- This story focuses on questions arising from the earliest known
correspondence between Germany and McDade.
Most letters from Germany were written by a Bavarian
Innkeeper and his wife to their children in Texas.
The Innkeeper, Johann DEINHARD and his wife, Margaretha,
lost 4 children to the promise of the New World, 2 sons and 2
daughters immediately married and settled near McDade; the sons
roamed a few years with Georg Michael dying of a fever in Austin
County still unmarried and Johann Evangelist eventually starting
his family in the city of Austin.
anyone wanting to read the letters in consecutive order
prior to this discussion, start with the lowest letter
numbers are composed of year_mo based on their dates and
are: 1847/07, 1848/04,
the daughters settling in McDade, Barbara was the wife of Peter
KELLERMEIER and Maria Anna was the wife of Georg Anton PFEIFFER.
Both raised large families.
letters have something to say of people left behind in Germany and
historical events of those times and also mention the names of
others who came to Texas from
their locale. While
they are able to answer some questions, they raise many others,
including the big one: what was said in the letters leaving
Bastrop County for Bavaria?
following list includes the names of persons either mentioned in
the letters or known to have been associated with the PFEIFFER and
in Bastrop or Travis Counties:
GALLIT; GEOLATESON; Schröder/Schroeder/Schrader; Takler;
Görlitz/Goerlitz; Kastner; Jacobs, Father John Adams;
Tarrillion, Father Peter; Furth, Leonard, Mary, Frank;
Jenner, Helen; Gury, Father Victor ; Prettner/Predner/Pretner/
Prethner/ Bretner, Martin, Marianna, Magelen; HARRING/HERRING,
Johann, Michael, Leonard, Joseph, Ludwig, Mary; Eiffenger;
Wagner; Schmid/Schmidt/Schmitt ; Beck; Meuth; HOPPE
indicated above, names may be written in a variety of ways.
Although Civil and Church records may show this variety, I
have chosen to substitute correctly spelled German or English
spellings when not in doubt.
For anyone doing further research on the principal families
mentioned herein, these alternate spellings are included:
PFEIFFER Holden is remembered with gratitude for both her 1914
family story and for having the foresight to place in the
University of Texas Library the papers held by her grandfather at
the time of his death.
anyone wanting to read the letters in consecutive order prior to
this discussion, start with the lowest letter number.
These numbers are composed of year_mo based on their dates.
STORY OF THE PFEIFFER
] denotes something added to the original for clarity.
Grandpa PFEIFFER (Antone [Georg Anton PFEIFFER]) became of age,
about the year 1838, he sold the estate which was left him and put
the money in a bank - his only sister having died very young, also
both his parents.
left an orphan he had no permanent home, so naturally traveled a
great deal. He was a
butcher by trade and has lived in Ireland, traveled over England
and lived in London. But
that was over sixty-five years ago.
In 1847, when Grandpa was about 28 years old,he and a
friend named Hoppy [HOPPE] came to America and rented a farm
between Elgin and Austin on Brushy Creek.
Mr. [HOPPE] stayed in America
Grandpa returned to Germany and near his old home in northern
Germany met Fraulein Mary DEINHART [Maria Anna DEINHARD].
They were married in 1849 and on a vessel loaded with
merchandise they once more sailed for Texas.
They were shipwrecked and when they landed at Galveston
Island they had nothing except the clothes they wore.
Grandpa had in his cargo rich silks and laces, and guns and
ammunition - mostly, things that would sell for a good price here
in this new state. (when Grandpa heard of his partner [HOPPE?] He
had been killed during the Confederate War in about the year 1862
or 3.) So they had
nothing with which to work but started for Bastrop just sixty-five
years ago. One of
Grandmas sisters came with her from Germany and two brothers.
One brother died in Galveston about 1890.
And the other died in Houston about 1900.
Mrs. KELLAMIRE [wife of Peter KELLERMEIER, Barbara
DEINHARD]is buried at catholic cemetery - her sister.
Grandma and Grandpa were reared about 50 or 60 miles from
each other. She was
disinherited when she left Germany. When her mother died she willed her $1,000 but was taken by
basic story has been supplemented in later years by the
remembrances of Ruby's older sisters, Altah Belle PFEIFFER Burns
about 1950 and younger sister Elberta Mae PFEIFFER Harvey in 1991.
These sources bring more surnames into the story: HERRING [HARRING],
Fair [FEHR], GALLIT and GEOLATESON.
THE RUBBER HITS THE ROAD - Getting to Galveston, as hard as it
might have been, was, no doubt, the easy part of starting one's
family in Texas. These
early emigrants were not met by friends or relatives as they
walked the gang-plank, then taken to an established home for a
good meal and rest before facing their future.
Each came with a small amount of currency and a few
possessions, thought essential for getting started.
leaving the ship, they were immediately on their own for food,
shelter and transportation to their land destination.
It is true that some contracted for services to their final
destination and initial settlement, but not, I think, those coming
to McDade. However,
after the first arrivals, they could probably count on a warm
welcome by their countrymen already settled there.
- While family stories speak of wealth generally, in terms of our
currency or articles of value, the letters and documents from
Germany talk specifically of Florins, Guilders, etc., but
sometimes using abbreviations or words which have not yet been
translated. Thus, the
meaning of those descriptions remains shrouded in mystery; however
more to the point, how much capital did Anton and Maria bring to
America and what would it buy?
immigration records indicate that Anton and Maria left for
America with 2000 Florins.
Was the German currency carried with them or available to
them via banking transactions between banks in Germany and
Bastrop, TX? In this
time of gold currency in the United States, were Florins also
acceptable for business transactions in Texas?
How was the money from Germany used; What did they buy with
it? How much did the
trip to America cost?
1861_05 from Erhard DEINHARD to his brother Johann in Texas
talks of great financial success at home, obviously intended to
make Johann envious.
ANTONIO TO HOUSTON BY WATER - Letter 1861_04
written by Johann DEINHARD of Houston to his brother-in-law, Anton
PFEIFFER living on Sandy Creek near current-day McDade, mentions
riding a horse to San Antonio, looking for work; then, finding
none, selling the horse and returning to Houston by water.
What was this trip like?
Is there a history of commercial water travel, however
short, between San Antonio and the Gulf of Mexico?
DISAPPEARS AFTER 1870 - A frequent visitor to McDade between 1852
and 1866 was Johann DEINHARD.
As he moved between Houston and San Antonio looking for
work (and perhaps a wife as well), he stopped in to visit his two
sisters Barbara (KELLERMEIER) and Maria (PFEIFFER). His sisters were older and already involved with growing
families, but Johann seemed to find it difficult to settle down.
other male members of his extended family, including an older
brother Michael, had gotten a release from military service before
coming to America, Johann had not.
This led to legal problems which were troubling to his
aging, widowed mother in Germany whose other children had all
either died or gone to America by 1863.
Many of the saved letters from this period deal with the
problems of selling the family property, an "Inn".
Johann retained an interest in the property but the government
still had a claim against Johann.
finally married a Swiss emigrant in 1866 and settled down to raise
a family in Austin. Johann Evangelist DEINHARD and Elizabeth Louiza Madter had 3
children, all christened at St. Mary's in Austin. They were Maria Margaretha in 1868, Franklin Leonard in 1869
and Ellen Norah in 1871.
member of this family is found in US Census reports after 1880.
In the 1880 Census the older daughter, Maria Margaretha was
listed as "Molly" and lived with the PFEIFFER family on
Sandy Creek near McDade. The
younger daughter was listed as "Lenorah" and was living
with the KELLERMEIER family, also near McDade.
this family torn apart by the death of the mother, Louiza?
If so, what happened to the son?
Did he die or was he adopted by another family in Austin?
The somewhat reliable story of 1914 says the father, Johann,
lived on in Houston until 1900, but says nothing of his wife and
three known children. Further,
all seem to have been missed by census reports after 1880.
summary, by 1870, Johann was settled in Austin with a family; by
1872, his legal problem in Germany was solved; by 1874, his mother
was dead; by 1880, of this family of five, only two daughters can
found. Then, nothing!
1869_03, 1869_06, 1869_12,
and 1870_06 are impelled by the
legal situation introduced above, but do provide additional
historical information. For
a detail description of the route taken by the "new"
railroad between Regensburg and Nurnberg, see letter 1869_06
written when this little old lady was over 70.
For mention of going from Austin to San Antonio for medical
attention, see letter 1869_12.
- Letters from early times, as well as family stories, show both
the importance of religion in the lives of early German Catholic
emigrants and the difficulty in continuing practices brought from
since history deals primarily with the lives of the wealthy or
powerful, one is unable to learn much of the common people, even
from reading history. From
church birth, marriage and death records, one gets a sense of the
importance of religion in the lives of early emigrants.
As an example, it is from a family story that I learned to
picture Maria Anna DEINHARD PFEIFFER's final days on earth, blind
and continuously fingering her rosary.
From letter 1870_06, to a son in
Texas, I learned of Margaretha DEINHARD’s horror on suspecting
that her son-in-law, Anton PFEIFFER, had lost his faith.
may not have been the first time that Anton PFEIFFER caused his
in-laws to be concerned for their daughter's welfare.
Although Anton is warmly greeted as son-in-law in letter
1847_07, this young couple’s first letter from Germany and
written approximately 9 months after they left Germany, there is
no record of their marriage in the DEINHARD's church in Laaber.
Further, each registered for permission to immigrate at
different locations, on different dates and each claimed to be
unmarried. Anton was
the son of an unwed mother and carries his mother's surname.
is little doubt that the PFEIFFERs and DEINHARDs were acquainted
with one another as families.
Although they lived in separate counties, the counties were
adjacent to one another and Anton had gone to school in
Dortkirchen, about six miles from Maria's home in Laaber.
Additionally, Anton's grandfather was an Innkeeper, as was
Peter KELLERMEIER and Barbara DEINHARD whose marriage was recorded
by a Catholic priest at the Courthouse in Bastrop, the marriage of
Anton and Maria seems never to have been recorded by either church
or state. The
KELLERMEIER marriage is dated January 17, 1849, just over a month
after her arrival at Galveston.
"PFEIFFER" was listed as a witness to the
IS THERE NO RECORD OF PFEIFFER BURIALS AT Three Oaks? - RUBY'S
STORY, as well as those of several other members of the family,
say both Anton PFEIFFER and his wife were buried in the "old
Catholic cemetery," now known as Three Oaks. Why, then, is there no record of these burials?
Does it have anything to do with his "loss of
show that Anton contributed
to the Catholic Church of Bastrop County; and he and Maria had 6
sons and 2 daughters baptized into the Catholic faith.
Further, obituaries, when available,
indicate that they were respected members of their
communities; however, the Church seems not to have been involved
in their burials. One
son and one daughter died before the age of 10.
Their most notorious son, Henry, was hanged with the
McLemore boys, Christmas 1883.
Another son, William, was reported by some to have
"hacked a boy to death with an axe, across the yard
that, Will, as he was called, appears to have slipped quietly out
of the picture. Who
did he kill and where did he go?
for Henry, the PFEIFFER family seems to have departed McDade
leaving no trace. In
addition to the grandparents having no designated grave site,
there are no reported family memories of Will nor of the burial of
the children who died young.
OF THE DEINHARD SISTERS TO THEIR MOTHER IN GERMANY - The letter of
1872_03 indicates either extremely poor
mail service between Germany and Texas or neglectful children.
Based on a difficult passage (RUBY’S STORY said 6 months)
from Bremen to Galveston 1846-1847, and the fact that the first
letter to Germany written by Anton and Maria had been received and
was replied to on 7 Jul 1847, service seems to have been pretty
although obviously not a good communicator, is apparently a better
source of information than either Maria or Barbara.
Was this simple neglect or something worse?
It would be wonderful to find other letters, particularly
those to support a hope of warm relations between these families,
all experiencing hardships.
PFEIFFER AND FAMILY IN BAVARIA –Although there is no known close
relative of Anton in America, it must be remembered that he had no
living sibling. Letter
1868_07 is a reply to a cousin’s letter asking about family,
especially in Lengenfeld. The
letter also provides some interesting insight into his attitude to
his brother-in-law, Erhard, who has died since his letter
1861_05. Was a
letter such as this sent or was Anton just getting something off
FIRST TRIP TO TEXAS- RUBY'S STORY says that Anton PFEIFFER made
two trips to Texas, one in 1847 when he and
"HOPPE" rented a place on Brushy Creek and
another in 1849 when he returned with Maria DEINHARD and settled
on Sandy Creek near McDade. While
these times are wrong, it is possible that he made a trip to Texas
before the 1847 trip when he settled with his wife in Bastrop
show that he finished the equivalent of Grammar School December
13, 1830 and became a Journeyman Butcher on April 7, 1838.
Thus, he may have traveled during the period either before
or after his apprenticeship as a butcher.
The most likely first trip to Texas was in 1841.
of the 1841 date is based on the fact that Anton got, during the
1840 and 1841 period, both a passport and a release from military service.
Another piece of supporting evidence is a story that Peter
KELLERMEIER came to America in 1841 to escape military service.
There is no evidence that Anton PFEIFFER and Peter
KELLERMEIER were acquainted with one another in Bavaria or that
they traveled together to America in 1841; however, one might
suspect Anton PFEIFFER and Peter KELLERMEIER knew one another and
left for America together. Letter
1853_02 mentions, as news, that Michael KELLERMEIER has been
kicked by a mule. Also,
the KELLERMEIER name is common in church and cemetery records in
DID ALL THE HARRINGS GO - Immigration records from Velburg and
Neumarkt, each being a seat of government somewhat equivalent to
the city of Bastrop, raise the question.
1846, Anton PFEIFFER, 29, with 1700 Florins, and Johann HARRING,
age 58, with 0 Florins, arrived from their home village of Frickenhofen seeking
permission to emigrate. This
is not as surprising as it first appears; Johann was
a father figure to Anton whose mother had died in 1833 when
Anton was only 15 years old.
records following the death of Anton's mother, who died at the
birth of her second child, indicate that she and Johann were
living together at that time.
Later Johann became guardian of Anton and trustee of the
property he inherited from his mother.
surprising than all this is the number of HARRINGs who also
decided to immigrate from this locale.
From the village of Roggenthal and also seeking permission
to immigrate at Velburg were: On 9Sep1846, Johann Leonhard HARRING, 40, 300 Fl.; Johann
Michael HARRING, 38, 300 Fl.; Johann Leonard HARRING, 34, 300 Fl.;
Joseph HARRING, 31, 300 Fl.
some of the HARRINGs from
Roggenthal may have gone to places other than Bastrop County,
Texas, it is surprising that only one appears on the 1850 US
Census of Bastrop County. He
is listed as
"HARRING, Michael" 40
m GER Farmer]. Although the
age is not a precise match, at the time of the census, he is
living adjacent to [162/174 "Peper,
who is positively known to be Georg Anton PFEIFFER, age 32.]
what happened to the other HARRINGs, especially to Anton's
"step-father" who would have been just over 60 in 1850?
FAMILY 1850 US CENSUS ERRORS - Although interested primarily in
the families living in community with PFEIFFERs, KELLERMEIERs,
DEINHARDs and HARRINGs, census errors are likely preventing many
from connecting with their family ties to McDade and Bastrop
an example, Barbara DEINHARD is known to have come to Texas with
her brother Michael, arriving Galveston on a ship named Johann
Dethard 15Dec1848. Her
marriage to Peter KELLERMEIER was recorded in Bastrop County civil
records by Father John Adams Jacobs as having taken place in
Bastrop County 17Jan1849 with "PFEIFFER" serving as a
witness. There is
also evidence of their having started and continued for many years
with their family in Bastrop County.
However, no name similar to KELLERMEIER appears on the 1850
that emigrants from the same locale of Bavaria stayed together as
a group during their first years in America, I believe the
following 1850 Census listing represents Peter and Barbara
would put the PFEIFFERs, HARRINGs and KELLERMEIERs in
consecutively number dwellings at the time of the 1850 Census.
If the KELLERMEIERs are not with the PFEIFFERs and HARRINGs,
where, in Bastrop County, could they be?
1867_00 is an interesting epistle to Anton from a friend,
Leonhard HARRING, proving there is yet a Leonhard HARRING in
BABY DIED ON THE TRIP TO AMERICA - This mystery relates to both
PFEIFFERs and HARRINGs and involves someone, not mentioned before
who also requested permission to immigrate at Velburg on 3Sep1846,
the same day as Anton PFEIFFER and his 58 year old
"step-father" Johann HARRING. This was a female with a 3
year old child.
Her entry in the register
Maria Anna (28), Unmarried with son Johann (3), Servant,
Pelzenhofen, 250F, 3Sep1846
are many confusing things about this entry and its relationship to
McDade and several family stories.
From the above RUBY'S STORY, one might think Maria Anna
PFEIFFER was Anton PFEIFFER's wife, registering and perhaps
traveling as unmarried for some unknown reason - the person we
know as Maria Anna DEINHARD; however, this cannot be.
Maria Anna DEINHARD is also registered for immigration in
another town, Neumarkt, quite near to Velburg.
Her entry follows:
Maria Anna (22), Unmarried, Innkeeper's daughter, Letter, 300F, 23
above immigrant is definitely the ancestor of McDade PFEIFFERs,
but what happened to Maria Anna PFEIFFER and her 3 year old son?
And what does it mean that she was unmarried with child?
Is the meaning of that , in any way, like the fact that
Anton's mother was unmarried with 2 children, the second child
having been born while she was living, "betrothed"
according to court records, with Johan HARRING in Pelzenhofen?
the child who died on the way to America the son of Anton
PFEIFFER, offspring of a union with a previous Maria Anna from
is the "Mary A" with Michael HARRING at the time of the
KELLERMEIER-DEINHARD UNION - Letters which might explain how Peter
KELLERMEIER and Barbara DEINHARD found one another so fast are
missing as well as any stories about this event.
Although at least 2 of the letters from Germany talk of
Barbara's going to America, none speaks of a pending marriage to
1848_04 is the one written closest to the time of Michael and
Barbara’s departure for Galveston.
As the letter explains, King Ludwig has been removed by
force; and there is much controversy over what form of government
will replace him. These
concerns may have crowed out a discussion of Barbara’s plans on
arriving in Texas.
Peter KELLERMEIER came to America in 1841, where had he been
during the years until January 1849?
AND PURPOSE - Getting acquainted with one's ancestors is not a
solitary job. Each
hard-working pioneer family left so few documents behind, the
story is incomplete without combining one's effort with others.
My hope is to get a response from anyone who has anything
to contribute to an understanding of the German Catholics who
settled in and around McDade.
resulting from a lively imagination will be welcomed as well as
those backed by evidence.
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