John O Muesebach.

Answer to interrogatories in case no. 396, Mary C. Paschal et al., vs. Theodore Evans, District Court of McCulloch County, Texas .. online

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"A *N 'osmoiA^ — — ;


IN CASK NO. 396,

District Court of McCulloch County, Texas.
November Term, 1893.


Copyrighted, 1894.


Pemberton Press.

No. 1 Pemherton Parkway.

Reprinted 1964.


IN CASi: NO. 396,

District Court of McCulloch County, Texas.
November Term, 1893.


Copyrighted, 1894.



No. 1 PtMBtRTON Parkway.
Reprinthd 1964.

Sa:\ i a BAiiBiUiA


Interrogatory No. 1: — What is your name, age,
residence and nativity; and if you state that you
now live in Mason county, Texas, then state hov7 long
vou have lived there and how long have you been in

Answer to Interrogatory No. 1: — My name is
John O. Meusebach, as naturalized in Texas in 1845.
Became a citizen of the United States by annexation.
My age is 81^ years; residence Loyal Valley, Mason
county, Texas. Nativity, kingdom of Prussia. Lived
in Loyal Valley since 1869, and in Texas since 1845.
Since 1869 I have been ruined three times by elemen-
tary forces, by water, tornado, and fire; three times
by accidents, by breaking left foot, right arm, and
by rupture, and a periodical swelling of feet
makes it impossible for me to leave my house or room
since about two years. I mention these personalities
in order to explain why I cannot hunt up testimony
or documents outside of my house, nor trust to my
memory with absolute certainty as to facts and events
which happened nearly half a century ago. Still I
base rny answer to interrogatories mostly on such
printed or other documents, which I consider official,
so far as I could get hold of them. If incomplete,
the fault must be ascribed to circumstances, if incor-
rect, the authors are responsible.

Interrogatory No. 2: — Do you know anything
about the German Emigration Company? If yea,
state all you know about its origin, its existence, and
its connections with Fisher's and Miller's Colony.

Give history of it, with dates, as near as 3-011 can,
and give the different names by which said company
was knowm.

Answer to Interrogatory No. 2: — I know
something about the German Emigration Company.


In 1842, a company, at first small in members and
means, excited b}^ the glorious achievements of the
young Republic of Texas, and the glowing descrip-
tions of its beautiful climate, fertile lands, and other
resources, had been organized in Germany and had
sent two of its members to Texas, in order to ascer-
tain the truth and to report whether the country was
a favorable field of operation for emigration on a
large scale, or for financial speculation in lands on a
small scale only.

The reports from Texas being favorable, and an
additional number of shareholders with ample means
having been secured, it was concluded at a general
meeting to drop the idea of financial speculation and
to organize as an association with the avowed pur-
pose of aiding and leading the emigration to Texas
on a large scale, and to carry the operations on a
basis of philanthropical principles, excluding all polit-
ical or money-making financial projects.

(See notice signed officially by Count Castell, lead-
ing director of the company, dated ]\Iay 11, 1845, and
printed in "the German settlements of Texas." —
Bonn, 1845, page 4.)

Under the name of "The Association for the Pro-
tection of German Emigrants to Texas;"

Subsequentlv known as "The German Emigration

This company being mostl}^ composed of princes
and noblemen, was definitely organized and chartered

in the Dukedom of Nassau, May 3, 1844. — (See White,
page 3.) ...

The company — its members being neither business
men nor financiers — fell an easy prey into the hands
of shrewd land speculators. At first, a specula-
tive Frenchman, Bourgeois d'Orvanne, having heard
of the intentions of the company, and being in pos-
session of a so-called grant-concession in Western
Texas, offered it for sale. Head over heels his offer
was accepted, notwithstanding that his contract
showed on its face that it was already forfeited, but
probably under the condition that an extension of
time could be obtained from Congress of Texas.

In April, 1844, Prince Solms was appointed trus-
tee and general agent, and Bourgeois d'Orvanne as
colonial director, and both started in May for Texas,
for the purpose of making the necessary arrange-
ments for the reception of the emigrants to be shipped
in the fall of 1844, and for the transportation and
settlement of the same on their lands. (See page 27
Coll. Doc, 1845, and White's brief, p. 4.) ^

Failing to get from Congress an extension of time
for d'Orvanne's grant, the Prince wrote in a private
letter to the director inKurope "that they were now
in the disagreeable situation of having emigrants
coming and no lands to grant to them." If he had
added that land could be bought at the rate of from
5 cents to 10 cents per acre at that time, w^ithout
onerous conditions attached to it, he would perhaps
have kept the directors from another hasty beginning.
Because just at this time Henry Francis Fisher, from
Texas, a part owner of the so-called Fisher and Mil-
ler grant or Colonization Contract, made with Pres.
Sam Houston, September 1, 1843, arrived in Germany
and offered his contract for sale. Head over heels
the offer was accepted and an agreement signed June
24, 1844, by which Fisher and Miller transferred and
conveyed to the German Kmigration Company their

rio^hts in the Colonization Contract which they held
with the Republic of Texas. The Company under-
took to supply the emi^^rants contracted for, and to
fulfill the other conditions of the j^rant concession.
(White's brief, p. 4.)

With the buying of that grant the doom of
the company was sealed. They did not know
what they bought. They undertook to fulfill what
was impossible to fulfill. They did not have the
means nor the time to fulfill it. Neither of the
contracting" parties nor their agents had ever
seen a particle of the land in question. The ter-
ritory set aside for settlement was more than three
hundred miles from the coast more, than one hundred
and fifty miles outside of all settlements, and in the
undisturbed possession of hostile Indians. The
government had promised no aid to take it out of
the hands of the Indians. It had to be con-
quered by force or by treaty. With the money
paid to Fisher & Miller, which after all was not
much over S9000, the Company could have bought
180,000 acres (more or less) of good titled lands or
headrig^hts without onerous conditions attached to

o ....

them, and could have located their colonies withm or
ritrht near to the settlements without over-hastening
their operations. I used twice the expression "head
over heels," because a simple study of the wording
of the colonization contract, of the laws of Texas,
and of the land market in Texas at that time, would
have w^arned the Company to keep their hands off
from contracting blindly for onerous colonization con-
tracts of other parties.

The time allowed for the importation of one-third
of the families intended to be introduced, DIRECTLY
FROM EUROPE, was only eighteen months, and nine
months twenty-one da3's had already .elapsed when
the contract was made with Fisher & Miller.

It is true that by a joint resolution of the Legis-

lature of Texas, dated January 29, 1845, the time for
the introduction of one-third of the emigrants was
extended till the first of March, 1846, but this act of
liberalit}^ on the part of the Legislature — subse-
quently passed — does not excuse the light-minded
action in closing the contract with Fisher seven
months before the passage of the liberal act.

In place of ordering their own agent (Prince Solms)
then residing in Texas, to examine personally^ the
territory in question and to report, the leading "direc-
tor in Europe relied exclusively, and with a credulity
hardly to be conceived, on the statements of the ven-
dor, who had an interest to sell as quick as possible,
and therefore to make it plausible that with 200,000
florins, at 40c., the whole colonization of 6000 fami-
lies and all the promises to the emigrants, based on
erroneous calculations, could be carried out.

To carry out such a contract to the letter, with
the promises held out to the emigrants, w^ould have
required half a million of dollars, and not a pittance
of 200,000 fl., at 40c., equal to ?80,000.— The Com-
pany was under the impression that they bought land
(and no doubt arable land).

"Notice. — That Bourgeois d'Orvanne's contract
has been declared forfeited by Congress of Texas,
and that the Company has made another contract
with H. Fisher, by which the more northerly situ-
ated extraordinarily fertilei^) and healthy lands on
right side of the Colorado River have been acquired
and got \TX possession of the Company.

"The Directory.

"11th December, 1844." (Coll. Doc, p. 81.)

"Of the lands which the Company has acquired
for their German emigrants, it is to be mentioned
that they heretofore belonged to Fisher, from whom
the Company has bought them. It is an area of


3,878,000 acres, of which 640,000 acres are in one con-
nected body." (Hdbk., 1846, p. 80.

That is to say: that by a subsequent act of the
Legislature, dated January 29, 1845 (Paschal's Dig.,
p. 278), the contractors were allowed to settle some
of the alternate sections with emigrants for defence
against the Indians, not to exceed one-twelfth part
of all the alternates, and under the condition to set
aside a like amount of land for the government, and
have it surveyed at their own expense.

Fisher & Miller had no lands to sell at all; but
only their rights in the Colo7tizatio7t Contract
which they had with the Republic of Texas.

The colonization contract did not donate a par-
ticle of land to the contractor without onerous con-
ditions. It did only set aside a territory which was
in actual possession of hostile Indians, with the right
to introduce, within eighteen months (afterwards till
1st of March, 1846), one-third of the families to be
introduced from Kurope, not to exceed 6000 families,
and to settle them on these lands, and select for them
suitable locations. And after these emigrants had
been living on their lands for three successive years,
had built a house on it, had fenced and cultivated fif-
teen acres, (afterwards by subsequent liberal legisla-
tion, if the}^ had only cultivated apart of it,) it prom-
ised to donate and make title to each family for 640
acres, to each single man 320 acres. To the contrac-
tor the government allowed ten sections of 640 acres
for each full 100 families, and ten half sections of
320 acres for each full 100 single men, actually set-
tled within that territory in the hands of hostile In-
dians. On the 23d of August, 1851, Fisher & Miller
appeared before Granville H. Sherwood, Commis-
sioner of the Colony, and proved under oath that the
German Emigration Company had introduced and
settled 1600 families and 1000 single men, and that
therefore headrii^hts for 160 sections of 640 acres

and 100 half sections of 320 acres had to be made
out as premium sections which the}- claimed, under a
pretended judgment, to be made out in their names.
Commissioner Sherwood did so, but the Commissioner
of the General Land Office refused to acknowledge
the legality.

When the petition of Fisher & Miller, to legalize
these certificates, came up in the House of Repre-
sentatives, in the spring of 1852, the Hon. Sam Mav-
erick, of Bexar, got up with a fulminant speech,
which — thundering that you could hear it in both
houses — he concluded with the following words:

"They say (Fisher & Miller) that they got a judg-
ment; it is a snap judgment; gotten up in a dark
corner; it is a fraud, a fraud, a fraud!"

The House did reject the petition. — At that time
the German Emigration Company had yet some
agents or trustees; whether they have instituted suit
to annul these certificates I do not know. But in 1856,
when the Company had been dissolved or disorgan-
ized for years, and was not defended any more, Fisher
& Miller succeeded in carrving act of February 1st,
1856. (Paschal's Dig., p. 2^52.)

The grant concession forced the contractor to re-
serve, set aside, and have surveved alternate sections
for the Republic of Texas (premium and school lands
excepted). It allowed to make contract with each
emigrant for transfer of not more than one-half of
his land to the contractor. The emigrant could only
make title after he had acquired title.

Under the impression that they owned land, the
Company promised to donate to each family 320
acres, and to each single man 160 acres. It could
just as well have been said that each emigrant do-
nated land to the Company. But neither of them
did so; the donor was the Re]:)ublic of Texas.

Most of the bombastic pamphlets, advertisements,
plans, statutes, programs, and regulations, of which


a orreat many, I suspect, were from the pen of the
Colonial Director, Bourgeois d'Orvanne, a French-
man, — were made for circumstances, which for
Fisher & Miller's grant in reality did not exist.
That was the first result of the over hastened ac-
quirement of a contract which they had either not
read, or not understood, the bearings and conse-
quences of which were fully overlooked. I take from
White's brief, page 4, the correct statement of the
further proceedings of the Company's agent in

"Prince Solms came to Texas in advance for the
purpose of making the necessary arrangements for
the reception of the emigrants and their transpor-
tation to, and settlement (after annullment of d'Or-
vanne's grant) now upon the land granted to Fisher
& Miller. Arrived here he found that the lands
were in a wild and unsettled region^ infested with
dangerous tribes of hostile savages, and far re-
moved from access to the actual necessities of life.
Under these circumstances, in order to effect the ob-
jects of the Company, and at the same time as a
matter of justice to, convenience for, and comfort
and protection of the colonists, he found it neces-
sary to establish towns and depots at suitable dis-
tances from the point of their disembarkation at the
coast, up to the interior of the country. With this
view he selected as his first town Carlshaven, on
Matagorda bay, now known as the city of Indianola.
The second depot was established at the junction of
Conlal creek with the Guadalupe river, now known
as the city of New Braunfels."

(The third and last depot was selected, located,
surveyed and settled with emigrants by his successor
in office, it being the town 'of Fredericksburg, Gil-
lespie county.)

White's brief, page 6: "The first ship of the


Company, 'Johaiin Dethard,*' landed at Galveston the
23d day of November, 1844. On their arrival in
Texas these emigrants were informed that owing to
the reasons above enumerated, the Company were un-
able to convey them to, and put them into immediate
possession of the land promised, and in consideration
of this failure of the Company to forward them on
to the grant, the Company would give to each of the
colonists a lot or homestead in one or other of the
towns or depots established by them. A few days
after the purchase of the Comal tract (March 14, 1845)
the emigrants arrived there and went into camp.
The Prince immediately went to work with his engi-
neers to lay off the tov/n into convenient building and
farming lots. After this was done and the maps and
plots were prepared, the lots were distributed to the

On the 24th of February, 1845, I was appointed
as successor of Prince Solms, and as trustee and
general agent of the German E^migration Company
in Texas. In April, 1845, I believe, I landed at Gal-
veston. I was advised by the directory of the Com-
pany in Europe, to have the balance credit of Prince
Solms, — if any was left with the banker, — trans-
ferred to me. In place of a balance credit, I found
only debts. Financially I found the affairs of the
Company in the greatest confusion and disorder. The
pi:ince had already experienced that all the estimates
made by the directory in Kurope, with the aid of
Fisher (the vendor of the grant concession) were by
far underrated, no matter whether intentionally or
unintentionally; that the shipping of frame houses,
goods, provisions, and emigrants with unlimited bag-
gage from Galveston to Matagorda bay; that the
camping, moving, transporting, and supplying such
a large body with provisions, required more than 10
times the amount of the estimates. After he had
carried his emigrants up from the coast in good or-


der, and settled them on a preliminary homestead he
thought his mission ended, and would under no cir-
cumstances remain in Texas. He did not pretend to
be a financier, but I guess he foresaw the storm com-

In traveling up from the coast (Carlshaven) I was
bothered nearly every step of the way by the pre-
sentation of claims against the Company. Arrived
at New Braunfels I ordered the treasurer to make
up a complete statement of all assets, credits, and
debits of the Company in Texas. Was told that
that was impossible; The Prince, the treasurer, the
doctor, the engineer had written, drawn or made out
due bills, drafts or notes, without having them booked
by the treasurer. In order to get some reliable in-
formation in reference to the financial standing and
operations of the Company in Texas, I concluded to
follow the Prince to Galveston, to which place he
had started a few days before my arrival at New
Braunfels. Found him there with an attachment
brought out by some uneasy creditor of the Com-
pany. Lifted the attachment by paying the claim
out of my credit under the condition that he would
urge the directory in Europe to send immediately,
and without waiting for report, a credit twice as
large as I had along, because the items picked up by
me on the road in traveling, showed already an in-
debtedness to that amount. I told him that the wel-
fare of the emigrants depended for the present on
the means of the Company who had promised to sup-
ply them in provisions until they could raise a crop,
and to furnish them with everything necessary to
make a crop either for pay or on a credit.

I have no doubt but that the Prince did notify the
directory in Europe according to promise. But they
had at that time probably no more available means
on hand. It is a remarkable fact that of the thou-
sand critics who undertook to criticise the doings of


the Company and of myself, none has found out that
the Company — with the utmost naivete and an ad-
mirable frankness — published a statement (Coll. Doc.
pp. 67-74) in the spring of 1845, in which they
proved that they were already bankrupt at that time,
that is to say, that all available funds were exhausted
by the first shipment of 700 emigrants in the fall of
1844. (It is true that on paper they showed a rem-
nant of 50,000 florins equal to $20,000, but_ the debts
left by the administration of the Prince did overrun
that amount as I proved by a complete statement
made by myself and sent to Kurope in August, 1845.)
To show what their ideas were I let them speak for

Coll. Doc. p. 67: "The sum of 200,000 florins
($80,000) is more than sufficient to defray the ex-
penses of the first expendition (the 700 shipped in
1844) and to care for their settlement till they can
exist by their own exertions."

For the future all expenses will be covered by the
deposits of the emigrants.

"Of the deposit of a single emigrant at 300 fl.,
the Company receives 150 fl. There remains there-
fore for him a credit of 150 fl." (Coll. Doc. pp. 74,
75, 76.)

But even that calculation was an error; because
among the items charged to the emigrants in their
accounts and considered as above stated, to go to
the pocket of the Company, there were:

1. The delivery of a house in the colony on the
emigrant's land for $24, and

2. The transportation from the landing place at
Galveston by sea to Matagorda bay, by land to the
colony, shipment 1844 for $4 per person, 1845 for $8,
1846 for $11.20.

A house could not be delivered for less than $100.
The transportation to colony for not less than $20
to $30. The houses had to be l)uilt in Texas, not in


German}'. The expenses for transportation were to
be made in Texas. The money for both items should
have been at disposal in Texas, before the arrival of

Having- failed to get from the Prince in Galveston,
any reliable information in regard to the financial
operations of the Company and their debts, and hav-
ing been referred again to the treasurer at New
Braunfels, who had declared that he could not make
a full statement, I had to go to work at it myself.
I restored order in the financial department, and by
close management inspired the creditors with confi-
dence, and would have kept both order and confi-
dence, but for some new stupendous blunders on the
part of the directory in Europe in the shipment of
the emigrants in the fall of 1845. In August, 1845,
I had sent a complete statement of all amounts, cred-
its and debits of the Compau}^ in Texas, showing
that a debt of S19,460.02 was left b}' my predecessor
in office; contracted for the transportation, settle-
ment, and entertainment of the emigrants of 1844,
since their disembarkation at Galveston in the fall of
1844 till August, 1845, besides using up my own
credit of S10,000 for the same purpose. Till to arrival
of the new emigrants 1st of November, 1845, the debt
for entertainment of the old ones did overrun S24,000,
I requested the directory in Europe to send immedi-
ately this amount as a separate fund, irrespective of
the amounts necessary for the reception of new emi-
grants to be shipped iu the fall of 1845, and for fur-
ther operations. At my departure from Europe in
Februar}^ 1845, I had been informed that the Com-
pany intended to make a large shipment of emigrants
in the fall. But till end of August, and later, I had
not been notified that they did ship any, and how
many. Still I thought it advisable to make prepa-
rations for a preliminary settlement as soon as I got
my hands free fr(mi other more urgent business, and


knowing that the divStance from New Braunfels to
the colony was 150 miles or more, this time entirely
outside of all settlements, and in the Indian country,
and that for the safety of the colonists, it was ab-
solutely necessary to make another depot on the
nearest road to the colony, I started out on a prelimi-
nary reconnaissance. The only available point was
found on the waters of the Pedernales river, 70 to
75 miles northwest from New Braunfels, it being
about half the distance to the limits of the grant.
Returning from reconnaissance, and the treasury be-
ing empty as customary, I bought 10,000 acres of
headrights on a credit, raised and equipped a survey-
ing party, selected, located, and surveyed a connected
body of arable land, well watered and timbered on
tributaries of Pedernales river, and had a wagon
road made from New Braunfels directly to the future
settlement. The whole tract was afterwards laid
out in town lots and 10 acres lots, to be divided out
gratuitously among the emigrants of 1845 and 1846
as preliminary homesteads, and is now known as the
town of Fredericksburg, Gillespie county.

When I came back to New Braunfels, I believe it
was end of October or 1st of November, 1845, I
found there the first letters from the leading direc-
tor of the Company, notifying me that they had
shipped 4000 emigrants, and that they had opened
to me two new credits with banker at New Orleans
of $6000 and $18,000, or $24,000 in all. Not a word
that they had sent also their debts (part of deposits
of emigrants) in checks or orders drawn on the
empty colonial treasury.

The Company introduced

1844, 700 emigrants according to p. 79 Tex. hand-
book, 1846.

1845, 4304 emigrants, according to ship list in


1846, 2376 emigrants, according to ship list in

Total, 7380,
without counting those not directly imported trom
Europe — several hundreds in number.

They promised "goods and provisions must be de-
livered to the emigrants till to next, and next follow-
ing crops." (Coll. Doc. page 33, Handbook, pages
85, 91.)

It follows: 1. That an army of 5000 emigrants
(of 1844 and 1845) had to be kept in goods and pro-

1 3