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Sisterdale, Texas
Sisterdale2.JPG
Country United States
State Texas
County Kendall
Elevation 1,280 ft (390 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 25
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 830
FIPS code 48-68060
GNIS feature ID 1347179

Sisterdale, Texas, is an unincorporated farming and ranching community, established in 1847 and located 13 miles (21 km) north of Boerne in Kendall County, in the U.S. state of Texas. The community is located in the valley of Sister Creek. The current 2010 population is 25 and the elevation is 1,280 feet.

Community

Sisterdale was settled in 1847 by German surveyor and free thinker Nicolaus Zink. Originally part of Comal, Sisterdale became part of Kendall County when the latter was formed in 1862.

Among the settlers were German pioneers Fritz and Betty Holekamp, geographer Ernst Kapp; Anhalt Premier progeny Baron Ottomar von Behr; journalist Dr. Carl Adolph Douai; August Siemering who later founded the San Antonio Express News; author, journalist and diplomat Dr. Julius Fröbel; future Wall Street financial wiz Gustav Theissen; and Edgar von Westphalen, brother to Jenny von Westphalen who was married to Karl Marx.

The first child born in Sisterdale (and in Kendall County) was Julius Holekamp on June 10, 1849 to Fritz and Betty Holekamp.

One notable early colonist was Edward Degener, future Republican U.S. Representative from Texas during Reconstruction. Degener's sons Hugo and Hilmar died during the Nueces massacre. To honor their memory, Degener along with Eduard Steves and William Heuermann, purchased land for the establishment of the German-language Treue der Union Monument, which became part of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Texas November 29, 1978.

Also among the settlers was a member of the German Chambers of Deputies Julius Dresel (or Dressel), who was the first to plant a Sisterdale vineyard. His brother Emil Dresel and partner Jacob Gundlach later established the Rhein Farm Vineyard in Sonoma, California. Julius later moved to San Antonio. Upon the death of brother Emil, who bequeathed Julius his share of the Sonoma vineyard, Julius moved his family to California.

The community received a post office in 1851, and Ottomar W. Behr was the first postmaster.

Sisterdale eventually had a school house, a gas station-garage, a general store, a cotton gin, and a factory for making cypress shingles. The old 1885 cotton gin in Sisterdale has been restored and is today home to the Sister Creek Vineyards.

Historical Population

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 150
1910 26
1920 50 92.3%
1970 63
1980 100 58.7%
1990 60 −40.0%
2000 25 −58.3%
2010 110 340.0%

Free thinkers

Sisterdale was one of the Latin Settlements, resulting from the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states. Those who came were Forty-Eighters, intellectual liberal abolitionists who enjoyed conversing in Latin and believed in utopian ideals that guaranteed basic human rights to all. They reveled in passionate conversations about literature, music and philosophy.

The free thinkers petitioned the Texas Congress in 1853 for a charter to operate a German-English college to be built at Sisterdale, but the petition did not come to fruition.

Irene Marschall King, granddaughter of John O. Meusebach remembered how her grandfather enjoyed the intellectual stimulation of visits to Sisterdale where a man of his aristocratic background could relate to such cultured free thought discourse, and where the air filled with concert music, singing, dancing and an ambiance of general Gemutlichkeit.

In 1853, August Siemering was elected Secretary, and Ernst Kapp the President, of the freethinker abolitionist organization Die Freie Verein (The Free Society), which called for a meeting of abolitionist German Texans

in conjunction with the May 14, 1854, Staats-Saengerfest (State Singing Festival) in San Antonio. Wilhelm Victor Keidel was elected Vice President of the convention, which adopted a political, social and religious platform, including:

1) Equal pay for equal work; 2) Direct election of the President of the United States; 3) Abolition of capital punishment; 4) Slavery is an evil, the abolition of which is a requirement of democratic principles...; 5) Free schools – including universities – supported by the state, without religious influence; and 6) Total separation of church and state.

One of the most tragic episodes in the history of Kendall County happened in 1862 after Texas joined the Confederacy. The Confederacy considered the free thinkers of Sisterdale and like communities to be a threat. A number of Kendall County Germans became conscientious objectors to the military draft. Confederate authorities reacted by imposing martial law on Central Texas. Sixty-one conscientious objectors attempted to flee to Mexico. Confederate irregular James Duff and his Duff’s Partisan Rangers pursued them. At the Nueces River, thirty-four were killed, and some executed after being taken prisoner. In 1866, Kendall County erected the Treue der Union Monument ("Loyalty to the Union") monument dedicated to the German Texans slain at the Nueces massacre.

Darmstadt Society of Forty

Some of the early settlers in Sisterdale migrated from the collapsed Fisher-Miller Land Grant experimental colonies of the Darmstadt Society of Forty.

Sisterdale Valley District

Sisterdale Valley District
U.S. Historic district
Sisterdale12.JPG
Location SR 1376, Sisterdale, Texas
Area 2,893 acres (1,171 ha)
NRHP reference No. 75001996
Added to NRHP January 8, 1975

The Sisterdale Valley District is a 2,893-acre (1,171 ha) historic district in Sisterdale, Texas that was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1975. It included 15 contributing buildings and six other contributing structures. The historic buildings include an 1890s dance hall.

Various sources discuss Sisterdale.

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