promise by Verein between 1845 and 1846. The Republic of Texas had originally promised colonists 640 acres apiece for married couple, or 320 acres for unmarried colonists. When original colonists settled on their promised acreage, Verein had to keep one half of the allotment. Meusebach's position was to rectify land holdings. He issued 729 colonist Land scripts in amount of 324 160 acres. Three other Texas General Land Office commissioners also issued scripts, for an aggregate total of 1 735 200 acres of colonist land holdings.

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Sources

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