The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

Book Reviews

circumstances. In allowing these early pioneers to tell their own story, Fairchild
places them at the center of the settlement drama, and portrays them as people
engaged in a desperate, lonely struggle who ultimately endured.
West Texas A&M University Byron E. Pearson
Maria von Bliicher's Corpus Chnstz: Letters from the South Texas Frontier, r849-z879.
Edited by Bruce S. Cheeseman. (College Station: Texas A&M University
Press, 2002. Pp. 320o. Foreword by Thomas H. Krenek. Illustrations, preface,
acknowledgments, notes, index. ISBN 1-58544-135-X. $29.96, cloth.)
In Maria von Bliicher's Corpus Christi, Bruce S. Cheeseman has edited the per-
sonal correspondence, spanning thirty years (1849-1879), of a nineteenth-cen-
tury German immigrant woman and South Texas settler, Maria Augusta Imme
von Bluiicher. He specifically selected to edit the letters that Maria von Bluiicher
wrote to her parents in Germany beginning when she and her husband Felix im-
migrated to Corpus Christi, Texas, and ending shortly before her mother died.
These letters reveal the social and community ties, financial stability, and living
conditions of Maria von Bliicher and her family while providing an illuminating
depiction of the society and ordinary life that once existed in Corpus Christi
during the nineteenth century. Chesseman examined over two hundred of
Maria von Blficher's letters, originally written in German, in the Charles F. H.
von Bliicher Family Papers stored in the Special Collections and Archives of the
Mary and Jeff Bell Library at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. He included
twenty-one printed copies of illustrations, drawings, and photographs from the
Blficher Family Papers in the book as well. The book's chapters are arranged in
chronological order according to particular time periods. Chapter one provides
a summary of Maria von Blficher's childhood and adolescence in her homeland
of Germany, and chapter two describes her voyage to Corpus Christi and initial
impressions of the town in 1849. Chapters three to five discuss Bliicher's life ex-
periences within the context of documenting Corpus Christi's formative years in
the 185os, and the impact of the American Civil War and Reconstruction period
on this town.
Maria von Bliicher's letters offer unique insights and perspectives into the ma-
jor historical events that occurred in Corpus Christi such as racial conflicts be-
tween Anglos and Tejanos, the occurrence of disease epidemics and harsh
weather conditions, the nature of lawlessness and banditry, the extent of the
fighting that took place near this town during the Civil War, and social relations
with various community members. Additionally, the letters highlight her immi-
grant experience, her family's daily activities and work habits as well as their ac-
complishments and hardships in Corpus Christi. Thus, Cheeseman's work
reveals how a "German Texan" family, the Bliichers, emerged as one of the first
families to settle and contribute to the early development of this town. The
book's main strength is the commentary in the preface, the epilogue, and at the
beginning of each chapter that examines the struggles and fond memories that

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed July 31, 2014.