Weimar Mercury, 29 July 1932
Of all the many men that Germany has given to the United States and their name is legion, no one has proven a mroe substantial, law abiding and public spirited citizen than George Herder. He was born in Oldenburg in 1818, was educated in the land that gave him birth, but being of a pushing and ambitious disposition , he determined to woo the fickle goddess, Fortune, in the New World and accordingly, in 1834, came to the United States on a sailing vessel, landing in the city of Galveston.
He at once took up his residence in the vicinity of Frelsburg, but in 1853 moved to High Hill, Fayette county, where he continued to reside until 1874, when he moved to Shiner, Lavaca county, and died three years later at Schulenburg, while there on a visit.
While living in his native land he was successfully engaged in tilling the soil, and after coming to this country he continued to follow this occupation for some time, then engaged in the mercantile business at High Hill, and during the few years he remained in the business he succeeded admirably. In course of time he led to the altar Miss Minna Wolters, who was born in the old country, and was called from life in Texas in 1878.
Mr. Herder was a soldier in the Texas Rebellion, and was a participant in the famous battle of San Jacinto, and was later a participant in the Mexican War, but during his service was not out of the state.
He was a man of more than ordinary business capacity, upright and honorable in every worthy particular, and numbered his friends by the score. To himself and wife twelve children were born, eight of whom are still living, and are residents of Fayette, Lavaca and Colorado counties.—Halletsville Tribune.
Weimar Mercury, March 25, 1938, pages 1-2.
In his search for items of interest it occurred to this Mercury reporter recently that the Jos. Peter family and homestead, both among the oldest in this entire section, were worthy of mention. A little delving here and there, and questioning of the living descendants of this family whose history dates back into the early fifties, when they migrated from the old country to free America, brought out the following interesting facts:
Josef Peter, Jr., was born Feb. 2, 1845, in Ticha, Moravia, Austria. His father was Josef Peter, Sr., Mother, Rosalie. Josef Peter, Sr., was a farmer. In the year 1856 he sold his small farm. and came to America with his family of six children, John, Rosalie, Josef, Mary, Frank and Agnes. On the voyage Agnes, the youngest child, died and was buried at sea.
The voyage was made on one of the old time sailing vessels and consumed thirteen weeks. The boat was 100 feet long. There were 130 passengers on it, and of these eleven died ere reaching America's shores.
The boat reached Galveston Oct. 30, 1856. There the party took boat to Houston, landing on Texas soil for the first time Nov. 2, 1856. There were sixteen families in the party, and of these many names are still familiar, as descendants of same are still to be found in this section. These families included the Peters, Haiduseks, Pustejovskys, Muznys, Holubs, Srameks, Maraks, Jandas, B. Klimiceks, A. Klimiceks, Kolibals Kossas, Kalichs, Sugareks, Konvickas, Sedlaceks and several young, unmarried ladies.
From Houston the Peter family traveled to Cat Spring on a wagon drawn by five yoke of steers. They remained at Cat Spring for three weeks. From there they journeyed to LaGrange, where they stopped for a week. From LaGrange they journeyed to the section known as the East Navidad, where they located on a 200-acre tract of land in what is known as the Dubina community. It may be of interest to state that the family homestead of 200 acres in that community still remains intact.
Josef Peter, Sr., bought some land and built a home. In 1861 the Civil War came. His son, John Peter, went to the war, joining the Northern Army in New Orleans, La., Company C of the First Regiment of Texas Cavalry, under Captain Adolph Zoeller. John died July 5, 1864, in the Post Hospital at Brownsville, Texas. Frank Peter died in 1874; the mother in 1876, and father Peter in 1881.
John Peter, Jr., during the war was hauling cotton to Mexico with ox teams, from High Hill and had many exciting and dangerous adventures with robbers while engaged in this hazardous undertaking. After the war Josef Peter, Jr., finished his trade as blacksmith in LaGrange and was engaged in the same trade at Weimar for some time afterward. After some years he was united in marriage to Miss Barbara Vrana at High Hill (in 1872). Afterward he conducted a mercantile store and blacksmith business on the East Navidad, at a point named Dubina, which still retains that name. While working in the blacksmith shop with his wife the store burned down. Later he rebuilt the store building, and by agreement with the government he named this community Dubina, and on March 3, 1885, he was made postmaster and was succeeded by George Hromadka. Following Mr. Hromodka as postmaster came Emil Peter, who served five years, then a rural route was established and he resigned.
