Count Victor August of Leiningen-Westerburg-Alt-Leiningen, cofounder of the Adelsverein and one of its first representatives in Texas, son of Count Frederick I, Ludwig Christian, and Eleonore Maria Magdalena (née Breitwieser), Lady of Brettwitz, was born on the family estate at Ilbenstadt, Hesse, near Frankfurt am Main, on January 1, 1821. He was descended from ancient noble lines dating back to the eleventh and twelfth centuries. As a youth he began preparing for a military career, and at the age of nineteen he held the rank of lieutenant in an Austrian infantry regiment. In April 1842 he and a small number of other nobles met at Biebrich on the Rhine, near Mainz, to organize a society, the so-called Adelsverein, to promote German emigration to Texas. In May, Leiningen-Westerburg was assigned the task of accompanying the society's chief agent, Count Joseph of Boos-Waldeck, to Texas on a mission to obtain land there for the society. Shortly after their arrival in Galveston in late summer 1842, the two visited President Sam Houston briefly in Houston and presented to him the society's plans for colonization in Texas. In October the two agents traveled to Columbia, to San Felipe de Austin, to the German settlement of Rödersmühl on Mill Creek, and finally, in November, in the company of Anson Jones, to Washington-on-the-Brazos, where the Congress of the Republic of Texas was in session. In the temporary capital counts Boos-Waldeck and Leiningen-Westerburg met with President Houston a second time and with Secretary of State Anson Jones to discuss a land grant to the immigration society. Although Houston and Jones offered to extend the society such a grant, Leiningen-Westerburg and Boos-Waldeck declined the offer when they learned that the land would be in territory west of Austin, where Indian attacks still occurred, and that extraordinary initial expense would be involved in establishing colonists on a grant so far from the coast.
About February 1843 Leiningen left Texas for Germany, and upon his return to Mainz in May he presented Boos-Waldeck's report of their activities in Texas, including the purchase of a league of land for Nassau Farm. Although Boos-Waldeck had counseled against an initial colonization venture on a large scale, Leiningen-Westerburg seems to have supported expansion of the effort. Count Victor did not return to Texas, as he had once planned, nor did he play a leading role in the continued affairs of the society. He chose instead to continue his military career in the Austrian army. By 1866 he had ascended to the rank of major general. He was decorated three times, with the Order of the Iron Crown, with the Cross of Merit, and with the Knight's Cross of the Order of Leopold. He was pensioned at his own request in 1868 with the rank of lieutenant field marshal. From 1868 to 1874 he served as legal guardian to his nephew, Frederick III, Wiprecht Franz zu Leiningen-Westerburg-Alt-Leiningen, the heir with the right of succession. Count Victor lived in Darmstadt, near Frankfurt, from 1874 until his death, on February 19, 1880.
Rudolph L. Biesele, The History of the German Settlements in Texas, 1831–1861 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1930; rpt. 1964). Solms-Braunfels Archives (transcripts, Sophienburg Museum, New Braunfels, Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin).
Founders and Pioneers
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Louis E. Brister,
“Leiningen, Count Victor August of,”
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