Message #189:
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 
Subject: No Traveler Untouched: Transformation in the American Southwest
Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 17:16:28 -0700


Here are interesting TX and southwestern links:

The Texas Folklife Festival


Calendar of Events and Exhibits

May
MAY 6-JUNE 29. Special Exhibit. The Kickapoo: Traditional Indians of
Texas. Upper Gallery. This exhibit of 30 black and white photographs by
Bill Wright of Abilene is a study of the Texas/Mexico branch of the
Algonquin Indian tribe. Wright documented the Kackapoos' way of life,
following them from their land in Eagle Pass to their traditional and
spiritual home in Nacimiento, Coahuila, Mexico, and accompanying them on
their travels as migrant farm workers during the summer. The tribe,
through its migrations, has fought to preserve their tradition and
culture as a way of live. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Admission fee required for the main Exhibit Floor.

MAY 13-JULY 13. Special Exhibit. No Traveler Remains Untouched: Journeys
and Transformations in the American Southwest. Lower Gallery. This
exhibit focuses on several journeys throughout the Southwest made by
different peoples and cultures who traveled the region, leaving rich
stories and myths behind. Families and individuals carved out their
niche, making the region famous for rugged individualism. This exhibit
chronicls these travels with the use of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca's La
Relacion written in the 16th century; modern day films, such as Lonesome
Dove; Depression era photographs from the Farm Security Administration;
and materials and photographs from a Mexican Theatre Troup. No
Traveler Remains Untouched acknowledges the transformation experienced
by the Southwest and its people. The exhibit is free and open to the
public. Admission fee required for the main Exhibit Floor.

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SEPTEMBER 27. Special Forum. The Other Cowboys. Connally Conference
Center. 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. There were 35,000 cowboys who went "up the
trail" between 1865 and 1885, but not all were Anglo-American males.
Among those cowboys were 9,000 African Americans, 4,500 vaqueros, and at
least 13 females. The Institute will present a special forum addressing
these "other cowboys," with presentations by Joyce Gibson Roach, author
of The Cowgirls; Andres Tijerina, professor and author of Tejanos and
Texas Under the Mexican Flag; Mack Williams, an African-American cowboy;
and Lorien Saenz, an actress who will perform "Do–a Mar’a del Carmen
Calvillo," an early Spanish rancher.      Additionally, the Saturday
program will premiere the performance of "El Vaquero" by Alejandro Jesus
Robles Lopez of Phoenix and an interlude of vaquero and cowboy music.
The program is free to the public, but pre-registration is required
because of limited seating. Patrons will receive two hours of free
parking with validation. The Institute will also introduce three new
products related to The Other Cowboys: a multipurpose instructional kit
for students in grades 4-8, a traveling trunk, and a Tex-Kit. The Texas
Commission for the Humanities provided partial funding for this project.
To register or for more information, call Dr. Sarah Massey at (210)
458-2252.

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-------------------


[ Speaking of TX culture and transformation, a story from the archives
of the CSM, and a web site link, describe the Wends -- an ethnic group
in TX.   -- SASIG Ed. ]

