Station: [26] New Braunfels

Looking at the exhibits on this wall, you may well be feeling confused. What does the flag of Texas and a treaty with Native Americans have to do with Braunfels Castle? 

The answer is simple. In 1845, Prince Carl zu Solms-Braunfels founded a town in Texas called New Braunfels.

Prince Carl was born in 1812, the youngest child of Prince Friedrich Wilhelm and Princess Friederike of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (they had eight children in all). His mother was the younger sister of Queen Luise of Prussia. By her subsequent third marriage to Prince Earnest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, she became Queen of Hanover in 1815. So Carl naturally had a great many relatives and was well-travelled even as a youngster.

A little over 175 years ago, the adventurous prince headed for Texas. The Adelsverein in Mainz, which was officially known as the “Association for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas” had commissioned the prince to find suitable land for a settlement. At a landing site later known as Carlshafen, he welcomed the first German-born settlers and accompanied them into the interior. Prince Carl then established New Braunfels at the confluence of the Comal and Guadeloupe rivers in 1845. 

Another German settlement was established roughly 100 kilometres or 60 miles away. It was called Fredericksburg, after Carl's half-brother, Prince Friedrich of Prussia. A treaty between the German settlers and the local Comanche people proved remarkably successful in maintaining peace in the region.

To this day, Prince Carl is known as "Texas Charly", even though he spent less than a year in the United States. Before the year was out, he returned to Germany to marry Princess Sophie zu Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg. There’s a picture of him on your screen now.

New Braunfels is currently one of the fastest growing cities in Texas and likely to reach a hundred thousand inhabitants soon. Its German heritage is still very important. All over the city, you see restaurants or hotels with German names. And in November, the "German Wurstfest" always draws immense crowds.

All depictions: © Schloss Braunfels