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Dellschau, Charles A. A. (1830–1923)

Jill S. Seeber Biography Entry

C. A. A. Dellschau, inventor, scientist, and artist, was born on June 4, 1830, in Germany. Dellschau arrived in the United States in the 1850s and lived in Sonora and Columbia, California, among German scientists. He joined the Sonora Aero Club, a secret society of sixty-two members committed to designing and assembling aircraft, and served as their primary draftsman. In 1886 Dellschau moved to Houston, Texas. Although no clear evidence points to how Dellschau spent his years in between his time in California and Houston, there is some speculation that he may have served as a Civil War spy. Regardless, once in Houston, Dellschau worked for the Stelzig Saddlery Shop as a salesman until 1900, when he retired. Upon retirement Dellschau spent his time drawing imaginary airships, focusing on his interests in new inventions and aviation. Some of these drawings were his original inventions, while others were drawn from designs of his former colleagues. Dellschau collected extensive scrapbooks of his drawings. On April 20, 1923, he died, without recognition of his artistic contributions. Not until the 1960s were his scrapbooks discovered by art students in a Houston antique shop. The University of St. Thomas exhibited selections from Dellschau's work in a 1969 art show. The works rose in public prominence in 1977, when they were featured in a Rice University exhibition, and in 1979, when four of his scrapbooks were purchased by the San Antonio Museum Association.

Cecilia Steinfeldt, Texas Folk Art: One Hundred Fifty Years of the Southwestern Tradition (Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1981).

Categories:

  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Visual Arts
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Folk Arts
  • Graphic Arts

Time Periods:

  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era

Places:

  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

Jill S. Seeber, “Dellschau, Charles A. A.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 28, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/dellschau-charles-a-a.

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