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essary to commence a settlement in a new country.
We had wagons, farming implements, all sorts of
tools, household and kitchen furniture, and cloth-
ing which we had brought with us from Germany.
Early in September, 1835, we had finished build-
ing two log houses, one of them had even a floor and
ceiling, as we had sawed by hand the planks from
post-oak trees. We had also inclosed and planted a
field of ten acres in corn and cotton, and we now
moved the members of our party who had remained
at Harrisburg to our settlement, with our wagons
and teams. Such of our goods, for which we had no
room, or no immediate use, we left at the house
which we had rented at Harrisburg. Among the
objects we left was a fine piano, belonging to my
wife, many valuable oil paintings and engravings,
music books, etc., all of which fell a prey to the
flames which consumed Harrisburg during the war,
which followed in the following spring."

Many were the privations and severe the task
which these early settlers had already undergone in
permanently settling in the adopted country, but
their trials had only begun; the furies of war
threatened to devastate the settlements of the col-
onies, and Santa Anna was marching his minions
into Texas to destroy the constitutional liberty of
her people, and Texas patriots, though few in num-
ber, bore up her flag to rescue it from thralldom.
Among them we find Kobert Kleberg and his
brother-in-law and compatriots. Albert and Louis
von Boeder bad participated in the sanguinary
storming of San Antonio and returned to their set-
tlement near San Felipe, when in the spring of
1836 occurred the massacre of Goliad and the fall
of the Alamo. Texas independence had been pro-
claimed, Santa Anna was preparing his march of
conquest to the Sabine, when the young Republic,
under her noble leader, Sam Houston, was making
her last patriotic appeal to her bravest sons, in whose



hearts were now gathered all the hopes of Texas. It
was at this juncture that at a family meeting of the
Roeders and Klebergs, presided over by Ex-Lieut.
Von Roeder, that these distressed colonists held a
counsel of war to decide whether to fight for Texas
independence, or cross her borders into the older
States to seek shelter under the protecting aegis of
the American eagle. The meeting was held under
the sturdy oaks that stood on the newly acquired
possessions. It was a supreme moment in the lives
of those who participated. In the language of the
historian: " The flight of the wise and worthy men
of the country from danger, tended to frighten the
old, young and helpless, furnished excuses to the
timid, and sanctioned the course of the cowardly.
The general dismay following the adjournment of
the convention, induced many brave men impelled
irresistibly by natural impulses to go to their aban-
doned fugitive wives and children, to tender them
protection." This little band, like their compa-
triots, found themselves in the midst of a terrible
panic and they were now called upon to decide be-
tween love of country and love of self and it may
well be presumed that the debates in this little con-
vention were of a stormy nature. The subject of
our sketch, though bound by the strongest ties of
love to an affectionate young wife and her infant
child, was the champion of Texas liberty, and it
was due to the eloquent and impassioned appeals
of himself and the venerable presiding officer that
it was decided that the party would remain and
share the fate of the heroic few who had rallied
under San Houston to fight for the independ-
ence of Texas against Mexican despotism. As
Albrecht v. Roeder and Louis v. Roeder had just
returned battle-worn from the bloody fields of San
Antonio de Bexar, they and others, except L. v.
Roeder, were detailed under the aged Ex-Lieut.
Roeder to remain with the fugitive families while
Robert Kleberg, Louis v. Roeder and Otto v,
Roeder were chosen to bear the brunt of battle.
Now a parting, possibly for life, from all that was
dear on earth and a voluntary march in the
ranks of Capt. Mosley Baker's Company was the
next act in the drama of our warrior's life and, while
the curtain fell on the pathetic scene, a brave young
wife mounted a Texas pony with .her tender babe
to go with the rest of the Texas families to perhaps
across the borders of Texas, driving before them
the cattle and horses of the colonists. The acts
and deeds of Robert Kleberg from this time to the
disbanding of the Texas army of patriots are a
part and parcel of the history of Texas. Endowed
with a spirit of patriotism which bordered on
the sublime, possessed of a healthy and robust

physical constitution, a cultured, polished, cool
and discriminating mind, he despised fear and was
anxious to engage in the sanguinary and decisive
struggle for freedom which culminated so gloriously
for Texas and civilization on the historic field of
San Jacinto. After this memorable battle, in which
he and Louis v. Roeder participated to the glory
of themselves and their posterity, he was with Gen.
Rusk and the Texas van guard following the van-
quished armies of Santa Anna to the Mexican bor-
der and, returning by Goliad, assisted in the sad
obsequies of the remains of Fannin and his brave
men. In the meantime his family had moved back
to Galveston Island, and we will again draw from
the memorandum for the better appreciation and
understanding of the conditions of the country that
prevailed at this time: " It had been the intention
of our party who went to Galveston Island in the
absence of those who were in the army, to abandon
the settlement commenced on the Brazos and
settle on the island on the two leagues which were
chosen there. This move had been undertaken in
my absence, partly from fear or danger from hos-
tile Indians, also a want of provisions, and partly
with an idea to permanently settle on the island.
For that purpose the party had built a boat of
about forty tons in order to move our cattle and
horses and other property from the mainland.
They were ignorant of the laws of Mexico, which
reserved the islands for the government." To
show the state of civilization on Galveston Island at
that time, in the summer of 1836, the judge relates
the following incident which occurred while he was
in the army : ' One night during a time when all
were enwrapt in sound slumber, they were sud-
denly aroused by the frantic cries of one of the
ladies of the party, Mrs. L. Kleberg ; she was so
frightened that she could not speak, but only
screamed, pointing her finger to a huge, dark
object close to the head of the pallet upon which
lay my wife and Mrs. Otto v. Roeder and their
babes. To their great astonishment they dis-
covered it to be an immense alligator, his jaws wide
open, making for the children to devour them.
Mr. V. Roeder, Sr., and Mr. Chas. Mason, who
had hastened to the spot, dispatched the monster
with fire and sword.' "

The narrative, speaking of their residence on the
island after Mr. Kleberg returned from the war,
proceeds: "We remained about three months on
the island after building our house. Most of us
were sick, especially the women and children —
long exposure, bad food and water were the prob-
able causes. Not long after we moved into the
house, Mrs. Pauline Roeder, wife of Otto v.




fight a tribe of hostile Indians, who were depredat-
ing in the neighborhood of Yorlitown. We were
soon mounted and equipped and off for the place
of rendezvous. We reached the Cabesa that same
night, where our troops, consisting of some thirty
men, camped and elected Capt. York as commander,
and Messrs. William Taylor, Jno. Thomlinson and
Euf us Taylor were detailed as spies and skirmishers.
Next morning the company, as organized, started
to meet the foe, whom we encountered about three
o'clock p. m. on the Escondido east of the San
Antonio river, about fifteen miles west of the
present town of Yorktown, just as our company
filed around a point of timber. The Indians,
about sixty to seventy strong, lay in ambush.
Our company .was not marching in rank and
file, but in an irregular way, not expecting to meet
the enemy so soon. Capt. York and Mr. Bell were
in front, followed immediately by John Pettus and
myself. The Indians raised the well-known and
hideous war-whoop and immediately opened on us
with a terrible fire of musketry. The majority of
our men took to flight and left not more than ten
or twelve of us, who made a stand, taking advan-
tage of a little grove near by, where the Texians
returned a sharp fire upon the Indians, who still
remained in ambush, only exposing their heads
now and then as they fired, thus having a decided
advantage over the men who were only protected
by a few thin trees. It was here that Mr. Bell
and Capt. York were killed. The former, a son-
in-law of Capt. York, was shot at the first fire
and mortally wounded, but he was carried along to
the little mott, where Capt. York and myself
bent over him to dress his wounds, but he died in
our hands. At this juncture Mr. Jim York, son of
Capt. York, was shot in the head. Capt. York
called me to assist him in dressing his son's
wounds. I tore off a piece of his shirt and band-
aged his wounds as well as possible. Capt. York,
overcome by grief, ran continually from his son to
his son-in-law, and thus exposed himself to the fire
of the enemy, notwithstanding I kept warning him,
and was soon struck by the fatal ball which
instantly killed him. A counsel of war was now
held by the remaining troops, consisting of eight or
nine men all told, and we decided to proceed to a
little mound or elevation near by, where we might
flank the Indians in their ambush. In attempting
to gain this point the Indians kept up a continuous
fusillade, which we returned, and by the time we
reached the elevation and directed our fire from
behind a cluster of large live oaks on the exposed
flank of the savages, they soon retired from their
position and disappeared from the field. Thus

ended probably the last Indian fight in Southwest
Texas, and such were the stirring scenes of that

Mr. Kleberg had the good fortune to outlive this
period of romance and adventure, and to see his
adopted State and country developed to grand pro-
portions in population and wealth under the magic
wand of civilization.

In politics Judge Kleberg was always a con-
sistent and intelligent Democrat; a strong be-
liever in State rights and local self-government,
and an ardent admirer of the American system
of government, and in his severest trials as
an early settler, and in the gloomiest hour of
the Republic and State of his adoption he never
faltered in his faith in the free institutions of
this country, and spurned the idea of returning to
a monarchical form of government. In religion he
was free of all orthodoxy and most tolerant to all
denominations ; candid and firm in his individual
convictions, yet respectful and considerate of the
opinions of others. Pure and lofty in sentiment,
simple and frugal in habit, honest in motive, and
positive and decided in word and deed, his charac-
ter was without reproach, and indeed a model
among his fellow-men.

Mr. Kleberg was a man of deep and most Varied
learning. Besides a knowledge of Greek and Latin
he controlled three modern languages and read
their literatures in the originals. Reading and
study were a part of his daily life, and he enjoyed
a critical and discriminating knowledge of ancient
and modern literature. In field and camp and the
solitudes of frontier life his well-trained mind ever
found delight and repose in the contemplation of
its ample stores of knowledge and the graces
of a refined civilization under which it was
developed were never effaced, or even blurred by
the roughness or crudities of border life. A
man of urbane manners and courtly' address, his
intercourse with men, whether high or low, edu-
cated or ignorant, was ever characterized by a
plain and noble dignity, free of assumption or

The principles which found expression and ex-
emplification in his long and eventful life rested
upon a broad and comprehensive philosophy of
which absolute honesty of mind was a controlling
element, and when the shadows of death gathered
around him he met the supreme moment with a
mind serene and in peaceful composure. He died
at Yorktown, De Witt County, October 23, 1888,
in his eighty-sixth year, surrounded by his family,
and was buried with Masonic honors. His wife,
Mrs. Rosa Kleberg, and the following children sur-




vive him: Mrs. Clara Hillebrand, Mrs. Caroline His eldest son, Otto Kleberg, who served with
Eckhardt, Miss Lulu Kleberg, Hon. Rudolph Kle- distinction in the Confederate army, preceded
berg, Marcellus E. Kleberg, and Robert J. Kleberg, him in death in 1880.



The history of other countries as well as our own
bears ample evidence to the fact that great abilities
displayed in the higher walks of commerce have
been employed, on occasion, with equal effective-
ness in other directions.

The merchants of Venice, when the Venetian
Republic was mistress of the seas and controlled
the commerce of the civilized world, were not only
traders, but many of them also lawmakers, navi-
gators, cunning artists, leaders of armies, and com-
manders of navies. Instances are not wanting in
our own country and later time where successful
merchants have become projectors of large enter-
prises, have filled positions requiring a higher order
of executive ability, have accumulated wealth and
at the same time have assisted in making the laws
and carrying on the affairs of the State and nation.
Such men would distinguish themselves in any avo-
cation because of their strength and breadth of
mind, versatility of talents and those qualities that
enable them to surmount difficulties and command
success. The subject of this brief notice, while
strictly a business man, would have made himself
felt in almost any pursuit.

