Immigrant Miller Picks Texas
The Letters of Carl Hilmar Guenther
The story of a German immigrant and a San Antonio miller
The letters in Immigrant Miller Picks Texas describe the odyssey of Carl Hilmar Guenther, who sailed from Germany in 1848 at the age of twenty-two to seek his fortune in America. For two years he tried his hand at construction and factory work in New York, farming and milling in Wisconsin and Ohio, and carpentry on a plantation in Louisiana. Then he learned of opportunities in Texas.
In 1851 Guenther built the only grist mill in the German community of Fredericksburg. Eight years later he built a new mill (C. H. Guenther & Son) in nearby San Antonio and set down roots. His legacy continues through what is now the Pioneer Flour Mills, a San Antonio–based food products company. It is the oldest business in Texas and the oldest continuously operating, family-owned milling company in the United States.
The first letters to and from Guenther's family in Germany were written at the time of Guenther's departure from Germany in 1848. They continue through his travails of getting established on the Texas frontier and the Civil War to his only return visit to Germany, in 1891.