Germans and Texans

[ Texas ]

Germans and Texans

Commerce, Migration, and Culture in the Days of the Lone Star Republic

By Walter Struve

The story of the German immigrant merchants and businesspeople who helped make Galveston a thriving international port and Houston an early Texas business center.



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6 x 9 | 301 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-77701-9

During the brief history of the Republic of Texas (1836-1845), over 10,000 Germans emigrated to Texas. Perhaps best remembered today are the farmers who settled the Texas Hill Country, yet many of the German immigrants were merchants and businesspeople who helped make Galveston a thriving international port and Houston an early Texas business center. This book tells their story.

Drawing on extensive research on both sides of the Atlantic, Walter Struve explores the conditions that led nineteenth-century Europeans to establish themselves on the North American frontier. In particular, he traces the similarity in social, economic, and cultural conditions in Germany and the Republic of Texas and shows how these similarities encouraged German emigration and allowed some immigrants to prosper in their new home. Particularly interesting is the translation of a collection of letters from Charles Giesecke to his brother in Germany which provide insight into the business and familial concerns of a German merchant and farmer.

This wealth of information illuminates previously neglected aspects of intercontinental migration in the nineteenth century. The book will be important reading for a wide public and scholarly audience.

Tables and Illustrations
The Lure of an Heirloom: In Place of a Preface

Part One. World of Origin: North Germany in the Biedermeier Era
1. German Patricians and Merchants in Crisis
2. The Homeland of the Gieseckes
3. Bremen and Its Hinterland

Part Two. Enmeshment: North Germany and the Americas
4. The Lure of Mexico, Texas, and the United States
5. Galveston and Its Hinterland

Part Three. World of Destination: Merchants and Immigrants in the Republic of Texas
6. North German Arrivals
7. Brazoria
Rise and Fall of a Town
Agriculture and Slavery in Brazoria County
8. The Many Worlds of the Gieseckes in Texas
Export, Import, Agriculture, and Retail Business
Cotton and Bremen
“Plantation,” Slavery, and the Tobacco Trade
Distilling in Texas
Craftsmen and Emigration

Epilogue: Reflections on Migration

Appendix 1: Letters from Texas, 1844–1845
The Merchant and Farmer Charles A. Giesecke in Brazoria, Republic of Texas, to His Brother, the Merchant Friedrich Giesecke in Elze, AMT (Subdistrict) Gronau-Poppenburg, Kingdom of Hannover
Appendix 2: Chart of the Giesecke Family: Some Relationships among the Giesecke, Sander, Basse, and Struve Families
Glossary of Weights, Measures, and Monetary Units
Bibliographical Essay and Bibliography

Walter Struve is Professor of History at the City University of New York.

"A painstaking, unique, and interpretatively astute case study of a generally overlooked immigrant group, i.e. small business- and tradespeople. . . . Genealogists are well served by the meticulous attention to genealogical detail."
—Leo Schelbert, Professor of History, University of Illinois at Chicago