German Catholic Settlements

Catholic Germans in Denton County
by the Brothers Flusche

From the Fall 1989 issue of The Denton Review

The document that follows has an interesting history. This copy was discovered in the Rare Book Room of the Willis Library at University of North Texas. Printed on the back of an old M.K.&T. Railroad map, it had, at some point been covered by a type of "contact" paper, presumably to help preserve the map, and there it lay hidden for many years. While doing some routine conservation work on their extensive map collection, librarian Martin Sarvis pulled back a loose corner of this coating and discovered some printed words in the old German gothic type. Over the course of the next several days, he carefully removed the remainder of the coating and revealed the entire document. Kjell Johanson, of the Foreign Language Department at U.N.T. generously agreed to translate this pamphlet for the Denton Review. We wish to acknowledge the work of Martin Sarvis and of Kjell Johanson in helping to bring to light this interesting historical document.  1

PILOT POINT the Center of the great
German Catholic settlement in northern Texas

Description of Pilot Point, Denton County, Texas Report by the Brothers Flusche
Pilot Point, Texas
The Center of the best farming and fruit area of the South - The Home for German
Pilot Point, Texas
Center of a big, Catholic congregation with Church and a German parochial school offers to
Catholic businessmen, craftsmen, and especially older persons of means who
want to live a quiet life near the Church in the most beautiful, healthy area with all of the
amenities of a large village, a rare opportunity to buy lots and dwellings in
great selection at reasonable prices through Flusche Bros.

The German Catholic Colony Pilot Point, Denton Co., Texas

________________________ Fall 1891 ________________________

Encouraged by our well-known great success in the establishment of German, catholic colonies in Iowa, Kansas, and in Cooke Co., Texas we have just completed the preparatory work on our sixth colony, Pilot Point, Texas, in the northeastern part of Texas. Since all the requirements of an area which can reasonably be set by German farmers coincide in an unusually high degree, (as will be shown below) as every fair-minded person must agree after careful, personal scrutiny, and since we in addition have the ready approbation of our undertaking of the Most Honorable Bishop of Dallas, the Right Reverend Dr. Brennan, who himself speaks German, as well as the firm promise of this colony appears completely assured. According to our conscientious conviction, a better opportunity for German Catholics who want to make a new home for themselves, cannot be found since they will find here a healthy, pleasant climate; outstandingly good, rich land; good drinking water; good wood in great quantities, and will be able to buy cheaply in the city of Pilot Point all initial necessities and sell all products at market prices.

Furthermore, there is available here a more than sufficient amount of good land of different kinds, cheap prairie and woodland as well as established farms at reasonable prices in good selection and contractually secured by us for new settlers. Because of the finished preparatory work and our previous experience, we are firmly convinced that we will have a church and parochial school here within a year. We regard ourselves as pioneers of the church and are pleased to have the good will and moral support of bishops, priests, the catholic press, and all discerning Catholics.

We regard it as our task to create for the church, new, viable congregations and make available to our fellow countrymen and brothers in the faith good land in great blocks and under favorable conditions, thus to be useful in maintaining and strengthening the religion and nationality according to one's power. For eighteen years we have been active in this direction with great success, and the experiences gathered will stand us in good stead in this new undertaking, if God will, for the good of all.

Denton County lies in north-east Texas, to the south of Cooke and Grayson Counties, in the second row of counties south of the Red River, which, as we know, forms the northern border of Texas. Almost two thirds of the land in the entire County is beautiful, slightly undulating prairie with deep, black and very rich soil, while the rest of it is a brown loam mixed with sand found mostly in the wooded areas. The County contains 909 square miles of the best meadow and fruit land of the entire South. Approximately one fourth is woodland and consists of oaks, hickory, walnut, pecan, elms, and cotton wood trees. The so-called lower cross-timers reach from the north to the south through the County. This is a broad strip of woodland consisting mostly of medium-sized oaks.

Furthermore, the many streams, which adorn the County, have a band of heavy timber, much of which is used as building timber. There is therefore enough timber available for all purposes which is cheap and easy to get. The grasses of the prairie are abundant everywhere and is not better in the northern states. With regard to the beauty of the landscape, this area cannot easily be outdone with its beautiful and pleasing aggregation of the most beautiful nourishing grasses and prairies covered with innumerable flowers and trees. Denton County has already three railroads, i.e. the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas and the Texas and Pacific in the eastern parts and the Gulf, and the Colorado and Santa Fe in the western parts and thereby connections to all larger states of the North and the South.

Pilot Point the center of the land controlled by us in Denton and the southern part of Cooke County, is situated about 2 1/2 miles from the southern border of the latter and on the Texas and Pacific and the main line of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas railroads. It has a population of 1500 souls and is picturesquely situated on a gradually rising hill which is visible from afar and offers an attractive view and served hunters and drovers as a landmark in former days; thus the name Pilot Point, in the middle of the best farm and fruit land in the state, as well as having direct connection with the major cities of the North and the East as well as the South and only about 50 miles from Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, excellent possibilities for trade and offers German businessmen and craftsmen many opportunities for a good livelihood, all about which we will gladly supply more information upon request. There are here already a big grinding mill, cotton press, canning factory, brickyard, bank, etc. a deposit of good lime stone as well as sand stone for building purposes are close at hand. In addition to the railroads already mentioned, there are plans for building the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroads via Gainesville and Pilot Point to Dallas or Galveston so that Pilot Point promises to become a railroad center. We have a number of lots (100 acres) for sale at cheap prices near the catholic church and the railroad suitable for both businesses and dwellings. Similarly several good and smaller dwellings with gardens and fruit trees. There are also small vegetable and fruit farms bordering the town.

