Biography - Part 2 of 2 - Philip Jacob Simon and Fredereika Susanna Weiss And so they left the Fatherland to begin anew . . .

Under the auspices of the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas, Philip Jacob (pronounced Yacob) Simon 45, and his wife Friederika Susanna (maiden name Weis (pronounced Vise)) 36, decided to take their children Johann (pronounced Yohan) Peter 17, Johann Conrad 13, Johann Christian 7, Katherina Jacobina (pronounced Yakobina) 5, and Anna Maria Katharina Jakobina 3, and leave Grebenroth, Germany (which is located NW of Wiesbaden – (pronounced Viesbaden)) and begin a new life in this “land of opportunity”. They boarded the "Strabo" which was a mast barque sailing ship and sailed from Antwerp, Belgium on September 13th in 1845. The Simon family had wisely paid their fare as two immigrant households. The passenger manifest verifies this as Peter is listed separately from his father, mother and siblings. By doing so, Philip was not only purchasing the right to receive 640 acres as a married man with a family, but his eldest son Peter would also have the right to receive 320 acres as a single man. Ferd. Simon is listed on the passenger list and I am guessing that he is also a relative, but additional research is required to determine as to whether or not this is actually fact. The family comprised 7 (maybe 8) of the 169 passengers who would become well acquainted during the ten weeks that it took to cross the Atlantic Ocean. It was during this voyage that Philip's eldest son, Peter, found a friend in Frederick Johan George Schmidt who had just passed his 18th birthday. Young Frederick had hidden himself aboard the vessel until it was well at sea, thus stowing away to travel to the New World and avoid being inducted into the German Army.

Expecting 4000 colonist, Meusebach was provided with $24,000 on November 2, 1845 through a bank in New Orleans. This small amount of capital just barely covered the existing debts. Unaware of the extenuating circumstances, our forebears stepped from the Strabo and onto Texas soil at Galveston, on November 20, 1845.

From October, 1845 and April 1846, 36 ships brought 5247 German immigrants to Galveston, 1200 more than Meusebach had been advised would arrive. The number of immigrants arriving at the ports exceeded the entire population of western Texas. Meusebach requested an additional $60,000 which was declined by the Society’s treasurer. Meusebach’s sarcasm was apparent as he wrote to the society “one could certainly not expect to bring such numbers of people to the open prairie in the wilderness and then let them sit there. Sufficient provisions cost money, as does their transportation-even here.”

Following the procedure of earlier arrivals, our family was transferred to light schooners, which carried them to Indianola, where they arrived in December 1845.

These were not only exciting and challenging times for our family, but for Texas as well. It was on December 29th 1845, that the Republic of Texas was admitted into the Union, making Texas the 28th State to join the United States of America.

ox cart
Above: Two wheeled ox cart, typical of the kind used to transport early colonist from the coast to the settlements
Solms had provided $11,000 to Fischer and instructed him to purchase supplies and arrange for a means of transporting the colonist from Indianola to the grant lands. An additional $2,360 had been provided to purchase draft oxen. It was soon discovered that Fisher had purchased no livestock, corn meal or draft oxen and collected only fifteen of the fifty wagons needed; Fisher had been spending his time and energies in promoting his own interests in the Texas Congress. After several weeks of effort, Meusebach succeeded in contracting with a Houston teaming concern to haul the immigrants to New Braunfels; He had yet to determine just how he would get them from New Braunfels to Fredericksberg. The first 1000 immigrants loaded 100 covered wagons with the bare necessities of life and formed wagon trains which traveled to New Braunfels. Only one transport of wagons had gotten underway, when war was declared between the United States and Mexico in May of 1846; The dispute had arisen over the strip of land lying between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. As the U.S. Government needed every available means of transportation, they were paying a much higher price than Meusebach had negotiated with the teaming company. As a result, the teamsters repudiated their contract, leaving 4000 immigrants in the miserable tents of Indianola.

Stories have it that our ancestors left Indianola very quickly, via wagon train, so they were either among the first and only wagon transport as promised by the Emigration Company or connected with the few wealthier immigrants who purchased their own wagons and teams, transporting not only themselves to New Braunfels, but other families as well. The Simon family had taken the young Frederick Johan George Schmidt into their midst and he continued to travel along with the family and fellow immigrants. By the time Philip and his family arrived in New Braunfels, there were approximately one hundred and fifty homes that had already been constructed – a welcome sight indeed!

