In 2007, the Texas Legislature declared Industry is the state’s oldest permanent German Settlement – dating to 1831. A drive around town is probably the best way to see the sites of Friedrich Ernst’s settlement. Begin at Ernst Memorial Park to get a glimpse of the 1838 post office. The town's West End is home to the 1867 Industry Methodist Church, along with several houses and offices dating to the mid-1800s.
The Ernsts were the first German family to settle in Texas. In 1829, just a few years before Friedrich Ernst laid stones for a store, he arrived in Texas from Germany with his wife and five children. In Germany, he’d been the clerk and gardener for the Duke of Oldenberg, but he yearned for freedom – and found it here. The family settled along Mill Creek, northwest of San Felipe – Stephen F. Austin’s colony in what was then Mexico. Accustomed to the comforts of the city; here they were explorers. Frontier life was so hard that Ernst, in a pinch, sold 1,000 acres… for a few cows. At least now they had milk and butter!
They named their town Industry – foreshadowing the skills and work ethic Germans would bring with them to Texas over the coming decades. Industry grew up around the Ernst’s little compound. The store, later also operating as a post office, served the growing community and was a renowned and helpful stop for many newly arrived German immigrants. For decades to come, German families left behind their homeland for an adopted home – Texas – following in the footsteps of Friedrich Ernst: the “Father of German Immigration.”