Archived Chat 5

European and Asian-American Heritage

This is the archive of our Chat held on February 16, 2001.
Topics: European & Asian-American traditions, history and distribution in Texas. What are the current issues facing them? How have traditions been maintained?

edservices: Afternoon, Ken!
tpwsteve: Hey Ken!
tpwken: Howdy
guest2: hello all!
tpwsteve: Greetings
edservices: I'm looking forward to today's conversation. Yesterday was a bit spirited, which was great.
edservices: Hi, Sarah!
edservices: Sarah, can you give us an idea of the distribution of Europeans and Asians around the state. (I may be putting you on the spot! )
edservices: Hi, Maureen! Welcome!
edservices: Maureen, Sarah Massey from the Institute of Texan Cultures is here. thcmaureen Thanks for having me!
itcsarah: Distribution at what time....if you are thinking about the 19th century: Germans inland around the Hill Country; Irish in Southern Texas Rufugio/Nueces counties.
tpwchris: Was Panna Maria the first Polish settlement in Texas or in the U.S.?
edservices: Sarah, I am thinking about distribution today.
itcsarah: More distribution: French in the 17th century of course north of in Victoria/Tivoli area; South Texas was primarily Spanish and descendants of the numerous native tribes of Mexico
edservices: Maureen, can you tell us what Fort St Louis is?
guest3: Weren't German in south Texas as well?
guest3: I remember when one of Lasalle's cannons was recovered near Victoria. itcsarah whiz....1. Most folks live in the cities! 2. New immigrants are naturalized monthly with 80% coming from Mexico. 3. Vietnamese are primarily in Houston and along the coast from south of Palacios I think. 4. There is a small new Dutch colony west of Dallas.
thcmaureen: Fort St. Louis is the French explorer, La Salle's colony he and about 180 French settlers established in 1685. It is about 22 miles from Victoria today, and where we at the Texas Historical Commission, archeologists are excavating---as we chat!
itcsarah: Descendants of the original German settlers from the 1800s are of course still in Fredericksberg, Comfort, New Braunfels and clusters in Victoria, Goliad, Corpus, etc.
edservices: Sarah, you handled those distribution questions well!
edservices: Maureen, what are the archeologists looking for today?
thcmaureen: In fact, in 1996 the Texas Historical Commission archeologists recovered eight of La Salle's cannons at the Fort St. Louis site
tpwvicki: Don't forget the Germans/French in Castroville as well.
thcmaureen: The archeologists are scientifically uncovering the remains (artifacts and features) of the French Fort and the Spanish fort later built on top of Fort St. Louis. tpwchris Henri Castro, a Frenchman established the Castroville colony in 1844 in southwest Texas around the Medina River. He brought in 485 families, 457 single men between 1844 and 1847.
itcsarah: I am finishing up research on Duval County and prior to 1860 when it was Nueces County there were no Anglos in the area. It was all Native Americans and Spanish and Mexicans and Tejanos. Then in 1869 about 10 Europeans came from France via New Orleans, Czechoslovakia (Bohemia), Germany, Ireland....amazing immigration patterns.
tpwchris: In 1859, a German immigrant, Herman Lehmann, was captured by the Apaches at age 11 and later emerged as the Commanche "Montechena" .
itcsarah: I call those arriving in Texas now NEW TEXANS and I am amazed that they come from every country even though Mexico is the majority. I have interviewed folks from Kenya, Germany, Canada, England, Somalia, Ghana, China and all over. All wanting to become Americans. Through their eyes you once again see what America has to offer.
edservices: Sarah, do you find new immigrants seeking out the center for a bit of home?
tpwsteve: We are far more mobile today than 100 or even 5o years ago.
tpwvicki: Yes Chris, there is a book about Herman Lehmann and his experiences with the Comanches. But I'm not able to recall the title
tpwchris: It was said that the mosquito, Aedes Egypti, hatched in water storage vessels on ships that brought in the European immigrants who then picked up the disease later known as yellow fever. June 1867 documented the most cases of yellow fever in Texas!
thcmaureen: The archeologists have been finding lots of artifacts from the French occupation. These include green glazed and other types of French ceramics, glass, gunflints, musketballs, nails, animal bone and more.
itcsarah: don't know what you mean by center, but if you mean the Institute....Monthly a naturalization ceremony is held at the Institute so we are continually reenergized. And yes, it is true for everyone. Whatever you heritage when folks come to the Institute they seek out "their" area to read "their history."
edservices: Maureen, what will happen do the artifacts?
thcmaureen: But we have been finding thousands of artifacts from the Spanish occupation of the first site of presidio La Bahia built on top of the French fort. edservices Sarah, the naturalization ceremony must be something!
edservices: I think those who have European backgrounds have forgotten about what it meant to become a US citizen
thcmaureen: The artifacts after they are excavated come through our Public Archeology Laboratory in downtown Victoria.Here they are washed, sorted, counted, weighed, cataloged and labeled.
itcsarah: Naturalization is a goose-bump time for anyone observing...the pride, the families, people 90 years old learning English to pass the INS test on our government....I always get tears and wonder why I am so jaded when they are so filled with hope.
