Spelling of Personal and Place Names
From Michał to Michałk

George Michalk and His Wife, Agnes
George Michalk and Magdalene Eyen
Carl Michalk and Magdalene Zieschang
Other Michalks
Andreas Michalk and Caroline Krakovsky
Maria and Hanna Michalk

The German language employs 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 the umlauts in English by writing ä, ae; ö, oe; and ü, ue. Thus, BÄHR is written BAEHR; MÖRBE, MOERBE; and WÜNSCHE, WUENSCHE. The spelling of place names with umlauts has been retained throughout this history. However, the spelling of personal names with umlauts was discontinued after the names were “transplanted” in Texas.
Revised: 11-18–02
Revised: 6-12-04
Our Michalk ancestors came from Sandförstgen in the vicinity of Gebelzig in Silesia, near the former Saxon-Prussian border about 12 to 13 miles northeast of Bautzen. The people living at Sandförstgen belonged to the church at Gebelzig.
When the Wends were Christianized many of them adopted Christian names. This was especially true if their former names expressed anti-Christian sentiments. Since Michael is a Biblical name it is plausible that somewhere along the line one of our ancestors adopted the name Michael, which is MICHAŁ in Sorbian, after he became a Christian. In 1972 when I visited the Sorbian Ethnological Institute in Bautzen I met Dr. Siegfried Michalk. (He stated that he was not related to the Michalks in the vicinity of Gebelzig.) He emphatically pronounced his name MICHAUK, which seemed rather strange to me. Later I learned that in Sorbian or Wendish, MICHALK is written with a slash through the ł, that is, MICHAŁK, and that the ł is pronounced like a u or w in German and like ow as in now in English. Since MICHAEL is MICHAŁ in Sorbian we have to deal with the k at the end. The k is a
diminution indicating little, small, etc. Thus MICHAŁK means “Little Michael” (der kleine Michael). It appears that somewhere along the line one of our ancestors was called MICHAŁK, that is, “Little Michael,” to distinguish him from another MICHAŁ(MICHAEL).



George Michalk married Agnes


George Michalk married 11 Feb 1812: Gebelzig, Silesia to Hanischa Eyen

B. 21 Feb 1782: Sandförstgen, Silesia         B. Jerchwitz, Silesia

D. 13 Jul 1836: Sandförstgen, Silesia          D. 10 Mar 1836: Sandförstgen, Silesia


Carl Michalk married 24 Oct 1837: Gebelzig, Silesia to Magdalene Zieschang

B. 28 Jul 1813: Sandförstgen, Silesia          B. 13 Oct 1819: Sandförstgen, Silesia

D. 14 Dec 1895: Baruth, Saxony                D. 25 Aug 1899: Malschwitz, Saxony


Ernestine Michalk married 9 Feb 1883: Fedor, Texas to Carl August Moerbe

B. 14 Oct 1862: Sandförstgen, Silesia          B. 17 Jan 1860: Serbin, Texas

D. 15 Jan 1936: Thorndale, Texas               D. 6 Sep 1944: Taylor, Texas


Lydia Lina Moerbe married 17 Jan 1905: Thorndale, Texas to Johann Otto Biar

B. 8 Feb 1885: Fedor, Texas                 D. 1 Oct 1879: Serbin, Texas

D. 24 Jan 1957: Taylor, Texas              D.14 Nov 1956: Taylor, Texas


The 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.

The spelling of places was taken from a modern German map. States, countries, etc., are in English.

