Guest Post – Archeologists Find Early Budweiser Bottle and Learn More about The German roots of Houston’s First Neighborhood
This week’s blog details a 19th century glass artifact – an early incarnation of a Budweiser beer bottle – discovered by archeologists in what is known as one of downtown Houston’s first neighborhoods, Frost Town. The details presented here by TxDOT provide additional insight into Frost Town and the early days of Budweiser’s original brew master. The institute’s upcoming “Brewing Up Texas” exhibit includes the Frost Town bottle and offers interactive content highlighting the state’s earliest breweries, the impact of prohibition, Texas beer memorabilia, home brewing, and today’s rich tapestry of modern craft breweries.
The modern landscape of Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, is one of constant change. During the replacement of a bridge in downtown, archeologists from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) realized they were working on top of one of Houston’s original neighborhoods, Frost Town. It began as a community of predominantly German immigrants in the 1830s, and it later became home to many African American families following emancipation, then a vibrant Hispanic neighborhood during the early decades of the 20th century. While much is known about Houston’s founders and wealthy class, the archeologists were hoping to tell a new story of how Houston’s working class lived and worked.
During excavations they came upon an interesting feature: rows of upturned glass bottles buried in the ground outside of house foundations. Before (and even after) recycling programs existed, Germans would often use glass bottles as ornamental features in their yards. Archeologists date the style of one particular bottle to at least 1878-1882, giving an approximate date to when the bottle was placed in the ground. Given that both Frost Town was predominately German and Budweiser was brewed and named to appeal to German immigrants, it is no surprise that TxDOT recovered this artifact from the Frost Town site. It featured two logos; one reads “Original Budweiser” on one side and “CCC” on the base. It seemed the bottle had a deeper story to tell.
Message in a Bottle: Early Days of Anheuser-Busch
Budweiser’s early days started with a young German immigrant named Carl Conrad. He travelled to Belgium to become a brew master before bringing back a recipe to St. Louis, declaring that it was “the best he ever tasted.”
He built his company, Carl Conrad & Co., importing wine and liquor. Conrad marketed Budweiser beer, named after the Bavarian town Budweis, where he found the inspiration for his recipe. He contracted with several companies for bottles and his friend, Adolphus Busch brewed Conrad’s recipe through his company; the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association. Despite Conrad’s swift national success, he declared bankruptcy on January 15th, 1883 and Anheuser-Busch assumed the rights to brew, bottle, and sell Budweiser. Conrad then worked for the company for many years.
More about Frost Town
In 19th century Houston, the Buffalo Bayou river was an important transportation route. Along a horseshoe bend of the Bayou sat Frost Town. Instead of large farms that defined the time and location, Frost Town had houses and plots like the neighborhoods we see today. Years of development, first by railroad and then by roads, covered this historic site, which is just minutes from Minute Maid Park under the Elysian Street Bridge.
German laborers were among the earliest residents of the Frost Town community, and they would continue to dominate demographic of the neighborhood for many decades. Germans immigrants settled in virtually every area of Houston, but the Second Ward became an unofficial hub of German-American culture and social life during the 1800s.
Archeologists at TxDOT are building oral histories and interpretations of the archeology in order to share this unique story: Frost town’s rich ethnic diversity embodies the City of Houston today is revealed as not new, but a fundamental part of the city’s heritage. [Lee F. Reissig, TxDOT Environmental Affairs Division]
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This week’s blog is provided by the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Archeology Section, which discovers archeological evidence of human culture throughout the state when building roads. The blog details new and exciting Caddo findings in northeast Texas where TxDOT excavated portions of a Caddo village. The institute’s Native American exhibits and collections include a selection of Caddo artifacts and the details presented here by TXDOT provide additional insight on the Caddo tribe’s history in Texas.
Caddo Nation’s ancestral homeland encompasses northeast Texas, northwest Louisiana, southwest Arkansas, and southeast Oklahoma. Archaeologically, we begin to recognize their culture in the area c. AD 900. They lived in spread out, unfortified, agriculture-based communities; however they were a highly organized and strictly governed tribe. While the Caddo were known as a friendly—their word “tejas” means “friend” and is, of course, where the word Texas originated from—they retained a fierce warrior class for when diplomatic channels failed them.
