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.


Learn more about our mission.

Tag Cloud





Latest Comments

Roger Lee Bagula (Wendish DNA): Kristin Ownby, Lower Sorben names ( northern names); Niedersorbische Personnennamen aus Kirchenbüche…
Weldon Mersiovsky… (Wendish DNA): Hi Kristin, I am the moderator of this Blog and would be happy to talk with you, 512-635-6429 or e…
Kristin Ownby (Wendish DNA): Hello, I have a question regarding ancestry and language. My great-grandfather immigrated from Siles…
Kristin Ownby (Wendish DNA): Hello, I have a question regarding ancestry and language. My great-grandfather immigrated from Siles…
Richard Gruetzner… (Wendish DNA): The unexpected is often the result of DNA testing, but one of the first things to keep in mind is th…
Ron Roggenburk (Wendish DNA): Last fall, I wrote to you regarding my German ancestry without much in the way of German genes. Bec…


XML: RSS Feed 
XML: Atom Feed 

A Museum to Tell the Wendish Story

Friday 09 October 2099 at 06:01 am

This story by Ed Erwin of Spring, a free-lance photographer and writer, first appeared in the Houston Chronicle Texas magazine on May 12, 2002.


Read More

Two Ministers Make Eastex Town Known Over the Nation

Thursday 28 June 2018 at 03:24 am

The article, found by Dave Goeke in the Wendish archives of the Institute of Texas Cultures in San Antonio, was first printed in the Houston, Texas Chronicle sometime between 8 and 15 March 1968. We know that because John W. Behnken died on 23 Feb 1968 and the article mentions that it was written two weeks after his death.

It is worth mentioning that the town of Fedor acquired its name from Fedor Soder, one of the first postmasters and a store owner in the community. Soder came from Mecklenburg, Germany and first lived in Cat Spring before he moved to the Fedor area. He allegedly is of Jewish descent but that has never been verified.

it is also worth mentioning that Fedor is not in East Texas but is located in Central Texas, a few miles nortwest of Giddings.

Read More

Folk Customs Preserve Wend's Hard-won Ethnic Identity

Sunday 29 April 2018 at 12:46 am

This article by Carlos Vidal Greth first appeared in the Lifestyles section of the Austin American-Statesman on Friday, May 26, 1989. it was a secondary story to The Way of the Wendish. Photos were done by Taylor Johnson.

Read More

The Way Of The Wendish - Serbin Home For Traditions Of Ancestors

Saturday 28 April 2018 at 11:01 pm

This article by Carlos Vidal Greth first appeared in the Lifestyles section of the Austin American-Statesman on Friday, May 26, 1989. Photos were done by Taylor Johnson.

NB: The 1853 voyage of the Reform that shipwrecked off of the coast of Cuba did not stay in Cuba long enough for anyone to be required to work in the fields to earn passage to America. The voyage from Cuba to New Orleans was financed by the German Society of New Orleans.

Read More

The Pioneers Own an Iron Will by Emilie Goldapp

Wednesday 11 April 2018 at 5:08 pm

This is a newspaper article[1] found in a box in the vault that had held Daphne Garrett's working files. Daphne had a sticky note on it indicating that copies of the article were to be filed in the vertical file under "Simmang," "1854 Immigration" and "1853 Immigration." Brackets within the text indicate handwritten notes written on the article. At the bottom of a photocopy was a business card with the name Wilbur L. Simank, Stillwater OK. Wilbur was a son of Edmund William Simank who died in 1970 and whose initials, EWS, appear at the bottom of the article.

Many thanks to Rox Ann Johnson of LaGrange for cracking the puzzle. All we have to do now is find the German language newspaper that the article was originally in. It was not the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt.

[1] The newspaper was published about 1935. That was the year that Friedrike Bartling Simank was 85 years old. (Rox Ann Johnson)

Read More

In Winter, Old German Tradition Celebrates Bird Mating Season

Friday 26 January 2018 at 5:15 pm

The following article by Gary Clark (Texasbirder@comcast.net) was first published in the Houston Chronicle Star on Saturday, January 20, 2018 and is reprinted here with the author’s permission.


Read More

The Origin of the Slavs by Prof. M. Zaborowski

Wednesday 17 January 2018 at 11:46 pm

This article by M. Zaborowski first appeared as an abstract in The Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution on 30 Jun 1906. It is presented here as one of the article that Anna Blasig used in writing her book, The Wends of Texas.


Read More

Autochthonism of the Wends or Serbo-Lusatians

Wednesday 17 January 2018 at 01:14 am

This article by the Reverend Francis Domanski, S. J. first appeared in the Bulletin of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America in July 1944.

