On February 19, 2023, the Bellville Historical Society held its monthly meeting. The guest speaker for the event was Chandler Wahrmund, an educator/interpreter with the Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site. Wahrmund presented a first-person program on the Fanthorp Inn, taking on the persona of George Arnfort, an actual German immigrant who worked at the inn in the mid-19th century.
The Fanthorp Inn is a historic site located in Anderson, Texas, USA. It was built in 1834 by Henry Fanthorp as a stagecoach stop on the road between Houston and Nacogdoches. The inn quickly became a popular stop for travelers, and it played a role in many historic events. During the Texas Revolution, the inn served as a gathering place for Texan leaders, including Sam Houston and David Crockett. In 1845, it was the site of the signing of the treaty that ended the war between the Republic of Texas and the Cherokee Indians.
Chandler Wahrmund’s presentation focused on the German immigrant experience at the Fanthorp Inn, a perspective that is often overlooked in the historical narrative of early Texas. George Arnfort, the persona Wahrmund assumed, was a worker at the inn who appears in the census records from 1850 to 1870. Not much is known about Arnfort’s background, but Wahrmund used his character as a representation of the general experiences of German immigrants in Texas during that time period.
Wahrmund’s presentation was not only informative but also entertaining. He wore a hat as Arnfort, and when the hat was on, he was fully immersed in the character, telling the story of the inn from Arnfort’s perspective. When the hat was off, he was Chandler Wahrmund, the educator for the historic Fanthorp Inn, and he could answer any questions about the inn.
The Bellville Historical Society’s February meeting was a success, thanks in part to Chandler Wahrmund’s creative and engaging presentation. The Fanthorp Inn, with its rich history and significance to early Texas, is a valuable cultural and historical resource that should be appreciated and celebrated.