This history is about the Moerbe family and covers some of its genealogy and a variety of subjects pertinent to the family’s background. It was not my intention to write a complete history and genealogy of the Moerbe family. My resolve was to go back as far as possible and bring the family from Lusatia and “transplant” it in Texas. Perhaps someday someone will bring the history and genealogy up-to-date.
My knowledge of German enabled me to do much research in that language. The fact that I spent two years (1945 – 1947) with U.S. Army Intelligence in Germany gave me an insight into gathering information. Researching your “roots” is much like collecting intelligence data – you need to fit the bits and pieces together. In work like this persistence, accuracy and perseverance are of utmost importance.
In 1972 I made a trip to the Bautzen area in East Germany and visited many of the villages listed in this history. Another trip was made in 1982 and two more trips were made in 1992 and 1994. There was also very much correspondence with various people, most of it in German.
I want to thank all those who helped me with dates of birth, marriage and death. If any of you want to use parts of this history, or make a copy of all or part of it, you have my permission. However, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you and invite your comments. This history has been revised several times and copies have appeared under several titles. I had no intention of revising it again, but since I lost my last revision in my old computer, I loaded what I had into my new computer and, naturally, I revised it again, hopefully for the last time. Should you find any errors, please call them to my attention. As corrections and additional information become available addenda may be warranted.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the late Frau Annemarie Mihan, Niedergurig, Germany, who supplied much of the information of the early history of the Moerbe family and who answered a multitude of my questions. It was a great pleasure for me to meet this fine Christian lady in 1982. At least 25 letters flowed each way. Frau Mihan was in her middle eighties when she suffered a stroke and died in 1989. Her late husband, Johannes, was a descendant of Maria Mitschke, the daughter of Jakob Dzick, aka Mitschke, and his first wife, Anna Mitschke, neé Britsche. Jakob Mitschke, later adopted the surname Mörbe and his daughter, Maria Mitschke, was then known as Maria Mörbe. Frau Mihan’s late husband was also related to the Biar side of my family. In 1992 I had the pleasure of visiting Frau Mihan’s son, Johannes, in Niedergurig.
For those who do not know me, permit me to mention that I am a native of Thorndale, Texas. My parents were Otto Biar and Lydia, neé Moerbe. In 1947 I married Stefana Todt who was born and grew up in Neisse, Silesia (Schlesien), Germany. Since 1968 we have been living in Denver where I completed 36 years as an accountant with Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) before retiring on 1 August 1983. In February 2001 we moved to Carrollton, Texas.
My search for our Moerbe ancestors took me to East Germany, to a region called Lusatia (Lausitz). They lived, for the most part, in “Kreis” (County) Bautzen in Upper Lusatia (Oberlausitz), northeast of the city of Bautzen. At the time of most of my research, Kreis Bautzen was a part of the District (Bezirk) of Dresden, one of the 14 districts that made up the former East German Republic.
After World War II about one-fourth of German territory, all east of the Oder and Lusatian Neisse Rivers, was given to Poland and Russia. The rest of Germany was divided into two countries. West Germany, known as the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland), was orientated toward the west. East Germany, known as the German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik), was one of the eastern block of nations that embraced communism. East Germany did away with former provinces or states, such as, Saxony and Brandenburg. In the place of provinces 14 administrative districts (Bezirk – Bezirke) were formed. These werenamed after the chief city in each district. In 1990 the two Germanys were united and the country is now known as the Federal Republic of Germany. Provinces were re-instated in the east. Former Silesian territory on the westside of the Lusatian Neisse River is now included in the newly formed Province of Saxony. Most of the Prussian (Silesian) Wends who migrated to Texas came from this area. The Saxon Wends came from Saxony toward the south.
When our Moerbe ancestors came to Texas in 1854 they were known as “Wends,” in German, WENDEN. At one time all Slavic people who lived in Germany were called Wends. Later, Slavic speaking people who lived in Lusatiacontinued to be known as Wends. However, today, the Lusatian Slavs, often referred to as Wends, are officially known as Sorbs – Sorbian (German: Sorben – sorbisch) (Sorbian: Serbja – serbski). The Sorbs are the only peoplein Germany that can still be identified as Slavic. All others have been totally assimilated by the Germans and their languages have disappeared. Sorbs is better usage than Wends. However, most people in Texas have never heard of the Sorbs, but are perhaps acquainted with the Wends. In this composition our ancestors are referred to both as Wends and Sorbs.
Lusatia was the homeland of the Wends or Sorbs for centuries. The region of Lusatia is divided into two parts, Upper Lusatia (Oberlausitz) in the south and Lower Lusatia (Niederlausitz) in the north. At the time of the Wendish Emigration of 1854, the southern part of Upper Lusatia belonged to the Kingdom of Saxony (Königreich Sachsen), while the northern part belonged to the Province of Silesia (Schlesien) in the Kingdom of Prussia (Königreich Preussen). Lower Lusatia was located in the Provinces of Silesia and Brandenburg in Prussia.
My search took me back to the time of the Thirty Years War. This war, which began in 1618, ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Many battles were fought in Lusatia. Less than 50 per cent of the Wendish population survived this catastrophe. Lusatia had five epidemics of the plague from 1625 and 1643. Nearly 2/3 of all property was destroyed. It took the German territories almost two hundred years to fully recover from thisterrible war. Our Moerbe ancestors survived this and many other wars and hardships. They were hardy peasants.
The German language employs the modified vowels (Umlaut – Umlaute) ä, ö and ü. As a rule, all German names of persons, places, etc., on church and archive records and maps employ umlauts to indicate modified vowels when applicable. We retain umlauts in English by writing the ä, ae; ö, oe; and ü, ue. Thus, BÄHR is written BAEHR; MÖRBE, MOERBE; and WÜNSCHE, WUENSCHE. The spelling of place names with umlauts when applicable has been retained throughout this history. However, the spelling of personal names with umlauts was discontinued after the names were “transplanted” in Texas.
B. 8 Feb 1885: Fedor, Texas B. 1 Oct 1879: Serbin, Texas
D. 24Jan 1957: Taylor, Texas D. 14 Nov 1956: Taylor, Texas
Given names and original surnames, including maiden names, of persons born in what is now Germany, are spelled the way they appear in the church records where the baptisms are recorded. If more than one spelling is rendered then the standardized German spelling is used.
“Née” was used for the German “geborne” (geb.), indicating a maiden name.
The spelling of place names was taken from a modern German map.
A little over 50 percent of the Wends who migrated to Texas in 1854 came from the Province or State of Silesia (Schlesien), in the Kingdom of Prussia (Königreich Preussen). They came from the Counties (Kreis – Kreise) of Rothenburg and Hoyerswerda. The rest came from the Kingdom of Saxony (Königreich Sachsen), from the Counties of Bautzen and Löbau (Loebau). After the unification of West and East Germany in 1990 the area covered by the counties of Rothenburg and Hoyerswerda are included in the newly-formed Province or State of Saxony in modern Germany.
Moerbe ancestors can be traced in church records to Merten Dzick. His date of birth predates the records at both Baruth and Guttau; however, his death on 19 March 1700 is recorded in the Baruth records. He reached the age of 62 so that he was born circa 1638. He was a small farmer (Gärtner) at Kleinsaubernitz, east of Guttau. Merten and Urta Dzick are recorded in the Baruth marriage records as the parents of Jury Dzick, who was our ancestor. Urta’s maiden surname is not given. She died on 3 July 1668 at the age of 50 so that she also was born circa 1638.
