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Texas Cultural Diversity: The Czech Culture of Texas

The National Polka Festival - Held In Ennis, Texas

Texas Cultural Diversity

Texas is forever getting bad press in America these days due to the obscure and the obscene political things and persons that are on the national stage that are either from here, or like George W. Bush - merely claim to be from here. It is absolutely true that Texas and Texans have a massive ego and huge amount of pride in Texas - and all you have to do to understand why is spend some time here. Texas is a huge place, has it's own foods, accents, History, and culture.

Texas is also a place of HUGE ethnic and cultural diversity. Communities of peoples from all over the world live here, and some of them have left larger marks on the Lone Star State than others have. Especially prominent in Texas are the peoples from the former Czechoslovakia. While I'm sure that there are lots of Slovakian peoples who've made a contribution to the gene pool, arts, and other areas of culture here - It's the Czechs that are most prominent in my mind. You see, here in Kaufman, Texas - we've got LOTS of Czechs in our community, and we here in Kaufman County aren't even one of the major outposts of Texas Czech culture at all.

Texas Czechs - Who WOULDN'T Love It?


Ennis, Texas - Home Of The National Polka Festival

  • The National Polka Festival Home Page
    The National Polka Festival in Ennis, Texas invites everyone to come help celebrate forty-five wonderful years of Czech heritage festivities Friday through Sunday, May 27-29, 2011.

Scenes From The National Polka Festival, in Ennis, Texas

The Czech Culture of Texas - The National Polka Festival

Driving through Texas - something that can't often be done in a day's time - one will see the signs on the highway concerning Texas Czech Bakeries, Texas Czech This, and Texas Czech That. It's all over the place, but just down the road from sleepy Kaufman, Texas is Ennis, Texas - one of the most Northern bastions of the Texas Czech culture. Every May in Ennis, Texas the National Polka Festival is held.

Now, the Polka is a form of dance music that originated in and is found throughout central Europe. The Polka is not exclusive to the Czech peoples at all, but the word Polka, is definitely a Czech word, so perhaps it's proper for the largely Czech town of Ennis in Texas to represent the National Polka Festival of the United States of America.

Here's three things that you should never question. Texas has huge numbers of peoples that are German immigrants, huge numbers of Czech immigrants,and Texas has HUGE numbers of Hispanics from Mexico. What I'm trying to relay here is that all three of those groups love the traditional dance of the Polka, as do the rest of us from around here - and once you hear that accordion play, the differences between Czechs, Germans, and Texas Mexican Americans is just about evaporated into the ether, as we dance, drink, sing, and eat together.

The Czech Heritage Society Of Texas

  • Czech Heritage Society of Texas Index

Texas Czech Food - the Kolache

Now, there is a lot more to Texas Czech Cuisine than the humble Kolache, but let's be honest about the business of Texas Czech Food. The Kolache is the absolute star of this show, and there is a very good reason for that - it's one of the most enjoyable culinary treats on planet Earth. Though the Kolache used to be a traditional Central European Wedding Desert - it's not just for weddings anymore. Here in Texas, whether you are a proud Texas Czech or not, the Kolache is a fine breakfast, lunch, or dinner - desert and entrée!

Think of it as a fluffy sweet dough pizza with fruit - it is a sweet fruit pie. I like to have them with Texas' Blue Bell Ice Cream, but any way you slice it, the Kolache is KING of Texas Czech cuisine!

. .. but if you happen to be one of those people that eats things other than desert, or prefers them, then please give the Kolache's meat filled cousin a try, the Klobansek. Technically, the Klobansek is a kind of Kolache, but over the years the Kolache has lost some of it's traditional meaning, and it's connotation has meandered over into a realm semi exclusive to desert.

Scenes From The National Polka Festival in Ennis, Texas!

Authentic Czech Kolaches - Texas Czech Food!


Texas Czech Women

In Ennis Texas once a year is held the Miss Texas Czech Slovak Queen Pageant, a title that is not only a beauty contest, but is based on poise, charm, good manners, talent and dignity. Women of all shapes, sizes, and ethnic groups of any age have an ability to be beautiful in many ways and on many different levels - but I'm here to tell you that when Hank Williams Jr. sang his song about Texas Women, he was probably thinking of the Texas Czech Women, and their specific beauty.

My hometown is just thirty miles down the road from Ennis, Texas - the home of the Miss Texas Czech Slovak Queen Pageant, and I promise you that sleepy little Kaufman, Texas has plenty of beautiful Texas Czech women as well.

Beautiful Texas Czech Women!

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Texas Historical Markers - The First Czech Immigrants


The History Of The Czech People's of Texas

Josef Arnost Bergmann is considered the father of Czech immigration for having come to Texas to minister to a large population of German Protestants living in Austin County in 1849. What basically happened is that he wrote a letter back home in which he described Texas in very favorable terms for the struggling and disenfranchised farmers of the central European ethnic groups. By 1851 his letter had had an effect, and the first group of settlers from North Easter Bohemia set sail out of Hamburg, Germany - in route for Texas.

