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this time, when the sun of human progress approaches
its meridian, the world has been but a vast arena
in which all have had to struggle, and in which the
strong have ever triumphed and the weak have ever
perished. At first, and for many weary centuries,
cunning and brute force determined results. Now
it is mind that sways the destinies of men and
nations. The weapons used are of later make.
Now that the moral sense has been more fully de-
veloped, the combats are not so revolting, but the
ability and skill required are greater and the battles
fought equally fierce and unrelenting.

The savage desired to maintain his occupancy of
a piece of soil that suited his purpose, to seize the
flocks of a neighbor or to reduce an adjoining tribe
to slavery — to make others toil for him — deal out
destruction at will and to himself enjoy ease, com-
fort and security. Such was his idea of power and
happiness. The modern ideal is to meet disap-
pointments and reverses with fortitude and cour-
age, conquer diflSculties, accumulate wealth, be
widely useful and helpful, and maintain, from the
cradle to the grave, a probity of character that will
excite the respect of contemporaries and be a source
of just pride to descendants. It is a loftier ideal,
truly, and one more difficult to attain, but, many
noble-minded men and women have reached it.
The youth, when he girds him for the fight, and
steps out into the world's great arena, little dreams
of what awaits him in the fray. Confidently he
rushes into the mass to struggle with competitors.
How many are disappointed ! How many prove too
weak of purpose, of mind, of will ! How many
listen to the siren songs of the demons of unrest,
dissipation, vice and idleness! Out of a hundred,
fifty will barely manage to live on to the
final summons by acting as the agents and in-
struments of others, thirty, their early hopes
blown aloft like feathers of fancy and whistled



down the chill blasts of Destiny's December,
will be moderately successful ; nineteen prove a
curse to society and only one gains the laurel- wreath
of victory. These are truths that hold good as to
all pursuits, professions and avocations. Not one
quality alone, but many are required for the at-
tainment of what is worthy to be dignified with the
name of success. In commercial pursuits, more,
perhaps, that in any other department of human
effort, are varied abilities essential. The dangers
that threaten wreck and disaster lie thick upon every
hand and the competition is nowhere more deter-
mined, or the clash of mind with mind keener or
more constant.

Natural aptitude, clearness of mental prevision,
soundness of judgment, capacity alike for planning
and executing and the power to control men and
make them faithful, willing and capable instruments
for the accomplishment of fixed purposes are some
of the prerequisites necessary for the attainment of
any considerable eminence as a merchant, financier
or in anj' of the higher commercial walks.

Few men are so widely known in Texas or have
done more for the development of the agricultural,
industrial and trade resources of the Stale than
Leon Blum, the subject of this brief memoir. He
is a member of the great importing and mercantile
house of Leon & H. Blum, of Galveston, whose
business, through its agents and correspondents,
ramifies Texas and the Southwestern States and
extends to many distant lands.

He was born in the year 1837, in Gunderschoffer,
Alsace, at one time a department of France, and
since the Franco-Prussian War a part of the German
Empire. His parents were Isaac and Julie Blum.
The law requiring all males, without distinction of
rank or social position, to learn some useful trade,
he was apprenticed to a tinsmith ; but, the pursuit
not being congenial, he ceased to follow it after
serving his time. Believing himself capable of suc-
ceeding in mercantile life, for which he had apti-
tude, he at once embarked in it. Believing that
wider and better fields were to be found in the
United States, he set sail for this country in the
spring of 1854, and, arriving in Texas, established
himself in the town of Richmond. The author of
" Triumphant Democracy " never uttered a greater
truth than when he said that the timid, unenter-
prising and indolent of foreign countries are con-



282



INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.



