The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 148
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148 Southwestern Historical Quarterly July
Although Hilmar Guenther faced challenges common to most newly arrived
Europeans, he was not a typical immigrant. Well educated and with solid techni-
cal expertise, he came from a prosperous family who provided him with substan-
tial amounts of money at crucial times. Also, while closely associated with the
extensive German community who settled in Central Texas, he showed an early
willingness to become Americanized and set about moving beyond immigrant
circles. Guenther learned English and made it clear to his Prussian relatives that
Texas was now his home.
Business appears as the predominant interest in Guenther's life. There are
only a few passing references to either German or American politics and clearly
the upheavals in his native land during 1848 had less to do with his leaving than
the prospect of making his fortune in the United States. Even the American Civil
War elicits only a few guarded comments. The letters are filled, however, with
talk of milling technicalities and finance. Hilmar Guenther comes across to the
reader as a conscientious entrepreneur with an eye for the main chance. He situ-
ates himself well and prospers as San Antonio grows.
Guenther and Son at 150 Years by Lewis F. Fisher tells the story of the company
Hilmar Guenther founded that now stands as the oldest family-owned business
in Texas. While the first chapters cover Guenther's life, the subsequent material
in this pictorial history details the rise of his enterprise and the city of San
Antonio. Texas had few expert millers during the early stages of western settle-
ment but the expansion of San Antonio, especially after the arrival of the rail-
way, and the presence of military installations in the area brought a great
demand for flour. Guenther and Son, through brands such as Pioneer, took
advantage of this situation and thrived with the addition of substantial govern-
ment contracts during both World Wars. Prudent business practices enabled the
company to maintain its success (even during the depression era) and post-war
shifts into the convenience food market ensured their survival in recent years.
Both these engaging and informative books provide case studies of Texas' rich
immigration and business history accessible to the academic and general reader
alike. Furthermore they offer a developing picture of San Antonio as Texas's
most unique and distinctive city.
University of Arkansas-Monticello S. M. DUFFY
The Civil War in West Texas and New Mexico: The Lost Letterbook of Brigadier General
Henry Hopkins Sibley. Edited by John P. Wilson and Jerry Thompson. (El
Paso: Texas Western Press, 2ool. Pp. 193. Introduction, index. ISBN o-
87404-283-6. $18.oo, paper.)
When the Texans Came: Missing Records from the Czvil War in the Southwest,
z86-z862. By John P. Wilson. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico
Press, 2001. Pp. xii+364. Illustrations, abbreviations, acknowledgements,
introduction, notes, references, index, ISBN 0-8263-2290-5. $39.95, cloth.)
Scholars of the Civil War tend to view the New Mexico campaign of 1861-62
as a sideshow overshadowed by the massive battles that occurred east of the
Mississippi River. Despite the relatively small numbers of men involved, however,
the Confederate failure in the New Mexico Territory had strategic and political
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/176/: accessed December 14, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.