Monday 05 September 2016 at 12:24 pm.
Weldon Mersiovsky asked me to look through the 19th-century issues of Serbske Nowiny to see if there were references to the Wendish migrations. I went through a number of them on-line and found a few things. One thing that surprised me was that, although 99.9% of the articles, advertisements, etc. were in the old Fraktur script, I did come across one article from 1850 or so in the modern script. Did editors experiment with the modern script even back then, but decide that readers preferred Fraktur ? What do you know about this?
As I've said, a fascinating topic for further research would be the loss of German in Lee and Fayette Counties. Suppose a grad student came to you and said s/he was looking for a topic to do his/her MA thesis or Ph.D. dissertation on or at least for a paper at a conference. Wendish died out in 1920 when Rev. Herman Kilian passed away (why Rev. Herman Schmidt, who spoke Wendish, didn't keep it up as a liturgical language is a separate question). However, St. Paul's discontinued German preaching on a regular basis (Wendish Fest doesn't really count) in the 1990's probably. To the best of my knowledge, the present pastor doesn't even know German.
How about the other Lutheran churches in the area? Warda, Lincoln, etc.? Did they at one time preach in German and if so, when and why was it discontinued? The older generation dying off? The pastor not knowing German? The feeling during World War I that the use of German was unpatriotic?
As I've said before, the loss of German in Texas parallels to a large extent the loss of Wendish in the Lutheran areas of Lusatia. It's the Catholics who are putting us Lutherans to shame by keeping up Wendish preaching. In the Lutheran town of Lohsa, for example, the church warden told me in 2012 that they stopped preaching in Wendish in 1960. The Rev. Handrij Zehler, a famous Lutheran poet who is buried there, is probably turning over in his grave now.