-ED-19800619-PA-Pg. B16-HD-THE WENDS OF TEXAS;The smallest ethnic group
of all
-BY-By Christopher Swan, Staff correspondent of The Christian Science
Monitor
-DL-Serbin, Texas-TX-
This little historical fragment -- or one quite similar to it -- buried
in an obscure tome on Texas folklore, caught Sylvia Grider's eye one
afternoon while she was browsing. And it made her stop short. "I had
thought I was a pretty well-versed folklorist, especially in Texas
cultures," she recalls, "but I had certainly never heard of any
immigrant group called the Wends." Neither had most other people. The
Wends of Texas hold the twin distinctions of being one of the
least-known ethnic groups in America and one of the smallest (Miss
Grider estimates direct Wendish descendants in America at about 10,000
-- a figure many Wends think too low).They are simply too tiny a culture
to register on anyone's ethnographic map of the United States. One of
the oldest Texas cultures, the Wends arrived here right after the
Republic of Texas became a state. According to an old article in the
Houston Chronicle -- one of the few you'll find on the Wends, anywhere
-- they are "a very ancient Slavic people [who were] conquered by the
Prussians in 1167 but 
resisted assimilation." According to a pamphlet by Ron Lammert, a
Wendish descendant, their ancestors were a group of Slavic tribes who
occupied much of central Europe in the 10th century. But by the 19th
century the Wends had been so reduced by conquest and assimilation that
"only a small area along the River Spree was inhabited by true Wends. 
"Prussian agrarian reform laws of 1832 had dispossessed the Wends of
their property. . . . But most intolerable was the requirement that the
Lutheran Wends join the Evangelical Reform churches in one
state-regulated Protestant body." 
When they arrived here in Serbin, Texas, the Wends organized a church
and 14 years later, in 1868, built an edifice. Today, the church is
usually filled with the spiritual and literal descendants of the
original band of 588 Wends. Outside this small circle and a handful of
professors, the Wends are practically unknown in America. But even if no
one else was acquainted with them, Sylvia Grider was determined to find
out who they were. A smallish, young woman who wears jeans and a belt
buckle inscribed "Success comes to those who hustle wisely," she sits in
a small-town Texas luncheonette, explaining her adventures in
discovering the Wends of Texas. "The origin of the Wends gets into
folklore and oral tradition that goes back to tribal migrations at the
time of Julius Caesar," she says."They had a language, but no political
identity. They were ghettoized within the German culture, like the
Jews." And they left little historical record to help study their
culture. "But I hit pay dirt. I was just 60 miles away from the Wends,"
Miss Grider 
observes. She also "hit pay dirt" by being given a university grant to
go into Wendish country and do what folklorists get paid to do: study
the folk. "Folklorists are in the discipline that studies traditions
wherever we can find them," observes Miss Grider, who has a PhD in
folklore. "We're supposed to be cultural geologists and anthropologists
and linguists." Wendish country is about halfway between Austin and
Houston in east central Texas, a small triangle of land between Serbin,
Warda, and Giddings. (Warda is really two abandoned houses, one general
store, one lived-in house. It used to be an active place, but the
population shifted when the railroad went through nearby Giddings. Other
towns in the vicinity have names like Dime Box and Westchester.) It's
all neatly contained in an area that is hard by Texas A & M University,
where Miss Grider works in the graduate department. Apparently Miss
Grider -- who sniffs that "social scientists aren't supposed to become
friendly with the people we study" -- must have broken a cardinal rule
of the discipline during her stay in Wendish country. For, after we
leave the luncheonette and drive to the home of the retired Wendish
couple who put her up during her "ethnographic fieldwork," she is
smothered in hugs and kisses before we even make it to the door. She is
obviously a member of the family. And a venerable family it is. Alvin
Schmidt is a direct descendant of pioneers who came over on the Ben
Nevis and walked -- yes, walked -- halfway across Texas carrying their
belongings on their backs or dragging them along the ground. Mr.
Schmidt, a large-boned, friendly man who looks as though he comes from
good peasant stock, hunts around his impeccably kept home for a history
of his 
ancestors (convinced that his wife, Esther, or someone else has hidden
it from him), while she shows us some of the largest hydrangeas I have
ever seen, as well as other legendarily proportioned blossoms she has
grown around her yard. (The Wends have always been avid gardeners and
lovers of trees.) Finally coming up with his book, a genealogy of the
Schmidt family, Mr. Schmidt pages back through the generations to the
original Wendish settlers of this region. They are depicted in
photographs and drawings, these first few generations, stocky,
square-faced people, not unlike Alvin Schmidt himself, who look decent,
hardworking, and earthy. The book traces each succeeding generation of
Schmidts down to the present, although without pictures. But Mr. Schmidt
carries many of these pictures in his mind. "A lot of the ones who came
over were serfs," he says in an accent that curiously mixes Texas drawl
with Slavic lilt. "My grandmother had a 'sheena' that they used in those
days. It was a 4-foot-by-3-foot-by-1-foot trunk that held all their
clothes and possessions. And it was all painted and decorated. "They
landed in Galveston and got as far as Sealy [just outside Houston],
where they stopped to work. Then they traveled west to the current
Wendish country. They built log cabins to live in. It was a hard life.
Anyway, the pastor had bought a piece of land, too, and they just
settled."
The pastor that he refers to is a legendary figure among the Wends.
