Friday, August 23, 2013

Fredericksburg: An All-American German Town

During my recent visit to Austin, Texas, I took a day trip to the charming town of Fredericksburg. When I arrived, all the Main Street-esque quaintness made me feel as though I were in a Disney version of small-town America. Thing is, Fredericksburg is actually quite German. It is called Fredericksburg, after all.

After my trip, I looked into the history behind this German settlement and found it fascinating. The Atlantic Times, an English-language German newspaper,  explains:
In 1842, a group of noblemen, eager to both get rid of malingerers and capitalize on America's riches, hatched a scheme. They decided to found a German colony, together with the Association for the Protection of German Immigrants to Texas. 
They charged settlers a large fee and made many promises of support that they never kept, but the Germans managed to adapt and survive without the association's help.

When tensions developed between the settlers and the native Comanches, the German leader, John Meusebach, struck up a treaty with the tribe. The Atlantic Times describes the history as follows:
Meusebach, whose red hair and flowing beard would earn him the title Chief Red Sun, offered the Comanches $3,000 in return for the right to settle the area and live in peace. The two peoples would coexist as brothers, Meusebach assured them.
The treaty allowed Meusebach's settlers to go unharmed into Indian territory and the Indians to go to the white settlements, and promised mutual reports on wrongdoing. [...] To distinguish themselves from the Yankee settlers whom the Comanches hated and feared, the Germans were told to smoke pipes while in their fields. That way they were safe from attack.
To this day, the 1847 Meuseback-Comanche Treaty is believed to be the sole pact between whites and Native Americans that has never been broken.
Good stuff, right? To read the entire article by The Atlantic Times, click here. Fredericksburg itself was established in 1846. Below are a few memorable photos of the town's current-day main shopping street.

For more pictures of my day trip to Fredericksburg, visit my photo gallery.

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