Jan Kilian’s Legacy in the United States

This is an English version of a German lecture delivered by David Zersen, OhD. in Bautzen for the 200th birthday of Jan Kilian. The lectures were subsequently published in German in a book titled Jan Kilian (1811-1884) Pastor, Poet, Emigrant. Bautzen: Domowina Verlag, 2014.

There is a huge difference between a bequest and a legacy. A bequest is a conscious gift to physical or intellectual recipients. Often offered in the form of a last will and testament, it can let recipients know what the deceased thought of himself or of them. Jan Kilian left no will. (BECKER) Perhaps he gave little thought to what he would be leaving behind or what others might need from him. His biographer, George R. Nielsen, suggests that Kilian had little regard for what he might pass on to others. “If Kilian had been asked to evaluate his life, he most likely would have considered it a failure,” he writes. And he continues: “His letters do not reflect any satisfaction in his work, nor did he reveal any pride in his accomplishments. The shortcomings, real or imagined, eclipsed any joy he may have felt. He failed to preserve the large single Wendish congregation under his leadership and much of his life in Texas was marked by recrimination instead of amiable relationships. He fought a losing battle to maintain the Wendish ways and, instead of retaining his congregation, he lost family after family to other communities and congregations.” (NIELSEN 2003: 83-84)

Other writers have shared similar perspectives. However, now that more than a century has passed since Kilian’s death, on this 200th anniversary of his birth, some questions may be asked that are more important than whether he left a bequest. We can ask about his legacy. What we may discover is that we can take more from Jan Kilian’s life and thought than he could ever have dreamed of sharing.

Some assessments of his life may seem overdone. He has been called a “Wendish Moses” who led his people out of troubled Lusatia to the Promised Land in America. (LAMMERT) In Texas today there is a mystique surrounding the Kilian name which bequeaths a kind of royalty. Karin Foerster Blake, a great-great-great granddaughter of Kilian, said that she was astonished at the “awe” she sometimes experiences when people learn of her ancestry (BLAKE).

George R. Nielsen has helped to clarify Kilian’s role with the immigrant group. He was not the principal leader, since laymen assumed the leadership roles. However, they called him as their pastor or religious leader. His official call to serve the immigrant group was limited to one year pending the successful founding of a Settlement. (NIELSEN 2003: 33)

Kilian spent almost twenty years as a pastor in Lusatia, and after the emigration in 1854 he spent twenty nine more years serving a congregation in the young state of Texas, which had achieved statehood only nine years earlier. During these years, he entered into agreements, made purchases, wrote documents, modeled a lifestyle, fathered children, entered debates, served as a homeopathic physician, and preached thousands of homilies and sermons in several languages. All of these actions had their impact, some more than others. In reflection, they can be divided into tangible and intangible legacies. We can know more about Kilian’s impact than he could ever have known because as readers of history we understand the context and setting for past events that scholarship provides.

Tangible Ties to Jan Kilian

Many are the famous men who never wrote a thing. Jesus comes to mind. Scholars are fortunate that many letters and papers, published and handwritten, are part of Kilian’s legacy. Although Kilian preached thousands of homilies and sermons – twice each Sunday and at weddings, funerals, anniversaries, and other events – few written sermons remain from his twenty nine years in ministry in the US. This is unusual since it was typical to write sermons longhand in that era, both in Germany and in the US. In Germany, as far as is currently known, only one of Kilian’s sermons remains from his almost twenty year ministry. It was published in 1845, first in Sorbian and subsequently in a German translation. (MALINKOWA, email) In the US only three relatively early handwritten sermons from 1865, first discovered in 2012, are known. (MERSIOVSKY, personal interview)

Kilian typically preached in two languages in the U.S. A Sorbian sermon was usually followed by a German one. (BIRKMANN) In a letter to Pastor Max Frommel in Ispingen in 1877, he explains that he had written out a sermon word for word, something “that [he] had not done in forty years of ministry.”(KILIAN, May 1877) One consideration is that, as the challenges in his ministry grew, preaching in two languages may have made it tiresome to write sermons out longhand.

With respect to Kilian’s original letters, only a few remain. However, Kilian had the unique practice of writing drafts of his correspondence before he sent the letters, and two hundred of these drafts remain. (NIELSEN 2003: x) The contents of these draft-letters tell us much about Kilian as a father, a friend, a scholar, a skillful debater, and a pastor. All of these letters have been translated into English,[i] and their contents will be studied for years to come.