A curious artifact was discovered among thousands of others at an archaeological site in East Texas. The historic artifact was found buried in a manner that suggests it held high value. It appears to be a metal box fragment consisting of two pieces from two different sides of a Spanish jewelry box. The metal is relatively heavy, made from either silver or pewter. The fragment features a mythological beast; either a griffin (front-half eagle, and back-half lion) or a wyvern (front-half dragon, and the back-half featuring a coiled tail like a seahorse). A coat of arms also appears on the artifact and is divided into four sections. Two adjacent sections feature a field of stars, and the other two depict a double headed eagle – a common symbol used in Western Europe by the Holy Roman Empire.
Spain was part of the Holy Roman Empire during AD 1519 to 1556. These years overlap with the Desoto expedition from 1539 to 1543. After Desoto’s death in 1542, his men abandoned the expedition and tried to get back to Mexico. Expedition member Moscoso led the men through Texas (1542-1543), and when he reached the Neches River they followed it south. They would have at least passed very close to the East Texas Caddo site. Moscoso and his men were unable to feed themselves so they began to raid Texas Indian farming settlements. So, it is thought that the artifact may be evidence of Caddo interaction with Moscoso and his men. Due to the artifact’s intentional damage and being of high enough value to be purposely buried, the fragment may be a war trophy. Further, this unique find potentially precedes the date of direct contact between Native Americans and Europeans in the area – that led to established trade starting in 1686.
Moscoso and his men eventually abandoned the attempt to pass through Texas and turned around and went back towards the Mississippi River. Following the admission of Texas as a state in 1845 the Caddo were relocated to Indian Territory north of their ancestral homeland. Today Caddo Nation capital sits in Binger, Oklahoma with approximately 6,000 enrolled members. This Caddo site was originally recorded in the 1930s but was forgotten until recently. The site’s rediscovery by TxDOT means they can move forward with preserving the location and artifacts recovered, which include engraved ceramics, rare obsidian artifacts, and other stone tools in addition to the fascinating metal fragment. [Lee F. Reissig, TxDOT Environmental Affairs Division]
1970s replica of a 15th century halberd
Materials: Cast iron
This object is a replica of a halberd – a type of pike weapon used in Medieval Europe. A halberd is a medieval weapon that evolved from a two-handed axe. Over time, parts of the axe changed: the handle became much longer, more like a spear, the axe head became more oblique instead of square, a beak was added on the opposite side of the blade, and a long, pointed blade was added to the top end. Not all these changes were made simultaneously, but gradually and by different peoples.
The halberd was useful in battle when fighting against heavily armored foes, as the long handle allowed for a full body swing, enabling the blade to cleave through metal. The point at the end could be used for thrusting, and the beak on the back allowed the fighter to hook and drag horsemen from their mounts.
Halberds were used primarily between 1300 and 1650. They provided a weapon with a longer reach for infantry to use, especially when fighting against mounted enemies since they could be used as both a pike and an axe. They began to decline in use after that time, however, when fighting styles began to change. By the 1800s when firearms started to come into use, the halberd became almost exclusively ceremonial, instead used as a symbol of authority as with the Papal Guards.
During the Civil War in 1861, Company B of the Fifth Texas Mounted Volunteers consisted entirely of soldiers armed with lances, which are a type of pike similar to a halberd but without the axe head. The idea of being a lancer was very popular in Southern Texas and in 1862, George Washington Carter received permission to recruit an entire brigade of lancers, which were designated as the Twenty-first, Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth cavalry regiments. The Twenty-first regiment was divided into eleven companies. They served mainly as scouts and raiders to protect Texas from invasion and were finally disbanded in the spring of 1865. [Caitlin Bernstein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Materials: Paper and ink
This object is a lithograph of the Texas Hill Country in Fredericksburg made by the artist and photographer Hermann Lungkwitz in the mid nineteenth century. Karl Friedrich Hermann Lungkwitz was a German artist trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Dresden, Saxony in the 1840s. In 1850, Lungkwitz and his family immigrated to the United States, moving from New York to Texas, where he started in New Braunfels in 1851, but eventually moved and settled in Fredericksburg in 1852. They purchased a farm on the Pedernales River, where he and his brother-in-law, Richard Petri, also an artist, grew potatoes and began their first paintings, sketches, and lithographs of the Texas countryside around their farm. In the mid-1850s, he began sketching and painting the San Antonio area as well – particularly the missions and town scenery.
