Swiss Texans

Swiss Immigration to Texas - Eshaan Joshi 5th Period


Ideological oppression, economic depres­sions and natural catastrophes caused many Europeans (including the Swiss) to immigrate to America during the nineteenth century. The Swiss culture is only a small part of Texas history. Most of them left their homelands in the 19th century because they wanted greater opportunities to be successful. Some came just for the challenging adventure. The Swiss immigrants heard about America through newspapers, letters, and immigrant organizations.


The Swiss people came to Texas because they heard from newspapers and letters of all the opportunities that were available.

The Swiss people were promised that their necessities could be brought into the country duty-free for ten years; that there would be freedom of religion; that no church fees were to be paid and that there would be no compulsory military life.

Quote from Swiss Colonist Letter: "Above all Texas is a healthy, open country and at present has about 30,000 inhabitants, but is still growing mightily. If you or others in your vicinity desire to leave the homeland, I would advise you to come directly to Texas, rather than spend your money first going to the United States for people are swarming here from the United States just as they are coming from Europe to the United States."

Letter donated by descendant of Ulrich Wuthrich, 4th grade teacher.



This is the most popular of Swiss card games and it was apparently brought to Switzerland from the Netherlands by Swiss mercenaries.

Yodelling is understood to mean a song without words, and with abrupt changes of register from the chest voice to falsetto, which also produce changes in the tone quality.

For this Swiss version of wrestling, competitors wear special shorts of coarse drill over their trousers with a slit at the back allowing the stipulated grip on the belt.

This Swiss team game is played by 16 to 18 strikers and the same number of fielders.

Flag tossing in Switzerland involves swinging a flag of a prescribed size and shape back and forth on a short staff and then throwing it into the air and catching it by the staff as it comes down.

The alphorn, an instrument more than three metres/ten feet long made of a fir tree with a naturally curved root, has hardly changed over the centuries.

A large, funnel-shaped meadow at the foot of the Jungfrau near Interlaken gave its name to the Alpine herdsman, Swiss Alpine wrestling and traditional costume festival first held in the meadow in 1805.

Near the end of the 18th century a new interest in the Alps and the pastoral lifestyles and cultures of the people living on them led to the development of tourism in Switzerland.


There are a many regional dishes in Switzerland. One example is Zurcher Geschnetzeltes-thin strips of veal with mushrooms in a cream sauce served with rosti . Italian cuisine is popular in contemporary Switzerland, particularly pasta and pizza. Foods often associated with Switzerland include cheese and chocolate. Swiss cheeses, in particular Emmental cheese, Gruyere, Vacherin, and Appenzeller, are famous Swiss products. The most popular cheese dishes are fondue and Raclette. Both these dishes were originally regional dishes, but were popularized by the Swiss Cheese Union to boost sales of cheese.


  • The Alphorn - A traditional instrument. Usually played at ceremonies.

  • Hornussen - Sport, a bit like lacrosse except you hit the ball with a large paddle.

  • Rifle-Runnug - Like endurance, run with a 6.2 kg backpack. For all Army soldiers.

  • August 1st - Light of fire works. Have a big Bonfire. Celebrate the rule that was made stating that Switzerland shall only be ruled by a fellow country men, not a foreign stranger.

  • Valentines day - February 14th. Give candy and love to your Mom, Dad, Girlfriend, and Boyfriend.

  • Six o'Clock ringin. - A celebration that marks the official end of the Winter season.

  • The Carnival - The children disguise themselves as animals, stars, monsters or else what. During the parade adults and children play different musical instruments such as the drums, the clarinet, the flute and the trumpet.

  • Mothers day - Give gifts and love to your mother. On the first Sunday of May.

  • Santa Clause day - A big scheme were the Santa Clauses go around town and read to the children. He is very happy when the children recite a verse or sing a song. The children get rewarded with oranges, tangerines, chocolate, nuts and other sweets.


