History

A Great Texas Hill Country Pioneer: Betty Holekamp

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If you have ever wandered around the Texas Hill Country or enjoyed spending time in a small town of the area and wondered what it was like to be a settler or live without modern conveniences, one woman is an inspiring example. Betty Wilhelmine Abbethern Holekamp was a German who became a true Texas pioneer: she was among the original residents in New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, Sisterdale, and Comfort.

A Great Texas Hill Country Pioneer: Betty Holekamp

Photo: Wikimedia/commons

Born in Hannover, Germany, Betty was raised among royals as her father was the ministerial accountant to the king. She was wedded to Georg Friedrich “Fritz” Holekamp, and together they learned of new opportunities in Texas from Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels. In September 1844, the couple boarded a ship, arriving at Indianola in November the same year. While enroute to the Prince’s chosen land plot, the group reached the banks of a swollen Guadalupe River. Betty Holekamp plunged ahead after the Prince, becoming the first recorded white woman to cross the Guadalupe River via horseback. Along with 228 immigrants and Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, they established the first German settlement in Texas: New Braunfels.

A Great Texas Hill Country Pioneer: Betty Holekamp

Photo: @malisunshine via Twenty20

Betty Holekamp sewed the first American flag flown in New Braunfels, and perhaps Texas. After two years there, the Holekamps became some of the first residents of Fredericksburg. Two years later, they became the third family to settle in Sisterdale. The Holekamps lived briefly in San Antonio later, then moved to Comfort in 1854, constructing the first house in town. When the Civil War broke out, Betty’s husband was killed, so she took in boarders and operated a laundry business to provide for her seven children. Betty Holekamp lived the rest of her life in Comfort, passing away on November 2, 1902. Imagine what Texas life was like then! Do you think it was easier or harder to move around every few years?