The past colors the present as well as the future.
When the past is honored we better understand our culture and ways of life. Fredericksburg, TX honors its past as well as its culture with Founders Day. The event is held at the Pioneer Village and includes food, music, displays and hands on experience.
Fredericksburg was founded by Baron Otfried Han Freiherr von Meusebach on May 8, 1846. Once in Texas the Baron was known as John O. Meusebach and went about settling the area along with other Germans.
One of the more interesting aspects of the settlement was each family was given a lot in town and ten acres in the surrounding countryside. The lot in town was for their Sunday House, a second home of sorts. Generally the families were too far out of town to come in for Sunday services or other shopping and medical needs. So a Sunday House was built on the town lot, this was a small home usually one main room and maybe some sleeping quarters in the attic area. The family would come into town on Saturday afternoon and take care of shopping and other business. On Saturday nights they would attend a social event, dance or party and then on Sunday attend church services. Some would leave Sunday afternoon to head back to the country while others stayed until Monday. As the sons took over family farms, the parents sometimes retired, moved into town and lived in the Sunday House. Although this style of house is not exclusive to Texas, they were very popular in the Texas Hill Country especially Gillespie County.
In a time when we go to the store to purchase just about anything we want or need, it is hard to imagine when that was not possible. One of the show and tell events of Founders Day was rope making. You want rope, you go to the hardware store and purchase it – that is today. In the 1800s, you made your own rope. This required at least three people and some arm power for turning. John assisted in the making of some rope and decided purchasing it at the hardware store was much easier.
Also on the property was an original schoolhouse. Gillespie County had forty four rural schoolhouses. These one room structures served the German farming communities and allowed children to attend school and also work on the farm. The schoolhouse in the Pioneer Village was in operation until 1949. We were lucky to have as our guide one of the students from the 1949 graduating class.
An authentic chuck wagon was on display along with Dutch oven cooking demonstrations. The day was very windy and the cooks were having a hard time with the fire and wind. It just went to show how settlers in the 1800s had to deal with the elements in everyday life.
The highlight of the day, at least for Laurie, was riding Tumbleweed, the Texas Longhorn. Ron Hamilton rode in on his longhorn, Tumbleweed, and then graciously allowed anyone who wished to hop on board. Laurie was in line.
Having lived in Germany for three years, we enjoyed learning about the German culture in the Texas Hill Country. In so many ways, we also saw the parallel of our ancestors, the Acadians, in the way these pioneers lived, made most of what they had, and helped each over overcome the hardships of early life.