Jury (Georg) Dzick was born on 31 August 1672 at Kleinsaubernitz. He was a small farmer (Gärtner) and judge (Gerichtsältester). His first wife was Urta Valke, whom he married on 22 October 1697. She was born in 1674 and died on 25 March 1712.
His second marriage was to a widow, Hanna Brauzke, née Donke, on 15 April 1713. She was born on 5 March 1678 at Kleinsaubernitz. Her parents were Juri (Georg) Donke and Wurtha, née Heinze. Jury Dzick died on 12 February 1734 and Hanna on 27 February 1762, both at Kleinsaubernitz. Their son, Jakob, was our ancestor.
Jakob Dzick was born at Kleinsaubernitz on 1 June 1720. On 19 September 1742 he married Anna Mitschke, née Britsche, the widow of Jan Mitschke. She was born at Kleinsaubernitz in 1709 and at the time of their marriage she was 33 years old while he was 22, a difference of 11 years. At this time Jakob changed his surname to Mitschke. In those days when a peasant with little or no means married a widow whose former husband owned some farm land, he usually adopted the surname of the former husband. The amount of land in this case was one-half of a hide (Hufe), known as a Halbhufengut. These peasants were known as Halbhüfner and were the “biggest” farmers on some of the manors northeast of Bautzen. These manors or landed-estates were known as Rittergüter or Herrengüter (landed-estates owned by knights or lords). The Mitschke land was located at Buchwalde, southwest of Guttau. Jakob and Anna’s marriage was blessed with one daughter, Maria. Anna died on 22 April 1746 after only four years of marriage. It is assumed that the oldest son of Anna’s first marriage was in line to inherit the farm. At any rate, Jakob Mitschke lost his farm and had to look elsewhere.
On 17 January 1747 Jakob Dzick, aka Mitschke, married Maria Lück. Her date and place of birth are not available. Her father was Johann Lück from Gleina, south of Guttau. The surname Lück actually belonged to Maria’s mother. Her father’s original surname was Wokow before he adopted his wife’s surname. After Maria’s father died her mother married Martin Holisch, the blacksmith at Guttau. Jakob and Maria were blessed with two sons, Jan (also called Johann) and Jakob. The younger son, Jakob, was our ancestor.
In 1756 Jakob Dzick, aka Mitschke, purchased one-half of a hide of land at Baruth, paying 250 Görlitzer Marks for it. The Halbhufengut belonged to the estate of Mathes Mörwe and his wife, both of whom died in 1744. At this time Jakob changed his surname to Mörwe. The name-change was associated with the purchase of the Mörwefarm. The relationship that Jakob had with the Mörwes was through the first wife of Jury Dzick, Urta Valke. Laterthe spelling was changed to Mörbe. This is how the family name MÖRBE, that is, MOERBE, came to us since Jakob’s children also adopted this surname even though they were formerly known by the surname of Mitschke. Maria Mörbe, neé Lück, died on 21 November 1780. She was our ancestress.
On 30 November 1783 Jakob married yet a third time, to a widow, named Magdalene Basche, from Brösa, west of Guttau. Her maiden name, the date and place of birth, as well as, the date and place of death, are not available. She outlived her husband, who died at the age of 83 on 6 January 1804. Survivors, besides his wife, were the daughter, Maria, from his first marriage and two sons, Jan and Jakob, from his second one. Jakob DZICK, aka Mitschke, aka Mörbe, must be recognized as the patriarch of our Moerbe family.
Jakob was born at Baruth on 16 March 1755. On 2 February 1779 he married Anna Nurčan. This name is spelled various ways: Nutzschansk, Nutszan, Nutzschan, Nuzzschank, etc. Nurčan is Sorbian. She was born on 10 January 1760 at Rackel near Gröditz and her parents were Mertin Nurčan and Hanna, neé Schram.
According to custom Jakob’s older brother, Jan, inherited the Mörbe farm. In various documents Jakob is identified as the hereditary blacksmith at Baruth. Even though there is the indication of being the hereditary blacksmith (Erbschmied), no record of being related to a former blacksmith of Baruth, either by blood or by marriage, has been found. It must be pointed out that a valid relationship could go back several generations. If there was no relationship to a former owner, then Jakob’s father could have purchased the blacksmith shop with the approval of the owner of the manor.
We have a record of a will Jakob made on 25 June 1802. (A translation appears elsewhere, together with a short description of retirement, in those days.) He was identified as a judge and armorer (Richter und Waffenschmied) and designated his oldest son, Johann, as his successor in 4 years. There were pay out provisions for other surviving brothers and sisters. Provisions were made for a place to live, for food and a garden plot. However, Jakob died a fewmonths before the 4 years, stipulated in his will, were over. Jakob’s wife, for whom the will also provided, lived until 1825.
Mertin Nurčan, Hanna’s father, had some difficulties with the authorities. It usually had to do with mandatory or compulsory labor (Frondienste, Fronarbeit, etc.; in Sorbian Robota, from where we get the word “robot”) for the manorial estate. A synopsis of the court proceedings appear elsewhere.
At the time of Jakob’s death on 25 March 1806, he was identified as a blacksmith, judge and church elder(Schmied, Richter und Kirchvater). Anna died at Milkel, northwest and somewhat removed from Baruth, on 20 January 1825. Jakob, their youngest son, was our ancestor.
I, the undersigned, acknowledge herewith that I bequeath my blacksmith shop to my oldest son, Johann Mörbe, under the following conditions:
I still want to keep the shop for four more years.
408 in conventional coins to be paid to the surviving brothers and sisters for 6 consecutive years after he takes over the shop, 5 also to be paid to me or his mother. Rights reserved (Ausgedinge), 3 bushels of rye and 12 cans (Kannen) of butter from Walpurgis [1 May] until St. Michaels’s Day [29 September]; 2 cans of good milk and the border field [garden plot] near the meadow; for each festival reserve 2 measures of wheat flour and a goose and a hen and some garden vegetables; and not restrain me from making something out of my iron in the blacksmith shop.
And I will live in the upper room and provide the necessary firewood. [I will receive] half of all fruit and should the mother die before I do, then a decrease of 1 bushel of rye and 4 cans of butter will be made; or if I should die in like manner; and should my son die before his future wife without legitimate heirs, then a payout of 100 Thalers will be made to her parents.
The original will is in the State Archives in Bautzen. As you will note the will is not always clear. Most of the periods and all semicolons were put in by the translator.
A Saxon Kanne (can) was .94 liter or almost a quart.
St. Walpurgis was an English missionary and abbess in Germany, who died in 778. Her canonization is observed 1 May. Superstition has it that on St. Walpurgis Night witches danced on old heathen sacrificial and tribunal sites.
Retired peasants in many parts of Germany, including our Wendish ancestors, were called Auszügler or Ausgedinger in German. Both have to do with retirement.
An Auszügler [one who moves out] moves out to smaller living quarters, either in the same house or to a smaller house [hut] nearby. The person named in his will, as his successor, may then occupy the living quarters of the farm, blacksmith shop, etc., when he takes over.
An Ausgedinger [one who reserves rights] makes a will prior to retirement with certain reservations [Ausgedinge].He names his successor and stipulates certain rights to which he is entitled; such as, a place to live, food, a garden plot, etc.
The oldest son usually inherited the farm, or other property, with payout provisions for the rest of the children.
