The German Settlement of Texas
TERRY G. JORDAN*
T HE MIGRATION OF GERMANS TO TEXAS IN THE PERIOD BEFORE 186o
has received the attention of many scholars, and the colonization
activities of the A delsverein, Henri Castro, Friedrich Ernst, John Kilian,
and others are well known to students of Texas history and historical ge-
ography. Curiously, however, the interest of most of these same scholars
does not appear to have extended to the postbellum years. The very
titles of the works by Rudolph L. Biesele and Moritz Tiling reveal
this neglect of the decades following the Civil War.' Only the book by
Gilbert G. Benjamin contains information on the later migration, and
even in it the treatment is rather .cursory. So exclusively have the
writers confined their attention to the antebellum period that the fact
that more Germans came to Texas after the Civil War, from 1865 to
about 189o, than came in the entire thirty-odd years of immigration
before the war has been obscured. The census of 186o listed only
19,823 persons of German birth in Texas, while the enumerations of
both 1890 and 900oo revealed a German-born population in excess of
48,ooo." Even the most generous allowance for undercounting in the
earlier censuses and the most pessimistic estimate of the mortality rate
among the newly arrived German immigrants in the 1840's still leave
the antebellum total well below that of the 1865-1890 immigration.
Furthermore, there was a tendency on the part of certain scholars to
exaggerate greatly the size of the German element in antebellum
Texas. Tiling, who based his estimate on the notoriously unreliable
Viktor Bracht, stated that persons of German birth or descent made
up o20 percent of the white population of Texas in 185o,' but a detailed
*Mr. Jordan, professor of geography and departmental chairman at North Texas State
University, is the author of German Seed in Texas Soil.
xRudolph L. Biesele, The History of the German Settlements in Texas 183-1861
(Austin, 1930); Moritz Tiling, History of the German Element in Texas from z82o-x85o
2Gilbert G. Benjamin, The Germans in Texas (New York, 1910o).
8U.S. Census Office, Eleventh Census of the United States: 189o. Population (Wash-
ington, D.C., 1897), pt. 1, pp. 607, 686, 691, 694, 702; U.S. Census Office, Twelfth
Census of the United States: zgoo. Population (Washington, D.C., 19go), pt. 1, pp.
733, 814, 822, 83o.
'Tiling, History of the German Element, 53-54, 125.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117147/. Accessed October 6, 2015.