In Zilker Park, Austin, Texas stands the Philosopher's Rock honoring three legends in the accumulation of Texas folklore, J. Frank Dobie, Walter Prescott Webb and Roy Bedichek. The Wendish Research Exchange of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society submits their own legend to the trio, George Nielsen.Read More
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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Latest CommentsJim Woelfel (Excerpts from Emi…): Emilie Woelfel Michalk was my fathers sister and thus my aunt. Most of what we know about their ear…
Johnny Kasper (Wendish Settlers …): Ps- Johann Kasper was not born in Kolpen, as thought. According to church records, he was born in Te…
Johnny Kasper (Wendish Settlers …): Hi Debbie, I did go to Germany and spent some time in the church in Lohsa. It was well worth the …
Debbie Frankenbac… (Wendish Settlers …): Johnny Kasper, I am also a descendent of Andreas Kasper. he is my great, great, great grandfather.…
Debbie Frankenbac… (Wendish Settlers …): Johnny, I am also a descendent of Andreas Kasper…great,great granddaughter of George Kasper. I saw …
Jason Nowka (Nebraska Wends): Blown away as well! Have just started on genealogy of my family. Gottfried Nowka is my 3rd great gra…
This article, introduced by George Nielsen and written by Pat Larsen, first appeared in the July 2016 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society, Serbin, Texas.
One aspect of Wendish life that is generally ignored in Wendish studies is the daily activity of making a living. While most Wends took up farming, there were also some who became craftsmen. One of the craftsmen was Andrew Urban. A descendant of his, Patricia Swayze Larsen, has examined his life and his contribution to the community. Patricia spent her early childhood in Thorndale but then, as a student and later spouse of Brig. Gen. Philip N. Larsen, she lived in San Antonio and the Washington, D. C. area. She is an ardent family historian and is well versed in her Wendish heritage.
If you have an ancestor who impressed you with his approach to making a living, please write about that person and share your information with us. George Nielsen.
This article by George Nielsen first appeared in the October 2016 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society.Read More
Until now we had only four accounts of the 1854 migration written by individuals who were participants.
1. Pastor Johann Kilian left his collection of a diary, letters, and notes. (See the TWHS Newsletter of October 2012 "Death on the Irish Sea."
2. A German, August Haak, also wrote an account of his experiences, which Dr. Joseph Wilson published in the Journal of the German-Texas Heritage Society and subsequently appeared in A Collection of Histories of St Paul Lutheran Church, Serbin, Texas in commemoration of the congregations 150th anniversary in 2003.
3. A third source of information was a letter written by Johann Sommer, also printed in the January 2002 issue of the TWHS Newsletter.
4. And the fouirth is a letter (Ein Brief) written by Johann Teinert many years after the actual voyage.
Now, thanks to the work of Marilyn Luce Miertschin Nickelsburg we have a fifth source - an account written by Johann Kieschnick.
Marilyn Nickelsburg traces her Wendish ties to the Kieschnick and Miertschin families, and has done extensive work on the Miertschin family. A fourth generation Wend, she was born in Texas (Ft. Worth) but lived in other states - separated from Wendish connections. She married George W. Nickelsburg, a pastor who became professor of religous studies at the University of Iowa. They are now retired and reside in Washington.
This article first appeared in the January 2016 edition of the Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society.Read More
This article first appeared in the October 2015 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.texaswendish.org)Read More
This blog wants to encourage you to tell us how your parents or grandparents felt about dancing. To start off this investigation, George Nielsen has offered up his first recollections about dancing.Read More
This article appeared in the April and July 2015 editions of the Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society, Serbin, Texas.Read More
Intro by George Nielsen
Serbin's official beginning took place in 1860 when the government honored the community's request and gave the little village a post office. From 1860 on Serbin experienced a modest growth until 1890 when the railroad builders bypassed Serbin and then began its decline and lost its status symbol—the post office—in 1909.
Much of Serbin's fifty-year existence was uneventful, but during Serbin's early years the troubles associated with Reconstruction spilled over and disrupted life in Serbin as well. Historians date Reconstruction from the conclusion of the war in 1865 until 1877 when all the seceding states were back in the Union.
Not all states were on the same Reconstruction timetable, but most went through similar stages. For Texas the first stage, from 1865 to 1870, was a contentious time as the Northern leaders set up a provisional government and established guidelines for readmission. Those uncertainties, in addition to the disruption of civilian life resulting from the war, provided an environment conducive for violence.
Texas was readmitted into the Union in 1870 and elected Republican leaders, but politics was often the cause for problems rather than a solution. The young Republican Party was northern party and Abraham Lincoln had won with Northern votes. The party leaders planned a national party by establishing it in the South as well. They envisioned a Republican Party based on the former Southern Whigs, immigrant Northerners who saw business opportunities in the South, and the Freedmen. The Democrats were not inclined to step aside and instead used methods, including violence, to regain political power. They elected a Democrat governor in 1873 and then wrote a new constitution in 1876.
Kenneth Kesselus, in his study of Bastrop County during Reconstruction, frequently refers to a German resident of Bastrop named Julius Schutze (Schuetze). His residency in Bastrop was brief—from 1864 to 1870. He had immigrated to Texas in 1852 and lived in various locations including San Antonio and Austin. He taught speech and music, tuned pianos, and was active in the Sängerbund.
He moved to Bastrop to teach school in 1864 but after the Civil War the Provisional Governor of Texas, Andrew J. Hamilton, appointed Schuetze to the position of Chief Justice of Bastrop County. In 1869 was elected to the state legislature as a Republican. After he left Bastrop County he edited a German newspaper in Austin, cultivated silkworms, and served as President of the Sons of Hermann. (Source: Handbook of Texas Online)
Schuetze's brief political career serves as an example of a Texas German who during Reconstruction worked to build a Republican Party on a base of Germans, Freedmen, and Southern whites. It also illustrates the ultimate return to private life of Republicans as the Democrats regained political power.
Schuetze's contribution to Wendish studies is a list of citizens, both black and white, that could be trusted to register former slaves and disenfranchise former Confederates. The requirements for such a position included taking an oath of loyalty to the Constitution and also the test oath that included the statement that they had not voluntarily supported the Confederacy. Schuetze's list did not separate German from Wend, but Kesselus included the list in an Appendix so we can do it now. Information on Wendish political participation is hard to find and many never were naturalized so this list in valuable because it does name those Wends who were Unionists in 1867 and sympathetic to the formation of a Republican Party that included freed slaves.
John Dube, John Heohle (Hohle), J. Knippie (John Knippa), G. Mertik (George Mertink), M. Morasko (Matthes Mrosko), John Schoenig, M. Simmank, M. N. Trellop (Matthes Prellop), John Urban, M. Domaschk (Matthes Domaschk), A. Polnick (August Polnick), John Schatte, Mathias Schultze, J. Semme (John Symm), M. Wukash, Joe Deo, Ch. Lehman (Charles Lehman), M. Mitich (Matthes Mitschke), J. Schneider (John "Captain" Schneider), M. Schuster (Matthes Schuster), J. Schilling (John Schelnick), Jacob Urban, M. Wagner (Matthes Wagner), Adam Ritter, J. Schellneck (John Schelnick), J. Kilian (John Kilian)
Other Wends identified as dependable Union/Republican men: Carl Mischalk (Carl Michalk), Peter Persch (Peter Gersch), Carl Lehmann (The Godfather), Fred Sedyler (Fred Seydler), and Andreas Kieschnick.Read More
This article was initially a seminar paper written in 1959 for Mody C. Boatright's seminar at the University of Texas. It was later published in Mody C. Boatright (ed.) et al. Singers and Storytellers (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1961), 244-259, and later an abridged version was printed in Francis Edward Abernethy (ed.) The Folklore of Texan Cultures (Austin: The Encino Press, 1974), 290-300. For more information on Wendish folklore read Mato Kosyk's letter found in the Johann August Urban entry in WENDS WHO BROKE THE PATTERN in George's Journal at Wendishresearch.org. See also George R. Nielsen, In Search of a Home: Nineteenth-Century Wendish Immigration (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1989), 119-124.Read More
This article appeared in the April 2007 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.texaswendish.org)
Several people have raised the issue of using the black wedding gown as evidence for identifying Wends. I am cautious when it comes to fashion, and those who know me would say I am justified in doing so. However, I have consulted Trudla Malinkowa (Gertrud Mahling) and her comments make me feel more secure.
Wendish brides did wear black, but so did Germans and other ethnic groups. Both of my wife's grandmothers, who were as German as you can get, wore black wedding gowns. Evidently in the distant past when Wendish Trachten (costumes) were widely used, there was a distinct wedding gown, but it was not black. Even if the Wendish brides in the late 19th century continued to wear black while non-Wendish brides were changing to lighter colors, it could be construed as a reflection of Wendish conservatism or thrift rather than a mark of ethnic identity. (If Wendish brides followed fashion, how reliable is another oft-repeated statement that says that Wendish brides wore black, tight wedding gowns which symbolized the hard life ahead of them?)Read More
Excerpts from Emilie (Woelfel) Michalk's "Reflections on my Life" by Edward Bernthal and George NielsenWednesday 18 March 2015 at 06:23 am
This article appeared in the October 2008 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.texaswendish.org)
Emilie (Woelfel) Michalk was born in Thorndale on January 31, 1898, to Nicholas and Magdalena Woelfel. Eighty-six years later, she told Edward Bernthal the story of her life. Although her heritage was German, she married a Wend, Adolph Michalk. Mr. Bernthal, now living in Waupun, Wisconsin, married Emilie's daughter, Bernice.
After graduating from Concordia - River Forest, Mr. Bernthal taught at Lutheran schools in Galveston and Racine, Wisconsin and served as Director of Christian Education in Waupun. (Conrad Bernthal, the pastor at St. Peter's Church in Serbin from 1892 -1906 was a relative.) Edward was gracious enough to permit me to edit sections of Emilie's life's story for the Newsletter. Many of the names and places she mentioned in her story were part of the Wendish experience in Texas and in addition her "Recollections" tell about a third generation Texas Wend who became a missionary to France.Read More
This article appeared in the July 2009 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.texaswendish.org)Read More
This article appeared in the April 2012 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Historical Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.texaswendish.org)
Even though Johann Kilian is the one pastor who is readily identified as a Wendish clergyman in America, there were at least seven more who fit the classification. These are Hermann Kilian, Andreas Schmidt, Johann Pallmer, Gottfried Lehnigk, Wilhelm Matuschka, Mato Kosyk (Kossick), and Johann August Proft. This last pastor, Proft, often receives a passing reference, but deserves a biographical sketch of his own. His great-grandson Robert Proft, a member of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society, has provided the following sketch.
A special thank you to George Nielsen who greatly assisted in refining content and blessed this article with his editorial guidance. Bob Proft.Read More
I began writing this sketch of my mother many years ago and came back to it recently - in time for my sister's eighty-fifth birthday. Her immediate family had planned a celebration and she wanted something for the children and grandchildren to read about the environment in which she was raised. While I try to restrict references to my personal life in the little pieces for the Newsletter, I thought by including it that somehow it would encourage people to write for their children and grandchildren. Often the recorded family information is limited to the dates and places of births and deaths, and extraordinary events or significant accomplishments. Children in this new century think of mothers as persons who drop them off at daycare and then continue on to an office job. Do they realize that our parents and grandparents did not go to KFC but raised and dressed the chickens they ate? So, please accept my apologies for talking about my personal life but read this sketch and consider writing for your own loved ones.Read More
This article appeared in the October 2013 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.texaswendish.org)Read More
This article appeared in the October 2014 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.texaswendish.org)Read More
This article appeared in the January 2015 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.texaswendish.org)Read More
The article appeared in the January 2011 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.texaswendish.org)Read More
This article appeared in the April 2011 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.texaswendish.org)Read More
This article appeared in the January 2012 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.texaswendish.org)Read More
This article appeared in the October 2012 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.wendishresearch.org)Read More
This article appeared in the January 2004 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.texaswendish.org)Read More
This article appeared in the April 2008 newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.texaswendish.org)Read More
Theis article appeared in the October 2010 issue of the Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas. (www.texaswendish.org)Read More