The Pioneers Own an Iron Will by Emilie Goldapp

This is a newspaper article[1] found in a box in the vault that had held Daphne Garrett’s working files. Daphne had a sticky note on it indicating that copies of the article were to be filed in the vertical file under “Simmang,” “1854 Immigration” and “1853 Immigration.” Brackets within the text indicate handwritten notes written on the article. At the bottom of a photocopy was a business card with the name Wilbur L. Simank, Stillwater OK. Wilbur was a son of Edmund William Simank who died in 1970 and whose initials, EWS, appear at the bottom of the article.

Many thanks to Rox Ann Johnson of LaGrange for cracking the puzzle. All we have to do now is find the German language newspaper that the article was originally in. It was not the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt.



[1] The newspaper was published about 1935. That was the year that Friedrike Bartling Simank was 85 years old. (Rox Ann Johnson)

The Pioneers Own an Iron Will.

From Alice, Texas[1]

            Here is another old settler who died, Mr. Lynn.[2] He was a widower for a long time and lost a son during the war. Several children survive him.[3]

            Ms. Minna Riedel is seriously ill in Yorktown Hospital.[4]

            Earlier this year, in the Free Press for Texas, we read that Mrs. Simang was celebrating her 85th birthday.[5]

            Two years ago at the same time we went to Nelsonville[6] to visit our father, so we stopped at Mrs. Simang’s to see how she was. To our horror we were told that she was hopelessly ill, so we did not bother ourselves any further.

            When we arrived at our father’s we found the same healthy and still quite fit, he was more like a 50 year old than 97 years old.[7] In the spring he lay down and in the summer he died and Mrs. Simang celebrated her birthday again this year.

            That’s the last one. She married a son from the families who emigrated from Saxony.[8] All three of them were relatives, Simangs, Warnaschs and Roeslers. [to Texas 1854][9]

            Uncle Simang[10] first emigrated, then the other two families followed on a small sailing ship.[11] The journey took 9 weeks. Everything had to be nailed down because the ship was swinging so severely. The passengers suffered much with seasickness.

            When the wind was calm and the sea was as smooth as glass and the ship was standing still, the passengers were plagued by lonely boredom and homesickness and sang to each other. The women cried and wanted to walk back if they could. Then the captain wished again for wind, which came soon and they became ill again.

            Finally they arrived in Galveston. From Galveston they went to Houston. There the ox carts were ready and we loaded them well with bag and pack. Their destination was to Fayette County, Cummins Creek. That probably took another week. I can still remember how my uncle[12] described the journey to us kids, how slow it was and how dull the area was.

            At last a house became visible and a man stepped out of it and shouted: “Compatriots, stop by, make lunch with us.” This was our first invitation in America, which we were very happy about and accepted with thanks. The man’s name Laas[13] and lived on the square, which was later called Garlin’s place.[14]

            We went on after the meal. We crossed Cummins Creek and soon saw our uncle’s home.[15] From a distance we saw a man sleeping under a tree. As we approached, we saw a mill where corn was ground. From this bread was baked.

            Who wants to eat such bread today? The poorest beggar could not get it down.

            Wheat flour was non-existent. Fortunately, they had brought rye seeds and they planted this, which flourished very well. Then the bread got better. Meat was never lacking. When they needed it, they rode into the woods, shooting a deer or turkey. But salt was nonexistent. They never complained about Indians, nor about depression. [to Texas 9 Sept 1854.[16] Papa[17] was 16 years old when parents came to Texas.]

            Then the war broke out; and it got even worse. The boys should all leave (not all went). My dad[18] has told of some who hid. From a family, the three oldest sons should go to war. The father was sickly and the mother had died the year before. So one of the boys hid. He dug a pit, holding himself bent in it by day, and working in the field at night when it was light. When it was dark in the house, he tanned leather and made and mended shoes.

            When the pension came later, he should also have received some. His name was probably on the list. Was he entitled to do so?

            The stuff the travelers brought along was all they had and they could not buy anything; because it was so expensive and they had very little money. So the women had to produce their spinning wheels and looms (who had brought one and made stuff, dyed it with a variety of weeds, which grew on sandy soil at Beeville.) Indigo was called …

            When the war was over, it got better; but only for those, where the man came home again. Many stayed away and never came back. These were hard times for the farmers. At that time everything had to be worked by hand plowing and a wooden harrow when there was no machinery.

            It should also be noted that all have reached an advanced age, despite having suffered such hardships, and were spared severe illnesses and settled all around in a radius of 10-20 miles and are also buried there. [Especially Good. – EWS. 2/7/55][19]

E. Goldapp[20]



[1] Alice, Jim Wells County, Texas. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[2] Most likely Belford Johnson Lynn, a widower, born 23 Feb 1857 in Iowa, died 12 Feb 1935 in Alice, Jim Wells County, Texas. Wife was Martha Josephine Diltz who died in 1904 in Iowa. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[3] The Lynns had 5 children, 4 sons. William, Robert, John and James, and a daughter, Luella. James died of bronchial pneumonia and influenza on 17 Nov 1918, during WWI.

[4] Wilhelmina Riedel died 13 December 1954 in Yorktown, Texas. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[5] Friedrike Bartling Simank was born on 1 Jan 1850 in Germany and died 7 Jan 1937 in Fayetteville, Texas. Her 85th birthday would have been in early 1935. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[6] Nelsonville is an unincorporated community in Austin County, Texas. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[7] Her father was Frederick “August” Roesler, 23 Jan 1836 – 20 Jul 1933, buried at the Scranton Grove Cemetery in Austin County. (Rox Ann Johnson)

[8] She married Herman Ernst Simank (Ben Nevis family #70) on 30 Aug 1869. They had eleven children. Herman Ernst’s mother was Johanna Magdalena Rössler. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[9] The handwritten note denotes the year that the Simangs came to Texas on the Ben Nevis. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[10] Herman Ernst Simank, 20 Sep 1836 – 28 Jan 1925. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[11] The Warnasch’s from Maltitz and two Rössler families from Lawalde migrated on the bark SS Anton Günther in 1860. (Geue) A bark is a 3-5 masted small sailing ship. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[12] Quite possibly Uncle Herman Ernst Simang but it could also be another uncle. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[13] Most likely Gottfried Laas who migrated on the Weser in 1858 to Fayette County. (Geue) (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[14] I have been a little confused since first reading the article about which square she was talking about near Cummins Creek: Round Top or Fayetteville are the only real squares nearby. There was a Laas family near Shelby and also in the general Fayetteville area, but the only Garlins were right around Willow Springs and had the store there for a while. I was under the impression that the Simanks were in the general vicinity of Rek Hill. All these places are near Cummins Creek, but only Round Top, Shelby, and Willow Springs are on the east side of Cummins Creek. Perhaps they stopped near Willow Springs and then crossed the creek and Rek Hill is only about a mile farther. (Rox Ann Johnson)

[15] Uncle Herman Ernst Simang. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[16] 9 Sep 1854 is only one day off from 10 Sep 1854, the date that most of the Ben Nevis group left Hamburg. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[17] Papa in the handwritten note quite possibly refers to Herman Ernst Simang (Uncle Simang) who was about 16 on the Ben Nevis in 1854. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[18] August Roessler. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[19] EWS is Edmund Wilhelm Simank, one of the children of Herman Ernst and Friedericka née Bartling Simank. (Weldon Mersiovsky)

[20] The narrator is Emilie Roesler Goldapp. She married Fritz Goldapp and one of their babies was buried in the Pagel Cemetery at Willow Springs. (Rox Ann Johnson)

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Posted in The Wendish Research Project.

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