I can only guess that those families then wrote home with similar favorable reports - as more and more families made the long journey - and the city of Cat Spring in Austin County was where they all originally settled before moving on into Fayetteville, which latter became known as the "Cradle of Czech Immigration."

Now, it should be noted that at the exact same time and even on the same ships German immigrants were coming to Texas too, right alongside the Czech immigrants. Though the German and Czech cultures and languages are certainly distinct and unique - and have maintained some distinction over time - the reality is that in Texas, we are all Texans now.

By the time that the American Civil War started there were around seven hundred Czech immigrants in Texas, but after the war the Czech immigration here really took off in waves. Ellis county where nearby Ennis, Texas is located - was a major settlement, as it is near to Dallas. Other bastions of Czech culture and settlement were and ARE Victoria County, Brazoria County, and Fort Bend County. While some estimates are that there are now around a million ethnic Czechs living in Texas, the numbers are very debatable as the ancestry or country of origin originally had often been called Austria on the official immigration papers, and then there is the matter of the boats leaving out of Germany. As I stated before, though I am not personally of Czech heritage, we are all TEXANS now.

© 2011 Wesman Todd Shaw


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on January 26, 2016:

Thanks Jana. It seems I failed to credit those photos well. If you'd like for me to fix that with names and hyperlinks to web sources, then let me know how.

I'm from Kaufman, by the way, and so Ennis has always been just down the road from me. We've lots of Czech surnamed folk here who I've always known.

Jana Vaculik Riley on January 25, 2016:

CORRECTION Ennis is not the home of the Miss Texas Czech Slovak US pageant. Each spring it is hosted by one of our chapters in the Czech heritage society of Texas so each year it is different. Thanks for using our photos.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on July 27, 2012:

Thank you very very much Veroniquebee!

Well, it is true that all over the USA... communities that were once more specific to one culture than anything else are "melting" with other communities, etc, but there are still some strong ethnic communities.

Thing Texas, people mostly consider themselves TEXAN..from there they might be Czech, or German...or whatever else.

I think no other state really has the sort of pride in the state identity as does Texas, so it is also very easy to be proud of heritage from afar as well.

Veroniquebee from Czech republic on July 25, 2012:

This is absolutely spectaculous (uhm, is that even a word?!) hub! I knew that our countrymen in US had huge influence over the founding of Czechoslovakia during the WW1 - but I was always led to believe that Czech(oslovakian) influence and community nowadays is either very small or nonexistent.

Thanks a lot for this hub. Good to know my countrymen are still alive and kicking! :)

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on September 07, 2011:

Hey thank you very very much AFSD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LOTS of names that have a definite Czech influence - a direct one, in my home town. Sometime when I was growing up someone pointed it out to me "These folks are all Czech descended."

AfSD on September 07, 2011:

I never knew! Thank you for this informative and entertaining post!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 29, 2011:

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH CAROLINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'll bet your boys ARE some fine young men!!!!!! I hope that I get to meet them all some day!! :-D

Thank you for being THE VERY FIRST PERSON from K town that wasn't my mother to comment my writing here!!!!!

Caroline Janicek Burgin on August 29, 2011:

Well, Mr. Shaw, I'm even more proud of my heritage because of your hub, and I appreciate that even my family name is mentioned on the historical marker. But, Kaufman isn't a partical Czech community, I just don't think you realize just how many of us are actually there. Soooo many memories of my great grand parents and my grand parents and their brothers and sisters. Thank you also for the wonderful compliment of Czech woman, but I have to add that the good looks have been passed to some of our men, (namely my boys) for which I am extremely proud. Thank you for wonderful reading. I shared the link on my FB page.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 29, 2011:

Bobavek (sic) Pechal (sic) Bedrick (sic)????????? on and on, and on, and on - Kaufman might as well be recognized as a partial Czech community!!!

Patricia Shaw on August 29, 2011:

I read the immigrant names on the historical marker and noticed several names that are present here in Kaufman. I have friends in Kaufman with names Slovak, Janicek, and Havelik, and friends in other towns with the names of Machalik, Jacovic, and Kauitzsch. Very interesting hub; well done.

Sueswan on August 29, 2011:

Wes, you have made my day.:)

Arlene V. Poma on August 29, 2011:

Wesman, that rubber chicken is funny! But until you mentioned it, I didn't notice because that's an attractive young woman holding up that chicken! As I learned in my photography classes, you get people doing Linda Blairs on you when you include photographs of pretty girls (beauty queen types), children and animals (puppies and kittens). I did visit Texas last fall while on a road trip. My only regret was not spending more time there. I thought I had a Kolache for breakfast, but now, through your Hub, I found out I didn't have a real one. I got the kind with a sausage (hot dog???) inside of it. But what did I know? I wasn't awake at the time!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 29, 2011:

Hey Chris - I'm sort of inspired to write about Texas these days simply because of the huge amount of persons that are mostly here in the US who have never freaking been here, and sit up in Massachusetts or somewhere like that talking about how awful this place is. . . .I'm sick of folks insulting the millions here with Ad homs of ignorance.

