THE SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. LXIII JANUARY, 1960 No. g
E ma Atgelt 's Sk etches of
ie & rKcas
HENRY B. DIELMANN
E MMA MURCK ALTGELT came to Texas in 1854 at the age of
twenty years. She was not only an unusually gifted person,
with a splendid background, a polished education, adven-
turesome, courageous by nature, imbued with a pioneering spirit,
but a keen observer and, above all, a talented writer and poet.
All of her writings are couched in the classical German of her
day, and her descriptions of life and events in the early pioneer
days of Texas are remarkable for their historical detail.'
At the close of the Civil War, Emma Altgelt moved to San
Antonio, where her husband, Ernst Hermann Altgelt, became a
successful lawyer and real estate developer. The Altgelts at one
time owned the old Governor's Palace on Military Plaza and de-
veloped the King William area, which became the first prominent
residential section of San Antonio. Theirs was the first home built
on King William Street. The structure still stands as a monument
to their pioneering spirit, and it is presently the home of Mr. and
Mrs. George P. Isbell.2 The Altgelts later acquired a ranch north
of San Antonio which they called "Wassenberg" after the birth-
place of Mrs. Altgelt's grandfather. There Ernst Altgelt died in
1Mrs. Altgelt wrote several reminiscences of early Texas, seventeen of which were
collected and published by the New Braunfels Zeitung in 193o under the title
Beobachtungen und Erinnerungen. These seventeen writings cover about eighty
pages of German print. The longest of them, written in 1887, is entitled "Schilder-
ungen aus dem texanischen Leben" and is presented herewith in translation as
"Emma Altgelt's Sketches of Life in Texas."
2Mr. George P. Isbell, a vice-president of the Association, is well known for his
interest in and support of Texas history. Through his generous co-operation, the
accompanying photographs of the old Altgelt House were secured.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/. Accessed January 31, 2015.