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MEUSEBACH-COMANCHE TREATY

Meusebach-Comanche Treaty
Photograph, Meusebach-Comanche Treaty. Image courtesy of Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Memorial to Meusebach-Comanche Treaty
Photograph, Memorial to Meusebach-Comanche Treaty. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

MEUSEBACH-COMANCHE TREATY. The Fisher-Miller land grant comprised lands between the Llano and Colorado rivers and constituted the hunting grounds of the Comanche Indians. This land was to be used for the settlements of the immigrants who arrived in Texas under the auspices of the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants. Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, the first commissioner of the society, had pledged from the beginning that he would do his utmost to get on good terms with the Indians. It was, however, not until John O. Meusebach had taken charge of the affairs of the German immigrants that regular expeditions into Indian-controlled lands took place. Government officials, however, were unable to assure military assistance and surveyors refused to enter the region of the grant for fear of being attacked by the Indians. Dr. Friedrich A. Schubert's expedition into the area antagonized the Indians, and his inaccurate reports estimated the number of Indians inhabiting the area between the Llano and San Saba rivers as between 40,000 and 60,000. The Fisher-Miller land grant awarded by the state of Texas stipulated that the land had to be settled (at least in part) and surveyed by the fall of 1847. It became therefore necessary to enter the Indian territory. A mounted troop including well-armed Germans, Mexicans, and several American surveyors set out from Fredericksburg on January 22, 1847. They were joined in camp by Meusebach two days later. A detailed report on the expedition was written by noted geologist Ferdinand von Roemer and is still available. James Pinckney Henderson, the governor of Texas, had sent a messenger to warn Meusebach of the consequences of entering Indian territory; however, contacts with the Indians had already been made and the deliberations continued. The final session took place on March 1 and 2, 1847, at the lower San Saba, about twenty-five miles from the Colorado River. The treaty was made between the head chiefs Buffalo Hump, Santa Anna,qqv and others, and Meusebach—called by the Comanches El Sol Colorado, because of his red flowing beard. It was ratified in Fredericksburg two months later. The treaty allowed Meusebach's settlers to go unharmed into Indian territory and the Indians to go to the white settlements; promised mutual reports on wrongdoing; and provided for survey of lands in the San Saba area with a payment of at least $1,000 to the Indians. The treaty opened more than 3 million acres of land to settlement. The original Meusebach-Comanche treaty document was returned from Europe in 1970 by Mrs. Irene Marschall King and Dr. Cornelia Marschall Smith, granddaughters of John Meusebach. The document was presented to the Texas State Library in 1972.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Rudolf L. Biesele, "The German Settlers and the Indians in Texas, 1844–1860," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 31 (October 1927). Rudolph L. Biesele, The History of the German Settlements in Texas, 1831–1861 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1930; rpt. 1964). Rudolph L. Biesele, "The Texas State Convention of Germans in 1854," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 33 (April 1930). Irene M. King, John O. Meusebach, German Colonizer in Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967).

Otto W. Tetzlaff

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Handbook of Texas Online, Otto W. Tetzlaff, "Meusebach-Comanche Treaty," accessed December 10, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/mgm01.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on April 27, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.