Foreigners in the Principal Towns of Ante-Bellum Texas
during the entire decade, 1850-186o, were making economic
progress. Some examples taken from the records of the manu-
script census returns for Houston in 185o and 186o illustrate
this point. Pete Gabel, German-born cooper, had only $1,2oo
listed in real property in 185o, but by 186o had changed his occu-
pation to that of brewer and distiller and had total property
evaluated at $60,000.21 B. Tuffly, Swiss-born confectioner, had a
capital investment of $500 in 1850, but by 186o had increased his
capital investment to $2,5oo, and the annual value of his products
from $1,500 to $22,600.22 Dutch-born merchant Louis A. Levy
had increased his $1,ooo in real property in 1850 to $8,ooo in 186o,
and John Kennedy, Irish-born baker, increased his real property
from $1o,ooo in 1850 to $1oo,ooo in 1860.28 Even more spectac-
ular was the economic progress made by T. W. House, an English-
born merchant. Holding $15,000 in real property in 185o, House
was listed in 186o with $250,000 in real property and $250,000
in personal property, and had become one of Houston's wealth-
iest citizens.24 Similar examples were to be found in each of the
larger Texas towns; in many cases the gains were not spectacular
but there was definite evidence of economic progress on the part
of the foreign born.25
Although much has been written on the opposition of foreign-
ers to the institution of slavery, slaveholding was commonplace
among the wealthier aliens in major Texas towns. In 186o Hous-
ton, for example, thirty-five of the two hundred and sixty-five
slaveholders whose names could be located in both Schedules No.
211bid., Harris county.
22Manuscript returns, Schedule No. 5, Products of Industry, Harris county, 1850
and 186o. The originals are located in the Archives, Texas State Library, Austin,
Texas. The author used microfilm copies in the library of Lamar State College
of Technology, Beaumont, Texas.
23Manuscript returns, Schedule No. 1, Free Inhabitants, of the United States
Census, 185o and 186o, Harris county. Kennedy's industrial investment had increased
from $5,ooo in 185o to $13,333 in 186o. See Schedule No. 5, 185o and 186o, Harris
24A number of foreigners had unusually large individual holdings; for example,
in Brownsville, the two wealthiest individuals were both foreigners: Salome Young,
twenty-nine year old widow from Mexico held $125,ooo in property; and J. San
Roman, Spanish-born merchant, held $2o5,ooo in property.
25Weaver, "Foreigners in Ante-Bellum Towns," Journal of Southern History, XIII,
70, notes that since many immigrants sent money back to Europe economic progress
might not in some cases be apparent on property rolls.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed December 2, 2015.