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How German culture ifluenced on Texas

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German culture has had such a huge impact on Texas. It has continued to influence Texans to teach us about the rich culture and language Germans carry with them to share with the people. The first migration that brought German settlers to Texas came in 1831. Johann Friedrich Ernst, from the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg, received a grant of more than 4,000 acres in Stephen F. Austin’s colony. He and his family were on a ship from New York to New Orleans and wanted to move to Missouri, but changed their destination when they learned of favorable conditions in Texas. After Anglos, African-Americans, and Mexican-Americans, the ethnic group with the biggest impact on Texas has been the Germans.

The German language was very much used in unique areas, especially Central Texas, and only began to fade from use in the 1970s. Within a generation, a wide swath of the state from the coastal plain to the Hill Country had dozens of German-settled towns. Generations of Germans also settled in North Texas. Many of these towns, including New Ulm, Frelsburg, Bleibler Ville, Oldenburg, Weimar, Schulenburg, Gruene, New Braunfels, Boerne, Fredericksburg, and Luckenbach, still dot the map today. German-American cultural institutions in Texas include some of the most German influential places and organizations. Some of the most German influenced building and organizations are The Sophienburg Museum in New Braunfels, the Pioneer Museum in Fredericksburg, the Witte-Schmid Haus Museum in Austin County, the German-Texan Heritage Society, and the Texas German Society.

German immigrants were a significant ethnic group in the 19th century Texas, and were accepted into mainstream society while maintaining many traditional customs of the Old World. Dillenburg-born John Meusebach founded the town of Fredericksburg and created a peace treaty with the Comanches in 1847. He was later elected to the Texas Senate. Gustave Schleicher was born in Darmstadt, Hesse, and became an U.S. citizen in 1852. He served as a state legislator and senator before the Civil War and as a U.S. Congressman after the war. Schleicher County in west-central Texas was named in his honor. There are many examples of German heritage still being influenced on the Texas landscape, from dance halls and shooting clubs to churches, festivals and schools. Over thirteen rural schoolhouses around Fredericksburg are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools offer a driving trail, open houses and fundraisers to help preserve the unique resources and reminders of a remarkable part of our past. The Westphalia Rural Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. It includes over 5,500 acres in Western Falls County. The historic district includes the 1894 Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin, along with its 1896 and 1921 schoolhouses and St. Mary’s Cemetery, historic frame commercial buildings, a cotton gin complex, and three dozen historic farmsteads. The village of Westphalia, one of the most intact rural landscapes in Texas, can be found along SH 320 east of Temple and southwest of Marlin. The Texas Historical Commission encourages people to take this opportunity to celebrate the generations of German immigrants who have helped shape the great state of Texas.

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