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TEGENER, FREDERICK [FRITZ]

Fritz Tegener
Photograph, Portrait of Fritz Tegener. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

TEGENER, FREDERICK [FRITZ] (1813–?). Fritz Tegener, political leader, judge, and member of the Texas House of Representatives, was born about 1813 in Prussia. His father was from Prussia, and his mother from Saxony. Tegener immigrated to Comfort in Kerr County, along with other German immigrants. Tegener is listed as one of the early families of Comfort, arriving in 1854, only two years after the first small group settled there.

Historical marker for Freethinkers
Photograph, Historical marker for Freethinkers in Comfort. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Some of these immigrants were looking for land; some were Freethinkers or politically active individuals seeking freedom from European society. Conflicting information exists regarding his family life. Tegener may have married Susan Eveline Benson on December 21, 1858, four years after his arrival, in Kerr County, Texas, and they had at least two daughters. However, the 1860 census lists Fritz Tegener as a farmer, married to Augusta, with four children. The Southern Intelligencer reported that Tegener married Augusta Strunk, born in Mecklenburg, Prussia, on October 16, 1866, in Austin, Texas.

Tegener was very active in community affairs. In July 1859, he was among a number of venire men chosen for the petit jury panel. From 1858 until 1860 he served as the county treasurer. He operated a gristmill and sawmill in the area.

Battle of the Nueces
Illustration, The Battle of the Nueces. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

When the Civil War broke out, many in the German community were uncomfortable with the new order. Few Germans owned slaves, and many did not believe in slavery. Also, many in the community felt a loyalty to their new country and did not support secession. Tegener and others were members of a Union Loyal League, a militia organized to protect areas of Kendall, Gillespie, and Kerr counties from Indian raids and Confederate actions. In 1862 he received information that the Hill Country counties of Gillespie, Kendall, Kerr, Edwards, and Kimble were considered to be in open rebellion against the Confederacy and that Confederate forces were en route to the area. Tegener, with the rank of "Major," was appointed leader of a group of Unionists that attempted to make their way to the Mexican border, many with the intention to join the Union Army. Tegener and his group were attacked one day from the Mexican border in an action known as the battle of the Nueces. Confederate forces seriously wounded Tegener, but apparently he escaped capture. His whereabouts for the duration of the war are not known, but according to his granddaughter, Mrs. C. A. Maas, in an item published in the Dallas Morning News on January 24, 1955, Fritz Tegener lived in Mexico and worked as a gold miner until the end of the war.

Tegener returned to Texas after the war and served for Kerr County in the House of Representatives in the Eleventh and Twelfth legislatures from 1866 through 1871. He chaired the Indian Affairs Committee and served on the Immigration Committee and the Public Buildings and Grounds Committee. In the 1880s he may have worked as a judge in Austin, but the details of his later life and death are as yet unknown. Austin city directories listed a Fritz Tegener from 1893 to 1901. By 1909 Augusta Tegener was listed as a widow of Frederick.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

James Alex Baggett, "Origins of Early Texas Republican Leadership," Journal of Southern History 40 (August 1974). Captain Charles McAnally Co. D. 69th. Penn Vols. Congressional Medal of Honour Recipient. Sgt. Peter McAnally Co. D. 69th. Penn. Vols. The 69th. PA. Volunteer Infantry. Philadelphia. (http://www.69thpa.co.uk/page11.html), accessed December 7, 2006. Robert Pattison Felgar, Texas in the War for Southern Independence, 1861–1865 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1935). Guido E. Ransleben, A Hundred Years of Comfort in Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1954; rev. ed. 1974). John W. Sansom, Battle of the Nueces River, in Kinney County, Texas, August 10, 1862 (1905). Charles E. Spellman, ed., The Texas House of Representatives: A Pictorial Roster, 1846–1992 (Austin: Texas House of Representatives, 1992). Clara Watkins, Kerr County, Texas, 1856–1976 (Kerrville: Hill Country Preservation Society, 1975).

Mark Lye

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

Handbook of Texas Online, Mark Lye, "Tegener, Frederick [Fritz] ," accessed December 09, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fte55.

Uploaded on March 30, 2011. Modified on May 11, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.