thcmaureen: The artifacts after they are processed, they will be analyzed by specialist, and published. Then they will eventually be displayed in several museums in Texas. edservices I, too, remember helping people study to become a citizen. Am glad I'm not the only one who tears up.
edservices: Maureen, has France or Spain expressed interest in the artifacts?
itcsarah: Now I get on my white horse and wave the flag: I firmly believe it is the new immigrants to this country that keep the dream and vision of a democratic and equal nation alive.
thcmaureen: There is a La Salle Odyssey (trail) established between seven museums in six of the Coastal Bend counties in Texas that have dedicated efforts to tell the story about La Salle, the La Belle and Fort St. Louis, Spanish influence, and Native American encounter
edservices: Each of our immigrant groups, and today we're thinking about Europeans and Asians, had many reasons to leave their countries to become citizens. First, can we recap some of what brought these groups to America?
moderator: dhsbob is really Joon Kim from the Asian American Cultural Center in disguise.
thcmaureen: I am not sure whether France or Spain has expressed an interest. They know of the projects.
edservices: Hi, Joon!
itcsarah: Most of us of European descent have been in this country so long (5-8 generations) that we no longer can identify our heritage...I use to consider myself a mongrel descending from many European countries, but now I see myself more as a GLOBAL CITIZEN of American descent.
edservices: Joon, we're talking about what brought different groups to the US. Can you give us some thoughts about our Asian cultures in Texas?
dhsbob: Well I'm not sure why Asians came to Texas however I know y they first started coming to the US
edservices: How many countries of origin are we talking about when we think of Asian Americans in Texas?
dhsbob: The first Asians to come to the US where mostly Chinese. They came in search of work and gold
itcsarah: All immigrants in the past decade have had to have SPONSORS who would initially help the new immigrant find work, place to live, etc. Thus many Asians have come to this country as a result of families who came in the past or new sponsors such as the churches.
dhsbob: Well according to the US government their two groups of Asians, Asian-Pacific Americans and Pacific islanders
itcsarah: One Japanese family came to south Texas (Wharton area?) and began rice farming in the area and all the rice grown in Texas can be traced back to this one man. edservices Sarah, is this true?
dhsbob: combined the whole Asian Pacific Islander American category has about 53 different ethnicities
edservices: Is having so many ethnicities thrown together a little insensitive?
dhsbob: there are good things and bad things about it
tpwchris: For those interested in German history: On April 20, 1842 Germans formed a society to aid German immigration to Texas.
itcsarah: The history of the Chinese in Texas is also an amazing one. When Pancho Villa was creating havoc down in Chichuachua they killed any Chinese and there were many Chinese at the time in Mexico. So when Gen. J.J. Pershing went on his expedition down there they joined his group in Dublin and then came back with him to El Paso. Eventually after a VERY LONG story...they were brought to San Antonio and thus there was a substantial settlement including a school of Chinese in SA in the 1910s-1920s on.
dhsbob: for instance being lumped together in something like the census creates a larger group which makes it easier to raise funding from government programs. The insensitive part is some of the older Asians hold resentful feelings from Asia
itcsarah: The Japanese man who did the most for rice growing in Texas was SEITO SAIBARA
tpwchris: I'll keep adding these interesting bits of information: On April 29, 1856, the first camels arrive in Texas for use in the military.
moderator: where did the camels come from, Chris?
tpwchris: Jefferson Davis, secretary of war, ordered the camels from northern Africa for $30,000 to help with some transportation problems in the extreme heat. edservices Maureen, are you still here?
thcmaureen: We haven't found any camel bones at Fort St. Louis (too early), but there has been a variety of other species found (alligator, bear, buffalo, pig, etc.)
itcsarah: There is a new project that is being started called AMERICANS ALL in which ethnic histories will be written on all 50 states and the information feed into the web site for online distribution. They are currently taking school registrations at It will eventually distribute free school materials on all ethnic groups in Texas.
tpwken: Joon, Vicki and I present education & outreach programs to thousands of school kids annually about our shared Texas heritage. What would be the primary message that the Asian community would like to be shared with others.
tpwsteve: Camel bones were discovered among the mammoth remains at the Waco Mammoth site.
thcmaureen: We have also found the outline of the stockade wall of Presidio La Bahia. It was a 16 pointed star in shape.
itcsarah: The Asian Festival was recently held at ITC and there were over 4,000 folks here and most of them Asians. It was a wonderful event.
thcmaureen: Several of the French buildings have been located. The wood does not survive over 300 years, but we are finding nails where buildings once stood. thcmaureen We are currently excavating a large two-roomed building made of adobe, mortar and plaster that was in the center of the Presidio.
itcsarah: The fact I find amazing about the La Salle story and the French is that every one thinks they are all dead and we now know that over 17 people survived although not all made it back to France, but several did.
dhsbob: going back to tpwken's question, I think a BIG thing would be for them to learn the difference between ASIANS and ASIAN AMERICANS
itcsarah: The German heritage is very much alive in this area of Texas. I went to this nursing home in Comfort and here were all these folks talking in German!
thcmaureen: That is an interesting topic Sarah, because we know there are descendants of the Talon children who were with La Salle in New Orleans and Seattle (who will be coming down to the project).
thcmaureen: And there are descendants in New Mexico and California from L'Arquevec (sp?), another member of La Salle's party.
