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Welcome to the Wendish Research Exchange's WendBlogs section. Here you will read the musings and advice from one of several Wendish Blogmeisters whom have generously volunteered their time to participate. Please recognize that responses to your comments may or may not be forthcoming, but you are certainly encouraged to comment.

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Welcome to Grassyville, Texas

Monday 11 May 2020 at 8:01 pm

The Grassyville area in northeast Bastrop County was settled by German Methodists. The interaction between Wendish Lutherans and German Methodists has not been fully explored and we welcome any insight into what life was like for another group of immigrants trying to make it in the "New World."

One of the writers for this group is Ed Makowski. When Ed started into family history he realized that there were not any stories about his ancestors who settled in close proximity to Serbin,Texas. There were few articles about other immigrants, like the German Methodists, to the area.  His intent was to tie the German Methodists and Wendish Lutherans together as neighbors although their backgrounds were different. 

Ed is not a prolific writer and we are grateful that he is willing to share what he has written. He was born at Lexington, Texas to Edwin W. Makowski and Bertha Grusendorf.  Edwin W. was the second son of Rev William Makowski who served the German Methodist Church in the early 1920s.  Bertha (Betty) was daughter of August Grusendorf and Bertha Ebers who were raised on adjacent farms near the Grassyville church and cemetery. Edwin's father was proprietor of an auto repair shop at the southwest corner of the Lexington city square. They moved to Waco in 1932 where Edwin W. and a brother partnered Mac Bros Garage. Ed and his two sisters attended LaVega Schools in a suburb of Waco.

As other Grassyville writers and articles are discovered they too will become part of this blog. Be sure to also see more information on our site regarding Grassyville.

A Brief history of the Grassyville, Dixon Prairie, and Mesquite Churches

Tuesday 12 April 2016 at 7:40 pm

This article was copied from the April 23, 1967, Homecoming Bulletin.

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The Gathering by Clifton Seifert

Saturday 20 February 2016 at 09:16 am

The History of

The Methodist Episcopal Church

and

Cemetery

at

Lexington, Texas

and

The Families who founded It

Fathers of Our Faith

Charter Members, Methodist Episcopal Church, Lexington

1. Carl Bauer born in Unterkessack, Germany on 27 Oct 1853, died on 13 Apr 1937. Married Katherine Shimel on 13 Jun 1876. He came to Lexington in 1885 and farmed. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

2. Fritz Grusendorf, born in Gifhorn, Hanover, Germany on 11 Jul 1819, died on 7 Feb 1897. Married on 29 Aug 1847 to Marie Hartung who died in 1880 and married on 1 Oct 1881 to Augusta Hillegeist.

3. Henry Grusendorf was born in Grassyville in 1855 and moved to Lexington in 1879. C. W. Raschke and Adam Raesener married his sisters.

4. Oscar Hillegeist was born in Harris County, Texas on 17 Nov 1862, died 6 Jan 1931. Married Johanna Gest on 20 Dec 1883. He moved to Lexington about 1883 and farmed. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

5. Louis Hornung was born in Unterkessach, Germany on 16 Jan 1861, died on 21 Apr 1946. Married Friedricka Haussecker on 1 Jan 1886. He moved to Lexington about 1882 from Industry and farmed. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

6. Robert Otto was born in Grimma, Saxony on 2 Nov 1861, died on 23 Oct 1942. Married Pauline Letterman in 1890. He came to Lexington in 1885 and farmed. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

7. Franz Peterson was born in Anhalt, Dessau, Germany 20 Aug 1845, died on 1 Jul 1929. Married Mary Muenzler in Jan 1871. He came to Lexington from Industry in 1882 and farmed. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

8. Adam Raesener was born in Muehlenhausen, Germany on 4 Jan 1854, died on 2 Feb 1931. Married Mary Grusendorf on 1 Jan 1877, married Lina Boehm in 1912. He moved to Lexington about 1885. He was an ordained minister and farmed. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

9. C. W. Raschke was born on 27 May 1853 in Prussia (Bochow, Brandenburg, Germany) and died on 22 Dec 1938. He came to New York in June, 1869 and moved to Lexington in 1882.