Five hundred young German men, joined the United States Army, preferring to fight along side the 5000 Texans in Old Mexico, rather than wait any longer in Indianola. Meanwhile, dismal rainy weather had set in all along the coast. Combined with unsanitary conditions, the stage was set for malaria, bilious fever, petechial fever (known also as spinal meningitis) and dysentery worked it’s way through the camp, resulting in many deaths. With no success in arranging for transportation to New Braunfels and having endured weeks of unending misery, the despondent men, women and children, left their good furnishings behind and set out on foot, drifting toward New Braunfels. It was a march of death with many, hundreds perishing along the way from exposure, hunger and exhaustion; while those who arrived at New Braunfels and later the new settlement, carried with them the germs of disease that soon developed into a frightful epidemic. The chests, which had brought prized possessions from Germany, were now used in making caskets. It was told that one could almost follow the travelers’ course by the graves of those who died along the way. In New Braunfels Pastor Ervendberg built a long shed along the banks of the Comal River for the many sick persons. Overwhelmed by the numbers of patients, Doctor Theodore Koester gave what comfort he could, but was powerless against the epidemic, which only spent its force after one-third of the community had fallen victim to its death grip.

One hundred men, women and children were lucky enough to leave New Braunfels before the epidemic became severe. Amid the cheers of their fellow country men, on April 23, 1846 the first wagon train of twenty wagons and two wheeled Mexican carts departed for the newest settlement located on the Pedenales River. Near the end of their journey, the settlers had their first encounter with the Native Americans. Fortunately they were the friendly Delaware tribe. As they approached the Pedernales River one of the leaders shot a bear and a panther. Following sixteen days of travel, the settlers reached their new home on May 8, 1846. That evening, a great fire was built over which the bear and panther were roasted.

The town was later named Fredericksburg in honor of Prince Frederick of Prussia, a member of the Society. The first order of business was to award a town lot (half acre in size) and 10 acres of out-lying land to each head of household and single man. Our immigrant ancestors were again fortuitous – earlier, they had found themselves included on the one and only wagon transport from Indianola to New Braunfels and now by leaving New Braunfels when they did, they not only avoided being exposed to the worst of the sickness, received the city lots. Settlers who arrived later in Fredericksburg, only received the ten-acre plots outside of town.

The Simon family received lots 412, 413 and 414 plus 24 acres of farmland located on the Pendanales River, along what is now the Kerrville Highway. The fact that three lots were awarded indicates three heads of household Philip, Peter and possibly Ferd. I am speculating that the men may have requested the single 24-acre site rather than three separate 10-acre sites, that most likely would have been located some distance from one another. This arrangement would have made it easier for the men to work together, thereby allowing them to accomplish much more than if each man had worked alone. The region between the town creeks resounded with axe blows on oak trees as they set up temporary brush shelters and tents of linen sheets. Clearing and cultivating the fields began immediately so as to assure a harvest before winter set in. Building storehouses took priority over homes, as supplies had to be protected. By the end of 1846 five hundred emigrants had reached Fredericksburg. In the fall of that year, an epidemic of fever and dysentery swept the colony with ninety-four settlers finding their final resting-places in the ‘friedhof’ (cemetery).

The outbreaks of disease, such as diphtheria and the variety of fevers proved to be of disastrous proportion. Sometimes whole families were wiped out in a single week. Area cemeteries are dotted with the graves of children . . . youth victims of these scourges. Many widows and orphans were left to be cared for by the surviving settlers. 7380 immigrants had landed on these shores as a direct result of the Adelsverein settlement project. An estimated 3800 Germans died during the 1846 epidemics, reducing their numbers to 3580. A count conducted on January 1, 1847 revealed that no more than 2800, or 38% of the original immigrants, had survived those first two horrific years.

Right: The grant lands lay between the south bank of the Colorado River and the north bank of the Llano River, beginning on the east side at the confluence of the two rivers. The Comanche Indians were notorious for their stealth and cunning and had dominated the area since 1757, following thirteen years of conflict between themselves and the Spaniards who had been mining silver from the San Saba area. The word “Comanche” comes from the Ute Indians, meaning “enemy”. For 150 years they had prevailed over all other Indian tribes in the plains area and were in undisputed control of the Texas heartland which was their hunting ground . . . theirs by right of possession.

The Society founded five settlements on the grant: Bettina, Castell, Leiningen, Meerholz and Schoenburg,. All but Castell were abandoned. Some of the larger towns that were established later within the bounds of the Fisher-Miller grant, are: Boerne, Brady, Comfort, Llano, Mason, Paint Rock (where Indian Pictographs may still be seen) and San Saba.

Meusebach had been waiting expectedly for the next mail from Germany with funds to replenish those he had expended in rescuing Solms. When no financial help was received by late summer of 1846, Meusebach wrote to the Secretary of the Verein “There is exactly zero (and he drew a “0”) in the treasury.” In fact, money was so scarce that a collection had to be taken among the officials to pay the messenger to take the letter. Meusebach repeatedly appealed to the Adelsverein for moneys in order to meet the needs of the colonist which had been placed in his charge. . . but his pleads fell on deaf ears. In Texas, the war with Mexico meant that money was scarce and since lenders had little confidence in the success of the organization, no loan could be arranged locally. As a final resort, Meusebach published an appeal, that went out directly to the citizens back in Germany. You can imagine the uproar, from the families of these immigrants, when they learned of the predicament in which their loved ones had befallen. Only after the honor and standing of the Society officers was called into question, did the noblemen feel compelled to send the sum of $60,000 by special messenger. This money reached New Braunfels on September 7, 1846. It was this infusion of resources that saved the Adelsverein from dissolution if not total destruction. Even though the Adelsverein continued to advertise and make contracts after 1847, it was totally bankrupt. As these latest immigrants arrived in Galveston and learned of the adversities suffered by the New Braunfels and Fredericksburg parties, most opted to forget about the grant lands and went elsewhere to settle.

Map of Texas showing the grant lands
Above: Map of Texas showing the grant lands
The colonist were staying busy with their daily work in the temporary encampments, all the while, the deadline for claiming the grant lands was drawing ever nearer – August, 1847. There were, however, a few settlers who had lost all hope of ever receiving the grant lands. Some sold their share for as little as twenty-five cents on the dollar, while others demanded that the Society refund their deposits. Special Commissioner Cappes (who was stationed at New Braunfels) and Henry Fisher were both individuals with a knack for cultivating relationships that were of personal benefit. Wishing to direct any responsibility in the faltering organization away from themselves, they plotted to capitalize upon the discontent of the settlers. Cappes also believed that if the Verein received unfavorable reports about Meusebach, that he, himself, would be named as the new Commissioner General. With this thought in mind, he invited Henry Fisher to New Braunfels to assist in inciting the settlers against Meusebach. On December 31, 1846, Meusebach was hosting Fisher for breakfast, when a mob of disgruntled settlers converged to make demands. At one point, someone in the mob called out “Hang him!” It was at this moment that Fisher was noticeably absent. On that afternoon and the following morning, German and American citizens alike, joined together to condemn the actions of the mob and declare the whole ugly situation as being adverse to the wishes of the community.

In early January of 1847, Meusebach along with and a small party of men, departed New Braunfels for Fredericksburg . . . planning to proceed on, into the interior of the grant lands. Meanwhile, in Fredericksburg, Director Dr. Schubbert’s good efforts, in creating a working colony, had become overshadowed when it was learned that he was using an assumed name and not really a physician. According to Dr. William Hermes, during the plagues, Schubbert had misdiagnosed spinal meningitis as scurvy, resulting in many deaths. His reputation suffered further, by reports of his fondness for “wine and women”. Schubbert was aware of the mob action in New Braunfels and attempted to instigate a similar revolt against Mausebach among the colonists at Fredericksburg. To his dismay, just the opposite took place, with the entire colony turning out to meet the Commissioner-General, saluting him by firing the canon. They presented him with a written resolution urging him, for the good of the colony, not to resign. This resolution includes the signature of our own Philip Simon, whose name appears seventeenth, in the list of ninety-five citizens, who pledged their support at Fredericksburg, on January 17, 1847.

By now, the war between the United States and Mexico was well underway, and with the Mexicans having direct communication with the Indians, they were taking every opportunity to arouse the Indians against the whites. It was Meusebach’s purpose to negotiate a treaty between the Llano and San Saba county Indians on behalf of the German immigrants. Without a favorable treaty, the surveyors refused to venture into the grant lands. Without the lands being surveyed, the Immigrants could not take possession . . . and without the colonist taking possession of their lands, the Adelsverein could not receive it’s portion of the lands. It was also feared that the Indians might be influenced to exterminate the small German colonies. With thousands of well armed warriors it would be an easy matter for the big chiefs to make a surprise attack on the colonies, killing and scalping the men and older women, burning the buildings and then carry the young women and children into captivity.