In 1890 Josef Peter, Jr., was elected a representative from Fayette county to the Texas Legislature, was re-elected in 1892 by a large majority, and served for the two terms with distinction and ability. Afterward due to ill health he retired from public life, and resumed the occupation of farmer and storekeeper at Dubina. Mr. Peter died March 26, 1924.
Of Mr. Peter's family the following survive: His widow, Mrs. Barbara Peter; three sons, Dr. Leo J. Peter of Schulenburg, Messrs. Emil and Julius Peter of Dubina; five daughters, Mrs. Millie Vacek of Dubina, Mrs. Mary Sobotik, Mrs. Josephine Mikeska, Mrs. Frances Ryebe, Mrs. Wilhelmina Miculka; twenty-four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
At one time Mr. Peter maintained quite a zoological garden at his home place, and it was visited by many people of this section to see the animals, birds, etc., in his collection. The writer well remembers visiting this interesting exhibit on many occasions. The Peters brought with them many odd articles from Europe and we imagine many of these are still possessed by the family. One of these was an old spinning wheel, and according to our recollection it was still capable of successful operation when we last saw it.
The writer almost from time he landed in the Weimar section has known the Peter family and has always had a warm admiration for them. In years gone by the younger members of said family, together with other young people of the Dubina community, often visited in his home and furnished some delightful music and song, rendering many of the folk songs of the fatherland.
He also remembers the revered grandmother of his wife, the late Mrs. Mary A. Ward, telling of employing Mr. Peter and his sister on her farm in the Clear Creek section when they first came into this section, both of them at that time being young people. Mr. Peter and the sister also have talked with the writer about this event.
Josef Peter, Sr., and wife donated land for the Dubina Church and cemetery. When the first church was in course of construction, Josef Peter, Jr., then in the blacksmith trade, learning that the church needed an iron cross, proceeded to make one, which he donated. One of the senior Cornelsons came along after the cross was placed in position and expressed doubt as to the strength of the cross. Mr. Peter replied, "I made it myself, and I know it is strong". Mr. Cornelson climbed up to the point where the cross was in position and proceeded to do a series of athletic stunts on same to test its strength. It was a very dangerous performance, but the cross withstood the test. Afterward a storm blew down the church, but the cross was undamaged, and it is still doing good service for the Dubina Church.
With one or two exceptions members of this old and highly thought of family are still enjoying good health. The old family home has undergone few changes in the many years of its existence. It is still a treat to many of us to go out there, again visit scenes of years gone-by, and talk with members of the family who still reside at the old family home. The writer has, and always will, have a high regard for the Peter family of Dubina.
Photo of Joseph Peter, Sr.
Photo of Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Peter, Jr.
Winedale Photograph Collection, University of Texas
By S. M. Lesesne — Special Correspondance of The News
La Grange, Tex., Oct. 25. – Mrs. Liane de Lassauex Tuttle of La Grange is an accomplished and most entertaining lady. She remembers many interesting facts connected with the early settlements in Texas. Mrs. Tuttle was born in 1833 and came with her mother, brother, Clements, and sisters, Clementina, Agnes and Marie to Texas in 1852. Her father, Otto de Lassauex, and her sisters, Elise and Anna, came to Texas in 1849. Mrs. Tuttle, with her mother, brother and sisters, sailed from Koblenz and first landed in America at New Orleans. Touching on her trip, experiences and recollections of early Texas, she is quoted substantially as follows:
“We made the voyage from Koblenz to New Orleans on a sailing vessel. We came from New Orleans to Galveston by steamer, and our voyage across the ocean and across the gulf, was delightful. Father was to meet us in Galveston, but he never received the letter telling him when and on what vessel we would sail until several weeks after we had reached the Texas home that he had ready for us.
“When we arrived at the wharf at Galveston Banker Kauffman was there looking for us. He took us to his house, a two-story frame building, not far from the wharf. There were no pavements, or sideways there at that time, and it was a laborious task to work our way through the deep sand from the wharf to the hospitable home where we were entertained during our stay of a few days in Galveston. Mother wanted to remain there until father could come for us, but Mr. Kauffman advised us that it would be better for us to hire conveyances at Houston and go to our home while the roads and weather were good; that it was uncertain when the letter would reach father telling him we were there. He assured us that we would be perfectly safe in making the trip. We went from Galveston to Houston up the bayou on boat. Both Galveston and Houston were then small towns with cheap and unpretentious homes and business houses.
