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The first settlers of Texas generally came from Spain, although a few Frenchmen settled in eastern Texas. Between 1821 and 1836 about 38,000 settlers came from the United States, especially from the southern states. In the thirty years before the Civil War, many European emigrants came to Texas. They were mostly Germans, Poles, Czechs, Swedes, Norwegians, and Irish. By 1850, some 33,000 Germans had settled in Texas.
After the Civil War many people left the South and went to Texas. Others came from the North Central states, especially farmers of Swedish, Polish, and Irish descent. More Europeans came at this time, including Belgians, Danes, and Greeks. Most of these settled in the cities.
Numerous Mexicans came to Texas in the late 19th and early 20th century. Records of 20th century Mexican border crossings are available at the National Archives and Family History Library. These include:
- Brownsville, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, El Paso, Laredo, Presidio, Rio Grande City, and Roma, Texas, alien arrivals 1903-1909
- Brownsville, lists for 1905-24 and 1929-57, indexes for 1905-52
- Eagle Pass, lists and indexes for 1905-53
- El Paso, lists for 1903-52, indexes for 1903-24, alphabetical cards 1945-1952
- Fort Hancock, alphabetical manifests 1924-1954
- Laredo, alien arrivals 1903-1907
- Laredo, lists and indexes for 1903-55
- Progreso/Thayer, index and manifests 1928-1955
- Roma, index and manifests 1928-1955
- Zapata, indexes and manifests 1923-1953
Two excellent histories that include the names of families who migrated to Texas from southern states are:
Williams, Villamae ed. Stephen F. Austin's Register of Families. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1989. (Family History Library book 976.4 W2au 1989.) This is based on original records in the General Land Office and pertains to families who arrived before statehood.
Marsh, Helen and Timothy. Tennesseans in Texas. Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1986. (Family History Library book 976.4 X2mh 1850.) The information in this is based on the 1850 census.
Records of major ethnic groups are listed in the catalog under TEXAS - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION and TEXAS - MINORITIES. You will find information about immigrant groups from Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Poland, and Sweden, as well as African-Americans, Ukrainians, and Wends. Records of Native Americans are listed in the locality search under TEXAS - NATIVE RACES and in the subject section of the catalog under the name of the tribe or language group.
Some excellent examples of ethnic sources that include lists of names are:
Hejl, Edmond H. Czech Footprints Across the Bluebonnet Fields of Texas: Villages of Origin. N.p., 1983. (Family History Library book 976.4 F2h; fiche 6125134.)
Geue, Chester W. and Ethel H. Geue. A New Land Beckoned: German Immigration to Texas, 1844-7. Enlarged ed. Waco, Texas: Texian Press, 1972. (Family History Library book 976.4 W2g 1972; 1966 ed. on film 1000608 item 5.)
Geue, Ethel H. New Homes in a New Land: German Immigration to Texas, 1847-1861. Waco, Texas: Texian Press, 1970. (Family History Library book 976.4 W2ge.)
Passenger Arrival Records
Many people who moved to Texas originally arrived in the United States at the port of New Orleans. The National Archives and the Family History Library have passenger lists for New Orleans dating from 1820 to 1921, with indexes to 1952.
Galveston passenger lists from 1846 to 1871, 1896 to 1921, and index 1896-1951 are available at the National Archives at http://www.archives.gov/ and the Family History Library (Family History Library film 830233), and are indexed in two sources:
Ships Passenger Lists, Port of Galveston, Texas, 1846-1871. Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1984. (Family History Library book 976.4139/G1 W3s.)
Blaha, Albert J. Passenger Lists for Galveston, 1850-1855. [Houston, Texas: A.J. Blaha], 1985. (Family History Library book 976.4139/G1 W3b; fiche 6099940.) This includes some Indianola arrivals.
The National Archives and the Family History Library also have Galveston arrival lists for 1893 and 1896 to 1921 (Family History Library films 1414827-40; 1414865-70) and indexes from 1896 to 1906 and 1906 to 1951 (Family History Library films 1402451-60.) Passenger lists and indexes are listed in the catalog under TEXAS - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION.