The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 34, July 1930 - April, 1931 Page: 335
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First German Settlement in Texas
molest the new settlers. Ernst gave Fordtran one-fourth of his
league for surveying it for him.4
Shortly after his arrival in Texas, Ernst wrote a long letter
about his new home to a friend by the name of Schwarz in Old-
enburg. The letter was published in an Oldenburg newspaper
and was widely read. It was reprinted also in Detlef Dunt's
Reise nach Texas, a book which was published in 1834 and was
among the earliest to appear in Germany about Texas.5 In his
letter Ernst pictured Texas in very glowing terms. He wrote
that every married settler got a league of land, the only expense
being one hundred and sixty dollars for surveying and recording.
He described the land as slightly rolling and the climate similar
to that of southern Italy. Plots of wooded land alternated with
large grassy prairies. From his own land Ernst said he could
have gathered several thousand cart-loads of hay. He pictured
the prairies in their festive beauty of wild flowers. Up to the
time of writing there had been ice only twice that winter. Ernst
wrote that it was very easy to raise all the live stock necessary
and that a cow and calf could be sold for ten dollars. Some
planters, he said, had seven hundred head of cattle. Pork cost
four cents a pound, corn seventy-five cents a bushel. The land
produced from thirty to forty bushels of corn per acre. Ernst
wrote that every farmer could become well-to-do in a very few
years. Dunt comments on Ernst's letter as follows: "In Old-
enburg, a country in which the people were generally poor, this
letter could not fail to create a big sensation, especially since the
emigration fever had recently seized hold of the people. The
letter was copied many times."6
One of the immediate effects of Ernst's letter was that some
German families were induced to emigrate to Texas and to settle
near Industry. Just how many it is impossible to say. Mrs.
Ernst wrote some time after her husband's death that in 1833
the families of Winm. Bartels, Zimmerschreib (Zimmerscheidt),
and J. Juergens and in 1834 the families of Marcus Amsler,
'Austin, Stephen F., List of Titles, 25; Tiling, German Element in
Texas, 17-19; Trenckmann, W. A., Austin County, 22.
5Dunt, Reise naeh Texas, 4-16; Tiling, German Element in Texas, 197-
200. See also Benjamin, G. G., The Germans in Temas, 17-19, where a
translation of a letter signed by Fritz Dirks is found. In commenting
about the Dirks letter Benjamin says that he is convinced that the name
Dirks is a misprint and should read Ernst.
"Dunt, Reise nach Texas, 16.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 34, July 1930 - April, 1931, periodical, 1931; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101091/m1/357/: accessed December 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.