Martin, Louis (1820–1864)

By: Delmar J. Hayter

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: December 2, 2020

Louis (Ludwig) Martin, pioneer Gillespie County settler, was born on November 25, 1820, in Erndtebrück, Westphalia, son of Nicholas and Hedwig (Sinner) Martin. He sailed to Texas with the first shipload of immigrant recruits of the Adelsverein on the Johann Detthard, which landed at Galveston on November 24, 1844. He was among those who moved to New Braunfels in 1845, and from there he proceeded with many of the other German settlers to the area of present-day Fredericksburg, where he helped establish Gillespie County on December 15, 1847. He was chosen the first sheriff in June 1848 and served through 1850. He was also district clerk. Martin married Elisabet Arhelger of Rittershausen, Nassau, who had immigrated to Texas in 1845. They had eight children; the oldest was the first White child born in Fredericksburg. The family were Catholic, and services were held in their home at various times. The census of 1850 listed Martin as a farmer with a net worth of $1,500, a relatively large estate for the time and circumstances. In addition to farming and livestock raising, he provided freight service to area military installations and sold forage and general supplies to the public. He began buying and trading land early in the 1850s.

By 1853 Martin had moved to a site on the north bank of the Llano River in what would soon be Mason County, and settled at what became known as Hedwig's Hill. He was appointed the first postmaster on June 29, 1858. In 1860 his net worth was more than $9,000 and included 900 acres of land and 200 head of livestock. Martin was elected justice of the peace in Mason County in 1861 and 1862. He served with the Mason Minutemen in 1861 and in the frontier troops of Mason County's Company No. 1 under Capt. Alf Hunter. He continued his farming, ranching, and trading and freighting business during the war years, when he shared the pro-Union sympathies of many German Texans. He hauled cotton to various points in Mexico, where it could be traded for merchandise and British gold. He was seized by unknown assailants on one such trip to Eagle Pass on June 16, 1864, and hanged, possibly for the money he was supposed to have, or perhaps by Confederates. His wife was informed of the killing by the culprits and made the journey to recover the body. Martin was buried in the Fredericksburg cemetery.

Rudolph L. Biesele, The History of the German Settlements in Texas, 1831–1861 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1930; rpt. 1964). Gillespie County Historical Society, Pioneers in God's Hills (2 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1960, 1974).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Sheriffs
  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Business
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Organizations
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Civic Leaders
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen

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

Delmar J. Hayter, “Martin, Louis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022,

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December 2, 2020