B. indicates date of birth.  D. indicates date of death.

The 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.
The spelling of places was taken from a modern German map. States, countries, etc., are in English.
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 above counties is now included in the newly-formed Province or State of Saxony in modern Germany.
The first Michalk ancestor I have been able to identify is one George Michalk. His date and place of birth are not available but it is assumed that he came from Sandförstgen because that is where his son, also named George, was born. His wife’s first name was Agnes. Her maiden name and her date and place of birth are also not available.
George Michalk was born on 21 February 1782 at Sandförstgen, Silesia. His parents were George Michalk and his wife, Agnes.
George married Hanischa Eyen at Gebelzig on 11 February 1812. Hanischa is a Sorbian (Wendish) form of Agnes. Her date of birth is not available. She came from Jerchwitz, Silesia, which like Sandförstgen, belongs to the parish of Gebelzig.  Hr father’s name was Gottfried Eyen. According to DeBray (Guide to Slavonic Languages) Sorbian words do not begin with vowels except for exclamations and words of foreign origin; therefore, Eyen must be a foreign and not a Wendish name. Eyen is not listed in my book of 50,000 German names. It could be that it comes from an ending of a longer name or a name like Van der Eyen or Van der Oyen. It is known that Jerchwitz was settled by Germans and some of these came from the Lowlands, that is, from Flanders and Holland, in the west. Jerchwitz, in Sorbian, Jerchecy, was originally known as Erichsdorf, because it was the settlement of one Erich. According to Jan Meschgang’s book Die Ortsnamen der Oberlausitz (The Place Names of Upper Lusatia), the fact that this German place name with the ending of dorf took on the ending witz was only possible if the inhabitants of the village were Sorbian in a region that was completely“Sorbianized.”
Carl, the son of George Michalk and Hanischa, nee Eyen, was our ancestor. Hanischa died at Sandförstgen on 10 March 1836 and George also died at Sandförstgen the same year on 13 July 1836, when Carl was 23 years of age.
Carl Michalk was born on 28 July 1813 at Sandförstgen, Silesia. On one record his given names were listed as Johann Carl, which would be in line with the custom of that time of calling persons by the name immediately preceding their surname. His parents were George Michalk and Hanischa, nee Eyen. On 24 October 1837 he married Magdalene Zieschang, who was born at Sandförstgen on 13 October 1819. Her parents were Johann Zieschang and Hanscha, nee Hommel. See FROM KRISTIAN TO ZIESCHANG for information on the Zieschang and Hommel families.
Around 1875 the Carl Michalk family moved from Sandförstgen, Silesia (Prussia), to Baruth, Saxony, a distance of less than 3 miles. At that time the Saxon-Prussian border was in the proximity of Sandförstgen.
The church records at Gebelzig list 12 children being born to Carl Michalk (1813) and Magdalene Michalk, nee Zieschang. All were born at Sandförstgen.  They were as follows:
NAME                                                BORN                   NOTE
1. Johann Carl                                    07 Jul 1838           died 23 Aug 1839
2. Johanne                                         19 Sep1840
3. Johann Carl                                    15 Aug1843
4. Johanna Christiana                          09 Jul 1845
5. Johann                                          17 Apr1847            died 28 May 1848
6. Johann                                          28 May1848
7. Carl August                                   18 Oct 1850           died 12 Dec 1852
8. Johanne Marie                               05 Jun 1853
9. Curt August                                   08 May1855
10. Carl Ernst                                    21 Aug1857
11. Maria Magdalena                          05 Apr 1860
12. Ernstine                                       14 Oct 1862
It is interesting to note that after the first Johann Carl died the next son received the same given names.  The same is true of the first Johann after he died and the next son received the same given name. Some of my contacts in Lusatia confirmed that this was a common practice.
1. The first Johann died when he  was 1 year old.
2. Johanne (Anna) married a man by the name of Kochte and they lived at Krischa, now Buchholz, at that time in Silesia but now in Saxony.
