German-Texan Heritage Society
Promoting Awareness and Preservation of the German Cultural Heritage of Texas

Annual Conference

SAVE THE DATE! Join us for our Annual Conference in Austin, TX on September 4 & 5, 2015
(Additional Free Activities at German Free School on September 3 & 6, 2015)

Discounted Registration Now Available:
Otherwise, contact the GTHS office to register at 855-892-6691. Full schedule and details are listed below. Questions? Email

The first line of a Texas Historical Marker located near the gate at 507 E. 10th St. reads, “German Free School Education was a primary concern for the new German immigrants who arrived in Texas in the 1840′s and 1850′s.”  Perhaps today we take it for granted as a right that our children attend public schools throughout our State. However, that did not begin statewide until the late 1800′s. We are celebrating our GTHS Annual Conference this year at  the historic German Free School that was built by volunteer German immigrants in 1857 and opened it’s doors in 1858 as the first Austin school chartered by the Texas Legislature with classes being taught in English and open to all students.  Our Conference will feature several speaker presentations concerning the development of public education in Texas.  Also, we have scheduled special tours of historic sites in Austin and group presentations of history and genealogical information.  Our formal presentations will be held across the street in the spacious meeting rooms of the First Baptist Church and more informal group sessions at the German Free School with tours from that location. We will be able to enjoy lunch together both days at the German Free School.

See below for more details and full schedule.



September 3 – 5

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Free Pre-Conference Event at the German Free School
(507 East 10th Street, Austin, TX  78701)
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm  
Open House: guided tours, historical films & displays, music, gift shop, refreshments

For early arrival of Conference attendees: Reception & Registration-Visit with Descendants of the German Free School students of 1857-1876
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm - Austin Welcome at German Free School - Conference information & registration – Refreshments- GFS history & site visit – Party atmosphere

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Friday Morning Activities at German Free School
(507 East 10th Street, Austin, TX  78701)
10:00 am – 11:00 am - Registration
10:30 am – 2:00 pm – Optional Mini-Groups & Tours at German Free School & Oakwood Cemetery:

10:30 am – 2:00 pm –Arts, Education & Business Presentations at the German Free School
(507 East 10th Street, Austin, TX  78701)
10:30 am & 12:30 pm, Sculptress Elizabeth Ney, Speaker: Oliver Franklin. Franklin will be introduced by immigrant business owner, Joseph Hannig, presented by character actor Warren Friedrich.
Location: GFS Upstairs Studio
11:00 am & 12:00 pm, German Free School Founders, Speakers: Brent Hunter, Location: GFS Downstairs Apartment
(GTHS Giftshop, Speaker Book Sale & Signing located in upstairs parlor)

Austin Historic Site Tour at  Oakwood Cemetery (est. during the Republic of Texas)
1601 Navasota StreetAustin, TX 78702)
10:30 am – 12:30 pm, Historic Oakwood Cemetery, Speaker & Guide: Liz Hicks
Narrated Tour will visit the resting places of some of the Trustees, Teachers & Students of the German Free School. Handouts will be provided.

Austin Historic Site Tours
(Locations & Sites to be announced)
10:30 am – Walking Tour # 1 with Bob Brinkman
11:00 am – Walking Tour #2 with Carolyn Wright
(Transportation, Drop-Off & Pick-Up provided)

Friday Lunch at First Baptist Church
(901 Trinity Street, Austin, TX  78701)
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Lunch-Sandwich Platters
(including Vegetarian & Gluten Free items)

Friday Afternoon Feature Presentations at First Baptist Church
(901 Trinity Street, Austin, TX  78701)
2:00 pm – 5:30 pm – German Texans in the Pathway to Public Education in Texas

2:00 pm – 2:50 pm, The First Austin Chartered School-GFS, Speaker: W.M. Von-Maszewski
2:50 pm – 3:40 pm, German Texans & Public Education, Speaker: Dr. James Kearney
3:40 pm – 4:00 pm, Break
4:00 pm – 4:50 pm, German Texan Schools-History & Structures, Speaker: Dr. Kenneth Hafertepe
4:50 pm – 5:30 pm, Wendish founding of Concordia University, Speaker: Dr. Ray Martens

Friday Evening Social Event at Saengerrunde Hall
(1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX  78701)
7:30 pm – 9:30 pm – Dinner & Music
Social Event featuring Music & Dancing with the Czech Melody Masters
Serving: German Cuisine & Beer
($25 pre-registration required, see registration form)

