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ERVENDBERG, LOUIS CACHAND

ERVENDBERG, LOUIS CACHAND (1809–1863?). Louis Cachand (christened Christian Friedrich Ludwig Cachand) Ervendberg, minister, local official, naturalist, and teacher, was born on May 3, 1809, at Rhoden in the former principality of Waldeck and Pyrmont.  He was the son of Caspar Friedrich Cachand and Christiane Friederike Louise (Hilke) Cachand. The original spelling of the family name was Kachandt, and his father had come from Erfurt/Thuringia to Lippstadt/Westphalia. After attending Greifswald University in the early 1830s, Louis Cachand was a private teacher at Warnow near Perleberg/Brandenburg. He maintained a residence at Herford, Prussia. By about 1833 he had adopted the surname of Erwendberg (later spelled Ervendberg). Shortly after immigrating to America in 1837, Ervendberg established congregations in northern Illinois. On September 14, 1838 he married fellow German immigrant Marie Sophie Dorothea Luise Münch of Teuto, Illinois. After a son's death, the couple traveled to the Houston area, where Ervendberg purchased ground for market gardening and presumably first met Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer, who was similarly engaged.

At Houston on December 22, 1839, Ervendberg held the first recorded church services among Germans in Texas. Historian R. L. Biesele assumes Ervendberg officiated regularly during the year before he moved to Blumenthal, Colorado County. While pastor at Industry, Cat Spring, Biegel, La Grange, and Columbus, Ervendberg perhaps also taught briefly with Joseph Anton Fischer, with whom he helped to found the first synod of German Christian Churches in Texas. Ervendberg became the first signer of the document incorporating Hermann University. About the time an infant daughter died, Ervendberg was invited by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels to minister to the Adelsverein immigrants, whom he accompanied from Indianola to the site of present-day New Braunfels. There he joined his wife, his young daughter, and a short-lived son, whose impending birth had required the separation. The German Protestant congregation was incorporated on October 15, 1845. In 1851 Ervendberg, whom Ferdinand von Roemer had considered somewhat distracted by other duties from the ministry, lost his pulpit to a more single-minded pastor. Ervendberg's principal memorial, the Western Texas Orphan Asylum, was established in 1848. In 1850 it was supplemented by Western Texas University, where agriculture and, thanks to Mrs. Ervendberg, domestic skills were stressed. There was also a rudimentary open-air theater. Ervendberg called the site Neu Wied and there produced silk and experimented with exotic kinds of wheat. A public school he helped organize soon supplanted his "college." He was also first president of the Comal County agricultural and horticultural society, the state's first such organization, first probate judge of Comal County, and first president of the Demokratischer Verein, a club founded to foster political unity among German immigrants. In 1854 he worked for participation in the German-American Convention, a meeting of German Americans in St. Louis.

During the mid-1850s Ervendberg began an affair with Franzisca Lange, an orphan under his care. This behavior scandalized New Braunfels and severely damaged his reputation. Being reconciled with his wife, Ervendberg sent her north with their three daughters to make plans for a new start in another state. However, he apparently changed his mind and on October 1, 1855, took Franzisca, then seventeen, and his two sons to Mexico City. Whether he actually married Franzisca after his first wife obtained a divorce is unclear, but the couple had at least two daughters.

At Wartenberg, a lost settlement north of Veracruz, Ervendberg corresponded with and collected plants for Asa Gray from early 1857 to late 1860. He returned to Mexico City briefly, then settled at Pachuca, Hidalgo, where in February 1863 he was reportedly shot to death by plunderers of his experiment-station payroll. However, information published in 1982 reports that he was writing from Paris to a Texas friend four years later. Descendants of Mrs. Ervendberg's remarriage following her divorce in May 1859 still lived in the altered orphanage near Gruene in the late twentieth century.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Rudolph L. Biesele, The History of the German Settlements in Texas, 1831–1861 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1930; rpt. 1964). S. W. Geiser, Naturalists of the Frontier (Dallas: Southern Methodist University, 1937; 2d ed. 1948). Joachim Klenner, “Reverend Louis Cachand Ervendberg aus Herford (1809–1863?): A Pioneer on Texas Frontier,” Ravensberger Blätter: Auswanderung (Zweites Heft 2011), Organ des Historischen Vereins für die Grafschaft Ravensberg e.V.

Minetta Altgelt Goyne

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Minetta Altgelt Goyne, "ERVENDBERG, LOUIS CACHAND," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fer04), accessed November 26, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on September 13, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.