The inscription above the entrance to house No 126 where Ernst lived with his grandparents reads:
Trust in God for all matters, then he can make [the house.] Trust in God for all matters, then you will sing the song of thanks. All who know me, God give them all they want.
Johan Stephan          Maria Katrina
Heeren                      Wife
Anno 1773                12th of June

At some point before 1850, William Ernst and his uncle, Charles Niemeyer, came to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There he continued to work as a shoemaker while his Uncle Niemeyer worked as a carpenter. 10

On 30 May 1850 William Ernst marries Mary H. Cringle.11

Mary Cringle was born about 1835 in New York. It is thought she was Pennsylvania Dutch which is German. She was left an orphan when a little girl and lived with an older sister in Louisiana until she was fifteen years old at which time he met and married William Lips.,12

Soon after their marriage, around 1851, William and Mary came to Texas.

At this time thousands of German immigrants were coming to Texas. Many came through the port of Indianola brought by Prince Carl Solms-Braunfels who promised land grants. Perhaps this is one reason Ernst came to Texas. But this project was a disaster. In 1850 residents of DeWitt County where Ernst lived numbered 1,716. Concrete and Price's Creek were principal areas of settlement. By 1857 nearly half of the county's population were Germans.14

Ernst established a ferry boat at Hell Gate near Cuero in DeWitt County. Their first born child, Richard, was born in Hell Gate in 1852. (There may have been another child born before Richard who died in infancy.) Several other children were born in Hell Gate, Charles born about 1853 and Aryanna A. born September 1855.

The ferry operated at Hells Gate was located in a section of the Guadalupe River northwest of Cuero. It was considered dangerous because of the treacherous deep holes and jetting rocks. At one place, two rocks extended out from the bank in the river with a passage way or entrance between them. This was the named, “Hells Gate.” 15


10. 1850 Federal Census: Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Roll: M432_229; Page: 168; Image: 336.
11. Louisiana Marriages to 1850, WmELips and Mary H Cringle.
12. Nettie Owen Crundwell,, op.cit., p.1.
13. Ibid
14. Handbook of Texas Online; DeWitt County;http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/DD/hcd7.html
15. DeWitt Land and People, "Hells Gate" Bridge, T23.