Nassau Plantation


About the book:

Nassau Plantation, located in northern Fayette County near Round Top, Texas, was the first possession of the Society for the Protection of German Emigrants in Texas, a corporation of German nobleman organized and chartered in the Grand Duchy of Nassau in 1843 for the purpose of securing a land grant contract with the Republic of Texas and sponsoring emigration to Texas from Germany on a massive scale. Nassau Plantation failed miserably as an experiment in slavery by the delusionary German noblemen, yet it ultimately succeeded in solidifying and enriching the German presence in South-Central Texas. It did this by attracting fresh emigrants to the area who eventually succeeded in creating a new home and community in South-Central Texas. Ironically, the majority of these German emigrants shied away from Negro slavery, voted solidly against secession, and remained staunchly Unionist during the Civil War.

The main significance of the plantation, however, has gone almost completely overlooked in the extensive literature about German emigration to Texas. The plantation played an absolutely essential role in supporting the thousands of emigrants introduced by the Adelsverein into the Texas Hill Country over a hundred miles to the west in the years 1845, 1846, and 1847. With this support the fresh emigrants in Fredericksburg and New Braunfels (and areas in between) gained breathing room in which to plant gardens, to fence and cultivate their fields, and to erect rudimentary housing. Without this support, surely hundreds more would have perished, and the whole venture would have collapsed in complete chaos and disorder, leading most likely to a large withdrawal of the German settlers from the area. Disillusioned and embittered, many would have chosen to return to Germany, but for those who remained, a retrenchment to more settled areas of the state would have been necessary.

This book, then, is more than just a study of Nassau Plantation per se; it contributes, I believe, to a deeper understanding of the Adelsverein in Texas, which is still misunderstood and under-appreciated. This study is one of the first to make extensive use of the Solms-Braunfels Archives (and related collections). These documents, the official business records of the Adelsverein, reveal significant contradictions and divisions in concept and purpose within the Society, both in Texas and in Germany, which the plantation came to symbolize. This material also deepens our appreciation for the role played by the Adelsverein and the plantation in the contemporary debate about slavery and immigration.

James C. Kearney. Nassau Plantation; The Evolution of a Texas German Slave Plantation. (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2010.) Available from The Texas Book Consortium ( or Note the hard copy has sold out and is only available through used book outlets. Soft copies are still available from publisher and through Amazon.