MERTIN NURČAN’S DAY IN COURT
Legal proceedings in the court at Baruth against Martin Nutzschank (Mertin Nurčan), the father of Anna Mörbe, neé Nurčan, are on file in the State Archives in Bautzen. Following is a brief summary:
On 7 May 1756, he was charged by the Baruth Court [In those days the upper nobility in the County of Bautzen lived at Baruth and Neschwitz so that both had the character of small principalities] that, “On 10 April 1756, he was ordered on the day of mandatory labor for the manorial estate to haul some rye from Klein-Radmeritz [11 kilometers, about 7 miles, southeast of Baruth] and since the rye was of poor quality he should have hauled 8 bushels per bill of sale, but he brought only 6 bushels to Baruth.” He was also charged with “about 14 days ago he cut wood near the pheasantry without getting permission from the proper authorities.” He admitted hauling only 6 bushels. He said that “he was not required to load more whether or not it was inferior or good rye; maybe it should have read barley.” It was explained to him that the bill of sale clearly stated 8 bushels of inferior rye and that he was required to follow orders. Concerning the wood he said that “he had not been sufficiently instructed; therefore, he should not be punished.”
The court ruled that he was guilty of impropriety for hauling less grain than required by the bill of sale and by unlawfully cutting wood. The court set his fine at 2 Reichsthaler and 12 Groschen, payable within 8 days.
Since he failed to pay the fine in the allotted time the Rackel authorities took a cow away from him. This cow was sold at Baruth for 6 Reichsthalers and 12 Groschen. Evidently, the Rackel authorities kept the entire amount.
A person wonders why there was an issue made of hauling only 6 bushels of rye instead of 8. The answer seems to rest in the weight. Inferior rye weighs less than good rye. Barley also weighs less per bushel than rye. It appears that a normal load of rye was 6 bushels while a normal load of barley was 8 bushels. The authorities wanted to get a little extra “mileage” out of Mertin Nurčan but he did not want to be pushed around. Like always, the lord of the manor won. The German word for bushel is Scheffel. At that time a Saxon Scheffel of
rye weighed about 192 pounds and a Scheffel of barley weighed about 164 pounds. It is interesting to note that at one time Scheffel was also used for measurement of land in Saxony.
THE THALER (TALER)
A Reichsthaler was a silver coin worth about 3 Marks. Using the January 1985 exchange rate of approximately 3 Marks to the dollar, the Reichsthaler was the equivalent of an American dollar. Reich means “empire” or “imperial,” and Thaler [modern spelling Taler] means “dollar.” The Thaler was named after a coin that was minted in Joachimsthal (now in the Czech Republic) called Joachimsthaler. The Joachims was eventually dropped and the coin was called Thaler, Reichsthaler, etc. Even our dollar derivated from Thaler. The Thaler, now spelled Taler, is no longer used in Germany. Groschen is sometimes translated as “penny,” in German Pfennig, meaning one-hundredth part. However, at first there were 24, later 30, Groschen to the Thaler. Groschen are no longer used in Germany. The Czech name for Joachimsthal is Jachymov.
JAKOB MÖRBE AND MARIA KUCHAR
Jakob was born at Baruth on 2 October 1789. He, like his father and oldest brother, was a blacksmith. His oldest brother, Johann, inherited the blacksmith shop at Baruth. Jakob was the hereditary blacksmith (Erbschmied) at Guttau. Here is a typical example of how a peasant became the hereditary blacksmith even though the shop did not belong to his father. In 1727, Martin Holisch, the blacksmith at Guttau, married the widow, Maria Lück. Maria Holisch, neé Lück, was the mother of the Maria Lück who became the second wife of Jacob Dzick, aka Mitschke, aka Mörbe. (See JAKOB DZICK-MITSCHKE-MÖRBE AND MARIA LÜCK) Actually, Martin Holisch was the step great grandfather of Jakob Mörbe (born in 1789). Since there was no other eligible male available Jakob became the hereditary blacksmith at Guttau by virtue of his being distantly related by marriage to the former blacksmith at
Guttau. It was unusual to have brothers as hereditary blacksmiths in two separate villages, Baruth and Guttau.
On 27 April 1819 Jakob married Maria Kuchar (Koch in German – Cook in English) from Neudörfel, about 2 kilometers from Guttau. She was born on 19 March 1801. Her parents were Johann Kuchar, a farmer(Grossgärtner) at Neudörfel, and his wife, Anna Kuchar, neé Triede, from Gröditz.
Johann Kuchar’s parents were Georg Biele, aka Kuchar, and Hanscha Kuchar. Hanscha did not have any brothers and when George married her, he adopted the surname Kuchar.
Jakob and Maria Mörbe had three sons and three daughters. The youngest son, Ferdinand Jakob, was our ancestor. He and his oldest brother, Ernst Adolph, came to Texas in 1854 with the large Wendish immigration. Jakob (1789), identified as a blacksmith, church elder and assistant judge (Schmied, Kirchvater and Gerichtsschoppe) at Guttau, died of pneumonia on 17 November 1832 at the age of 43.
The widow, Maria, married Andreas Kästner in 1834. He was born in 1807 at Wurschen, south of Baruth. He died in 1844. Maria died at Guttau on 21 May 1855.
FERDINAND JACOB MOERBE AND JOHANNE RACHEL DUBE
In 1854, Jacob and Anna were among a group of over 550 Wends who left their homeland and came to Texas. Among the 73 persons who died en route was Anna. She died on the ship BEN NEVIS on 30 November 1854 and was buried at sea. Thus Jacob was a young widower when he arrived at Galveston, Texas, on 16 December 1854. After reaching Serbin he stayed with his older brother, Ernst Adolph, and family, until he married again.
On 17 May 1855, Jacob married Johanne Rahel (Rachel) Dube. She was born at Sohland (now known as Sohland am Rotstein), County of Görlitz, Saxony, on 4 August 1834. Her place of birth was a considerable distance from where most of the Wends came. Her parents were Michael Dube and Johanna Dube, neé Tanniger. The writer’s mother told him that when Jacob’s first wife lay on her death bed she suggested that he marry Annie (Johanne).
As far as can be determined from the records on file in the National Archives, Washington, D,C., Jacob was mustered into service in the Confederate Army at the age of 34 on 24 June 1862. He was enrolled as a private in Captain Julius Bose’s Company, Texas Volunteer Infantry, at Camp Terry, located on the Colorado River near Austin. However, after only 20 days in the army, including a furlough from 24 June to 7 July 1862, the following appears on his service record: “Discharged – Remarks: By reason of surgeon’s certificate of discharge at S. Antonio, July 14, ’62.” This writer heard that the disability was his extreme bowleggedness.
It appears that his service during the Civil War did not end with his discharge from the army. The writer’s mother said that he, being a tailor, sewed uniforms for officers in San Antonio. No other information about his duty as a tailor is available.