tent to live at home, however harsh the social and
political institutions, or meager the opportunities of
acquiring financial independence, and that it is the
aspiring, active, energetic, able and liberty-loving
young men who go across seas, mountains and
deserts to improve their fortunes, and that America
owes as much to the latter class of her citi-
zenship as to any other for the wonderful
progress she has made over other nations. This
truth is amply demonstrated by the lives of such
men as Leon Blum. His ventures, being carefully
watched and managed, he largely increased his
capital at Richmond and, having now become
thoroughly acquainted with the people and require-
ments of trade in the new country, felt the need
of a basis to operate from that would enable him
to extend iiig transactions and, accordingly, moved
to Galveston in 1869. He became at once the
largest importer of dry goods in Texas, supplying
the merchants of this and adjoining States, receiv-
ing in return, immense shipments of cotton and
developing an export trade in that staple. He has
invested largely in lands in Texas, and engaged in
cultivating them with considerable profit. He has
been a liberal contributor to every worthy public,
and many private, enterprises, giving liberally of
his time and means. His faith in the future of
Galveston and Texas is strong and abiding and he
has shown it by his works, few men having made
larger investments in realty and in enterprises
of a permanent nature. His business has grown
from year to year until for many years past he
has ranked among the foremost and wealthiest
of the merchants and financiers of the South-
west.

The firm of Leon& H. Blum was formed in 1865,
by the admission of his cousin, Mr. H. Blum, a
gentleman of wide business experience and capac-
ity, to a copartnership. Mr. Leon Blum was
married to Miss Henrietta Levy, of Corpus Christi,
in 1862 and has two children : Cecile, now Mrs.
Aaron Blum, and Leonora, the wife of F. St. Goar,
Esq., of New York. The soldier is said to become
steeled to carnage, the surgeon indifferent to
human suffering and the man, who has by long
years of toil acquired wealth, indifferent to the mis-



fortunes, misery and destitution of his fellow-men,
yet there have been soldiers, great ones, too, who
have been just and merciful and slow in shedding
blood ; surgeons with hearts as gentle as a woman's,
and rich men, who have earned their riches, who
have performed noble acts of charity. Such men,
and such alone, are really deserving of respect and
among such the subject of this biographical notice
deserves a worthy place. He has never been un-
mindful of the merits of the deserving but unsuc-
cessful, nor deaf to the appeals of the unfortunate,
for he has been a liberal giver from his store to the
worthy and a generous friend to those in distress,
irrespective of their religion or nationality. His
private charities have been innumerable and are of
almost daily occurrence. To such benevolent
institutions as the Baylor Orphan Home it has been
a pleasure to him to make contributions and, being
an ardent advocate of popular education, he has
donated large sums for school purposes. While he
has spent money with a lavish hand in these direc-
tions, his good deeds have always been quietly
performed, and never preceded by a fanfare of
trumpets or prompted by a desire to excite com-
mendation. What he has done, has been done be-
cause he earnestly desired to lighten burdens
bowing fellow-beings in sorrow to the dust, and to
make the world brighter and better as far as in him
lay. In personal appearance he is of the Saxon
type. He is five feet eleven inches in height, with
fair complexion and bluish-gray eyes. His physique
is well proportioned and he is what one may call a
fine-looking man. He has been identified with
Texas for more than forty-one years. He landed
on our shores well-nigh penniless and friendless and
with scarcely any knowledge of the country. The
difficulties that confronted him would have proven
insurmountable to a man of ordinary mold. He
made opportunity his slave, not his master. He
made a high position in the business and social
community and the acquisition of wealth objective
points, but honor and truth his guides. He deter-
mined not to sustain defeat, but at the same time
not to accept success except upon the terms he
prescribed to Fortune, viz., that it should come to
him because he deserved it.





EnaJl AVrE3ih=rE:d-T,]i



ILHOn SLIUM.



INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.



283



WILLIAM VON ROSENBERG,



AUSTIN.



From the days when the immortal Hermann in-
flicted upon the legions under Varriis one of the
first and most crushing defeats ever sustained by
the Roman arms, the great Germanic race has been
famous in history for its devotion to the principles
of liberty and self-government. Its blood and
strength of purpose have found expression in the
annals of the composite English-speaking people
who have encircled the globe with their conquests
and promises to direct the future course of human
progress. Its sons, from the first settlement of
America — upon the field of battle, in legislation
and in all the varied walks of private life — have
contributed their full share to the prosperity and
glory of the country. They have come to the
United States from all ranks of life in the father-
land — not only the peasant, dissatisfied with his
lot; but, men of noble birth, who wished to cast
their fortunes with the people of this country and
exercise their energies in a wider and freer field
than the old world offered them. Of the latter
class is the subject of this sketch, Mr. William von
Rosenberg, for many years past a respected and
influential citizen of Austin, Texas.