During Meusebach’s meeting with the great chiefs, the Indian tribes placed scouts in the hills that overlooked Fredericksburg, to make sure that there was no treachery being planned on the part of the white men. Messages were transmitted among the Indians, using smoke signals. When the Indian scouts were satisfied that no conspiracy existed, the fires burned high on the hills, signaling the other Indians that all was well.

The fires frightened the Fredericksburg children. One mother recalled how, for centuries, the German people had set Easter Eve fires on the hills near their villages. Weeks in advance, the young people of each village would collect as much wood as possible, vying with one another to make their blaze the brightest. The belief was that, the fields that were alluminated below, would be fruitful and the soil over which the winds blew, from the fires, would have increased fertility. Even the houses on which the light shown would be safe from sickness. This woman recalled her mother telling her about the Easter Bunny back in Germany and remembered how her own children had delighted in seeing a bunny in a Texas field. So she made up her own story, telling the children that the Easter Rabbit was in the hills, boiling eggs and flowers, in kettles over the fires. The flowers would color the eggs and the Easter Bunny would place the eggs into nests on Easter morning. If the eggs were extra large the jack rabbit had provided the eggs. This story quieted the children’s fears and was the beginning of Fredericksburg’s annual “Easter Fires” dramatization, commemorating the peace treaty.

As the result of Meusebach’s negotiating skills, a treaty was reached among the various tribes, being signed in Fredericksburg on May 9, 1847. Not even the roving bands of Indians did any significant mischief among the German colonist until after 1848. It was after the United States government established frontier forts and began removing the Indians from their hunting grounds and placing them onto the reservations, that the Indians violated Meusebach’s treaty. “Settlers and Indian alike, honored the treaty. It was only after the Indians felt that the government had wronged them that they came back to rob, murder and harass the white settlers” - Mrs. Clara Feller - pioneer. Even so, during the 1849 epidemic of cholera, the Indians showed genuine compassion by bringing honey, meat and bear fat to the ill and suffering colonist.

For the most part, the early settlers had to purchase their horses and oxen but there was an abundance of wild cattle and donkeys, which could be had for the taking. Capture was facilitated by placing a block of salt into a makeshift pen and then closing the entrance when the desired animal was inside. The greatest prize of all, was to capture a cow with her nursing calf. Can you imagine how difficult it would have been to gentle a wild cow so that you could actually milk her? However, obtaining and retaining your livestock were two entirely different matters as wild donkeys and cattle were prone to rejoin their free ranging counterparts, if the opportunity presented itself. Once this happened, you had to go through the whole process of capturing and gentling the beast all over again. Our forefathers had to exercise constant vigilance, as livestock that was out of your sight, had a way of disappearing, never to be seen again. To better defend their property, the settlers constructed their barns by attaching them to the house with connecting doors, or locating them very near the house. Often the barn door was built of logs to which a heavy chain would be fixed across. Before retiring for the evening, the settlers would lock their milk cows and horses into the barn and herd their cattle into the corrals located the closest to the house. “We didn’t have any hogs - the Indians wouldn’t let us keep ‘em and chickens had not been introduced into the country as yet, but we did have a horse, one time. The Indians managed to get inside the barn, but couldn’t get the door open so that they could get the horse out, so they just shot him full of arrows and killed him” - Bernhard Fiedler - pioneer. My guess is that the Indians were using some of the same tactics on our pioneer ancestors, that the U.S. government had used on them, “remove a people’s food source (such as the buffalo) along with their means of livelihood and the people won’t be able to sustain themselves.”

There is a family story of how, when Philip Simon and his family would get up in the morning, they would often find their cattle dead, filled with arrows, lying in the pens. At one time, a person could still find arrowheads - not so anymore! Another story goes: The family carried all of their water from a spring about a quarter of a mile down the hill from the house. Katherine (who had grown to a young woman now) was going to get water when two Indian braves on horses surprised her! She started running for home, but they overtook her. One of the Indians managed to get next to her and threw his spear - missing her! As a Grandmother, Katherine related to her grandchildren, "I know this must have been one of the Indian boys with whom I used to play at the spring. He must have recognized me, because had he wanted to kill me, he would not have missed when he threw his spear.” As of 1986, a stock tank was located at the spring, where the family would get their water.