10. Bernard Retzlaff was born in Posen, Germany on 5 Nov 1837, died on 11 Jan 1919. Married Mary Krake on 14 Jul 1874. From Industry he moved to Giddings and then on to Lexington about 1883. He joined Waul’s Legion while living in Industry, was captured and then fought with the Union Army. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

11. Jacob Seifert was born in Massenbachhausen, Germany 9 May 1841, died 29 Dec 1931. Married to Wilhelmina Fischer on 8 Jan 1870. He moved to Lexington before 1870, was a blacksmith and farmed. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War before coming to Texas. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

12. Gustav Urbantke was born in Beilitz, Austria on 4 May 1841, died on 12 Mar 1932. Married Caroline Muenzler on 3 Feb 1868. He moved to Lexington from Industry in 1882, was a lay minister and preached for 40 years. He joined Waul’s Legion while living in Industry and served in the Confederate Army. He was captured during the battle of Vicksberg. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

Louis Letterman was the last to come to Lexington in 1891. Robert Otto married his sister, Pauline in 1888. In Oct 1904, C. W. Raschke married his sister, Ernestine, after his first wife died.

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J. A. G. Rabe

Friday 12 February 2016 at 6:41 pm

[This is a portion of an article written by Rev. Arthur Repp titled, St.Paul's and St Peter's Lutheran Churches, Serbin, Texas, 1855-1905. It was first published in the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, Vol. XV, No. 2, July 1942.]

A number of Germans were scattered in the Pin Oak and Rabbs Creek region before the Wends came into the territory. A certain Mrs. Ch. Eisenbach and her young son, John Rabe, by a previous marriage, had formerly attended the Methodist church in La Grange during a short stay there. This family eventually joined the church of Kilian. John Rabe has left a personal record of the time, though written many years later:

“A large number of Serb or Wend families had settled in our vicinity. These had their own preacher, who also preached in the German language. Since there was an absence of any other church group, my mother joined this congregation. When I was 14, she also sent me there for confirmation instruction. Mr. Kilian made every imaginable effort to show me that the Lutheran religion was the only true and correct one, that it was the only correct middle between the extreme of the Roman superstition and the pietistic enthusiasm [Schwaermerei]. He had me learn many passages and funneled into me [trichterte] with great zeal the dogmatics of his Church. Of the living, saving faith; of the sincere confession and the complete change of heart; of the assurance of the forgiveness of sins and the testimony of the Holy Spirit; of all these great and elevating things of the Christian religion, not one dying word. Of course, I did not know anything else, as though there were no more to religion, and these proffered powerless hulls seemed a comfort [Labsal] to me. I looked with wonder and awe to my Gamaliel and marveled at his comprehensive Bible knowledge. Naturally I felt at this time a strange emptiness in my heart. A need did make itself known temporarily, which satisfaction, were I to follow the lead of my spiritual leader, I would have to look for in the foggy distance.

The day of my confirmation arrived [The second German confirmation performed by Rev. Johann Kilian in the Low Pinoak Settlement, 24 May 1857]. I felt the importance of the same, and during the act tears streamed down my cheeks. Not with a careless heart but with earnestness and humility I went to the Table of the Lord for the first time. Yet I found in all this no satisfaction, no rest for my soul.”

Since this was written years after its author became a German Methodist preacher, we realize that much of it is subjective. Nevertheless it gives an interesting view of a difficulty which was already beginning in the latter part of 1856. During this year a certain Rev. E. Schneider preached on the Pin Oak and Rabbs Creek, later organizing the present Grassyville congregation.

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My Life's Journey by Julius Edward Urbandtke

Friday 12 February 2016 at 6:37 pm

This is a story of Julius Urbantke, his early life in Bielitz, his coming to the United States in 1859 at age ten, and of his life and experiences as a pioneer preacher in Texas. The story he wrote was in German script on three pencil tablets. Many idiomatic expressions that make the German language so colorful and expressive are lost in translation, but every effort has been put forth to pass on the meaning Julius put into words as closely as possible.