The genealogy of the Rosenberg family dates
back to the twelfth century, when in the year A. D.
1150, Vitellus Drsini, of Rome, emigrated to the
German Empire, built the town of Rosenberg in
Bohemia, acquired the name of Ursini von Rosen-
berg, and became the founder of the family of that
name. In the early history of Austria for several
centuries members of the family occupied promi-
nent positions in church and political affairs.
Reichsgraf (Count) Andreas Ursini von Rosenberg,
who lived in the year A. D. 1685, may be mentioned
as closing the fifth century of the family liistory.
The von Rosenbergs, members of the order of Ger-
man Knights, scattered over Germany and the Bal-
tic coast States. One of them, Wilbelm Dietrich
von Rosenberg, in the year A. D. 1620 became a
member of the Bench of Knights of Courland and
from him the subject of this sketch is lineally de-
scended, as shown by the family genealogy pre-
served in the archives of the Bench. His father,
Carl von Rosenberg (at the age of sixteen) and his
father's elder brothers, Gustav, and Otto, volun-
teered in the service of their country in 1813 in the
war against Napoleon I.
His father's youngest brother, Ernest, relin-



quished his commission as Lieutenant in the Prus-
sian army for political reasons, came to America
and in October, 1821, landed, together with about
fifty-three other adventurers, on the Texas coast.
The party, known as " Long's Expedition," after
having taking possession of La Bahia (GoHad), were
taken prisoners by Mexican troops, but were re-
leased upon the promise that they would peacefully
settle in the country.

Ernest von Rosenberg, being a soldier, joined
the Mexican army and was promoted to the rank
of Colonel; but, espousing the cause of the ill-fated
Iturbite, was shot to death upon fhe downfall of
the latter. He was among the first Germans to
visit Texas.

About this time, October 14, 1821, William von
Rosenberg, the subject of this notice, was
born on his father's estate, known as Eckitten,
near the town of Memel, in East Prussia. After
completing the high school course at Memel, he
engaged as an apprentice to a government sur-
veyor. In 1838 he was the private secretary of
an administrative officer in landed affairs and,
when the latter was transferred to the province of
Saxony, went with him to his new appointment and
remained his private secretary until 1841 and then
entered the army to serve his term as a soldier, and
in 1844 was appointed a Lieutenant in the reserves.
In 1845 he entered the examination for government
surveyor and obtained the unusual qualification
"excellent." After filling a government appoint-
ment for some time, he, in 1846, entered the Uni-
versity of Architecture in Berlin, and two j-ears
later qualified as royal architect. He was then
employed in supervising the erection of two govern-
ment school buildings in Berlin, upon the comple-
tion of which he found himself, in June, 1849,
proscribed as a Democrat and unable thereafter to
secure any further employment under the Prussian
government, which had assumed reactionary tend-
encies in the direction of despotism. Owing to his
outspoken Democracy he was advised by the
major commanding the reserve battalion in which
he served, that, if he would apply therefor,
he would receive an honorable discharge from,
the army ; meaning, of course, that otherwise
he would be dismissed without such discharge.

At this time he was twenty-eight years old with
a prospect before him that whatever he might en-



284



INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.



gage in he would be opposed by influences beyond
his power to control. With his career in the father-
land thus abruptly ended, he concluded to leave
the country. At that time a great deal had been
written and printed in Germany about Texas, in con-
sequence of the efforts of the German Emigration
Company, and he therefore selected Texas as his
future home. His parents and family looked upon
him as a self-reliant man who had made his own
way in the world and, he being the oldest of seven
children, they did not attempt to persuade him to
remain in Germany, where they knew that he would
be the victim of persecution ; but, deeply attached
to one another, they concluded that the whole
family, consisting of thirteen persons, would emi-
grate together and seek happiness under freer in-
stitutions. Previous to their departure he married
Miss Auguste Anders, to whom he was betrothed.
After a sixty days' voyage in a sailing vessel they
landed at Galveston, Texas, on the 6th of Decem-
ber, 1849. They settled in Fayette County at and
in the vicinity of Nassau Farm. He there followed
farming for six years, learned the English language
and in 1855 became a citizen of the United States.
Being a skillful draughtsman, he was called upon
to draw a design for the courthouse of Fayette
County which was built at La Grange. This work
gave such general satisfaction that he was recom-
mended by American friends to the Commissioner
of the General Land-Office of Texas, the Hon.
Stephen Crosby, as a well-qualified draughtsman
and, in consequence thereof, moved to Austin in
April, 1856, and was appointed to the first vacancy
as such in October of the same year. The Land
Office was then in a small building in the Capitol
yard and the business of the office had not then
developed to the proportions which it has assumed
in later years. The personnel of • the office
at that time consisted of the commissioner, chief
clerk, translator, chief draughtsman, six assistant
draughtsmen and twenty clerks.