In addition to this large correspondence, Kilian had the practice of writing extended obituary notices or “parentations” (Abdankungen) in either Sorbian or German, 260 of which have now been translated into English. (MERSIOVSKY 2011) Numerous interesting facts are being gleaned from these articles. Joseph Wilson, professor emeritus at Rice University in Houston, has, for example, identified through this material all the diseases from which the deceased suffered or died (WILSON, List of Diseases). Some of the terminology was created by Kilian himself who served the Serbin community as a homeopathic physician, replete with kit and medications.

We also know that Kilian wrote theological treatises and presented papers that may no longer exist. (HUGGINS) However, his essay on “The Certainty of Salvation” (Die Versicherung der Seligkeit, KILIAN, 5 Dec. 1858) and his treatise on ‘The Perception of Chiliasm” (Bekenntnis vom Chiliasmus, KILIAN, 19 Oct. 1858; MALINKOWA 1999 b: 155) have been identified. We also have his twenty theses on Chiliasm that he was willing to defend, prepared in response to concerns from fellow clergy in 1877.(NIELSEN 2003: 76) Additionally, Kilian manuscripts on “The History of the United [Evangelical] Church in America,” twenty-five pages from 1865, and another thirty-two-page document on baptism (MAHLING) are in the process of being translated.

Although Kilian wrote over one hundred poetic texts, many of which were set to music composed by others or by himself, it is remarkable that he is known to have written only two poetic texts in the US, both on the occasions of the topping out ceremonies for the two Serbin churches in 1859 and in 1868. (ZERSEN 2012) Jack Wiederhold, long- time director of music at St. Paul, Serbin, assumes that the challenges and stresses of Serbin life restricted the reveries that allowed the muse to speak. (WIEDERHOLD 2011)

Another literary product from Kilian’s time in Serbin is a 150 page Wendish language “Agenda,” a book with orders for services and ceremonies and containing a lectionary and prayers for specific Sundays, written for use in the congregation. It is not a translation of the LCMS Agenda and any sources used for it are unknown. Prepared in 1883, one year before Kilian’s death, it was not printed until 1909, by the print shop associated with the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt. As such, it is the only book ever printed in the US in the Sorbian language.(MALINKOWA 2009 b: 204-206) Some of the prayers from this Agenda are being translated into English and used in Lutheran congregations in Texas that celebrate their Sorbian or Lutheran heritage at anniversaries.

Other extant tangible aspects of the Kilian legacy include objects that he himself touched or handled in his daily work:

1. Kilian’s desk, currently owned by Roxanne Zieschang Patschke in Noack, Texas.[ii]

2. St. Paul’s third church building in Serbin, made of cut stone, seating six hundred, dedicated in 1871. Renovated in 2010, the original interior, with its blue ceiling, its balconies and its pulpit, are from the time of Jan Kilian. (WIEDERHOLD 2012)

3. The cemetery adjacent to the church, the first burial in which took place in 1855 for Maria Theresia Kilian, first child born to the Kilians in the US.[iii]

4. The unincorporated Serbin community (consisting today of the museum, parsonage, school, church, several log cabins, and surrounding farms).[iv]

5. The bell cast in Kleinwelka near Bautzen in 1854.[v]

6. Kilian’s library. Nineteen books from Kilian’s library have been donated to the TWHS Museum in Serbin by Barbara Kilian in 2003 and five volumes of Luther’s Works were donated earlier by Louise T. Peter.[vi]

7. The 1855 Kilian parsonage.[vii]

8. The Kilian family organ.[viii]

9. Three photographs. One photograph of Kilian himself (a very distinguished portrait), one with all family members except Gerhard who was studying at the Addison Seminary, and one with Kilian and Theresia are known to exist.

10. St. Peter’s stone foundation and lumber.[ix]

11. Two red crystal goblets brought by the Kilians from Lusatia. They may have been used as chalices for Holy Communion in the early days of the settlement. (SLACK, 14 July 2011)

Besides these objects that Kilian himself would have touched in the US, there are other physical objects/agencies that resulted from Kilian’s presence or activities that remember him to us. These include:

1. Kilian Road, a street on the Campus of Concordia University Texas in Austin, named in 2007 after the pioneer pastor.

2. Concordia University Texas in Austin, founded in 1926 by thirteen congregations of predominantly Sorbian heritage.[x] The first building was named Kilian Hall (1926) and one of the significant buildings on the campus, the Louise T. Peter Center, was donated by Louise T. Peter, a Kilian granddaughter, in 1986.[xi]

3. Twelve Lutheran congregations resulting from the settlement of large numbers of Sorbs in Texas, some from St. Paul’s in Serbin and others being new immigrants from Lusatia.

