About us and this project
We are David Huenlich and Ashley Davis. David is a German linguist, lecturer and historian-in-training , and Ashley is a preschool teacher and aficionada of African American history. Our family has roots in Germany and in Texas. In 2015, we conducted interviews in communities of Central Texas for the Texas German Dialect Project at UT Austin. "There were black German speakers here, too!" was a line that we repeatedly heard along the way. Very likely, a black woman speaking German brought back memories...
But what exactly were these people remembering? We decided to find out. The stories we collected lead to a larger project on "The History of Afro-German Relations and Black German Speakers in Texas". It was supported by the Leibniz-Institute for the German Language. In 2021, the German Academic Exchange Service funded David to pursue a project hosted by Walter Kamphoefner at the History Department of Texas A&M University. The Catholic University of Eichstätt in Germany supported the completion of the project in 2023. This website about "Afro-German Texas" is an exhibition for anyone who would like to learn more about the topic. A network of generous contributors who supported the project is listed below.
The following contributors generously shared their knowledge about their community, toured the area with us and provided us with many valuable contacts. Black German speakers are listed separately in the biographies section.
Myrtle Swearington &
Residents near New Bremen, Austin County
W.O. Exner & B. J. Spencer
Former Mayor of Lexington
Resident of Moab Community
Lilly May Davis & Linda Madison
Mother & daughter living in New Bremen, Austin County
Local Expert of Fayette and Lee County
Local Expert of Austin County
Lecturer of History at UT Austin
Local Expert of Colorado County
Paul Phillips III, MD
Local Expert of Gillespie County
Owner of the Goebel Store
Resident near Center Union
Mount Olive Baptist Church
Former resident of Armstrong Colony in Fayette County.
This project would also not have been possible without the research support of individuals at various institutions.
Walter was among the earliest historians to examine Afro-German relations in Texas, and he generously hosted us at the TAMU History Department. Bill from the A&M libraries collected countless peculiarities on ethnic relations in Texas from 19th century newspapers. He generously shared his research.
Texas A&M University,
Texas A&M University,
Cheryl DaBera, Tina Henderson,
Charles Swenson, JoAnn Wolf
"Texas 10" Network at the Brenham Heritage Museum
The members and affiliates of the "Texas 10" network are actively researching African American history in Washington County and are carrying on the spirit of the late Judge Eddie Harrison - a strong advocate for a better understanding of ethnic relations in his community. The Network is affiliated with the Brenham Heritage Museum and everyone in Brenham supported us generously.
Hans and his team have been an invaluable source of archival information over the years. Margo also helped with this website.
Hans C. Boas
The Texas German Dialect Project, The Department of Germanic Studies, The University of Texas at Austin
Rox Ann Johnson
Rox Ann provided us with images illustrating Afro-German relations in the vicinity of La Grange, and helped us access original letters. She also provided contacts to relatives of late speakers of German and Czech in local Black communities .
Judy Pate from the Arnim Museum in Flatonia connected us to members of the Armstrong colony and provided us with newspapers illustrating historic relations between Black, German and Czech members of her community.