Monday, April 11, 2011

It's Ba-a-ck! The Pow-Wow is Coming

 In 1860, JP Crider took Polina as his wife.  (Yes, there is a reason I'm bringing this up.)

Polina was a Comanche.  Her tribe lived along the Pedernales River near present-day Johnson City. There was often friction between the Comanche and the German settlers, with kidnappings, arson, theft, and even murder on both sides.  However, in the nearby town of Fredericksburg, there was a treaty in place, and the Comanche were able to trade there at Fort Martin Scott.

JP was a Texas Ranger.  As such, he had dealings, both good and bad, with the Comanche.  During these dealings, he saw the maiden he desired, and he took her.  These things happened back in the day. 

The family of Polina did not approve (to put it mildly).  At first, they came after JP; but as a Texas Ranger, he had many well-armed friends, and this plan did not work.  They asked Polina to come home; she refused.  Thereafter, Polina's brothers would sometimes come by to harass her while JP was gone, calling her "white squaw" and shooting arrows in her skirt as she went for water at the well.

Some of JP's family didn't think much of this match either, and were none too happy to have an "Indian squaw" in the family. 

Nevertheless, JP and Polina remained together, and raised a family.  They have many descendents, of which I am one.  JP and Polina were the parents of my father's great-grandfather Murphy, with whom my father was close until Murphy's death when my father was 18.  So in my heritage, I have Comanche blood from the band that lived on the Pedernales. 

In the 1840's, the Republic of Texas was having troubles.  From the south, Mexico was trying to take Texas back.   Throughout the state, the Comanche and other tribes were trying to drive out the Anglo settlers.  The Anglos who were in Texas were mostly outlaws, on the run from something somewhere else, or looking for some way to get rich quick, generally at the expense of anyone else in the land. 

Some of the leaders came up with a plan.  They knew that over in Germany, the people were having their own problems.  What if they could get the Germans to come to Texas?  If the Germans would settle the land, that would keep both Mexicans and Comanche out.  It would also give the persecuted German noblemen somewhere to go. 
They formed the Adelsverein German Emigration Company and hundreds of Germans come to Texas.
It actually worked pretty well in the end.  The Germans struggled at first, but they learned fast and were persistent. 

One of those German noblemen was Georg Luessmann, who came with his son Heinrich.  They ended up in Blanco county, not far from present-day Johnson City.  They started a farm, which remained in the family for several generations.   Georg later also had a ranch outside of present-day Comfort where he raised cattle.

Heinrich grew up to become Henry Liesmann, Texas Ranger.  He was involved in many escapades, including the Callahan Expedition.  When he got all the adventuring out of his system, he married a German girl and settled down with her on the farm, where they raised 11 children.  They had many descendents, of which I am one.  So in my heritage, I have German blood from a nobleman who came to Texas under the Adelsverein German Emigration Company.

When the Germans arrived in Texas, they spread over the Hill Country, founding most of the towns that now exist in that area.  Fredericksburg was one of these.  The founders of Fredericksburg decided that instead of fighting the Comanche, they would make peace with them.  The Meusebach-Comanche Treaty of 1847 was the result, and this treaty was never broken.  In recent years, the Comanche Nation has held an annual inter-tribal pow-wow in Fredericksburg. 
However,  in 2008 there was a rift in goodwill, resulting in the City informing the Comanche not to bring the pow-wow back.   (Never mind the details; as Ma would say, "Least said, soonest mended.")

Luckily, thanks to some mediating by an interested person, this rift was healed. On November 20, 2010 there was a special ceremony to reaffirm the "Meusebach-Comanche Treaty" of 1847, and
allow the City, under a new Mayor and new City Council, to make amends with the Comanche and re-invite them back to hold the pow-wow, thereby restoring the peace.

This was a personal rift to be healed, and so the Comanche wanted the emphasis to be on the personal interaction, and not on the "show" of a ceremony; therefore, they asked that the event be private, not open to the public, and no media coverage.  Attending the gathering were representatives of the Comanche Nation, including the Chairman, Vice Chairman, Medicine Man, and others; the City of Fredericksburg Mayor; the German Deputy Consul; Fort Martin Scott directors; and me.  I was invited by virtue of being a rare descendent of both the Comanche and the Germans - both sides of the treaty.  

There was a ceremony, and gifts were exchanged in the traditional manner of restoring peace.   As each gift was given, and as it was received, each giver and receiver spoke of the desire to move forward in peace, harmony and good will and for the City and the Nation to work together.  The parties then signed the official Re-Affirmation of the Treaty.  Thus the Comanche leadership recognized the good will of the City in extending a renewed invitation to hold the pow-wow.   

The CHAPPABITTY/QUASSYCHEEKY FAMILY INTER-TRIBAL POWWOW will be held May 13-15 at Fort Martin Scott, Fredericksburg TX. 
Yes, I'll be there. 

1 comment:

  1. This is my family's powwow! Thank you for spreading the word!!!