Accounts of some of Timothy Goekes’s Ancestors

This article by Timothy Goeke first appeared in Stirpes, Texas State Genealogical Society, Volume 34, Number 1, March 1994, Frances Condra Pryor, editor, Journal/Magazine/ Newsletter, March 1994. It can be accessed digitally at the Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas. ( December 10, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Genealogical Society, Tyler, Texas.

What follows is a portion of that account, slightly edited by Weldon Mersiovsky, to give you an example of fine and concise genealogical writing that would be of interest to a wide range of family and social historians. According to his father, David Goeke, Timothy did use some of his research, he also did much of his own research and he absolutely wrote the paper on his own.

Following the article is Timothy’s Ahnentafel (Table of Ancestors).


Accounts of Some of Timothy Goeke’s Ancestors

My Great-grandfather, John Joseph Goeke

John Joseph Goeke was born to Friedrich Wilhelm Goeke and Theresa Siedhoff Goeke on February 10, 1879, in Frelsburg. Texas.[1] He was the first of his siblings to be born in Texas.[2] His mother died either at his birth or very shortly thereafter (the exact date of her death is not known). Little is known of his childhood or youth except that he grew up speaking German. He was a very independent sort of person and tried his hand at a variety of occupations. He was a mail carrier (rural route). He farmed, raised tobacco, sold real estate, did carpentry work, etc. Prior to his first marriage, when he carried mail near Ft Sill, Oklahoma, he had an interesting encounter. He got to see and talk with Geronimo, the famous Apache Indian chief. Geronimo had been incarcerated at Ft. Sill. John Goeke often related how that for sport, soldiers would put gold coins in the street and have Geronimo shoot arrows at them with his bow, sometimes a hundred yards away or more. Each coin he hit, he would get to keep. John Goeke said that he never saw him miss.[3]

John Goeke’s life came to a tragic end, when in 1960, he lost his life in a fire.[4]

My Great great-grandfather, Friedrich Wilhelm Goeke

Friedrich Wilhelm Goeke was born October 16, 1845, in Borgentreich, Germany, the son of a farmer.[5] Borgentreich was a walled city. Farmers would have their houses inside the city wall, but the farm per se would be outside the city wall. As was the custom of the day, the oldest son usually inherited the homestead when the parents died. Friedrich Goeke had an older brother and, therefore, decided to learn another trade. He chose the trade of shoemaking.[6]

In June of 1866, the German State of Prussia (in which Friedrich Goeke lived) went to war with Austria and other German states (Hesse, Saxony and Hanover). Consequently, young Prussian men were conscripted into the military service. Friedrich Goeke, being of age, was also conscripted. According to the story passed down through the generations, Friedrich Goeke did not want to serve in the Prussian military. Consequently, with the encouragement of an uncle, he boarded a ship headed to America. According to oral tradition, this was something of a “spur of the moment” decision. The irony of the story is that the war (known as the Austrian-Prussian War or Seven Days War, 27 June 1866-3 July 1866) was one of the shortest wars in German history. Whether or not the details of this story are true, the fact remains that Friedrich Goeke sailed to America aboard the ship Locadia and arrived at the port of Baltimore, Maryland, on or about December 5, 1866.[7]

From Baltimore, he made his way to St. Charles, Missouri, for whatever reason. It was here, in 1869, that he married Theresa Siedhoff, also a Prussian immigrant from the city of Lippstadt, not far from where he had grown up in Borgentreich.[8] In 1872, Friedrich Goeke applied for U.S. citizenship. (Incidentally, it was in his application document that he first used the spelling of the name Goeke. In Germany, he spelled his name Göke. This change was perfectly normal, as the Americans likely would not know how to pronounce the “ö”, but in the German language the “ö” and the “oe” are interchangeable).

While in Missouri, Friedrich and his wife had four children. They then moved to Texas where their fifth child was born. In Texas, Friedrich was an itinerant farmer. His wife died either at the birth of their fifth child or shortly thereafter. He later remarried and had one more child. In 1905 his second wife died. In his last years, Friedrich was plagued with stomach cancer. This would ultimately take his life. He died on March 30. 1923.[9]

My Great great-grandfather, Leopold Alwin Oskar Horn

Leopold Alwin Oskar Horn was born on December 28, 1853, in Mulkwitz, Germany.[10] His father, Johann Karl Heinrich Reinhold Horn, was in the employ of the Prince [Pückler] of Silesia as a gamekeeper in the Muskau Forest which is located in the eastern part of Germany near the Polish border.[11] The sword which he carried for his protection is in the possession of one of his descendants here in Texas today. Oskar Horn did not follow in the footsteps of his father where his occupation was concerned. Rather, he became a weaver. However, when the Industrial Revolution began to take hold in Germany, it yielded the handwork of the weaver virtually useless. This being the case, Oskar Horn took a job on the railroad. The area in which he lived was a coal producing area. A large rail system was built between Berlin and Goerlitz. It was on this rail system that Oskar Horn worked as a plate layer.[12]

In 1876, he married Ida Schade, who was then a resident of Weisswasser, Germany.[13] About a year later, the couple had a son, Leopold Hugo Horn (who would become my great-grandfather). Not feeling particularly fulfilled, and knowing that many people were immigrating to America, and hearing glowing reports from Wendish families who had lived in the same area of Germany, but had, since 1854, been making their way to Texas in America, Oskar Horn and his wife decided to start a new life in Texas. In 1879, Oskar Horn and his family left their homeland to begin a new life in Texas. Oral tradition has it that the ship on which they traveled struck an object in the water and caused a hole to be formed in the vessel. With the ship taking on water, Oskar was to have told his wife that he would take their son and try to save him in the event that the ship would sink. The ship did not sink, however, and they made it safely to Texas. The only part of this story that can he confirmed is that they did, indeed, make it safely to Texas.[14]

Having arrived in Texas, they settled in Lee County, where a large number of Wends (from the same area of Germany from which he had come) had settled already in 1855. Oskar applied for and received U.S. citizenship.[15] He was a successful farmer and was very active in the Lutheran Church. He and his wife had four more children, all born in Texas. He died in 1930.

