Texas is well known for its celebrations and festivals, the town
has yet to top the wingding held on the day workers laid the cornerstone
for the original Vereins Kirche.
After spending their first year on Baron's Creek getting settled,
the Germans of Fredericksburg began constructing a public building
in the spring of 1847. They called it Vereins Kirche, an indication
of its dual purpose as a social hall and a church. Its design and
central location were reminiscent of distinctive municipal buildings
that often stood in public squares back in Germany.
of "Vereins Kirche" in Fredricksburg
Photo courtesy of Sandy Fiedler
| That spring
was a busy time in Fredericksburg. John
Meusebach had just negotiated the famous peace treaty with the Native
Americans. For the formal signing the Comanche Chiefs appeared
in Fredericksburg on March 9, 1847. Apparently by coincidence that
was also the day of the laying of the cornerstone of the Vereins Kirche.
A 1976 article in the Fredericksburg Standard described the
scene from historical documents. The Comanches, "led by their chiefs,
Ketemoczy and Santana, and some of their tribe arrived in the village.
They were arrayed in beaded buckskin attire and feathered headdresses.
The Indians brought with them tanned hides, bear fat and deer skins
filled with wild honey."
Not long after the Comanches arrived, the festivities surrounding
the laying of the Vereins Kirche cornerstone began with a procession
down Main Street. "First came the minister, the teacher and officers
of the Adelsverein, followed by Vereins soldiers on horseback and
the small Vereins cannon drawn by 4 horses, with the citizens bringing
up the end of the procession."
"After much oration and ceremony the cornerstone was laid in the opening
left in the wall." Soldiers fired the cannon. Then the fun began.
The Comanches performed ceremonial dances in the street. Then everyone
"drifted toward a dancing green that had been prepared under the tees."
"Near it was a platform for the newly organized orchestra and all
around it were benches for the ladies. Just as the White settlers
wondered in amazement at the Indian dances, so the Indians stood by
in wonderment as the Germans swirled through their schottisches, waltzes
When completed later that year the original Vereins Kirche sat in
the middle of Main Street between the old
courthouse and Marketplatz. The town meetings and other activities
within its walls soon became the heartbeat of community life. Children
went to school there. Churches worshipped there. Couples walked for
miles to be married there. The grand wedding processions marched up
San Saba Street (now Main Street) followed by family and friends in
the European custom.
The building had 2 doors. The men's door faced southeast, and the
women's door faced northwest. In the fashion of the day seating was
segregated. Men sat on the right side of the aisle; women on the left.
The walls of the original Vereins Kiche were made of wood, but after
a few years workers replaced the weatherboarding on the walls with
limestone rock. At the same time workers closed in the 2 doors and
built a single door facing the courthouse.
The inside of the original structure was open to the belfry, but workers
added a ceiling after bats got in and dive-bombed members of the congregation
disrupting evening worship.
When a bolt of lightning knocked the weathercock off the top of the
building in 1862, officials replaced it with a cross.
Then over time the different churches in town built churches of their
own. Town meetings moved elsewhere. By the mid-1890s the old Vereins
Kirche had fallen into a state of disrepair.
celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1896 workers removed the limestone
blocks from the walls of the Vereins Kirche to build a pavilion. Within
the year the village tore down skeleton of the old building so that
Main Street, now the main thoroughfare between San
Antonio and Mason
could run straight through town.
The destruction of the Vereins Kirche left an ache in the heart of
The community grieved until workers built a new one in time for Founder's
What a party that was.
| © Michael
July 15, 2020 Column
"Vereins Kirche - Fredericksburg's Most Famous Landmark," Fredericksburg
Standard, June 30, 1976.