Moderator: Joon, is the difference between Asians and Asian Americans merely a matter of citizenship?
itcsarah: Jean L'archeveque ended up in albuquerque and married the mayors daughter Antonia Gutierrrez. He was killed by the Pawnees on another expedition. dhsbob no the difference isn't a matter of citizenship its more about perception and the fact that even though Asians have been in this country for close to a 150 years sometimes where treated as guests. Its like when you join a group of people and they ask, "where are u from?"
thcmaureen: So you are right Sarah about the French not all dying out--their descendants are all over. And the whole story is fascinating!
itcsarah: Jacque Trollet, one of the sailors on the expedition settled in Bernalidillo in NM and married Elena Galuegas in 1699.
tpwchris: In 1685, Rene Robert Cavelier Sieur de LaSalle landed at Matagorda Bay by mistake (really looking for the Mississippi). He set up the colony Fort St. Louis. He was a priest, farmer and fur trader.
itcsarah: I think of an Asian American as a person born in America of Asian descent OR an Asian who has become a new American citizen
dhsbob: yes that's a correct definition of Asian American, but how many people perceive us as being a part of this country, even if we are citizens
tpwchris: Has anyone found any artifacts from Jean or Pierre Lafitte who settled in Galveston in 1817?
thcmaureen: Of course there are several reasons for missing the Mississippi. He was the first to officially discover the mouth of the Mississippi. On his journey back from France he had intended to go back down instead of approaching it by way of the Gulf of Mexico.
thcmaureen: I'm not sure about artifacts from Lafitte.
thcmaureen: La Salle sailed from France in 1684 with about 300 colonists in four ships.
tpwken: Joon, Thank you, we will work to try to address this in our future programs. itcsarah I heard Bill Moyer give a speech to the San Francisco Asian community and he alluded to the Los Allamos man who was accused of sending secrets to China...Moyer said when you can be made a scapegoat here YOU ARE NOW TRUELY AMERICA! I think for many Asians the transition to AMERICAN STATUS for better or worse is in the process of occurring in our lifetime.
edservices: Ken, does Joon know what your programs are?
dhsbob: no problem thanks for letting me join the chat
tpwchris: What are some of the Asian customs still in practice here in Texas and the US?
thcmaureen: One of his ships, St. Francis, was captured by Spanish pirates in Hispanola. A second, the Amiable, a very large ship ran aground when it was attempting to enter Matagorda Bay.
dhsbob: well you have Chinese or Lunar New Year
itcsarah: Chris I think Asian is too big a category to respond to your questions.
tpwchris: As a child we were taught to refer to Asians/Asian-Americans as Oriental. Is this not acceptable or offensive?
tpwchris: When I say Asian custom, I'm really asking for anything. I don't have a clue.
tpwvicki: Joon, if you are not familiar with our programs, please visit our web page within the tpwd web site. Go to Education and then Texas Buffalo Soldiers.
dhsbob: Dragon and Lion Dance (Mainly Chinese or Vietnamese
itcsarah: The religious preference of the various Asian groups continue in American for most families.
tpwsteve: Tell us about these dances Bob.
itcsarah: Time for me to leave....good-bye and thanks its been fun.
edservices: Bye, Sarah!
tpwchris: One thing I do with kids as part of my outreach program is Goyotaku (spelling??) or fish printing. Where did that originate?
dhsbob: I read up on the project. The best suggestion I have right now is to find out about the "Chinatowns" in different cities throughout Texas. They were probably the first large settlements of Asians in the state
tpwchris: Joon any Asian craft projects that you would suggest for kids that relate to the outdoors and wildlife?
dhsbob: Oh and I believe there were south Asians in the southwest also
edservices: I am loving the comments from you, Sarah and Joon. I am learning a great deal.
dhsbob: Origami might be nice and if u can find someone to teach Calligraphy tpwchris We do fish printing for the kids. Where did that originate?
edservices: Maureen & Joon, do you think you'd be interested in doing this again someday? Might be next fall... with real live students, even.
edservices: I'd schedule you on different days.
thcmaureen: I've enjoyed the conversations by Joon and Sarah and Chris too..Sorry I too have to sign off. Thanks for the invite to join in. Hope we can do this again soon. edservices Bye! and THANKS!!!
tpwchris: Enjoyed your information Maureen. Bye.
dhsbob: I'm moving back to D.C. in a few months but I would love to do this again. Next time I might actually know what's going on
edservices: You can be anywhere to log in. Just need a web connection. Clearly we have LOTS of questions!
tpwken: Thanks to all, Goodbye.
tpwvicki: Thank you Joon for your suggestions. Good luck on your move!
edservices: You can think about it. Thanks to all, again for participating!!
moderator: Thank you , everyone for your participation and we hope to do this again soon!
dhsbob: Thanks and I hope these chats enlighten everyone how joins in, I definitely learned some new things. Bye!
moderator: Bye

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