My Wendish Forefathers

The Families of Mickan, Neitsch, Symank, Birnbaum, Kieschnick, Pilak & Zoch

The Wends (or Sorbs) are a Slavic people who have inhabited about 1500 square miles in the southeastern portion of Germany since, at least, the ninth century A.D. Having never had a homeland of their own, they occupied this portion of Germany (which borders Poland on the east and the Czech Republic to the south). For centuries they have maintained their own autonomous language, which has similarities to Czech and Polish, but which is, nonetheless, autonomous. In fact, there are two dialects of the language. The Wends were “converted” by force to Christianity in about the twelfth century A.D. By the time of the Reformation in Germany in the 1500’s, they were more Christian by persuasion. The Reformation had a powerful impact on them and many endorsed that branch of Christianity around which the Reformation had been formed, namely, Lutheranism. In the centuries to follow the Wends became, in fact and in large measure, staunch Lutherans.

It was their strong religious conviction that led a large number of Wends to consider immigration in the mid 1800’s. When the ruler of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm III initiated a program whereby two Protestant church bodies, the Lutherans and the Calvinists, would he united into a single church body, many of the Lutheran Wends could simply not abide it. They were ready to leave. They wanted to go to a place where they could practice their religion in freedom, maintain their mother tongue and enjoy their unique culture. The answer was Texas. About three or four Wendish families had migrated to Texas in 1853. Their letters, sharing their favorable impressions, led to a migration of some 600 Wends to Texas in 1854 under the leadership of Pastor Jan Kilian.

Of the more than 600 Wends migrating to Texas in 1854, among them were the families of several of my forbearers: Mickan, Neitsch, Symank, Birnbaum, Kieschnick, Pilak and Zoch. They made their way first to Hamburg. From there they took a steamship to Hull, England. From Hull, they made their way by train to Liverpool, England. When they got to Liverpool they encountered a plague of cholera. Fourteen of the more than 600 died of cholera in Liverpool. From Liverpool, the group boarded the sailing ship Ben Nevis. In route, cholera broke out on board and the captain decided to make port at Queenstown, Ireland. Here the healthy were brought ashore on the ship Inconstant while the sick were taken aboard the ship Elsa which had been turned into a hospital ship. On September 30, 1854, my great-great-great-great grandfather, Andreas Pilak, died aboard the ship Elsa at Queenstown, Ireland. He is buried there. Some two weeks later, On October 15, 1854, his daughter and Johann Birnbaum (my great-great-great grandfather) were married aboard the ship Inconstant at Queenstown, Ireland.[16]

On October 23, 1854, the Ben Nevis again set sail for Texas. The trip again had its harrowing experiences and tragedies. A terrible storm once threatened to capsize the vessel. Deaths due to cholera and other sicknesses continued to occur. A poignant narrative written by one Johann Teinert, who was a young boy on the voyage, tells of one such death:

“One night my mother also died. The following morning as I reached the deck, I saw several men lower a corpse slowly into the deep sea. That was my mother, which I have never forgotten.”[17]

Finally, on December 15, 1854, the Ben Nevis arrived at Galveston, Texas. It was here at Galveston that my second great grandmother, Maria Neitsch, was born on June 5, 1855. With few exceptions, most of the Wendish colony made their way to what was then Bastrop County, to the area where the 1853 immigrants had settled. Ultimately, a league of land called the Delaplain League, was purchased by the colony at a cost of one dollar per acre. One of the first duties to which the colonists tended was to construct a church.

The first church was a simple dog-run style log cabin structure. The second church was a simple frame structure built in 1859. The third church, a stone church with walls nearly three feet thick was constructed in 1871 in what is now called Serbin, Texas. The church building is still in use today.[18] My great great-grandfather, John Birnbaum, helped to construct this stone church building.

The Wends dreams of maintaining their religious freedom came true. They still worship as Lutheran Christians at Serbin, Texas, and countless other daughter churches throughout the State of Texas. The other dreams of the Wends did not meet with the same fate. The Wends in Germany were bilingual, speaking both German and Wendish. Wendish was their mother tongue, but they had to speak German in order to conduct business with the German neighbors. Unbeknown to the 1854 colonists, they settled into an area already steeped in German culture. So, while they spoke Wendish at home, they again had to resort to German as their “business” language. Gradually the Wendish language died out all together and German took its place. Then, in the early 1900’s, English had to be spoken in order to conduct business. Gradually, German died out and only English was spoken. My paternal grandparents, Albert Goeke and Helen Horn, were married in 1936 in the German language.

Of my Wendish forbearers, the families Birnbaum, Pilak, Symank, Zoch and certain of the Kieschnicks, remained in and around the Bastrop and Lee County area. Later, of course, as the families got larger (and they got larger very quickly what with families of ten to twelve children being started) they moved out of the area into the “big city.” The families of Mickan and Neitsch made their moves earlier, first moving to Williamson County (Walburg, Texas) and then to Coryell County (Copperas Cove, Texas). Others of the Kieschnick family, for instance, my great-great-great grandfather, Johann Kieschnick, moved to Washington County, then back to Lee County, and later to Williamson County. As a point of interest, it should be noted that this same forefather, Johann Kieschnick, fought in the Civil War.[19] He served for about two years as a member of Waul’s Legion.

My Great-great-great-great grandfather, Harm Harms Gerdes

Harm Gerdes was born on February 23, 1807, in Aurich-Oldenburg, East Friesland, Germany, the son of a peat digger, Gerd H. Harms.[20] Harm took up the occupation of his father, namely, peat digging. Peat was burned in lieu of wood and coal in East Friesland.[21] No doubt, the family income was also supplemented by farming. In any case, the family, like many East Frieslanders of the day, were very poor. In 1835, Harm Gerdes was married to Eite Ehmen. Five children were born to this union.

It was likely the poor economic conditions and dim prospects for the future that led Harm Gerdes to make his way, along with several other East Frieslanders and their families, to Texas. Harm Gerdes and his family arrived in Texas around 1856. They settled in what is now called Quihi, Texas, about thirty miles west of San Antonio. Here Harm Gerdes acquired land and farmed.