3. The second Johann Carl came to Texas in 1859, when he was not quite 17 years old. Pastor Kilian, in a letter to Germany on 6 July 1859, states that among others “the young Carl Michalk from Sandförstgen arrived the past week.” According to a biography of his son,John A. Michalk, published in 1911 in Captain B. B. Paddock’s book A HISTORY OF CENTRAL AND WESTERN TEXAS, he had an uncle in Texas named “Zuschong Michalk.”  It is assumed that this uncle was Johann Zieschang, born 25 November 1810, who was a member of the Wendish Emigration of 1854. Carl was in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was captured by the Confederacy and later released off Galveston. I have copies of his service record in the Civil War which is on file in the National Archives and Record Service, Washington, D. C. He married Maria Birnbaum in 1867 and they had a large family.  He died at Thorndale in 1901. She also died at Thorndale in 1912. Carl Michalk and Maria, nee Birnbaum, have many descendants and the writer hopes that there is someone out there who has written a comprehensive history of this family. Attached to this history is a copy of the above-mentioned biography. I am indebted to the late Rev. Adolph Michalk who furnished most of the information for the footnotes entered on the bottom of this biography.
4. Johanna Christiana married Johann Peter Tuppack from Weigersdorf, Silesia, in 1866. Three sons and one daughter of theirs migrated to the United States. They were Carl Herman, Paul Edward (the Weigersdorf birth register lists his name as Emil Paul), Johann Emil and Ernestine. Due to an error on the naturalization papers, Paul’s surname was spelled TUPACK, with one p instead of two. He married Minna Moerbe, daughter of Hermann Moerbe and Maria, nee Schultz, Bishop, Texas. Several years ago Mrs. Tupack wrote me that my father, Otto Biar, “lived with us [at Thorndale] and we girls and boys knew him like a brother.”
5. The first Johann died as an infant.
6. No records are available on the second Johann.
7. Carl August died when he was 2 years old.
8. Johanne Marie married Johann Carl Böthig (also Pöthig) and they lived at Wilthen, Saxony, south of Bautzen.
9. Curt August was in the Germany army. He visited his sister, Ernstine (Mrs. C. August Moerbe), and his two brothers, Carl and Ernst, in Texas, the latter part of the 1880s. He was a “baptizing witness” for Carl Samuel Michalk, the son of his brother, (Johann) Carl, and Maria, nee Birnbaum, on 19 March 1888. In 1948, his daughter, Mrs. Elsa Muck from Dresden, wrote me the following among other things: “My father was in America for only 2 or 3 years. Since he did not want to be absent without leave he came back over here. My father wanted to go back over to you, but my mother did not want to go and that is how it stayed. There is a destiny for each one of us. God leads us and what He does is always right, even when it is often hard for us to accept.” This quote was taken from her letter to us dated 17 April 1948 and translated by the writer.
10. Carl Ernst married Ernstine Zieschang and they immigrated to Texas in 1879. My late aunt, Frieda (Mrs. Samuel Kieschnick, nee Moerbe), told me that they were cousins and that they settled in Victoria. His sister, Ernstine (Mrs. C. August Moerbe), accompanied them on the voyage to Texas.
11. Maria Magdalena married Ernst Thomaschke (also Domaschke) and they lived at Malschwitz, Saxony.  Her mother, Magdalene Michalk, nee Zieschang, lived with her at Malschwitz after her husband died.
12. Ernstine, the youngest child, was our ancestress. She was confirmed on 25 March 1877 in Baruth, Saxony. In 1879 she came to Texas with her youngest brother, Carl Ernst, who, with his wife, Ernstine, nee Zieschang, immigrated to Texas. It was her intention to return to Saxony after visiting her brother, Johann Carl, who had come to Texas before she was born. On the voyage to Texas she became very ill from seasickness and vowed never to board another ship. She remained in Texas and married my grandfather, C. August Moerbe.
Carl Michalk, the father of his sons, Johann Carl and Carl Ernst, and daughter, Ernestine, who came to Texas, died at Baruth on 14 December 1895, and Magdalene died at Malschwitz, Saxony, on 25 August 1899.
For more information on our ancestress, Ernestine Moerbe, nee Michalk, see CARL AUGUST MOERBE AND ERNESTINE MICHALK in the Moerbe family history entitled FROM DZICK TO MITSCHKE TO MÖRBE.
The surname “Michalk” is also found elsewhere in Lusatia, especially toward the north of Bautzen. It is known that members of two other Michalk families came to Texas. One family, the Andreas Michalk family, originated in the same general area where the above Michalks originated. Two sisters, Maria and Hanna Michalk, came from the area further to the north.
