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Nassau Plantation

By David Huenlich and Jonathan Fairchild, The University of Texas at San Antonio

In 1843 a league of land was purchased from Robert Mills at 75 Cents an acre by members of the "Adelsverein" - a migration company founded by noblemen at Schloss Biebrich in Hesse, Germany. The Adelsverein was preparing for a major undertaking, namely to bring thousands of immigrants from Germany to Central Texas. The first representative of the company in Texas, count Ludwig Joseph von Boos-Waldeck, developed a vision of German settlements being powered by a Texas slave plantation. To this end, he founded a plantation near present day Round Top, Texas, purchasing 25 slaves. Nobody at the farm had much experience , so the plantation saw limited economic success but ample amounts of suffering. The enslaved workers fled the poor conditions and the abuse on the plantation on several occassions. Members of the Adelsverein would use the farm as a pleasure retreat. Although the successors of Boos-Waldeck claimed to be opposed to slavery, they never abandoned the plantation project until it was sold to Otto von Roeder. Subsequently the enslaved people on the farm were distributed to new German owners. Property lists of the time show this.

Nassau shows that there was German participation in the Texan slave trade albeit at low levels. It also gives witness to the poor treatment of enslaved people by German enslavers. In 1850, a German traveler through Texas named Steinert, who visited the German settlements makes the following observations:

W.Steinert's Tagebuch 1850_S. 213.png

"I often saw the Negroes riding out beautifully dressed on Sunday. Many a clever eye flashed at me from the black face. The women in the kitchens are extremely well fed. None of the cruelties, the writers from old times tell us about, are said to occur here. Nevertheless, the treatment of individuals is a cruel one, and even from Germans I heard that they treated their Negroes unmercifully, so that they run away because of it. German they learn easily, otherwise they speak English. I met several Negroes who spoke German. -Even if the treatment is good and the laws protect the slaves, it is cruel enough that the noble whites leave their black brothers without any education, break the family ties by buying and selling, and that they admit that the Negro traders drive the Negroes bound with chains before them to the market, where they are inspected like cattle before they are bought. But just how much the noble white man on the other hand loves the company of the Negro woman is amply demonstrated by the half-Negroes."

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