Perhaps one of the most memorable things about Harm Gerdes surrounds the circumstances of his death. In the 1800’s, Indians still roamed the Hill Country of Texas. They often stole from the early settlers and sometimes even attacked them. On the cold and icy morning of March 14, 1867, Harm Gerdes noted that some of his horses were missing. Thinking that they had simply gotten away, he went to look for them. He would never return alive. While looking for the horses, a band of Indians (probably Apaches) surrounded him. They had his horses. The Indians captured Harm, stripped him of his clothing and made him walk nude for several miles. He was a big man and when he objected, they prodded him with spears. Ultimately, he was killed by them. When Mr M. M. Saathof and a search party found him, he had from 18 to 28 spear wounds (the number has varied through oral tradition). According to one account, he was also scalped.[22]

It is both interesting and important to note that among the people of East Friesland, surnames, as we have come to know them, existed in a totally different format. The given or Christian name of the father became the surname of the children. For instance, in the case of the Gerdes family, Gerd Harms’ children all had the surname of Gerdes. This makes the task of tracing the genealogy of the family very difficult. It would have been impossible except for the very precise church records kept by the Lutheran Church in Aurich. The practice of the father’s given name becoming the children’s surname ceased when the East Frieslanders came to Texas.[23]

My Grandfather, Albert John Goeke

Albert John Goeke was born on September 26, 1912, in Quihi, Texas. He was the son of itinerant farmers. In his early childhood, he lived with his parents and siblings in Archer County, Texas. They lived on his grandfather’s farm. Here, already as a small child, he was expected to carry his load. One of the main crops raised was cotton. Already at five years old, his parents took a fifty pound flour sack, put a band on it, and he used this to pick cotton because he couldn’t carry the large sacks that the adults used. He also had to hoe the cotton. He told of their little dog that would follow them into the fields. This dog once saved him from being bitten by a rattlesnake.

At age six, he started school in a little one room country school called Black Flats. World War I was still fresh in the memories of most people. Albert and his family spoke only German at home and so when he started school, he knew no English whatsoever. He related how that the children would make fun of him by saying, “There goes that damn Dutchman.” When he brought home his books and some very simple assignments, he remembers crying and saying “Ich kann nicht. Ich kann nicht.” (I can’t. I can’t). His teacher, however, was very kind and helpful. It wasn’t long before he was doing very well in school. As a matter of fact, he did so well that by the end of the first grade, he was able to read third and fourth grade books. He always enjoyed reading very much.

In 1919, Albert remembered a very good cotton crop. It was not without its difficulties, however. There was a plague of grasshoppers which were devastating many cotton fields. In order to help stop the spread of the insects, they took dried horse manure, ground it up fine, and added some black strap molasses and strychnine. They put this mixture along the fence rows. The children were then given long ropes with newspapers tied to them. They would go to the middle of the field and drive the grasshoppers toward the fence rows. The grasshoppers would then eat the mixture and die. This, he said, is what saved their cotton crop.

A few years later, Albert’s father bought an unimproved farm near Seymour, Texas. His father had gone ahead of the family and built a small, two room house for the family to live in. The land had not been cleared for farming, so Albert, still a child, had to help clear the land. His father bought him a small three-pound axe, and while his dad would cut the trees down, Albert would trim them with his small axe.

Several years and several moves later, the family moved near Smyre, Texas, close to Lubbock. Here they lived in a one room house. They made a dugout about five feet deep which extended about two feet above ground. Here they did their cooking and stored their food. Albert also did his homework here by lantern light. Once a terrible storm started brewing and the family feared a tornado. They went down into the dugout and when the storm had passed they emerged to find that a tornado had leveled their house. They lived in a tent until they once again moved. They determined to head back south. They had no means of transportation except for a wagon driven by mules. So by this means they traveled from Smyre to San Angelo. All cooking was done out of doors and they slept in the wagon. When they got to San Angelo, the cotton crop was coming in, so they rented out as cotton pickers. After the crop was picked, they continued their journey and finally decided to rent a farm in Brady, Texas.

The farm they rented at Brady was owned by some people by the name of Cotrell. It was here that Albert saw his first radio. He said they often went to the Cotrells after work to listen to the radio. It was while in Brady that an old German lady invited the family to the Lutheran church in Brady. Albert was confirmed there and was so taken by the message of the Gospel that he determined to study for the ministry.

Concordia Academy in Austin was a preparatory school for students who wanted to study for the Lutheran ministry. It was a high school with quite high standards. But, it required tuition. So Albert worked a five acre plot of land, planting and picking cotton, so that he could earn enough money to start at Concordia. One of the difficulties that he faced upon attending Concordia was that he had to take Latin. Most of the other students had had the first year of Latin. Albert had to take first and second year Latin in the same year. And it was at Concordia that Albert took his first indoor bath with running water.

Having graduated from Concordia with high marks despite the difficult curriculum and despite having had to work outside jobs to pay for his tuition, Albert now set his sights on college. He would attend St. John’s Lutheran College in Winfield, Kansas. This was the next step in following through on this goal of the ministry. He attended two years and the Great Depression of the 1930’s took its toll. No longer could he afford the tuition.

From Winfield, Albert went back home to live with his father who was farming in Priddy, Texas. After a while, a man whom he had known in Austin offered him a job there. He worked for the man for a while and then took another job with a bottling company making $14 per week. He purchased an old car and rented a room with Hugo and Alwina Horn. One time Hugo and Alwina wanted to go visit Hugo’s parents who lived in Manheim, Texas, but they had no car. So they asked Albert if he would drive them. It was there that my grandfather Albert met my grandmother Helen. In 1936 they were married.

Albert pursued several occupations, but ultimately became a pipe fitter/welder. He even taught welding in a vocational school for several years.[24]

My grandfather was a great man. He was kind and really lived out his Christian faith. He died of cancer on February 18, 1987. I miss him.

My Great-great-great- grandfather, Ambrose Reitzer

When Ambrose Reitzer came to Texas, it was not yet a state. It was still the Republic of Texas when a man by the name of Henri Castro, of France, entered into a contract with President Sam Houston to settle a colony in Southwest Texas west of the Medina River. Castro purchased the river-bordered land from private sources. Between 1843 and 1847, Castro succeeded in chartering twenty-seven ships in which he brought 485 families and 457 Single men to settle in Texas.[25] The main settlement would be called Castroville. Several other small communities would be established from Castroville. Among the family brought to Texas was Ambrose Reitzer, his parents and his siblings. They left France on October 6, 1844, aboard the ship Probus. They first went to New Orleans and from New Orleans went to Galveston.[26] They arrived in Castroville in March of 1845.

