Notes and Documents
W. Steinert's View of Texas in 1849
Translated and edited by GILBERT J. JORDAN*
The Trip from New Braunfels to San Antonio and Castroville and Back
to New Braunfels
San Antonio, July 29
Y OU SHOULD SEE ME TODAY. YOU WOULD HARDLY KNOW ME BECAUSE
I have changed into a different person. I am decked out in my gym-
nastic trousers, a shirt, a belt, a hat, and several pounds of dust and lime.
My place of abode is high upon a stone wall, my work is the building of a
chimney, and my misery is the great heat. My hair, beard, and shirt are
dripping with perspiration. In short, I am a stonemason in San Antonio!
A stonemason? Yes, no more and no less. The stately horseman is now a
journeyman mason. I wish the other schoolmasters could see how efficiently
I can wield the hatchet (not a hammer) and how I put the noble mortar
between the stones with my long trowel. They would see that I do not dis-
grace the German journeyman masons, for up to now I have held my
own fairly well with the Americans. I do not think that they would yearn
for my work, however. The skin in the palms of my hands is already gone,
and everywhere bare flesh shows through the holes, and at that I have
worked only two days.
After I mailed the last letter to you on the twenty-seventh, a stonemason
from San Antonio came to New Braunfels looking for masons. Without
thinking the matter over very long, I agreed because, as you know, in
years past I had watched masons at work often enough. We rode to San
Antonio on the same day; we arrived there yesterday morning at five
o'clock, and I have been at work since yesterday noon. I was all the more
anxious to take up this work because my money was all spent. I have my
room and board at the home of the master mason. We start work without
breakfast at sunrise. At seven o'clock we eat the usual sort of breakfast
and then we go back to work until twelve o'clock. We take off for noon
from twelve to two-thirty, and then we work until dark. A day laborer
*The fourth part of a five-part translation.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 80, July 1976 - April, 1977. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101204/. Accessed January 28, 2015.