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Mennonites in Texas

The Quiet in the Land

By Laura L. Camden and Susan Gaetz Duarte

Publication Year: 2006

With their distinctive head coverings, plain dress, and quiet, unassuming demeanor, the Mennonites are a distinctive presence within the often flamboyant and proud people of Texas. If you have seen them at a gas station, in a grocery store, or even at the Dallas–Fort Worth airport, you have probably taken note and wondered how they came to be there. In this photographic tour of two Texas Mennonite communities, separated by almost 450 miles, Laura L. Camden and Susan Gaetz Duarte introduce you to the Beachy Amish Mennonites of Lott, a small community of approximately 160 people in Central Texas, and the very different Mennonites of Seminole, a West Texas farming community of more than five thousand residents and five separate congregations, several of which still speak the Mennonite Low German. Spending more than a year getting to know the families, participating in day-to-day activities, and photographing the unique culture of the communities, Camden and Gaetz Duarte developed deep insight into not just the religious beliefs but the family relationships, role expectations, and daily routines of these people. Through their camera lenses, they offer others a touchingly intimate view of a unique lifestyle seldom experienced by outsiders. In a foreword, former governor Ann Richards identifies the book as part of both the long photographic tradition in Texas and the tradition of cultural and religious diversity in the state. Mark L. Louden’s introduction provides the historical backgrounds of Mennonites in Europe, their core beliefs, and their development into branches in North America. Dennis Carlyle Darling offers insightful comments on the photography that allows an intimate, respectful view of the people, their lifestyle, and their culture.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. ix-

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Series Editor's Foreword

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pp. xi-xii

With Mennonites in Texas: The Quiet in the Land, photojournalist Laura L. Camden and documentary photographer Susan Gaetz join other authors in the Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, providing an informative and enjoyable view of two rural communities in Texas. Camden and Gaetz have photographed two different ...

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Foreword

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pp. xiii-xv

Laura Camden and Susan Gaetz spent more than a year studying and photographing the Mennonite settlements in Lott and Seminole for their master's theses at the University of Texas. Their interest in the Mennonites grew out of their family histories. They wanted to know more about these people who work so hard to achieve "simplicity" ...

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Preface

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pp. xvii-xix

Our experience among the Mennonites of Lott and Seminole was a wonderful, enlightening opportunity for both of us. We gained an appreciation for and an understanding of a unique and growing culture that many Texans know very little about. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 3-12

In a state known for its size and pride, a people known for understatement stands out. They are not numerous in the wide expanse of Texas, but when the plainly dressed Mennonites enter a store, walk down a sidewalk, or pass through an airport waiting area, heads turn to watch them. Ours did. ...

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A Spiritual Journey

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pp. 13-24

THE MENNONITES in North America are a relatively familiar, yet often misunderstood, group within the larger society that both surrounds and includes them. In that regard, they have much in common with other minority communities that are identifiable by any one of a number of racial, ethnic, spiritual, or other characteristics. ...

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Building a West Texas Home

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pp. 25-34

IT DOESN'T LOOK much like the promised land, these desolate High Plains of West Texas, dotted with natural gas wells and inhabited by rattlesnakes and jackrabbits. Red dirt piles up against fences alongside flat blacktopped roads used only by occasional pickup trucks. But for thousands of hard-working Mennonites ...

Images

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pp. 35-60

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Colonizing the Texas Prairies

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pp. 61-74

ABOUT 450 MILES southeast of Seminole, the tiny town of Lott, population 750, hunkers down on a grassy, windswept area of Central Texas known as the Blackland Prairies. The area is a patchwork of cattle herds, pecan trees, and cotton and corn fields, and its pioneer heritage suits the Beachy Amish Mennonite ...

Images

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pp. 75-102

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Photographers' Afterword: In Search of Simpler Times

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pp. 103-112

THIS BOOK is the first of its kind in Texas. Giving glimpses into the everyday life of two Texas Mennonite communities, the combined images come from two separate, long-term photographic studies that began as master's theses at the University of Texas - Austin. We conducted our studies independently. ...

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The Act of Witnessing Ordinary Dreams

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pp. 113-116

WE LIVE IN AN ENVIRONMENT dense with visual imagery. Much of this abundance is directed toward the selling of products or the creation of visual fodder for the celebrity-obsessed public. A far smaller portion of contemporary image making deals with documentary-style photography, and much of this deals with images ...

Bibliography

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pp. 117-118

Index

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pp. 119-123


E-ISBN-13: 9781603445382
E-ISBN-10: 1603445382
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585444977
Print-ISBN-10: 1585444979

Page Count: 133
Illustrations: 48 b&w photots. Map.
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce

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Subject Headings

  • Seminole Region (Tex.) -- Religious life and customs.
  • Amish Mennonites -- Texas -- Lott.
  • Mennonites -- Texas -- Seminole Region.
  • Lott (Tex.) -- Religious life and customs.
  • Beachy Amish Mennonite Fellowship.
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