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  Texas : Towns A-Z / Hill Country : Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg Texas

Blending German Colonization
with Modern Tourism

by Sandy Fiedler

Fredericksburg Texas
US-290 and Hwy 16
80 miles West of Austin

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Fredericksburg's craftsman
"Bones" demonstrating the craft of covering chair bottoms with fresh cowhide. Pioneer Museum in downtown Frederickburg
Founder's Day Festival held every May
Photo courtesy Sandy Fiedler
What does the assassination of JFK have to do with the development of tourism in Fredericksburg, Texas? A lot. But first, how did Fredericksburg come to be in the first place?

In 1846 John O. Meusebach, Commissioner-General of the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas, led his group of 120 into the area between the banks of the Llano and Colorado Rivers. Naming the colony for Prince Frederick of Prussia, Meusebach oversaw the division of land. Ten acres of farmland and a town lot 100' by 200' went to each married man, and ten acres to each single man 17 years or older.

It was the best of times and the worst of times, to borrow a phrase-wonderful because it was a time of new beginnings, and terrifying because there was no backup plan in case of failure. No buildings, bridges, or streets were there to reveal the shape of a man's hand at work. No one sold them a beam, board, or stone.

Every structure, from the humblest cabin to the first church, they had to make themselves out of the raw land.
Vereins Kirche or society's church




Replica of "Vereins Kirche" or "Society's Church"
Courtesy of Sandy Fiedler
In the colony were skilled craftsmen, builders, merchants, farmers, and professionals representing all classes of society, serving to build a community based on integrity, industriousness, and faith in God. In 1847 construction began on "society's church," the Vereins Kirche.

It was a small octagonal building, which served as a church for all denominations and as a schoolhouse, its bell heralding important events. Although the original building eventually fell into disuse and was razed, a replica erected in 1935 now stands in the middle of the Marktplatz on Main Street.
Fredericksburg Sunday House
"Sunday House" on the grounds of Pioneer Museum complex
Courtesy of Sandy Fiedler
Feelings of loneliness were eased on weekends when farmers brought families into town. They stayed with relatives and friends. About 1897 a new trend began to change the appearance of the town. Because of a rumor that town folks were tired of their country cousins' spending every weekend with them, one man decided to build his family a "Sunday house". Before long, dozens of one-and two-room houses sprang up, clustered near the churches because attending church was so important. The farmers and ranchers came to town on Saturdays to trade their products with local merchants and townspeople, attend church on Sunday, and return home later that day.

For about fifty years Sunday houses played an important role in the life of the town. Eventually, however, good roads and automobiles erased the necessity for a separate place in town. Of the more than 100 Sunday houses built, most remain intact, still used as homes or shops... next page
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