The Land to the west of Pilot Point is for the most part woodland, sandy soil primarily suitable for grassland for all kinds of orchards, grapes, small fruits of every kind and can be worked for all kinds of gardening. Cotton, oats, barley, and wheat similarly thrive equally well in the woodland.

Fruits of every kind have enormous yields of excellent quality; we can mention especially peaches, blackberries, strawberries, grapes, apples, pears, and plums. The nearest big cities of Fort Worth and Dallas, as well as the canning factory, provide good markets. Significant quantities are shipped to the North and appear there so early in the season that high prices are obtained. Also cultivation of tomatoes, peas and beans for the canning factory pays well. There is available a special device for the drying of grapes. The dried grapes are of a special goodness and much sought at the markets. Selections of fruits from the area of Pilot Point took first prize at exhibits. All land to the east of Pilot Point is the very best prairie and unsurpassed for wheat, corn, barley, oats, cotton, millet, sorghum, etc. .this part of Texas is in no way inferior to the rest of the United States in number of products. Good, healthy well water can be found at a depth of 10 to 30 feet. This area is recognized as among the healthiest in the entire country. We offer in the area of Pilot Point approximately 45,000 acres of the best land for farming or fruit cultivation. Land is still cheap; from $6.00 to $12.00 per acre and can be bought on especially favorable terms. Established farms run from $12.00 to $25.00 per acre.

Among the special advantages which this northeastern part of Texas has to offer can be mentioned its favorable location which makes it possible the advantageous cultivation of the products of the North as well as those of the South. It is a recognized fact that the heat here in the summer is not as great as for example the heat in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, or any one of the northern or central states. The warmer and dry part of the year begins here as in the whole West in the beginning of July. The harvest of the smaller fruits is by then long past. The corn is fully grown, and cotton is at the stage where dry weather is desirable. The crops are therefore on the average more certain here than in the north, and such crop failures as have been seen in Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas are unknown here.

Another advantage is that two crops can be reaped from the same field in the same year. Thus, for example, after wheat or oats, still cotton, millet, potatoes, etc. Of the latter two crops are regularly harvested and their cultivation is especially profitable.

This area is surrounded by great woods and is protected by them from storms. In parts of Texas further to the east can be found stands of yellow pine and hard pine which in Texas is used exclusively as building timbers. The price of the lumber is therefore lower than in the prairie and central states. Compared to the North we can here realize significant savings on clothing, housing, fuel, and especially animal feed because of the mild winters.

Good drinking water can be found every where at shallow depths. Some wells are dug, others are drilled. The climate is mild and healthy. The atmosphere is clean and dry and especially healthy for people with a tendency for rheumatism, lung and throat illnesses, as well as consumption. The winters are short, dry, and pleasant; snow stays on the ground only a few days. No area offers a greater number of days on which work outdoors can take place, and thus the farmer doesn't have to do the whole year's work in five months, but can take 11, indeed 12 months.

The average rainfall per year is 40 inches, sufficient to assure a good crop. All streams run well, and nowhere can be found swamps or wet sloughs. On the warmest summer days there is a cool breeze, and it is always cool at night.

Texas is a democratic, free state, and there is no danger at all that fanatic, slippery hypocrites can take power and throw the state into servitude as has unfortunately has happened in many a state of the North. A German can without exception, freely and openly drink his glass of beer. He is welcomed everywhere and his work and services are properly appreciated. As a result of this, Texas can show more immigration, more German communities than most other states; indeed there are entire counties which are almost purely German.

The finances of the state are in exemplary condition since it has a surplus in the treasury. Taxes are therefore extremely low, approximately 85 cents per $100.00 for all state and County taxes. Because of the favorable commercial location of Texas, bordered on the one side by the great mining areas of the West and on the other by the Gulf of Mexico, the widest natural harbor, and after the completion of the Panama Canal, the greatest traffic artery of the oceans of the world, it cannot fail that the products of the state will bring increasingly better prices than those from the central and northern states. It is generally known that the natural harbors of Aransas Pass, Brazoria, and Galveston are being deepened in such a way as to accommodate the greatest ocean steamers and thus be able to load directly from railroad cars onto the ship and vise versa. The completion of these undertakings means for Texas the birth of world trade cities like New York or Chicago and a savings of millions in freight yearly.

Of the long list of products of this part of Texas we mention here: Winter wheat, cotton, corn, oats, rye, barley, buckwheat, sorghum, broom-corn, millet, blue stem, Johnson, Hungarian and Bermuda grasses, alfalfa, red and white clover, castor beans, potatoes, sweet-potatoes, melons, tomatoes, okra, roots, cabbage, and other vegetables, beans, peas, peanuts, pecan nuts, grapes, pears, apples, peaches plums, apricots, and various kinds of berries.

