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SCHLECHT, FRIEDRICH

SCHLECHT, FRIEDRICH (1816–1874). Friedrich (Fritz) Schlecht, coppersmith, adventurer, and frontiersman, was born in Bunzlau, Silesia, Prussia, in 1816. He married Henrietta Roensch on May 16, 1843. Like many Germans fleeing revolution in the spring of 1848, Schlecht decided to head for the Texas frontier. His skill as a passionate outdoorsman and his long-time dream of a wilderness adventure influenced his choice of destination. After a sixty-day voyage aboard a cramped immigrant ship, Schlecht landed in Galveston in early June and began trekking through the game-rich woodlands and prairies as well as visiting settlements along the way. West of San Antonio, alone and armed with only his rifle and hunting knife, he stumbled into a camp of Comanches. The chief, impressed with Schlecht's bravery, invited him to sit, drink coffee, and smoke a peace pipe. Schlecht departed unscathed. His survival probably also demonstrated the effectiveness of the treaty that had been signed between the German colonizer John O. Meusebach and various Indian groups in 1847. At the end of the summer of 1848, Schlecht returned to Germany, where he recounted his adventures in a book, Mein Ausflug nach Texas (1851), published in English as On To Texas! (1998). Schlecht decided in part to write this book because he considered other German accounts of the state misleading. His detailed description of Texas is credited with giving many Europeans who were thinking of emigrating not only an entertaining but also an accurate and useful picture of the state. In 1857 Schlecht returned to Texas to settle permanently in Austin County. He was joined by his wife and two daughters the following year. He was the maternal grandfather of novelist and poet Clara Matthaei. Schlecht died in 1874 and is buried near Bellville, Austin County.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 
Selma Metzenthin-Raunick, Deutsche Schriften in Texas (San Antonio: Freie Presse fuer Texas, 1934). Clara (Matthaei) Reyes, "Vorwort zu 'Mein Ausflug nach Texas'" (Austin: Das Wochenblatt, April 10, 1930).
Charles E. Patrick

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Handbook of Texas Online, Charles E. Patrick, "Schlecht, Friedrich," accessed May 30, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsc85.

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