Ann Lozano

DOMENECH, EMMANUEL HENRI DIEUDONNÉ (1825–1903). Emmanuel Domenech, a Catholic priest, was born at or near Lyons, France, on November 6, 1825, to Gabriel and Jeanne (Fournier) Domenech. The elder Domenech was a bottle-top manufacturer. Emmanuel was recruited as a missionary by Bishop Jean Marie Odin and traveled to America in 1846 with Claude M. Dubuis and his companions. Upon finishing his theological studies at the Seminary of the Barrens in St. Louis, he was ordained in San Antonio on October 1, 1848; he may have been the first priest to be ordained in Texas. Although he worked in New Braunfels and Brownsville and traveled to surrounding communities, he was officially stationed first at Castroville, then at Eagle Pass. In 1852, because of his distaste for the hardships of missionary life and his continuing poor health, he returned to France, where he served as a priest and began a supplementary career as a travel writer and amateur ethnologist.

His Journal d'un missionnaire au Texas et au Mexique, published in Paris in 1857, was translated into English in 1858 as Missionary Adventures in Texas and Mexico. The book describes the trials of early Catholic missionaries and is filled with vivid sketches of the Texas frontier and anecdotes about its people. He found Houston "infested with Methodists and ants" and dismissed Austin, "the seat of the Texian legislature," as "a small dirty town" with "only one wretched hotel." Domenech's Seven Years' Residence in the Great Deserts of North America (London, 1860) contains much firsthand observation of Indian customs and archeological monuments in Texas and other border states. He published in the same year an anonymous collection of drawings of Indian pictographs from the holdings of the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal in Paris. This collection he entitled Manuscrit pictographique américain (called Livre des sauvages in the Parisian library's records), a controversial work that, together with his Seven Years' Residence in the Great Deserts, is an important source of information on American Indians of the Southwest.

In 1864 Domenech accompanied French troops into Mexico as a chaplain; he later became press secretary to Emperor Maximilian. His three-volume Histoire du Mexique (Paris, 1868) is made up of extracts from hundreds of unedited letters and documents of the years 1848 to 1869, from both Mexico and Texas, to which he had access. He published many repetitious, exaggerated, and self-glorifying accounts of his experiences and travels, but his colorfully detailed narrative of the establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in Texas, amid the tensions of boundary disputes with Mexico and the devastation of an epidemic of cholera, has no counterpart. He died of apoplexy and was buried at Lyons, France, on September 9, 1903, with military honors.

Catholic Archives of Texas, Files, Austin. E. H. D. Domenech, Les Secrets de ma Valise (Paris: Dentu, 1895).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Ann Lozano, "DOMENECH, EMMANUEL HENRI DIEUDONNE," accessed August 26, 2019,

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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