By 1859, Lungkwitz began learning the art of photography with William DeRyee and Wilhelm Thielepape. They traveled between Texas towns to take photographs and display their images in magic lantern shows, in which pictures and portraits were projected on to a screen for an audience to view.
In the last years of the Civil War, the political climate in Fredericksburg became too much for the family to handle and they moved to San Antonio in 1864. Here, with the help of Thielepape, he sold his paintings to provide a small income before opening a school for drawing and drafting. In 1866, he opened a photographic studio with Carl von Iwonski, focusing primarily on offering inexpensive portraits of the people of San Antonio, which he continued until 1870 when he was made the official photographer of the General Land Office in Austin, a position he held for four years.
By 1874, Lungkwitz turned back to his love for painting – he sketched and painted scenes all around the Austin area and taught drawing at the Jacob Bickler’s German-American Select School for Boys. He continued painting and teaching for the remainder of his life.
Hermann Lungkwitz is responsible for the majority of the images we have of the 1800s Texas Hill Country, the missions of Texas, and much of old San Antonio. [Caitlin Bernstein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
McGuire, James P. Hermann Lungkwitz, Romantic Landscapist on the Texas Frontier. Austin: Published by the University of Texas Press, Austin, for the University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio, 1983.
This object is a Swedish women’s vest. It is part of a traditional costume made in 1922 in County Skane, Sweden. Costumes like this can still be seen worn by women of Swedish descent during celebrations of Swedish culture.
The first Swedish immigrant to enter Texas was Swen Magnus Swenson in 1838. He was an entrepreneur who started many businesses throughout his life, and founded SMS Ranches in west Texas- consisting of more than 300,000 acres. He became a wealthy man due to his cotton plantation, and in 1844, he was joined by his uncle- Swante Palm– who was the first person to emigrate from Sweden with the goal of living in Texas. Up until that point, most Swedish immigrants entered through Ellis Island in New York and established communities in the Northeast and Midwest.
In 1848, Swenson was convinced by his friend, Sam Houston, to bring more Swedish families to Texas. The first group he brought over consisted of twenty-five people, mostly family and friends. Swenson and his uncle then began operating an informal immigration company, initially paying people’s travel expenses to Texas from Sweden. In turn, these people would pay back their credit by working as indentured labor on Swenson’s ranch.
By 1850, Swenson sold his ranch in west Texas and purchased 100,000 acres around Austin. He continued his efforts in immigration throughout his life, establishing the strongest concentrations of Swedish-Americans, first around Austin, then fanning out to Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Waco.
People left Sweden mainly for economic and political reasons. Population growth made farmland scarce, and the overpopulation made it nearly impossible for families to support themselves. Another factor was the growing resentment against the Swedish Lutheran State Church, which was repressing the citizens and emphasizing the snobbery of the Swedish monarchy. As with most other immigration groups, the promise of personal freedom, open spaces, and uncharted land attracted many to a new life in Texas.
By 1900, more than 4,000 Swedes were in Texas. They proved to be hardworking and successful in business as well as ranching and farming. Swedish immigrants were responsible for building churches and colleges, including Texas Wesleyan College in Austin and Trinity Lutheran College in Round Rock.
More than 160,000 Texans claim Swedish ancestry today. Through organizations such as the Linneas Society, Vasa Lodges, New Sweden Cultural Heritage Society, and the Scandinavian Heritage Foundation, Swedish-Americans have both assimilated to the United States cultures, and kept their heritage alive. These organizations were designed to give support to new immigrants, help them learn English, and provide an extended family in a new land.
Today, these organizations strive to provide education about Swedish culture, and preserve their heritage. Though the Swedes of Texas value the culture of their homeland, they also embrace their life as Americans, and most prefer to be known as Swedish-Americans. [Carrie Klein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Bottlers Specialty Mfg Co.