All the Indian troubles that were experienced by the pioneers, paled in significance when compared to the crimes of the organized mobs that rode roughshod over an unarmed, defenseless and inoffensive people. “We could defend ourselves against the Indians, but not against these white men. When we saw an Indian we knew it was time to run, hide or fight. When we saw a bunch of white men we didn’t know whether they were friends or foes until it was perhaps too late.” - Mrs. Clara Feller - pioneer. From the time that Germans arrived until 1859, with the exception of four or five killings, every homicide amongst the German colonist, was due to the blood debauches of the savage minded roughiens know as the “night riders”. They rode in packs at night and hid like wild varmints by the light of day. It was estimated that as many as sixty renegades participated in all manner of dastardly outrages, killing the defenseless without a tremor, but facing real danger with about the same degree of courage as a coyote. These were wild cunning men, uneducated except in the ways of the beasts. They had the instinct to flee from the danger of equal combat and would attack without fear and pitiless ferocity when the victim was as helpless as a fawn in the grasp of a hungry mountain lion. “In the undeveloped minds and souls of such pitiable creatures the hates and furies of wild fanaticism finds its richest soil.” - Diggers. It wasn’t until after the Civil War, in 1865, that 25 individuals were indicted for the mob outrages. So ended the reign of terror when husbands and fathers were dragged from their humble homes and shot down in cold blood before their families.

A man of noble birth and high rank, Meusebach, had truly been a good friend to the colonist. In July of 1847 he irrevocably tendered his resignation with the Adelsverein. Despite Meusebach’s report on methods and ideas to be used in developing the grant, none were ever applied. Instead, the Verein was taking steps to liquidate and named Herman Spies as the new Commissioner General. Spies first task was to tell the colonist that the Adelsverein was hopelessly bankrupt and they were now left to their own resources. At this time, all that the New Braunfels and Fredericksburg colonist had received at the hands of the Adelsverein were a number of town lots, ten acre tracts near town, disappointment, disillusionment, an awful lot of misery, temporary poverty and privations. However, most of the colonist still believed that in due time, they would eventually be awarded the land to which they were entitled, in addition to the city lots and ten acre tracts. Not one of these unfortunate people would have remained, if he had possessed the means of returning to the Fatherland that he left only a short time ago with fine hopes held under such glittering promises. After an initial outburst of despair had passed, they called upon their inner strength and set determinedly to work in cultivating the soil . . . prevailing over the harsh conditions and in due course of time created what is considered to be two of the premier garden spots of Texas. New Braunfels and Fredericksburg were originally selected as temporary holding places, as all of the colonist were destined for the Fisher and Miller grant. But, instead of temporary camps, they became the only German settlements established under the colonization project of the Adelsverein.

In 1848, the Texas legislature renewed the Fisher grant, with the apparent purpose of honoring the promises of land awards, to the Adelsverein colonist. The fact that the Verein had dissolved and was no longer a functioning entity, meant that Philip, Peter and the other colonist were able to retain the entire acreage of land as awarded by the state, without having to relinquish half to the Association. The State issued certificates to the settlers, awarding a total of 1,735,200 acres of land in Llano, McCullough and Concho counties . . . . all located in the heart of the Indian country. By this time, it had been three years since the colonist had first set foot on Texas soil and most had exhausted their cash reserves and many were even in debt. Already having endured tremendous hardship, the colonist were now settled in their modest homes and not inclined to move away from their semblance of civilization. As a result, most of them sold their certificates for mere trifles, some certificates covering a full section of land were sold for less than ten dollars each. Only a few held onto their certificates and located their land; Philip Jacob Simon and his family being among these hardy individuals.

In 1849, Philip’s fourth son, Gottlieb, was born. October 2, 1851, Philip’s fifth son, Henry L., was born. Family stories have it, that in either 1851 or 1852 the Simon's sold their property in Fredericksburg and became one of the first pioneer families to move into the wild territory north of the Llano River. They built a rock house upon their 320 acre homestead near Leiningen Community. Irene Marshall King’s book “John C. Meusebach German Colonizer in Texas” page 22 states, “A third settlement named Leiningen was established in 1847, five miles east of Castell. It did not flourish long.” Castell and Leiningen are located in what is now Llano
German house
Above: Typical German architectural style during the 1850's, built of native stone.
County. The Simons’ were stonemasons but also engaged in farming, ranching and freighting. As of 1986, Martin Kowiersche owned the land upon which they settled near Leiningen. Today, only the foundation of the early homestead remains.