The Reitzers settled near the Community of Quihi, Texas. There they farmed, as did the majority of the settlers who came to Texas with the Castro colony. Life was not easy. The land was altogether untamed wilderness. Indians were very much prevalent. But the hearty settlers managed to take the wilderness and make it productive. The Reitzers, as with most of Castro’s colony, were Roman Catholic. Worshipping meant a long trip by oxen or miles from Quihi to Castroville.

The Reitzers were, like most of Castro’s colony, Alsatian. That is, they came from that part of Germany called Alsace-Lorraine which borders France. They came from the small city of Niederbruck.[27] It is interesting to note that when Ambrose’s father was born, Niederbruck belonged to Germany. When Ambrose was born, it belonged to France. Now it belongs to Germany again. The Alsatian language is a mixture of French and German.

On March 25, 1868, Ambrose Reitzer married Ottilie Bihl.[28] She was an orphan girl who also had come with Castro’s colony. This marriage would be blessed with 13 children. Ambrose Reitzer chiefly farmed. However, he also concerned himself with civic affairs. From 1874 to 1876, he was a county commissioner for Medina County. During these same years, he also served as Justice of the Peace for New Vandenberg, Texas, a small community only a few miles from Quihi.[29]

As stated earlier, Alsatian was spoken by the Reitzers from early on. In later years, however, more pure German was spoken because there were so many other settlers from other parts of Germany who had come into the area. So it became more convenient to speak only German. While many held tenaciously to the Alsatian language, the Reitzers gradually moved to German only.

Aside from this, there is nothing especially spectacular about Ambrose Reitzer. But, I point with pride to his strong spirit and the fact that in being descended from him, I can truly say that I am a Texan.

[1] 1880 U.S. Census. Dept. of Genealogy, Texas State Archives, Austin, Texas.

[2] ibid. 1880 U.S. Census.

[3] Oral narrative as passed down to the author’s grandfather and father by John Joseph Goeke.

[4] Austin American Statesman, newspaper obituary in Helen Goeke’s possession, Austin, Texas.

[5] Birth/Baptismal record, 1845, page 104, number 57, St. Johannes the Baptist Catholic Church, Borgentreich, Germany.

[6] Wilson, Lena. Letter to Albert Goeke, 1977, in possession of David Goeke, San Antonio, Texas.

[7] Ship’s Passenger Lists of Vessels Entering the Port of Baltimore, Maryland, 1866. Microfilm from L.D.S. Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[8] Certificate of Marriage, St. Peter Catholic Church, St. Charles, Missouri.

[9] Wilson, Lena. Letter to Albert Goeke, 1977. In possession of Helen Goeke, Austin, Texas.

[10] Birth/ Baptismal Record, 1853, number 88, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Schleife, Germany.

[11] Ibid. Birth/Baptismal Record. In possession of David Goeke, San Antonio, Texas.

[12] Berlin-Goerlitz Railroad. Certification of employment, 1876, original in possession of David Goeke, San Antonio, Texas.

[13] Certificate of Marriage, 1876, Number 28, Muskau, Germany. Original in possession of David Goeke, San Antonio, Texas.

[14] Horn, Adolph. Letter to David Goeke, 1979. Original in possession of David Goeke, San Antonio, Texas.

[15] Declaration of Intent, on file at Lee County Court House, Giddings, Texas, October 12, 1879, page 26.

[16] George Nielsen, In Search of a Home (Texas A & M University Press. College Station, 1989) pp. 64-75.

[17] Anne Blasig. The Wends of Texas (The Naylor Company, San Antonio, Texas. 1954) pp. 26-27.

[18] Ibid., Nielsen, p. 103.

[19] Civil War Muster List, Texas State Archives, Austin, Texas.

[20] Castro Colonies Heritage Association. The History of Medina County, Texas. (National ShareGraphics, Inc,. Dallas, Texas), p. 279.

[21] Ibid., Castro Colonies, p. 279.

[22] Ibid., Castro Colonies, p. 280.

[23] Church Records. Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Quihi, Texas. Research done by Richard Balzen, shows that surnames were not changed as had been done in Germany.

[24] Albert Goeke, Narrative on tape recording. Recorded in 1985, one year prior to his death.

[25] Ibid., Castro Colonies, p. 218.

[26] Ship’s Passenger Lists of Vessels entering The Port of Galveston, Texas, 1845. L.D.S. Library, San Antonio, Texas.

[27] Birth/Baptismal Records. Roman Catholic Diocese, Niederbruck, Germany.

[28] Certificate of Marriage, Medina County Courthouse. 1868. Number 366. Copy at Courthouse in Hondo, Texas.

[29] Ibid., Castro Colonies, p. 13.

Timothy Martin Goeke’s Ahnentafel Chart

1. Timothy Martin GOEKE, b. San Antonio, Bexar Co., Texas.

2. David Lynn GOEKE, b. Austin, Travis Co., Texas, m. at San Antonio, Bexar Co., Texas.

3. Martha Ann MICKAN, b. Alice, Jim Wells Co., Texas.

4. Albert John GOEKE, b. 22 Sep 1912, Quihi, Medina Co., Texas, d. 18 Feb 1986, Austin, Travis Co., Texas., m. 23 Aug 1936 at Manheim, Lee Co., Texas.

5. Alwina Magdalena Wilhelmina HORN, b. 5 Dec 1919, Manheim, Lee Co., Texas.

6. Eldor Leonard MICKAN, b. 27 Jul 1917, Copperas Cove, Coryell Co, Texas, m. 16 Apr 1952, Section Cinco, Argentina

7. Maria Margarita MARX, b. 2 Jan 1933, Posadas, Argentina.

8. John Joseph GOEKE. b. 10 Feb 1879, Frelsburg, Colorado Co., Texas, d. 14 Feb 1960, Austin, Travis Co., Texas, m. 14 Mar 1911, at Hondo, Medina Co., Texas.

9. Louise Ottilie REITZER, b. 23 Oct 1893, New Fountain, Medina Co., Texas, d. 29 Jun 1980, Austin, Travis Co., Texas.

10. Leopold Hugo HORN. b. 26 Jun 1877, Weisswasser, Germany, d. 2 Jun 1954, Giddings, Lee Co., Texas, m. 17 Nov 1898, at Manheim, Lee Co., Texas.

11. Emma Theresa BIRNBAUM, b. 3 Aug 1878, Manheim, Lee Co., Texas, d. 7 Nov 1961, Spicewood, Burnet Co., Texas.

12. Alfred Herman MICKAN, b. 24 Jun 1889, Walburg, Williamson Co., Texas, d. 9 Jan 1986, Copperas Cove, Coryell Co., Texas, m. 13 Apr 1910, at Serbin, Lee Co., Texas.

13. Martha Theresa ZOCH, b. 6 Jun 1888, Winchester, Fayette Co., Texas, d. 8 Oct 1924, Copperas Cove, Coryell Co., Texas.

14. Bernhard Joseph MARX, b. 10 Jun 1902, Braunsberg, Germany, d. 23 Aug 1989, San Antonio, Bexar Co., Texas, m. 23 May 1931, at Missiones, Argentina.

15. Margareta SCHWEIZER, b. 9 Jan 1911, Wupperthal, Germany.

16. Friedrich Wilhelm GOEKE, m. 1 Apr 1869, at St. Charles, Missouri.

17. Helena Theresia SIEDHOFF, b. 11 Oct 1849, Lippstadt, Germany.

18. Charles A. REITZER., b. 28 Apr 1868, D’Hanis. Medina Co., Texas, d. 3 Feb 1957, Austin, Travis Co., Texas, m. 30 Mar 1891, at Castroville, Medina Co., Texas.

19. Anna Katharina SCHULTE, b. 23 Mar 1858, Quihi, Medina Co., Texas, d. 28 Sep 1928, Hondo, Medina Co., Texas.

20. Leopold Alwin Oskar HORN, b. 28 Dec 1853, Mulkwitz, Upper Silesia, Germany, d. 30 Jan 1930, Austin, Travis Co., Texas, m. 21 Aug 1876, at Muskau, Germany.

21. Klara Ida SCHADE

22. Johann August BIRNBAUM, b. 27 Oct 1855, Serbin, Lee Co., Texas, d. 2 Nov 1937, Giddings, Lee Co., Texas, m. 28 Oct 1877, at Manheim, Lee Co., Texas.

23. Pauline M.B. KIESCHNICK, b. 17 Nov 1858, Brenham, Washington Co., Texas, d. 10 Apr 1949, Manheim, Lee Co., Texas.

24. Johann MICKAN, b. 22 Dec 1845, Weigersdorf, Germany, d. 17 Apr 1894, Walburg, Williamson Co., Texas, m. 13 Feb 1872, at Serbin, Lee Co., Texas.

25. Maria Magdalena NEITSCH, b. 5 Jun 1855, Galveston, Galveston Co., Texas, d. 9 Mar 1924, Walburg, Williamson Co., Texas, m. 13 Feb 1872, at Serbin, Lee Co., Texas.

26. Traugott ZOCH, b. 22 Mar 1849, Spreewitz, Germany, d. 7 Feb 1928, Winchester, Fayette Co., Texas, m. 16 April 1872 at Serbin, Lee Co., Texas.

27. Hanna VOGEL, b. 31 Aug 1851, Germany, d. 3 Jan 1940, Winchester, Fayette Co., Texas.

28. Anton MARX, b. 18 Sep 1867, Parlack, Germany, d. 13 Mar 1938, Braunsberg, Germany. 29. Anna HARWARDT, b. 28 Aug 1863, Neustadt, Germany, d. 29 Apr 1925, Braunsberg, Germany.

30. Friedrich SCHWEIZER, b. 24 Sep 1884, Buchenberg, Hessen, Germany, d. 24 Feb 1959, m. 4 Nov 1908, at Barmen, Germany.

31. Bertha Dorothea M. HUNOLD, b. 16 Sep 1885, Mengeringhausen, Germany, d. 22 Sep 1957, Obera, Argentina.

32. Johann Heinrich GOEKE, b. 6 Jun 1793, Borgentreich, Germany, d. 30 Mar 1853, Borgentreich, Germany, m. 7 Feb 1837, at Borgentreich, Germany.

33. Anna Maria Theresia JUERGENS, b. 25 Jan 1815.

34. Johann Conrad Anton SIEDHOFF, b. 25 Apr 1816, Steinhausen, Germany, d. St. Charles, Missouri, m. 23 Apr 1843, at Lippstadt, Germany.

35. Maria Elisabeth Dorothea FISCHER, b. 30 Jun 1822, Lippstadt, Germany, d. 3 Jul 1869, St. Charles, Missouri.

36. Ambrose REITZER, b. 7 Mar 1833, Niederbruck, Germany, d. 9 Apr 1889, Castroville, Medina Co., Texas, m. 25 Mar 1868, at Castroville, Medina Co., Texas.

37. Ottilia BIHL, b. 10 Nov 1852, d. 5 Sep 1929, Hondo, Medina Co., Texas.

38. Franz Friedrich SCHULTE, b. 27 Jun 1827, Dahlinhaussen, Germany, m. 17 May 1856, at Quihi, Medina Co., Texas.

39. Hilke Harms GERDES, b. 4 Sep 1840, Moorlage, Aurich, Germany, d. 11 Apr 1906, Quihi, Medina Co., Texas.

40. Johann Karl Heinrich R. HORN, b. 20 Sep 1817, Mulkwitz, Silesia, Germany, d. 27 Sep 1854, Mulkwitz, Silesia, Germany.

41. Johanna Luise HENTSCHEL, b. 8 Jun 1830, Reuthen, Germany, d. 22 Sep 1900, Gross Dueben, Germany.

42. Friedrich Wilhelm L. SCHADE, b. 25 Nov 1823, Ober Mednitz, Germany, d. 21 May 1902, Paige, Lee Co., Texas.

43. Blandina Clara CLOTT, b. 19 May 1833, Guben, Brandenburg, Germany, d. 17 May 1880, Fedor, Lee Co., Texas.

44. Joseph BIRNBAUM, b. Oberlichtenwald, Austria, d. 1 Nov 1855, Serbin, Lee Co., Texas, m. 15 Oct 1854, Ireland, Aboard Ship.

