The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 358

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Pioneer Jewish Texans: Their Impact on Texas and American History for Four
Hundred Years, 1590-199o0. By Natalie Ornish. (Dallas: Texas Heri-
tage Press, 1989. Pp. 324. Introduction, illustrations, acknowledg-
ments, afterword, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. $45.)
Producing a book on Jewish Texans obviously has not been an easy
task, though it is (with equal obviousness) a distinctive contribution in a
relatively unknown historical area.
On page two the author mentions a major difficulty encountered
during her twelve years of research: Historians have tended to lump
Jews with other immigrants according to countries that they left. Early
arrival Henri Castro has thus been known as a Frenchman-one de-
scended from Portuguese nobility. In the 184os he brought hundreds
of immigrants from France and helped them settle near San Antonio
and elsewhere. Most of these settlers were Catholics as well as natives of
France, but in this book Natalie Ornish logically presents Henri Castro
as a "pioneer Jewish Texan."
The author lists names and accomplishments of many other Jews (in
many occupations) who influenced Texas history primarily, and she en-
hances the presentation with 421 illustrations. Her people range from
Gaspar Castafio de Sosa, the sixteenth-century conquistador, to con-
temporaries like Robert Strauss and Stanley Marcus. In some contro-
versial cases she presents proof of Jewishness. Among the most inter-
esting entries is the one for Rabbi Henry Cohen (1863-1952), whom
she lists simply and appropriately as "humanitarian."
As a biographical reference this book is necessarily incomplete (the
author herself emphasizes this); nor is it "a roster of heroes" (p. 273).
Natalie Ornish, a Dallas resident who knows Jewish teachings as well as
Jewish Texans, made it her purpose to show a people, not just individu-
als, and "the struggle of the human spirit to survive" (p. 273).
Stolen Heritage: A Mexican-American's Rediscovery of His Family's Lost Land
Grant. By Abel G. Rubio. Edited and with a Foreword by Thomas
Kreneck. (Austin: Eakin Press, 1986. Pp. xxi+224. Foreword, ac-
knowledgments, introduction, illustration, endnotes, bibliography,
index. $14.95.)
Stolen Heritage provides another in a continuing series of works that
expand the collective consciousness of the Mexican Americans in
Texas. Abel Rubio, in this interesting first effort, introduces his reader
to the difficulties of corroborating oral family history from scattered ar-
chival sources. Rubio's book is a personal narrative of his attempts to


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. ( accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.