The Harness Maker's Dream: Nathan Kallison and the Rise of South Texas

The Harness Maker's Dream: Nathan Kallison and the Rise of South Texas

The Harness Maker's Dream: Nathan Kallison and the Rise of South Texas

The Harness Maker's Dream: Nathan Kallison and the Rise of South Texas


Both historical study and ancestral narrative, The Harness Maker's Dream follows the story of Ukrainian immigrant Nathan Kallison's journey to the United States in search of a brighter future. At the turn of the twentieth century, over two million Jews emigrated from Czarist Russia and Eastern Europe to escape anti-Semitic law. Seventeen-year-old Kallison and his brothers were among those brave enough to escape persecution and pursue a life of freedom by leaving their homeland in 1890. Faced with the challenges of learning English and earning wages as a harness maker, Kallison struggles to adapt to his new environment.

Kallison moves to San Antonio, Texas, where he finds success by founding one of the largest farm and ranch supply businesses in south Texas and eventually running one of the region's most innovative ranches. Despite enormous changes in environment and lifestyle, Nathan Kallison and his beloved wife Anna manage to maintain their cultural heritage by raising their children in the Jewish faith, teaching them that family values and a strong sense of character are more important than any worldly achievement.

The son of Nathan Kallison's daughter Tibe, author Nick Kotz provides a moving account of his ancestors' search for the American dream. Kotz's work has received recognition by the Texas Jewish Historical Society for eloquently depicting the reality of life for Jewish immigrants in Texas during this time and delineating their significant contributions to society. Kotz's insight into the life of this inspiring individual will prompt readers to consider their own connections to America's immigrant past and recognize the beauty of our nation's diverse history.


The Center for Texas Studies at TCU was delighted when approached about partnering with the TCU Press to publish Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nick Kotz’s outstanding story of an immigrant’s move to and life in Texas in the early twentieth century. the Center’s mission is to celebrate all that makes Texas distinctive. Nathan Kallison is among the distinguished individuals— from Native Americans to the “Old 800” and many others who followed—who have helped to form the culture of honor, entrepreneurship, courage, and resilience that characterize the state of Texas. They are at the heart of what we celebrate.

I wish to thank those many organizations and individuals who have contributed to the support of the Center for Texas Studies, in particular the Burnett Foundation, the Lowe Foundation, the lane and John Justin Foundation, and the Summerlee Foundation. Without their sponsorship, worthy projects that celebrate Texas would not be possible.

—Mary L. Volcansek Executive Director the Center for Texas Studies at tcu

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