Tag Archive | Texan Culture

Guest Post – An unusual object found by TxDOT in northeast Texas

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.

Metal artifact with Spanish Coat of Arms found by TxDOT. Image by TxDOT.

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.

Caddo pottery fragment found by TxDOT. Image by TxDOT.

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]

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Object: Thatching needle

2016.4.21
Thatching Needle
Kickapoo
United States
1800-1967
Materials: Metal

Needles like this one are  used by women of the Kickapoo tribe to make woven mats using cattails and other plants. These mats are used to make Kickapoo wickiups, the traditional style of Kickapoo housing. These mats could be rolled up and transported from place to place, making them very convenient for travel, but they were also used at permanent settlements.

Before moving south to Oklahoma, Texas and Mexico, the Kickapoo were found in western Wisconsin, and parts of Michigan. While living in these northern areas the Kickapoo made their houses out of tree bark and cattails, but when fighting with European settlers and other tribes, such as the Osage, caused the Kickapoo to migrate south into Kansas, and finally Texas and Mexico, the materials they used for building changed to match the environment. Birch trees weren’t available in the southern plains, so Kickapoo used more cattail and native grasses in their houses. In the 19th century, the Kickapoo bands divided into two groups, the northern and southern Kickapoo. The northern Kickapoo went to reservations in states like Oklahoma, while the southern Kickapoo continued to migrate south, into Texas and Mexico.

While in Mexico, the Kickapoo developed a language that isn’t used by their sister tribes in America. The language is believed to have been created by the younger Kickapoos and was created for courtship rituals. Young Kickapoo men and women would use this whistling language to communicate without older members of the tribe being able to understand. This language was called onowecikepi, and is still in use today. [Ryan Farrell, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]

Additional Resources:

Gibson, Arrell Morgan. The Kickapoos: Lords of the Middle Border. Norman [Okla.]: University of Oklahoma Press, 2006.

Goggin, John M. “The Mexican Kickapoo Indians.” Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 7, no. 3 (1951): 314-27.

Hurley, William M. “THE KICKAPOO WHISTLE SYSTEM: A SPEECH SURROGATE.” Plains Anthropologist 13, no. 41 (1968): 242-47.

Nielsen, George R. The Kickapoo People. Phoenix: Indian Tribal Series, 1975.

Ritzenthaler, Robert E., and Frederick A. Peterson. The Mexican Kickapoo Indians. 2013.

Don’t forget your Texas FolkLife Festival tickets!

Advance tickets also available at HEB Stores, Ft. Sam Houston, Lackland AFB, Randolph AFB and the ITC Store and online at texasfolklifefestival.org until June 7th.
Tickets to this weekend’s festival can also be purchased HERE!

Other Festival Info

 

Object: Lithograph

I-0287a
Lithograph
Hermann Lungkwitz
German American
Fredericksburg, TX
1813-1891
Materials: Paper and ink

Karl Friedrich Hermann Lungkwitz, “On the Pedernales River,” oil on paper. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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]

Additional Resources:

Von, Rosenberg M. German Artists of Early Texas: Hermann Lungkwitz and Richard Petri. Austin, Tex: Eakin, 1982.

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.

McGuire, James P. “Lungkwitz, Karl Friedrich Hermann.” Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association. June 15, 2010.

Object: Beer bottler

I-0220a
Beer bottler
Bottlers Specialty Mfg Co.
American
Chicago, IL
1912-1914
Materials: Metal

Interior of the Peter Brothers Brewery, ca. 1912. In front row (l. to r.’ Edward Peter, Gus Peter, and an unidentified man. John Peter (back row, right) holding beer mug. Photo via UTSA Special Collections, Digital Identifier CD# 430; 073-0019.tif

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]

Additional Resources:

Banas, Jeremy, and Travis E. Poling. San Antonio Beer: Alamo City History by the Pint. United States: Arcadia Publishing Inc, 2016.

Brown, Marissa. “Timeline: a history of beer in San Antonio.” San Antonio Express News. 2017.

Hennech, Mike. Encyclopedia of Texas Breweries: Pre-Prohibition (1836-1918). Ale Publishing Company, 1990.

Lucio, Valentino. “Small breweries being crafted to quench beer lovers’ thirst.” San Antonio Express News. November 12, 2012.

 

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