Easter Fires of Fredericksburg
by: Bobby McDonald
High in the hills that surround the picturesque Hill Country town of Fredericksburg is a quaint tradition that brings to life the spirit of Easter. It's the local tradition of the Easter Fires of Fredericksburg, that was begun by the German settlers that came to inhabit the land. These thrifty people built houses of logs on a frontier, after traveling miles from the Texas Coast, following a dangerous trip across the seas.
On the perilous frontier, the German settlers found the land inhabited by native American Indians, and realized that to live in harmony in their new land, they must make friends with the Indians. So, it was in 1846, that the leader of the group, John O. Meusebach, one of the most able colonists to ever set foot on Texas soil, made plans to organize a treaty with the Indians, to protect those who had come to this new land that would be called Fredericksburg. It was in the spring of the year that he and a small group of the men went deep into the territory of the Apaches, Comanches, Tonkawas, and other tribes to make a treaty with the chiefs.
While one of the men were gone, it was a pioneer mother that was left alone with her small children, in an isolated cabin, near present day Fredericksburg. She was awakened during the night by her children's fearful cries, as they saw the Indians camped all around the hills of Fredericksburg, burning their fires. The Indians were keeping watch on the settlement so that no treachery would be practiced by the white men, while the Red Men were assembling for the treaty council. Messages between the braves were transmitted by customary smoke signals from the fires that surrounded the village. The fires burned high into the night and cast shadows on the valley, where the village was located. The young mother knew that she must quiet her children and allay their fears.
She told them a comforting story of the Easter Fires, and how that the little rabbits gathered together in the woods upon the hills, built fires, and cooked the Easter eggs in large cauldrons, dying them with the beautiful wildflowers, that grew profusely in the region, making them the various colors that they could expect on Easter morn. The children were soothed by the story and finally fell asleep.
Meusebach and his men were able to form a treaty with the Indians and to commemorate the occasion and the peaceful settling of the region, the Easter Fires tradition was born, and the small town of Fredericksburg continues to tell and relive the story, each year during the Easter Season.
On Easter the bells in the local churches ring throughout the town and the tradition of lighting Easter Fires in the hills surrounding the city, is continued on the eve of Easter Sunday, as the German community gets ready for the season.