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Siemering, August (1830–1883)

Ella Gold, rev. by Randolph B. Campbell and Brett J. Derbes Biography Entry

August Siemering, writer, editor, and political leader, was born in Brandenburg, Germany, on February 8, 1830, the son of Herman Heinrich August and Emilie Augusta Siemering. A liberal in politics, he graduated from the Diestweg Seminary and emigrated from Germany during the reactionary period following the revolution of 1848. He arrived in New Braunfels, Texas, in 1851 alongside the “Forty-Eighters.” Siemering claimed that German aristocrats and the Society for the Protection of German Emigrants to Texas received a premium paid by the British Government for each person sent to Texas. He opposed the Adelsverein, which encouraged a strong rebuttal from notable German immigrant William von Rosenberg in Kritik (1894). He spent the greater part of his first decade teaching school at Sisterdale and at Fredericksburg, where he opened the first public school in 1856. While in Fredericksburg, Siemering met Clara Schüetze, of the German immigrant family of Louis Schüetze, a pioneer teacher of Gillespie County. The couple married on June 12, 1859, and they became the parents of two sons and six daughters.

Siemering was an ardent Republican and an antislavery advocate. He wrote articles for the San Antonio Zietung, and he served as secretary for the Die Freie Verein (Free Society) abolitionist organization in 1853. He also took an active part, as secretary, in the antislavery convention and the Staats Saengerfest, held in San Antonio in 1854. Siemering was identified as a Unionist in February 1862 by members of the Gillespie Rifles led by Capt. Charles H. Nimitz, but his name was removed from a list of targeted individuals after a personal appeal to the group. Despite his strong views, Siemering was drafted into the Confederate Army on May 1, 1862, and mustered at Fort Mason with Company E of the First Texas Cavalry, led by Capt. Frank van der Stucken. His company participated in the Confederate attack against German Unionists at the battle of the Nueces on August 12, 1862, and Siemering later described his military service as, “a nightmare.” He attained the rank of second lieutenant and was appointed adjutant for his company on September 1, 1862. His unit consolidated into Company C of Taylor’s Battalion of the First Texas Cavalry in May 1863. On February 22, 1864, he tendered his resignation as a soldier due to extreme myopia and frail constitution, but he offered his service as a clerk or draftsman.

Following his service in the Civil War, Siemering returned to San Antonio where he taught a literary school during the day and instructed dancing in the evening. In 1865 he established the San Antonio Freie Presse für Texas, which became one of the leading Republican newspapers of the South. His editorials and particularly his "Sonntagsbetrachtungen" were outstanding and have been described as classics of German-American literature. In June 1866 military authorities appointed Siemering Chief Justice for Bexar County. He served in that capacity for two months until it became an elected position in August. He was associated also with the San Antonio Express-News and contributed numerous articles to various other papers. Siemering wrote a number of novels and articles describing Texas designed for distribution abroad. He published Apuntes históricos interesantes de San Antonio de Béxar or Interesting Historical Notes of San Antonio de Béxar by José Antonio Navarro (1869), as well as a novella about a hermit in a cave during the Civil War, Ein Verfehltes leben or An Unsuccessful Life (1876). He spent most of 1877 in St. Louis, where he served as assistant editor of the Anzeiger des Westins in St. Louis for one year.

In 1882 Siemering published German and Czech language versions of William Kingsbury’s pamphlets encouraging immigration to Texas. At the time of his death he was preparing a record of his life's study and observations in Texas. This work, however, remained unfinished. Siemering was a man of strong convictions. Active and competent, he remained a political leader and held various public offices until the time of his death. Because he was a Republican in the Democratic South and because most of his writings were in German rather than in English, his reputation was restricted to a degree that was disproportionate to his remarkable ability and his personal excellence of character. Siemering suffered from gout and inflammation of the bowels and died in San Antonio on September 19, 1883. He was buried the following day in City Cemetery #1 with a large crowd in attendance. The chief justice of Bexar County appointed a committee in San Antonio of three local leaders, who passed a resolution of respect and condolence following his death.

Austin Weekly Stateman, September 27, 1883. Rudolph Leopold Biesele, The History of the German Settlements in Texas, 1831-1861 (Austin: Press of Von Boeckmann-Jones Company, 1930). Rudolph Leopold Biesele, “The Texas Convention of Germans in 1854,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 33 (April 1930). Louis E. Brister, “William von Rosenberg’s Kritik: A History of the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants to Texas,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 85 (April 1982). William Paul Burrier, August Siemering's Die Deutschen in Texas Waehrend Des Buegerkrieges: The Germans in Texas During the Civil War (Plantation, Florida: Llumina Press, 2013). Freie Presse für Texas, September 20, 1883. Mischa Honeck, We are the Revolutionists: German-Speaking Immigrants & American Abolitionists after 1848 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011). James C. Kearney, Nassau Plantation: The Evolution of a Texas-German Slave Plantation (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2010). Lawrence H. Konecny and Clinton Machann, Perilous Voyages: Czech and English Immigrants to Texas in the 1870s (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004). Glen E. Lich, The German Texans (San Antonio: University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio, 1981). Stanley S. McGowen, “Battle or Massacre?: The Incident on the Nueces, August 10, 1862,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 104 (July 2000). New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 20, 1883. David Prior, Reconstruction in a Globalizing World (New York City: Fordham University Press, 2018). Andreas Reichstein, German Pioneers on the American Front: The Wagners in Texas and Illinois (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2001). Richard L. Puglisi, Jr., “Bexar County Chief Justice August Siemering, 1830-1883,” (https://www.uiw.edu/sanantonio/AugustSiemerling.html), accessed on May 7, 2020. Selma Metzenthin Raunick, “A Survey of German Literature in Texas,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 33 (October 1929). San Antonio Daily Express, September 21, 1883. San Antonio Light, September 20, 1883, September 21, 1883, October 1, 1883. Ronnie C. Tyler, Prints and Printmakers of Texas: Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual North American Print Conference (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1997). Kenneth L. Untiedt, ed., Legends and Life in Texas: Folklore from the Lone Star State, in Stories and Song (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2017).

Categories:

  • Education
  • Educators
  • General Education
  • Journalism
  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers
  • Literature
  • Memoirs, Diaries, Letters, and Travel
  • Publications, Journals, and Magazines
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Organizations

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

Ella Gold, rev. by Randolph B. Campbell and Brett J. Derbes, “Siemering, August,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 29, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/siemering-august.

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