The Mainzer Adelsverein at Biebrich am Rhein (Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas), better known as Adelsverein (German pronunciation: [ˈaːdəlsfɐˌʔaɪn], "Nobility Society"), organized on April 20, 1842, was a colonial attempt to establish a new Germany within the borders of Texas.
Adelsverein was organized on April 20, 1842, by 21 German noblemen at Biebrich on the Rhine, in the castle of the Archduke of Nassau, who was named Protector of the Society. In Germany, the society was referred to as Mainzer Adelsverein after the city of Mainz where it was officially registered. The society represented a significant effort to establish a new Germany on Texas soil through organized mass emigration. The land for the emigrants was to be purchased by the Adelsverein or secured through land grants from the Republic of Texas.
On January 9, 1843, Count Ludwig Joseph von Boos-Waldeck bought the 4,428 acre Nassau Plantation in Fayette County for $0.75 an acre and named it for Archduke of Nassau. The plantation was maintained by slave labor and operated for the recreational pleasure of the Adelsverein. Initially, the plantation had been considered as the primary base for arriving German immigrants. Twenty-five slaves were bought to work on the property. When Prince Solms inspected the plantation in 1844, he recommended the Verein divest itself of the property, rather than be associated with slavery. Gustav Dresel, Special Business Agent for the Adelsverein, sold Nassau plantation on July 28, 1848 to Otto von Roeder. Von Roeder had been the first settler in Shelby, Texas in 1841, a year before the Adelsverein was founded in Germany, and three years before the Adelsverein sent its first colonists to Texas. Von Roeder had emigrated to Texas from Westphalia in the 1830s and was not affiliated with the Adelsverein's colonization efforts. The community of Shelby had been named for David Shelby, one of The Old Three Hundred under Stephen F. Austin. Shelby would become the home of many Adelsverein colonists in 1845, but it was not founded by the organization. Because many of its German settlers spoke Latin, Shelby is believed to be part of the Latin Settlement communities populated in Texas at that time.
Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels was appointed commissioner general by the Adelsverein in May 1844 to lead its colony in Texas. Each head of household was required to deposit 600 gulden (300 gulden for a single person) with the Adelsverein to cover transportation and housing at the colony and as credit to draw upon until they made their first harvest. The first Adelsverein-sponsored immigrants arrived in Galveston in July 1844. They traveled from Galveston to Indianola in December 1844, then moved inland to land grants acquired by the Adelsverein near Comal Springs. Prince Solms named the first colony New Braunfels in honor of his homeland.
Henry Francis Fisher and Burchard Miller sold their 1842 land grant to the Adelsverein on June 22, 1844. This grant was intended to provide for more settlements in Texas. Main article: Fisher-Miller Land Grant Main article: History of Fredericksburg, Texas
After Prince Solms returned to Germany, John O. Meusebach was appointed the second commissioner general of the Adelsverein in April 1845.. He founded the first settlement on the outskirts of the land grant, and named it Fredericksburg, in honor of Adelsverein member Prince Frederick of Prussia. The land grant was located in Comanche territory, and in order to colonize, Meusebach first negotiated a treaty between the German Immigration Company (Adelsverein) and the Penateka Comanche. Main article: Meusebach–Comanche Treaty
A separate agreement was made with the Darmstadt Forty, to settle socialist colonies within the land grant.
In 1853, due to a large amount of debt, Adelsverein ended its colonization campaign in Texas.