Friedrich Armand Strubberg (1806 –1889) lived in Texas both when it was an independent republic and briefly when it was a State. He released 21 books written in German between 1858 and 1873. Of these ten are set in Texas. He was a romantic novelist with a bit of Sir Walter Scott's WAVERLEY about him and no little dose of James Fenimore Cooper's THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS.
Like Cooper, Strubberg admired the formerly great nation of Delaware Indians. Invading whites from Europe had driven the Delaware all the way to Texas in the 1830s. And there that tribe took to firearms as the more "native" Comanches did not. And the Delaware also decided to make peace with the whites who were pressing in not only as Anglos from Tennessee and Louisiana but also and more especially peace with the thousands of German immigrants coming in organized waves to the Texas "Hill Country" north and west of ancient San Antonio.
During two crucial years Strubberg was the first Director of the new German colony at Friedrichsburg (now Fredericksburg). It was a dependent of the mother colony at New Braunfels, 70 miles closer to the Texas coast with its ports of entry of Galveston and elsewhere. Behind the thousands of German emigrants was a so-called Fuerstenverein (Princes or Nobles Company) which had negotiated agreements with the Republic of Texas (later honored by the US Government) to settle in designated areas.
Friedrich Armand Strubberg had himself earlier lived farther to the west in Texas and had become a student of American Indian languages and culture. His origins in Germany remain in large part obscure. But at some time he had acquired medical knowledge and possibly a degree which he put to good use during epidemics and other outbursts among the German settlers.
Back in Germany, Strubberg made a reputation writing novels, several set in Texas. His 1867 novel FRIEDRICHSBURG is framed by the 1847 treaty of perpetual peace between Comanches, Lipan Apaches and others made at Friedrichsburg with the German settlers and witnessed by a US Government Indian Agent. That treaty was honored for over 20 years, almost a record for European-Indian treaties.
The novel includes a love story between a young German man and a beautiful, almost saintly German girl named Ludwina Limanski. She catches the enraptured eye of Comanche chief Kateumsi. He is historically attested, firmly opposed to white takeovers of Indian lands and (fictionally) madly in love with the beauteous Ludwina, whom he kidnaps and bears off to a bear's cave in a hidden valley. He is tracked by her fiance Rudolph von Wildhorst and a friendly band of Comanches led by young chief Youngbear. At novel's end Rudolph and Ludwina are wed and chief Youngbear dances with the bride as the Germans of Friedrichsburg thoroughly enjoy themselves.
FRIEDRICHSBURG is full of details of the lives of Indians and Germans. Dr. Schubbert (the author's Doppelgaenger as founding director of the German town) attends to the diet of his wards, heals them when diseases strike and cures Ludwina when a rattlesnake bites her foot. Curiously, he makes no use of a tourniquet as part of his treatment of snakebite.
There are memorable scenes of adventure in FRIEDRICHSBURG. Thus 13 hibernating bears, two jaguars and a panther are killed by Chief Youngbear's braves in a well organized hunt designed to increase the Germans' supply of bear oil: used for cooking and for fueling lamps. Toward novel's end, hostile chief Kateumsi and one of his braves kill a huge "gray" bear attacking the bound hand and foot Ludwina Limanski. In another dramatic scene Ludwina saves Friedrichsburg from Kateumsi and his raiders when she wipes out half of them by firing off the town's sole cannon loaded with grapeshot.
Scholars are paying increasing attention to Friedrich Armand Strubberg, both as an important source for German Texas but also as a pretty fair yarnspinner of romances after the manner of Sir Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper and the German Karl May.
What did you think of this review?