Moritz Kopperl was born October 7, 1826, in the
town of Trebitsch, Moravia, where he was reared
and received his early mental training. First a
student at the Capuchin Institute at Trebitsch he
completed his education by taking a classical course
at Nicholsburg, Moravia, and at Vienna, Austria.
In 1848 he came to America on the invitation of
his uncle, Maj. Charles Kopperl, of Carroll County,
Miss., whom he succeeded in business, and with
whom he resided for a number of years in Mis-

In 1857 Mr. Kopperl came to Texas in company
with A. Lipman, with whom he had been associated
in business in Mississippi and engaged at Galveston
in merchandising as a member of the firm of Lip-
man & Kopperl, a connection that existed until a'
period during the war between the States. With
the closing of the port of Galveston by the Federal

blockade in 1861, all business at that place practi-
cally ceased and many of the city's most prosper-
ous and promising houses were ruined, the house
of Lipman & Kopperl being of the number. It is
to the credit of Mr. Kopperl, however, that although
all debts due by Southern merchants at the North
were supposed to have been settled by the war he
hunted up his creditors after the surrender and paid
them their claims in full.

In 1865 he resumed active business pursuits in
Galveston, engaging first in the cotton commission
business and later taking up the coffee trade, which
latter he developed into large proportions, making
the city of Galveston one of the largest importing
points for this article in the United States. In 1868
he was made president of the Texas National Bank
when that institution was in a failing condition, and
by his good management, aided by a few stock-
holders, placed the bank on a solid footing and
made of it one of the soundest and most prosperous
financial institutions in the city. In 1877 he was
made president of the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe
Railroad and served that corporation as its chief
executive through the most critical period of its
history. When he took hold of the road the line had
been built only a few miles out of Galveston, was
without means, credit or prospects, and was har-
assed by the tax-collector, who threatened to sell
it for past due taxes, yet by his untiring energy,
and at the sacrifice of his time and health, and at
the risk of his private means and reputation, he
contracted for the construction of the road and, in
order to save its charter, carried it through the
storm until a syndicate of prominent and public-
spirited citizens was formed, who, co-operating with
him, placed it on a safe basis. The work and re-
sponsibility which this task imposed can hardly be
estimated ; for, in addition to the labor and care
Inseparably connected with such an undertaking,
the road had, as is well known, at that time to meet
the strongest possible opposition from lines of which
it would, if successfully carried through, become



a close competitor. Mr. Kopperl felt this opposi-
tion at every step he took, and but for the persist-
ent efforts made by him reinforced by the weight
of his name and influence, the road would inevi-
tably have gone down in the great fight that was
at that time made upon it.

Besides the Texas National Bank and the Gulf,
Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad, Mr. Kopperl was
connected with a number of other corporations and
was an active worker in a score of private under-
takings, his interests and investments covering
every field of legitimate business enterprise. He
was for some time president of the Galveston
Insurance Company and a director in both the
Union Fire & Marine and the Merchants Insurance

He was among the stanchest advocates of the
claims of Galveston as a shipping point and empha-
sized these claims on all proper occasions. He
had the statistics of shipping, and of the resources
and development of Texas at his fingers' ends, and
his aid was always sought in the furtherance of those
enterprises and schemes of improvement where
facts and figures formed the basis of operation.
Having had his attention somewhat directed through
his coffee business to the necessities and possibilities
of trade between the United States and the South
American countries, he made a study of the condi-
tions of that trade in all its bearings, and was one
of the first to set forth in logical form the princi-
ples since embraced in the doctrine of " Eeci-
procity" and the benefits that would accrue
to this section of the Union from its practical
application by treaty regulations.

Although Mr. Kopperl was a business man in the
strictest sense of the word, he still found time to
interest himself to some extent in polities and filled
acceptably a number of positions of public trust.
He was a member of the City Council in 1871 and
1872, during which time he was chairman of the
Finance Committee and aided materially in devis-
ing means to meet the city's indebtedness and
maintain its credit. He was a delegate to the
National Convention at Baltimore in 1872, which
nominated Horace Greely for President, and served
also as a delegate to the Congressional Convention

at Corsicana which nominated Judge A. H. Willie
for Congress. He was elected to the State Legis-
lature in 1876 and served as a member of the Fif-
teenth Legislature, in which he was chairman of
the Committee on Finance and Revenue ; formulated
the measure which vras enacted into a law whereby
the State school fund was reinvested in State
securities and made to yield a better revenue for
present school purposes ; and also the bill which in
the form of a law enabled the Governor to dispose
of $500,000 worth of State bonds to meet the
State's accrued indebtedness and to defray the
running expenses of the government. These
$500,000 worth of bonds vrere sold to the American
Exchange Bank of New York upon Mr. Kopperl's
personal recommendation and guarantee, without
his asking or receiving from the State any part of
the commission authorized by law for negotiating
the sale.

