04. July 2008 · Comments Off on Fourth of July on the Frontier · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, History, Literary Good Stuff, Old West

(From the final chapter of Book 1 of “Adelsverein- The Gathering; how they celebrated the Fourth on the Texas frontier in the mid 1850s)

Letter from Christian Friedrich Steinmetz, of Fredericksburg, Texas to Simon Frankenthaler, goldsmith of the city of Ulm, written in the first week of July, 1853:

…This week we celebrated the 4th of July in a grand style. Son Hansi and his family and their neighbors from Live Oak Mill joined together and paraded into town on horseback and in many wagons, with a beautifully embroidered banner at their head. They were joined as they approached Fredericksburg by others from the outlaying district around, and rode in proper order to the Market Square, where they were greeted by the City Club members, with music and many cheers. A little later, the people from the northern settlements arrived, carrying a beautiful Texas flag! This had a large five-pointed star with the words “Club of the Backwoodsmen” embroidered all around. The flag bearer was dressed in a blue denim shirt and trousers, which all agreed was an excellent representation of a true backwoodsman, although Son Carl looked very amused. A welcoming speech was given and then the procession moved through our city. First the club presidents, then the musicians on a long wagon, then the flag-bearer with the flag of the Live Oak club leading their member, then the City Club flag and their members and the backwoodsmen. Everyone was mounted on horseback— or in wagons; a huge parade which made much dust—, before we proceeded to an open meadow some few miles away. Many other people had assembled there, for it had all been planned beforehand. We formed a great square, while the Declaration of Independence was read in English first, and then in German. We set up tents, more than thirty of them, where families served refreshments to their friends. The shooting club held a target-shooting match and there was an orchestra for the young people to dance. At odd times during the day there were more shooting matches, foot-races and jumping matches. The winners had to pay for wine, which was enjoyed very much by all. In the afternoon there were more speeches, and after that a grand polonaise. This happy revelry lasted until nearly sunrise the next morning, when we all drank hot coffee. It was a most congenial gathering; you may be sure, a meet and proper celebration of the anniversary of our new country. In the main and in spite of the tragedies that attended my journey here, I am glad and grateful to have been afforded the chance to see my children and grandchildren build a free and prosperous future.

Your old friend,
C.F. Steinmetz

This and the other books of the Adelsverein Trilogy will be available in December, 2008 – although I am taking pre-orders here, for autographed copies of all three books, to be delivered just before the official release date

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