German immigrants figured prominently in settlement of early Texas. Consequently, many Texas towns and cities (e.g., Fredericksburg, Groen, Muenster, New Braunfels) bear German names and today a vibrant German culture in Texas continues to be celebrated with traditional festivals like Oktoberfest.
Texas German History and Culture
In her article, “Hin’ nach Texas” (“Off to Texas”), published at the Houston Institute for Culture website, Sheena Oommen explains that many German immigrants were drawn to Texas. Due to the poor economic climate, social unrest and oppressive political conditions that existed in Germany present at the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815.
According to “The German Settlements in Central Texas” found at the online version of the Texas State Historical Association’s Texas Almanac, a widely circulated 1832 letter written to a friend by one early German settler stirred considerable interest among Germans for seeking prosperity in Texas. Author of the letter, Friedrich Ernst, described Texas, then still a Mexican territory, as having rich, fertile soil, mild winters, abundant wildlife and as having a low cost of living. He added that it was only necessary to work three months a year to make a living in Texas, that there was unhampered freedom of religion and that since people could comfortably live off the bountiful land, there was no need for money.
By 1842, despite restrictive German government policies on immigration to foreign lands, the migration of significant numbers of Germans to Texas had begun to pick up considerable steam. By 1845, according to the Texas Almanac article, German settlers were arriving in Texas by the thousands. One of the largest early settlements was in New Braunfels, near present-day San Antonio.
Oktoberfest Fredericksburg, Texas
Present-day Fredericksburg, located about 70 miles north of San Antonio, was first settled by 120 German immigrants who arrived from New Braunfels in May 1846. Fredericksburg continues to celebrate a rich German heritage which makes the city home to one of the best Oktoberfest celebrations in the state. In fact, visitors to the official City of Fredericksburg website receive a hearty “Willkommen!” instead of the more common English greeting, “Welcome.” Those looking for a colorful, festive celebration of Oktoberfest 2010 Texas-style need look no further than picturesque Fredericksburg.
Oktoberfest 2017 festivities in Fredericksburg kicked off October 6 and ran the entire weekend through October 8. The celebration centers on the downtown Marktplaz (Market Square). Visitors can expect traditional German music performances, delicious German food, arts & crafts exhibits and of course a traditional Oktoberfest Bier tent. Also, the festival will feature wines from the many area vineyards.
Visitors, both adult and children alike will find much to see and do in Fredericksburg during this 37th anniversary Oktoberfest-Texas celebration. Complete information and a schedule of activities can be found at the festival website.