Wrede, Friedrich Wilhelm Von, Sr. (1786–1845)

By: Chester W. Geue

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: May 6, 2016

Friedrich Wilhelm von Wrede, Sr., author of an early Texas travel account, was born in Oberhausen, Germany, on February 18, 1786, the son of Friedrich von Wrede and his second wife, Johannette Lucie Christiane von Bardeleben. Details of his early life are not well known, although the book he wrote suggests that he must have been well educated. He served in the Hessian army for ten years, during which time he fought against Napoleon at Waterloo; he was discharged in 1817 after attaining the rank of captain. Wrede was married in Detmold on May 12, 1813, to Demoiselle Margarete Henriette Charlotte Greven, of Bielefeld, Germany; they had one son, Friedrich Wilhelm von Wrede, Jr. In the years following his military service Wrede planned to immigrate to Texas, and on January 5, 1836, he, his wife, and their son arrived in New Orleans on the ship Manko. Threats of war with Mexico prevented him from settling in Texas, although he visited the state long enough to qualify for a grant of land in Van Zandt County. After his wife's death in New Orleans in 1837, Wrede, sometimes accompanied by his son, traveled and made notes of his observations in America. He returned to Germany in June 1843 and there joined his son, who had arrived eight days earlier. With the editorial help of Emil Drescher in Cassel, he compiled and published Lebensbilder aus den vereinigten Staaten von Nordamerika und Texas (1844). This was translated and edited over 100 years later, by Chester W. Geue, with the title Sketches of Life in the United States of North America and Texas (1970). Wrede's Sketches, an epistolary travel book, is a generally realistic account of the opportunities and difficulties of colonists on the American frontier, especially in Texas. The book helped to influence prospective German settlers to come to Texas (see GERMANS), despite the negative effect of Wrede's own violent death in Texas the following year. Wrede returned to Texas in 1844 as an official of the Adelsverein with, in Emil Drescher's words, "the joyful anticipation of sketching for the German motherland, new pictures of the flourishing health and well-being of its daughter colony in Texas." For a time Wrede was manager of the Adelsverein's Nassau Farm in Fayette County. On October 24, 1845, while camping on a return trip from Austin to New Braunfels, von Wrede and Oscar von Claren were killed and scalped by Indians at a place referred to as Live Oak Spring, ten to twelve miles from Austin, probably near Manchaca Springs. They were buried at the site of the massacre by United States soldiers, who gave them military honors.

Rudolph L. Biesele, The History of the German Settlements in Texas, 1831–1861 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1930; rpt. 1964). S. W. Geiser, Naturalists of the Frontier (Dallas: Southern Methodist University, 1937; 2d ed. 1948). Solms-Braunfels Archives (transcripts, Sophienburg Museum, New Braunfels, Texas; Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin).

  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers
  • Literature
  • Memoirs, Diaries, Letters, and Travel
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  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Pioneers

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

Chester W. Geue, “Wrede, Friedrich Wilhelm Von, Sr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 07, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wrede-friedrich-wilhelm-von-sr.

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May 6, 2016