Texas was chosen by many German speaking people in earlier days as the place to go to be relieved of pressures from military, industrial, and religious hardships in Europe after the middle of the nineteenth century. Julius Urbantke's mother and father heard of the opportunities which the New World to the West afforded through Carl Urbantke, an older son, who had emigrated to Texas in 1853, and who later sent his father enough money for their trip to America.

When one reads the most interesting account as Julius Urbantke, in his autobiography, told of the many hardships that were encountered in the early days in Texas, one is truly amazed in the thought of how the world has changed since 1859: from travel on horseback and ox wagons to space-age travel; from straight one-row plowing with oxen or mules to contour multi-row farming with tractors and other machinery; from starched and ironed homemade shirts with celluloid collars to short-sleeved permanent press open-collar shirts; from country roads rough and impassable especially in rainy weather to four lane freeways with three, four, and five decked interchanges; from one-room schools with one teacher trying to educate several grades to the present consolidated elementary and high schools with busses gathering its students in the surrounding area; from Methodist preachers who tried to serve three or four churches in a circuit to Methodist churches with several pastors and some with women ministers. These are just a few of the drastic changes that have come about since grandfather came to America in 1859. One has to wonder just what Julius would have to say about our country and world today over a hundred years after his arrival in Texas.

Julius Urbantke was a man of childlike faith, a man with an heroic spirit and great missionary zeal. Although the education of ministers in the pioneer days did not have to be extensive, some training was necessary. Even though Julius' formal education was very elementary, he was willing and able to put himself to any hard task. After giving his life to the service of the Lord, he endeavored to live up to the highest Christian principles and spent much time in prayer.

A short synopsis about Julius E. Urbantke was found in the superannuated preacher's listing in the Jubilee Edition of the Southern German Conference in Texas and Louisiana printed for the conference session in Seguin, Texas, in November, 1922. This synopsis gives a bit more information and shows grandfather's standing among his fellow workers in the conference. Following is the translation from German to English of part of page 91 in the Jubilee Conference Journal: "J. E. Urbantke was born on September 29, 1849, in Bielitz, Schlesien, Austria. After he came to this Land (America) in 1859, he joined the church in 1868. As a thoroughly converted, talented young man, he received his local preacher license in 1873. Since 1879 he has been a member of the Southern German Conference. In the 27 years of his successful active ministry,

he served seven different fields. He was the builder of three churches and enlarged four parsonages. Never did he leave behind any debts. No one knew the story of the Southern German Conference as well as he. Since 1903, he lives with his gentle and noble wife and family near Copperas Cove, Texas, where he, despite his high age, is still a powerful pillar in that congregation."

It is the wish of the undersigned that the heretofore introduction of the man who wrote the story of his life, and who truly lived his life with all possible physical and mental energy that a Christian pioneer of his day needed, will inspire you, the reader, to be eager and enthusiastic to delve into the pages of this remarkable autobiography.

A grand-daughter,

Estelle Kattner Froehner

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History of Grassyville Methodist Church

Monday 04 May 2015 at 11:10 pm

This article was published in three installments called Step Into the Past, in one of the Lee or Bastrop County newspapers, sometime after 1942. It was transcribed by Marcella Hamff Chapple in May 2015. Unfortunatley, the date and newspaper were not left on the articles as they were cut from the paper. If you know the exact year and date would you please let us know?

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Grassyville in the News by Weldon Mersiovsky

Saturday 28 March 2015 at 8:49 pm

The following news items were extracted from the appropriate newspapers that were found on the Portal to Texas History from 1878 to 1909. There are many more.

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Raesener Brothers of Grassyyille -A Story of Two Orphans

Sunday 19 May 2013 at 9:40 pm

Those seeking more information may log on to www.rootsweb.com. At the top of the Home Page click Family Trees, then scroll down until you see Specific Database, enter germantexan in the box. The index that appears can guide you to the person in whom you have an interest. The information also appears in Ancestry.com as Texas' German Families but navigating is a little more difficult there.

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William Makowski, Methodist Circuit Rider

Wednesday 15 May 2013 at 11:40 pm

Most of the facts related here were extracted from a booklet written in 1980 by Frieda Makowski Grusendorf entitled "The Life and Labors of William Makowski", reproduced and bound by Polygraphics, San Marcos, Texas. Frieda was the only daughter of William and Henrietta Makowski.

