Exploring the German Roots of New Braunfels

As an expert on the history and culture of New Braunfels, I am often asked why this charming town in Texas has such a strong German influence. The answer lies in its founding and the subsequent influx of German settlers who left a lasting impact on the city's traditions and celebrations. New Braunfels was established in 1845 by Prince Carl de Solms-Braunfels, commissioner general of the Adelsverein of Mainzer, also known as the Society of Nobles. The prince named the settlement after his hometown in Germany, Solms-Braunfels. The Adelsverein was responsible for organizing hundreds of people in Germany to settle in Texas, with the goal of creating a new German principality within the Republic of Texas. One of the most prominent German districts within New Braunfels is Gruene, founded by the sons of settlers Ernst and Antoinette Gruene.

This area is known for its lively music venues, wine festivals, and open market events that contribute to the city's vibrant culture. The Gruene Dancehall, dubbed the “oldest dance hall in Texas”, has hosted legendary Texas country music artists like George Strait.Located between San Marcos and San Antonio, New Braunfels is considered one of the most well-known German cities in Texas. As a member of the local hiking club and a teacher at various museums and sites dedicated to preserving the city's German heritage, I have seen firsthand how deeply rooted this influence is in New Braunfels. The Adelsverein also established other settlements in Texas, with Fredericksburg being the largest one located 80 miles northwest of New Braunfels. The group continues to celebrate their German heritage through annual events like Maskenball (costume dance) and Weihnachtsfest (Christmas party), as well as more casual activities like bowling and playing skat, a popular German card game. Since its founding in 1978, Suhr-Hollis' has been an integral part of the German social scene in New Braunfels.

This company was one of the first to bring German settlers to Texas, with Johann Friedrich Ernst (also known as Friedrich Dirks) receiving over 4,000 acres of land in Stephen F. Austin's colony. However, the name “New Braunfels” was already taken in the state, so they chose the current designation in honor of Stephen F. Münster, the capital of Westphalia in Germany. As you explore New Braunfels, you will notice that the closer you get to these German settlements, the more it feels like you have left Texas and entered a picturesque German countryside.

This unique blend of cultures is what makes New Braunfels such a special place to visit. If you want to learn more about the Germans in New Braunfels, be sure to visit the Gruene region. The historic buildings and worn rings on the streets are authentic and a testament to the ingenuity of German settlers. As a native of New Braunfels, I am proud to be part of the Convention and Visitors Bureau at the Chamber of Commerce, promoting our city's rich heritage. While New Braunfels has seen some modern developments, there is a strong effort to preserve its German roots and charm. However, with more domestic companies than local ones, there is a delicate balance between growth and maintaining the city's unique identity.

As the director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, I am constantly working to promote our German heritage and attract visitors to experience the best of both German and American cuisine, including Texas barbecue, in our charming town. For those interested in learning more about the Germans in New Braunfels, I highly recommend reading “Abroad at Home” by National Geographic Books. This book explores various international experiences in the United States and Canada, including the rich German culture found in New Braunfels.In December 1845, Texas became a state of the United States of America, ending any hopes of establishing a German principality within the Republic of Texas. However, the German influence in New Braunfels continues to thrive and is a significant part of our city's identity. So come visit us and experience the best of both worlds – a taste of Germany in the heart of Texas.

Lyle Wilburn
Lyle Wilburn

Award-winning tv fanatic. Avid travel lover. Hipster-friendly coffee aficionado. Passionate social media expert. Hardcore zombie fan. Certified tv advocate.

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