As the Simon enterprises grew, they required more land. It is believed that in the fall of 1854 or spring of 1855, the family sold their land near Leiningen and made their final move into what is now Mason County. Governor H.R. Runnels granted patent no. 185 to Philip Simon on July 16, 1846, awarding him 640 acres. Philip filed this in Austin on June 6, 1858. Philip's eldest son, Peter, was granted 320 acres of land on July 16, 1848 with the patent being filed in Austin on May 5, 1858. Philip and Peter built temporary log cabins and later rock homes upon their land which is located in the southern part of Mason County just north banks of the Llano River.

As a young man Peter was involved in freighting and story has it, that during the course of his business, Peter went to Houston with an old admiral. When Peter arrived in Houston, he sold his oxen and wagon and then went to California. He reportedly corresponded for many years with his brother, Gottlieb, who was still in Texas. The story goes that in 1875, Peter gave his mother, Susanna, power of attorney to sell his 320 acres of land on the Llano River. Then, without explaination, Peter stopped writing to Gottlieb or any of his family in Texas. Some family speculated that he may have been killed during the Gold Rush Days in California. Some family say that the Al Simon who produced the Beverly Hillbillies was a cousin although this is totally speculation (no documentation)

In February of 1848, the War with Mexico was ended with the signing of a treaty, which established the Rio Grande River as the boundary between the United States and Mexico. Interestingly enough, even though the war was officially ended, the actual boundary dispute wasn’t settled until 1963! In 1911, an arbitration commission sought to resolve the issue by surrendering some lands to the Mexican government. Mexico was ready to sign, but the United States said no. Finally, in July 1963, President John F. Kennedy and President Lopez Mateos signed the Chamizal settlement giving Mexico 437 acres of land and selling some U.S. property to a Mexican bank. Today, the Chamizal National Memorial at El Paso commemorates the settlement of the dispute which started during the life times of our immigrant ancestors, 115 years earlier.

Early homes were generally small, crude log structures, but a few were built of stone. Philip Simon selected a small knoll near a spring overlooking a beautiful valley which ended at the Llano River bluffs as a building site for the family’s small log cabin. Soon there were seven other early settlers and likewise, they selected home sites near a spring or stream, so as to take care of their water supply, and whenever possible, their houses were built on a hill crest to provide a lookout. It was the nature of these early home sites that this area was first called "Hohenstein" being German for high rocks. Later all the neighbors gathered at a meeting place and renamed the community "Simonsville" in honor or its first permanent settler, Philip Jacob Simon. The Simon family cemetery is just to the west of where the old log cabin was built.

In 1859, most Texans cared little about secession. But several events swung the pendulum. Native American raids persisted on the frontier and Texas turned to the federal government. When Congress failed to offer aid, Texans lost faith in the government. About 90 percent of Texas’ Anglo immigrants were from the South, and with the election of Abraham Lincoln as president, secessionist had more ammunition. The Germans were staunchly against slavery of any kind and many remained as Union loyalist throughout the Civil War. The colonist generally opposed secession because it carried with it, the proposition of slavery, so they did their best to maintain neutrality and stay out of the fray. On March 2, 1861, Texas seceded from the Union, exactly 25 years after Texas had proclaimed it’s independence from Mexico. Governor Houston was removed from office when he wouldn’t support the action. Lt. Governor Edward Clark served out Houston’s term. In 1862, the Texas governor issued a decree announcing that all persons who refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederacy would have thirty days in which to leave the state. About 2,000 Texans volunteered to serve in the Union Army. Soon thereafter, martial law was declared. There is no documentation as to how our relatives handled the situation, but many Germans were harassed, abused and even murdered. One such incident was the Nueces River massacre in which a group of Germans, in route to Mexico, were murdered at the hands of the Partisan Rangers.

By the 1870’s more people settled in the area with most of them building their homes to the north of the original Simonsville homesteads. This area was first known as Louisville, later Post Oak and then Grossville, named first and last for Louis Gross.

