New Braunfels today is a large city of over 70,000 and part of the San Antonio metropolitan area. Before New Braunfels was even imagined, the area was settled by numerous Native American tribes. The fresh spring water from the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers was perfect for drinking, bathing, and farming. Domingo Teran de los Rios was the first European to discover the area in 1691. He followed the “El Camino Real,” which today is a National Historic Trail, and crossed the Guadalupe River near what today is the Faust Street Bridge in Downtown New Braunfels. Many French and Spanish expeditions would continue to pass through the area, but it wasn’t until 1825 that the Mexican government would grant land to Juan M. Veramendi.
This grant would not be absolute, however, due to the formation of the Republic of Texas in 1836. After the war, the Republic invited European and American settlers to come settle the land in order to pay off war debts. A group of German noblemen caught wind of the offer, and with times being tough in Germany, decided to form an immigration company called Adelsverein. The German Immigrants would first arrive in Indianola, Texas in December of 1844 and make their way towards San Antonio. On March 13, 1845, Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels purchased 1,265 acres of the original Veramendi land grant and would establish New Braunfels, which he named after his home of Solms-Braunfels. The price was a steal at $1,111 or about $34,500 in today’s money. The first of hundreds of immigrants would arrive on Good Friday, March 21, 1845. Prince Solms and his engineer Nicholas Zink would plan out the townsite with an open square and streets radiating out at right angles. There would be 342 lots, and each would have narrow street frontage, which was a very German design element at the time. The style is noticeably different than most Texas towns and makes New Braunfels unique. As the spring of 1845 would develop, so would the town. The settlers would build two forts, the Zinkenburg and the Sophienburg, which would also serve as the center for the immigration company.
The Prince felt very overwhelmed with all the logistics of building the colony that he asked the organization to relieve him of his duties and assign someone else. John O. Meusebach would be his successor and would go on to discover that the lack of business acumen amongst the Prince and noblemen had caused the finances of the organization to run astray. An attempted coup would erupt on New Year’s Eve, 1846 when mysterious posters went up all over town casting Meusebach in a negative light. A group of men led by Rudolph Iwonski push their way into his home, brandished weapons, and demand he resign as Commissioner-General of the colony, but eventually, the crowd was dispersed. Meusebach would go on to stabilize the community’s finances and allow New Braunfels to thrive to the city it is today.