Castroville looks like a UFO in the middle of Texas, what are these Alsatian houses doing in the United States ?
In Castroville to live the American dream
In the middle of Texas (United States), an Alsatian house sits at the entrance to Castroville. This city, largely built by Alsatians in the 19th century, is nicknamed the little Alsace of Texas. Nicknamed “the little Alsace of Texas“, Castroville owes its name to a Frenchman, Henri Castro. Diplomat, former imperial guard and consul of France in the state of Rhode Island, he jumped at the chance when the American government granted territories to the independence of Texas, in 1836. But it was necessary to find emigrants ready to cross the Atlantic to settle there and in turn become landowners. It was in Alsace that his campaign had the greatest echo: 600 people were needed, 2000 tried the bet. In the middle of the 19th century, 70 families, mainly from Haut-Rhin, emigrated to Castroville to live the American dream.
Castroville was founded in 1844
Alsatian becomes the language of the village. On September 1, 1844, Castroville was officially founded. For generations, the city kept its Alsatian identity (very rare in the United States) and its Alsatian dialect. Today, half of the population is still descended from Alsatian settlers and associations are trying to keep it alive through various festivals and commemorations, in folk costumes. In Castroville, the Alsatians built their churches, very similar to those they had left behind in their country of birth. For a long time, the mayors of the city were systematically dialect-speaking and in this country where American football is king, the players of the city team spoke to each other in Alsatian until the 1970s to deceive the opponent. Card games were also played in Alsatian.
The death of the Alsatian
In 1975, 60% of the population of Castroville was of Alsatian origin. It was during this period, in the 1970s, that the history of Castroville was truly rediscovered, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Exchanges with Alsace started in 1980, associations such as Alsace Medina County Texas were created. Alsatian dance and culture teachers taught traditional dances to young Americans. Today, after several generations, the Alsatian dialect is lost. Justin Jungman who died last year was one of the last locals to master the language. The younger generations no longer speak the dialect and the proportion of inhabitants from Alsace is decreasing from year to year. The city is approaching a new turn in its history, now marked by a strong presence of Mexicans and Hispanics.