The Mysterious Baron
Many people are familiar with the name Stephen F. Austin, known for the American colonization of the Spanish state of Tejas. Colonies that would later become America's 28th state. A land called Texas.
However, few realize that Austin credits his success to his confidant and mentor, a wise man whose name few will recognize. In Texas he introduced himself as Felipe Enrique Neri, the Baron de Bastrop and without the ingenious skills of this one man, Texas probably wouldn’t exist.
The Baron de Bastrop, had a tremendous influence on the early histories of two states, Texas and Louisiana. Two U.S. cities, a bayou and a bay in the Gulf of Mexico are named in his honor, all testaments to a noble statesman.
As Austin's Land Commissioner and the colony's first representative to the Mexican government, the Baron dedicated the last seven years of his life for the benefit of the colonies he helped to create. He wrote the Texas colonization laws, organized the colony's first political elections, even initiated the legislation that created the Port of Galveston. The list goes on and on. An effective public servant who earned the reputation an honorable statesman, one that lasted for over 135 years.
However, in 1955 that reputation came into question when a phd dissertation asserted that the Baron's name wasn't Felipe Enrique Neri and he wasn't really a Baron. His real name was Philip Hendrik Nering Bögel, a former tax collector from Holland accused of embezzlement. A fugitive on the run from the law who had abandoned his family, changed his name, fled to America and simply fooled everyone into believing he was a powerful royal Baron. All that he had accomplished for Texas was quickly forgotten and his many accomplishments for Texas were slowly erased from the history books.
But that's hardly the end of the Baron's story. In fact, it's just the beginning. After years of research evidence has been uncovered that leaves little doubt that the Baron was indeed a Baron by way of his royal bloodline and that he didn't abandoned his family as historians have claimed for decades.
It also revealed a life straight out of a spy novel, from a clandestine rescue mission for the King of Spain to being a soldier in an elite special-forces division known as "The Potsdam Giants" under Fredrick the Great of Prussia, it's clear the Baron lived a life that was shrouded in mysteries, some of which remain to this day.