Authochthonism - the state of being aboriginal or native to a particular area.


By the Rev. Francis Domanski, S. J.

Durch die Ortsnamen, die ältesten und dauerndsten Denkmäler, erzählt eine vergangene Nation gleichsam selbst eigene Schicksale, and es jägt sick nur, ob ihre Stimme uns noch verständhch bleibt” - Topographic names reveal the history of most ancient and most lasting monuments as well as of peoples lost sight of in dawn of history; we need only to inquire whether their voice is still comprehensible. Wilhelm von Humboldt

Read More

The Sorbs of Lusatia by Sorabicus

Monday 15 January 2018 at 7:56 pm

This article by Sorabicus first appeared in Slavonic Review, XIV, (April 1936,) pages 616-621. It is being presented here because it was one of the sources of material that Anna Blasig used in writing her book, The Wends of Texas.

For a discussion of Sorabicus and the historical context for the publication of the article see the following excerpts from page 294 and 315 of Slav Outposts in Central European History by Gerald Stone:

"In the Weimar Republic all the national minorities organized themselves into associations for self-preservation. The Poles had their Union of Poles in Germany (Związek Polaków w Niemczech) and this organization proposed the foundation of a Federation of National Minorities in Germany (Verband der nationalen Minderheiten in Deutschland), standing for the interests of the Danish, Friesian, Lithuanian, Polish, and Wendish minorities and publishing its own journal called first Kulturwille and later Kulturwehr. For the whole life of this journal (1925-1936), its editor-in-chief was Jan Skala (1889-1945), a Catholic Wend from Nebelschütz. He was an important figure, not only for the Wends but for the other minorities too. By the time he took over Kulturwille, Skala was already an experienced journalist and an irritation to the authorities. In 1928, when he was sued for defamation, he protested, though without success, against the denial of his right to use his native language in court, as guaranteed by Article 113 of the Constitution.

" the Nazis came to power in January 1933, the minorities faced new dangers. In the columns of Kulturwehr Skala continued to resist oppressive policies. In May that year the first of many searches of his home were made by the police and much of his correspondence was confiscated. When, in September 1935, he received a letter from the Minister of Propaganda (Joseph Goebells) threatening him with imprisonment for criticizing officials, he replied by requesting not only that the threat be withdrawn but also that the cause of his criticism be remedied. The same year he exposed in his journal the true meaning of the Nuremberg Laws. In March 1936 Skala was banned from engaging in any further journalistic activity even under a pseudonym. That meant the end of his career and of Kulturwehr. Unemployed and impoverished, he continued the struggle by publishing anonymously abroad. He published an article in London in the Slavonic and East European Review under the pseudonym Sorabicus, drawing attention to the plight of the Wends. Eventually, in January 1938, at the age of 48, he was arrested and taken to the Gestapo prison in Dresden to be interrogated. When he was released nine months later, he was suffering from deafness caused by rough treatment. He returned to his family in Berlin, where he found menial work (Kroh 2009: passim).

"In 1943, made homeless by the bombing of Berlin, the family of Jan Skala moved to. Silesia and by 1945 they were living there in a village then called Erbenfeld (until 1939 Dzieditz, now Dziedzice), which was taken by Soviet forces on 19 January. The German population had fled, leaving only a few Poles and the Skalas to welcome the liberators. Skala had every reason to believe that his anti-Fascist credentials would stand him in good stead, but on 22 January, a drunken Soviet soldier entered the Skalas' kitchen and threatened them with his sub-machine gun. Skala, speaking Russian, tried to calm him, but the soldier fired an indiscriminate burst and Skala fell dead. Skala's two daughters and his eleven-month-old grandson were unharmed.

"To the new authorities who subsequently emerged in the GDR, Skala's fate was a cause of embarrassment. They honored him as an anti-Fascist and a victim of the Gestapo, but the circumstances of his death did not fit their rose-tinted vision of the liberation. The only acceptable formula to describe his death was the equivocal 'perished in a tragic way following the arrival of the Soviet Army' (NBS, s.v.). Only in 2009 was the truth revealed when Peter Kroh, who at the age of eleven months had been present at his grandfather's death, published the above version of events, as related to him by his mother (Kroh 2009: 307-8)."

For more about Jan Skala see the book published in Berlin in 2009 by Peter Jan Joachim Kroh, Nationalistische Macht und nationale Minderheit, Jan Skala (1889-1945): ein Sorbe in Deutschland.


