Notes and Documents
"They Contributed Very Much to the Success of Our
Colony ": A New Source on Early Relations between
Germans and Indians at Fredericksburg, Texas
T HE SETTLEMENT OF FREDERICKSBURG AND THE SUCCESS OF JOHN O.
Meusebach in negotiating a treaty with the Comanches in March
1847 were significant events in opening up parts of western Texas to
European colonization. Because German adventurer Ferdinand Roemer
left such a detailed firsthand account of Meusebach's activities, later his-
torians have viewed Meusebach's efforts as the defining event in estab-
lishing peaceful relations between the German settlers of the Hill
Country and the Comanche nation. The San Saba council, in which
Meusebach was said to have earned the honorary name "El Sol
Colorado" from the Comanches, passed from history into myth as later
generations encountered and retold the tales of Meusebach's feat.
Though Meusebach certainly deserves credit for his efforts, a newly dis-
covered letter written by one of the original settlers of Fredericksburg
sheds considerable light on the early history of the settlement and situ-
ates Meusebach's council within an existing context of amicable rela-
tions between the German settlers and Native American peoples of the
region. Moreover, the document also demonstrates that among some
Texas Germans approaches to the "Indian question" differed substan-
tially from those advocated by prominent Texans.
* Brian J. Boeck is a Ph.D. candidate in the history department at Harvard University. He
would like to thank the readers of the H-NET German-American and German-Canadian Studies
list (http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/-gagcs) for their advice on the translation of selected passages.
He would also like to express his gratitude to the staff and directors of the Sophienburg Archive
in New Braunfels, Texas, for providing access to their unparalleled collection of German Texana
on various occasions since 1989.
VOL. CV, NO. 1 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY JULY, 2001
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/. Accessed January 30, 2015.