Thus as a business man, as an ofiScial and as a
citizen, Mr. Kopperl lived and labored for the city
and State of his adoption. That his labors were
well rewarded and are still bearing good fruit the
present prosperous condition of all those enter-
prises, institutions and interests with which [he had
to dp bears abundant witness.

In 1866 Mr. Kopperl married Miss Isabella
Dyer, of Galveston, a niece of the late Isadore
Dyer and of the late Mrs. Rosanna Osterman, both
early settlers of Galveston and remembered for
their many charities. The issue of this union was
two sons, Herman B. and Moritz O., who, with
their mother, survive the husband and father.

Mr. Kopperl's death occurred July 3, 1883, at
Bayreuth, Bavaria, whither he had gone in search
of health. But his remains rest in the city of
Galveston, where he spent his maturer years and
with whose history his own was so intimately con-
nected. On his monument is engraved this
sentence : —

"I pray thee, then, write me as one who loved his
fellow man " —

a most befitting epitaph for one whose generous
heart beat in unison with the best impulses of his






Early in the present century during the political
disturbances in Mexico which finally culminated in
the independence of that country, there came over
from Spain with the historic Barados expedition
two surgeons, Juan Samaniego and Victor Gonzales,
who, after the failure of the expedition, settled in
that country. Both were natives of Valladolid, the
capitol city of Castile, and were descended from
old Castilian families. Juan Samaniego was Sur-
geon-General of the Spanish army, a talented and
capable man, as was also his junior associates who
was himself a son of a celebrated military surgeon,
Don Antonio Gonzales.

Victor Gonzales married the widowed daughter
of Juan Samaniego, Senora Rita Samaniego de
Reyes, in the City of Mexico, about 1825. He was
stationed for a time at Tampico, Mexico, in the
performance of bis oflScial duties and there lived
until his untimely death by shipwreck of the
schooner " Felecia " while he was on his way across
the Gulf to Havana, his final destination being his
native place, Valladolid. The vessel on which he
sailed was never heard from after leaving port.

The issue of the marriage of Victor and Rita
Samaniego Gonzales was two sons, Francisco
Gonzales and Thomas Gonzales. The younger of
these, the subject of this biographical notice, was
born at Tampico, Mexico, November 10th, 1829.
His mother's death occurred in 1860 at Havana,
Cuba. Soon after the death of his father he was
taken into the family of his half-sister, Mrs. Elena
Blossman, then residing in New Orleans, by whom
he was reared and educated. His brother-in-law,
R. D. Blossman, who was a large cotton dealer in
New Orleans and had some interests also at Alton,
111., between which places he made his home.

In the schools of the latter place young Gonzales
received his early mental training, finishing with a
three years' course in the select school at Valladolid,
Spain, the old family seat. He took up the cotton
business at New Orleans about 1845 under his
brother-in-law in whose interest he came into Texas
in 1846 ; arriving in this State, he spent two years
at Lavaca, and then revisited New Orleans, where,
August 28th, 1850, he married Miss Edith Boyer,
who accompanied him back to Texas, their future
home. They located at Point Isabel, then the seat
of considerable commercial activity, being a United
States port of entry, where he went into the re-

ceiving and forwarding business, and was so
engaged for two or three years. In 1853 he
moved to Galveston, where he at once became
connected with the cotton interest in the city, with
which he has had to do in some capacity for the
past forty-odd years. He was vice-president of
the Galveston Cotton Exchange for two terms, and
is the oldest cotton dealer in the city. Scarcely
a movement has been set on foot affecting the
great staple on which the commerce of this port so
much depends that his name has not been in some
way associated with it. He has also been an
active worker in a number of important private
enterprises of benefit to the city. He was one of

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 56 of 135)