1857 - 1927 Wuppermann Archive of German Immigrant Family in Texas w/Slavery Content

[Wuppermann Texas Immigrant Archive.] - Main View

1857 - 1927 Wuppermann Archive of German Immigrant Family in Texas w/Slavery Content


German Immigration to Texas - slavery content.


[Wuppermann Texas Immigrant Archive.]
  1857 (dated)     12 x 8.5 in (30.48 x 21.59 cm)


This is a unique manuscript and typescript archive covering the experiences of the German Wuppermann family's immigration to Texas from roughly 1857 to 1865. It is told from the perspective of Klara Anna Laura Tafel (née Wuppermann; 1851 - 1946), a young girl at the time of the recorded events. Work includes references to the harshness of frontier life, slavery (the Wuppermanns owned two slaves), the American Civil War, and anti-German prejudice at the hands of the Know-Nothings.
A Closer Look
The work features two German-language typescript records of the Wuppermann experience in Texas. The primary document, consisting of 32 unique typed pages with extensive manuscript annotation, was composed by Klara Anna Laura Tafel, c. 1927, when she was an older woman living in Germany. The composition is nonetheless rich in detail drawn from her iron-clad memories and the journals of her mother, Elise Wuppermann. It is rich in detail, ranging from prosaic to profound, including sometimes charming and, at other times, socially penetrating commentary on interactions with black slaves up to and through the American Civil War. Klara describes one instance where an elderly black man living near the farm, Uncle Ruben, tricks her, to her horror, into eating a cooked raccoon leg, saying it was 'fried chicken'.

Some Civil War memories are more disturbing,
The departure of almost all the men in Seguin (there were no Negroes in New Braunfels, so to speak) created the danger of the Negroes becoming hostile towards the whites who remained behind. The Negroes, of course, knew exactly what the war was about. The proclamation by the President of the Northern States, Abraham Lincoln, which promised the emancipation of all slaves, had made the Negroes very rebellious... But it also happened that Negroes stuck to their rulers and were then killed by others, like a faithful black woman who, while working in the cotton field, overheard a plot being hatched, and tried to rush home to save her mistress: at the exit from the field, a black man struck her from behind with an axe. The black man was thrown into prison to be hanged, but that night, as I well remember, the prison burned down brightly after the black man had been freed. … The Indians also stirred, and a whole family was killed near Friedrichsburg in the mountains.
Her descriptions of flora and fauna at times wax poetic,
There were, especially in the so-called bottoms, the primeval forest of the river valleys, the most magnificent trees, oaks, elms, huge cedars, equally large Pacan nut trees with excellent, fine-shelled nuts, and also the hickory nut tree with excellent wood and with walnut-like fruits with the thickest, terribly hard shells and tiny kernels. In the prairie grew a type of acacia, called a mosquito tree, with long thorns and long, red, sweet-tasting pods. I have already told you about the persimmons. American grape vines, as thick as your arm, swing from tree to tree in the bottoms, which we children loved to use as swings, the so-called 'grapewine swings'… Of the birds, I still remember the magnificent red cardinals, the mockingbird, the delightful hummingbirds, the whip-poos-will, a night bird that let out this call in the saddest tone at night, the many wild pigeons and the countless vultures. (our translation)
A note at the beginning, typed in 1955, suggests that there may have been other copies made, but there is no knowledge if any survived World War II (1939 - 1945). The addition of Klara's manuscript corrections make this example unique.

There is an additional set of two documents, in duplicate, typed in 1934 in Darmstadt by Edward H. Tips, a grandson of Johann Conrad Tips (1797 - 1850), Klara's maternal Great-Grandfather. These supplementary documents include a brief record of Tips' life and some of his correspondence. We know of no other record of these documents.

Johann Conrad Tips (1797 - 1850) was a German immigrant who played a notable role in the early settlement of Texas. Born in Germany, Tips emigrated to Texas in the mid-19th century with his family, seeking new opportunities in the burgeoning state. He settled near Seguin, Texas, where he established a farm and became an integral part of the local community. His family, including his eldest daughter Elise, became well-known in the area. Tips's life in Texas was marked by the hardships and challenges of frontier life, but his efforts contributed to the development of the region. Tragically, his life was cut short when he and one of his daughters died in 1850, shortly before his daughter Elise married Otto Wuppermann.

The work includes four c. 1857 manuscript sketches and a watercolor, likely by Klara's mother, Elise Wuppermann, illustrating the Wuppermann home at Twin Sisters near New Braunfels, Texas. The images present charming domestic frontier scenes, including pictures of a rusting farm with livestock, the family dog, toys in the yard, and possibly young Klara herself.

It also includes an additional three pencil drawings and a photograph of a fourth drawing, all likely by Otto Wuppermann, illustrating the Live Oaks and Willow Springs Farms, both part of the 'Wupperhof', near Seguin, Texas. These images are on higher-quality paper and are signed in pen 'O.W.' Given the paper, we believe they were drawn in Germany after the Wuppermann family repatriated, possibly as copies of older work or from memory.
The Wuppermann Family in Texas
Otto Wuppermann emigrated to Texas in July 1848, driven from Germany by unrest associated with the 1848 Springtime Revolutions and lured by pro-Texas propaganda, then widely distributed throughout Germany. They landed in Galveston, Texas, on July 9, 1848.

Along with fellow Germans befriended on the voyage, Robert Beiham and Eduard Kroehman, Wuppermann acquired a large tract near Seguin, Texas for $550. There, they established three farms, including the Wuppermann farm and Live Oaks, which they collectively named 'The Wupperhof.' In the following year, Otto fell in love and married Elise Johanna Elisabeth Wuppermann (nee Tips, 1830 - 1919), the eldest daughter of the Johann Conrad Tips (1797 - 1850) family from a neighboring farm. In 1851, their first child, Klara (author of this archive), was born, followed by six more children.

Due to the physical demands of frontier life, Otto's health began to decline, prompting him to take a job at a store and, in 1852, open his own import business in Seguin. Otto thrived as an entrepreneur, traveling frequently to Mexico for inventory. At the same time, Elise managed the household, children, and store, keeping a six-shooter under her pillow for protection against potential threats from local rowdies, rebellious slaves, and Native Americans. From the 1850s, the xenophobic Know-Nothing Party rose to prominence in Texas, leading to violent attacks on immigrants, particularly Germans and Mexicans. Threatened and unable to transact business in Seguin, Otto relocated his family to Twin Sisters (illustrated here in five sketches), near the Little Bronco River, Texas.

The Wuppermann's final years in Texas were dominated by the American Civil War (1861 - 1865). Otto enlisted in the cavalry but was discharged due to rheumatism, subsequently serving as a transportation agent for Guadalupe County. This archive records the changes wrought by the war, including the disappearance of most men in 1861-62, the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation on local slaves, and associated social changes. In 1865, shortly before the end of the Civil War, unable to continue in Texas, the Wuppermann family packed up and returned to Germany.
Publication History and Census
Unique. We know of no other comparable examples of this content.


Very good.