A Texas Two-step with German Beer, Brats, and Beats

A look at Texans who can trace some ancestry back to the Vaterland. Photo: lonestargenealogy.com

A map of Texans who can trace some ancestry back to the Vaterland. Photo: lonestargenealogy.com

Unbeknownst to many, there is a large group of ethnic Germans in Texas. Most of the first Germans arrived in the mid-19th century one of two ways. They either arrived by ship directly to the coast of Texas or they migrated north from Mexico City when Napoleon III landed French troops in Mexico.

Those that arrived in the Texas swamps near present-day Houston had been promised new land and a better life after years of poverty brought on by unseasonably cold summer weather in Europe, revolutions, and other internal issues. They literally had to hack their way inland to reach the lands they had been promised. Ill-prepared for the climate many perished but enough found their way to the Texas Hill Country. They founded towns such as Fredericksburg, Schulenburg and New Braunfels. Many of the older people of these towns still speak German at home, though it is an odd dialect and is quickly dying out.

Those Germans and other Central Europeans who migrated north brought their culture, including and especially, their music. Through the years this music synthesized with the Latinos’ music and Tejano Music was created. It sounds much like a waltz, or like some other Central European folks music but the lyrics are in Spanish. It remains very popular today throughout Texas.

In another sign of the strong German influence that lives on in Texas, one of the largest German festivals in America is the ‘Wurstfest’. If you’re in Texas the second week of November, perhaps you should have a beer and a brat. It’s a true Texan tradition!

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