Memory, Materiality, and Alsatian Identity in Castroville, Texas

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2017

Historical archaeology in Castroville, Medina County, Texas offers an ideal forum for studying the interplay of identity, class, memory and materiality. In the 1840s, empresario Henri di Castro brought Alsatian settlers from the Rhine Valley to south Texas, where the new arrivals joined established Mexican families, German immigrants, and displaced Apache. Today, Castroville town leaders see the celebration of Alsatian heritage as a source of economic growth and development. The Castro Colonies Heritage Association (CCHA) is transforming a 19th-century property called the Biry House into a focal point for Alsatian heritage tourism. In partnership with CCHA, Binghamton University has completed three excavation seasons at the property. The material record that we have unearthed provides a narrative that confirms, complicates and challenges written and remembered histories, illustrating how seven generations of house inhabitants constructed and contested Alsatian identity.