The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999 Page: 424
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
In undertaking the quest of the historical Ehrenberg, I had the great
good fortune to find a partner and guide in Dr. Louis E. Brister, profes-
sor of German at Southwest Texas State University. For the past six
years, with the generous assistance of the Summerlee Foundation, the
two of us have worked toward the common goal of producing for the
first time a reliable annotated translation of Ehrenberg's memoir and a
fully documented account of his extraordinary life.
As we have stalked Herman Ehrenberg and his story, some remark-
able ironies have come to light. There is, for instance, the fact that the
people most responsible for adding Ehrenberg's memoir to the literary
canon of Texas history ended up fleeing from him rather than pursuing
him; their connection to the Ehrenberg saga has been almost totally for-
gotten. It is also sadly ironic that Dr. Benjamin Sacks, the historian who
most assiduously pursued Ehrenberg this century, died before he could
publish the fruits of his research.4 Most remarkable is that throughout
the entire period from Ehrenberg's death in 1866 to the present-from
his New York Times obituary in 1867 through the new edition of his
memoir that appeared in 1997-the majority of what has been pub-
lished about him has consisted of misinformation: unreliable, unverifi-
able, and often in blatant contradiction to the actual documentary
record. Herman Ehrenberg has been a very elusive prey.5
Even some of his pursuers have seemed to be shrouded in mystery.
Close readers of my 1993 article, "Sam Houston's Speechwriters," may
have noticed that when I published that little expose, I had no clue
beyond her name itself as to the identity of the translator of the sani-
tized edition of Ehrenberg's memoir.6 Today, we know a bit more about
hereafter as SHQ); and James E. Crisp, "Texas History, Texas Mystery," Sallyport. The Magazine of
Rice University, 51 (Feb./Mar., 1995), 13-21.
The "censored" version of the memoir is Herman Ehrenberg, With Milam and Fannin:
Adventures of a German Boy in Texas' Revolution, ed. Henry [Nash] Smith, trans. Charlotte
Churchill (Dallas: Tardy Publishing Co., Inc., 1935).
3 See Louis E. Brister (ed. and trans.), In Mexican Prisons. The Journal of Eduard Harkort,
1832-1834 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986); and Louis E. Brister (ed. and
trans.), "The Journal of Col. Eduard Harkort, Captain of Engineers, Texas Army, February
8-July 17, 1836," SHQ, lo1 (Jan., 1999), 345-379.
4 The scope of the research about Herman Ehrenberg by the late Dr. Benjamin Sacks, a physi-
cian and founding director of the Arizona Historical Foundation, can be fully appreciated only
by a visit to the Sacks Collection (including the Sacks Manuscript Collection) at the Arizona
Historical Foundation (cited hereafter as AHF), Arizona State University, Tempe.
Dr. Sacks' chief published work is Be It Enacted: The Creation of the Terrtory of Arizona (Phoenix:
Arizona Historical Foundation, 1964). He died in 1971, before he could complete his projected
biography of Herman Ehrenberg. The Arizona Republic (Phoenix), May 11, 1971, carried a
lengthy obituary. See also Tony Fortuno, "Riddle Involving Emigrant (sic) Solved," Arizona Daily
Star (Tucson), May 15, 1963; and "Ehrenberg book chapters outlined by Dr. B. Sacks, May 16,
1964," in Herman Ehrenberg Biographical File (BIO-E-7), AHF.
5 The New York Times obituary of January to, 1867, is discussed in detail below. For my cri-
tique of Natalie Ornish, Ehrenberg: Golzad Survivor-Old West Explorer (Dallas: Texas Heritage
Press, 1997), see SHQ 101 (Apr., 1998), 543-544-
6 See Crisp, "Sam Houston's Speechwriters," 213-230.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999, periodical, 1999; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/m1/495/: accessed November 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.