“At Houston we employed a man to take us in ox wagons to Frelsburg, where we lived a year, and then removed within six miles of La Grange. My little brother and I made the trip from Houston to Frelsburg on horseback. Brother and I would frequently travel in advance of our party, our kind and gentlemanly guide and contractor giving us directions about the roads, the different houses and the places at which we should wait for the caravan to overtake us. The novel experiences which we had while making this journey in ox wagons through a new and strange country were such that the imagination could never have pictured to us before we left Europe with its old and conservative ideals, and where social and business customs had to move and travel in time-worn grooves and channels. In Europe we had always lived in rock or brick buildings, two or three stories high. Here we would ride up to a house that looked like some laborer’s abode to get a drink of water or milk, and to our surprise we would find real “royalty” dwelling in these humble Texas homes. Kindness, courtesy and generosity dwelt in these primitive homes. My little brother and I soon learned that we were among true and noble people, and being absolutely free from danger or molestation we certainly made our horseback ride from Houston to Frelsburg one of memorable delight and pleasure. But the houses were so unlike any I had ever lived in before leaving Europe that it was a year or more before I could sleep soundly in them.
“While living in Frelsburg Rutersville was our postoffice and trading point. All danger from Indians in the Frelsburg settlement had ceased before I went there, and I would frequently go on horseback to Rutersville for the mail. There were no roads, and in riding across the prairies the grass would reach up to the saddle on my pony.
“The Ursuline Convent had been established in Galveston before we came to Texas. Several of my sisters were educated there. My sister, Annie, was mother superior there for several years, and I used to make annual and frequently semi-annual visits there to see her. While I was a teacher Baylor college at Independence, previous to the Civil war, General Houston was a daily visitor at the college, the year before his last race for governor. He had nothing to do, and being an active and restless man he would come and and spend much of his time at the college. I being a Catholic, and he being a great whittler, he made perhaps as many as twelve or fifteen little crosses which he gave to me. The last one of these I have given away to people who would ask me for them. He often delivered addresses at the college. He was always ready with an address, and did not need any coaxing to deliver it. I taught his daughters, Mollie, Maggie and Nettie. He frequently came to the college wearing his many colored dressing gown. He seemed to be partial to blue. At that time Independence was the Mecca of Texas. On one occasion when Governor Clark was coming to visit the college we waited hours for him to get there, and then he did not make us a speech. During the secession agitation, excitement ran high. There were able men on both sides of the issue, and each side had a strong following. As soon as the war began every boy in Independence and Rutersville, including those in the military school at the latter place, volunteered and joined the army, some of them being only 14 and 16 years old. Their departure brought tears and grief into many households, and before the cruel and bloody conflict had ended, many of these brave and patriotic Texas youths were filling the graves of soldiers who had yielded up their lives on hard-fought fields.”
“The war with its ‘hard times’ accompaniments had scarcely developed until our money had begun to depreciate quite rapidly, and all necessary supplies had to be bought in a rising market. Calico soon leaped to $1 per yard, and shoes and other things rose in the same proportion. Substitutes made from sweet potatoes, rye, wheat, okra and other expedients soon took the place of real coffee on many tables. Nor was it long before the humming old spinning wheel and the creaking old loom became familiar sounds on every well-to-do farm. Many of the wealthy people were soon wearing home-made shoes, and donning themselves in home-spun garments all of which they were glad to get. I remember of one of our social functions my sister, Clementine, wore a grey home-spun dress. She carded the bats, spun the thread, wove and died the cloth out of which she made this dress. This made her quite popular with the gentlemen who were present, and admired her pride, skill and patriotism.
“But after hostilities had ceased, a wave of general demoralization swept over the country, and suicides were not infrequent among those who found it hard to accept the results if the war.
“The Yankees came to our homes taking our horses, corn and other supplies which we needed for starting out anew in the work of recuperating and rebuilding our lost fortunes. My father was old and he said he would not let his horses go. We were very uneasy when the federals came to our house because we felt like father would protest against the taking of his horses with his six-shooter if such a protest were to become necessary, but they did not attempt to take our horses.
“When we came to Texas in 1852 La Grange, according to the Texas idea, was ‘quite a place.’ It had about 250 inhabitants and some very nice stores.
“In 1872 I visited some friends who were living at or near Pack Saddle Mountain in Llano County. At that time this place was Indian-ridding territory and the people had to be careful lest they were taken unawares by the Indians. Just before I made this visit a man and his wife who had gone to the creek to fish quite near their house were caught and scalped by the skulking redskins. Giseke & Stroud had a store and kept the postoffice in the Pack Saddle Mountain settlement. One morning I started on horseback to visit some neighbors. Mr. Stroud saw me start, and he mounted a horse and came at full speed telling me that it was dangerous and that I should not go alone. I thought the Llano country with its hills, mountains and limpid streams was beautiful.”