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William K. Ebers, Wagon Master

Saturday 11 May 2013 at 9:25 pm

“William K. Ebers, Wagon Master” was previously published in The Journal, German-Texan Heritage Society, Austin, Texas, Volume 31, Number 2, Summer 2009, pages 155ff and is published here with his permission.

Introduction

While this article by Makowski does not mention anything about the Wends there are at least two stories about Wends involved in the cotton trade. Use your imagination to imagine your Wendish ancestors doing the same thing for the same reason as you read the following three paragraphs and Makowski's tale of William Ebers. 

1. Carl Teinert was involved in the hauling of cotton to Matamoros. It was on the day of his wife's funeral, 17 November 1863, that Carl Teinert returned home from a trip hauling cotton to Mexico during the Civil War. As he approached his home he noticed all the people milling around. That is when and how he first became aware of her death.

2. Lillie Moerbe Caldwell, in her book, Texas Wends: Their First Half-Century, page 62 and following tells a story this way: "The Wends used all kinds of excuses to keep their men from going to war. ...several got affidavits to prove them unfit for services so that they could haul cotton to Mexico and run the blockade at Bagdad on the Mexican border. In exchange for their cotton they got lots of money, with which they bought and brought back all kinds of good from Mexico, San Antonio, and Houston.

As soon as the war started, Christoph Schatte realized that he and his adopted nephew Johann could not keep up the work of his blacksmith shop. People were buying new wagons that had to be checked; old wagons had to have many repairs and much overhauling so they would be strong enough to haul cotton and other freight as far away as Mexico and other cities. Schatte decided to move the blacksmith shop close to his home. In this way they could get more done and still have some time to spend with their family. Johann could also be spared more often to visit his firl friend Anna Zwahr, who lived at Prairie Branch. Christoph hired a number of men to help him dig a deep tank (stock pond) close to his house so that he would have plenty of water at all times to cool the hot iron from the blacksmith anvil. Rosina, his wife, Maria Pilak, the adopted daughter, and his son Andreas, all were able to help with the many little jobs in the shop. Many times during the war Christoph and all of his family worked day and night to get the wagons out for the teamsters.

Right in the middle of this busy time, in October 29, 1863, Johann Schatte, Christoph's adopted son, married his sweetheart Anna Zwahr. They moved into the home of Anna's mother, who was a widow with five other children and who was sick. Johann was needed there. After that Christoph Schatte's job was even harder on him, for help was hard to find at that time.

A short time later Ferdinand Jacob Moerbe, Ernest Moerbe's brother, who had lived with the Ernest Moerbes since they came to Texas, married a girl [Johanna Rahele Anna Dube] from Fedor, Texas, where they had made their home after the wedding. After Ferdinand left Ernest Moerbe's home, Mr Moerbe decided to take his young son Johann Traugott with him, as did most of the other Wendish fathers who were hauling freight. He promised his son a brand new freight wagon and a team of six mules for his seventeenth birthday, which was on October 1, 1864. This generous gift proved to be a big mistake; for on Johann Traugott's first hauling trip with the new wagon, while the team was pulling it up a steep river bank, the loaded wagon came loose, ran over the boy and instantly killed him."

3.  Anna Blasig in her book,in her book, The Wends of Texas, pages 51 and 52 tells about the cotton haulers this way: "The Wendish settlers prospered during the Civil War. They brought to Serbin a large amount of goods from Mexico, in exchange for their cotton, and had plenty of money. Since cotton was higher-priced than wool, some of the men hauled bales of cotton with freight wagons, drawn by srong oxen or horses, to Houston and at times returned with as much as twenty pieces of gold."

If someone has more to tell of Carl Teinert and others about their adventures running cotton, we offer this as a place to publish them.

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Grassyville - German Methodists of Eastern Bastrop County

Saturday 11 May 2013 at 8:31 pm

This article was originally published in The Journal of The German-Texan Heritage Society, Austin, Texas. volume XI, Number 2, 1989, pages 102-105. It is published here with the permission of Edwin Makowski. The first paragraph has been slightly revised by Weldon Mersiovsky and George Nielsen.

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