The Hill Country’s German heritage will be celebrated in this year’s One Book/One Community project of the Blanco Library. “Lone Star and Eagle,” an exhibit picturing the German immigration in the 1840s and subsequent settlement of this area, opened March 1 and runs through March 28.
Three titles have been selected as featured books and are now available at the library. The One Book/One Community project is designed to bring together local readers to explore one topic. In addition to the exhibit, two evening programs later in the month will feature the German Heritage theme.
The German Settlement of the Texas Hill Country by Jefferson Morgenthaler of Boerne, Orphans on the Guadalupe by Frances Alexander, who was born in Blanco, and “A Paradise Called Texas by Janice Jordan Shefelman of Austin are this year’s featured books.
“Each of these books is written on a different level—one for youth, one for young adults, and one for adults,” explained Jan Redmond, library director. “However, each one gives a fascinating look at the history of German culture and influence in the hill country. We have multiple copies ready to be checked out as well as other books from our collection on this subject.”
The exhibit contains reproductions of archival photographs, newspaper headlines, maps, and paintings which tell the story of “a people remarkable for individual and communal industry in setting down roots and adapting ways of the old country to life in a new world,” according to Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which has made the exhibit possible. The content was created by Goethe-Institut Houston.
German immigrants were lured to Texas by glowing letters sent to the land-hungry Europeans. Led by an association of 5 princes and 16 noblemen, some 20,000 Germans were transplanted in this area in the 1840s. In spite of harsh conditions, hostile Indians, cholera and yellow fever, and the U.S. war with Mexico, they endured and flourished. Vibrant hill country towns such as New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, Boerne and Comfort established a foothold that led to settlement of many other small towns in the area.
Blanco descendents of these pioneers will have an opportunity to share family photographs and stories on the evening of March 12 when the library will host a celebration of German heritage.
On March 19, Morgenthaler will be at the library for an evening program when he will speak about his book and his research into the German settlement of the hill country.