Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blanco - davno davno

As you've read elsewhere in my writing and general blathering like the old man that I am, you know already that I wasn't born in Texas and neither were my parents nor grandparents.

We are Hrvat, Slavonijan in the old sense of being from the ancient Kingdom of Slavonija over on the western end in what is now the area of Bjelovar.  In fact the family has been in North America longer than there has been a United States of America, which sometimes gives some of us a perspective which other "Americans" do not necessarily share.

If I've told you part of this story before just bear with me.  I'm an old guy and I get to rattle on.  It's one of the rights you get when you get old.  The family arrived in North America just in time to provide munitions to the Americans and the British in the French and Indian War thing.  It seems we brought better water power technology from the Balkans than the British folk had at that time. In the late 1700's some of the family joined the ustanak in favor of the Amerikanski and their new  Constitution.  Hej hej, I'm a paid up member of the Sons of the American Revolution. 

Nonetheless, after several adventures a large part of the family continued to migrate to the west.  Let's see, dive into my head with me a minute or two.  Let the drums beat and the washboard rub.  Let the tambura strum and that one stringed thing screech its sound while the old ones tell some of the stories.   Shhh, listen!

Some of these sometime probably ought to have their very own article but for now there was the little matter in Pennsylvania where the gun powder works blew sky high taking with it two of the three brothers and some other people whose families were not at all forgiving of the incident.  Then there was the U.S. government grant to build a toll road the length of Alabama which went just fine until the U.S. government decided that neither it nor its contractors need to pay any tolls.  Then there was the "Emporium of the West" on the Tennessee River.   A major flood on the river swept that dream away.

The Hapsburg family who had so much wanted to exterminate us in Europe welcomed us with open arms as we entered Spain.  To be clear, they welcomed us as we entered New Spain.

The old gunpowder mill "irons", with some repairs, are the basis of the waterwheel in Stover which is now a tiny historical park.  The Hapsburgs saw a future in Texas beef being shipped overland on the hoof to the United States, thus the family was granted the rights to somehow ship cattle between Orah Vode (Now Walnut Springs which is approximately downtown Sequin, Texas) and Stover, Missouri.

One of the family was granted the exclusive rights to the Trinity river and all the lands which it drained by the King of Spain.  The family had dreams of shallow draft boats navigating the river and turning it into a major highway from the Gulf of Mexico to the interior of New Spain.  There were too many twists in the river and too many sandbars in the summer to make that feasible.  Then, there was the small matter of the cattle on one barge all moving to one side of the barge.  Zbogom barge, zbogom cows.  Swim for your life!  Someone in the family later attempted the voyage with a steam powered paddle wheel, but too many twists and curves and too many sandbars and sunken logs in the river for that to succeed.

The United States government and the government of Texas usually uphold those old grants given by the Kings of Spain in those times, but, let's see, Dallas and Fort Worth are at the head waters of the Trinity.  Hmmmm can you imagine the clean up that would be required to meet the current water quality standards.  It would require trillions of dollars in investment.  Its much better to let the Trinity River Authority, a Texas agency have their way.  Oh dear, our family's contribution to socialism is letting the government control what by rights should be our private property.

Texas.  We Croats have been here a long time.  Explored the place.  Did business in the place and contributed to its settlement. 

Orah Vode was one of those places.  I lived near there for a few years and silently smiled to my self when some people considered me a "new comer."  Heh heh, I'm smiling now.  We were there before there was a United States, before there was a Texas,  when Mexico was a Vice Royalty of the Holy Roman Empire. 

Blanco, Texas.  Blanco = španjolski "white"?  Da.  Istina.  You betcha that's what it means from jezik španjolski.  Sigh.  Blansko is the proper name.  Wait!! That's the name of a selo in Moravia, right?   This is the selo in Moravia where Eva and Vašek the musicians live today.  So how did the name of a Moravian town find its way to Texas?   Now this is the part which may blow your mind into smithereens.  Blansko got its name from actually by way of the Peneteka (running foam i.e. "the surf's up") Comanches.

Some of you Slovenijan folk have been wondering about where some of your folk went when they came to Texas.  Uh, well, some of them ended up with names like "Running Wolf."  I sincerely hope that doesn't hurt your feelings but its just the facts.  Blansko had folk from all over eastern Europe who somehow hung in there and built a life.

One of the "chiefs" of the Surf's Up Indians was named Ketemoczy.  An Indian with a Carpathian or Balkan sounding name?  Yup, its a fact jack.  You see, the settlement of Texas didn't take place by thousands of boats bringing hundreds of thousands of people all at once to the place. Nor were there there thousands of covered wagons penetrating the place all at one time.  That looks good in the movies, saves the producers a lot of time developing their story but its not how it was.   A lot of the settlement, at least from the Balkans and the Carpathians came a few families at a time usually with nothing except the clothes on their back and their skills.

We have talked about the early settlement of Brownsville / Matamoros where there were no "indigenous" people around at first.  Along the edge of the Llano (pronounced like Ljano) where the waters run swift and clear there were already some Indians around.  Not many, but some.  When our first settlers from the Carpathians encountered the Comanches in this area they said for pozdrav and smiled.  Smiles so often go a long way you know, so does a smile along with a nicely said pozdrav. 
the "Old Courthouse" in Blanco

By the time the German settlers began arriving the small community of Indians and the small community of Carpathian folk had merged sufficiently for one of the Carpathian fellows to be considered a "chief."  Baron Otfried Hans von Meusebach wisely chose Lorenzo Ružic to accompany him into the territory of the Surf's Up Indians.  Ružic could govoriti the jezik of the Surf's Up Indians so they worked out a treaty.

Part of article two of the treaty says on english: "In regard to the settlement on the Llano the Comanche promise not to disturb or in any way molest the German colonists, on the contrary, to assist them, also to give notice if they see Indians about the settlement who come to steal horses from or in any way molest the Germans – the Germans likewise promising to aid the Comanches against their enemies, should they be in danger of having their horses stolen or in any way to be injured."  Meusebach's German settlers mostly preferred the area around Fredricksburg to the south and so the Surf's Up "Indians" were pretty much left alone after all.

This treaty has the distinction of being the only treaty between "Indians" and any one else in the lands of the United States which has never been broken by either side.  For what its worth, most of the German and Anglo settlement of the region has come since the US Civil war.  Where are the Surf's Up Indians?  Ummm, they are still around.  Now they pretty much all speak on engleski and study about "Native Americans" in books published in New York or some other foreign country like New Jersey.
the old movie theater is still there

I lived in Blanco in the 1950's.  I have a lot of very very fond memories, some of which I may share later.   Shhh I even sometimes wore  a turkey feather head-dress.  But for now

Embrace the finches!
Happy misdeeds!

Canovals a.k.a. Slavonac

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