In November, 1857, Stephen Crosby was suc-
ceeded by F. M. White, who held the office of
Commissioner for four years. Mr. Crosby was
then again elected to the office, took charge in
November, 1861, and appointed Mr. von Rosen-
berg whom he had selected therefor to the position
of chief draughtsman, which he held until the
fall of 1863, when he was requested to serve as
topographical engineer under Gen. J. Bankhead
Magruder, in the Confederate army.

When the question of secession came to be de-
cided by the voters of Texas, Mr. von Rosenberg
cast his ballot for it, his reasons therefor being
that he had left Prussia on account of having been



proscribed for his political opinions, had selected
Texas for his future home with full knowledge of
the existence of the institution of slavery in the
State and had not come as a reformer, but to live
with its people, who received him as a stranger un-
conditionally. He felt it to be his duty, whether
right or wrong, to stand with the people of Texas
in upholding the cardinal principles of self-govern-
ment as laid down in the Declaration of Independ-
ence and Constitution of the United States.

When the clouds of sectional animosity and
misconstruction that had so long hovered like a
pall over the country burst in the tempest of war
and the brave and true, both North and South, were
hurrying to the front, Mr. von Rosenberg's father,
although too old for active service in the field,
dressed himself as a Prussian Uhlan and, riding
through the streets of Roundtop, the village where
he then resided, called upon the young men of the
place to enlist in the Confederate army and to
remember how their fathers had dared to do and
die in the old land in 1813, when their country was
threatened by invasion. Known to be an old hero
of the Napoleonic wars, his martial bearing and
stirring words fired the hearts of the patriotic young
men of the town and many of them afterwards tes-
tified their devotion to the cause of constitutional
freedom upon hard fought fields in the war between
the States. Some of them lived to, in later years,
receive honors at the hands of their fellow-citizens ;
others filled soldiers' graves.

Mr. William von Rosenberg's three younger
brothers, Eugene, Alexander and Walter, were
among the first to enlist in the Confederate army.
Eugene was a member of Waul's Legion and was at
the siege of Vicksburg. Alexander and Walter
were soldiers in Creuzbaur's company of artillery
and took part in the Louisiana campaign. Another
brother, John von Rosenberg, served in the Engi-
neer corps with him. After having served as topo-
graphical engineer, in the department of Texas,
during the war, Mr. von Rosenberg, at the close of
the struggle, was called back to the General Land
Office as chief draughtsman, but was swept aside
by the military usurpers, who trampled civil govern-
ment under their feet in Texas at the time. At the
election in 1866, Stephen Crosby was recalled to
administer the affairs of the Land-Office and again
made Mr. von Rosenberg chief draughtsman, a
position that he filled until during the " reconstruc-
tion " period, when the officials selected by the
people were removed and aliens appointed in their
stead.

At this time MaJ. C. R. Johns, formerly Comp-
troller of the State, had opened a land agency bus-



INDIAN WABS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.



285



iness in Austin and induced Mr. von Rosenberg to
enter into partnership with him, under the firm
name of C. R. Johns & Company. The firm was
composed of C. R. Johns, J. C. Kirby, F. Everett
and W. von Rosenberg and did a large and profit-
able business for a number of years. They then
thought that by combining the business of banking
and exchange with their land agency they would
greatly increase their profits. In this they erred.
The land department of the business was under
Mr. von Rosenberg's exclusive management. The
banking department was not successful and in
November, 1876, the firm of C. R. Johns & Com-
pany made an assignment.

Being thus broken up and without financial
resources, Mr. von Rosenberg commenced the land
agency business on his own account in February,
1877, at Austin, in which business he is still engaged.