4. Texas Wendish Heritage Society (TWHS), founded on 19 August 1972 as the Wendish Culture Club by Lillie Moerbe Caldwell, received its name on 13 February 1977.[xii]

5. The Kilian Newsletter. Among the publications of Concordia University Texas’s Office of Development is a newsletter that invites donors to purchase annuities through the University, thus effectively providing an income to the donor as well as to the University. (This has particular significance in light of footnote 11.)

Finally, within the category touching on physical legacy, the descendants of Kilian should be mentioned. The descendants of Kilian’s five surviving children (Gerhard, Hermann, Bernhard, Theresia, and Hulda) continue to celebrate his legacy and also have ties with the Texas Wendish Heritage Society, and regularly participate in generous contributions to the Society as well as in events like the 200th anniversary of Kilian’s birthday.

Intangible Ties to Jan Kilian

In an interview with Dr. Ray Martens, President Emeritus at Concordia University Texas, suggestions were considered for the various intangible ways in which Kilian continues to influence communities, the church and scholarship in Texas or in the US generally.(MARTENS 2011) Martens was president at Concordia University for twenty three years and has a singular view of the way in which Kilian’s legacy had impact – not to mention that his wife is of Sorbian heritage (Winkler, Jatzlau), which gives him insights into views of Kilian from within the Sorbian community. Martens feels that Kilian sought to conform practice to doctrine throughout his life. This often meant, on the one hand, he believes, that inability to compromise called for a rigidity that created tension. On the other hand, Martens feels that values were always important to Kilian. Over the course of time, this meant that his leadership was established on “pearls rather than pebbles.” Resulting from this perspective, Kilian was an example who modeled a number of positive styles which further research would do well to explore. Among them the following can be mentioned.


1. could model a pastoral style that attempted to break barriers created by tension (e.g., Kilian’ s letter to Teinert, 1872) so that severed friendships could be re-established;

2. demonstrates an organizational skill in which records were accurately kept (e.g. baptisms, obituary notices, ship diary, etc.) so future generations would have necessary information;

3. provides an interesting model of a conflicted leader who tries to find ways to decrease tension (e.g., approaches to requests for alternative Pietistic classes, bilingual worship);

4. is an example of an independent learner who tried to improve his pastoral skills (e.g., requests information about Methodist theology, engages in debates with colleagues by letter and at conferences);

5. shows an openness to polity in some areas (e.g., appreciates the American church’s model in which the laity have leadership roles – even when this leads to conflict);

6. models theological openness rather than rigidity in some areas (e.g., wants the LCMS to remain open on aspects of Chiliasm, uses his Greek expertise to explore alternative interpretations);

7. models confessional commitment to a Word and Sacrament ministry in a heterodox environment (e.g., experimenting with a new approach to Bible classes and alternative worship styles);

8. models the teacher who was a university graduate and very much an intellectual, but who could reach out to children and help them understand (e.g., he taught elementary school for eighteen years, his library contained a songbook for children); and

9. models a trilingual approach to ministry preaching in Sorbian, German, and English, even though he was committed to preserving the Sorbian language.[xiii]

Dr. Thomas Cedel, Concordia University Texas president, likes to give the English translation of Trudla Malinkowa’s “Shores of Hope” to friends of the University because it shows not only that conflict is not new in the church, but that creative minds, such as Kilian’s own, can learn to transition and transcend in the midst of a rapidly changing world. (CEDEL) Although Kilian can be regarded as at times rigid in his personal style, the fact that he was the first LCMS pastor in Texas (1855) and thus the father of the LCMS in Texas, demonstrates his openness to new solutions. Kilian could have remained an independent Lutheran clergyman, but he recognized that he needed denominational authority to perform marriages in Texas. Therefore, for the good of the church community, he made a choice which might not have been his first one.

