Rare Map donated to GLO in memory of Jefferson Morgenthaler
Commissioner George P. Bush announced the recent donation of an extremely rare, unrecorded proof of an early statehood map of Central Texas. The map was donated to the Texas General Land Office by Jeanne Buchanan and Susan Morgenthaler in memory of Jefferson Morgenthaler, his wife and sister respectively. Mr. Morgenthaler passed away in 2016. The map documents and promotes land grants and routes for German immigrants between San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg at the height of the German immigration movement of the 1840s and 1850s.
“I am humbled that Jeanne Buchanan and Susan Morgenthaler donated this rare map to the Texas General Land Office in memory of Jefferson Morgenthaler, who was a major supporter of the Save Texas History program,” said Commissioner George P. Bush. “In 2015, Mr. Morgenthaler, through the Texana Foundation, donated several rare and important maps to the General Land Office to support our efforts to provide access to Texas history. It is truly fitting that his wife and sister have chosen to honor him in this meaningful and lasting way. On behalf of the people of Texas, I thank them for donating this important map to the GLO in his memory.”
“Hold the old map or book right under Jeff’s nose and he’d start quivering,” said Jeanne Buchanan, Mr. Morgenthaler’s wife. “He always liked the 1850 Texas map by Hermann Willke because it details German Hill Country settlement. It originally appeared in a pamphlet with advice for German immigrants. It was particularly relevant to Jeff’s book, Promised Land: Solms, Castro, and Sam Houston’s Colonization Contracts, which chronicled colonization grants in several Republic of Texas colonies. The Willke map is exceedingly rare, but it is not particularly beautiful; it’s more like a surveying marvel. But Jeff appreciated the information that it held and its physical manifestation of a historic time.”
The map was originally created by the Adelsverein, also known as the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas. It is the work of German pioneer Hermann Willke, an early Texas surveyor, who charted many of the Adelsverein’s land grants. Later in Willke’s career, he became a surveyor for the Texas General Land Office starting in 1853.
This rare map is perhaps most notable because it reflects the survey work of the Adelsverein in New Braunfels. The map shows the area between the fork of the Concho and Colorado rivers in the northwest to New Braunfels and San Antonio in the southeast. The roads shown include the route taken by John O. Meusebach’s party to the San Saba River in 1847, on the occasion of the signing of the Comanche Peace Treaty which allowed for the “peaceful” settlement of the region by the Verein. Manuscript annotations are included, possibly in the hand of either Hermann Willke or Ludwig Bene, who traveled to Germany in 1850 and may have had a role in the preparation of the map for final printing in Germany.
The map appeared in Instruction fuhr deutsche Auswanderer nach Texas (Instruction for German Emigrants to Texas), an instructional guide prepared by the Society for Germans new to the region, and was accompanied by two other maps of Texas, both of which the Texas General Land Office already owns.
In 2009, Jeff Morgenthaler wrote the book Promised Land: Solms, Castro, & Sam Houston’s Colonization Contracts as part of the Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University — Commerce. The book explores the Adelsverein, and other immigration movements and colonization contracts, in which the General Land Office was deeply involved. Morgenthaler expressed an interest in this map and often wondered about its absence from the GLO’s collection, citing the agency’s volume of German immigration records and the GLO employment tenure of the map’s draftsman.
In 2015, Jeff Morgenthaler was quoted as saying, “It is rewarding to acquire valuable historic items and ensure that these treasures will be safely preserved and made accessible for future generations through the Archives of the Texas General Land Office. Over the last decade, I have sought partners to share my passion for Texas history. It has been a complete pleasure to work with the Texas General Land Office, which has been both professional and tremendously enthusiastic.”
“Like the documents and maps they help preserve, each individual donation is unique, but they all make a lasting impact on the resources that become available to the public,” said Commissioner Bush. “Some donations are the result of Texans wanting to secure a permanent home for a family heirloom handed down for generations. Others, like this donation, are in honor of a family member. Donations like this help save Texas history, and are gifts to all Texans.”
The Archives of the Texas General Land Office is home to 36 million documents and more than 45,000 maps and sketches detailing the history of the public lands of Texas.
All donations made to the GLO are tax deductible pursuant to Internal Revenue Code §170(c)(1).
To donate a map, or adopt a document or collection, please contact the GLO Archives at email@example.com.