830-629-1572 | Open Tue-Sat 10 a.m.-4 p.m., archives by appointment.

Yet another rip-roaring July 4th celebration

Photo caption: Main Plaza before it was curbed.

Photo caption: Main Plaza before it was curbed. (Click image for larger view.)

By Myra Lee Adams Goff —

Historically, the first July 4th celebration in New Braunfels goes back to 1846. The emigrants had arrived only three months earlier on March 21, 1845, when Texas was still the Republic of Texas. Now, in 1846 they could celebrate the national festival commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 because they had become a state of the United States.

Maybe a little Texas history background: Texas became a republic in 1836 after a war with Mexico. Sam Houston was elected the first president of the Republic, and when Anson Jones was president in 1844, he called a special session of the Texas Congress to consider annexation of Texas to the United States. Congress met July 4, 1845, and approved the idea of annexation. The voters of Texas approved statehood overwhelmingly in October of that same year. The next step was approval by the US Congress; Pres. Polk signed the act that made Texas the 28th state of the US on December 29, 1845. Finally, in February of 1846 the last Republic of Texas President Anson Jones turned over the reins of government to the first governor of the new state of Texas, J. L Pinckney Henderson.

Here’s how New Braunfels fits into that picture: The first colonists arrived in Texas when it was a Republic so they were considered Texans. They were in NB not quite three months when the Texas president Anson Jones approved annexation to the United States as a state. They voted with other Texans on annexation in October when it passed. So, in a little over 10 months these emigrants were classified first as German, then as Texans, and finally as Americans.

Dr. Ferdinand Roemer in his book Texas tells of that first July 4th celebration in NB commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence: The headquarters building of the Adelsverein on Sophienburg hill displayed a large American flag. Flag raising was significant because the year before, Prince Carl hoisted an Austrian flag on the Sophienburg and shortly thereafter a group of settlers strung up the Republic of Texas flag on the Plaza. (NB under three flags)

In the early days, cannon firing from Sophienburg hill heralded the beginning of every celebration. One cannon blew up after the Civil War as a result of overheating and the other cannon was then moved to Comaltown to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of NB. To find out what happened to this remaining cannon, refer back to the Sophienburg column on July 8, 2008, in the Herald-Zeitung or our web site.

In 1876, the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence was celebrated in a grand way. Again, for details, see the column on June 26, 2007, or our web-site.

This year’s July 4th celebration and parade sponsored by the Sophienburg begins at 9:15 a.m. (lineup at Sts. Peter & Paul Church parking lot). The Plaza itself is historically significant because it has been the destination of hundreds of parades and gathering points. After a giant 50th Anniversary Celebration of the town in 1895, the city officials decided to add a fountain and erect a curb around the oval shaped plaza with funds left over from this celebration. The purpose of the curb was to keep people from watering their horses in the fountain. The city actually wanted to extend the curb 15 feet all around, but the merchants objected, saying there would be no room for customers to tether their horses. The merchants won. No horses in the fountain, but there were goldfish and a car or two.

This particular July 4th is a dual celebration: that of America’s birthday and the induction of Main Plaza into the National Registry of Historic Places. Come join the Sophienburg on Main Plaza for another rip-roaring Old-time 4th of July Parade and Patriotic Program. When? You guessed it: Monday, July 4, 2022. See you there!

(This article originally appeared June 23, 2009.)