In it’s “hey-day” Simonsville, had a very popular annual rifle picnic and dance known as “Schuetzenfest”. It took days of work to erect a green brush arbor; to repair picnic areas and shooting targets; and to assemble the 50’ by 75’ dance platform, complete with seats and bandstand for the fiddlers. The “Schuetzenfest” began early in the morning with sharp shooting competitions. Prizes were awarded to the best marksmen and markswomen. The revelry continued throughout the day and late into the night . . . until the dancers were too tired to dance another step. New Years Eve was always brought in with much celebrating and noise accompanied by dynamite blasts . . . A tradition that continued at least until 1918, as it was recorded in the January 3rd edition of the Mason News. Families often held sing-songs on Sunday nights. Marriages were a community affair with everyone invited to attend the wedding feast. It was considered an unforgivable act of disrespect not to give the young couple a stormy chivoree. “Katzenmusick” was a wild greeting that was given to every newly married couple, using all manner of noise makers . . . tin cans, bells, etc. Community dances were often hosted in private homes until 1884 when a community building was erected in Danger’s bottom. This is where everyone got together for picnics and dances, at least until the hall was destroyed by fire. Simonsville formed it’s own shooting club. Grossville even had an all star baseball team under the name of the Simonsville Redbirds with the Players wearing glamorous red suits.

The first Simonsville schoolhouse was built in 1892 upon land donated by neighbor Mathias Bast. The school had a dirt floor and split logs standing upright embedded in the earth with the split side forming the inside wall of the small room. A thatched roof covered this simple structure of learning. The log schoolhouse was later replaced by a rock building. The school's first instructors were generally male professors who usually came from Germany and taught for only a few months before moving on. Classes generally consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic and also the translation of German to English. More often than not, Philip and Susanna Simon would house the roving educators, thereby ensuring an education for their children. A literary club was formed at the schoolhouse with Philip’s grand son’s, Philip and abraham, being counted among the many talented orators. As of 1986, the rock schoolhouse was still standing behind Raymond Kimbriel's home.

By the turn of the Century, the northern part of the community (the part called Grossville) became more populated and for some reason, their offspring out numbered that of Simonsville; That was when the Simonsville school forever closed it’s doors. Up until the mid 1970's, community meetings were held on a monthly basis, bringing residents together to socialize and discuss local issues.

The Simon family was a devout and dedicated religious people. After going through the trials that they had to endure, you would surely be close to your Lord. The book "Hilda (Bethel) Methodist Church and Parent Organizations" ascertain this; Also, "The Story of a Century 1872 - 1972", St. Paul Lutheran Church, Mason, Texas.

Approximately 1.5 million Germans arrived in the United States after 1845, all looking for opportunities that were not available in the Fatherland. They settled in Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa and as our own family did . . . traveled as far as Texas, where one German is said to have originated a very un-German dish called chili con carne. The challenges presented to our forebears and their fellow country men were immense as they found themselves in the midst of a hostile wilderness, with only a few crude tools and implements to use in providing shelter and crop cultivation. Only a few houses and supplies were furnished. They possessed few guns and little ammunition with which they could protect themselves or kill game for sustenance. There was not a single mile of railroad in the state and only a few dim, winding wagon roads, and those only connected the older communities which were located miles away, along the coast. They had but one another to rely upon for assistance, counsel and comfort.

Our ancestors paid their money in good faith and were fortunate in that they were among the small percent of immigrants who were provided with transportation from Indianola to New Braunfels. By leaving New Braunfels and going onto Fredericksburg when they did, they were also spared exposure to the worst of the sicknesses, that befell so many others. They were also fortunate, to be part of a group that included some of the most diverse and capable colonist to have arrived on these shores . . . scholars, professional men, mechanics, carpenters, wagon makers, machinists, blacksmiths, cabinet makers, practical farmers and artisans of all kinds; They themselves were skilled stone masons and thatchers. The colonist had all of the needed human equipment, the trained minds and hands. All that they required was the material with which to work and a market for their products.

The Adelsverein had promised much, but erred greatly, placing a considerable difference between the new world of golden promise and harsh reality. Had the Directors heeded Count Boos-Waldeck’s warning, had they sent the colonist in properly regulated numbers or listened to the appeals of Meusebach and sent the money that was so desperately needed, when it was needed . . . well the story would have been different. What becomes apparent is the achievements of our ancestors who put their considerable knowledge to work, not only to meet the challenges, but to go on and realize their hopes and dreams.

Remember the young stowaway, Frederick Johan George Schmidt? He married Philip Jacob Simon’s daughter, Katharina Jacobina Simon (better known as Katherine), thirteen years after they first met. Their descendants have written "Roses In December", a family history that was compiled and published for the descendants of Katherine Simon and Frederick Johan George Schmidt. The Schmidt publication is one of the sources used in my research and is cited among the references listing at the end of this section.