Ongoing Attention to the Legacy of Jan Kilian

These tangible and intangible ties to Jan Kilian show that over the last 157 years since Kilian’s arrival in the US many threads have been spun that allow us to revisit the person, the character, the leadership, and the pastoral styles of this man, as well as to explore his insights and theology in his extant letters and funeral homilies. However, we are not the first to do this. Already in 1884 the Rev. Gotthilf Birkmann, who later married Kilian’s daughter Hulda, wrote a significant biography of Kilian in Der Lutheraner.(BIRKMANN) Since that time, there are in the US numerous examples, especially in more recent years, in which Kilian’s legacy has been remembered:

1. George R. Nielsen’s 2003 biography, Johann Kilian, Pastor provides an important focus for Kilian’s life and thought.

2. The Kilian Sesquicentennial Celebration in Austin at Concordia University Texas in 2004 with 250 celebrants was a highlight.

3. The 2004 exhibition of Kilian family furniture at Concordia University Texas (including Kilian’s desk and numerous pieces from Louise T. Peter) gave visual attention to Kilian ‘s legacy.

4. Concordia University Press’s 2009 translation of Trudla Malinkowa’s “Shores of Hope” (MALINKOWA 2009) received the Concordia Historical Institute award for “Significant contribution to Lutheran history in America.”

5. The Poetry and Music of Jan Kilian by Concordia University Press in 2010 showed a side of Kilian little known in the United States and intends to get Americans singing Kilian’s hymns.(ZERSEN 2010) This book is also indebted to Trudla Malinkowa’s edition of Kilian’s poetry that appeared in 1999 in Bautzen in the “Serbska poezija” series. (MALINKOWA 1999a) It also received the Concordia Historical Institute award for “Significant contribution to Lutheran history in America.”

6. Periodic visits to congregations and events by “Jan Kilian” (David Goeke dressed as a Kilian look-alike doing a monologue) produce a contemporary interest in the man.

7. Kilian birthday party in Serbin on 20 February 2011 with a toast of “Ben Nevis Scotch” helped savor the 200th Anniversary celebration.

8. Hymn Festival of Kilian’s hymns conducted at Concordia University on 23 October 2011 will be replicated throughout the US.

9. Presentation on 20 July 2011 at a TWHS Meeting in Serbin by Rev. Walter Dube of “Kilian’s Politics and Theology before Emigration” as part of the 200th Anniversary celebration invited reflection.

10. The Concordia/LECNA Symposium on Legacy and Leadership in honor of Kilian’s 200th birthday is a nationwide event.[xiv]

11. Living Theatre presenting Wendish heritage demonstrations with an appearance of “Jan Kilian” (David Goeke) on 21-22 October 2011 at Concordia University Texas with TWHS will remind attendees of Concordia’s Sorbian roots.

12. Church anniversary celebrations remembering the 200th (e.g., St. Michael’s, Winchester, 20 March 2011) will use Kilian’s hymns and prayers.

13. A newly established (2011) Wendish Research Exchange, now affiliated with the TWHS, is organized to study and translate Sorbian genealogy and Sorbian documents as well as to explore Kilian’s legacy and Wendish heritage in Texas.

14. Creative financing for the TWHS museum through noodles 6,385 pounds of “Wendish noodles” were prepared in 2010. Since 1985, supportive women have made noodles to sell as a fund raiser. The sale of 200,000 pounds of noodles in twenty-two years at $400,000 is not Sorbian chickenfeed!

Jan Kilian would be shocked to hear these stories about his living legacies in America. His great-great-granddaughter (from Herman Kilian’s line), Rachel Moebus Haberer, said that she had grown up with this legacy and it had helped her to acquire a strong sense of self. The deep roots and the values of her Kilian and Sorbian heritage “helped me move beyond my comfort zone,” she said. “As a young girl, 1 dreamed of adventure. If Kilian and all the Wends could make this joumey and forge this legacy in a new land, who was I to say ‘no’ to such cultural pressure? I felt I could do it too!”(HABERER)

Her distant cousin, attorney Larry Foerster, himself a great-great-grandson (from Theresia Kilian Peter’s line), had a slightly different approach to the legacy. “My mother’s love of history has always been important to me. The way in which the Gospel was passed from generation to generation gave me a sense of its strength and credibility. 1 learned to love my Wendish Lutheran heritage as a Kilian descendent.”(FOERSTER)

