The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 66
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
and subsequent events, this episode became one of the most disputed in
The most radical or militant Unionists resided in the Comfort and Sis-
terdale areas of Kendall County, around Fredericksburg in Gillespie
County, and in some sections of Kerr County. Another area of strong
Unionism lay in the southeast part of Gillespie County near the settle-
ments along South Grape and Bear Creeks. These German immigrants
left Europe when the 1848 liberal, political revolution collapsed. Most
were well educated, spoke several languages, and openly displayed their
individualistic philosophy. A current descendant of these original set-
tlers revealed that "The freethinker that chose Comfort had other more
pressing things to do than read the Bible on Sunday or in the evening by
flickering lights. ... Those that wished to remain with the church settled
in Fredericksburg, and those that wished to be free of any religion set-
tled in Comfort." Not all of these Unionist "freethinkers" were of Ger-
man lineage, however; the Howell, King, Lundy, and Snow families also
joined this individualistic group. Many of these Unionists later died dur-
ing the ruthless Bushwhacker War that erupted in the Hill Country.2
This self-reliant group of frontiersmen openly demonstrated their val-
ues and provided leadership and political direction for the local com-
munities, especially during each year's Saengerfest. In 1853 and 1854 the
leaders of these independent thinkers formed several social and politi-
cal associations. One was linked to the Bund Freier Maenner, a national
organization of immigrants formed in 1854. August Siemmering, a
prominent member of these associations, declared their purpose as be-
ing to "secure for the Germans the position in political affairs to which
their intelligence and power entitled them." Don H. Biggers, an early
twentieth-century author, wrote, "No higher class citizenship ever immi-
grated into any country." He described them as "distressfully poor in
money, but they were rich in brain and brawn, rich in energy and the
highest purposes and noblest impulses.... Like all highminded people
'Guido E. Ransleben, A Hundred Years of Comfort in Texas: A Centennial History (San Antonio:
Naylor Co., 1954; rev. ed. 1974), 1o4-1o5; William Paul Burrier, "The Civil War in the Texas
Hill Country: The Battle of the Nueces and the Bushwhacker War," unpublished manuscript
(P.O. Box 1o84, Leaky, Texas 78873), 51-52; Ralph A. Wooster, Texas and Texans in the Civil War
(Austin: Eakin Press, 1995), 114; Kenn Knopp, "Fredericksburg, Texas: Capital of the German
Hills," unpublished manuscript, Fredericksburg, Texas, Part I, Ch. 4, P. 4; Robert W. Shook,
"Battle of the Nueces, August lo, 1862," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 66 (July, 1962), 31;
Ernest Wallace, Texas in Turmoil: The Saga of Texas, 1849-1875 (Austin: Steck-Vaughn Co.,
2 Personal interviews between the author and residents of Gillespie, Comal, and Kendall
Counties, Texas, June-Aug. 1995; Anne and Mike Stewart, "Esther Boerner Wiedenfeld Story,"
Comfort Women in Comfort History (Comfort, Tex.: Anne and Mike Stewart, 1993), 146-147; Don
H. Biggers, German Poneers in Texas: A Brief History of Their Hardships, Struggles and Achievements
(Austin: Fredericksburg Publishing Co., 1983), 49-50.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/m1/94/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.