By Myra Lee Adams Goff
Prince Carl, leader of the Adelsverein emigration group and Alamo hero Jim Bowie were vastly different from each other. And yet, the two had a round-about connection. They were both in Texas at about the same time, they both had a New Braunfels connection, and they made enough of an impact to be in history books.
By now, you probably know about Prince Carl’s role in the founding of NB, but do you know how Jim Bowie fits in the picture?
At the Sophienburg, Joy Alexander recently researched the Juan Martin de Veramendi family. He became the vice governor of Coahuila y Tejas 1831. Alexander was led on a path of this interesting story: Ambitious young Jim Bowie floated lumber to market and invested his funds in property, often without a clear title. With a somewhat shaky reputation, he loved hunting, fishing, riding wild horses, and trapping alligators and bears. A true adventurer!
Bowie and his brother engaged in the slave trade with the pirate Lafitte on Galveston Island. Hot-tempered Bowie got in a fight with a banker who wouldn’t give him a loan and the banker fired a gun at him, leading to a gun fight. One story goes that Bowie’s brother provided him with a large butcher-like hunting knife and he won the fight with the “Bowie knife”.
In 1830 Bowie came to Texas and posing as a man of wealth, introduced himself to Juan Veramendi, He went into business with Veramendi. and then married his daughter, Ursula. Some stories say they had two children and that the president of Mexico, Santa Anna, was godfather to one of them. Bowie was on the receiving end of the Veramendi family, even moving into their palace. He spent little time at home, as he looked for lost gold in the San Saba mines.
In 1833, Ursula, her children, and her parents died of cholera in Coahuila, Mexico. Meanwhile Bowie was ill with yellow fever and did not know of their deaths. Interestingly, he wrote a will in which he left his estate to his brother and sister. Three years later Jim Bowie died in the Alamo. Speculation is that he was incapacitated with TB, but the movies show him battling from his cot with his famous Bowie Knife.
Now let’s compare Bowie with Prince Carl.
Prince Carl was born at Neustrelitz on July 27, 1812. He had many prestigious relatives, not the least of which were Queen Victoria and Czar Alexander of Russia. The handsome spirited youth was educated as a soldier and because of his family connections, he secured many prestigious military assignments and awards.
In 1839 he was sentenced by a Prussian Court to four months in prison for AWOL. (Source: “Handbook of Texas”). At the age of 22 he married a “commoner” and they had three children (a no no for him) and divorced her in 1841.
Prince Carl then worked to promote the Adelsverein to sponsor emigration to Texas. He made quite a stir in his military get-up when he arrived in Galveston in 1844. Right after the settlers arrived, he purchased the Comal Tract from landowners Rafael Garza and wife Maria, heirs to Juan Veramendi.
The Prince stayed in New Braunfels two months and left to marry Princess Sophie. Back in Germany he continued his military career, retired as field marshal in 1868, and died in 1875 at the age of 63.
Now here’s the Bowie/Solms connection, as remote as it is: Bowie’s father-in-law, Juan Martin de Veramendi, was also the father-in-law of Rafael Garza, married to Maria Veramendi, from whom Prince Carl bought the Comal Tract. (Ursula Bowie and Maria Garza were sisters)
Really stretch your imagination and you just might say that there is a connection between the Sophienburg and the Alamo.