Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000 Page: 55
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
In the preceding years, the introduction of organized religious activity into the
white community in Columbus had begun to lose its momentum. In 1871, one of the driving
forces behind the growth of the American Lutheran Church in town, John Jacob Scherer,
moved back to Virginia. After his departure, the Lutherans, who had always been strongly
interested in education, lost control of Colorado College. Scherer's congregation had pur-
chased a lot across the street from the college building on September 17, 1866. They sold the
lot, on which they perhaps already had constructed a church, to the Columbus German
Lutheran Church on March 19, 1872. The new owners certainly had a church on the site;
however, they did not hold onto it for long. On September 16, 1872, they borrowed $370 from
George Billert. Though the note came due a year later, the church failed to pay. Billert
apparently did not press for payment, and was soon occupied with other matters. Both he
and his thirteen-year-old daughter, Caroline, contracted yellow fever. She died on November
20, 1873, and he ten days later. His widow, Mollie, remarried the following year, and she and
her new husband, C. O. Nelson, approached the church for the money. The church paid the
Nelsons $44.40 toward settlement of the debt on May 6, 1874. The Nelsons waited patiently
for the rest of the money, then, on January 12, 1876, sued. On February 11, 1876, the district
court ordered that the church be sold at auction to satisfy the debt. That May 2, the Nelsons
bought the church. Two weeks later, they sold it to the Methodist Episcopal Church South
German Mission. By that time, presumably, the German Lutherans had been evicted. 71
German Lutherans, however, still had a flourishing church at Frelsburg; so too
did German Catholics, at both Frelsburg and New Mainz. In fact, in 1874, the congregation
of St. Roch's Catholic Church at New Mainz constructed two new buildings, a convent and
a new church. The church was consecrated for services on May 1, 1874. However, the
Catholics failed to organize a congregation at Columbus, though the priest at New Mainz,
Constantin Hergenroether, tried, conducting services at the courthouse on November 2, 3,
and 4, 1871. The Columbus Episcopalians fared somewhat better. On October 3, 1870,
William G. Hunt, on behalf of the congregation of which he was a member, purchased a lot
71 Colorado Citizen, May 11, 1871; Colorado County Deed Records, Book M, p. 148, Book
P, p. 473, Book S, pp. 521, 538; Colorado County District Court Records, Civil Cause File No. 3340:
Mollie Billert Nelson and C. O. Nelson v. Simon Thulemeyer and Henry Boedeker as Trustees of the
German Lutheran Church, Minute Book F, p. 608; Colorado County Marriage Records, Book E, p.
370; Galveston Tri- Weekly News, December 3, 1873. Billert might be considered a peculiar choice to
loan money to a church, for he ran a brewery. Billert's Brewery was located on the river in Columbus,
south of Spring Street and north of Washington (block 89). He purchased the property on March 23,
1868. When he died, the inventory of his estate listed 120 empty kegs, three or four kettles, four beer
trucks, various measures and funnels, and one malt mill. It is interesting to consider how the history
and reputation of Columbus might have been changed had not this business been ended by Billert's
early death (see Colorado County Probate Records, Final Record Book H, p. 582; Colorado County
Deed Records, Book M, p. 704).
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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/m1/55/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.