Fredericksburg is unique in that for many centuries, it identified completely with German culture and was isolated from the rest of Texas. German immigrants arriving in Fredericksburg before the 1900s didn’t learn English and rarely communicated with neighboring towns. The town’s first newspaper and school textbooks avoided using English, and shop signs still used German words. Further separating itself from the rest of Texas, Fredericksburg supported the Union during the Civil War.

However, Fredericksburg’s German legacy wasn’t just one of isolationism. German settlers brought many valuable aspects of their culture with them: their pioneering resourcefulness, their emphasis on education, their religious piety. Churches and schools built by German immigrants provided a sturdy foundation for the all-American town Fredericksburg would become. After the turn of the century, many townspeople began to favor incorporating into Gillespie County, and making English a part of the school curriculum. Fredericksburg’s residents supported the Allies in World War II, and those newspapers that printed pro-German editorials were criticized.

Yet, as is true with most ethnic American towns, vestiges of traditional culture remain. Fredericksburg’s Oktoberfest festival celebrates the town’s German roots with music, dancing and beer. The Gillespie County Fair has taken place annually in Fredericksburg for over a hundred years and is a testament to the strength of its German cultural traditions.