Blue Mound Community A German Methodist Community in Denton County by Mike Cochran
Blue Mound Community Blue Mound Community was the first German-speaking colony established in Denton County. Although individual Germans had lived here since the 1840's, this grouping at Blue Mound was the first to establish itself as a distinct German speaking community.
The first settlers at Blue Mound were Herman Christian Barthold (1827-1914), his wife, Mary, and their five children, who moved there in 1876. They arrived in a covered wagon to farm on the open prairie northwest of Denton and lived there in a tent for three years before building their house. It is said that the community was named by Barthold for the grass and flower covered knoll on his property that had a bluish haze on it when seen from a distance.
The next to arrive was William A. Ganzer, from the province of Saxony in Germany. With his wife Carolina Klingenberg, Ganzer purchased their land on December 10, 1877. Next came the Grabbe family who bought their land on December 28 of the same year. Both Ganzer and Grabbe bought their property from Jot Gunter, the businessman who two years later sold the land for the German Catholic colony at Muenster.
More settlers came, attracted by the good farming conditions and the growing German community. In 1893, the Trietschs came from the Rhine Palatinate; in 1894, the Linenschmidts arrived; then the Borths, from the province of Pomerania and many others, including several families from Russia.
Church life was an important aspect of these German communities, for not only did it minister to their spiritual needs, but it helped to strengthen the bond of brotherhood among these German- speakers in an English speaking land. Many of these settlers were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Informal services were held as early as 1884 in the home of William Ganzer. Then, for many years these Blue Mound residents travelled the eight miles to Denton to attend the German Methodist Church at the corner of Oakland and E. McKinney in Denton. There were some small Lutheran and Baptist (or Dunkard) congregations in this period but they did not survive. In
1901 a M.E. Church, the "Zions Gemeinde" was built at Blue Mound on a site that now faces I-35 near Ganzer Road. Within a few years the church had 91 members. Services were conducted in German at this church until 1938 yet still at that time there were church members "who hardly understand the English language," according to a 1940 report.
World War I had an adverse effect on the German-American citizens of Denton and Blue Mound. Despite the fact that many Denton County Germans enlisted in the Army and fought in Europe, for some there was doubt about the loyalties of these German speaking neighbors. Many of these citizens felt ostracized and there were rumors that a secret arsenal was kept hidden beneath the Blue Mound Methodist Church. One resident remembers being questioned by a neighbor about hoarding flour, but Mrs. Walter (Ella) Trietsch recalls that generally the hostility was in the form of cold stares and negative feelings rather than any overt acts.
As a result of the war, the German language became less popular among the young German-Americans of the community. Boasting of their national heritage could lead to discrimination and ridicule, and thus the process of assimilation into American culture was expedited. In 1922 the German Methodist Church in Denton disbanded, and the City of Denton condemned the property for an $800 paving bill. The German Baptist (Dunkard) Church at 514 Bolivar St., which had still had eighty members in 1920, disbanded in 1928.
Commenting on the history of this prosperous German community, Mr. L.G. Linenschmidt wrote, in 1949, "We the remnant of this band look back and thank God for the many blessings that were bestowed on us, not that we earned them, but that they have been mercifully bestowed upon us, as the God of love has led us till now." (Editor's Note: I am indebted to Mrs. Olga Borth Sauls and Mrs. Walter (Ella) Trietsch for providing much of the information used in this article.