H I S T O R Y O F N E W B A D E N
By Kyle Schultz
Many people came to the United States from Europe looking for better lives. Tired of the oppressive conditions in Germany, John George Meyer decided at the end of 1880 to emigrate. He first entered into correspondence with acquaintances who had left the homeland before him, and with favorable reports, chose Texas as his goal. J. G. Meyers had held various positions in public life and was highly respected. When it became known that he was going to Texas to look for land, many people asked him to look for a new homeland for them. He left Germany with five others as representatives of many families seeking a new home in the New World.
His attention had mainly been directed towards Texas by a brochure published by the Galveston, Harrisburg, & San Antonio Railway. After a voyage to New Orleans on April 26, 1881, they were transported from there directly by rail to San Antonio. He had been in this country only a short time when he realized that not everything is as easy as it says in the brochures that the agents published abroad. Upon his arrival in San Antonio, he met with various railroad and land companies. After looking at several pieces of land, none suitable for their colony, he contacted the International & Great Northern Railway. They gave him a free ticket to Palestine, the headquarters of this company.
When he arrived in Palestine, he found out that the land department of the International & Great northern Railway Company had ceased to exist, and that the land holdings of the company had passed into the hands of the New York & Texas Land Company. At their office, he met with their chief clerk and immediately realized they operated in a business-like and honest fashion.
The New York & Texas Land Company owned over five million acres of land, scattered over almost all parts of the state. After picking out a piece of land, Mr. A. B. Langermann, the chief clerk in the office of the president, was delegated to accompany him with a surveyor to inspect the land. After looking at the land and convinced that it met the requirements they were looking for, he reported back to his countrymen. After his report, they put together a committee in August of 1881 to inspect the land located at the eleven league grant in Robertson County. The committee consisted of Matern Leber, Friedrick Rotzler, and A. G. Meyer from Baden, and Johann Oheim from Munich. On their arrival in Franklin, Mr. A. B. Langermann and F. M. Giraud of the land company took them on a tour of the land. After they were convinced that the land was perfectly suited, they accepted the conditions agreed upon by the land company. The price was set at $2.50 per acre and the first payment not due until the end of the second year. Each farmer had to put into cultivation at least ten acres the first year.
When the Colony House was finished, the first settlers arrived on November 23, 1882. The first settlers came from Switzerland, Prussia, and Germany. Some were from Baden-Baden, Germany and named the new colony New Baden. Among the first settlers were: matern leber, J. G. Meyer, A. B. Langerman, Charles Levine, David Zweifel, Frank Scheck, Charles Rutkowsky, G. F. Ullrich, August Ullrich, H. A. Reichert, Jacob Hiltpold, John Hiltpold, Charles Hiltpold, Wilhelm Adlof, Wilhelm Pfistner, Gerhard Rabe, John Neimann, William Rehberg, Albert Naeter, and John Henry Struffhoff, who owned and operated the first cotton gin in New Baden. These early settlers organized the "German Colony of New Baden." The constitution of the Colony Society contains, in general, the following:
The purpose of the organization is the settlement of the land furnished to the colony by the New York & Texas Land Company;
Eligible for membership are all German speaking immigrants who are respectable people, acquainted with agriculture, and not in need of public charity;
Every member must take land from the company for the purpose of agriculture, and for each acre purchased, must pay ten cents into the treasury;
The money collected in this way will be used for the purchase of the land necessary for the laying out of the town, and every settler will receive a lot for every ten dollars that he pays in.
After the organizing had been accomplished and ten members had signed the constitution, they set about choosing the land. Every individual was allowed to choose his own, the only condition was that each was to adjoin the others.
The Colony House was a two-story building and was the first building built in the colony. The first floor was used as a school and a church; the second was living quarters for the settlers. The Evangelical-Lutheran Synod had taken the colony into its membership and sent a preacher every two weeks to hold services. In 1894, a church was built and remained until the late 1930s. Unfortunately, they already had to lay out a cemetery. So far, the colony had a grocery store, a hardware store, a post office, and a drug store. Soon, they'd have a blacksmith shop and a butcher shop. The first school teacher was Herman F. Kreckler.
In 1885, the New Baden population was forty and increased to 175 by 1915. New Baden reported six businesses and a population of 150 in the year 1936. In 1947, the number of businesses dropped to five; in the 1950s to four; in the 1960s to three. The population was still reported as 150 during this period. In 1970, the town had a store and a population of 105. The population stayed at 105 in the year 1990.
In the year 2000, New Baden, Texas, still continues to be a small community in which many of the original founders' families choose to raise their children and call home.