Jacob and Annie reared a family of nine children as follows:
NAME BORN DIED SPOUSE
Maria Magdalene (1) 01 Oct 1856 18 Jan 1921 Ernst Waiser – 1843-1918
Ernst Adolph (1) 21 Mar 1858 23 Nov 1939 Maria Urban – 1863-1936
Carl August (2) 17 Jan 1860 06 Sep 1944 Ernestine Michalk* – 1862-1936
Carl Johann (2) 06 Jul 1863 16 Jun 1936 Johanna Ernestine Michalk+
August Hermann (2) 11 Feb 1865 22 Nov 1928 Maria Schultz – 1867-1940
Emil Ferdinand (1) 30 Mar 1868 01 May 1951 Marie Emilie Schneider – 1878-1962
Carl Traugott (1) 13 Jan 1870 13 Feb.1935 Emma Simmank – 1877
Johanna Emma (3) 14 Aug 1872 04 Dec 1905 Paul Schultz – 1864
Johanna (Anna) (4) 02 Oct 1875 15 Nov 1896 Wilhelm Eifert
[Mrs. John Moerbe+ was Mrs. August Moerbe’s* niece.]
(1) Born while members of St. Paul, Serbin
(2) Born while members of first St. Peter, Serbin
(3) Born while members of second St. Peter, Serbin
(4) Born while members of Trinity, Fedor
St. Paul was initially known as “The First Sorbian Lutheran Church in Texas.” On 8 January 1871 the official name was changed to “The First Wendish and German St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Unaltered Augsburg Confession, in Serbin, Lee County.”
It is obvious from the above that the Jacob Moerbe family belonged to both break-away Lutheran congregations at Serbin. There were internal difficulties in Serbin from the very beginning. The congregation had been organized by members of the Evangelical Lutheran (Old Lutheran) Church in Prussia, a Lutheran free church. Up to 1843, when the Old Lutheran congregations at Weigersdorf and Klitten (in Prussia) were organized, all
Lutherans in Prussia were considered members of the Prussian State Church. Even though many Lutherans living in Saxony were in sympathy with the Old Lutheran movement, they did not organize Old Lutheran congregations but remained in the Saxon State Church. Many of the Prussian Wends, who came to Texas, did not join the Old Lutherans until just before the emigration. Thus, to begin with, the Serbin Wends came from an Old Lutheran, as well as, a state church, background.
Another factor that neéds to be taken into consideration is that the Lutheran Church in many parts of Germany had been influenced by pietism since the 17th century. Pietism often overemphasized experience and enthusiasm. Pietism did not separate itself from the Lutheran Church but remained in it. It is, therefore, safe to state that some Wends brought pietistic tendencies to Texas.
We also learn from history that the Wends had a tendency toward factionalism. Another factor was the language problem, although it appears to have been less of a factor in forming the first St. Peter congregation than the second one. Finally, Pastor Kilian was obligated to teach school. This decreased the time he had available for pastoral duties, not only in Serbin, but in the surrounding area. By taking all the above factors into consideration it is not hard to understand why internal strife commenced soon after our Wendish settlers arrived at Serbin.
In the vicinity of Serbin there was a congregation composed of German Methodists. Some of the Wends, especially some of the Saxons, were impressed with Methodist worship. They appear to have been very much influenced by pietism. The leaders of these Wendish enthusiasts were Johann Noack from Gröditz and Johann Urban from Rackel. However, only Johann Noack and his wife joined the Methodists.
Some of the dissidents contacted Pastor J. Georg Lieb of Round Top, a member of the Texas Synod. In a letter, dated 19 October 1858, Pastor Kilian wrote Pastor Gumlich in Weigersdorf that on October 9 one of the so-called separatists, Jacob Moerbe, appeared with Pastor Lieb at his house on behalf of the dissidents. Jacob Moerbe wanted to know why the secessionists were excluded from Communion at the Wendish church. [A translation of an excerpt from the above letter is included in this history.] On 16 October 1858, the first St. Peter congregation
was organized and joined the Texas Synod. Pastor Lieb served as their first pastor. He accepted a call to Austin in 1864 and Rev. C. Christian Rudi became their next pastor. The congregation never exceeded 45 communicant members. Pastor Rudi must not have been very impressed with the members because he stated that they were always quarreling among themselves. Toward the end of 1866 he accepted a call to East Navidad. The Texas Synod did not supply St. Peter with another pastor and the congregation withdrew from the Texas Synod in early 1867. Following the withdrawal the members returned to the Wendish mother church. This was the end of the first St. Peter.
In a voters’ meeting on 26 December 1867 the Serbin mother church accepted nine of the former members of St. Peter, including Jacob Moerbe, as voters. In the voters’ meeting on 5 January 1868, only 17 days later, Jacob Moerbe was elected to the seven member church council. He was the only one of the former members of St.
Peter to be elected.
All along, internal strife in the mother church erupted from time to time. Just before and after the Civil War, many more immigrants arrived from Germany and settled in the Serbin area. They joined the Wendish church. Those who were pure Germans had little interest in learning Wendish. This caused the tension of the language problem, Wendish versus German, to increase. However, the pro-German party was not made up of pure Germans but
chiefly of Wends. Thus it was really a pro-Wendish versus pro-German problem and not so much Wendish versus German problem. It appears that nationalism became yet another factor in the controversy. Finally, the internal strife led to the second separation on 25 September 1870. The new group called itself St. Peter, but unlike the first group, they did not join the Texas Synod but, rather, the Missouri Synod, so that there were two Missouri Synod congregations at Serbin.
The Jacob Moerbe family also joined the second St. Peter congregation. Many of the members of the second St. Peter congregation migrated to Fedor later on. The Jacob Moerbe family moved there the latter part of 1872. Here he was a prominent church member. Rev. Gotthilf Birkmann in his article in the April 2, 1931, issue of the GIDDINGS DEUTSCHES VOLKSBLATT stated that when he and his sister arrived in Fedor in 1876 they stayed with the Jacob Moerbes until they could make their house a little more habitable.
Ernst Adolph, the oldest son, was a farmer at Fedor while August, Johann (John) and Carl were farmers in the Thorndale area.
Hermann and John Michalk operated Moerbe and Michalk Mercantile in Thorndale and in 1911 Hermann, his wife and family moved to Bishop, where he was a farmer.
Emil was a Lutheran pastor, who from 1892 until 1895, served as a missionary, based at Cisco, also served Abilene, Baird and Big Spring. A considerable amount of his time was spent at Abilene. When an Episcopal chapel became available in Abilene he borrowed $500 from his father to buy it. The congregation repaid some of the debt, but not very much. When he married, his father, as a wedding gift, canceled the remainder of the debt. This was certainly an unusual wedding present. Emil was the pastor at Giddings from 1895 until 1909 and then at Hamilton from 1909 until 1939, when he retired. He served on the Texas District Mission Board for 36 years. When Pastor Moerbe visited Thorndale he always visited his brother, August, and this writer had the pleasure of hearing him relate his experiences as a member of the mission board, one such experience being his trip to Mexico City.
Maria Magdalene married Ernst Waiser and Johanna Emma married Paul Schultz, both farmers in the Thorndale area. Johanna (Anna) married Wilhelm Eifert from Cisco in 1895. She died a year later and was buried at Thorndale.
In 1893 Jacob and Johanne moved to Thorndale. He died on 13 December 1896 and was buried in St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery. After Jacob’s death Johanne made her home with her son, August. She died on 15 August 1917 and was buried beside her husband.
