The Texas Mersiovskys – By Weldon Mersiovsky, Phyllis Mersiovsky Bardo, and Michelle Bardo Thorley

The story that you are about to read was gleaned from facts that were carried to the grave by all who lived it. It is pieced together from numerous records and how we interpreted them. Before we started putting it all together all we knew was that Adolf Mersiovsky was born in Hochkirch, Germany and came to America when he was 10.

If any reader would like to continue the story of their family just add it in the comments area. If any reader would like to publish their family’s story in like manner just contact the Wendish Research Exchange at http://researchproject.info.

On April 1, 1848, in the kingdom of Saxony in eastern Germany in the village of Steindorfel, a daughter is born to Andreas Mirtschin and Magdalena Domschke. They name her Maria Theresa but they call her Theresa. Theresa grows up the seventh of ten children, three older brothers, three older sisters, two younger brothers and one older sister. She probably spends her time helping with household chores from a very young age, playing with her siblings and the children in the village and, if very fortunate, receiving a little schooling. At age nineteen she gives birth to a child whom she names Gustav Mirtsching. According to church records he was born July 15, 1867 in the village of Hochkirch. The father is listed as Johann Carl Rentsch. It appears that she never marries him.On February 20, 1869, almost two years after the birth of Gustav, she marries Carl August Mersiovsky who is 25 years old. He was born in Weigsdorf on March 11, 1843. They move to New Weigsdorf where their first child, Gustav Adolph is born the next year on March 12, 1870. Their young family continues to grow with the birth of Karl August 18 months later on September 10, 1871. He lives only three months, dying on October 31, 1871. William Ernst is born a year later on September 6, 1872. Two years later Julius Hermann is born on October 27, 1874. Theresa now has 4 young boys – Gustav, Adolph, Ernst, and Hermann. They bring her great joy as well as the many challenges that come from raising four young boys. In her heart of hearts she secretly wishes for a daughter when she becomes pregnant again.

About the same time she becomes pregnant, her husband Carl August tells her that he is not feeling well. He no longer has the energy he needs to work and soon becomes weaker and weaker. Theresa takes care of him as well as she can with four boys under foot and pregnant with her fifth child. In late summer, she finds her dear August slipping away from her. He dies of pneumonia on August 21, 1875 attended by Theresa with her children by her side. They were married for six short years. Overcome by grief and sorrow Theresa, only 28 years old, must decide what to do with her young boys, Gustav (8), Adolph (5), Ernst (3) and Hermann (1). During this time of great sadness, only six months after the death of her husband, great joy comes to her in the birth of her first and only daughter born April 5, 1876. She calls her Linna. Oh how she wishes that August could be there to enjoy this beautiful gift and hold his only daughter in his arms.

She finds solace and comfort with the Mersiovsky family. They come to her aid and help her with her young family. Carl Leberecht, August’s 25 year old cousin, is one or those that comes to assist with the family and he soon falls in love with Theresa. They are married on October 15, 1876 in Cunewalde, a little more than a year after August’s death. Theresa is grateful to have Leberecht enter her life and is thankful that he is willing to become a father to her five children. A year later, Carl Emil is born on September 28, 1877 and Theresa now has six young children – five of which are under the age of eight. There is surely never enough time in the day to do all that has to be done in caring for such a young family. At the same time the religious and political situation in Germany is becoming increasingly intolerable. Theresa and Leberecht have a lot on their minds: How do we want our children to grow up? What will they become here in Germany? Like all parents, they want the best for their children.

