The Old High Hill Cemetery is located on the E. Anderson League approximately three miles northwest of Schulenburg on FM2672 in Fayette County, Texas.
High Hill was really a combination of three communities: Blum Hill, Oldenburg, and Wursten.
The Old High Hill Cemetery is located in what was the community of Blum Hill.
The original part of High Hill was named Blum Hill after Robert Blum (1804-1848), the German political activist who organized the Vaterlandsverein, advocated mass education, freedom of the press, and the right of free assembly. He was arrested and executed in Vienna. Blum was a tragic victim of Germany’s Revolutions of 1848.
Oldenburg, a second village, named for the German province of Oldenburg, was established about one and one-half miles north of Blum Hill approximately 1860. St. Mary’s Catholic Church is located in what was Oldenburg.
About the same time, the village of Wursten developed between Blum Hill and Oldenburg. Apparently it was named after the good sausage that could be purchased there at the Anders Butcher Shop.
The early German settlers of the area were John F. Hillje, Henry Graf, Henry Tauch, Friedrich G. Seydler, George Herder, F. Kleinemann, Charles Hinkel, William Fahrenthold, and Ludwig Eschenburg. Major landowners were the Hillje and Fahrenthold families in the Oldenburg area, with Henry Graf toward the northwest, and the Tauch and Seydler families toward the southwest.
The High Hill Post Office, established in 1860, united three adjacent villages and gave the community cemetery its name.
The Old High Hill Cemetery is on a six-acre tract which was once the property of George Herder (1818-1887), a German immigrant and a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto. The land was originally conveyed by John Herndon, N. W. Faison, and Henry Ebeling for the purpose of erecting a schoolhouse or college.
Families who cherished the rolling hills of the High Hill countryside and its good farm land expressed the wish that it be their burial place when plans for the school did not materialize.
Following the tragic War Between the States and the Reconstruction Period, the High Hill community grew to include six stores, a cotton gin and gristmill, the first oil mill in Texas, two schools, three blacksmith and wheelwright shops, two saloons, a hotel and stage stop, as well as a community of dramatic players, a Turnverein, a Maennerchor and orchestra.
In the 19th century, the Texas Turnverein, begun as a gymnastic society, was often the center of community life with social, intellectual, and benevolent goals. The 1870s were the heyday of Turnvereins in Texas. “Turners” from Austin, San Antonio, New Braunfels and High Hill attended a Turnfest (gymnastic contest) and convention in San Antonio in 1871.
The Maennerchor was a German singing society in Texas to preserve German songs, music, and language. The choir and orchestra were in great demand at the state Saengerfest sponsored by German immigrant choral societies in Texas in the 19th century.
In the late 1870s, the thriving community of High Hill began its decline when the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railroads built their line about three miles southeast and the town of Schulenburg was founded. Many of the High Hill people and businesses moved to the new town. High Hill had refused the railroad’s offer fearing that the railroad would destroy the tranquility and culture of the town.
Many pioneers who developed the agricultural, business, and cultural pursuits of the community are buried in Old High Hill Cemetery. A few are:
John Christian Baumgarten (1836-1912), who erected the first cottonseed oil mill in Texas for friend, John F. Hillje. John Christian Baumgarten worked diligently to have the railroad build through the area that would become Schulenburg and is recognized as “The Father of Schulenburg.”
Louis Schulenburg (1810-1887), after whom the town of Schulenburg is named.
Friedrich Gustav Seydler (1806-1869), father of the first Wendish family to immigrate to Texas.
Paul Stuercke, Sr. (1827-1902), professor and in charge of the public school for 30 years.
The oldest stones in the cemetery mark the graves of August Wolters and Friedrich Eicholt who died in 1861. The cemetery contains about 400 graves. Many of the old High Hill settlers buried there have living descendants who remained responsible for its upkeep for many years. Family members cared for the site until 1963, when the Old High Hill Cemetery Association, Inc. was organized.
In January 1976 an official Texas Historical Marker for the Old High Hill Cemetery was erected and dedicated. The marking of local historic sites and landmarks is part of the Texas Historical Commission’s program to preserve history, arouse interest in historical places, and acquaint the people of the community with their unique heritage.
The Old High Hill Cemetery is a perpetual care cemetery with a Board of Directors and Trustees which monitor activities.
Meetings of the Old High Hill Cemetery Association are held each year on the last Sunday in April.
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