The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994 Page: 154

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

established in this area of German studies by Rudolph L. Biesele, John A. Haw-
good, Mack Walker, La Verne J. Rippley, and others. In spite of a few minor and
disconcerting flaws common to dissertations that have been hastily prepared for
printing (e.g., an introduction obviously enlarged by the addition of pages 19a
and 19b being added, and frequent misspellings and unnecessary hyphenation
of English words), this book covers a lot of new ground and can be recommend-
ed to all students of German Americana.
Southwest Texas State University Louis E. BRISTER
Forward to the Past! By Pearl Elley Bethune. (Austin: Bethune Publications, 1990.
Pp. xxviiii+282. Acknowledgments, black-and-white photographs, illustra-
tions, map, bibliography, index. $6o.oo.)
Carl Blumberg sailed with high hopes from Bremen to Texas in i845. But he,
his family, and their 100oo fellow passengers were not prepared for the trials of
their Atlantic voyage. Shortly after the trip began, the travelers encountered
rough seas and were "violently struck by seasickness" (p. 13), which for some did
not subside until they landed in Texas, weeks later. The crowded quarters below
deck only aggravated their discomfort. Privacy was nonexistent; even bathing was
a "collective" activity (p. 55). Just as unappealing was the food, which was "nour-
ishing and healthy," but bland (p. 29).
Upon his arrival in Texas, Blumberg was discouraged by the living conditions.
He described houses in Galveston as "not built so solid and firm as in the Euro-
pean cities" (p. 95). At Port Caballo the passengers were "quartered in the hous-
es and in a warehouse," and did their cooking outside (p. 111). Traveling from
Indianpoint to New Braunfels and then to the future site of Fredericksburg, he
tried to make a home, but found the environment inhospitable. So he returned
to New Braunfels and eventually moved to Schumannsville. By November 1846,
he was disenchanted with the entire venture. In a letter he advised his son in
Prussia to "never leave" (p. 158).
In Forward to the Past! author and editor Pearl Elley Bethune, a writer of Tex-
ana, has put together a fascinating compilation of works, focusing on the life of
Carl Blumberg and on the German settlements in Texas. In his translated writ-
ings, Blumberg provided a vivid rendering of the trauma of a nineteenth-century
ocean voyage. In his journal and letters he gave a firsthand account of the Ger-
man immigrant experience in Texas. He detailed not only the beauty of the
country but also the hardships of building a home in a foreign place. And he re-
vealed that after several years, in spite of adversity, he had grown fond of this
new land, concluding that immigrating to Texas was not a mistake; "after a few
toilsome and trying years," he wrote to a friend, "your family will blossom there
and prosperity unfold about you" (p. 181). Along with the Blumberg collection
Bethune has included vignettes on Blumberg descendants and on various Ger-
man towns such as Schumannsville. With such descriptive materials Bethune has
enhanced the history of the German heritage in Texas.


Tarleton State University


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994, periodical, 1994; Austin, Texas. ( accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.