August Thielepape, engineer, musician, and mayor of San Antonio, son of Werner Philipp and Elisabeth (Thompson) Thielepape, was born in Wabern, Hesse, Germany, on July 10, 1814. He graduated from a Gymnasium in Kassel, attended the university in either Göttingen or Bonn, and during the 1840s was active as an engineer at Berlin, Bielefeld, and Schwelm. Among his earliest Lieder are songs dedicated to Mathilde Gössling, whom he married in 1841.
In 1850 Thielepape settled in Indianola, Texas, where he established himself as a surveyor; he moved to San Antonio in 1854. He sang tenor in the Männergesang-Verein (men's singing society) and soon became its assistant conductor. His professional activities included architecture, engineering, teaching, photography, and lithography, the last with abolitionist newspaper editor Adolph Douai. In 1855 Thielepape surveyed the townsite of Uvalde. In 1857 he designed the San Antonio Casino, a 400-seat auditorium and social center (seeCASINO CLUB), and possibly helped plan the Menger Hotel. On April 2, 1858, he was among the organizers of the city's German-English School. He moved to New Braunfels in 1859 to design the Comal County Courthouse. Like many Union sympathizers of German origin, Thielepape probably spent part of the Civil War in Eagle Pass and Mexico. He was among those who raised the Union flag over the Alamo on July 21, 1865. He founded the Beethoven Männerchor shortly thereafter and conducted the chorus at the Casino on October 14.
Thielepape was appointed Reconstruction mayor of San Antonio on November 8, 1867. He supervised an administration that built bridges, laid macadam streets, strengthened the public schools, and provided for the eventual arrival of the railroad. Throughout these years he continued to conduct and compose and founded a singing school. On March 12, 1872, Thielepape was removed from office, but he remained active in the community until, in April 1874, he turned his chorus over to Andreas Scheidemantel and moved to Chicago to participate in the building boom that followed the Chicago Fire.
Even in retirement, Thielepape continued to compose; he wrote his last song in 1899. He died in Chicago on August 7, 1904. His compositions, influenced by Felix Mendelssohn and Ludwig Spohr, included Lieder, six duets for soprano and tenor, and incidental music for Ludwig Anzengruber's play Der Meineidbauer, all with piano accompaniment; and one unaccompanied male chorus, Der Wind und der Wellen Lied. See alsoGERMAN MUSIC.
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Theodore Albrecht, German Singing Societies in Texas (Ph.D. dissertation, North Texas State University, 1975). Theodore Albrecht, San Antonio's Singing Mayor: W. C. A. Thielepape, 1814–1904 (MS, University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, San Antonio).
Arts and Crafts
Politics and Government
Surveyors and Cartographers
Activism and Social Reform
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Thielepape, Wilhelm Carl August,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 15, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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