Germans in the Texas Hill Country: History and Heritage

By  | 
Tony Maples Photography


With towns named Fredericksburg and New Braunfels, the Texas Hill Country obviously has been influenced by German immigrants in the past. When did these immigrants arrive, and what drove them to the Texas Hill Country? Find the answers in the history of Germans in the Texas Hill Country.


Logo of the Adelsverein which led to many Germans in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In the 19th century, Germany as we know it did not exist. The country consisted of a series of self-governing states, and the push for unification caused serious strife in the region. Many wanted their own space to rule. By the 1830s, Germans began to trickle into the Texas Hill Country. By 1842, 21 German noblemen created the Adelsverein, which abbreviates the longer name that translates to Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas. They sought to colonize Texas with Germans to create an outpost in America. Since Texas at the time had open spaces and plenty of room for growth, they hoped to recreate a little bit of their homeland in the Texas Hill Country.


Castroville City Hall

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Another wave of German immigrants created the town of Castroville near San Antonio in 1844. Those in this town mainly came from Alsace, which today is near the Germany-France border. While Alsace is a part of France today, traditionally, the region has fluctuated between Germany and France, with cultural influences from both nations. Though many from this group stayed in Castroville, others opted instead to create homes in San Antonio. The larger city offered better job opportunities. Which explains why you still see many German restaurants in San Antonio as well as Castroville today.

Where Germans in the Texas Hill Country Settled

German immigrants traveling to New Braunfels

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

You will find a specific belt of the Texas Hill Country that exhibits the strongest German heritage. Towns along a line from San Antonio to the northwest show strong German roots today. This area, which includes New Braunfels and Fredericksburg was where many of the 7,000 Adelservein immigrants settled. In fact, the movement created those towns which still show their German roots today. Castroville was another area settled by those from Germany.

Germans in the Texas Hill Country Today

Bavarian Inn in Fredericksburg is further evidence of Germans in the Texas Hill Country

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

By 1990, 17 percent of Texans could claim at least partial German heritage. Vestiges of Texas German, a language once commonly heard in the Hill Country, still prevail. Perhaps the most apparent remnant of the Germans in the Texas Hill Country is the annual Oktoberfest celebrations of towns like Fredericksburg and New Braunfels and the many German restaurants that still serve Bavarian favorites. Whether you have German blood or not, you can appreciate the little taste of Europe that remains in the Texas Hill Country.