Relatively Speaking: Discovering Indianola Immigrants
Dec. 21, 2009 at 6:21 a.m.
In 1842, while Texas was still a Republic, a group of 21 German noblemen met near the town of Mainz on the Rhine to establish a New Germany on Texas soil.
First known as the Adelsverein, it later became officially known as the Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas (Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas).
As commissioner general, Carl Prince of Solms Braunfels in 1844 selected a stretch of beach near the port of Indianola on Matagorda Bay in Calhoun County, earlier known as Indian Point, as the landing area for the mass German emigration that began in 1845.
Although the emigrants were bound for Texas under the sponsorship of the German society, proper preparation had not been made for them and after landing in Indianola they began migrating northward through surrounding counties, making their way northwestward toward Comal Springs.
This memorable time in Texas history is a tribute to the intrepid spirit, will and determination of the German newcomers. Many chose to settle on arable lands along their way and as a result Central Texas and South Texas now claim a large German heritage with ancestors who came to Texas through the port of Indianola.
Although Indianola grew to more than 5,000 residents in 1875, it suffered a devastating hurricane that year and rebuilt, but again was devastated by another hurricane in 1886. By 1887, the town was abandoned.
In an effort to restore Indianola's lost immigration records, Patsy Hand, serving as chairman of the Victoria County Historical Commission, in 1994 began creating a database to record the individuals and families that came into Texas through the ill-fated port.
Since all official ship records were destroyed, the exact number of Indianola immigrants is not known, but it is estimated to be in the thousands. The database is an effort to record Indianola immigration via family history, printed histories, and other sources.
The Indianola Database along with printed resource material generated by the project is available to researchers in the Victoria Regional History Center on the second floor of the Victoria College/University of Houston-Victoria Library.
The database is also available for searching on the Web at http://vrhc.uhv.edu/manuscripts/indianola/home.cfm. If you have information to add to the database, contact Sheron Barnes at 361-570-4176.
Pflugerville History Book
Many German residents of Pflugerville came into Texas through the port of Indianola and now Pflugerville historians have released a new book, "Pflugerville: Another Time, Another Place," highlighting the community's history as it evolved from a small farming town to a thriving suburb over the last century. Containing more than 300 photographs, the books are on sale for $20 and can be ordered via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more about the German heritage of the Pflugerville area refer to my Relatively Speaking column, Nov. 15, 2009.
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