Czech Culture and Its Influence in Texas

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Tony Maples Photography


Though their numbers never reached those of their more well-known counterparts, the Germans, Czech immigrants still had a lasting influence on the Texas Hill Country. Today, vestiges of Czech culture still exist in Texas. Perhaps the one most people are familiar with is the kolache. Though the Czech immigrants brought these pastries, they also transported much more into Texas through their journey from Europe.

The Father of Czech Immigration

If one man can be attributed with bringing Czech immigrants to Texas, it is Rev. Josef Arnost Bergmann. Born in what is today the Czech Republic, Bergmann married and had six children before emigrating to Texas, where he arrived in 1850. After a long, arduous journey over sea and land, the Bergmann family arrived in Cat Spring, near Sealy. There, he served as the preacher and schoolteacher to the German community in the area. While in Cat Spring, Bergmann wrote a letter to those still back in Europe about his experiences in Texas. After publication in the Moravian News, Czech immigrants began to flock to Texas. Without reading that letter by Bergmann, many of these new Texans would not have chosen to leave Europe.

Who Came to Texas

Czech Wedding in the Texas Hill Country 1917

Photo: Facebook/Czech Texan History

The Czech immigrants largely came from the same demographic. While, like Rev. Bergmann, some of the earliest immigrants were Protestant, the vast majority were Catholic. Most of those who came were farmers with large families. Their strong ties to family and the land kept many Czech communities in close small-town settings, rather than moving to large cities. Since many of the towns in Texas consisted of Czech immigrants and their descendants, their influence is still seen today.

Where They Settled

Cat Spring Post Office

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Many of the Czech communities extend just to the east of the Texas Hill Country and into the eastern edge of that region all the way north to almost the Dallas area. While Cat Spring served as the nucleus of Czech movement into Texas, people spread out from this central hub. Later waves of immigrants settled in other parts of the state from those first newcomers to the state. Shortly after the Civil War, the next group of Czech immigrants settled in a line from Victoria to Dallas. The last group, at the turn of the 19th century, established communities just to the southwest of Houston.

Czech Influence in Texas

Czech Immigrants Brought Music, Dancing, and Food with Them

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Many things about Texas culture came from Czech influence. The accordion, so popular in Tejano music, is believed to have come from the use of the instrument in Czech polkas. Kolache shops flourish in Central Texas and in the Hill Country. Many places with Czech heritage continue to celebrate it with festivals or museums honoring the immigrants to the area. Though not the largest immigrant group to come to Texas, the Czechs have made a lasting impact on the state.