Notes and Documents
A Letter from Friedrich Schenck in Texas
to His Mother in Germany, z 847
TRANSLATED BY H. T. EDWARD HERTZBERG*
INTRODUCTION BY GLEN E. LICH
THE BETTINA COLONY
THE SETTLEMENT AT BETTINA BY A FRATERNITY CALLED THE FORTY
is one of the least-known episodes of the German colonization in
Texas, despite the prominence several members of the student group
later attained in San Antonio, Austin, and Washington, D.C. Named Die
Vierziger-either for the size of their membership or for the 184s-
the fraternity had chapters in Darmstadt, Giessen, and Heidelberg
when Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels told them in 1846 "that there was
no demand in the old country for all the professional men whom the
universities were turning out, and that they must find a new and devel-
oping country where their services would be in demand."' To young
and relatively well-heeled students, the picture painted by the prince,
just returned as the first commissioner-general of the Adelsverein in
*H T. Edward Hertzberg, grandson of Friedrich Schenck, was the senior physical anthro-
pologist for the U.S. Air Force from 1946 to 1972. He has conducted research in engineering
anthropology and has published extensively.
Glen E. Lich 1s the director of the Program for Regional Studies at Baylor University.
I Louis Reminhardt, "The Communistic Colony of Bettina," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical
Association, III (July, 1899), 33, 34 (2nd quotation). The Adelsverein Archives at the Bemnecke
Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, indicate that the connection between the
Adelsveremin and the Forty is somewhat earlier than Reinhardt recalled or even knew.
This account of Bettmna and its members is adapted, min part, from Glen E. Lich, "Goethe on
the Guadalupe," in Glen E. Lich and Dona B. Reeves (eds.), German Culture mn Texas: A Free
Earth; Essays from the 1978 Southwest Symposium (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 198o), 51-56. See
also Rudolph Leopold Blesele, The History of the German Settlements nm Texas, 1831 i-186 (Austin:
Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1930o), 154-157. Biesele reproduces two membership lists of the fra-
ternity. Several minor members of the Forty-the Zoellers, Christoph Flach (son-in-law of phi-
losopher Ernst Kapp), and Johannes Hoerner-figure in Guido E. Ransleben, A Hundred Years
of Comfort mn Texas. A Centennial Hitory (San Antonio: Naylor Co, 1954).
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/. Accessed October 14, 2015.