At a very personal level, the memory of a son-in-law, Gotthilf Birkmann, D.D., fosters an appreciation for Kilian’s legacy in phrases as elegant as Kilian’s own: “Rev. Kilian had so many qualities which made him most attractive to a young pastor. He was original, witty, spirited, amusing. He knew how to communicate out of the treasure of his experience and out of his reading, both old and new. No one could surpass him in telling stories. His language was choice, his gestures lively, but exceedingly graceful. Moreover, his speech was always spiced with salt. He knew how to include edifying thoughts in everything he said. He was uncommonly well versed in the Holy Scriptures, as also in Luther’s works, which he had studied diligently. If ever it happened that he spoke mistakenly, he accepted correction. There can be no doubt that he hated synergism in his very soul. In the last doctrinal dispute, he stood firmly on the side of the Missouri Synod, to which he had belonged already since 1855.”(BIRKMANN)

Perhaps the most touching view of the legacy comes from David Goeke who portrays Jan Kilian in monologues that he presents to community groups and churches. Dressed in a black suit and a period-piece black hat, and sporting a cane (which may be apocryphal), he often has an interviewer ask him how he would like to be remembered? “Most of all,” he says in a Texas-German accent, “I want to be remembered as a man who loved his people and loved his Wendish heritage. I could say lots of things. I was a student of Luther. I endured a lot of suffering. 1was more educated than any of the people in my community. Sometimes that made me very lonely. Often I wanted to return to see the apple orchard in Weigersdorf. But finally, it’s not about me. I served my Lord, Jesus Christ. Remember me, if you must, but remember that most of all I served Jesus, and I died in his service.” (GOEKE)

Kilian’s legacy in the US is in its early stages of development. Although 127 years have passed since his death, only in more recent years have American scholars, theologians, musicians, and poets come to study him. Hopefully this presentation with its recommendations for further research will encourage students to explore the legacy of a man who deserves to be respected and cherished for his contributions to l 9th century church history in America.

Works Cited

BOAS, Hans C. 2009, The Life and Death of Texas German, Durham.

BECKER, Lori (Chief Deputy Clerk, County Clerk’s Office, Giddings, Texas) 2011, Personal interview, 8 July          2011.

BLAKE, Karin 2011, Personal interview, 20 February 2011.

BIRKMANN, Gotthilf 201 l , “About the Life and Work of the Sainted Johann Kilian,” Der Lutheraner 15 November 1884, in Martens, Ray, Worthy of Double Honor, The Life of Gotthilf Birkmann, D.D., Austin,        Texas.

Bulletin, Kilian ‘s 200th Anniversary, Winchester: St. Michaels Lutheran Church, March 2011.

CEDEL, Thomas 2011, Personal interview, 21 March 2011.

DUBE, Vivian 2011, Personal interview, 7 April 2011.

DOERING, Martin 2011, Email to David Zersen, 8 July 2011.

FOERSTER, Larry 2011, Personal interview, 20 February 2011.

GOEKE, David 2011, “Kilian Redivivus,” Monologue, Kilian’s 200th Birthday Party, Serbin, Texas, 20 February      2011.

HABERER, Rachel Moebus 2011, Personal interview, 20 February 2011.

HUGGINS, Marvin 2010, Personal interview, 13 November 2010.

KILIAN, Jan 1877, “Letter to Max Fromme!, May 1877,” in Nielsen, George R. (ed.), Texas Wends: Letters and       Documents, No. 137.1.

KILIAN, Jan 1858, “Letter to G. A. Gumlich, 19 October 1858,” lbid, No. 53.

KILIAN, Jan 1858, “Letter to G. A. Gumlich, 5 December 1858,” lbid, No. 55.

KILIAN, Jan 1868, “Letter to J. C. W. Lindemann, 26 June 1868,” lbid, No. 102.5.

KILIAN, Jan 1857, “Letter to Johann Roehle, 18 December 1857,” lbid, No. 46.

KILIAN, Jan 1870, “Letter to C. F. W. Walther, 4 April 1870,” Ibid, No. 110.5

LAMMERT, Ron, “Who are the Wends?”

MAHLING, Jan 2012, Email to the author, 10 December 2012.

MALINKOWA, Trudla 1999a, Jan Kilian, Bautzen (Serbska poezija 43).

MALINKOWA, Trudla 1999b, Ufer der Hoffnung. Sorbische Auswanderer nach Übersee, Bautzen.

MALINKOWA, Trudla 2009, Shares of Hope: Wends go Overseas, Austin, Texas.

MALINKOWA, Trudla 2011, Email to the author, 2011.

MARTENS, Ray 2011, Personal interview, 24 March 2011.

MARTENS, Ray 2011, Personal interview, 8 July 2011.

MARTENS, Ray 2011, Worthy of Double Honor: The Life of Gotthilf Birkmann, D.D. Austin, Texas.