45. Magdalena P1LAK, b. 15 Aug 1830, Rodewitz, Germany, d. 16 Jul 1874, Fedor, Lee Co., Texas.

46. Johann KIESCHNICK, b. 8 Jan 1834, Dauban, Prussia, Germany, d. 14 Feb 1916, Thorndale, Texas, m. 14 Feb 1858, at Brenham, Washington Co., Texas.

47. Ernestine Auguste A. BARTEL, b. 2 Dec 1837, Neu-Vehlefanz, Germany, d. 23 May 1921, Thorndale, Milam Co., Texas.

48. Johann MICKAN, b. 21 Sep 1791, Weigersdorf, Germany, d. 29 Nov 1850, Weigersdorf, Germany, m. 22 Jan 1837, at Groeditz, Germany.

49. Magdalena PROCHNO, b. 13 Apr 1808, Rackel, Prussia, Germany, d. 1 Aug 1881, Serbin, Lee Co., Texas.

50. Johann Gottlieb NEITSCH, b 19 Apr 1829, Halbau, Saxony, Germany, d. 22 Apr 1902, Warda, Fayette Co., Texas, m. 18 May 1851, at Groeditz, Germany.

51. Maria SYMANK, b. 30 Jul 1824, Weicha, Saxony, Germany, d. 9 Oct 1905, Walburg, Williamson Co., Texas.

52. Johann ZOCH, b. 9 Sep 1814, Spreewitz, Germany, d. 24 Sep 1873, Serbin, Lee Co., Texas.

53. Johanna SCHNEIDER, b. 29 Aug 1818, d. 23 Mar 1912, Serbin, Lee Co., Texas

54. Carl VOGEL, b. 4 Dec 1822, d. 24 Dec 1906, Serbin, Lee Co., Texas.

55. Maria, b. 11 Feb 1820, d. 7 Jun 1899, Serbin, Lee Co., Texas.

58. Ferdinand HARWARDT, b. 1825, m. 9 Feb 1852.

59. Anna LANGKAU, b. 1826.

60. Johann Christian SCHWEIZER, b. 8 Jul 1853, Buchenberg, Germany.

61. Maria Katharina THIEL, b. 16 Apr 1855, Barmen, Germany, d. ca 1914.

62. Friedrich Heinrich HUNOLD, b. 26 Jan 1856, Berndorf, Waldek, Germany, m. 4 Apr 1880, at Mengeringhausen, Germany.

63. Wilhelmina Luise EBERLEI, b. 21 Apr 1857, Mengeringhausen, Germany.

64. Johann Crispin GOEKE, b. 5 Aug 1762, Borgentreich, Germany, d. 5 Jan. 1844, Borgentreich, Germany, m. 5 Jun 1792, Borgentreich, Germany.

65. Anna Maria Elisabeth CONZEN, b. ca. 1762, d. 16 Nov 1825, Borgentreich, Germany.

66. Joseph JUERGENS

67. Elisabeth DUERDOTH

68. Herman SIDTHOF

69. Anna Maria LOECKNER

70. Diedrich FISCHER

71. Catharina Charlotte KLARHOLZ

72. Ambrosius RE1TZER, b. 17 Mar 1804, Niederbruck, Germany, d. 27 Apr 1874, Quihi, Medina Co., Texas.

73. Marguerite MANIGOLD, b. ca. 1807, d. 28 Dec 1881.

78. Harm Harms GERDES, b 23 Feb 1807, Aurich-Oldendorf, Germany, d. 14 Mar 1867, Quihi, Medina Co., Texas, m. 2 May 1835, at Aurich-Oldendorf, Germany.

79. (Schmidt) Eite EHMEN, b. 2 Feb 1812, Aurich-Oldendorf, Germany, d. 16 Mar 1873, Quihi, Medina Co., Texas.

80. Johann Gottlieb HORN, b. 4 Jan 1785, Mulkwitz, Silesia, Germany, d. 9 Mar 1860, Schleife, Silesia, Germany.

81. Dorothea Elisabeth PFEIFFER, 12 Dec 1787, Tauchel/Sorau, Germany, d. 22 Jan 1883, Schleife, Silesia, Germany.

86. Johann Joseph CLOTT, d. ca. 1856, Metschmuehle, Germany.

87. Johanna Christiana C. SIMMANK

90. Andreas PILAK, b. 11 Mar 1798, Rodewitz, Germany, d. 30 Sep 1854, Ireland, Aboard Ship, m. 4 May 1819, at Baruth, Germany.

91. Maria URBAN, b. 11 Mar 1801. Weigersdorf, Germany, d. 1 Apr 1873, Fedor, Lee Co., Texas.

92. Johann KIESCHNICK. b. ca 1795, Dauban, Prussia, Germany, d. 21 Nov 1867, Serbin, Lee Co., Texas, m. 9 Jan 1825, at Buchwalde, Germany.

93. Agneta KOHLE, b. 28 Apr 1798, Buchwalde, Germany, d. 14 Oct 1876, Serbin, Lee Co., Texas.

94. Friedrich BARTEL, b. 4 Dec 1806, d. 9 Jul 1851, Eichstaedt, Germany.

95. Luise SCHENK, b. 10 Apr 1807. Neurippen, Germany, d. 12 Dec 1892, Eichstaedt, Germany.

98. Jan PROCHNO, b. 1762, Rackel, Prussia, Germany, d. 10 Oct 1817, Racket. Prussia, Germany.

99. Maria SOBE, b. ca 1770, Dubrauke, Germany, d. 30 Dec 1825, Rackel, Prussia, Germany. 100. Gottlieb NEITSCH, b. 30 Jun 1795, Haibau, Saxony, Germany, d. 17 Mar 1847. Haibau, Saxony, Germany, m. 15 Nov 1822, at Haibau, Saxony, Germany.

101. Maria Dorothea THOMAS, b. 21 Nov 1798. Obercunewalde, Germany, d. 29 Nov 1851, Haibau, Saxony, Germany.

102. Johann SYMANK, b 28 Jan 1794, Malschwitz. Saxony, Germany, d. 11 Jul 1874, Serbin, Lee Co., Texas, m. 6 Nov 1814, at Groeditz, Saxony, Germany.