Read More

The Remnant Of A Great Race by Henry W. Wolff

Monday 15 January 2018 at 02:38 am

This article first appeared in 1892 in Westminster Review, Vol. 137, pgs 538-556. It also appeard in 1894 in Odd Bits of History: Being Short Chapters Intended to Fill Some Blanks by Henry W. Wolff.


Read More

Wendish DNA

Tuesday 10 October 2017 at 01:15 am

I have been tracing my family for some years, including the Roggenbucks. (Roggenburk is a variant adopted by those Roggenbucks who emigrated to the Cleveland area.)  My great grandfather Albert emigrated from Flötenstein, a small town three quarters of the way along a line from Berlin to Danzig, where many Roggenbucks lived.  Flötenstein was in West Prussia and today is called Koczala in Poland.  Other names in the Roggenbuck line I know of include Mischnick, Kanthak, Spors and Dorau.

Read More

Spirit of the Wends

Friday 29 September 2017 at 03:32 am

This article by Nancy Goebel first appeared in Texas Highways in February 1985.

Read More

Three Texas Generations of Quiet Self Sufficiency

Friday 29 September 2017 at 02:41 am

This article by Marguerite Johnston first appeared in the Houston Chronicle on Friday, 31 October 1966.

Note: John Kilian's grandson did not succeed him as pastor. Gerhard became the teacher.

Read More

Wending Through Rumplich Country by Joe Holley

Saturday 24 December 2016 at 4:30 pm

The following article was written by Houston Chronicle writer Joe Holley and appeared on Page A3 of the Saturday, December 24, 2016 issue of the Houston Chronicle. (joe.holley@chron.com). You can view the article and see pictures by clicking on the following link: online.

Read More

October 8, 1936 Something New From the Old Wendish Homeland

Wednesday 21 December 2016 at 7:07 pm

As I was translating one of the many articles which my grandfather, Rev. Gotthilf Birkmann, submitted to the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt during the 1930’s, that are now in the Birkmann Blog on the Wendish Research Exchange website, I spotted this article immediately following his in the October 8, 1936, issue of that paper. Mr. Proske, the publisher and editor of the Volksblatt does not identify the source, but quite evidently he is quoting from what must have been a periodical from Germany, perhaps one to which Proske subscribed. This particular account of a major Wendish festival in the old country, whether it was one of a kind or an annual event, will be of interest to current readers. Worthy of note is that German people, by and large, in 1936 were still optimistic that Adolf Hitler and his Fascist Party would provide them desperately needed economic and social recovery and not yet aware of his full agenda.

Read More

The Hierarchy of Dominance Configuration in Trilingualism by Anthony Vanek

Friday 13 May 2016 at 06:27 am

This article by Anthony Vanek first appeared in the Wendish magazine Letopis A, XIV, 2, pg. 173-179 (Bautzen, 1967).

Read More

Issues that Influenced the Wends to Immigrate to Texas

Thursday 05 May 2016 at 11:47 pm

During the 2012 Wendish Fest, The Texas Wendish Heritage Society awarded a record 24 Scharath Wendish Scholarships to members of the Society who are currently enrolled in a college, university, community college, or trade school. The application included an essay of 1000 words or less about the issues (political, social, religious, economic) that influenced the Wends to immigrate to Texas, and applicants were asked to include issues that his/her ancestors experienced if known. While these essays are available for reading in our Genealogy Library, not all of our members have the chance to visit us in person. Therefore, beginning with this issue, we will print a few of these essays in our newsletter so that more members have a chance to enjoy the essays and gain an appreciation for the level of effort these students put into their applications.

The Scholarship Board selected four essays for printing in subsequent editions of the Society Newsletter. The first essay was written by Eli David Symm, at the time enrolled at Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas, studying Physics and Engineering Physics. The second essay was written by Jena Lynn Meuth, at the time enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin studying psychology and geography. The third essay was written by Mason Becker, at the time at Texas A&M University enrolled in the Mays Business School. The fourth essay was written by Peter Gaskamp, at the time in the School of Engineering at the University of Kansas, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.

Read More

Town Finds Its Heritage Defies Time, Place

Monday 04 January 2016 at 8:35 pm

This article by Richard Whittle, Knight Ridder Tribune News Service, was printed in an unidentified newspaper in the early 1990s.

Note: The correct adjective for Sorbs is Sorbian not Sorbish.

Read More

Wendish Heritage Museum Receives Manuscript Copy of Rare Book

Saturday 10 October 2015 at 05:43 am

This news article was apparently printed in the Giddings Times and News sometime in 1982.

Note: Both Proske and his apprentice, Albert Miertschin, were of Wendish descent.


