Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000 Page: 35
Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
Whatever the true population of the county in 1870, it is certain that during the
following decade the population rose markedly. The rise was partly attributable to an orga-
nized effort made to encourage people to settle in the area. As early as 1871, an Immigrant
Aid Association, to help immigrants meet their immediate needs for food and shelter, had
been formed in Columbus. In January 1871, when some 750 immigrants passed through
town, the association greeted them warmly. They were provided with a great many more
immigrants to greet that year by virtue of the efforts of one man, Mathias Malsch, who
sponsored the immigration of about 850 central Europeans, most of whom were Czech, to
Texas in 1871. Malsch reported that his first shipload left Bremen on March 13, 1871 and
arrived in Galveston on May 21, and that his last arrived on December 20. The great major-
ity of his immigrants were Catholic, though some were Lutheran. Five of the immigrants
died at sea, and a sixth at Galveston. According to Malsch, 266 of them settled in Colorado
County, with the rest settling in Austin, Fayette, and Bastrop Counties. In addition to paying
for passage, because few of the immigrants had the means to immediately sustain them-
selves, Malsch also provided food, livestock, and farm implements. Apparently, the immi-
grants were to repay him from the profits of their labor. 47
McLeary, then living in San Antonio, had been born and raised in the county. In the legislature, Ibzan
W. Middlebrook was joined by Michael Quin, who lived in Colorado County before the Civil War and,
in the Confederate army, commanded a company of men he helped raise in the county, but had since
moved to Galveston.
47 Houston Daily Union, February 1, 1871; Colorado Citizen, February 2, 1871, October 5,
1871, October 19, 1871, November 16, 1871, January 18, 1872. Malsch wrote two reports of his activity
for the Colorado Citizen. His reports give the names of two ships that carried his immigrants, the
Erna and the Bremen. He gives the dates of three departures: March 13, October 1, and October 17;
and the dates of two arrivals: May 21 and December 20. He stated that he had sponsored a total of 848
immigrants in 1871, and that 338 passengers were on the two boats that left in October. It is evident
that these were the last of his immigrants to depart. The quarterly reports from the Port of Galveston
from the first half of 1871 have survived, but the dates they provide do not match Malsch's. They list
four arrivals: the Meteor on January 30 with 185 passengers, the Bremen on May 10 with 126 passen-
gers, the Weser on June 15 with 135 passengers, one of whom died, and the Galveston on June 19 with
six passengers. Though the arrival dates do not match, we must presume that the last three of these
ships were completely or largely filled with passengers sponsored by Malsch. Adding these 267
passengers to the 338 who apparently arrived in December leaves 243 of the 848 unaccounted for.
These must have been the "some two hundred and fifty German and Bohemian immigrants" which the
Colorado Citizen reported arrived in Columbus on October 13. Leo Baca, in his study of Czech
immigration to Texas, using a German immigration newspaper, the Deutsche Auswanderer Zeitung,
identified four other immigrant arrivals at Galveston in 1871: the Texas, which embarked on August 29
with 94 passengers and arrived on October 23, the Iris, which embarked on September 4 with 120
passengers and arrived on November 7, the Bremen, which embarked on September 17 with 101
passengers and arrived on November 17, and the Erna, which embarked on October 18 with 291
passengers and arrived on December 23 (see Baca, Czech Immigration Passenger Lists (Hallettsville:
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000, periodical, January 2000; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151408/m1/35/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.