103. Maria KSCHISCHAN Zieschang, b. 8 Oct 1782, Weicha, Saxony, Germany, d. 30 Dec 1850, Weicha, Saxony, Germany.

104. George ZOCH

105. Anna PETER

106. Matthaeus (Krautz) SCHNEIDER

107. Magdalene SCHIMAN

116. Franz HARWARDT

117. Anna

118. Adalbert LANGKAU

124. Johann Heinrich Wilhelm HUNOLD, b. 30 Sep 1827, Berndorf, Germany, d. 9 May 1868, Mengeringhausen, Germany, m. 24 Jul 1852, at Berndorf, Germany.

125. Christiane Louise WAGNER, b. 8 Feb 1834, Sachsenhausen, Germany.

126. Philipp EBERLEI.

127. Maria EMDE

144. Heinrich REITZER

145. Margaretha

156. Gerd HARS, b. 12 Feb 1778, d. 14 Apr 1855, Aurich, Germany.

157. Alke JANSSEN, b. 2 Jan 1779, Firrel, Germany, d. 6 Sep 1861, Aurich, Germany.

158. (Schmidt) Ehme GERDES, b. 4 Apr 1772, Aurich-Oldenberg, Germany, d. 27 Mar 1837, Aurich-Oldenburg, Germany.

159. (Duis) Hilke ALBERS, b. 12 Feb 1791, Aurich-Oldenburg, Germany, d. 16 Mar 1856, Aurich-Oldenburg, Germany.

180. Andreas PILAK, b. 20 Apr 1767, d. 11 Aug 1827, Rodewitz, Germany.

181. Agnes HETMANN, b. ca. 1771, Purschwitz, Germany, d. 15 Jan 1816. Rodewitz. Germany. 182. Johann URBAN

183. Hanno WAGNER

184. (Kieschnick) Jan KHJZNIK

185. Maria WIETSCHER

186. George KOHLE

187. Agneta Maria PA WEZ

196. Jan PROCHNO, b. 27 Jan 1729, Groeditz, Prussia, Germany, d. 17 Feb 1801, Rackel, Prussia, Germany, m. 21 Aug 1750, at Groeditz, Prussia, Germany.

197. Hanen

200. Gottlob NEITSCH

201. Anna Rosina HOEHNIN.

202. Gottlob THOMAS.

203. Anna Rosina MITSCHKIN

204. Andreas SYMANK, b. 29 Aug 1760, Malschwitz, Saxony, Germany, d. 31 Jan 1839, Malschwitz, Saxony, Germany, m. 15 Aug 1784, at Malschwitz, Saxony, Germany.

205. Magdalena CZISSLA, b. 15 Mar 1761, Malschwitz, Saxony, Germany, d. 16 Apr 1837, Malschwitz, Saxony, Germany.

248. Johannes Hermann HUNOLD, b. 10 Jul 1781, Berndorf, Germany, d. 2 Feb 1863. Hoeringhausen, Germany, m. 19 May 1824, at Helmscheid, Germany.

249. Johanette Caroline E. MEYER, b. 14 Mar 1804, Helmscheid, Germany, d. 3 Dec 1871, Hoeringhausen, Germany.

250. Georg WAGNER, b. Sachsenhausen, Germany.

312. Harm HINRICHS

313. Gelke GERDES

314. Jan Juergens KAISER

315. Frauke HARBERTS

316. Gerd P. POCKEN

317. Eyte LUEBBEN

318. Albert J. JUERGENS

319. Hilke HARMS

408. Paul SYMANK

409. Maria KUPKA.

410. Jurij CZISSLA

411. Hanza WANDRACK

496. Johann Wolrad HUNOLD

497. Catharina E. ZIESENHEIM

498. Johann Henrich MEIER.

499. Susanna Maria ZIESENHEIM


St. Peter Church at Serbin by George Nielsen

This article first appeared in the October 2015 Newsletter of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society of Serbin, Texas.  (

In an earlier article titled “Prussian or Saxon” I attempted to show how the religious environments of Prussia and Saxony contributed to the creation of first St. Peter church in Serbin. While this first separatist group remained small, and the congregation was short-lived (1858 to 1867), a second St. Peter came into existence in 1870 that lasted for forty-four years. Even though most of the members of the first St. Peter’s congregation were also members of the second, pietism was not the divisive issue.

The issue that split the second St Peter from the mother church was language: not Wendish vs. German, but Wendish/German vs. only German. Pastor Kilian preached in both German and Wendish and conducted services in both languages, but Article VI of St. Peter’s constitution explicitly stated that the only language to be used in divine services would be German.

It is hard to imagine how language could lead to a division on something that could have been resolved through good will. The primary language of the mother church, subsequently named St. Paul, was Wendish and German was secondary, and for two years prior to the split, that minor inequity roiled the congregation in several ways. Those little events so set things on edge that the language issue hardened and could not be compromised. And it is ironic that as the new St. Peter congregation took shape, it became not a purely German congregation, but a bi-lingual congregation using both German and Wendish—the same languages used by the mother church—except the primary language was reversed.

From Inner Congregation to Voters’ Assembly

In 1855, as the Wends settled the Serbin area, they founded their own congregation just as they had done in Prussia. Creating a church at their expense, without state help, was therefore not a new experience in the Texas setting. The laymen took charge and assumed responsibility. This group was called the “inner congregation” and these men looked after the physical property and took care of church matters in general. Initially, membership in that group was open only to men who held property in the Delaplain League because their land purchases paid for the church lands staked out in the middle of the league. Later on, landowners outside of the league could become members if they paid an amount based on the size of their property. And eventually membership in the inner congregation required a $2.00 payment. The “outer congregation” was composed of all the members of the congregation including Germans, who were considered guests.

The inner congregation made the decisions for resolving the problems as they arose, and that system existed for ten years—from 1855 to 1865. The meetings were conducted in Wendish and Pastor Kilian served as both chairman and secretary.

