Southwestern Historical Quarterly
THE FIRST GERMAN SETTLEMENT IN TEXAS
R. L. BIESELE
April 16th of this year marks the one hundredth anniversary
of the founding of Industry, the first German settlement in Texas.
That event was of some importance in the history of Texas be-
cause it brought another foreign element into the population.
The founding of Industry should be of general interest to all
Texans and of special interest to the descendants of those Ger-
man pioneers who, with many others, helped to open Texas to
settlement and civilization. This short sketch is written to relate
the history of Industry from its founding up to the Civil War.
Industry, a little town in what is now Austin County, is the
pioneer German settlement in Texas. It was founded by Fried-
rich Ernst on a league of land granted to him in Austin's Col-
ony. Friedrich Ernst, who was born at Varel in the German
duchy of Oldenburg, became dissatisfied with conditions in Ger-
many and emigrated to America in 1829 with his family, intend-
ing to settle in New York. For about a year he kept a boarding
house in New York City. John Jacob Astor tried to interest
him in buying a dairy farm on the East River, but Ernst rejected
the offer.' Like many other Germans in this country and in Ger-
many, Ernst read a book which painted Missouri in very glow-
ing terms.2 He decided to go to Missouri and interested Charles
Fordtran in making the journey with him.3 When they arrived
at New Orleans a fellow-passenger gave Ernst a pamphlet con-
taining a description of Texas, probably a prospectus of Austin's
Colony. Ernst changed his plans again and went to Texas. They
landed at Harrisburg on April 1, 1831, and went from there by
ox cart to San Felipe de Austin, fifty miles inland. On April
16, 1831, Ernst received a league of land on the west side of the
west fork of Mill Creek, a region then still inhabited by Indians.
These Indians, however, were quiet and friendly and did not
'Dunt, Detlef, Reise nach Texas, 52; Tiling, Moritz, History of the Ger-
man Element in Texas, 17-18.
'The author of the book was Gottfried Duden, who came to the United
States in 1824 and spent four years in Missouri.
8Tiling, German Element in Texas, 17-18. Fordtran, a tanner by trade,
was born in Minden, Westphalia, on May 7, 1801.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 34, July 1930 - April, 1931. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101091/. Accessed March 1, 2015.