The Swiss people are known for their warm heartedness and love of life. They celebrate many festivals in Switzerland with great gusto and tourists are welcome to join in while traveling in Switzerland. Many towns and villages have a feast day in honor of a local saint. There are also harvest festivals to celebrate the gathering of seasonal crops including fruit and wine. These secular festivals are a celebration of the bounty of the Swiss countryside. Christmas is a grand celebration in Switzerland when young and old celebrate this festival of brotherhood. Swiss wrestling or Schwingen tournaments are also the focus of local festivals. Specialized events such as the Locarno Film Festival and the Montreux Jazz Festival are important events in the cultural life of Switzerland and attract filmmakers and actors from around the world. You can enjoy participating in the festivals of Switzerland on tours of Switzerland with Switzerland Flexi Tours.


  • Did you know that Switzerland is known as the Banking center of Europe?!

  • Did you know that a Swiss immigrant was fighting for the Texas independence and on a sick leave, was captured by "Deaf Smith", the leader of a group of Texas Rangers after the Texas fight for independence?!

  • Did you know that if you lose your piece of bread in a cheese fondue pot, you have to buy the next tables bottle of wine?!

  • Did you know that the Swiss are perhaps the most punctual people on Earth?!


1. In 1821, two enterprising Swiss did settle in Texas on their own. They were Henry and Louis Rueg of Rolle, Switzerland. Both had arrived in the United States in 1818, bringing with them several Dutch families to settle on the Red River near Compti, Louisiana. The colony was soon abandoned, and the Rueg brothers proceeded to Texas in 1821 as horse and mule traders. They opened a mercantile business at Nacogdoches and when the Department of Nacogdoches was created in 1834, Henry Rueg was appointed political chief.

2. Another early Swiss immigrant, Jean Louis Berlandier of Geneva came to Texas almost by accident. He was chosen by August Pyrame de Candolle, a prominent Genevese naturalist, to make botanical collections in Mexico. Berlandier arrived in December 1826 and became the botanist for the Mexican Boundary Commission which went north under the direction of Manuel de Mier y Teran in 1827. During March. April and May of 1828 the botanist made collections around San Antonio, Gonzales and San Felipe. In addition, he compiled the first major ethnographic study of Texas Indians. Berlandier proved himself as one of the most prolific and versatile writers of the American West.


Part 1:

  • My culture group, the Swiss, has affected Texas in many ways. First of all, Swiss cheese and chocolate was brought here, and my stomach has never felt happier. Some Swiss immigrants and their families helped aid Texas in it's fight for independence. The immigrants contributed to Texas in ways of Banking, Farming, Dairy, and Ranching.

  • The contributions of Swiss immigrants to the history of the state have been far out of proportion to their relatively small numbers. A group of German-speaking Swiss settled the community of Schoenau, between Shelby and Industry, in Austin County. They built a hall nearby for their "Harmony Verein," where they enjoyed dancing and athletics and organized a singing society, Helvetia Schönau Männerchor, in the 1880s. The community disappeared, but the hall was still standing and in use in 1968.

Part 2:

  • I think Texas is better off with immigration. Without it, our lovely state would not be what it is like today. We would not have such diverse cosmopolitans. Restaurants would not be as diverse in foods, and all would be selling hamburgers or macaroni and cheese (figuratively speaking).

  • There are many Swiss stores scattered around Texas that sell memorabilia and momentos from Switzerland. There are Swiss foods, like Cheese fondue and Swiss cheese, in various ailes of your local supermarket.


  • "The Free Automatic Bibliography and Citation Maker." EasyBib. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2013.

  • "Swiss Cuisine." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Nov. 2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2013.

  • "The Swiss Texans." :: Institute of Texan Cultures Publications Collection. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2013.

  • "SWISS." FIELD, WILLIAM T. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2013.

  • "Validate();Developing Leaders. Driving Innovation." Swiss_Culture. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.

  • "History of Texas Cultures." ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.


Eshaan Joshi

GT Texas History - Period 5

Culture Group: Swiss