Freethinkers in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country

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Let’s go way back in time to the mid-18th century when a group of Freethinkers from Germany settled in the Texas Hill Country. They were escaping political and religious dogma, and they chose the Hill Country as their new home. The areas of Comfort, Sisterdale, and Luckenbach appealed to about 1,000 of them. And why not? The lush, rolling hills charmed all visitors. The group established themselves in those three towns and began to spread their philosophy. Education of children was highly important, and schools and libraries soon took shape. They taught their offspring critical thinking, art, and the classics.

Sisterdale Dance Hall

Photo: facebook.com/SisterdaleDancehall

They wanted the kiddos free from what they considered prejudiced thinking. They encouraged the children to become skeptics. Freethinkers often gathered at the schools to debate each other on various topics.

These wealthy settlers didn’t follow political views of the day, nor did they believe in the absolute of Scripture. This group of intellectuals, scientists, and academic individuals considered the idea of the diety irrelevant. Clergy were not their favorite people.

Grounds of the Sisterdale Dance Hall

Photo: Wikipedia.com

When a member died, no one comforted the grieving with the idea of immortality. They didn’t believe in it. The deceased lived on solely through the generations to come. At the funeral, they sang German songs, and someone reviewed the life story of the departed.

The Freethinkers Society held their normal, regular meetings in Sisterdale until the War between the States interrupted them. In some ways, the Civil War fractured the Freethinkers and caused much consternation. After the war, many Freethinkers returned to their home country or left for other areas of Texas. However, the Freethinker movement in Sisterdale/Comfort lasted until 1970.


Handbook of Texas online