They finally decide with heavy hearts that they must leave their home and family in Germany for a better life in America. On the trip to the coast where they will board a ship to America, Theresa begins to feel ill. Leberecht assures her that things will be better in America and that all she needs is a little rest. She gains some of that rest during the steamer trip on the SS Nurnberg which sails from Bremen and Havre, Germany. On the trip they meet a young man named Julius Koch. He is a 25 year old laborer from Austria and they soon become good friends. To Leberecht’s dismay, Theresa still does not feel well and they are afraid that when they arrive in America the family will be put in quarantine or, worse still, sent back to Germany if she is found sick. So together with Julius Koch and the ship’s captain, August Geyer, they arrange to have the children registered under the name of Koch. When the ship docks at New Orleans, Julius Koch takes the children, Gustav (11), Adolph (10), Ernst (8), Hermann (6), Linna (4) and Emil (3), with him and they pass through customs as his family. To the young children this is a frightening experience, given the possibility they may never see their parents again. Lots of tears are shed and prayers offered that they might remain a family here in this new country. Fortunately, their prayers are answered. Theresa and Leberecht are able to clear customs and the family is reunited. From New Orleans, the family makes their way to Texas. It is not known whether the ship continued on to Galveston or whether they traveled by train or some other transportation from New Orleans to Texas. The journey is long and hard and the stress eventually takes its toll on Theresa who becomes sick with typhoid fever. On December 12, 1880, at 32 years of age, she dies in the arms of Leberecht – her husband of only four years – while her children stand weeping by her bedside. What is to become of them now that both their father and mother are gone? What more can they endure?

Leberecht, a man of great compassion, continues to care for his children and stepchildren for the next six years. He realizes that he must have help to care for his young family and soon meets and marries another young widow, Carolina Wilhelmina Richter Bittner. They are married on November 28, 1886 by the Justice of the Peace in Giddings, Texas. Joy fills the hearts of the children as they welcome a new mother into their lives. Wilhelmina cares for them as lovingly as their own mother Theresa had.

Wilhelmina originally lived in Walburg, Williamson, Texas. She, like Theresa, had a child by a man to whom she was not married. Herman Wilhelm Neitsch was born to her on June 25, 1882. The father refused to marry her and married another woman instead. However a year later on January 23, 1883 Heinrich Bittner of Warda, Texas married her and together they have a daughter, Martha. When Martha was only two years old, her father dies and Wilhelmina is left alone with two young children under the age of 4.

In 1886, when Leberecht is 35, he and Wilhelmina blend their families together and help one another to care for the eight children [Gustav (17), Adolph (16), Ernst (14), Herman (12), Linna (10), Emil (9), Herman (4) and Martha (2)]. Wilhelmina and Leberecht soon have two more children of their own. Carl Robert is born on November 11, 1886. Death strikes again as little Martha dies on 1 May 1887, only three and a half years old. Gerhard Max is born on July 17, 1888 – however, he dies just 15 months later on October 23, 1889.

With a family of eight to care for Leberecht decides to buy a farm from Andreas Vetter on April 22, 1890. He has seven boys to help him farm with the oldest, Gus, being 21 years old. Gus farms with his family for 1 more year before he marries Marie Mickan in 1891 and moves to Walburg. Adolph helps on the farm for 5 years and then marries Mary Lorenz in 1895, moves to Winchester and in 1920, moves to Walburg. Ernst helps for 6 years before he marries Anna Jacobik in 1896 and eventually moves to Walburg. Linna marries Johann Kubsch in 1898, moves to Walburg where Johann dies ion 1905 and then moves to The Grove where she married Matthes Dutschmann. On May 14, 1904, at the age of 47, Wilhelmina dies from tuberculosis in Serbin, Texas. Julius Hermann leaves soon after and goes to Walburg,where he lives for a couple of years and then moves to St Louis, where he changes his name to Mirtsching and marries Elsa Walther in 1911. Herman Wilhelm marries Maria Mickan, moves to Giddings where he raised his family until his death and the family moved to Houston. Emil and Robert continue to help their father on the farm. A year after Wilhelmina dies, on August 20, 1905, Leberecht marries another widow, “Grandma” Marie Kurio Wukasch. On February 14, 1907, three years after Wilhelmina’s death and only two years after his marriage to the widow Wukasch, Leberecht too succumbs to tuberculosis, dying at the age of 49. Robert marries Hulda Symm in 1914 and works the farm with Emil.

In 1914, when St Peter’s Lutheran Church reunites with St Paul’s Lutheran Church, the Maria Mersiofsky that is on the list of returnees is the widow of Leberecht Mersiovsky. She lives until 1 Sep 1915.

In his will, Leberecht leaves the farm in Serbin, Texas to Emil, his son by Theresa, who is now 30 years old and never married. When Emil dies in 1927 at the age of 50, the farm passes on to Robert – Leberecht’s son by Wilhelmina – who is now 41 years old.

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