Frank Wagner

GLAEVECKE, ADOLPHUS (1818–1900). Adolphus Glaevecke, early South Texas settler and recorder of historic events, was born in 1818 at Rostock, Prussia. He studied medicine but did not complete the degree. When their elder brother succeeded to the family farm at Warnemünde, Adolphus, Augustus, and Caspar Glaevecke, the three younger brothers, sailed for New York and arrived in December 1834 or January 1835. They took inexpensive passage to New Orleans and then on to Texas, where they arrived at the mouth of the Rio Grande in January 1836. They rode in a Mexican cart upriver from Point Isabel to some land claims they had purchased.

Glaevecke participated in events in the Rio Grande valley leading to the Mexican War and left records of them. Augustus Glaevecke died on March 18, 1849, and Caspar died on April 20, 1862, in a battle with the Crinolinos. Adolphus Glaevecke owned San Pedro Rancho; he reported that Maj. Seth Thornton stopped there for breakfast on his way to Carricitos Ranch, where he and his men were ambushed and captured. Upon organization of Nueces County, Glaevecke was designated constable of Santa Rita precinct on January 27, 1848. Santa Rita was a village belonging to the Llanos Grande grant, owned by Jane Stryker, widow of John Stryker. During the 1850s Glaevecke was involved in litigation related to Stryker's estate. Other squabbles appeared in the legal records of Cameron County, including a suit against Glaevecke's brother-in-law Antonio Tijerina for wasteful administration of an estate entrusted to him and others. Some of the cases involved most of the judicial officers of Cameron County and thus presented intricate conflict-of-interest problems.

Juan Nepomucema Cortina
Photograph, Portrait of Juan Nepomucema Cortina. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Glaevecke was involved in the Cortina Wars (see CORTINA, JUAN NEPOMUCEMA). Because his detailed account of the affairs given to the governor on January 16, 1860, is the document upon which nearly all subsequent historians have depended, his role in the war possibly has been overestimated. Glaevecke claims he had a chance to shoot Cortina on September 29, 1859, with a heavily loaded shotgun, but someone pushed the barrel up and he missed. The National Archives has a special collection of microfilm dealing with reports on the wars. It includes many large claims for damages, stolen cattle, horses, sheep, and miscellaneous goods. Glaevecke had a claim and appears in a minor role among the many letters and reports.

After the military occupation during Reconstruction, Glaevecke won election as county clerk of Cameron County. He held the office from 1874 until October 1890, when he seems to have had a stroke. He died on February 3, 1900, in Brownsville.


W. H. Chatfield, The Twin Cities of the Border and the Country of the Lower Rio Grande (New Orleans: Brandao, 1893; rpt., Brownsville: Brownsville Historical Association, 1959). Corpus Christi Caller, May 16, 1891. Charles W. Goldfinch, Juan N. Cortina, 1824–1892: A Reappraisal (M.A. thesis, University of Chicago, 1949; pub. in Juan N. Cortina: Two Interpretations [New York: Arno Press, 1974]). Matamoros American Flag, March 4, 1848. John C. and Virginia Kemp Rayburn, Century of Conflict (New York: Arno Press, 1976). Walter Prescott Webb, The Texas Rangers (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Frank Wagner, "GLAEVECKE, ADOLPHUS," accessed February 22, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on April 15, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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