MERSIOVSKY, Weldon 2012, Personal interview, 10 December 2012.

MERSIOVSKY, Weldon 2011, Email to the author, 1 July 2011.

NIELSEN, George 2003, Johann Kilian, Pastor, Serbin: Texas Wendish Heritage Society.

NIELSEN, George 2011, “Serbin,” Texas Wendish Heritage Society Newsletter, July 2011.

SLACK, Jan 2011, Email to the author, 9 July 2011.

SLACK, Jan 2011, Email to the author, 14 July 2011.

WIEDERHOLD, Jack 2011, Personal interview, 8 July 2011.

WIEDERHOLD, Jack 2012, Email to the author, 8 December 2012.

WILSON, Joseph, “Lists of Diseases,” Death Records, Serbin: St. Paul, 1854-1883.

TWHS Museum Archive.

WILSON, Joseph 2003, “Pastor Kilian’s Shipboard Diary,” in Buchhorn, Michael (ed.), A Collection of Histories of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Serbin, Texas.

WILSON, Joseph 2004, Email to the author, 16 April 2004.

ZERSEN, David 2004, “The Wends of Texas,” Lutheran Witness October 2004, pp. 24-26.

ZERSEN, David (ed.) 2010, The Poetry and Music of Jan Kilian, Austin, Texas.

ZERSEN, David 2012, “An Exciting Find in a Wendish Vault in Texas,” Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly Vol. 85, no. 3, Fall 2012, pp. 46-64.

[i] Most of these letters were translated from German to English, some from Sorbian to German to English.

[ii] In 2005, when the Rev. Victor Kilian was vacancy pastor for Christ Lutheran Church, Noack, Texas, he asked the author to conduct services for him. After the service, Roxanne Zieschang Patschke told him that she had Kilian’s desk. She explained that Arthur Moebus, great-grandson of Jan Kilian wanted to sell his great-grandfather’s desk to pay for medical expenses. The roll top desk contained a list of each owner to whom the desk had been handed down. Moebus was the principal at St. Paul’s school in Serbin from 1954 to 1971. Attempts to purchase the desk for the TWHS museum have been unsuccessful.

[iii] Buried in the Kilian family plot in St. Paul’s Cemetery in Serbin, established 1855, are: Jan (Johann) Kilian (1811-1884), Maria (Groeschel) Kilian (1823-1881), Gerhard A. Kilian (1852-1916), Hanna (Hohle) Kilian (1856-1880), Anna (Gersch) Kilian (1863-1937), Hermann T. Kilian (1859-1920), Maria (Moerbe) Kilian (1867-1947), Theodore

J. Kilian (1890-1925), Paul F. Kilian (1902-1902), and Maria Theresia Kilian (1855- 1855).

[iv] Kilian himself named the community Serbin (“Home of the Sorbs”) sometime before 1860. It contained numerous buildings, according to the 1880 census, including mercantile stores, a blacksmith shop, a wheelwright, a tailor, a shoemaker, a cotton gin and a doctor’s office. No buildings stand today. The current Serbin church, school and museum buildings are about a mile distant from the original community.(NIELSEN 2011)

[v] The bell brought from Kleinwelka was cast in the Friedrich Gruhl foundry specifically for the emigrating group. It was first hung in 1857 in a wooden building next to the log church and used on Pentecost of that year (KILIAN 1857: “Letter to Johann Roehle”). It cracked while ringing in the Serbin church tower, at some time prior to 1904. From 1905 to 1927 it was stored in the church attic. In 1927 it was decided to make it available to Concordia College (today Concordia University) after the 1926 dedication of Kilian Hall. Some students built a pedestal for it to hang outside the new chapel built in 1954. Currently it stands at the entrance to the new Concordia campus. Inscribed on the bronze bell are the words “Gottes Wort und Luthers Lehr’ vergehet nun und nimmermehr.” (God’s Word and Luther’s doctrine pure, shall now and to eternity endure.) (MALINKOWA 2009: 117)

[vi] Many of the books from Kilian’s library were burned after his death under the assumption that no one would have any use for them. Twenty-four books remain. There are five volumes of Luther’s Works given to the museum by Louise Peter. The donor of the other nineteen volumes is the widow of Herman John Kilian, Jan Kilian’s great-grandson. It would be interesting to know how many people in Texas in the mid-1800s had books with such levels of scholarship (SLACK, 9 July 2011). Jan Kilian’s library in the TWHS Museum consists of the following titles:

Bengel, Johann Albrecht. Richtige Harmonie der vier Evangelisten. Tübingen: Christoph Heinrich Berger, 1766.

