The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

most settlements. Racial pride helped form and sustain the towns, with
the result that dark rather than light skin seemed more socially accep-
table, a reversal of black values in biracial communities.
Citizens participated actively in town politics, with businessmen
elected to most offices. Yet white opposition limited black involvement
in county and state politics. Nicodemus settlers met the least resentment
from their neighbors. The black settlers in Oklahoma faced more in-
tense prejudice because of frontier competition; and they protested vig-
orously. Some town dwellers experimented with the Populist and Dem-
ocratic parties, but most remained Republican.
Cotton farmers formed the occupational majority in the towns, but
bankers achieved economic dominance because credit remained the cru-
cial economic issue. Pride of race provided an added promotional asset
for businessmen. Social life varied little from black life in biracial com-
munities, except that merchants, bankers, and land developers domi-
nated the social structure, rather than persons who provided personal
services. The communities began to decline in the early twentieth cen-
tury, as was true of most small towns. Falling farm prices, failure to
attract railroads, white economic and governmental discrimination, and
the competition of national markets, all contributed to that decline.
Some black town dwellers then departed for cities, for Canada, and for
Africa.
This well researched and thoughtful account is the best historical
study yet published on the post-Civil War black towns. Yet some points
may be worthy of further consideration. Underestimating the number
of towns and omitting from analysis any suburbs may leave unexplored
variations in black community life. Discussions of religion and housing
seem briefer than necessary. Finally, the author's conclusions seem more
critical of the black-town concept that one might expect after consider-
ing the alternatives available during that time period.
Texas Tech University ALWYN BARR
The First Polish Americans: Silesian Settlements in Texas. By T. Lind-
say Baker. (College Station: Texas A8cM University Press, 1979. Pp.
xiv+ 268. Acknowledgments, maps, photos, bibliography, index.
$14.95.)
Among the ethnic "brags" of Texas is the fact that the state houses
the oldest Polish communities in North America, a distinction held by
Panna Maria and her daughter Silesian colonies in the San Antonio

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101207/. Accessed July 13, 2014.