Pecan nuts grow wild in great quantities and are, because of their good flavor, sought after and highly priced. Since the demand is forever increasing whole groves of these and other useful trees are planted cheaply and it is credibly said that there is no surer and more profitable investment. Because of the abundance of beautiful and fragrant flowers which give the whole area the appearance of a flower garden from spring to fall, bee keeping is also profitable and is a big business for some. Good butter always brings high prices here and some of the better small-time farmers already have good milking cows of the noblest races and obtain, because of the good, almost always green pastures and the good water, very favorable results. Pig farming is currently being given much attention and there are already big slaughter houses in the neighboring cities of Dallas and Fort Worth. This area is especially well suited for raising cattle and horses and is a big business here. This is especially so because the cattle can, with the exception of a couple of days during the winter months, usually remain in the pasture without extra feeding or stabling and still be well nourished. Grapes can be usefully cultivated by experienced vintners since the climate, soil and location, as experience has shown, are extremely well suitable for grape cultivation.

Wagons, plows and all kinds of farm implements are just as cheap as in the North, similarly groceries and dry goods, while butter and eggs are considerably more expensive. A good team of horses costs $200, mules from $250 to $300. A good milk cow with calf $20 to $25. Building timbers of which East Texas has enormous amounts, is presently sold here at $12 per 1000 foot for all common kinds (dimension lumber).

As shown, this area is primarily suitable for agriculture and cattle raising, for general farming on a big or small scale, as well as vegetable farming and viticulture. A great selection of prairie and woodland, of small and big, established and partially established farms, in part with good buildings, nice orchards and vineyards, near the city, is available to settlers at reasonable prices and favorable terms. The building of a church and a German parochial school has already been started and will, as has always happened in our earlier colonies, also here be operated vigorously. For that reason we invite German Catholics who want to make a new home for themselves to join our colony here as soon as possible. Building lots in town are still very cheap and offer an opportunity for many businessmen and craftsmen.

Since the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas railroad goes through this town and land area and therefore has a great interest in the development of the colony, and they maintain good connections with all cities and railroads in the North and East and show themselves very forthcoming and liberal toward us, we would like to ask all the concerned colonizers to use this railroad to the extent that it is possible, since that will also be in their own interest.  Mr. George A. McNutt, Traveling Passenger Agent, 619 Main Street, Kansas City, Mo., or Mr. H. P. Hughes, A.G. P. A., Dallas, Texas or Mr. Gaston Meslier, General. Passenger & Ticket Agent, Sedalia, Mo., will gladly give, with enclosure of tickets, further information concerning prices of tickets from any point in the United States to here, as well as information about freight rates, cost of entire wagon loads of household articles or cattle, etc. For further information contact (in German or English) Flusche Bros., Pilot Point, Denton Co., Texas

Sample recommendations included:

The German Catholic Colony at Pilot Point The German Catholic community at Pilot Point is the largest and most intact of the three German communities that developed in Denton County in the late nineteenth century. This colony was founded by the Flusche Brothers in 1891, at the request of banker A.H. Gee and J.M. Sullivan of Pilot Point. Emil Flusche, a Catholic empressario, had successfully founded similar colonies in Iowa and Kansas, and in Texas at Muenster and Lindsay.1

Through advertisements in German Catholic newspapers and in pamphlets such as the one we reprint in this issue, news spread through the American mid-west of this promising new colony. "Catholic businessmen, craftsmen, and especially older persons of means who want to live a quiet life near the church in the most beautiful, healthy area" were encouraged to settle there. In Pilot Point, they promised, the summers were not as hot as those in Minnesota. The farming conditions were excellent and Texas was in no danger of being taken over by the fanatical, "slippery hypocrites" that had thrust many a northern state into "servitude". The first German colonists to arrive at Pilot Point were Herman Boerner and his son-in-law Louis Tschoeppe from "Neu Braunfels". On September 10, 1891, Emil Flusche with his wife Anna and their four children arrived in Pilot Point from his colony at Westphalia, Kansas. He moved with his family into a house on the north side of town owned by Mr. J.A.L. McFarland, the cashier at the bank.

The colony prospered. Mass was first celebrated on November 4th, 1891, and largely through donations, St. Thomas Catholic Church was built; and it was consecrated on March 7th, 1892. Many of their protestant neighbors attended this event to "watch these Catholics worship their wooden God."

In the rich farmland north almost to Tioga and east to Gunter, hundreds of German speaking Catholics settled and farmed, isolated from the English speaking culture around them. Most of the children only learned English when they began attending the parish school at Pilot Point, where half their classes were in English.

Although much of the German culture has faded over the years, some traditions have survived. The German language is remembered by many, and in a few homes, it is still spoken on a regular basis. In 1973, almost 26 per cent of the names listed in the Pilot Point phone directory were of German origin; St. Thomas Catholic Church is thriving, with many of its members descendants of those early German founders.




1  Introduction by Mike Cochran