Politically he is a Democrat, but has ever
reserved to himself the right to act in accordance
with the dictates of his conscience. He has never
sought nor desired office. He was solicited to run
for the Legislature on the Horace Greely ticket ;
but, being opposed to Mr. Greely's nomination,
declined to make the race.

He has cared little for society, preferring the
quiet enjoyments of home. His wife is devoted to
her husband and children and seeks happiness
within her family. She, however, has never forgot-
ten the prospective positions apparently in store for
them in the fatherland at the time of her betrothal
to him.

His family consists of eleven children, six sons
and five daughters, all of whom are married but the
youngest daughter. This generation, born and
bred in Texas, have cut loose from the advantages
of nobility and maintain as a self-evident truth
" that all men are created, and by right ought to
be, free and equal." As they have grown up they
have had instilled in their hearts by their parents
the undying principles that underlie civil govern-
ment and are free from the prejudices of caste, as
it becomes citizens of this free country to be. The
children are: Charles, born July 18, 1850, in



Fayette County, farmer and stock raiser, lives near
Manchaca, Texas, married Walleska Sutor ;

Arthur, born September 1, 1851, in Fayette
County, clerk in his father's office and notary
public, lives in South Austin, married Mary
Holland ;

Ernest, born November 25, 1852, in Fayette
County, compiling draughtsman in the General
Land-Office of Texas, lives in Austin, married
Heilena Lungkwitz ;

Paul, born August 10, 1854, in Fayette County,
farmer and stock raiser, lives near Manchaca, mar-
ried Cornelia McCuistion ;

Laura, born February 26, 1856, in Fayette
County ; married C. von Carlowitz, attorney at
law, resides in Fort Worth, Texas ;

Emma, born May 15, 1857, in Austin, Texas,
married August Giesen, druggist and business
manager in the hardware establishment of Hon.
Walter Tips, resides in Austin ;

William, born January 14, 1859, in Austin,
attorney at law, was justice of the peace for pre-
cinct No. 3, of Travis County, from 1882 to 1886,
and county judge from 1890 to 1894, lives in
Austin ; married Louise Rhode ;

Anna, born October 10, 1860, in Austin, mar-
ried Wm. C. Hornberger, farmer and stock raiser,
resides near Fiskville, Travis County ;

Lina, born October 27, 1864, in Austin, mar-
ried George G. Bissel, stenographer with D. W.
Doom, Esq., resides in Austin;

Frederick C, born November 3, 1866, in Austin,
attorney at law, resides in Austin, married Nina
E. Stephens;

Mina Agnes, born January 17, 1869, in Austin,
unmarried, lives with her parents.

There are thirty-nine grandchildren living and
three deceased.

Mr. von Rosenberg has at . all times manifested
a deep interest in the prosperity and general wel-
fare of the city of Austin and the State of Texas,
aind has come up to the full stature of good citizen-
ship. Kind, genial and courtly, he is loved by
many and respected by all.



286



INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.



GEORGE S. WALTON,



ALLEYTON.



George S. Walton, postmaster at Alleyton,
Colorado County, Texas, was born in Jefferson
County, Ala., March 22, 1821, and emigrated
to Missouri with his parents, Jacob and Jane
Walton, in 1827.

His maternal grandfather, Thomas Goode, was
a soldier in the Revolutionary War of 1776, and his
paternal grandfather was one of the signers of the
American Declaration of Independence.

Mr. Walton served with conspicuous gallantry in
the Mexican War as a soldier in Company N.,
Second Missouri Cavalry, commanded by Col,
Price, and particularly distinguished himself at
Puebla, Colorado, on the 24th of January, 1847.
On that occasion he mounted to the top of a seven-
story building, tore down the black flag (signify-
ing no quarter) which the Mexican commander had
hoisted above it, and planted the stars and stripes
in its place. This he did under a heavy fire of



musketry. Fourteen bullet-holes were shot through
his clothing, but fortune, which is said to favor the
brave, stood him in good stead, and he escaped
without a wound. His intrepid act was followed
almost immediately by the surrender of the enemy,
and a three-months' siege was brought to a glorious
close.

He was married, June 20, 1849, to Miss Abigail
Walton, and came to Texas with his wife, in 1858.
They have no children.

During the war between the States, Mr. Walton
was Second-Lieutenant in the Sixteenth Texas, and
fought for the success of the Confederacy until its



Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 54 of 135)