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Murchison should be remembered

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

A month from this day on March 21, New Braunfels will once again observe Founder’s Day. It was the year 1845 when the first emigrants crossed over the Guadalupe River and made their way into what would become their new homeland. Germany was left far behind. The vast majority of those that crossed that day and became the first settlers of the town had never seen Texas before landing in November of 1844. Some that joined Prince Carl on the coast had been in Texas for quite a while.

Four of the more well-known immigrants who had been in Texas a decade or more were Ferdinand Lindheimer, Louis Ervendberg, George Ullrich, and Friedrich von Wrede. Johann Rahm and Daniel Murchison had been with Jack Hays’ Ranger group in San Antonio when they joined the Adelsverein. They all joined the Adelsverein at the coast and came with that first group of settlers.

Not very well-known was Daniel Murchison. He was born in North Carolina in 1809 and arrived in Texas in 1832. He was a soldier in the War for Texas Independence and received many land grants for military service and for surveying for the Republic. Murchison had a town lot in the fledgling town of Austin and in 1840 he joined Capt. Jack Coffee Hays’ Spy Company. Brave men were the only protection on the Texas frontier and these groups of men were called “ranging companies” or also called “spy companies”.  Organized groups would later be called Texas Rangers.

Daniel Murchison was with Jack Hays in San Antonio when he met Prince Carl. He joined the militia of Prince Carl that was organized to accompany the emigrants in their trek inland as well as to protect them while they were in the new settlement. He accompanied the group and was given land.

After Meusebach took Prince Carl’s place, he disbanded the militia and organized another company with Lt. Murchison as leader. Rudolph Biesele in “The History of the German Settlements in Texas, 1831-1861” states that Meusebach left New Braunfels looking to establish a settlement due to additional emigrants on the way. Meusebach found a tract of land north of the Pedernales River about 80 miles from New Braunfels.  Meusebach organized a surveying party of 36 men equipped with wagons, tools, provisions and guns under the command of Lieutenants Bene, Groos and Murchison. They were to lay out a wagon road from New Braunfels to the new settlement. After the surveying expedition returned to New Braunfels, preparations were made to send the first settlers to what would become Fredericksburg.

In 1850 Daniel Murchison married immigrant Wilhelmina Holzgrefe from Hannover.  The 1860 census lists Daniel, 47, and wife Wilhelmina, 27, five children and two Holzsgrefe relatives living with them .He was politically involved in the community and served in the Texas Legislature in 1866 where he was on the initial committee to revise the state constitution.

In the old section of the Comal Cemetery is a lot with two identical obelisks, one for Daniel Murchison who died Feb. 22, 1867, and the other for his widow. After Murchison died, his wife, children and servant Hugh McCrainey moved to the Murchison’s ranch in Llano County. Six years later, Mrs. Murchison died and was buried at her husband’s side. The young children were then raised by the servant McCrainey.

Texans who emigrated independently of the Adelsverein like Murchison and others should be remembered as we once again observe Founder’s Day.  And let’s give Prince Carl credit for having the foresight to invite them.Comal County Deed Records show Murchison’s name many times as the agent for land owners who were selling lots in Braunfels and Comaltown, across the Comal River from New Braunfels. An agreement between land owner Rafael Garza and land agent Murchison stated that Murchison was to sell lots between the Comal Springs and the Guadalupe rivers (Comaltown and adjoining land) for fifteen percent of what he could get for the lots, and to “prevent the cutting of timber of said land and to prosecute trespassers on the same”. The 1881 map by Augustus Koch shows that the present Central St. was formerly named Murchison St. That street was stemmed off by the building of the railroad track.

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COMALTOWN MAP - 1881 Birds Eye View, drawn by Augustus Koch.