In 1866, when the congregation was filing documents to join the Missouri Synod, some officials of the Synod found fault with the system of the inner congregation because poor people were potentially excluded. Synodical leaders preferred a voters’ assembly that was open to all male members. The Serbin congregation acquiesced. The voters elected a Wendish chairman and Vice-chairman and Pastor Kilian stepped aside and served only as the authority on religious matters. Some of the new voters were German who did not understand Wendish, so the meeting was conducted in German and the secretary, Gottfried Lehnigk, recorded the minutes in German.

Most Wendish men understood German, and Kilian agreed to translate the German into Wendish for those who did not understand German. One problem with using German only was that some Wends hesitated to speak because they were not fluent in German. The Germans spoke up without hesitation and Kilian wrote the Germans began to “tyrannize us.” Also the pauses necessitated for translation made the proceedings awkward, so that system was abandoned in favor of translating the German minutes into Wendish. The concession settled the issue for a while, but the accommodation to the synodical requirement became the first wedge, and initiated an undercurrent of resentment in the Wendish majority over losing their language. (From January 1867 to January 1868 the voters divided into separate Wendish and German assemblies but that system was not satisfactory.)

In addition to the practical complications with language there was also a philosophical context. That Wendish resentment toward German dominance, part of the age-old tension between the German and the Slav, crossed the Atlantic with the emigrants not only on the Ben Nevis but also with the Wends who migrated after the Civil War. German nationalism, however, also crossed the Atlantic and grew more vocal as German power in Europe grew during the 1860s and culminated with the unification of Germany in 1871. There were even some Wends who thought German was the language of the future and supported the use of the German language in Texas. On occasion a Wend married a German and Kilian considered that family as German. In 1868 the membership was divided between 493 Wends and 88 Germans.

Calling a Teacher

It was within this two-year framework (1868-1870) that people’s preferences became their convictions and the second division took place. It started with the congregation’s school. Initially Pastor Kilian also served as the parish schoolteacher and taught in both German and Wendish. As he aged and as the school grew in size his effectiveness as a teacher suffered. A few years earlier, in 1867, a Wend, Gottfried Lehnigk had helped teach for a time, and the parents were pleased with a full-time teacher. After Lehnigk returned to the North, the parents lobbied for a full time teacher instead of returning Kilian to the classroom. Kilian’s feelings were hurt but he did not oppose the voters’ decision to ask for a graduate from the synod’s teachers’ seminary in Addison, Illinois. Kilian’s son, Gerhard, attended the school, but he was a few years short of graduation and there was no other candidate who knew Wendish.

Not only would the Addison graduate be called to teach, he would become the cantor, the organist, and leader of congregational singing “according to the local [Wendish] practice.” The candidate would begin by teaching school and at the same time he would learn how to play the organ and also learn Wendish and the Wendish way of singing. Kilian would teach the Wendish-speaking children three times a week. The director of Addison had a candidate, Ernest Leubner, a recent immigrant from Germany, twenty-one years of age, who had attended Addison for one year. Although qualified to teach, Leubner did not know Wendish and had studied piano for less than a year.

Leubner was installed as the teacher on August 3, 1868, and under the tutelage of Kilian and Carl Teinert, the current church musician, began practicing the organ, learning Wendish, and familiarizing himself with the ways the Wends sang. Although he progressed with music, learning Wendish and Wendish ways proved difficult. The stage was set for a controversy that involved the congregation and the use of German and Wendish languages in church services—not just in the Voters’ Assembly.

Should Leubner, who was called to be organist and cantor serve in those positions even if he was not competent, or should Carl Teinert, who had served as organist and cantor for years continue to do so even if he had not been called? The controversy became complicated and various proposals failed to find a resolution. Positions hardened and it became clear to the Wends that Wendish ways would suffer further erosion.

Seeing no solution to the conflict, Kilian resigned his position on May 22, 1870. The Wendish group sent him a new call and he accepted, while the German group sent a call to John Pallmer in Baden, Missouri, which he accepted. In September the Wendish Voters’ Assembly banned the group that had called Pallmer from using the church and school, but consented to return the contributions of money and labor members of the Pallmer group had made to the church property. Pastor Kilian estimated that two-thirds, approximately 444, remained with St. Paul and that one-third, approximately 220 joined St. Peter.

Founding of Second St. Peters

Kilian predicted that only a civil court could resolve the problem. But on September 20, 1870, the four lawyers, two from each side, drew a document acceptable to both sides. In return for relinquishing their claims against the property of St. Paul, St. Peter members received the fifty acres held by the 1st St. Peter as well as the congregation’s buildings, (but not the house built by John Schoenig), the old St. Paul organ, $628.23, and use of the cemetery.

The documents, however, do not explain why the second St. Peters did not occupy the old church a mile away or build a new, larger church on the fifty acres. Instead the members of the second St. Peters establish their new home near St. Paul, opposite the cemetery. (The precise location has not been identified with a marker.) The initial expectation of the German group had been that the two congregations would share the new stone church, but the Wendish group did not agree. Somehow the two parties arrived at an understanding and St. Peter received a portion of the St. Paul church lands. The members of the 2nd St. Peter then dismantled the abandoned 1st St. Peter church and used the lumber to build a parsonage on the opposite side of the cemetery. The church would be completed a few months later and dedicated on April 26, 1871.

Pastor Pallmer arrived before the parsonage was built, but it was quickly completed and used for his installation. St. Paul had refused permission to use their church for the occasion even though Kilian performed the installation on December 11, 1870. Both congregations were members of the Missouri Synod, and it was customary that the nearest pastor would administer the rite.

Because the two groups had so much in common Kilian compared the division to the Biblical separation of Abraham and Lot. To avoid conflict Lot selected the lower lands and Abraham kept his flock in the highlands—but they served the same God. The analogy was not a perfect one because Lot’s and Abraham’s lands were separated while St. Paul’s and St. Peter’s parish boundaries coincided. And even though both congregations were members of the same synod, the close proximity required on-going delicate diplomacy.

For the next forty-four years two churches, separated only by language, existed side-by-side. St. Paul eventually lost the struggle to preserve the Wendish language and used only German; St. Peter, the smaller, lost its reason to exist, and finally turned over its property to St. Paul.

The section on Rev Johann Pallmer will be in the next edition of the Texas Wendish Society Newsletter coming out in January 2016.