Prince Carl (Karl) of Solms-Braunfels (July 27, 1812 – November 13, 1875), was a German prince and military officer in both the Austrian army and in the cavalry of the Grand Duchy of Hesse. As Commissioner General of the Adelsverein, he spearheaded the establishment of colonies of German immigrants in Texas. Prince Solms named New Braunfels, Texas in honor of his homeland.
Early years and family life
Friedrich Wilhelm Karl Ludwig Georg Alfred Alexander, Prince of Solms, Lord of Braunfels, Grafenstein, Münzenberg, Wildenfels, and Sonnenwalde was born in Neustrelitz. He was the offspring of Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Solms-Braunfels and Princess Friederike of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
His 1834 morganatic marriage to Luise Auguste Stephanie Beyrich was considered below his royal station. In 1841 he gave in to royal pressure and settled on a monetary arrangement for a de facto royal annulment. Luise and the three children were ennobled by the Grand Duchy of Hesse with the name von Schoenau March 25, 1841. The family was later ennobled in the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1912.
Prince Solms married Maria Josephine Sophie, widow of Prince Franz of Salm-Salm and princess of Lowenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg, on December 3, 1845. The union produced five children: Prince Ludwig (1847–1900), Princess Eulalia (1851–1922), Princess Marie (1852–1882), Princess Sophie (1853–1869) and Prince Alexander (1855–1926).
He was the well-educated and well-connected handsome prince of wealth and privilege who sought adventure and looked for new worlds to explore. In 1841, he became Captain in the cavalry in the Imperial Army of Austria.
It was during his service with the cavalry that Carl read books about Texas and became interested in joining the Adelsverein, zealously campaigning for its success. Prince Solms was the motivating force, as the 1844 Commissioner General of the Adelsverein, for the first colony of German emigrants to Texas. He arrived on Texas soil in July 1844, making an exploratory tour of Texas as advisor to the Adelsverein, who owned the rights to the Fisher-Miller Land Grant. Subsequently, on behalf of the Adelsverein, Carl purchased an additional 1,300 acres (5.3 km2) on the Guadalupe River, where he established the colony of New Braunfels, Texas. His vision cleared the path for John O. Meusebach to follow in 1845 as the organizer, negotiator and political force needed for community-building structure in the "New Germany".
In anticipation of his marriage to Maria Josephine Sophie, Prince Solms formed plans to build "Sophie's Castle", laying the cornerstone in New Braunfels, Texas in 1845. Sophie refused to leave Germany, and Carl never returned to Texas after his marriage to her on December 3, 1845.
Return to Germany and later years
After returning to Germany, he left the Austrian army and became a colonel in the cavalry of the Grand Duchy of Hesse in 1846. He was able to rejoin the Austrian army in 1850, becoming a brigadier in 1859 with command of dragoons on Lake Constance. He took part in the 1866 Austro-Prussian War. He retired as a field marshal in 1868 to his residence at the estate of Rheingrafenstein near Kreuznach on the Nahe River. Prince Solms died November 13, 1875, and is interred in the city cemetery of Bad Kreuznach.
|Timeline of the Life of Prince Carl (Karl) of Solms-Braunfels|
|Ancestors of Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels|
- "Solms-Braunfels Royalty 1800–1940". RoyaltyGuide=Netherlands. http://www.royaltyguide.nl/families/solms/solmsbraunfels4.htm. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
- “Genealogisches Handbuch des in Bayern immatrikulierten Adels p. 743 Band XXII,Verlag Degener & Co, Neustadt an der Aisch 1998
- "Solms-Braunfels Princes 1800–1940". RoyaltyGuide=Netherlands. http://www.royaltyguide.nl/families/lowenstein/lowensteinwertheimrosenberg3.htm. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
- "Imperial Army of Austria". International Napoleonic Wargaming Club. http://www.battleground-club.de/imperial-army-of-austria/Austrian_infantry_a.htm. Retrieved 8 May 2010. International Napoleonic Wargaming Club
- "A Guide to the Solms-Braunfels Archives, 1842–1957". Texas Archival Research Online. http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/00025/cah-00025.html. Retrieved 8 May 2010. Briscoe Center, UT Austin
- Biesele, Rudolph L: Fisher-Miller Land Grant from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 08 May 2010. Texas State Historical Association
- Carl of Solms, Prince (2000). Voyage to North America, 1844–45: Prince Carl of Solms' Texas Diary of People, Places, and Events. University of North Texas Press. ISBN 978-1-57441-124-9.
- Brister, Louis E.: Adelsverein from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 08 May 2010. Texas State Historical Association
- "Sophienburg, New Braunfels, Texas". Sophienburg Museum & Archives. http://www.sophienburg.com/. Retrieved 14 May 2011. Sophienburg Museum & Archives
- Lich, Glen E and Moltmann, Gunter: Prince Karl of Solms-Braunfels from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 08 May 2010. Texas State Historical Association.
- "Austro-Prussian War". Wars of the World. http://www.onwar.com/aced/data/sierra/sevenweeks1866.htm. Retrieved 8 May 2010. OnWar.com
- Theroff, Paul. "An Online Gotha – Solms". http://www.angelfire.com/realm/gotha/gotha/solms.html. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
- Geue, Ethel H (2009). New Homes in a New Land German Immigration to Texas, 1847–1861. Clearfield. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-8063-0980-4.
- Block, W T. "The Story of Our Texas German Pilgrims". Texas Escapes – Blueprints For Travel, LLC.. http://www.texasescapes.com/WTBlock/Texas-German-Pilgrims-Death-March-to-Comal-County.htm. Retrieved 8 May 2010. Texas Escapes – Blueprints For Travel, LLC.
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