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

Saturday Morning Feature Presentations at First Baptist Church
(901 Trinity Street, Austin, TX  78701)
8:00 am – 9:00 am - Registration & Continental Breakfast
9:00 am – 1:30 pm – German Texan Heritage Contributions to a Multi-Cultural Texas

9:00 am – 9:50 am – Craftsmanship – Weigl Iron Works – A German Texan business, Speaker: Dr. Fritz Weigl
9:50 am – 10:00 am – UT Department of Germanic Studies, Dr. Peter Hess
10:10 am – 10:50 am - Culture in Language – Texas German Dialect Project, Speaker: Dr. Hans Boas
10:50 am – 11:10 am – Break
11:10 am – 12:00 pm – The German Mennonite community, Speaker: W.M. Von-Maszewski
12:00 pm – 12:50 pm –  The Cultural Influence of German Texans, Speaker: Dr. James Kearney
12:50 pm – 1:30 pm – German Texan History in Action, Businessman Joseph Hannig & Alamo survivor Susanna Dickinson, Re-Enactors: Warren Friedrich & Laura Luna

Saturday Lunch at First Baptist Church
(901 Trinity Street, Austin, TX  78701)
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Lunch – Sandwich Platters
(including Vegetarian & Gluten Free items)
Note:Meal served during presentations

Saturday Afternoon Activities at German Free School

(507 East 10th Street, Austin, TX  78701)
1:30 pm – 2:00 pm – Membership Meeting, Location: GFS Upstairs Studio
2:30 pm – 6:00 pm – Mini-Groups & Tours at German Free School

Culture in Language & Arts
2:30 pm – The Dallas Goethe Center, Speaker: Dr. Barbara Berthold, Location: GFS Upstairs Studio
3:10 pm – The Unbroken Treaty, German Language Game-Learning the German Language through Role Playing, Speaker & Co-Creator: David Huenlich, Location: GFS Upstairs Studio

3:30 pm –Family Research, Speaker: Liz Hicks, Location: GFS Upstairs Studio

2:30 pm & 4:30 pm – Historical Weigl Iron Works Display, Speaker: Dr. Fritz Weigl, Location: GFS Downstairs Apartment
(GTHS Giftshop, Speaker Book Sale & Signing located in upstairs parlor, authors include Von-Maszewski, Kearney, Hafertepe & Wright)

Austin Historic Site Tours
(Locations & Sites to be announced)
2:30 pm – Walking Tour # 1 with Bob Brinkman
3:00 pm – Walking Tour #2 with Carolyn Wright
(Transportation, Drop-Off & Pick-Up provided)

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

Post-Conference Events in Austin, TX to Explore on Your Own
GTHS Suggestions: The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum is free to visitors on the first Sunday of each month and is located at 1800 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701. (Free or discounted visits to local museums -Check your registration bag for more information).


Hotel Accommodations in Austin during the GTHS Annual Conference

A block of 10 rooms at a discounted rate of $139+Tax has been designated at the Double Tree Hotel, I-35 and MLK (19th St.) across the Street from the UT Baseball Stadium and next to Oakwood Cemetery and Denny’s Restaurant.  They are available either as a king size or double bed room with free parking.  Use this group code “GFS” for the discounted rate.  Rooms must be booked by August 14th!  Guests may call central reservations at 1-800-222-TREE or the hotel’s front desk directly at 512-479-4000 x 0 to book rooms. To register online click here. Austin has many hotels with a range of rates and services thus another option would be to search hotel booking sites online.

Map & Locations


Click here to print map

Event Locations:
German Free School, 507 East 10th Street, Austin, TX 78701
First Baptist Church, 901 Trinity Street, Austin, TX  78701
Oakwood Cemetery, 1601 Navasota Street, Austin, TX  78702
Click here to print map & directions to Oakwood Cemetery from GTHS
Saengerrunde Hall, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin, TX 78701

Meter Parking on 10th Street & surrounding area
Texas Capital & Visitors Center Parking, 1201 San Jacinto located between Trinity and San Jacinto at 12th and 13th Streets. Parking is free for the first two hours and $1 for each half hour thereafter (maximum daily charge: $8.00).

Click here to download and print schedule

PHYSICAL ADDRESS: 507 East 10th Street Austin, TX | MAILING ADDRESS: GTHS PO Box 684171 Austin,TX 78768-4171
PHONE: (512) 467-4569| TOLL FREE: (855) 892-6691 | FAX: (512) 467-4574 | EMAIL: