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SPECHT, THEODORE

SPECHT, THEODORE (1810–1862). Theodore Specht, Fredericksburg pioneer, was born in the province of Braunschweig, Germany, on April 17, 1810. He became captain of a sailing ship in Germany, and on his last voyage his ship was destroyed and he was believed drowned. Although Specht was eventually rescued, the accident cost him his hearing and his fiancée, who, believing he was dead, married another man. Specht eventually married Maria Berger in Germany and immigrated with her to Fredericksburg, Texas, in 1846. Their first child, Christine, was born on March 14, 1846, but died of exposure in a spring storm when she was only a few days old despite being held by her mother in a feather bed. Specht and his wife had seven other children who lived to adulthood. In his home Specht opened a store that became popular with the local Indians, who traded honey, bear fat, and meat with the colonists. The Comanche chief Santa Anna was a friend of Specht's; one winter night he rode up with one of his wives and asked for a room with a fireplace for her. She bore him a son that night, and when he returned the next morning he asked Mrs. Specht to follow him to the creek, where he broke the ice and dipped the baby in the water. He then patted a handful of water on Maria's breast, proclaimed her the mother-in-God of his son, and gave her an engraved silver disk in payment for the lodgings. Specht became the first postmaster of Fredericksburg on December 7, 1848; he operated the post office in his store and was the local agent for the Neu Braunfelser Zeitung beginning in 1852. Through the Department of Agriculture he brought into Gillespie County a variety of wheat and rye that benefited local farmers. He also collected local insects, lizards, and snakes, preserved them in alcohol and shipped them to naturalists in New York; he sent the money he received from them to his mother in Germany. Specht died on June 4, 1862, and was buried in Fredericksburg.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Gillespie County Historical Society, Pioneers in God's Hills (2 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1960, 1974).

Martin Donell Kohout

Citation

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

Martin Donell Kohout, "SPECHT, THEODORE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsp05), accessed November 24, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.