Maria Augusta Imme von Blücher, piano teacher and language teacher, was born on September 25, 1827, in Berlin, Prussia (previously one of the German nation states now part of present-day Germany). She was the daughter of Maria Wilhelmine Auguste (Kroll) Imme and Carl Friedrich Imme, a prominent Berlin brass manufacturer, and because of the station of her family she “was reared in an atmosphere of culture.” She studied music under the renowned Hungarian composer Franz Liszt and was an accomplished linguist. As a young woman Maria was known as “The Belle of Berlin.” She married Anton Felix Hans Hellmuth von Blücher in Germany on March 10, 1849. Sometime after arriving in the United States in 1844, her husband started using a shortened variation of his name—Felix Anton von Blücher—and often was referred to simply as Felix von Blücher. Felix von Blücher was an engineer and interpreter, and prior to the Maria and Felix’s marriage, served as interpreter for Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels in Texas and later in the Mexican War as a for Gen. Winfield Scott in Mexico. After Felix von Blücher’s brief return to Prussia and the couple’s marriage, the von Blüchers and several others soon chartered a 300-ton vessel and set sail for the United States. The ship arrived safely at New Orleans, and from there the couple sailed to Corpus Christi. Maria and Felix arrived in Corpus Christi, Texas, on July 11, 1849.
The von Blüchers had six children: Maria (Mary) Felicia, Julia Augusta, Charles F. H., Richard Paul, George Anton, and Annie Elizabeth (who died in infancy). The original Blücher homesite was an eight-acre plot bought from Henry Lawrence Kinney, and the house was not large enough to accommodate all of the furnishings that the couple had brought with them from Prussia. Maria’s piano was at first kept outdoors, under a tree, and the “kitchen was established under two trees, a mesquite and a large hackberry.” She kept up her music despite the demands of motherhood and was “much sought after for concerts and musical festivities, to which she graciously donated her services.” Maria served at different times as organist for the Catholic and Presbyterian churches. For a number of years she kept a private studio for music where she taught piano. She also taught French, German, and Spanish (the latter of which she had learned in her adopted homeland). Many Corpus Christi residents who later rose to prominence had been Von Blücher’s students in either language or music. In these ways, Maria proved an invaluable community member in early Corpus Christi, even as her husband’s surveying work often kept him away from the city for extended periods.
After Felix von Blücher died on February 6, 1879, Maria “learned the painful details of their financial situation.” Her husband had died intestate, and as administrative executor of his estate, Maria discovered that his debts far outnumbered his assets and much of his property was mired in back taxes. Fortunately, she was able to keep the family homestead and some of the ranchland, which she leased out for extra income. She also earned money through teaching music, which allowed her some level of comfort and security in the final years of her life. Both her son Charles and grandson Conrad followed in their father’s footsteps as surveyors for Nueces County and thus made major contributions to the development of South Texas. Maria Augusta Imme von Blücher died in Corpus Christi on September 28, 1893, after a month-long illness. She was buried in Old Bayview Cemetery in Corpus Christi.
Maria von Blücher wrote letters—229 in all—to her parents from the years 1849 to 1879. While Maria wrote the vast majority of the correspondences, some letters also contained notes or sections written by her husband Felix or other family members. Maria’s daughter Julia returned the letters to Corpus Christi when she returned from Germany after an extended stay there in 1880 and after the death of Maria’s mother in 1879 (her father had died in 1876). In 1952 Maria’s granddaughter, Marie Marguerite von Blücher, “provided for the translation of the letters into English.” The letters are housed at the Special Collections and Archives, Mary and Jeff Bell Library at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, as part of the von Blücher family’s larger historical collection there. In 2002 Texas A&M University Press published Maria Von Blucher’s Corpus Christi, edited by Bruce S. Cheeseman. Cheeseman noted, “Maria’s letters are a record of the woman’s side of pioneer life. They picture deprivations, cruel hardships, sacrifices, and dangers. . . . They provide an intimate look inside the homes and ranches, the schools and farmyards, the stores and churches of early Corpus Christi. They examine families and friendships, communities and congregations, sewing circles and social unions.” As Thomas Kreneck wrote in the work’s foreword, “the book adds an important dimension to our understanding of nineteenth-century life in a town and region of Texas that are rich in tradition and lore but in need of historical analysis and available printed primary sources.”