The Mainzer Adelsverein at Biebrich am Rhein (Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas), better known as Adelsverein (German pronunciation: [ˈaːdəlsfɐˌʔaɪn], "Nobility Society"), organized on April 20, 1842, was a colonial attempt to establish a new Germany within the borders of Texas.
Adelsverein was organized on April 20, 1842, by 21 German noblemen at Biebrich on the Rhine, in the castle of the future Adolphe, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, then the reigning Duke of Nassau in Germany, who was named Protector of the Society. In Germany, the society was referred to as Mainzer Adelsverein after the city of Mainz where it was officially registered. The society represented a significant effort to establish a new Germany on Texas soil through organized mass emigration. The land for the emigrants was to be purchased by the Adelsverein or secured through land grants from the Republic of Texas.
On January 9, 1843, Count Ludwig Joseph von Boos-Waldeck bought the 4,428 acre Nassau Plantation in Fayette County for $0.75 an acre and named it for Duke Adolf (who, having lost his duchy to the Prussia in 1866, would become sovereign Grand Duke of Luxembourg by inheritance in 1890). The plantation was maintained by slave labor and operated for the recreational pleasure of the Adelsverein. Initially, the plantation was considered as the primary base for arriving German immigrants. Twenty-five slaves were bought to work on the property. When Prince Solms inspected the plantation in 1844, he recommended the Verein divest itself of the property, rather than be associated with slavery. Gustav Dresel, Special Business Agent for the Adelsverein, sold Nassau plantation on July 28, 1848 to Otto von Roeder. Von Roeder had been the first settler in Shelby, Texas in 1841, a year before the Adelsverein was founded in Germany, and three years before the Adelsverein sent its first colonists to Texas. Von Roeder had emigrated to Texas from Westphalia in the 1830s and was not affiliated with the Adelsverein's colonization efforts. The community of Shelby had been named for David Shelby, one of The Old Three Hundred under Stephen F. Austin. Shelby would become the home of many Adelsverein colonists in 1845, but it was not founded by the organization. Because many of its German settlers spoke Latin, Shelby is believed to be part of the Latin Settlement communities populated in Texas at that time.
Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels was appointed commissioner general by the Adelsverein in May 1844 to lead its colony in Texas. Each head of household was required to deposit 600 gulden (300 gulden for a single person) with the Adelsverein to cover transportation and housing at the colony and as credit to draw upon until they made their first harvest. The first Adelsverein-sponsored immigrants arrived in Galveston in July 1844. They traveled from Galveston to Indianola in December 1844, then moved inland to land grants acquired by the Adelsverein near Comal Springs. Prince Solms named the first colony New Braunfels in honor of his homeland.
After Prince Solms returned to Germany, John O. Meusebach was appointed the second commissioner general of the Adelsverein in April 1845.. He founded the first settlement on the outskirts of the land grant, and named it Fredericksburg, in honor of Adelsverein member Prince Frederick of Prussia. The land grant was located in Comanche territory, and in order to colonize, Meusebach first negotiated a treaty between the German Immigration Company (Adelsverein) and the Penateka Comanche.
A separate agreement was made with the Darmstadt Forty, to settle socialist colonies within the land grant.
In 1853, due to a large amount of debt, Adelsverein ended its colonization campaign in Texas.
Darmstadt Society of Forty
Count Castell negotiated with the separate Darmstadt Society of Forty to colonize 200 families on the Fisher-Miller Land Grant territory in Texas. In return, they were to receive $12,000 in money, livestock, equipment, and provisions for a year. After the first year, the colonies were expected to support themselves. The colonies attempted were Castell, Leiningen, Bettina, Schoenburg and Meerholz in Llano County; Darmstädler Farm in Comal County; and Tusculum in Kendall County. Of these, only Castell survives. The colonies failed after the Adelsverein funding expired, and also due to conflict of structure and authorities. Some members moved to other Adelsverein settlements in Texas. Others moved elsewhere, or returned to Germany.
Fisher-Miller Land Grant colonies
- Bettina, Llano County
- Castell, Llano County
- Leningen, Llano County
- Meerholz, Llano County
- Schoenburg, Llano County
- Fredericksburg, Gillespie County
- Nassau Plantation, Fayette County
- New Braunfels, Comal County
- Sisterdale, Kendall County
- Tusculum, Kendall County
- Gruene, Comal County
- New Ulm, Austin County
- Adolf, Duke of Nassau
- Bernhard II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen
- Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
- Prince Frederick of Prussia
- Friedrich Günther, Prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
- Carl, 3rd Prince of Leiningen
- Prince Hermann von Wied
- Prince Ferdinand von Solms-Braunfels
- Prince Franz von Collerado-Mansfield
- Prince Otto Victor von Schoenberg-Waldenburg
- Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels (Prince of Solms-Braunfels Rheingrafenstein)
- Prince Alexander von Solms-Braunfels
- Count Christian von Alt-Leiningen-Westernburg
- Count Viktor August of Leiningen-Westerburg-Alt-Leiningen
- Count Carl Frederick Christian of Castell-Castell
- Count Carl von Isenburg-Meerholz
- Count Edmund von Hatzfeld
- Count Carl William von Inn und Knyphausen-Lutelsberg
- Count Armand von Rennessee
- Count Carl von Castell
- Baron Paul Scirnay
- Archduke of Nassau – Protector
- Carl, 3rd Prince of Leiningen – President
- Count Carl Frederick Christian of Castell-Castell – Vice President, Executive Secretary-Business Director
- Count Viktor August of Leiningen-Westerburg-Alt-Leiningen – Co-founder
- Count Ludwig Joseph von Boos-Waldeck – Co-Founder
- Baron August von Bibra – General Manager
- Gustav Dresel – Special Business Agent
- Philip Cappes – Special Commissioner
- Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels – First Commissioner-General
- John O. Meusebach – Second Commissioner-General
- Hermann Spiess – Third Commissioner-General
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- King (1967) p.33
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- Shearer, Davis Bowman (1993). Masters and Lords: Mid-19th-Century U.S. Planters and Prussian Junkers. Oxford University Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-19-505281-7.
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- The German Texans
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- King (1967) pp.33,34
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- "House of Leiningen". European Heraldry. Archived from the original on 2012-09-06. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
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- A Guide to the Solms-Braunfels Archives, 1842–1957 at UT-Austin
- August von Bibra in Handbook of Texas Online
- Article: From "The Germans: Geh Mit Ins Texas"
- Adelsverein in Handbook of Texas Online
- Immigration Contract 1845