The Texas Wendish Heritage Museum has been given the manuscript copy of the book, "Wendish Language Printing in Texas" by the author Jack D. Rittenhouse. Mr. Rittenhouse first visited the office of the former Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt in 1952, and acquired one of each of the eight special Wendish characters which were used in combination with German type to print it in the Wendish language. In a junk yard in Bastrop he found the Volksblatt sign and an advertising blotter and in 1962 wrote and printed in his own press a small book about the Wendish aspect of the tri-lingual Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt. Only 128 copies were printed, but each one contained an example of a Wendish hymn on cards printed up by Mr. Albert Miertschin from a form set up by the late J. A. Proske. One copy of the book is located in the Rice University Rare Book Collection.

At the Society meeting on Sunday, May 16, 1982, Daphne Garrett, member from Warda and Houston, reported on her meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico with Mr. Rittenhouse, and presented plans for an exhibit at the Museum about the Volksblatt. This newspaper, Texas' only trilingual paper, was founded in 1899 by J.A. Proske, sold to Albert Miertschin and Theodore Preusser in 1938, and merged with the Giddings Star in 1949. The eight characters acquired by Mr. Jack Rittenhouse are the only known surviving examples of the Wendish type. They are presently in the Institute of Texan Cultures, but are promised to the Wendish Museum for their exhibit.

Mrs. Garrett also announced her plans to co­author a reprint and expanded version of the book, which would include biographies of the Proskes, Preusser, and Miertschin and a more detailed history of the newspaper and their job printing. Mrs. Garrett is an active worker at the Heritage Museum, and also a contributing Editor for the newspaper, Deutsch Welt-U.S.A., writing primarily on Texas history.

Anyone wishing to assist the Wendish Museum by donating or loaning copies of the Volksblatt or examples of the job printing (announcements, programs, invitations) or provide any other information or pictures, is invited to contact Daphne Garrett, Box 35, Warda. Phone 242-3822. Or Evelyn Kasper, Museum co-ordinator.


[Current Exective Director of the Wendish Museum is Joyce Bise, 979-366-2441, wendish@bluebon.net. Copies of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt or any Lee County newspaper are still wanted and accepted.]


Read More

Where's the Beef?

Friday 09 October 2015 at 11:35 pm

This article by Suzie Freeman appeared first in the Lee County Weekly, August 6, 1987. Just about everybody mentioned in the article is Wendish.


Read More

Wends Trade Ethnicity for Freedom, Prosperity

Friday 09 October 2015 at 11:27 pm

This story by Samuel Hudson first appeared in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Tuesday, May 24, 1983.

Note: The Wends did not enter England via London but rather via Hull.

Note: The Wends bought their land, called the Delaplain League, for $1/acre, not 50 cents/acre.

Note: The Wendish wedding dresses were still black into the early 1900s.

Note: Almost every Wendish family with a male between the ages of 18 and 30 had someone serving in the Confederate Army.


Read More

Wends: The Story of a Dying Heritage

Friday 09 October 2015 at 11:19 pm

This article by John Makeig first appeared in the Houston Chronicle.

Note: the Wends bought the Delaplane League for $1.00/acre not 50 cents/acre.


Read More

Wends Draw Strength From Their Heritage: Harsh German economy, orders to conform, prompted migration to Texas in 1854

Friday 09 October 2015 at 11:11 pm

This article by David McLemore first appeared in the Dallas Morning News, Sunday, October 16, 1983.

Note: A handful (35) of Wends migrated to Texas in 1853.


Read More

Wendish Christmas

Friday 09 October 2015 at 11:03 pm

This article by Victor Vogel was printed in an unknown newspaper date unknown. The article by Sigman Byrd, Advance Man in Wendenland, for the Houston Chronicle on 9 Sep 1960 is remarkably similar. Vogel's article states "122 years ago" which would have made the date of publication 1976.


Read More

The Wends in Texas

Friday 09 October 2015 at 10:51 pm

This article by L. S. Imm, Ph.D. was written in 1974 for an unkown publication which may have been something similar to The Lutheran Digest.

Note: The 35 Prussian Wends of 1853 did not settle in East Texas but in Central Texas in Austin, and Fayette counties.

Note: The Wends arrived in Galveston in December 1854, and while they had a church and services it was not known as St Paul Lutheran church until 1870. The original settlement in Bastrop County was known initially as the Low Pinoak Settlement or Rabbs Creek and was not known as Serbin until 1860.

Note: The two men who set out ahead of the group were John Dube and Carl Lehmann. They found that the Delaplain League had a clear title and purchased in for $1/acre, not 50 cents.

Note: Rules for decorum in the church were necessary because of the lawlessness that pervaded the Serbin area during the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War.


Read More