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« Looking Back | Home | The Wends in Texas »

St. Pauls, Serbin Presents Colonial Items to U of T

Friday 09 October 2015 at 07:24 am.

This news article first appeared in the Giddings Star, April 16, 1964.


AUSTIN, Texas, (Spl.) - The University of Texas Archives Collection has received a group of materials relating to the Wendish colony established in 1854 in what is now Lee County.

The Rev. Arthur W. Arndt, pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Serbin, presented the collectlion of 13 rare manuscript and printed items written in the Upper Wendish language.

Chester Kielman, University archivist, said cataloging of the collection was expedited by Dr. Reinhold Olesch of the University of Cologne, an authority on Central European linguistics who is currently a visiting professor at the University.

Dr. Olesch described the collection as one of the finest extant examples of materials written in Upper Wendish. Apart from their historical significance, they will be useful to future scholars of European languages, he said.

Ranging from the early 18th Century to 1873, items in the collection provide documentation of the Wendish migrations, motivated primarily by religious persecution in Germany. The Bibles, prayer books, hymnals, catechisms and other materials used in religious instruction of the colony are worn by time and daily use on the Texas frontier.

The oldest document is an undated manuscript of several hymns and psalms written in Upper Wendish characters of the early 18th Century. The oldest printed item, dated 1780, is an "Alphabet of Christian Teaching for Children." The text is printed in both German and Upper Wendish, on facing pages, evidence of the Wend's bilingual existence in Germany and 19th Century Texas. Several items in the collection are similarly reproduced in the two languages.

Another notable item is an Upper ,Wendish translation of Martin Luther's "Larger Catechism" by John Kilian, founder and leader of the Texas colony of Wends. Kielman said he hopes Pastor Arndt's contribution will become a nucleus for a growing body of related manuscript and printed sources on the Wends of Texas. He urged descendants of original settlers to place similar materials, particularly prayer books, in the U.T. Archives as permanent memorials.

"Because of the incalculable research value of such materials, descendants of other national and ethnic groups who participated in the 19th Century colonization of Texas are also encouraged to support the program of historical preservation maintained by The University of Texas Archives," he added. "Specific reference is made to the Polish colony at Panna Maria, which was the oldest Polish colony in the U. S., and to the several Czech and Swedish settlements that contributed so significantly to the development of the state."

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