Dr. James C. Kearney of UT Austin will provide a talk on the Adelsverein, also known as the Mainzer Verein, the Texas-Verein, and officially named the Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas (Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas). Organized in 1842 near Mainz by a group of German noblemen, the society’s goals were both philanthropic and commercial: to establish a new German homeland in Texas based on personal freedom, plentiful land, and the fertile Texas soil.
In May 1842 two agents were sent to explore the country firsthand and purchase a tract of land. The offer made by President Sam Houston was declined since the frontier land was inhabited by hostile Native Americans. Eventually, a tract of land near what is today the town of Industry was selected and purchased. The first immigrants arrived in 1844. Further colonies were New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, etc. The commissioner general, who led the colony, was Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, followed by John O. Meusebach, who successfully negotiated a peace treaty with the Penateka Comanche Tribe, an important and historic pact that was never broken.
Although the Society did not survive long, it helped bring 7,000 German immigrants and set the pattern for future waves of emigration so that Germans became the largest ethnic group in Texas from Europe with the greatest impact on its history in the State. The Germans, who eventually settled in Texas, were as diverse as the land from which they came. They included Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mennonites; Prussians, Saxons, Hessians, Volga Germans from the Ukraine, etc. Each group made unique contributions to the state of Texas through their intellectual and trade skills, and knowledge of agriculture. The distinctive architecture, food, and customs have had a lasting impact even today. There is an ongoing project in which Dr. Kearney plays a key role to
preserve the unique Texas-German dialect.
Dr. James C. Kearney was born and reared on a historic Colorado County Ranch
between Weimar and Columbus where he still makes his home with his wife of
forty years, Paulina van Bavel. They have three grown children and four
grandchildren. He graduated from the University of Texas in 1969 with a dual
major in History and German literature. Thereafter, he was drafted and served
as a combat medic in Vietnam. He subsequently received his PhD from the
Department of Germanic Studies at UT and taught German at Katy High School for a number of years. At the present he lectures at the University of Texas in
Austin and teaches an upper division course on European immigration to Texas in the 19th century.
He is the author of two books: Nassau Plantation; The Evolution of a Texas German Slave Plantation, (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2009) and Friedrichsburg; The Colony of the German Fürstenverein, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011). The latter book received the Summerfield G. Roberts award for the best book on Texas history for the year 2012.
In addition, he also contributed a chapter on European immigration in Texas in the 19th century to a college textbook entitled Understanding Texas History, which is scheduled for release by the University of Oklahoma Press in the fall of 2014.
This March Dr. Kearney completed an annotated translation of Detlev Dunt’s Reise nach Texas in 1834 [Journey to Texas in 1834], the first book published in Germany by an actual emigrant. The book will be released next spring by the University of Texas Press.
Currently, he is collaborating with a German colleague, Ulf Debelius of Marburg, on a comprehensive history of the Society for the Protection of German Emigrants in Texas.