A hole was dug deep in the soft dirt of the Kreisle family cemetery lot. Preparations had begun for the increment of its first occupant, Mathais. His mourning wife, Sophie, had quickly designed and commissioned the construction of a mausoleum. The sudden death of her husband at the age of 51 was devastating and the mausoleum’s imposing presence testimony to the emotions of a loving wife. Her memorial faces the main road of Oakwood Cemetery, in the same manner that the Kreisle Building, also designed by Sophie, faces Congress Avenue. Even today the cement structure in the cemetery commands the eye to gaze down the steps and through the wrought iron gate, into it’s interior where Sophie and Mathais’s remains are sealed behind marble slabs.
Mathais, his parents, grandfather, two brothers and two sisters were a part of the group of German immigrants recruited to colonize Texas by ten German noblemen known as the Adelsverein. The Adelsverein purchased a large tract of land in west Texas and invited their countrymen and women to leave their homeland and come to America’s untamed lands. It was not difficult to entice the industrious Germans to venture from their overcrowded and tumulus country to a place described as “filled with flowers, crystal streams, and primeval forests full of wild fowl.” The Kreisle family, like all others, was also lured by the promise of free passage, a log cabin and provisions to farm their own 320-acre tract of land. They need only pay $240. In addition, once they were settled churches, schools and roads would be built, courtesy of the rich noblemen.
The Adelservein project was well underway between the fall of 1845 and April of 1846 as 5000 Germans disembarked on Texas’ shores at Indianola. Unfortunately the practical side of the plan had not been tended enthusiastically.
New expenses and unanticipated difficulties soon arose and the Adelservein found themselves bankrupt a year into the project. To make matters worse there was a shortage of available provisions due to the war, which had broken out between Mexico and the United States. The most notable was the shortage of wagons. The Germans had no way to get from the ship to their Promised Land deep in the heart of Texas. On the coast many waited months on the coast for transportation into West Texas, while others began walking.
Another significant unanticipated difficulty was the disease and pestilence that eventually killed hundreds.
Immigrant Hermann Seele reminisced, “Every campsite between here (New Braunfels) and the coast were marked with graves.” “ As I passed a large tent, I heard a cry of distress “ “‘ Isn’t there anyone here who will help us?’ “ Looking into the tent I caught sight of a family of persons bedded on the ground, moaning and groaning, sick with dysentery and dropsy. “
The Kreisle family was mourning the loss of their youngest child, who had died on the trip across the Atlantic and was thus buried at sea, when their grandfather succumbed to disease at Indianola and like hundreds before and after him, was buried there. Giving up the dream of farming their promised parcel of land, the Kreisles’ acclimated to the situation at hand and headed to the relatively prosperous town of Victoria, where they settled.
In Victoria Mathais established himself in the community and eventually became part owner of a general merchandise store. When his kin decided to move to Castroville, Texas in anticipation of greater opportunity, Mathais alone chose to remain. Perhaps his evolving acquaintance with Sophie Thomas contributed toward his decision to stay behind, because they soon married.
On a quest for greater possibilities, the young family moved from Victoria to Goliad and then finally, to Austin Texas. They lived the rest of their lives in Austin and their descendants remain today.