Rich Heritage, Broad Horizons
There exists a rich and fascinating story which links two countries, countless family histories, and the most intriguing but unexpected human connections all together. It has many iterations, and just as many threads... it can be told as a story of yore, of immigrants who left "The Old Country" with pioneer spirits to seek new lives in new lands. It can also be the tale of how a European culture became fascinated by two fictional Western characters—born in the mind of a German author—whose mythical adventures in the Southwest United States became the literary love of generations. It can also be told, most importantly of all, as a story born of rich history and which is still evolving, vibrant and alive, touching lives in both Texas and Germany.
Read a summary of some of Dr. McClain's successful missions to celebrate, deepen and extend these amazing connections:
Hank Smith (Born 1836 as Heinrich Schmitt in Bavaria)
Hank Smith was the first pioneering German-American to settle on the Llano Estacado. Though some in West Texas may not know of him, his legacy is a story of the true pioneer, and eventually resulted in the settlement of Crosbyton, Texas (where the centerpiece of the community is the Crosby County Pioneer Museum—a replica of Hank's original home which he built in nearby Blanco Canyon).
His particular Texan-German story is simply fascinating with some intensely interesting and unexpected connections and comparisons:
German Texans—Leaving Their Mark on the Lone Star State, Heritage, A Publication of the Texas Historical Foundation, Summer 2002. [Note file may take a few moments to load due to size.]
Texas Family Heritage
At a time when the world is fascinated by lineage and the unending questions about "where we come from," the increasing accessibility of information (courtesy of the Internet) helps more than ever to empower exploration and understanding of family background. It is so important to support all these insights and new interactions, large and small, which will in turn help preserve the connection modern families have with their amazing German predecessors and their contributions to Texas.
For New Generations of Texans & Germans
The promise of continued appreciation for this incredible history by younger generations is one of the most hopeful and positive elements one could imagine. The evidence of this, in an active, daily-life context, has been more than demonstrated throughout Dr. McClain's career supporting the TTU German Dancers, the Karl May Symposium, and the TTU Quedlinburg Program. The potentials are infinite.
Texas Communities / Texas Citizens
There are historical communities and areas in Texas—some nearly as old as the state itself—that were settled or founded by German immigrants. They are widespread, some being in the Hill Country, including famed Fredericksburg, where Dr. McClain is officially an Ehrenbürger (Honorary Citizen), and some far north, including towns in West Texas and the Texas Panhandle. In addition, there are incredible people of German ancestry who have made amazing contributions to Texas life and culture in modern times, such as Georgia Mae Smith Ericson, granddaughter of Hank Smith (Schmidt).
There are also Texas historical societies and organizations dedicated to the preservation and celebration of German heritage. Dr. McClain's work has been recognized jointly by both of the prominent state-wide organizations, the Texas German Society (TGS), Bellville, Texas, and the German-Texan Heritage Society, Austin, Texas.
National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration
Dr. McClain (seated far right) with other awardees of the 2012 National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration, including an awardee representing a group from Germany.
The National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration (NCSC), located in the heart of the Llano Estacado in Lubbock, has been a reason for many Germans to visit the South Plains, and to make a once-in-a-lifetime connection to all the varied elements the Symposium & Celebration represents.
Williamson County Sun Newspaper: A Lifetime Fascination With Deutschland's Culture
Lubbock Online Article: Fasching makes way to South Plains via German-Americans
Lubbock Online Article: Legacy - Display Showcases German Immigrants
Gazette, the Newsletter of the Federation of German-American Clubs: Promoting Understanding & Friendship, March 2012
Helping people gain insights into the incredible connections between Texas and Germany is an endeavor which takes a variety of forms. Whether it springs from an appreciation for heritage or from the learning of a new language, there is no doubt of its positive impact on countless people, in both nations.
Dr. McClain's career-length endeavors, spanning scholarly research, education, and international relations, have been deemed so significant she was bestowed one of Germany's highest civilian honors, the Lucius D. Clay Medal.
Pictured above is Dr. McClain (2nd from left) with U.S. Ambassador Philip D. Murphy (3rd from left) at the 2010 ITB Berlin (International Tourism Bureau) in Berlin, Germany.