JACOB MOERBE’S OBITUARY
A NEWSPAPER CLIPPING FILED IN THE TEXAS DISTRICT
THE LUTHERAN CHURCH-MISSOURI SYNOD ARCHIVES
Thorndale, Texas, Jan. 6 (1897) (Delayed) Last Sunday our congregation held its annual meeting. During it three members were received, so that the congregation now has 27 voting members in all. During this meeting we also had to delete the name of a dear member, the name of our chief elder, Jacob Moerbe, whom the Lord called home shortly before the end of the year. Father Moerbe, as he was generally called, was born on 1[?] December 1828 in Guttau, Kingdom of Saxony. In 1854 he immigrated to Texas with Pastor Kilian and, at first, settled in Serbin, Lee County, where he married Johanna Dube in the year of 1855. In 1872 he moved to Fedor and in 1893 to Thorndale, where three of his children settled before him. The Lord permitted Mr. Moerbe to live and work in our midst for only three year, but in these few years he did much in our congregation and, in word and deed, he worked in the external and internal affairs of it, so that we also, as a congregation, must acknowledge him with the honorary title of “Father Moerbe,” he was a teacher and an example for our young congregation. The deceased also took a brisk and active part in synodical matters, especially in mission work. Since 12 October of last year, Mr. Moerbe was bed-ridden as a result of cerebral apoplexy and everyone foresaw his approaching end. He also longed for it and was looking forward to departing and to be home with the Lord. On 13 December his wish was granted, when, he, as a tired, earthly pilgrim, peacefully, like a Simeon, fell asleep, “fine, gentle and silent,” in confident faith in his Savior and entered, just like we confidently hope, into eternal rest, which is in store for the people of God. The funeral sermon that was delivered was based on the words in Revelation: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord,” etc. The deceased is survived by his deeply afflicted wife, eight children (the youngest daughter recently preceded him into eternity), three sons-in-law, six daughters-in-law, besides a large number of grandchildren. May the memory of him remain with us as a blessing.
Translated from the German by Bill Biar, 15 June 1979
FROM PASTOR JOHANN KILIAN’S LETTER DATED 10-19-1858
Below is an excerpt from a letter written by Pastor Kilian on October 19, 1858 to Pastor Gumlich, Weigersdorf, Silesia (Prussia). The translation is by Bill Biar, Denver, CO, 7 July 1993.
On the 9th of October (Saturday) Pastor Lieb, personally known and befriended by me, came to my house with the separatist, Jacob Moerbe from Neudorf near Guttau, and said that he was asked by persons who were knowledgeable to find out what was going on between us. He was taking an interest in these people so that they would not go over to the Methodists. I answered: “It is a matter of an unresolved congregational quarrel; I stand accused by the seceded party at my superiors in St. Louis; my case is pending at the synodical judiciary; therefore, as an accused, I could not tell him what to do or not to do. We need to wait for an answer from St. Louis.” Then Jacob Moerbe broke in: “Why I stated at the congregational meeting that the secessionists were excluded from our communion?” I answered: “Because they are irreconcilable and after the receipt of the congregational letter they no longer wanted to negotiate with us, which the letter explicitly requested, which is also required by Christian duty.” Where-upon Pastor Lieb referred to Matt. 5:23-24 and decided not to give them Holy Communion on the 10th of October, the day it was scheduled. On the 10th of October (Sunday), another attempt at reconciliation was arranged. I did not object for him to address the separatists and admonish them to make peace. The attempted reconciliation was held that afternoon. Our side was represented by the Church Council, namely, Johann Dube, Carl Lehmann, Andreas Lowke, Matthes Wukasch, Carl Teinert and George Schelnik. The separatists were represented by Johann Urban from Rakel, August Polnik from Weigersdorf and Matthes Schmidt (the old Hunter-Schmidt) from Reichwalde. The latter asked what we really wanted from them; they did not want to return to me. They did not want me as father confessor. There is freedom in America. They accused me that in my sermons there was too much gospel, too little law in its severity. I said, “I did not have any other manner of preaching and could not understand their accusation.” To this Urban said my sermons had no power. Already toward the last in Weigersdorf my sermons had no power. If I would mend my ways, which would soon become evident, he would come back to me. I asked if it was true that they were of the opinion that it did not matter much to which church one belongs as long as repentance and faith were preached. Johann Urban embraced this statement as his own and pointed to Martin Boos. [Martin Boos, 1762-1825, was a Catholic priest who preached a doctrine of salvation by faith resembling that of Luther for which he was imprisoned several times and driven about.] I asked, “Would you also run to the Catholic Church, just like you did the Methodists, when a man like Martin Boos makes an appearance?” Urban broke in: “Yes, that I would do.” Then one of our side said: “So you want to become ‘united.’” [In Prussia ‘united’ (Uniert) had reference to the union of the Lutheran and Reformed religions.] Urban: “Let us indeed be ‘united.’” During this meeting there were sharp attacks against one another. However, since these attacks did nothing to resolve the matter, but only led to more agitation, the meeting was adjourned.
The unreconciled and irreconcilable separatists had Pastor Lieb come again and before noon last Saturday, the 16th of October, he preached and gave them Holy Communion. With that, on the 16th of October our separatists went over to the so-called Lutheran, but really “united” (unierte) Texas Synod.
CARL AUGUST MOERBE AND ERNESTINE MICHALK
Carl August Moerbe, who went by his second name of August, was born at Serbin, Texas, on 17 January 1860, the third child and second son of Jacob Moerbe and Johanne, neé Dube. In late 1872 the Moerbe family moved to Fedor. August grew up on his parents’ farm. By hard work and thrift he was able to purchase a cotton gin and 149 acres of land in 1893. After six years he sold out for $8,000. In 1899, with the money placed in a molasses bucket and the bucket placed under the seat of his wagon, he headed for Thorndale. Here he purchased 329 acres of land of which 145 was under cultivation. He plotted a portion of his land and sold a number of lots, sold some for farming purposes and farmed the rest. Later he bought another 320 acres just south of town on which the family residence was built. He and his wife, Ernestine, neé Michalk, lived there the remainder of their lives. The site is where the Harold Biar residence is located. Harold happens to be a grandson.
August married Ernestine Michalk at Fedor on 9 February 1883. She was born at Sandförstgen,Silesia (Prussia), on 14 October 1862. Her parents were Carl Michalk and Magdalene, neé Zschieschan (Zieschang). Around 1875 the Michalk family moved from Sandförstgen to Baruth in Saxony, where she was confirmed in 1877. In 1879 she decided to go along with her brother, Ernst, and his wife, Ernestine, neé Zieschang, who had decided to immigrate to Texas. She wanted to visit her brother, Carl, who left Prussia in 1859, several years before she was born. He was 19 years old and living in Texas when she was born. On the voyage to Texas she became extremely seasick and vowed never to go on another ship. She stayed in Texas and later married August. She never really mastered the English language; however, I remember that my grandfather took her to cast her ballot on election days and stated that he had to help her vote. Some of her grandchildren, who spoke little German, spoke to her in English, but she answered in German. Somehow they always got along!
August and Ernestine were blessed with seven children. They were as follows:
NAME BORN DIED SPOUSE
Lydia Lina 08 Feb 1885 24 Jan 1957 Johann Otto Biar – 1979-1956
Alwin 18 Feb 1887 05 Sep 1907 –
Emil John 02 Jan 1889 09 Mar 1974 Martha Simmank – 1892-1976
RichardHermann 22 Mar 1891 24 Jun 1979 Sophie Melde
Frieda Hedwig 18 Mar 1893 03 Nov1986 Samuel Kieschnick
Oscar Ludwig 30 Apr 1898 30 Apr 1941 Clara Schroeder
Carl John 21 Sep 1901 21 Nov 1978 Lena Rieger
August was a successful farmer for many years. He had a keen interest and was influential inthe economic and political affairs of the Thorndale area. He and Ernestine were lifelong faithful members of the Lutheran Church. Ernestine died from pneumonia on 15 January 1936. August died on 6 September 1944 as a result of being struck be an automobile at church. Both are buried in St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery in Thorndale.
