Gillespie County, Texas

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Gillespie County is a county located on the Edwards Plateau in the U.S. state of Texas. In 2000, its population was 20,814. It is located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. Gillespie is named for Robert Addison Gillespie, who came to Texas in 1837. He was a Texas Ranger, an Indian fighter, a merchant and a soldier in the Mexican-American War. The seat of the county is Fredericksburg.

Coordinates: 30°19′N 98°57′W / 30.31°N 98.95°W / 30.31; -98.95


History Timeline

  • Early native Americans are Tonkawa, Comanche, Kiowa and Lipan Apache.[1]
  • 1842 Adelsverein organized in Germany to promote emigration to Texas.[2] Fisher-Miller Land Grant sets aside three million acres to settle 600 families and single men of German, Dutch, Swiss, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian ancestry in Texas.[3]
  • 1844 Henry Francis Fisher sells interest in land grant to Adelsverein.[1]
  • 1845 Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels secures title to 1,265 acres of the Veramendi grant, including the Comal Springs and River, for the Adelsverein. Thousands of German immigrants are stranded at port of disembarkation Indianaola on Matagorda Bay. With no food or shelters, living in holes dug into the ground, an estimated 50% die from disease or starvation. The living begin to walk to their destinations hundreds of miles away. 200 German colonists who walked from Indianola found the town of New Braunfels at the crossing of the San Antonio-Nacogdches Road on the Guadalupe River. John O. Meusebach arrives in Galveston. The first wagon train of 120 settlers arrive from New Braunfels. Surveyor Hermann Wilke lays out the town. Meusebach names it Fredericksburg, in honor of Prince Frederick of Prussia.[4][5][6][7][8][1]
  • 1847 Meusebach-Comanche Treaty. 150 settlers petition the Texas legislature to establish a new county, suggested names being "Pierdenales" or Germania. The Vereins Kirche becomes the first public building in Fredericksburg. It serves as a non-denominational church, school, town hall and fort. Locals refer to it as “The Coffee Mill Church” for its shape. Wilhelm Victor Keidel is the county's first doctor. Mormon leader Lyman Wight founds the community of Zodiac.[9] [10][11]
  • 1848 The legislature forms Gillespie County from Bexar and Travis counties. They name it after Tennessee transplant Capt. Robert Addison Gillespie, a hero of the 1846 Battle of Monterrey in the Mexican-American War. Fredericksburg becomes the county seat. Fort Martin Scott is established at Barons Creek on a Pedernales tributary.[12][13]
  • 1850 An angry mob of soldiers burns down the store-courthouse destroying all County records. The melee apparently starts when County Clerk John M. Hunter, who also owns the store, refuses to sell whiskey to a soldier. Words are exchanged. Hunter stabs the soldier. 50 soldiers storm and burn the store, destroying all contents. Soldiers prevent townspeople from saving the county records.[14][15]
  • 1851 John O. Meusebach is elected to the Texas Senate to represent Bexar, Comal, and Medina counties.[7]
  • 1854 John O. Meusebach receives an appointment as commissioner from Governor Elisha M. Pease to issue land certificates to those immigrants of 1845 and 1846 who had been promised them by the Adelsverein. The Texas State Convention of Germans meet in San Antonio and adopt a political, social and religious platform, including: 1) Equal pay for equal work; 2) Direct election of the President of the United States; 3) Abolition of capital punishment; 4) “Slavery is an evil, the abolition of which is a requirement of democratic principles..”; 5) Free schools – including universities - supported by the state, without religious influence; and 6) Total separation of church and state.[7][16][17][18]
  • 1860 Bremen seaman Charles Henry Nimitz Sr., grandfather of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, builds the Nimitz Hotel in Frederickburg. In 1870, he adds a steamboat shaped façade.[19][20]
  • 1861 Texas secedes from the Union, and joins the Confederate States of America. Gillespie County votes 400 -17 against secession from the Union. Unionists from Kerr, Gillespie, and Kendall counties participate in the formation of the Union League, a secret organization to support President Abraham Lincoln’s policies. Surveyor Jacob Kuechler is commissioned as a Captain by Sam Houston to enroll state militia troops in Gillespie County. Kuechler signs up only German Unionists in his frontier company, and is dismissed by Governor Francis R. Lubbock.[21][22]
