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The Adelsverein, also known as the Mainzer Verein, the Texas-Verein, and the German Emigration Company, was officially named the Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas (Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas). Provisionally organized on April 20, 1842, by twenty-one German noblemen at Biebrich on the Rhine, near Mainz, the society represents a significant effort to establish a new Germany on Texas soil by means of an organized mass emigration. Such German publications as Charles Sealsfield's Das Kajütenbuch, oder Schilderungen aus dem Leben in Texas (1841), Detlef Dunt's Reise nach Texas nebst Nachrichten von diesem Lande (1834), and G. A. Scherpf's Entstehungsgeschichte und gegenwärtiger Zustand des neuen, unabhängigen Staates Texas (1841), which depicted in glowing terms the great personal liberty and the plentiful and productive land to be found in Texas, had served to direct the nobles' attention to the Republic of Texas as the best destination for an increasing German emigration. Accordingly, in May 1842 the association sent two of its members, counts Joseph of Boos-Waldeck and Victor August of Leiningen-Westerburg-Alt-Leiningen to Texas to investigate the country firsthand and purchase a tract of land for the settlement of immigrants. Once in Texas, the two agents discussed colonizing a land grant with President Sam Houston, who, under the provisions of a law passed on February 5, 1842, was authorized to grant entire tracts of land to contractors who would colonize them. Boos-Waldeck and Alt-Leiningen declined Houston's offer of a grant, however, when they learned that it would be in frontier territory west of Austin and still inhabited by hostile Indians. In January 1843 Boos-Waldeck purchased a league of land (4,428 acres) in what is now Fayette County, near Industry, as the base for future colonization, and named it Nassau Farm, in honor of Duke Adolf of Nassau, the patron of the society. Boos-Waldeck remained in Texas a year developing the farm, and in May 1843 Alt-Leiningen returned to Mainz. Though Boos-Waldeck recommended against an immediate large-scale colonization effort, Alt-Leiningen supported such a venture. Accordingly, on June 18, 1843, the association was reorganized as a joint-stock company with a capital stock of 200,000 gulden ($80,000) for the acquisition of more land in Texas. In September the association was approached by Alexander Bourgeois d'Orvanne, a speculator, who with Armand Ducos held a colonization contract for a tract of land west of San Antonio. On March 25, 1844, the association was formally constituted as the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas with Prince Carl Emich III of Leiningen as president and Count Carl of Castell-Castell as business manager.

The society's goals were both philanthropic and commercial. They included the economic relief of the German proletariat by the direction of emigration to Texas and the establishment of German settlements in Texas, which would supply markets abroad for German industry and promote the development of German maritime commerce. In April 1844, when the society purchased from Bourgeois the colonization rights to his grant, the contract had already expired. Nevertheless, later that month the society dispatched Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels as general commissioner and Bourgeois as colonial director to Texas to seek renewal of the grant and to prepare for the arrival of colonists. Upon his arrival in Texas in July, Solms learned that Bourgeois could not renew his contract and that the society had acquired from him neither land nor colonization rights in Texas. In the meantime the society had already severed its ties with Bourgeois and, on June 26, 1844, had purchased colonization rights from another speculator, Henry Francis Fisher, who with Burchard Miller held a colonization contract for a tract of land between the Llano and Colorado rivers. The first immigrants disembarked in Texas in December 1844, near Carlshafen (later Indianola), the society's port of entry established by Prince Solms. Since no preparations had been made for settlement on the Fisher-Miller land grant, the immigrants were settled on two leagues of land at Comal Springs that Solms purchased on March 15, 1845, and named New Braunfels after his estate in Germany. On May 8, 1845, John O. Meusebach, Solms's successor as general commissioner in Texas, arrived at Carlshafen; in November he began making preparations for the arrival of 4,000 new immigrants. Fredericksburg, the society's second colony, was established by Meusebach in 1846 near the Pedernales River, where the year before he had bought over 11,000 acres of headright land.

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Louis E. Brister | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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