By Myra Lee Adams Goff
The fact is that New Braunfels was never ever intended to be the final destination of the German emigrants in 1845! It’s a rather complicated story, but let’s give it a try.
Indian tribes had lived in the Texas area for 37,000 or more years followed by Spanish and French explorers in the 1500s, claiming land for their countries. The Texas area became “New Spain” after Cortes conquered Mexico City from the Aztecs. Before the end of the 17th century, France challenged Spain’s right to Texas, founded a colony in east Texas which ultimately failed.
While Texas was still under Spanish control in 1807, a land speculator named Baron de Bastrop purchased four leagues of land on the Guadalupe which included the Comal Springs. This land would later be referred to as the Veramendi Tract (later called the Comal Tract).
Mexican independence from Spain came in 1821 and consequently the Mexican flag flew over Texas. Then in 1825, the vice-governor of Texas and Coahuila, Juan de Veramendi, petitioned the Mexican government for 11 leagues of land, which also included the Veramendi Tract (Comal Tract). When Juan de Veramendi died, son Marcos, daughter Maria and her husband Rafael Garza, inherited this tract.
When Prince Carl on behalf of the Adelsverein decided to purchase the Comal Tract, he discovered that the land did not have a clear title because of the Bastrop purchase under Spanish rule. The Veramendi/Garza family was asking $1,111 for 1,265 acres. The Prince offered to pay the first $500 and the rest thirty days after settlement of the suit for clear title. The Adelsverein filed bankruptcy and a clear title was not obtained. In 1852 the heirs of Juan Veramendi filed suit against the citizens of NB to reclaim the land which they claimed had not been paid for. In 1854 the Supreme Court of Texas ruled in favor of the Veramendi heirs, however, after numerous court cases, settlement finally came in 1879 in favor of the NB citizens with the help of attorney Hermann Seele. A copy of that settlement can be found in brass at the Pioneer statue in Landa Park.
The Comal Tract was not the original destination of the settlers. The original destination was the Bourgeois/Ducos grant on the Medina River northwest of the Comal Tract, however, Alexander Bourgeois’ contract with the Republic of Texas was not renewed. Because of the small amount of good land left in the tract, Solms decided he would have to look elsewhere.
About the same time two men, Fisher and Miller, acquired large plots of land north of the Comal Tract on the San Saba and Llano Rivers and negotiated with the Adelsverein for purchase. The prince received news of this transaction at the same time that he was informed that the emigrants were about to arrive. Due to the distance from the coast, he decided that a way-station must be attained. And so on March 15, 1845, just six days before the first emigrants crossed the Guadalupe, the prince purchased the Veramendi Tract.
The contract of the emigrants with the Adelsverein stated that each head of family would receive 320 acres, with single men receiving 160 acres. When the emigrants crossed the Guadalupe to the Veramendi Tract, they were told that they would receive only one half acre lot and one 10 acre plot, a far cry from the original promise. A few went on to claim their Fisher/Miller land, but not many.
Soon disappointment turned to resignation as the beauty and practicality of the place revealed itself. They called the town “Comal Springs” and it was not named New Braunfels until April 30, 1845, right before Prince Carl left for home in Germany…
“In Neu Braunfels ist es schon” ( an adaptation of Zoellner’s “In der Heimat ist es schon”)