  • 1862 Fifty-four Gillespie county men join the Confederate Army. Eventually 300 would enlist with the CSA to avoid conscription. The Union League forms companies to protect the frontier against Indians and their families against local Confederate forces. Conscientious objectors to the military draft are primarily among Tejanos and Germans . Confederate authorities impose martial law on Central Texas. Nueces massacre in Kinney County. Jacob Kuechler serves as a guide for 61 conscientious objectors attempting to flee to Mexico. Scottish born Confederate irregular James Duff and his Duff’s Partisan Rangers pursue and overtake them at the Nueces River. 34 are killed, some executed after being taken prisoner. Jacob Kuechler survives the battle. The cruelty shocks the people of Gillespie County. 2,000 take to the hills to escape Duff's reign of terror. Spring Creek Cemetery near Harper in Gillespie County has a singular grave with the names Sebird Henderson, Hiram Nelson, Gus Tegener and Frank Scott. The inscription reads “Hanged and thrown in Spring Creek by Col. James Duff’s Confederate Regiment.”[23][24][25]
  • 1864 Kiowa raiders massacre residents of the McDonald farm in the Harper vicinity.[26]
  • 1865 Gillespie county suffers a war-time crime wave, as 17 individuals are convicted of murder.[27]
  • 1866 Treüe der Union ("Loyalty to the Union") monument in Comfort is dedicated to the Texans slain at the Nueces massacre. It is the only monument to the Union outside of the National Cemeteries on Confederate territory. It is one of only six such sites allowed to fly the United States flag at half-mast in perpetuity.[28][29]
  • 1870 Herman Lehmann and brother Willie are captured by Apaches, but Willie escapes within days.[30][31]
  • 1874-75 Andreas Lindig builds the county’s first lime kiln.[32]
  • 1878, May 12 - Herman Lehmann, escorted by soldiers, finally returns to his family.[30]
  • 1881 Gillespie County becomes the first county in Texas to hold a fair.[33]
  • 1882 Original Gillespie County Courthouse constructed. Later to become Pioneer Memorial Library.[34]
  • 1885 Chester W. Nimitz, future Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, is born in Fredericksburg. His father Chester B. Nimitz dies before his birth, leaving his seaman grandfather as role model.[35]
  • 1897, May 27 - John O. Meusebach dies at his farm at Loyal Valley in Mason County, is buried in the Marschall Meusebach Cemetery at Cherry Spring.[7][36]
  • 1908 Future President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson is born in a small farmhouse on the Pedernales River.[37]
  • 1934 Gillespie County Historical Society is formed.[38]
  • 1938 Pedernales Electric Cooperative is formed to provide rural electrification [39]
  • 1948 County begins annual Easter Fire event to commemorate the Meusebach treaty signing.[40]
  • 1960’s Lyndon Johnson becomes Vice President of the United States and subsequently President of the United States. His ranch at Stonewall becomes known as the Texas Whitehouse. Tourism becomes an important industry.[41]
  • 1966, February 20 - Chester Nimitz dies in California and is laid to rest at the Golden Gate National Cemetery.[42]
  • 1967, February 24 - Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Memorial Naval Museum opens in the old Nimitz Hotel on Main Street in Fredericksburg.[43]
  • 1973, January 22 – Lyndon Johnson dies at his Stonewall ranch. He, and later Lady Bird Johnson, are laid to rest at the family cemetery on the ranch.[41]
  • 1976, May 8 - The Japanese Garden of Peace, a gift from the people of Japan, is dedicated on the 130th anniversary of the founding of Fredericksburg at the Nimitz Museum.[44]
  • 1981, September 1 - The state legislature places the Nimitz Museum under Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as The National Museum of the Pacific War.[44]
  • 1984 The State of Texas opens Enchanted Rock State Natural Area after adding facilities. That same year it is also added to the National Register of Historic Places,[45]
  • 2008, August 27 - The Texas White House officially opens to the public.[41]
  • 2009 The George H. W. Bush Gallery opens at the Nimitz museum.[44]

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