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Chapter 11. Otto von Roeder

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unrest manifested itself quickly in the Rhineland and Hessian provinces due to their proximity to France. Here the French ideas of liberty, fraternity, and equality had taken root among the students and the middle-class Bürger of the cities. Revolutionaries even briefly occupied the city of Mainz, which was in a sense the birthplace of the

Society. In one of the more dramatic episodes in all of Germany, a mob of 30,000 farmers, apprentices, and handworkers, armed only with pitchforks, scythes, and axes, descended upon the Wiesbaden castle of Adolph Duke of Nassau. When the duke promised reforms, the crowd peacefully dispersed.2

The old order in Europe was confronted with an explosion of frustration and resentment from the common man: the exclusion from political life, the denial of basic freedoms of expression and assembly, the lack of religious freedom, the absence of economic opportunity, the onerous burden of late-feudal privileges—all these factors combined to threaten the noblemen in Germany from within even as their plans from across the sea floundered. The turmoil of the revolution compromised the Society in Germany in many ways, especially in the ability to raise funds.3

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A Note on Sources and Abbreviations

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A Note on Sources and Abbreviations

This study relies heavily, but not exclusively, on reports, letters and documents contained in the Solms-Braunfels Archives and related collections (Verein, Wied, Strubberg). The name is misleading. The

Archives are the official business records of the Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas (Society for the Protection of German Emigrants in Texas), also called the Adelsverein (Society of Noblemen). The documents found a home at one point in the castle of the Solms-Braunfels family and hence the name. The documents languished unknown to American scholars until the 1930s when Dr.

Rudolph Biesele, author of the seminal work, History of the German

Settlements in Texas, became aware of them. Prior to World War II, he led a team that transcribed and indexed the thousands of reports, letters and documents into typewritten German, rendering them accessible and useable to a much wider audience. Interestingly, Dr. Biesele himself did not have the benefit of the Archives when he wrote his book on the German settlements in Texas. Indeed, none of the foundation works about the Adelsverein (von Rosenberg, Benjamin,

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Chapter 5. The Runaways

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ties of the plantation followed the general plan and concept of Count

Boos-Waldeck. He seems also to have been directly responsible for supervising the work on the Herrenhaus. It was left to the overseer,

William Bryan, who did live at the plantation, to take care of the dayto-day tasking of the slaves.

Judging from his reports and letters, Fordtran applied himself conscientiously to his duties. With fences to construct, fields to plow, and buildings to complete, both Bryan and Fordtran had full plates.

Fordtran had accompanied Boos-Waldeck to Galveston. He returned with a wagonload of supplies to Nassau Plantation on November 10, 1843. It had been a rather difficult trip due to wet weather and swollen streams. He detailed his return trip and the situation at the plantation in a long report sent to Boos-Waldeck, dated November

15, 1843.1

In the report, Fordtran mentioned that Wilhelm Etzel, the former servant of Boos-Waldeck, was happy and had big plans for the future.

He continued to be diligent in his work on the manor house but did not get along well with his associate, a man named Stuesse. In consequence, Stuesse had collected his wages, twenty-eight dollars, and departed even though his work was not completed. Fordtran thought it would be best to contract outside labor for the completion of the stall, which was to be built next to the manor house with dimensions of twenty-two feet by fourteen feet by fourteen feet. Fordtran also expressed concern about the condition of the oxen, which were so indispensable for the work of breaking the fields and transporting the rails for the fences. They were in bad shape, he reported, and only three pairs remained to do the work. He suggested to Bryan, the overseer, that he make the rails, of which 4,000 had already been split, lighter and shorter, and, therefore, reduce the work for the oxen. One can detect in this letter a growing rift between the two.2

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Appendix C. Inventory, December 1847

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Appendix C:

Inventory, December 1847

(Fayette County Complete Records C, 28, 29)

“3 Cots and 2 Bed Steads, 8 Mattresses, 9 Pillows, 3 German Blankets, 4 Pine Tables, 2 pr And Irons, 1 Looking Glass, 1 Candle Stick, 1 pr Snuffers, 1 Candle Shade, 2 Ewers, 4 Bowls, 2 Chamber [pots?], 2

Small Tumblers, 1 French Coffee Pot, 4 Small Glass Jars, 6 Dishes—6

Bowls, 2 Tea Pots, 3 Sauce Dishes, 1 large Dish, 1 Doz. Cup Plates, 1

Sugar Dish, 1 Cream Pitcher, 1 Sprinkler, Lot Empty Bottles, 2 Small

Demijohns, 1 lot wire, 1 pr Small Scales, 1 Box window Glass, 1 Pistols, 3 Skillets, 1 Oven, 1 Frying Pan, 1 pr Waffle Irons, 1 Tea Kettle,

4 Water Buckets, 1 Churn, 7 Stone Jars, 3 Tin Pans, 3 Glass Tumblers,

3 Dishes, 1 Tea Pot, 1 Sugar Bowl, 6 Tea Spoons, 3 Kitchen, 3 Spoons,

1/2 Set knives & Forks, 1 pr Candle Moulds, 1 pr Shovel & Tongs, 2

Wash Tubs, 1 Water Barrel, 1 Grind Stone, 1 Keg Nails, 9 Carpenters’ Planes, 7 Wood Clamps, 15 lbs. Tobacco (damaged), 30 lbs. Steel,

1,000 lbs. Iron, 100 chickens, 28 Ducks, 15 Turkeys, 12 Geese, 11

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Chapter 2. Joseph Count of Boos-Waldeck

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A suitable technician could not be found, so the expedition was reduced to the two noblemen and their servants, Wilhelm Ötzel

(Etzel) 2 and Johann Schwind.3 The two were given the dignified title of Jäger, or “hunter,” though it is not clear that either had ever done any hunting.

Power to act on the Society’s behalf remained in Boos-Waldeck’s hands, with one exception. Special instructions for the two, drawn up by Count Castell, stipulated that both men had to concur and sign should they decide to purchase land for the

Society. Moreover, in any land deal, they were to deal only with the government of the republic and thereby avoid unscrupulous speculators. Land fraud in Texas, it seems, had already attained international notoriety. The men were to contact G. A. Scherpf,4 whose book about Texas had helped shape Christian Leiningen’s enthusiasm for Texas. He was thought to be in New York. Finally, they were to be prudent with their cash since American banks could balk at promissory notes. On June 10, 1842, Boos-Waldeck and his party shipped out of Le Havre, France,5 on a three-master, the Lorena, and arrived in New York on July 18, 1842, after a thirty-eight-day passage.6

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