Bengel, Johann Benedict. Abriss der Brüdergemeinde. Stuttgart: Johann Benedict Messler, 1751.

Harms, Dr. Claus. Pastoral Theologie. Kiel: Universitäts Buchhandlung, 1837.

Hiller, Johann Adam. Lieder für Kinder. Leipzig: Weidmanns Erben und Reich, 1769.

Lucius, Samuel. Ein Wohlriechender Straus von schönen und gesunden Himmels Blumen. Basel: Johann Rudolf Im Hof, 1756.

Luther, Martin. Der Zweite Theil der Bücher des Ehrwürdigen Herrn Doctoris Martini Lutheri. Wittenberg: Hans     Luft, 1552.

Luther, Martin. Der Fuenfte Theil der Bücher des Ehrwürdigen Herrn Doctoris Martini Lutheri. Wittenberg: Hans   Luft, 1552.

Luther, Martin. Kirchen Postilla. Wittenberg: Hans Luft, 1575.

Luther, Martin. Kirchen Postilla. Auslegung der Episteln. Wittenberg: Hans Luft, 1575.

Luther, Martin. Psalmen, 5 Mose, Kleine Propheten. Wittenberg: Hans Luft, 1525-1555.

Pond, Enoch. Conversations on the Bible. Springfield, Mass: C. A. Nichols & Co., 1881.

Pescheck, M. Christian Adolph. Geschichte der Gegenreformation in Böhmen bis 1621. Dresden and Leipzig:            Arnoldische Buchhandlung, 1844.

Rambach, D. Johann Jakob. Erbauliche Betrachtungen über den Catechismum Lutheri. Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1736.

Rambach, D. Johann Jacob. Gründliche Erklärung des Propheten Esaiä. Züllichau: In Verlegung des           Waysenhauses, 1741.

Rambach, D. Johann Jacob. Historische und Theologische Einleitung in die Religions Strittigkeiten der Evangelisch- Lutherischen Kirche mit den Socinianern. n.d.

Salig, Christian August. Vollständige Historie der Augspurgischen Confession und der selben Apologie. Halle:          Rengerische Buchhandlung, 1733.

Starke, Christoph August. Kurzgefaster Auszug Der gründlichsten und nutzbarsten Auslegungen Der Zwölf kleinen   Propheten. Halle and Leipzig: B. C. Breitkopf und J. J. Gebauer, 1744.

Starke, Christoph. Kurzgefaster Auszug über alle Bücher Altes Testaments. Berlin and Halle: E. B. C. Breitkopf und J. J. Gebauer, 1742.

Starke, Christoph. Kurzgefaster Auszug über alle Bücher Altes Testaments. Berlin and Halle: B. C. Breitkopf und J. J. Gebauer, 1741.

Starke, Johann Georg. Kurzgefaster Auszug über alle Bücher Altes Testaments. Vierter Theil. Leipzig: Bernhard        Christoph Breitkopf, 1740.

Starke, Johann Georg. Kurzgefaster Auszug über alle Bücher Altes Testaments. Fünfter Theil. Leipzig: Bernhard        Christoph Breitkopf, 1747.

Starke, Christoph. Kurzgefaster Auszug über alle Bücher Neues Testaments. Leipzig: Bernhard Christoph Breitkopf,                 1740.

Starke, Christoph. Kurzgefaster Auszug über alle Bücher Neues Testaments. Leipzig: Bernhard Christoph Breitkopf,                 1741.

Ungewitter, Dr. F. H. Der Welttheil Australien. Erlangen: J. J. Palm und Ernst Enke, 1853.

[vii] The original 1855 log building was a dog-trot building (a typical two unit construction with a roofed passage in between). One portion was used at different times as a church and a school and the other as a parsonage. Kilian lived in this humble building for the twenty-nine years preceding his death. Recently rediscovered (it having been used as a corn crib), one portion of the dog-trot original was reconstructed in 2003 and positioned near the stone church and a cistern.