Sorry for the mini rant - THANK YOU for always being so kind!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 29, 2011:

Thank you, Sueswan - AS ARE YOU!!!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 29, 2011:

Hey Truckstop Sally!!!!! Thank You! :=D

It doesn't much matter how attractive anyone is if the only things coming out of the mouths are less than positive!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 29, 2011:

Oh Hell Yeah, Tom - I know about that German Descent!!! Texas has HUGE German populations, maybe more than Czechs even. And you can bet that I'm going to be doing one on that too!

Hey Tom - only ladder I'm interested in climbing on Hubpages is the income ladder!!!!! FTW!!!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 29, 2011:

Hey Dusty!!!!!!!!!!!!! Man, I wanna read about them Arizona Women, and drink them Arizona Beers!!!!!!!

Man, if it weren't for Arizona - Texas WOULD have the redneck state award!!!!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 29, 2011:

Hey FloraBreenRobison !!!! yeah - me too. I'm not much of a dancer. I would love to get back after it though!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 29, 2011:

Thank you Arlene V. Poma !!!!! We got lots of Burger King's in Texas. . . .but I never got to them. . . .um. . .

Did you see in that first parade picture that young girl holding a plastic chicken??? I thought that was sort of subtle and funny!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 29, 2011:

Thank You leroy64 !!!! I'm sort of making it my mission in life (this month, at least. . . .) to bring some positive light to Texas. . . .for hubpages, anyway.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 29, 2011:

Hey Patty Inglish, thank you!!! While I'm sure Czech immigrants found Texas before the large migrations of Czechs started - my data came from the Texas Czech Almanac.

Christopher Antony Meade from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom on August 29, 2011:

The more I read about texas on HubPages, the more interesting it seems to be, especially the way that you write about it Wesman. You only get a very partial view about it over here, (all cowboys, and oil barons).

It's great that there is so much more to being a proud Texan.

Thanks for that. I enjoyed reading it.

Sueswan on August 28, 2011:

Great hub Wes!

A dear friend of my family who passed away a few years ago was Slovak.

She was a beautiful lady inside and out.

Truckstop Sally on August 28, 2011:

Great hub! So glad you mentioned the kolache. Never thought about it with Blue Bell, but how could that not be great? Love that the local beauty contest includes poise, charm, good manners, talent and dignity.

justom from 41042 on August 28, 2011:

Damn Todd Dusty hit it right on the head. This is a great hub man! I had totally no idea about Czech's being part of Texas history. I do, however, know about that Polka music though, being part of that hard headed German decent. Weird Al's dad was a major player in that field. One of my favorite's (lyrically) "You can have her, I don't want her, she's too fat for me":-P You're moving up on the HP food chain when that terrible ego named Patti compliments your hub. I'm not sure if I should be impressed or just sickened but good for you if you're getting more of their ill gotten $'s. This is a great hub Todd and those Czech girls are stunning so why the hell aren't you all over that:-P? Nice work man!!

50 Caliber from Arizona on August 28, 2011:

Wesman, now that is a hub! Very cool as I never gave thought to it in the times I've been to Texas I've always paid attention to the cowboy history and Texas being second only to Arizona in greatness [hahahahaha] and that's just because we don't have to advertize the "don't mess with" kinda thing everybody knows that we are the toughest, heck Mexico didn't fight us for our turf they just silently crept back as we drew our line in the sand after putting in Fort Huachuca and drawing a 15 mile buffer between the fort and Mexico, then putting the "Buffalo Soldiers" on guard there Texas ran back and gave us a strip of ground as well, I'm saying "We Be Bad" now all we need is to take Texas by the hand and between Arizona and Texas succeed from the panty waist left America and build a strong country of morals closing our boarders while making a deal with Mexico to teach them well and make them a territory along with the Tennessee bunch for a solid state of morals and a place for launching attacks against the socialist capital in DC to rid us of what is infecting the country. The Czech warriors have proven their worth and fed us some good groceries too.

All of that aside {was going to say kidding but I'm not] you have again taught the old guy a lesson of interest, I didn't have a clue that there was such influence of one group of immigrants in Texas, voted up and all that stuff, good intel. and next trip I'm going to pay more attention. Dust

FloraBreenRobison on August 27, 2011:

Hi, Wesman. Where I live, the most prominent group of Europeans are Dutch, whether you are talking about art or citizens in general. I've tried dancing the polka. That and its slow tempo counterpart -the waltz-are the only ballroom dances I can do.

Arlene V. Poma on August 27, 2011:

Well done, Wesman. Could have used a couple of photographs of the men to go with the women illustrated here, but your Hub is not Burger King, and I can't have it my way! Voted up and interesting!

Brian L. Powell from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff) on August 27, 2011:

Great hub! I don't see enough written on the subject of what is actually found in Texas.

Too many people in Dallas think a Kolache is just a sausage wrapped in a biscuit. They just don't believe me when I tell them otherwise. Just look in any of the generic donut shops around here in Dallas.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on August 27, 2011:

As early as 1633, they came to Texas! More good history :) - This is a Grand Hub - rated Up and everything good.

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