Frels, William (1810–1870)

By: Jeff Carroll

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Updated: October 16, 2019

William Frels, founder of Frelsburg, was born in 1810 in the grand duchy of Oldenburg, Germany. In response to a letter from Friedrich Ernst, one of the first German settlers in Texas, printed in the Oldenburg newspaper, Frels joined Robert Kleberg and Louis von Roeder and immigrated to Texas. Frels arrived in Galveston in December 1834 and first located near Ernst's settlement, Industry, but within a year moved westward to the fledgling community of Kraewinkel (Crows Nest) in what is now Colorado County. He participated in the siege of Bexar and commanded a company of German volunteers in the revolutionary army. He was a survivor of the battle of San Jacinto. Afterward he and Peter Pieper laid out a community that was opened to settlement in 1837. Frels donated land for a Lutheran church, school, parsonage, and cemetery, and under the name Frelsburg, the community flourished. On January 25, 1851, Frels married Louisa Frerichs. They had four children. Louisa Frels died in 1859. William Frels died on March 20, 1870, and is buried in the cemetery he donated to the community.

Rudolph L. Biesele, The History of the German Settlements in Texas, 1831–1861 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1930; rpt. 1964). Colorado County Historical Commission, Colorado County Chronicles from the Beginning to 1923 (2 vols., Austin: Nortex, 1986). Frelsburg Historical Committee, The History of Frelsburg (New Ulm, Texas: Enterprise, 1986). Galveston Daily News, April 6, 1870.

  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Pioneers
  • Military
  • Soldiers
Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

Jeff Carroll, “Frels, William,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

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January 1, 1995
October 16, 2019