Attachment I is a copy of the Biography of C. August Moerbe published in Captain B. B. Paddock’s “A History of Central and Western Texas” in 1911.
LYDIA LINA MOERBE AND JOHANN OTTO BIAR
Lydia was born at Fedor on 8 February 1885. She was the oldest child of her parents, August Moerbe and Ernestine, neé Michalk, both of Wendish decent. She was confirmed by her uncle, Pastor Emil F. Moerbe at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Giddings, on 3 April 1898. She came to Thorndale with her parents in 1899. On 17 January 1905, she married Otto Biar at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Thorndale.
Lydia and Otto were active members of the Lutheran Church their entire lives. She was a good homemaker and knew how to manage a home and take care of a large family. Although she was short in stature she could easily outwork most other women.
Otto died in a Taylor hospital on 14 November 1956. Lydia died on 24 January 1957, also in a Taylor hospital. Both were buried in the St. Paul’s Lutheran cemetery in Thorndale.
Lydia and Otto were blessed with 12 children. All were born at Thorndale.
1. Hedwig Otillia was born on 14 August 1906. She was working in Houston when a typhoid epidemic struck and she died from it on 17 December 1927.
2. Henry Otto was born on 12 January 1908. On 18 December 1934 he married Hannah Simmank, who was born at Thorndale on 28 January 1910. They resided in Austin for a number of years, where Henry worked as a grocery store clerk until he entered the U. S. Navy during World War II. After the war he was a carpenter and lived in Thorndale. They were blessed with three sons; Henry Harold, Olin Fred and Howard Louis. Henry also served in the Navy during the Korean War. He died in the Veteran Hospital in Temple on 20 April 1975 and Hannah died on 28 April 1976.
3. Martha Ernestine was born on 19 August 1909. She worked in San Antonio for many years. During World War II she worked at Kelly Air Force Base. The last 24 years before her retirement she worked for Frost Brothers. Martha died in a nursing home in San Antonio on 1 February 2003 at the age of 93.
4. Edna Lydia was born on 17 March 1911. She worked in Houston for a short time before her job took her to Los Angeles. During World War II she worked for Lockheed Aviation Company. After the war she was employed by Newcomb Electronics Corporation for 20 years prior to her retirement. She died in a nursing home in San Antonio on 16 Jan 2004 at the age of 92.
5. Carl Alvin was born on 28 October 1912. He became a Lutheran pastor, graduating from the Springfield (Illinois) Seminary in 1938, and served congregations at Spring and Lincoln, Texas. On 4 August 1940 be married Lillian Schmidt, who was born in Houston on 12 November 1917. Their daughter, Ruth Ann, was adopted. Carl died at Lincoln on 31 December 1973. Lillian resides in Giddings.
6. John Walter was born on 11 March 1915. Walter served in the U. S. Army Air Corps during World War II and spent several years in England. After the war he worked for Celanese in Bishop, Texas, before he went to work at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi and later, Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio. On 2 February 1957 he married Edna Kappler, who was born on 28 August 1915. Walter and Edna have one daughter, Nancy Janelle, and live in retirement in San Antonio.
7. Martin Albert was born on 10 April 1917. Before and during World War II he served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. During the war he made a number of voyages on a hospital ship, mainly to England and back, but also one voyage through the Panama Canal to the South Pacific to New Guinea. After the war he made his home in the Dallas area and was employed at several places, including Simplex Time Recorder Company, a Chevrolet sales and service company, Snap-On Tools Corporation, Utility Trailer Sales and, before retirement, Great Dane Trailers. On 19 January 1952 he married Gertrude (Trudy) Foerster, who was born on 15 January 1927. They were blessed with five children: James Andrew (who died in infancy), Timothy Allen, John Charles, Deborah Helen and Andrew Frederick. Martin and Trudy make their home in Garland, Texas.
8. Bill Edwin was born on 7 July 1919. During World War II he served in the U. S. Army Air Corps for 3 years before being transferred to U. S. Army Intelligence. He spent over two years in Germany. On 12 June 1947 he married Stefana Todt, who was born on 18 February 1925 in Neisse, Silesia (Germany), Bill worked for Atlantic Richfield Company for 36 years, working in Midland (twice), Odessa (twice), Corpus Christi, Bakersfield (California) and Denver. Bill and Steffy have two children, Rita Marianne and Norman Edwin. After retirement Bill and Steffy lived in Denver for 18 years before moving to Carrollton, Texas in February 2001.
9. Otto August was born on 15 July 1921. After serving in the Pacific Theater during World II and seeing combat in Okinawa, he worked for Celanese in Bishop for a year and then 5 years for Missouri Pacific Railroad in Kingsville. After that he moved to San Antonio and spent nearly 33 years as a dealer for Snap-On Tools Corporation before retiring in San Antonio. He died in San Antonio on 13 January 1997 at the age of 75.
10. Ruth Eleanor was born 9 March 1924. For a number of years she made her home in Austin where she married Dewayne Farschman on 14 April 1951. At that time both of them were employed by Austin Laundry Company. Dewayne was born on 10 September 1918. They left Austin and made their home in Amherst, Ohio, Dewayne’s home town. They were blessed with 3 children: Mark Wayne, Joyce Ann and Linda Ruth. Dewayne died on 7 January 1984. Ruth continues to reside at Amherst.
11. Doris Erna was born on 14 April 1928. She made her home in Austin and went to work for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. On 19 February 1955 she married Marvin Urban, who was born on 1 June 1924. After a few years they moved to San Antonio and later to Grand Prairie. They have one son, Jeffrey Glenn. Doris worked for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company for 37 years before retiring. Doris and Marvin continue to live in Grand Prairie.
12. Harold Alvis was born on 19 November 1931. He served in the U. S. Army during the Korean War. After his discharge from the Army, Harold returned to Thorndale and went to work at Alcoa’s Rockdale Works. On 21 October 1956 he married Rosalie Wuthrich, who was born at Thrall on 4 January 1938. Their marriage was blessed with 4 children: Lorna Diane, Beverly Gail, Rhonda Fay and David Harold. Harold and Rosalie live on the Biar home place, which they bought and farm, together with some rented land.
When I returned from Germany in 1947 my parents were corresponding with the late Oskar Scheeler of Bautzen. The maiden name of his wife was Johanna Mörbe. She was a granddaughter of Johann Carl Mörbe (1826), the brother of Ernst Adolph and Ferdinand Jacob Mörbe, who came to Texas. As far as I know this was the only
contact my parents had with Moerbe relatives in Germany after World War II.
JOHANN CARL MÖRBE (1826)
The brother of Ernst Adolph and Jacob Mörbe, Johann Carl, remained in Guttau, where he was the local blacksmith and a church elder. He was born in 1826 and died in 1900. He was buried at a special place near the Guttau church next to his father, Jakob Mörbe (1789). His wife’s name was Anna Rötschke, who was born in 1825 and died in 1901. Their son, Johann Ernst, was born in 1849 and died in 1894. He, like his father, was the blacksmith at Guttau. After World War I Rev. Emil Moerbe, Hamilton,Texas, corresponded with Walter Hermann, the son of Johann Ernst Moerbe. He was born at Guttau in 1888. Hermann answered the writer’s first letter in 1971, when he was 82 years old, but failed to answer the second one. He was an interpreter and had been living in Berlin since 1936. Mrs. Lillie Moerbe Caldwell visited him in West Berlin prior to writing her book Texas Wends – Their First Half Century. Her book was copyrighted in 1961. Reference was made to Hermann’s sister, Johanna, in the preceding paragraph. The writer has not been able to establish any additional correspondence with any other descendant of Johann Carl Mörbe.