Leading up to the Decision to Imigrate (Part 1 of 2)


1 “German Pioneers in Texas” compiled by Don Hampton. Biggers; published 1925
     DPL WHIGEN STX 1925
     C325.243 B483ge

2 “John C. Meusebach German Colonizer in Texas”; author Irene Marshall King; published 1967
Library of Congress card No. 67-16848
DPL central 3RDLE
B M572ki

3 “A New Land Beckoned” German Immigration to Texas; published 1966.

4 “Pioneers in God’s Hills” Author Von Beckman, Jones, Austin; Gillespie County Historical Society;
published 1987 2 volumes.

5 “Gillespie County – A View of It’s Past” compiled by the Gillespie County Historical Society; published ____.

6 "Roses In December" family history compiled and published by / for the descendants of
   Katherine Simon and Frederick Johan George Schmidt
   Compilers - Amanda Arhelger Zesch and Bonnie Schmidt Zesch

7 "The Communities of Mason County" compiled by The Mason County Sesquicentennial Committee - 1986

8 “Texas – It’s Big !!!! The Awesome Lone Star State”

9 “A Brief History of New Braunfels” /history.htm

10 “A History of Fredericksburg”

11 German Birth and Marriage Records (microfilm) from the Church of Latter Day Saints; Salt Lake City, Utah

12 Federal Census Records for various Texas Counties .

Map showing areas from which German Colonist Immigrated1844-1847
Map of Our German Homeland “Nassau”
Map of the State of Texas showing Fisher Miller grant lands, immigration route and German settlements
Map showing location of Simonsville Community
Map of the State of Texas from the Latest Authorities 1850 by J.H. Young
Printed by Cowperthwait, Desilver & Butler in Philadelphia 1854

Worth Checking out:
Pioneer Museum Complex and Verein’s (Society’s)
Kirche (Church) Archives
“Easter Fires” Pageant takes place on Easter’s Eve, at the Gillespie County Fairgrounds Hwy 16 South. Contact event coordinator for info: (as of 1997) 210 997-2359

Note: Check out Simon Ave. Possibly named for a relative?

New Braunfels: Sophienburg Museum and Archives
Museum 210 629-1572 Archives 210 629-1900
New Braunfels, TX 78130 400 W. Coll
200 N. Seguin Street

Ferdinand Lindheimer Home
Conservation Plaza
Museum of Texas Handmade Furniture
Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church –
Overlooks the Comal River and is the location of the camp site that was set up by the first German Immigrants to arrive in New Braunfels.

+ “German Seed In Texas Soil” Immigrant Farmers in Nineteenth-Century Texas; author Terry G. Jordan
C325.243 J766ge

+ “Organized German Settment and its effects on the frontier of South Central Texas” microfilm
author Wilhelm, G.H. Hubert published 1968; 237 pages

+ “Second Fatherland” the life and fortunes of a German immigrant; author Max Krueger 1851-1927
requires staff retrieval
C976.49 K935kru

+ “The Golden Free Land” the reminiscenses & letters of women on an American frontier;
author Crystal Sass Ragsdale

+ “The diary of Herman Steel and Steel’s sketches from Texas”; author Hermann Steele
requires staff retrieval
C976.4 S452Zsee

+ “Memoirs of a Texas Pioneer Grandmother”; author Ottilie Fuchs Goeth 1836-1926
C976.405G554 zgoe2

+ “Republik Texas, Bremen und das Hildeshumische”; author Walter Struve 1935
requires staff retrieval
C305.831076 S937ge

+ “Forward to the Past!”; author Pearl Bethune
C976.405 B625zbet

+ “Instruction fur deutsche Auswandered nach Texas”; author ?
C976.400431 595 German

+ “Die geregelte ”; (a guide to emigrants) author Ferdinand Von Herff 1820-1912
C325.343097 V895re

+ “Texas; with particular reference to German Immigration”; author Ferdinand Roemer 1818-1891
C917.64 R627te

+ “Texas in 1848”; author Viktor Bracht 1819-1886 DPL WH/GEN STX2
C976.405 B724te

+ “History of the German Element from 1820-50”; author Moritz Philipp Georg Tiling 1818-1891
C976.400431 T458hi

Coming . . . ___________________________ - Please check back later