The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999 Page: 445
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
New Perspectives on Texas Germans and the Confederacy
against secession (Table 2). Some largely Anglo counties in this region
also turned in majorities against secession, but wherever precinct-level
returns are available, they show the German communities of a county to
be most hostile. In Kerr County, the German community around Comfort
(soon to become Kendall County) voted nearly two-thirds against seces-
sion, actually a surprisingly small margin considering its subsequent resis-
tance to the Confederate cause. But the Anglo half of this frontier county
went ten to one for secession.6 Bexar County, with the largest number of
Germans in the state, witnessed a narrow secessionist victory, but the city
of San Antonio turned in a razor-thin margin for the Union. There, too,
Germans proved to be the most consistent unionists (though they obvi-
ously had some Hispanic and even Anglo help), and even after the elec-
tion, German city councilmen resisted for several months demands to
turn over seized federal arms to the secessionist state.7
Even older Texas German settlements farther east show little evidence
of enthusiasm for secession. The 64 percent support level in Colorado
County, for example, masks an internal polarization. Three German
precincts (named after immigrant founder Wilhelm Frels and home
towns of Weimar and Mainz) voted 86 percent against secession, while
five Anglo precincts cast all but six votes in favor; only the county seat
with its mixed population fell near the average. Despite religious differ-
ences, Wendish Lutherans and German Methodists in Bastrop County
were nearly unanimous in their opposition to secession. Though there
were also some Anglo unionists, it was the Germans who tipped the
scales to give the county a majority against secession. Similarly in Fayette
County (where precinct returns are unavailable), some Anglos must
have contributed to the 52 percent majority against secession. But a
local paper with the telling name State Rights Democrat blamed the "sauer-
kraut dirt-eaters" (a word-play on the term "fire-eaters"). It pilloried Texas
revolutionary veteran "Benedict Arnold [F. W.] Grassmeyer" for deceiv-
ing "the honest Germans of Fayette County" in the election, and for his
abolitionist sympathies and friendliness toward free blacks.8
Only in Austin County did close to a majority of the Germans vote for
Southern independence, still a rather lukewarm result compared to the
6 Buenger, Secession and the Union, 67, 151, 174-75. The statement in Biesele, German
Settlements in Texas, 20o6, that Comfort had voted 42-15 and neighboring Boerne 85-6 against
secession, appears erroneous and exceeds the total number of votes cast in the county. See Bob
Bennett, Kerr County, Texas, 1856-1956 (San Antonio: Naylor, 1956), 136. Blesele may be refer-
ring to a preliminary vote held on December 22, 186o.
7 Lawrence P. Knight, "Becoming a City and Becoming American: San Antonio, Texas,
1848-1861," (Ph.D. diss., Texas A&M University, 1997), 189-2oo, 267-81. The rural areas of
the county had a slightly lower foreign-born percentage than the city, and probably more Anglos
and fewer Hispanics as well.
8 La Grange State Rights Democrat, 7, Mar. 21, 1861. According to a report of Nov. 13, 1863, in
the Neu Braunfelser Zestung, Grassmeyer was arrested as a traitor and taken to Houston, along with
four Fayette County Anglos.
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999, periodical, 1999; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/m1/516/: accessed December 14, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.