Fredericksburg, the county seat of Gillespie County, is steeped in history.
Deriving its name from Prince Frederick of Prussia, this Texas town was founded on May 8, 1846, by 120 German immigrants under the auspices of the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas or "Adelsverein."
The Vereins Kirche, the first public building in frontier Fredericksburg, was constructed in the summer of 1847 and served as a church of all faiths, a school and meeting hall. The original eight-sided building was located in the middle of San Saba Street, later re-named Main Street.
Lyman Wight founded a Mormon colony on the Pedernales River, four miles outside of Fredericksburg, which became known as Zodiac. The Mormons with their gristmill and sawmill were instrumental in helping the Germans settlers survive and begin the development of Fredericksburg. However after flooding of the Pedernales in 1850 destroyed their mills, the Mormons abandoned Zodiac.
Fort Martin Scott was established on the bank of Barons Creek southeast of Fredericksburg by the U.S. Army. The fort, only in use until 1853, consisted of a commissary, barracks, officers' quarters, laundry, bake house and guard house. The soldiers' needs for services and goods gave the fledgling community of Fredericksburg a much needed economic boost.
During these early years, over 5,000 colonists from Germany landed at the Texas port of Indianola, also called Carlshafen. The trip from the Gulf Coast to the sites of the German colonies of New Braunfels and Fredericksburg was made in two-wheeled ox carts and on foot. Transportation was scarce due to the war between Mexico and the United States, which involved almost all available teamsters. Sickness and lack of food took a great toll on human life. However armed with perseverance, hard work, belief in education and their faith, the German settlers went about creating a new life for their families on the Texas frontier, later to be known as the Texas Hill Country.
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The Commissioner General of the Society, also known as the "Adelsverein," was Baron Otfried Hans von Meusebach, a German nobleman who took the name of John O. Meusebach once settled in Fredericksburg.
1847: The historic treaty Meusebach made with the Comanche Indians on the San Saba River was hailed state-wide as the major effort in bringing about peaceful relations with the Indians on this part of the Texas frontier.
The original Vereins Kirche, built in 1847, was demolished in 1896 after the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of Fredericksburg. In 1934-35, a replica was constructed in the middle of Fredericksburg's town square, known as the Marktplatz, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.