English culture area

EnglishTexans of English origin seem to be the least colony-minded people in the state. One reason is that the English are simply part of the “Anglo” majority that has formed Texas since the mid-1830s. English settlers are often invisible.

Some of the early English were not so invisible to the Spanish. John Hamilton visited the mouth of the Trinity River as a horse buyer about 1774 and purchased any available stolen livestock…an activity not overly welcomed by the Spanish. Yet, in 1792 John Culbert, a silversmith was allowed to live in San Antonio. His skills were valuable.

Even if native English were few, English products were not. Suppliers to the world, the English manufactured, for example, the famous third model “Brown Bess,” of East India musket. In .75 caliber, it was a powerful if short-range weapon. This was the most common firearm of the Texas Revolution, used by both sides. English individuals did involve themselves in various impresario and colonization schemes. All were grandiosely planned; all were ineffective.

The Colony of Kent was perhaps the most interesting English effort. A commercial venture of the Universal Emigration and Colonization Company of London, this colony was imagined as a socialistic, profit-making community. The founding company convinced more than 30 families to leave Liverpool, England, for Central Texas. Kent was founded during the cold January of 1851. Backer of the venture claimed that Kent would become the “first city” of Texas, but the colonists were ill-informed about frontier hardships, were not farmers, and were not given sufficient backing for the first year. Soon, they had scattered to other areas where life would be easier.

No settlement areas became distinctly English. Individuals came, however, and settled all over the state. Some quickly became prominent.

The most obvious English influence before the 20th century was investment and land ownership in the Texa Panhandle. In the decade after 1880, English ranchers and investors (most of the latter never saw Texas) put more than $25 million into 20 million acres of land.

The Capitol Freehold Land and Investment Company, incorporated in London, was the largest Panhandle investor. This company initially stocked and operated the three-million-acre XIT ranch, the land which had underwritten the construction costs of the present state capitol building. Thus, the English, by drilling water wells, building fences, and bringing in stock, initiated plains ranching. Numerous settlers of all ethnic groups and origins came as workers, ranchers, and farmers to the plains. Most of these ventures did not, however, prove magnificently profitable, at least for the investors. English investment fever cooled by the turn of the century.

The largest number of English immigrants to enter Texas, more or less at the same time, came in the mid-20th century at the end of World War II. They were the brides of U.S. soldiers returning to their home state.

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  1. Object: Coins | Institute of Texan Cultures Collections Blog - September 15, 2014

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