Maas, Samuel (1810–1897)

By: Natalie Ornish

Type: Biography

Published: April 1, 1995

Updated: June 23, 2020

Samuel Maas, ship chandler and land investor, was born in Meinbeim, Baden, Germany, on March 1, 1810. He was educated in Europe and in the 1830s immigrated to the United States; he lived first in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and later in South Carolina, where he had relatives. His first attempt to move to Texas ended in failure: he loaded a schooner with lumber for building a house and set sail for Galveston, but a storm wrecked the ship off the Florida Keys, and Maas had to swim ashore. He arrived in Nacogdoches County in 1836, became fluent in Spanish, and found work translating Spanish land titles into English. After 1839 he lived in Galveston and operated mercantile establishments there and in Houston. He sailed to Europe many times to conduct trade for Texas, and he held a letter of recommendation from Sam Houston to Ashbel Smithqqv dated July 21, 1843, in which Houston referred to him as Captain Maas. Maas traded for and with the colonizer Henri Castro, Ashbel Smith, chargé d'affaires to England and France from 1842 to 1844, and Sam Houston. In 1844, on a trip to Germany, he met and married Isabella Offenbach (see MAAS, ISABELLA OFFENBACH), an opera singer and sister of composer Jacques Offenbach. Together they arranged for opera to be performed in Galveston and wrote newspaper reviews of musical performances. Maas died in Galveston on January 10, 1897, at age eighty-seven.

Samuel Maas Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Samuel Maas Papers, Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas. Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage, 1989).

  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Business
  • Jews
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Pioneers

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

Natalie Ornish, “Maas, Samuel,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 17, 2022,

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April 1, 1995
June 23, 2020