The first printing of this title accidentally dropped the endnotes to
Chapter 13; these notes are available for viewing in the Excerpt
In the 1840s an organization of German noblemen, the Mainzner
Adelsverein, attempted to settle thousands of German emigrants on the
Texas frontier. Nassau Plantation, located near modern-day Round Top,
Texas, in northern Fayette County, was a significant part of this story.
No one, however, has adequately documented the role of the slave
plantation or given a convincing explanation of the Adelsverein from
the German point of view.
James C. Kearney has studied a wealth of original source material (much
of it in German) to illuminate the history of the plantation and the
larger goals and motivation of the Adelsverein, both in Texas and in
Germany. Moreover, this new study highlights the problematic
relationship of German emigrants to slavery. Few today realize that the
society’s original colonization plan included ownership and operation of
slave plantations. Ironically, the German settlements the society later
established became hotbeds of anti-slavery and anti-secessionist
Responding to criticism in Germany, the society declared its colonies to
be “slave free zones” in 1845. This act thrust the society front and
center into the complicated political landscape of Texas prior to
annexation. James A. Mayberry, among others, suspected an English-German
conspiracy to flood the state with anti-slavery immigrants and delivered
a fiery speech in the legislature denouncing the society.
In the 1850s the plantation became a magnet for German immigration into
Fayette and Austin Counties. In this connection, Kearney explores the
role and influence of Otto von Roeder, a largely neglected but important
Texas-German. Another chapter deals with the odyssey of the extended von
Rosenberg family, who settled on the plantation in 1850 and helped to
elevate the nearby town of Round Top into a regional center of culture
and education. Many members of the family subsequently rose to positions
of leadership and influence in Texas.
Several notable personalities graced the plantation—Carl Prince of
Solms-Braunfels, Johann Otto Freiherr von Meusebach, botanist F.
Lindheimer, and the renowned naturalist Dr. Ferdinand Roemer, to name a
few. Dramatic events also occurred at the plantation, including a deadly
shootout, a successful escape by two slaves (documented in an
unprecedented way), and litigation over ownership that wound its way to
both the Texas Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.
“In depth, thoroughness, and scope, Nassau Plantation has no equal in
the literature of the Society. It will become the standard reference on
this topic and will be of interest to scholars of German-Texan history
as well as to the large element of German-Texans.” —Wolfram M.
Von-Maszewski, editor of Voyage to North America 1844-45: Prince Carl
of Solms’s Texas Diary of People, Places, and Events
“The topic is excellent. The only extended monographs on the
Adelsverein and German emigration to Texas date to the early twentieth
century. A lot of material has come to light since these studies
appeared, and Kearney is on top of the sources.” —Walter Struve,
author of Germans and Texans
“Nassau Plantation is well grounded in primary sources with good
biographical information on the major characters. This will be a
valuable reference work.” —Walter Buenger, author of Secession and
the Union in Texas and coeditor of Texas Through Time
“Nassau Plantation is an absorbing historical chronicle, following the
notable deeds of prominent individuals and families of the plantation as
well as the plantation’s impact upon Texas society as a whole. A welcome
and worthy addition to Texas and German-American history shelves.”
—Midwest Book Review