This object is a beer bottler from the Peter Bros. Brewery, which was in business from 1905 to 1910 in San Antonio, Texas. The brothers, John, Augustus “Gus”, and Edward bought a small house on East Commerce street in 1903 and began their brewing business in 1905. During prohibition the brewery no longer made beer, but operated as a soft-drink stand instead. In 1933, after the repeal of prohibition, the brothers open a lunchroom and sold local beers instead of producing their own.
The tradition of brewing in Texas began as early as the 1840s, when a large influx of German immigrants moved to Texas. For Germans, beer-drinking was an integral part of everyday life. When they began moving to Texas, it became important for them to have beer available to them, so people started brewing businesses.
One of the first known breweries in Texas was Julius Rennert’s, which he licensed in 1849 in the town of New Braunfels. The beer he made supplied many surrounding town’s saloons, including those of San Antonio. He stayed in business until the added competition of William Menger ‘s Western Brewery, or Menger Brewery, and the Lone Star Brewery caused him to close his brewing company in the 1880s and his son became a distributor for Lone Star.
Rennert was only one of the many people to start up brewing companies in San Antonio and the surrounding areas. Most stayed small and were only in business for a few years, with exceptions like Menger’s Western Brewery, Anheuser-Busch of Lone Star, Pearl Brewery, and the still operational Blue Star. Large commercialization of these companies, as well as prohibition in 1919 caused most of the small brewing companies to go out of business fairly quickly. The Peter Brothers’ Brewery was one of those short-lived businesses, but it seemed to enjoy a great deal of popularity in its time.
Be sure to visit the Institute of Texan cultures this fall to learn more about the history of beer in Texas in our upcoming exhibit Brewing Up Texas, scheduled to open on October 14th, 2017. [Caitlin Bernstein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Greek Bishop’s Miter
This object is a Greek Bishop’s miter, or ceremonial headpiece. It’s an elaborate headdress made from brocade, with elaborate embroidery and embellishments, and depicting Christian symbols and figures. It belonged to Bishop John of Amorion, who was the first American-born bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church. He was ordained in 1971 at the Annunciation Cathedral in Houston, Texas.
The Greek immigration story into Texas is a colorful and adventurous one. The first recorded Greek immigrant, known only as Captain Nicholas, entered Galveston Island with the well-known pirate, Jean Lafitte in 1817. He married a woman from the Karankawa tribe, but lost her in a storm. He then sailed with Lafitte around the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, before finally returning to Galveston in 1842.
By 1860, Captain Nicholas was one of only two Greeks registered in Texas. He lived out his life selling fish and oysters, and transporting charcoal from the mainland to the island until his death in the Galveston storm of 1900. He was nearly 100 years old when he died.
Many Greeks emigrated out of Greece to escape political, social, and economic problems. Despite gaining independence after almost 400 years of Turkish rule, many people were still feeling oppressed, and by 1910, almost 10% of Greeks had emigrated out of their homeland.
Greek immigrants to Texas didn’t come as families, but rather as single men, looking for opportunities in the cities. The first Greek colony in Texas was in Galveston, where 37 Greeks worked in saloons, markets, and cotton gins. They saw opportunities to move up the economic ladder, working entry level jobs while learning English, saving money, and eventually opening their own businesses- often as restaurant owners, real estate investors, and owners of confectioneries– shops where candy was made and sold. By the early 1900s there were several thousand Greeks living in Texas, but they were scattered over 250,000 square miles of the state.
The first Greek Orthodox Church was finally established in Texas in 1910, near the Ft. Worth stockyards. It didn’t take long to determine that one parish serving the entire state was impractical, and soon, several more churches were built in cities around the state. In San Antonio, the untimely death of a small child due to illness was followed by a two week delay in burial because there wasn’t a Greek Orthodox priest nearby. The local Greek community, grieving the loss of the child, knew this wasn’t acceptable. In response, St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church was finally established in San Antonio in 1924.
Today, there are more than 32,319 Greeks in Texas. They celebrate their heritage and customs proudly. Through decades of growth and change, they have had one enduring source of stability and connection to their roots- the Orthodox Church. [Carrie Klein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]