ERNST ADOLPH MOERBE (1824)
The oldest brother of F. Jacob Moerbe, Ernst Adolph, was born in 1824 at Guttau and died in 1870 at Serbin. His wife’s name was Agnes Symny, who was born in 1826. They lived at Klix after they married. He was one of the Wends who signed the document calling Pastor Kilian as pastor of the newly-organized congregation that was founded at Dauban, Silesia (Prussia), which later became St. Paul Lutheran Church of Serbin. In 1854, they, together with two sons and one daughter, participated in the Wendish immigration to Texas. Their youngest son
and daughter died en route to Texas. The family settled at Serbin. The oldest son, Johann Traugott, died in 1864 as a result of a wagon accident while hauling freight. They had another son, Andrew, who was born at Serbin in 1857. Andrew married Amelia Maria Foerster and this couple had four sons and nine daughters. Their son, Gerhard Harold, born in 1882, was the father of Lillie Moerbe Caldwell, who was one of the founders of what is now the Texas Wendish Heritage Society and the author of the book Texas Wends – Their First Half Century.
JOHANN MÖRBE [MOERBE] (1830)
The ship register of the BEN NEVIS listed Johann Mörbe from Dauban, born on 4 June 1830, together with his mother, Maria, and his sister, Hanna. However, their names were crossed out and the notation “Kommen nicht mit” (not coming along) appears opposite their names. They stayed in Germany and Johann married his fiance, Maria Basche, born on 3 June 1833, who was also listed on the ship register with the same notation as above opposite her name. After 5 children, Maria, neé Basche, died on 17 November 1864. Their oldest son, named Johann August, came to Texas by himself in 1873.
On 8 October 1865, Johann (Sr.) married Maria Schkade from Dauban, who was born on 29 October 1843. After 3 children were born to them in Germany, they all migrated to Texas in 1875, together with the remaining children from Johann’s first marriage, and settled in the Warda area. One daughter was born in Texas. The oldest daughter of Johann Moerbe and Maria, neé Schkade, born on 2 November 1867, married Pastor Hermann Kilian in 1886. The father of Johann (Sr.) was Andreas Mörbe, a cottager at Dauban. Maria Schkade’s father was named Christoph and he came from Dauban. To date the writer has not been able to determine if the Dauban and Guttau Mörbes were related.
PASTOR GUSTAV MÜRBE (MJERWA)
Reference should also be made of Pastor Gustav Mürbe (Muerbe). When mentioning the name “Mörbe” (Moerbe) in letters to persons in Lusatia they usually bring up the name “Mürbe” (Muerbe). Chances are that they will know of someone who uses the latter spelling. Evidently, both names come from the same root. Pastor Mürbe was born at Grossdehsa in 1882. After studying for the ministry at the University of Leipzig, he was a pastor at Hochkirch from 1910 to 1941, when the Nazis deposed him. Preaching in the Wendish language had been forbidden previously and the Nazis were in the process of transferring Wendish speaking pastors away from Wendish parishes. The plan was to eventually disperse the entire Wendish or Sorbian population. However, this plan was never carried out. Pastor Mürbe served in a Wartestand (provisional retirement) at Oelsa from 1942 until 1946. After the war he again served the Hochkirch congregation, from 1946 until his death in 1958. The Sorbian Superintendency of the Lutheran Church was revived and Pastor Mürbe was the first superintendent. He also became the first editor of POMHAJ BÓH (in German, ‘Gott helfe’), (in English – literally, ‘God help;’ ‘may God help you/us’), the Sorbian church periodical, after World War II. It would be interesting to know what relation Mörbe and Mürbe have to each other.
MÖRBE (MOERBE) OR MJERWA
Under the heading JAKOB DZICK – MITSCHKE – MÖRBE (p. 7) we learned how the surname Mörbe (Moerbe) came to us. Also, some people in Lusatia spell the name Mürbe instead of Mörbe. However, in Wendish or Sorbian the name for both Mörbe and Mürbe is Mjerwa.
Mörbe is said to be a derivation of the Wendish Mjerwa. According to the late Pastor Töpfer, who was the pastor at Guttau in 1972 when the writer visited the Bautzen area, illiteracy was widespread among the Sorbian peasants for many years and names were spelled phonetically. Thus, the Wendish Mjer’-wa derivated to Mörwe and then to Mörbe.
Dr. Helmut Fasske, Sorbian Ethnological Institute in Bautzen, answered my inquiry as to the meaning of Mörbe with “Spottname, mjerwa heisst im Sorbischen ‘Wirrstroh” (Derisive nickname, mjerwa means tangled [or disorderly] straw). The name was probably given to a person for a specific reason.
A Czech professor who looked into the meaning of Mjerwa in the Czech, Polish and Russian languages wrote the writer that the name had to do with straw with a degree of disorderliness. He wrote that one source referred to a straw man made from the last straw of the harvest.
The following attachment traces one line of the ancestors of Maria Moerbe, neé Kuchar, back to Christoph Dubrausky (Dubrauske), who lived in Guttau, Saxony, the place from where the two Moerbe brothers were born who immigrated to Texas in 1854.
DUBRAUSKE (DUBRAUSKY) LINEAGE
Christoph Dubrausky (Dubrauske) was born in Guttau circa 1686. His wife was born in circa 1687. These two were the great great grandparents of Maria Moerbe, neé Kuchar (1801-1855).
We have to take our ancestors the way they were. Our ancestors were not saints, but sinners, just like all of us. We are just like those who lived before us and have the same gracious and forgiving God they had. The church put the best construction on an incident that occurred way back in 1723. Following is a translation by the writer of an entry in the Guttau Church Register:
“Guttau Church Register – the 19th of May, 1723 – Christoph Dubrausky who had driven to Purschwitz, had the misfortune, when he was about to drive home after having had something to drink, fell in front of his horse. The wagon went over his temple and immediately before he died he said the words: ‘Lord, be merciful to me and forgive my sins.’ The body was brought here and on the 22nd was buried [Dobranuz]* with a funeral sermon. His age was 37 years. His wife was about to bear a child. God be merciful to his soul.”
* Translator wasunable to determine what the word DOBRANUZ means but believes it is a Sorbian word that has to do with “good.”
The lineage from Christoph Dubrausky (Dubrauske) continues until it reaches Maria Kuchar and Jakob Mörbe (1789).