Andreas Michalk and his wife, Caroline, nee Krakovsky, are listed in Dr. George Nielsen’s IN SEARCH OF A HOME – Nineteenth-Century Wendish Immigration; however, the place of birth is not given. In my quest to determine whether or not our Michalks and Andreas Michalk were related I learned that he was born on 23 March 1840 at Maltitz, Saxony. His parents were Andreas Michalk and Marie, nee Wolf. Johanne Caroline Krakovsky was born on 3 August 1846 at Dauban, Silesia. Her father was Georg Krakovsky and her mother’s name is not available.
On 10 May 1868 Andreas (1840) and Caroline were married at Krischa (now Buchholz), Silesia. They had twelve children, nine of whom were born in Germany. They, together with six children (three had died before their departure), came to Texas in 1881. They settled in the Warda area, where their last three children were born.
Below is a list of their children:
NAME                                                               BORN                   DIED
Johann Ernst                                                    1868                     1897
August                                                             1869                     1942
Carl Ernst                                                         1871                     1891
Heinrich                                                           1873                     1873
Maria Magdalene                                               1874                     1951
Anna Emilie                                                      1876                      1876
Carl Herman                                                     1878                      1882
Anna                                                                1879                      1879
Anna Amanda                                                    1881                      1965
Karl Heinrich                                                      1882                      ?
Theresia Selma                                                  1885                      ?
Martha Minna                                                     1888                     1904
Sandförstgen, where our Michalks originated, is about three miles from Krischa (now Buchholz), the home of Andreas Michalk (1840) before he migrated to Texas. Naturally, one wonders whether or not Andreas Michalk was related to the “Sandförstgen” Michalks. I was told by my late brother, Otto, that years ago, when Grandfather and Grandmother (August) Moerbe visited her brother in Victoria, they stopped by at Warda and Fedor on the way home to visit other relatives. I, personally, knew some of the relatives at Fedor but none at Warda. The Andreas Michalk family could very well have been the relatives they visited at Warda. Perhaps, Andreas was grandmother Moerbe’s cousin.
Maria Michalk was born at Oelsa near Klitten, Silesia (Prussia), on 24 February 1828. On 2 February 1848 she married Christoph Krause, who was born at Mücka, Silesia, on 23 March 1817. This couple, together with their 9 months old son, Johann, came to Texas with a small group of Wends in 1853. This group was composed of about 35 persons, including children. They were shipwrecked near Cuba. No lives were lost, but all their possessions were lost. They were brought to Havana and with the help of a German society were taken to New Orleans where they received new clothing and then transportation to Galveston. While Maria Michalk Krause was in Havana she learned how to roll cigars and during the voyage between Cuba and Galveston she gave birth to her daughter, Hanna. The family settled at Frelsburg and later joined Pastor Kilian’s congregation at Serbin. The writer does not have access to data concerning additional children, etc. Christoph Krause died at Serbin on 15 June 1869 and Maria died at Serbin on 26 July 1912.
Maria Michalk’s sister, Hanna, was born at Oelsa on 8 May 1825. The ship register identifies her place of birth as Klein Oelsa. She came to Texas as a single person with the large Wendish Immigration to Texas in 1854.  Hanna became the second wife of Johann Carl Teinert, a prominent member of the Wendish migration. Carl Teinert’s first wife, Maria, nee Schneider, died at sea in 1854. Hanna died at Serbin on 16 November 1863 and Carl died at Warda on 19November 1904. I was unable to determine whether or not these two sisters were related to the other Michalks.

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