[viii] The P. J. Trayser Harmonium was built in Stuttgart and used in the log cabin. In 1864, Kilian wrote to Director Lindemann of the Addison Teacher’s Seminary that his picture hung above the reed organ. Another larger instrument built by the same company having both pedals and a keyboard was ordered by a music society within the congregation for the new church. The original Kilian organ was donated in 2003 to the museum by Ruth Lindner, a great-granddaughter of Kilian. (WIEDERHOLD 2011)

[ix] Next door to the current museum buildings is the property of Frances Mutscher. On this property in the woods is the stone foundation of St. Peter’s Church. The home on the property is the original teacher’s home of St. Peter’s congregation. When the two Serbin congregations were reunited, the boards of St. Peter’s Church were used in 1915 to build a two-room school for St. Paul. This building later became the museum annex. Kilian preached at St. Peter’s for the installation of its pastor, the Rev. Johann Pallmer in 1870, and also during the vacancy. (DUBE)

[x] The Central Texas Conference that initiated the commitment to building a college was comprised largely of congregations with a Sorbian heritage majority. These included St. Paul, Serbin; Holy Cross, Warda; St. Paul, Thomdale; St. John, Lincoln; St. Michael, Winchester; Immanuel, Giddings; Zion, Walburg; St. James, Lexington; Ebenezer, Manheim; Zion, Swiss Alp; Christ, Loebau; Bethany, Greens Creek; and Trinity, Dime Box. In addition, there were several congregations with German majorities including Trinity; Riesel; Trinity, Houston; and Trinity, LaGrange.

[xi] In 1993, during the author’s term as president at Concordia, the grandniece of Louise T. Peter, Dorothy Ozee, of Wichita Falls, Texas, aware that the multi-million dollar estate of Louise T. Peter, Kilian’s granddaughter, earned from the royalties on oil leases on large tracts of land going back to Kilian’s era was not going to leave the descendants as much money ($25,000 each) as Concordia Lutheran College of Texas (renamed Concordia University at Austin in 1995 and Concordia University Texas in 2007) was going to receive. Concordia had received the proceeds ($2 million) of a gift annuity which would allow Louise T. Peter an income until her death. The proceeds of the annuity, sold by The Lutheran Foundation of Texas, were given to the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod which owned Concordia and made the money available to it to construct in 1987 the Louise T. Peter Center, a state-of-the-art communications building on the Concordia campus.(MARTENS, July 2011) Dorothy Ozee’s lawyer, aware that a Dallas lawyer wanted to challenge the right of religious and educational bodies to sell annuities, worked with the Dallas lawyer to file a class action suit against The Lutheran Foundation of Texas as well as against fifty other religious and educational bodies (e.g., Southern Baptist Convention, Salvation Army, Northwestern University, etc.). The intent was to say that only banks could sell annuities and that religious and educational institutions created unfair competition by charging lower rates for annuities than did banks. The courts denied the claim of the plaintiffs, but millions of dollars were paid to lawyers to defend the various institutions in the class-action suit. The case finally went to the United States Supreme Court and to the United States Congress which in 1997 passed the “Charitable Donation Antitrust Immunity Act” allowing religious bodies and educational institutions to sell annuities. The lawsuit represents the largest lawsuit ever filed in the US on the subject of gift annuities and its settlement has the force of law for all time. Due to its ties to Kilian family land in Winchester inherited by Jan Kilian’s granddaughter, Louise T. Peter, it forms an interesting sideline of the Kilian legacy in the US.

[xii] Currently with over 1,000 members, the TWHS meets regularly to sponsor Sorbian heritage projects and events. Its museum with over 3,000 artifacts, established in 1980, is one of the more significant ethnic museums in the State of Texas. Its quarterly newsletter regularly provides information about the past and present of Sorbs in Texas as well as about the Kilian heritage and current family members. The annual Wendish Fest held since 1988 on the fourth Sunday of September attracts well over a thousand visitors from around the US, Canada, Australia, and Germany.

[xiii] Until WWI, Texas was trilingual (German, Spanish, and English).(BOAS) Although Kilian sought to preserve a Sorbian language heritage, he could not have envisioned how many other language groups (Czech, Swedish, Polish, etc., not to mention the prominent three) were vying for prominence. He was disappointed in the results but, being a polyglot, he fit right into the linguistically diverse environment.

[xiv] The Lutheran Educational Conference of North American (LECNA), forty Lutheran colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, banded together with Concordia University Texas to celebrate Kilian’s 200th birthday with a symposium in Austin on 21 October 2011. The universities were invited to submit an abstract for a proposal and from those submitted, eight were accepted for presentation. These essays on “Legacy and Leadership” will be published in book form for the universities and for the general public.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *