This first book follows two lines. The first is the story of Carl Becker, who as a sixteen-year-old boy survived the massacre of Texan militia that surrendered to the Mexican Army at Goliad, shortly after the fall of the Alamo. He became a Texas Ranger and rode with Captain Jack Hays . . .The second line is the saga of the Steinmetz/Vogel/Richter families . . .The family of Vati Steinmetz, an educated clockmaker, includes his wife, stepdaughters, a son-in-law, young sons and grandchildren. They travel in steerage on a sailing ship to Galveston and then go by ox cart to New Braunfels, about thirty miles north of San Antonio. Their land claims are in the region where Fredericksburg exists later . . .
Hayes has taken a relatively obscure piece of Texan history and created an interesting family to tell its story. The two lines come together when Carl Becker courts the eldest daughter, Magda Vogel. The saga is rich in detail from the hellish nightmare of the sea journey to the beauty of the hill country . . .
… Hayes has a superb ability to describe the natural world that will have the reader sharing the wonder of discovery with the Steinmetz family. As well as the beauty of new found lands the reader will share the warmth of new love, the horror of a massacre, and the heartbreak of the death of loved ones – most of which are the result of disease. For me the most memorable scenes took place on or in water. The well-told sea passage; life on board the ship and the living conditions painting vivid pictures in my mind . . . And then there’s the well-told series of events, based on truth and real people, that lead to the peace treaty with the Penateka Comanche. In fact the Indians provide some of the most humorous situations in the story.
Western Fiction Review (Complete review here)
. . .Thousands anxiously emigrated to a new land, only to experience a frightening and often deadly sea voyage followed by hardship when they reached their destination. Disease, insects, snakes, droughts, tornadoes, famine, lame horses, outlaws, Comanches, plus shortages of ammunition and medical supplies were constant hazards. The plucky survivors built settlements and established ranches while Texas itself went through political growing pains. Showcasing Mexican firing squads to Texas Rangers, this first book gives a good historical lesson about pre-Civil War Texas.
Is there anything better than a good book? Better than a book that tells an absorbing story, that’s peopled with characters you care about, living through exciting times, set among real events, and that leaves you with a better understanding as well as thoroughly entertained? . . . What The Leopard does for Italy and Gone With the Wind does for the American South, The Adelsverein Trilogy does for Texas, and does it in style . . .Teriffically enjoyable and satisfying read. The characters come alive immediately, and as the pages fly by we get to see them grow, mature, and deal with the joys and tribulations of life. We are left with a wonderfully complete picture of an era, and unforgettable memories of the engaging and sturdy families whose type formed the backbone of this nation. . . .The author’s historical accuracy is meticulous, her writing clean and true: she brings an entire era to marvelous life. If you don’t know the Texas hill country, you will after you read The Adelsverein Trilogy. I thought I knew it, but the Texas hill country will never look the same to me now.
POD Book Reviews and More (Complete review here)
In the 1840’s, an “aristocrat’s society” or “Adelsverein” formed for the purpose of bringing German immigrants into 19th century Texas . They offered land, houses, and a freer life than most had known in the reactionary and over-populated electorates of Northern Germany. Seven thousand settlers, some farmers, some craftsmen, accepted their offer. When they arrived after a grueling sea voyage, there were no houses, little food, no protection, and few supplies. There were, however, plenty of unfriendly Comanche and suspicions. So begins the first book of a trilogy, following the Steinmetz family through the hard work, tragedy, and steep learning curve that was the lot of these immigrants to this Texas frontier. Adelsverein is a fact-filled and dramatic fictionalization of the experiences of the hardy folk who founded Friedrichsburg, and a welcome addition to the growing list of HNS reviewed regional historicals. The love story of strong-minded Magda Steinmetz and Carl “Dutch” Becker, a gun-totin’ survivor of the infamous Goliad Massacre, adds a colorful thread of romantic interest. This enjoyable page turner is definitely recommended.
Juliet Waldron, in Historical Novels Review, November 2008
When there’s nothing left for you, sometimes the best option is to move on. “Adelsverein: The Gathering” is the start of the story of how seven thousand German immigrants made the journey from their fatherland to Texas in the nineteenth century. The mass immigration was encouraged by several noblemen, and the story focuses on how these Germans got their start. “Adelsverein” is a moving story of coming to America and making one’s mark, while retaining one’s heritage.
Midwest Book Reviews
Book One of the Adelverein Trilogy, The Gathering, is a fact-based story of Carl Becker and Magda Steinmetz, and the hardships they and other immigrants endured to settle Texas. Specifically, the story takes place amid the settlement of Fredericksburg, Texas, when life was full of dangers from humans and animals alike, from disease and hunger and poverty. Sometimes, in fact, bears and mountain lions seem the easiest to vanquish and the more innocent. Against this backdrop, Carl and Magda find each other, fall in love, and marry. But this is no syrupy romance; it’s realistic adult caring between two people. I had a tough time putting the book down and I found myself hurrying back to it. I always wanted to find out what happened next to Carl and Magda. A moving and touching story, and very heartwarming.
Carole Buchanan, Author “God’s Thunderbolt”