Johann Killian's handsomely stern portrait stares out from every Wendish
landmark, along with a painting of the storm-tossed Ben Nevis (named for
Scotland's highest mountain apparently because it was built in a
Scottish shipyard). They are what Miss Grider calls the two "culture
icons" of the Wends. The original Wends who emigrated to Texas left
their homeland in a tiny piece of what is now East Germany, near the
Czech border, to escape oppression by their German neighbors. There, the
Wends were considered lower-class, were allowed to perform only menial
jobs, and were even ordered to discontinue use of their own language.
Whether they left because of economic hardship, for religious freedom,
or to use their own language is unclear. What is certain is that, after
centuries during which the Wendish folk had been buffeted and overrun by
Germanic tribes and empires, a small band of them bolted for freedom --
some to Australia and some to America -- in an "epic migration [that]
ended on the banks of Rabbs Creek in what is today Lee County, near
Giddings," according to the pamphlet by Ron Lammert. "Here the Wends
purchased a league of land for 50 cents an acre." "What often happens to
immigrants in new cultures who face bleak lives," Miss Grider comments,
"is that the oral tradition of their past is replaced by hardship
stories." And that certainly is the way it was for the Texas Wends. The
Wendish emigrants followed the old custom of wearing black wedding
dresses -- to remind them of the hardships of married life -- and with
good reason: The brief life spans carved into the tilting stones of
their cemeteries testify to the rigors of pioneer living. Those who
arrived in America abandoned much of their distinctive heritage. "They
weren't interested in preserving Wendishness," Evelyn Kasper, a Wendish
descendant, explains. "They didn't even pass the language on." 
No folk songs, no folk dances, no folk tales. Little, in fact, other
than the single element, besides common language, that bound them
together in the first place: the form of worship that is preserved today
in a church built by the original settlers and attended by their 300
spiritual and literal descendants here in Texas. Miss Grider and I come
to this historical site by way of an adjacent picnic grounds under some
tall pines, where we are to meet Mrs. Kasper, a prominent member of the
Wendish Heritage Society. Just across the picnic grounds is a corner of
land with an old wooden building sitting on movers' blocks and a sign
that proclaims, "Site of the museum of the Texas Wends." 
Evelyn Kasper is an energetic, communicative woman with the
strong-framed countenance you see in so many of the Wendish folk.
Standing under the pines, with the wind cutting whistles in the air, she
fixes cheese and homemade-bread sandwiches and talks about the Wends and
their heritage. "Peter Fritzsche was my great-grandfather, a
stonemason," she says. "He came over on the Ben Nevis. His wife and
daughter died on the way over of cholera. But his wife had already had a
baby on board ship. He remarried and had 10 other children, after having
5 with his first wife." Unlike most of the Wends, Peter Fritzsche never
changed his name, except to drop the "z" in the middle. Wendish
patronyms are distinguished by a cluster of consonants, such as Ben
Tschatschula or the less tortuous Pietsch and Lorentschk. The names are
scattered among the tombstones in the cemetery between the picnic
grounds and the church. "They came from a cooler, more temperate
landscape and got hostile, infertile land. The soil would not prosper
traditional crops," Mrs. Kasper explains, adding that they had to
develop trades, new farming skills, and ways of staying alive through
harsh winters. There, among the tombstones, we come across a cluster of
graves from the Killian family, which spawned at least two pastors,
including the legendary Rev. Johann Killian (1811-84), the spiritual
leader of the original Texas Wends. Mr. Killian, a handsome,
white-haired man with striking, round eyes, was, according to Lammert,
"a scholar and prolific writer who translated from German into Wendish
many books such as Luther's Large Catechism and the Augsburg Confession.
He also wrote Wendish prayer books, sermons, tracts, as well as hymns
and poems. . . . Rev. Killian was also known to preach the same sermon
in Wendish, German, and English on a Sunday morning." Whatever the
austerity of their pioneer life, the church the Wends built is no drab,
solemn sanctuary. The pillars are covered with feather-painting, some of
it done by the original Wends, to make them look like marble. Original
hand carving by local craftsmen handsomely adorns the pews. Beautiful,
ornate organ pipes in blue, gold, and white are behind the altar, above
an Alleluia! altar cloth. Standing here in their church in Serbin, you
feel the religious determination and solid resolve that kept them
together and sustained them through their struggles. Today, the
congregation, almost 95 percent of it Wendish, still maintains this
church in the midst of a rekindling interest among Wends in their own
Wendishness. People who, as children, passed a thousand times between
the paintings of the Ben Nevis and of Mr. Killian are taking a sudden
interest in these archetypal figures and the history they represent. 
The Wendish Heritage Society is building up archives and constructing a
museum out of the old two-room schoolhouse, which until last year
accommodated eight grades. It's the only Wendish school outside East
Germany (where the communist government has made some symbolic
importance of the Wends and their history of persecution), and people
like Evelyn Kasper are rummaging through their possessions to find faded
photographs of determined, solemn, square-jawed folk who look as if they
had their hands full finding a new life, but who also evoke images of
strong family ties and homespun virtues. Johann Killian would have been
pleased.

-GRAPHIC-
Picture 1, Wendish newly weds -- black wedding dress and all; Picture 2,
The Reverend Johann Killian posing with his daughter


Texas Wendish Heritage Museum