FROM CHRISTOPH DUBRAUSKE TO MARIA KUCHAR
Maria Dubrauske, married 26 Jan 1744, Guttau, Saxony, Johann Kuchar
B. 29 Mar 1720, Neudörfel, Saxony B. 5 Feb 1719, Guttau, Saxony
D. 21 Dec 1760, Neudörfel, Saxony D. 25 Dec 1760, Neudörfel, Saxony
Hanscha Kucha, married in Guttau, Sazonh, George Biele, aka Kuchar
B. 6 Nov 1749, Neudörfel, Saxony B. 10 Oct 1741, Guttau, Saxony
D. 21 Feb 1796,Neudörfel, Saxony D. 7 Mar 1791, Guttau, Saxony
Johann Kuchar, married Anna Malcke, aka Triede
B. 28 Apr 1766, Neudörfel, Saxony B. 8 Jan 1777, Gröditz, Saxony
D. 30 Nov, Guttau, Saxony D. 29 Aug 1845, Guttau, Saxony
Maria Kuchar, married 27 Apr 1819, Guttau, Saxony, Jakob Mörbe
B. 19 Mar 1801, Neudörfel, Saxony B. 2 Oct 1789, Baruth, Saxony
D. 17 Nov 1832, Guttau, Saxony D. 21 May 1855, Guttau, Saxony
Maria Kuchar, married 2 Feb 1834, Guttau Saxony Andreas Kästner
B. 1807, Wurschen, Saxony
D. 9 Feb 1844, Guttau, Saxony
For Jakob Moerbe and Maria Kuchar see item 5 and JAKOB MOERBE AND MARIA KUCHAR.
When one drives into the village of Guttau the first line of the road sign along the highway reads: “GUTTAU” and underneath in smaller letters, the second line reads: “HUČINA.” Guttau has become the acceptable German name of the village, while Hučina is the modern Sorbian name. Guttau is in “Kreis” Bautzen, Kreis being the equivalent of our county.
Guttau and Hučina, are of Sorbian origin. What Sorbian scholars disagree on is which of the two was the original name. One group of researchers say Guttau while the other group says Hučina. Guttau has reference to “the village of one Guta.” Hučina has reference to thicket (in German, Dickicht), suggesting that the village was located in a wooded place.
When the Germans conquered Upper Lusatia around the year 1000, Germanization started immediately. Landed estates, more often than not, villages, were given to German knights (Ritter), probably for their service during the war of conquest. Other landed-estates were given to noblemen. A landed-estate owned by a knight or a nobleman was known as a Rittergut or Landgut, that is, a manor. The Sorbian people, as well as, other peasants, living on these manors and/or in these villages became serfs or bondsmen, subjects of knights or noblemen. The manorial house, where the knight, nobleman or the caretaker lived, was surrounded by the huts of the peasants and the manorial land surrounded these villages. Some villages had more than one manor. Most of the manorial land was owned by knights or noblemen and many of them had several manors. There were, however, small holdings of land by individual peasants in varying amounts, and with varying rights, within the manors.
There was still much virgin land in the area to be cleared, to enlarge the arable land in established manors and to establish new ones. However, there were not enough serfs available so that German colonists were recruited in the west and brought to the east. This is why there were many manors with both Sorbian and German peasants.
Originally, Guttau was a Rittergut, a manor owned by a knight. The name of the original feudal lord is not available. Christoff von Baudissin was mentioned in 1416 as the first feudal lord of record. Caspar von Luttitz is mentioned after that. Caspar von Nostitz is mentioned in 1439 and a number of his descendants owned Guttau for about 200 years. In the 17th century the von Ziegler and Klipphausen family owned Guttau. In the 1830s the von Damitz family took over the ownership. When serfdom was repealed in Saxony in 1832 16 of the 41 small property owners at Guttau could not even sign their names and had to sign the agreement by making three crosses. This shows that over the years the gentry had no interest in educating the peasantry. The last noble family to own the land around Guttau after the abolition of serfdom was the Schall-Riaucour family. The land remained with the Schall-Riaucours until the land was dispossessed by the East German regime as part of the land reform of 1946.
It could be that Christianity came to the area around Guttau as early as the end of the ninth century. Pastor Mättig, a pastor at Guttau, who died in 1928, wrote: “Probably the first attempt by Slavic missionaries to change the heathen nature festivals into Christian festivals was made at the end of the 9th century, after a pair of brothers, Cyril and Methodius from Bulgaria, traveled through most of the Slavic provinces and the first of the two eventually came as far as Görlitz, Königshain and Jauernick.” Königshain is only about 11 miles southeast of
Guttau. Ancient crosses on stones have been found in the village of Guttau and nearby Gleina and some researchers believe that this could have been the places missionaries preached the first Christian sermons and the first baptisms were performed. At both places water is very close by. There is no record of a continuation of Christianity anywhere in the area at that time and it appears that if the Sorbs were Christianized they soon lapsed back into heathenism.
Western Christianity, that is, Roman Catholicism, came to Upper Lusatia soon after the Milceni tribe of Sorbs in the vicinity of Bautzen lost their independence around the year 1000. In those days Christianity was often spread by the sword. “Convert or extirpate,” was commanded by the German conquerors. A lot of blood was shed to make Christians out of the Wends. The church’s manner of spreading Christianity and the harsh treatment of the Wends resulted in the fact that by the twelfth century many of the Sorbs were still not fully converted. Some researchers believe that this is one of the reasons why the Wends readily accepted Lutheranism many years later.
The earliest written reference to Guttau found to date is a Latin document, dated 1222, which named nine churches to be placed under the newly established St. Peter’s Cathedral in Bautzen. The document identifies Guttau as Guttin. Thus we know that our ancestors were Christianized at least 300 years before the Reformation.
During the Battle of Bautzen on May 20 and 21, 1813, Guttau was set on fire and only two houses escaped the flames. The church and all its records were destroyed. Re-construction of the church did not begin until 1816 and progress was slow. Three cannon balls from the Battle of Bautzen were placed in the gable as a warning to future generations. A relief of Georg von Nostitz, who died in 1579 and who was a great great nephew of the above-mentioned Caspar von Nostitz, can be seen on the southern wall of the church at Guttau. This plate was originally on a gravestone. Georg and his pastor, Matthäus, were instrumental in bringing Lutheranism to Guttau in 1543, sooner than most other villages.
Guttau is the village of many names. Up to 1350 it was known as Guttin; then in 1354, Gude, emerges; 1416, Gutte; 1434, Gotta; 1443, Gotte; 1506, Gottaw. Then in 1710, all of a sudden, H appears at the beginning of the name: Huszen and Husčina. Then in 1813, during the Battle of Bautzen in the Napoleonic War, the name Gotta is used again. That’s why we gather that Guttau is the village of many names.
Under the East German regime the land around Guttau became the site of an agricultural collective. These were called LPGs which stands for Landwirtschaftliche Produktions Genossenschaften. Since the unification of the two Germanys these collectives have been transferred to private ownership.
Map I identifies the Manorial Estates in the County of Bautzen in 1832.
EXCERPT FROM “A CENTENNIAL STORY OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH IN TEXAS”
by H. C. Ziehe, Pastor, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Taylor, Texas (Page 99)
On December 12, 1854, a group of more than 500 Wendish people, hailing from various sections of Prussia and Saxony in Germany, landed at Galveston. Their spiritual leader was Pastor J. Kilian. They established their colony at Serbin, near the line between Lee and Bastrop counties.
The group affiliated with the Lutheran Missouri Synod. Thereafter pastors of that body began to establish themselves in Texas. A separation took place within the Serbin congregation in 1858 and St. Peter church was organized. The congregation requested affiliation with the Synod, was finally received and served. According to the Minutes of the convention of 1861, the President of the Missouri Synod had written a very cordial letter in September of the previous year and had expressed his Synod’s agreement in the matter. Nevertheless, the situation proved to be a difficult one for many years; like others it flared into print in the church papers, it led to the locking of the church door by contending parties, and to the threat of a case at law.