Most of my family trees (I’m at 24 trees and counting) include a lot of travel. The family ancestor arrives in America, then moves three or four times, then his subsequent family moves, then another generation moves, and eventually, there are family members scattered from coast to coast across the U.S.
Not so when talking about my eldest son’s paternal lineage. That story starts and stays in Texas.
And it begins with Peter Ryman.
Peter, his wife Catherine, and their sons Balthasar and John, were among thousands of German immigrants brought to Texas by the Adelsverein,1 a society created by German nobles for the purpose of easing economic burdens among Germany’s poor as well as establishing a trade base in America. Commonly referred to as the Verein, their biggest draw was the promise of free land once the immigrants were settled in Texas.
Only one problem: the land they purchased, the Fisher-Miller Land Grant,2 was smack-dab in heart of Comanche country. As a result, very few of the immigrants ever actually settled there. Many put down roots in New Braunfels and Fredericksburg but others, like Peter Ryman, stayed on the coast near where they originally landed: Matagorda, Texas.
Well, technically, Peter and company arrived in Galveston aboard the barque ship Harriett3 on 18 January 1846, where they boarded another ship which took them to Indian Point,4 a small camp on Matagorda Bay. From there, the immigrants were to travel via wagon caravan to the Miller-Fisher lands 150 miles west of Austin, stopping in Victoria, McCoy’s Creek, Gonzales, Sequin, and Fredericksburg along the way.
There isn’t a record of why Peter and his family didn’t travel north with the others. Perhaps they were tired of traveling: they had, after all, been on the move since before 31 October 1845.5 Maybe they were ill: many immigrants were in poor health after months aboard ship or fell prey to coastal diseases, especially yellow fever.6 Or maybe they just liked the look of the surrounding country. Whatever the case, Peter and his family stayed put, settling in the small village of Matagorda.7
And, pretty much, that’s where the Rymans remained for the next 170 years… and counting.8
- Also known as the Verein zum Schutze Deutscher Einwanderer in Texas (Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas); A Guide to the Verein zum Schutze Deutscher Einwanderer in Texas Records, 1842-1858
- Read more about the Fisher-Miller Land Grant
- The barque ship Harriett left Antwerp, Belgium on 31 October 1845 and arrived in Galveston, Texas on 18 January 1846.
- Indian Point, aka Indianola, Tx
- The Rymans originally came from Ruppach, Germany, which was about 200 miles east of Antwerp, Belgium.
- Yellow Fever terrorized early Houston (and by extension, the Gulf Coast)
- More about the city of Matagorda
- Okay, yes, a few have scattered towards Austin and San Antonio in recent years, but the vast majority have remained in Matagorda County.
- Wondering what happened to all that land that was promised to Peter for coming to America? He received 640 acres in Sutton County on the fringe of the Fisher-Miller Grant. In November of 1853, he sold the land to Samuel Maverick (no relation to Bret). [Source: Texas General Land Office]
- The header image is Matagorda in 1860.
- And now, for your listening and viewing pleasure, the unofficial state song of Texas.
And now… A Valentine’s Day Special
One of my Romance writing friends (TL Watson) is running a special giveaway, along with some of her Romance colleagues.
So, if you’re looking for your next book to cuddle, check out these seven stories of lovers fated to be soul mates. There’s something for everyone . . . and just in time for Valentine’s Day!