I remember Grandpa telling me
Reinhold Goes to School
After the Wendish Language Class in February 2020, led by Weldon Mersiovsky, several of us were talking. I mentioned a statement I had heard Jack Wiederhold make last summer when my grandsons and I were volunteering at the Museum. Jack had said that we are very blessed to have the Texas Wendish Heritage Society and all the artifacts and genealogy, but that much of the early oral history has been lost. It just never got written down, or recorded. During the conversation I shared a story I heard from my grandfather Reinhold A. Hempel (the Copperas Cove Reinhold A. Hempel). Weldon asked me to write it up and share it with you.
My mother was Lynette Hempel Pittsford (1921). Her father was Reinhold Alvin Hempel (1899). His mother was Magdalena Teinert Hempel Kubitz (1875). Her father was Johann Teinert (1841) of Dauban, who came over on the Ben Nevis as a 13-year-old. His father was Johann Karl Teinert (1816) of Dauban and was a leader in the group that emigrated from Lusatia (Saxony) in 1854. His father was Carl Teinert (1777) who lived his entire life in or around Dauban, Weigersdorf, Rothenbug, Saxony (Germany).
The story told to me several times by my grandfather:
Magdalena (Lena) Teinert (1875) was born in Serbin, Texas. She married Karl August Hempel (1872) in 1898. They settled at Greens Creek where he farmed. Reinhold Alvin Hempel was born January 12, 1899 near Warda, Texas. He was baptized on January 21, 1899 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Warda by Pastor Gottfried Buchschacher.
One day in February 1901, Reinhold’s father Karl August Hempel was out plowing in his fields with his team of mules, preparing for the year’s crops. Probably cotton or corn but those details have been lost. It was a very warm and humid day. He had worked up quite a sweat due to the heat and hard work. A strong Texas blue norther blew in. He quit plowing and headed back to the barn with the plow and mule team. By the time he got everything in the barn it had turned very cold and he was extremely chilled. Two weeks later he died of pneumonia on February 11, 1901.
So, there was left widow Lena and her 2-year-old son Reinhold. Lena’s parents, Johann and Anna (Kurio) Teinert had moved to Copperas Cove to join the growing number of Wends in the area that had founded Immanuel Lutheran Church there in 1894. So mother and son moved up there also to be closer to family who could help Lena and her young son. The whole family attended Immanuel Lutheran Church.
In 1905, it was time for Reinhold to begin grade school at Immanuel Lutheran School. He told me that he had to learn another language in order to attend school there. “You had to learn English?” I asked. “No”, he said, “I had to learn German”. In those years German was the language used in the school. But Reinhold had only learned the Wendish language spoken at home by his mother and grandparents and other family members.
The Pastor in those years was the beloved Rev. W. H. Bewie. He was also the teacher. Reinhold’s teacher. Grandpa always spoke with great respect for Pastor Bewie and his daughters, Dorothy and Clara Bewie. Dorothy and Clara were members at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Austin along with many of my family members, and they and us were friends for life. Oh, how I could tell some of the funny stories, especially the interactions between Clara and my uncle Raymond.
The problem with oral history is that it may not always be precisely and accurately remembered. Time has a way of blurring some details. This story from my Grandpa Hempel, however, I remember. As always, I encourage you to take time and write down your old memories and details you can remember about your ancestors. Or just record it orally. You will enjoy the exercise, and I believe future generations of your family will greatly appreciate it.