A Brief history of the Grassyville, Dixon Prairie, and Mesquite Churches

This article was copied from the April 23, 1967, Homecoming Bulletin.

We believe that all of you who are here today will be interested in reading this brief history.

The Grassyville Methodist Church organized in 1856 by the Rev. Edward Schneider, who came to Bastrop County in 1852, preaching in this county; then came to Grassy Fork to preach to the German settle living here. A parsonage was soon built for the pastor to live in. However, for a number of years, due to financial reasons the church services were held in various homes. Because of Civil War conditions the congregation built its first church building in 1868. It was called Grassy Fork Methodist Church, later changed to Salem Methodist Church, South, of Grassyville. A new parsonage was built at this new location and the lumber from the Grassy Fork church was used to build this new parsonage. This congregation became the second largest in the old German Conference of The Methodist Church, South, due to the deep and unswerving faith and their efficient methods in discharging their Christian duties to the church and God. Six Annual Conferences were held in this church. The first in 1876 and the last in 1903. The influence of this church has lived on in the lives of the descendants of those early Methodists now scattered in various parts of the United States and lives on in the lives of these descendants as strong laymen and ministers. Many people began to move away from the Grassyville area, sending the church into a decline, so in 1942 this church was joined with the Mesquite Methodist Church to form the Paige Methodist Church.  Out of the old Grassyville church came eight Methodist preachers, some of whom became outstanding church leaders. This church has made its imprint on Texas and has had nationwide influence. Those of you who are here today can be proud of what this church has done. You are in the train of these facts.

The former Mesquite Methodist Church was the out-growth of two former Methodist Churches. Soon after the Civil War, because of needed language literature, a Methodist Episcopal Church was organized near the Grassyville area. After some years many members moved to the Dixon Prairie area. The church was also moved and in 1885 a church building and parsonage were built there. Many years later this church was torn down and moved to the Mesquite area. As members began to move away, this church, in 1942, was merged with the Grassyville Church to form the Paige Methodist Church. This church also has a splendid history. It gave direction and inspiration in leadership; many descendants of the early membership today hold leadership in the various churches and communities nationwide.


The Gathering by Clifton Seifert

The History of

The Methodist Episcopal Church




Lexington, Texas


The Families who founded It

Fathers of Our Faith

Charter Members, Methodist Episcopal Church, Lexington

1. Carl Bauer born in Unterkessack, Germany on 27 Oct 1853, died on 13 Apr 1937. Married Katherine Shimel on 13 Jun 1876. He came to Lexington in 1885 and farmed. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

2. Fritz Grusendorf, born in Gifhorn, Hanover, Germany on 11 Jul 1819, died on 7 Feb 1897. Married on 29 Aug 1847 to Marie Hartung who died in 1880 and married on 1 Oct 1881 to Augusta Hillegeist.

3. Henry Grusendorf was born in Grassyville in 1855 and moved to Lexington in 1879. C. W. Raschke and Adam Raesener married his sisters.

4. Oscar Hillegeist was born in Harris County, Texas on 17 Nov 1862, died 6 Jan 1931. Married Johanna Gest on 20 Dec 1883. He moved to Lexington about 1883 and farmed. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

5. Louis Hornung was born in Unterkessach, Germany on 16 Jan 1861, died on 21 Apr 1946. Married Friedricka Haussecker on 1 Jan 1886. He moved to Lexington about 1882 from Industry and farmed. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

6. Robert Otto was born in Grimma, Saxony on 2 Nov 1861, died on 23 Oct 1942. Married Pauline Letterman in 1890. He came to Lexington in 1885 and farmed. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

7. Franz Peterson was born in Anhalt, Dessau, Germany 20 Aug 1845, died on 1 Jul 1929. Married Mary Muenzler in Jan 1871. He came to Lexington from Industry in 1882 and farmed. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

8. Adam Raesener was born in Muehlenhausen, Germany on 4 Jan 1854, died on 2 Feb 1931. Married Mary Grusendorf on 1 Jan 1877, married Lina Boehm in 1912. He moved to Lexington about 1885. He was an ordained minister and farmed. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

9. C. W. Raschke was born on 27 May 1853 in Prussia (Bochow, Brandenburg, Germany) and died on 22 Dec 1938. He came to New York in June, 1869 and moved to Lexington in 1882.

10. Bernard Retzlaff was born in Posen, Germany on 5 Nov 1837, died on 11 Jan 1919. Married Mary Krake on 14 Jul 1874. From Industry he moved to Giddings and then on to Lexington about 1883. He joined Waul’s Legion while living in Industry, was captured and then fought with the Union Army. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

11. Jacob Seifert was born in Massenbachhausen, Germany 9 May 1841, died 29 Dec 1931. Married to Wilhelmina Fischer on 8 Jan 1870. He moved to Lexington before 1870, was a blacksmith and farmed. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War before coming to Texas. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

12. Gustav Urbantke was born in Beilitz, Austria on 4 May 1841, died on 12 Mar 1932. Married Caroline Muenzler on 3 Feb 1868. He moved to Lexington from Industry in 1882, was a lay minister and preached for 40 years. He joined Waul’s Legion while living in Industry and served in the Confederate Army. He was captured during the battle of Vicksberg. Buried in the Lexington Memorial Cemetery.

Louis Letterman was the last to come to Lexington in 1891. Robert Otto married his sister, Pauline in 1888. In Oct 1904, C. W. Raschke married his sister, Ernestine, after his first wife died.


This is a true story of the gathering of God’s people. It is the story of twelve men, their families, and others who gathered to worship in the Methodist Episcopal Church at Lexington. These twelve were present from the beginning until the end. All twelve of these men, their wives and many of their descendants are buried in the cemetery. The families that arrived from Industry were related to each other. The families that arrived from Grassyville were related to each other. After reaching Lexington and starting the church there were many marriages between the twelve families. They became a community of believers, related to each other by blood, by marriage and by a deep faith in God.

As we search for our roots, I am sure that this community of believers would want us to remember that our final roots are in the God that created us – in his image. They would want us to remember that we are sinners and that we come to God as beggars. They would want us to remember that we are redeemed and saved because of what God has done and not because of anything we have done. We come as sinners and leave as saints. May this knowledge give us peace during the remaining days of our lives. I hope that you have an exciting journey to your historical roots and to your spiritual roots.

The men in these families were Carl Bauer, Henry Grusendorf and his father, Fritz, Oscar Hillegeist, Louis Hornung and his father, Gottfried, Louis Letterman, Robert Otto, Franz Peterson, Adam Raesener, Bernard Retzlaff, Jacob Seifert, and Gustav Urbantke.

Comments by Clif Seifert

Gathering this material and discovering the history of this group of people that made up the Methodist Episcopal Church at Lexington has been an exciting journey! I have met so many interesting people. I found so many interesting facts! So much history! So much rejoicing! So much tragedy! I was fascinated and I began sharing with others.

It has been frustrating trying to be certain of all of the facts. Many times there is conflicting data. The spelling of names varies and I am sure that I have made mistakes in spelling. I thought that information on the census and naturalization papers would be correct but discovered that many times it is not. I have tried not to make any mistakes with the facts but I know that there will be mistakes. Please let me know about any mistakes in facts.

Thanks to all of the people that have helped me and encouraged me. I could not have done it without your help and encouragement.

Posthumous Tribute to Clifton Seifert

Clifton Eugene Seifert was born in his home on String Prairie outside of Lexington, Texas on March 31, 1932 to Anton Emil Seifert and Emma Amanda (Marburger) Seifert. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Frances (Matthews) Seifert of Austin, children: Jack Seifert (Cinny Burrel) of Seattle, Dave Seifert (Kareena) and grandchildren Monique Seifert and Jordan Seifert of Pickets Valley, Australia, Shari Seifert (Melissa Brooks) and grandchildren James Seifert and Zachary Seifert of Minneapolis; brother Leonard Seifert (Nina) of Lexington, sister Shirley (Seifert) Jackson (Rex Jackson) of Bryan and many beloved nieces, nephews and cousins. Clif was preceded in death by his parents, brother John Seifert and sister-in-law Robbie Seifert of San Antonio.

Clifton loved growing up on the farm and attending Lexington schools. He graduated from Lexington High School with the class of 1949. Clif attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Education. Later he earned Master’s Degrees in General Science and Administrative Education from Texas A&M.

Clifton married Frances Matthews on July 15th 1954 in Aransas Pass, Texas. Immediately after his wedding he served in the Air Force in Cheyenne, Wyoming and in Nagoya, Japan. He remained in the Air Force reserves for many years. After his service in Japan, Clif worked at IGC in Rockdale and also served as union president. He began his many years of service to the Lexington schools in 1966 as a science teacher and elementary principal, including the time of racial integration. Clif then served as teacher and principal in Florence, Texas, vocational

education teacher in Hearne, Texas and in Houston, Texas. He had high expectations for his students and challenged them to accept leadership positions. In addition to teaching, Clifton also kept cattle on the family farm outside of Lexington.

The family moved to Rockdale, Texas in 1976. After retirement in 1991, Clif and Frances moved to Lake Travis and then Austin, Texas. Clif remained curious and a life-long learner. He was passionate about justice, genealogy, history – especially of the German Methodist cemetery in Lexington – and making beer. Clif was patriotic and deeply religious. He attended Lutheran churches throughout his life. Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat center in the mountains of Washington State, was dear to him. He was frequently part of the volunteer staff, beginning in 1982.

Clif was an avid traveler. He visited Australia 18 times and made many trips to Minneapolis and Seattle to visit his children and grandchildren. He traveled to Massenbachhausen, Germany to discover and visit cousins there. Clif also traveled to Greece, Egypt, Spain, Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand and Turkey.

Clif passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Austin after dealing with cancer for 5 years on 6 Dec 2010. His family and friends dearly miss him.

There was a memorial service for Clif at his church in Austin on December 11, 2010. A memorial service in Lexington is being planned for March 26, 2010 when son Dave will be able to attend.


Wurttemberg, Germany 1778-1845

The small village of Unterkessach, 20-30 miles northwest of Heilbronn and east of Heidelberg, was the home of the Carl Bauer family and the Lettermans, Louis, Pauline (Otto), and Ernestine (Raschke). And this is where Johanna Christian Heinrich Hornung (b: 16 Dec 1778) and Katharine Baur (b: 12 Nov 1782) lived. They were married on 12 Feb 1805, and had four children, Juliana on 9 Nov 1805, George Ludwig on 22 Mar 1808, Johann Heinrich on 26 Oct 1810, and Susanna Christine on 31 May 1823. All of these children were born in Unterkessach, Gottfried Hornung, born 24 Feb 1837, was the son of Johanna Heinrich. Susanna married Georg Andreas Muenzler of Olnhausen on 23 Feb 1841. Susan was the mother of Mary Peterson, wife of Franz, and the mother of Caroline Urbantke, wife of Gustav.

George Andreas’s parents were Johann Muenzler and Susanna M Hornung (b: 29 Sep 1774). Johann was a shoe maker. Georg was confirmed in the Lutheran Church on Easter in 1824. About 1840 Georg Andreas went to Unterkessach to visit his mother’s brother, Johanna Christian Heinrich Hornung. There he met and fell in love with his 17-year-old cousin, Susanna. They were married on 13 Feb 1841 in the Lutheran church in Unterkessach.

The couple made their home in Olnhausen where he had his vineyard and shoe shop. In the early 1840’s there was a severe drought. People were out of work and starving. Georg Andreas’s brother, Christoph Muenzler, who went to Texas and settled in New Braunfels, wrote a letter telling how beautiful it was in Texas.

Georg Andreas and Susanna lost a three-year-old child in Apr 1845. Georg Andreas had lost his brother, his father and mother in the previous year. His wife had lost her father. It was time to leave, to search for a better life. That October they left Germany for Texas with their young daughter.

Muenzlers arrive 1846

It was a disastrous trip. The ship was damaged twice near England. They finally set sail 8 Mar and encountered a severe storm on the lower coast of England The ship was wrecked. They were brought ashore on 18 Mar and were taken to the poor house. They had to remain at the port of Brigham until the next summer. They lost their two-year-old daughter on 3 Apr. A son, that they named Brigham, was born on 22 May before they resumed their journey. Finally, they reached Galveston in Sep 1846. When they arrived in Houston the name was changed from Georg Andreas Muenzler to Andrew Muenzler. They traveled by ox cart to Industry.

Soon after they arrived in Industry, a Rev. Bauer arrived. He had been appointed as a missionary among the German settlers by the Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. However, his appointment was canceled by the church because a man from the North could not to be trusted in the South. When Bauer arrived in Industry he had not been sent by the church. However, Christian people came to him with a petition that he be their preacher. He finally consented. This was in the fall of 1847. A congregation was organized as an independent church called the ‘”Brother Church” even though Rev Bauer was an ordained minister of the Methodist Church. Bauer remained until 1854, when the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, sent a minister. A church was built and the Muenzler name appears in the first record book. The Muenzlers built their first home near the present day church cemetery. This is where Caroline Sophia, the future wife of Gustav Urbantke, was born in Jan 1849. And this is where Marie Katharina, the future wife of Franz Petersohn, was born in Dec 1850. Another child, Ana Rosina, was born on 19 Mar 1853. Tragedy struck again! On 16 Nov 1854, when she was only a year old, a fire destroyed the home and she was burned to death. No remains were found!

Carl Urbantke arrives 1853

Carl Urbantke, the son of a weaver, was born in Beilitz, Austria (now Bielsco, Poland) on 3 Dec 1831. He was confirmed in the Lutheran church. Economic conditions became unbearable for the family. Carl was going to be “drafted” as his older brother had been. There were reports about Texas being a wonderful place with lots of opportunities. His father finally consented to Carl’s leaving and obtained a six months pass for him. He left in Jul 1853, at age 21. In October he landed at Galveston and traveled to the area around Industry. He worked as a laborer for three years and saved enough to buy a 150-acre farm near Cat Springs and to build a house. Even though his father was old, he wanted to come to Texas because conditions were so bad back home. Carl saved up enough money to send for him. Carl became active in the Methodist Episcopal Church as a circuit rider, as presiding elder, and, later, as founder of Blinn Memorial College, which was started to train ministers in the German Methodist Church.

The following is included to show why there were two Methodists churches in the south.

In the fall of 1866 the congregation in Industry withdrew from the Methodist Church, South and joined the original Methodist Episcopal Church. The slavery question in 1844 led to the division in the Methodist Church. The result was that several thousand preachers and two bishops withdrew from the original church and, with the congregations that were within the slave states, organized the Methodist Church, South. The German congregations were incorporated into this new organization without asking their viewpoint on the matter. The Methodist Church, South, had no German literature. We used the German magazines, song books, Catechism, and even the Discipline of the Mother Church. In this way the congregations of the South kept in close touch with the German Conferences in the North. During the years of the war, the German people were compelled to take part in a fight against their interests and convictions. Only a few German people owned slaves. If the South had been victorious, all administrative power would have been in the hands of the slave owners, which would have proven injurious to the small settlers and to the development of the South.

….During the session of this conference Brother Biel severed all connections with the Church, South, and in December, 1868 he and the congregation at Industry were received into the Mother Church by Rev Welsh, (from Carl Urbantke’s Texas is the Place for Me).

Bernard Retzlaff arrives 1855

Bernard was born in Posen, Germany on 5 Nov 1837. (From History of Lee County.) His petition for naturalization states he was born in Bromberg, Prussia. He spelled his name Bernhard.) He left Germany to avoid compulsory military training. He left from the port of Bremen in Sep 1855 and arrived in Galveston on the Mississippi in December. He worked as a farm hand and settled around Industry. There, he used two yokes of oxen to break the sod. When the Civil war came he enlisted on 4 Apr 1862, in Company E, Waul’s Legion. He was captured by the Northern army and taken to a POW camp in Illinois. He was critically ill from exposure but he received good food and care. When overtures were made to him to join the North in its fight against slavery, he joined the North and went into Company B, Twelfth Regiment of the Illinois Cavalry on 17 Dec 1862, and served until 16 Dec 1865, when he was discharged at Colombia, Texas. During the war he was present at Gettysburg when Lincoln made his famous two-minute speech. Remembering this event put a spark in his eyes during the rest of his life. He was allowed to bring home two fine horses. Stock from these horses remained in the family for nearly a century. He returned to Industry and sometime during the late 1870s he moved to Giddings where he farmed and married Mary Krake in 1874 before moving on to Lexington. While in Giddings he was active in the church, serving as trustee and signing a deed in June of 1876 as trustee.

Gustav Urbantke arrives 1860

Gustav Urbantke, 19, arrived in Industry in 1860 from Beilitz, Austria, to escape compulsory military training. He was unable to get a passport to come with his parents because he was too near the age for military service. So he did what his brother Carl had done seven years earlier. After arriving he found employment with adequate shelter and wages with a local farmer. Gustav’s father, Fredrick, with his second wife and a half-brother Julius, had arrived in late 1859. They were living with Carl. In Beilitz his parents belonged to the Lutheran church and reared their family in this faith.

Now another very evil guest appeared The Civil War broke out. Oh, what a sudden change! As soon as the first shot of the revolution had cracked at Fort Sumter, the call went out through the land for volunteers in the Southern Army, and very agreeable promises were associated with this call, about how wonderful the Southern States would reward the fighters after a victorious war. The young men followed this call in great numbers, most of them being of the opinion that the entire war would last no longer than six or seven weeks and, at the most, that many months, and then the victors would return home crowned with honor and rake in the reward for their heroic deeds. My brother, Gustav, had run away from Austria in order to avoid the military duty there, and here he went as a volunteer in the Southern Army. These gentlemen were violently disappointed, for, instead of weeks or months, they had to remain for four years in the war, and then come home as captured, beaten, and ragged men. Oh, to get home! (From Julius Urbantke’s autobiography, My Life’s Journey, p. 17.)

Gustav enlisted with Bernard Retzlaff and finally joined Waul’s Texas Legion on 13 Jun 1862. The Legion was in the Siege of Vicksburg. Gustav was captured a short distance from Vicksburg, at Yazoo City, on 14 Jul 1863, and remained in prison until his release on 9 Jun 1865. The prison library consisted of one Bible which Gustav read three times. He was released from prison on 9 Jun 1865. It took months for him to return home, walking and hitchhiking.

Gustav fanned upon returning and did well. Cotton prices were very high. On 23 Feb 1869, Gustav, age 27, married Caroline Muenzler, age 20, a widow with one son. Caroline’s parents arrived in Texas in September of 1846 after having been shipwrecked on the coast of England. Caroline had married Henry Werner on 1 Jan1867. She was 7 months pregnant when he died on 4 Oct 1867. The following is from writings of Emma Urbantke.

The mother of Henry lived a short distance from the young couple. Shortly after a heavy rain Henry set out to visit with his mother. A swollen stream separated the two homes, Henry crossed the stream on horseback. Upon arrival at his mother’s home he became ill with “cramps.” His mother suggested that he take some whiskey from a bottle on a shelf. Instead of the whiskey bottle he picked up one which contained varnish and had swallowed some before he realized his error. He managed to return to his home, where he died shortly afterwards.

Religious Experiences 1860’s

Exact dates when Carl Urbantke joined the church are unclear. However, it was some time during the war. Gustav must have joined soon after returning from the war. The Muenzlers joined when the church was first organized, about 1847. It has been reported that Bernard Retzlaff is the man in this story.

Late comers would not dispense with the customary handshake. They started with the preacher and then they followed row upon row until they had greeted everyone. The best thing the preacher could do was to wait until they had finished shaking hands.

These people, who had not heard the word of God preached for such a long time, were often, very much affected. Once I preached from Matthew 5:21-24. In the middle of my sermon on reconciliation with your brother who has aught against you, a man jumped up and said: “Stop! This means me. I want to make amends.” With these words he stepped up to a woman in the congregation, took her hand, and said: “I hated you and often spoke unkindly of you. I take it all back, and am sorry that I said it. Forgive me!”

The woman burst into tear and answered: “I am not any better than you. Forgive me also. ” The whole congregation was moved mightily It was a joy to preach, (from Carl Urbantke’s Texas is the Place for Me).

During the early days camp meetings were held. People came to hear the preachers and camped. Walter Hornung tells of his father, Willie, attending one at Paige (Grassyville) that was a great religious experience for him. During the early days pastors often served two or more congregations. Preachers served both Lexington and Caldwell. Julius Urbantke tells of no lack of work. He had six locations in which to preach. There was only one Sunday in which he did not preach two or three times. Often lay preachers were used when the regular preacher was unable to be there. Julius writes of arriving at Lexington after dark. This must have been sometime around 1878-1879. One of the local German businessmen mentioned below was probably Christian Konzelman, who was very active in establishing the church.

The next morning, two German businessmen heard that we were on a sort of missionary trip, so they asked us whether we could also include Lexington as a place to preach. During the last years, a number of Germans had settled in that neighborhood and more and more were coming. I told them that such a thing was not possible for me, since my Sundays were all arranged for. For Brother Wiebusch, the distance was too great. During the progress of the conversation, I made the suggestion whether people would come to worship service on a night when there is a full moon. Then I could come once a month at full moon time to conduct divine services. They snatched up the suggestion and promised their support. They were both members of the English Baptist Church in Lexington, and offered their church for worship services.

Two weeks later, I preached for the first time in that very place to some 50 listeners, and was urgently invited to come back again. (From Julius Urbantke’s My Life’s Journey.)

Franz Petersohn arrives 1870

Franz Peterson, 24, arrived in Industry from Anhalt, Dessau Zens, Germany in June, 1870. (His petition for naturalization states he was born in Senst and that his last residence in Germany was Koswig. He arrived in Galveston on 5 May 1870 on the Frankfort.) He was a weaver and had served in the military service before he came. Family records indicate that he lived in the community of Schoenau. He was working for Andreas Muenzler and married his 20-year-old daughter, Marie, on 1 Jan 1871. Mane was the sister of Gustav Urbantke’s wife. Not a very long engagement! Franz must have farmed with Andreas. By 1881 they had five children.

What excitement! 1881

“Gottfried is coming! Gottfried is coming!” Can’t you hear the excitement in the voices of the Peterson and Urbantke children shouting in joy and anticipation! By the summer of 1881 the Gustav Urbantkes had eight children, six living, the oldest being Mary 11, Gustav 10, Carl 8, Frieda 6, Emil 2, and Alfred 1. The Franz Petersons had five children, all living, with Marie 10, being the oldest, Carl 8, Herman 6, Bertha 4, and Otto 1. Their mother’s cousin, Gottfried Hornung was coming from Unterkessack, Germany, with six children. Unterkessack was the birth place of the Peterson and Urbantke children’s grandmother, Christina Hornung Muenzler. The Hornung family left Germany in May with $1200 in gold and landed in New York. From there they must have gone by ship to Galveston. They arrived at Columbus in June and were met by the relatives from Industry.

Franz Peterson, Gustav Urbantke, and Gottfried Hornung traveled to Lexington in the fall of 1881. Franz and Gottfried bought land in the Morrow Survey and signed deeds on 22 Dec. Gustav bought land in the Solomon Collum survey and signed the deed on 21 Dec. All three deeds were recorded on the same day, 23 Dec 1881. They had to rush home to be there for Christmas. What a Christmas present for the families! At the present time the descendants of these three men still own some of this land.

In the early part of 1882 they moved to Lexington. Did they travel together? Who knows? If so, what a caravan! All those children – Franz Peterson, Gustav Urbantke, and Gottfried Hornung; Urbantkes, five Petersons, and six Hornungs, Louis, 21, Caroline, Willie, 14, Pauline, Elise, 8, and Louise. Lots of cousins. Later, Willie married Mary Peterson and Eliza married Herman Peterson. (Conflict— Rev W. L. Hornung in his booklet written in tribute to his father, William Heinrich Hornung, says that the Petersons and Hornungs traveled to Lexington in the fall of1882. Peterson family records show that Albert bas born 25 Oct 1882 in Industry. However, records show that Helene Urbantke was born at Lexington on 25 Feb 1882.)


Fritz and Marie Grusendorf arrive from Bastrop 1855

Fritz had arrived in Indianola, Texas on the Everhardt from Gifhorn, Hanover, Germany in Aug 1845. He settled in New Braunfels where he married 23-year-old Marie Christine Hartung on 20 Aug 1847. Marie had arrived a year earlier and was a charter member of the First Protestant Church. They were married by the Reverend Ervendburg. They moved to Bastrop in 1850 where they bought 5 ½ acres of land. According to Fritz’s obituary he was converted and joined the church in 1853. A “Papa” Schneider, who was assigned to Industry a short time later, was the one that lead Fritz to conversion. Fritz never lost his child-like faith.

In 1855 Fritz moved from Bastrop to Grassyville with seven-year-old Caroline and two-year-old Adeleid. Shortly after arriving they had their only son, Henry, who was born 29 Sep 1855. The twins, Louise Frances and Mary were born 27 May 1858. (Uncertain when Adeleid was born.) The 1860 census list Fritz’s occupation as farmer.

On 9 Aug 1878, 22-year-old Henry married Bertha Ebers. The ceremony was performed by her brother, Rev. Herman Ebers. (Arthur Grusendorf’s application to the Sons of the Republic of Texas states his father moved to Lexington in 1880 and had a daughter, Lydia born that year. There is no record of her burial at Lexington. However, Adam Raesener states in his diary that Fritz, his father in law, was living in Lexington in November of 1879. (Since Adam’s account was a diary written at the time it is probably more accurate.)

Methodist Church established in Grassyville, 1856

At first, they met in the homes of members. It was not until 1868 that they built the first church which was called the Grassfork Church. In 1875 another church was built. The name of this new church was Grassyville Salem Methodist. Lumber from the old church was used to build the parsonage. This church became the second largest in the German Conference. The names of those present to consider building this church include a Carl Raschke.

The following is from a paper, Grassyville – German Methodists of Eastern Bastrop County, by Edwin Makowski, Jr.

In 1856 German Methodists constructed a church on Bastrop’s water street on land deeded to the church by Heinrich Grusendorf. It was through the work of Rev. Schneider that families were convened to Methodism. Schneider also worked with the Germans in the Grassyville area. In 1858 land was deeded and a parsonage was built. In 1867 the congregation severed its affiliation with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and applied for membership in the newly organized Southern German Conference of the Northern Church. In September of that year Karl Urbantke was sent from Industry to become the new Preacher. He and church members Grusendorf… felled trees and sawed the lumber that went into the construction of the log cabin structure that became the Grassy Fork Church. At one time the congregation claimed 101 white male members, 70 of whom where on probationary status, and 6 black male members, all of whom were probationers. In 1875 a chasm developed within the Grassyville church. A membership majority elected to resume their former affiliation with the Methodist Church, South and the name of the church was changed to Grassyville Salem Methodist Church. The congregation met to elect a delegation of trustees for the purpose of seeking permission from church authorities to build a new church. Among the persons present…Carl W. Raschke….

The congregation became the second largest in the German Conference…. Eight young men later became pastors in the German Methodist conferences. These were…Herman Ebers, (who married Henry and Bertha) …Alvin Vetter (who married Adam’s daughter)…John Adam Raesener. Land for the cemetery was donated and the first verifiable burial occurred in 1871. Fredrick Grusendorf and his brother-in-law Ludwig Hartung formed a partnership in 1871 for the purpose of building and operating a gin, grist mill, and a saw mill on a four-acre tract. This was part of the 172-acre tract purchased by Freidrich in 1866 from his older brother Heinrich. Grusendorf purchased Hartung’s interest in 1876 and in 1879 sold the property.

C. W. Raschke arrives 1872

Nineteen-year-old C. W. must have arrived in Grassyville shortly before Adam Raesener. C. W. was born in Buchow, Province Brandenburg, (Prussia) Germany on 27 Apr 1853. His parents were Charles and Ernestine née Graf Raschke. His father worked as a bookkeeper for a mining concern near Berlin. C. W. came to New York in Jun 1869, at the age of 16. He spent time in New York, Florida, and Galveston before moving to Serbin, which is not far from Grassyville. For a year he engaged in saw mill and blacksmith work there. Then he moved and engaged in mill operations on Grassy Creek. On 14 Jan 1876 he married Lucy, the 17-year-old daughter of Fritz Grusendorf. C. W. was 23 years old. In Jul 1879, about the time his father in law moved to Lexington, C. W. bought some property there. He bought more property in 1880. In 1881 his widowed mother came from Germany to live at Grassyville. She married Paul Schulze and is buried in the cemetery at Grassyville. Her brother, Carl Graf and his wife Caroline, had come to America and were living in Giddings. C. W.’s sister, Ida Raschke, set sail for America. C. W. waited in Galveston for weeks for the ship. It never arrived. She was lost at sea. C. W. Raschke visited relatives in Lexington and bought property there in Jul 1879 and in Dec 1880. He moved to Lexington in 1882 with three children, the oldest,6, and the youngest, 1.

Adam Raesener arrives December 1872

Adam Raesener was born in Muehlenhausen, Germany on 4 Jan 1854. He arrived in America, at age 18, on 2 Nov 1872 with his father, mother, and a brother, Henry. They settled at Rabbs Creek, Bastrop County, which was near Grassyville. His parents died within 8 weeks of each other in 1873 and left a six-month-old child that was taken in by the Fritz Grusendorf family. This was John who later married Bertha Peterson. In 1874 Adam joined the Methodist Episcopal Church under the direction of Rev. F. Mumme. On 1 Jan 1877, Adam, age 22, married Mary Grusendorf, the 18-year-old daughter of Fritz. On 19 Nov 1877 they were blessed with a daughter, Bertha Lydia. In 1878 the annual conference was held in Grassyville and Adam received a call to enter the ministry. He was sent to Schulenberg as his first charge. According to Adam’s diary, the ministry there was not successful. He served at various places until he was compelled to retire in 1885 at which time he moved to Lexington. The following is from his diary.

In this God forsaken country it was again proven that all beginning is hard. I, myself, still new and inexperienced know no one with whom I could enjoy the communion with God my Savior. The people who should have come to the services, I had to look up first… After many obstacles Nathan Mann finished the next quarter year for me… Our next conference met in Industry in November 1879. Here I was accepted on trial in the conference. For my pastorate I was assigned Victoria with $300 mission money. Under the greatest difficulties we, I, my wife and child, undertook the trip from Lexington (the place where my parents in law were living) to Victoria. We arrived there 8 Dec, and the same month God blessed us with a baby girl, who at baptism was named Martha Maria Cornelia. The first of January we were stricken with a great tragedy! Our Lydia was taken from us by death. She died 1 Jan, 8 PM at the age of two years, one month, and eleven days. As I couldn’t get a pastor to perform the necessary functions, I had to do it myself. A hard task for me. That was the first work I had to do in Victoria. Bury my own child! Hope to see each other in heaven.


Jacob Seifert arrives around 1869

Jacob was born as Daniel Seifert in Massenbachhausen, Wuertemberg, Germany on 9 Apr 1841. He was baptized on the same day in the Catholic Church. This was a common practice at that time. Infants that were not baptized were not saved! His mother died when he was three, and his stepmother when he was nine. His father, Anton, left for America in 1852 because there was not enough food. Anton had to renounce citizenship of the family before leaving.

Anton and his four children settled some place in the north. Records show that Daniel enlisted in the Union army at Mannington, Virginia on 1 Oct 1861 as Jacob Siverts and was discharged in May 1865. He came to Texas and is listed in the 1870 census as Daniel Cevet, a blacksmith, living with the Christian Konzelman family. He was married to Wilhelmina Fischer on 8 Jan 1871, by a Baptist minister named Cole. (This was in Burleson county at the time and is recorded in Caldwell court house.)

Jacob was living in Moab in 1877 when his sister Elizabeth Hess arrived from Pennsylvania. In 1879 he purchased 100 acres just west of Lexington, near the Germania cemetery where two of his children are buried. The oldest death dates in the cemetery are 1884.

Fritz and Henry Grusendorf arrive from Grassyville in 1879

The Grusendorfs arrived in Lexington some time in 1879.They were visited by Adam Raesener, their son-in-law, that November after he had attended the conference in Industry as he was on his way to his new congregation in Victoria. On 8 Nov 1880, Fritz’s wife, Marie Christine died. She is buried in the Early Chapel cemetery. On 1 Oct 1881, Fritz married Augusta, who had been married to his brother. She was the mother of

Oscar Hillegeist, and had been married twice after Oscar’s father was killed before she married Fritz’s Brother. (Conflict- Arthur’s application states that Fritz did not move to Lexington until 1880. There is no record of the burial of Lydia.)

New Arrivals 1882

The Hornungs with six children, Petersons with five, and Urbantkes with six arrived from Industry. The C. W. Raschkes with three children arrived from Grassyville. Twenty-eight new people looking for a place to worship!

Below are articles from three different sources describing the start of the church. Carl Bauer is listed in the third one. He is also listed in a German Language source. However, he did not arrive until 1885.

In 1880 several families from the Grassyville congregation moved to Lexington. They were served from Grassyville until November 1881 when the conference sent Rev. Jacob Ort to Lexington, who organized the congregation and succeeded to build a church which was dedicated July 1883 (By C. W. Schlechte, Pastor in San Antonio, District News and Information.)

In 1882, the year the Methodist Church of Lexington was organized, the first quarterly conference was held, with the Rev. Henry Dietz, Presiding Elder, in charge. The Rev. Jacob Ott was pastor, serving the congregation once a month from Paige.

The First Baptist Church was the only church building in the struggling vicinity, and traveling ministers from many denominations, including Methodists, held services in it. During 1883 a Methodist Church was built and dedicated free of debt the same year, with the Rev William Pfaeffle, Presiding Elder, holding the services. (Giddings paper, 17 Dec 1966.)

Ernest Hornung has compiled a brief history through translations, and other sources. The original German Methodist Church, North was organized in 1882. The first members were Gus Urbantke, Frank Peterson, and G. Hornung, who moved to Lexington from Industry. They met in the Baptist Church until such time as they might provide their own church building and parsonage. The first pastor was Rev. Jacob Ott. Others who joined the Lexington congregation were: J. Seifert, C. W. Raschke, Carl Bauer, B. Retzlaff, Carl Hoerhold, Mary Baiely and Augusta Ahrendt. The church was built in 1883 and dedicated on 29 Jul the same year. Rev. William Pfaessle, District Superintendent … and Professor Carl Urbantke assisted in the ceremonies. (Newspaper article, date unknown.)

A deed was signed on 18 Jan 1883 by F. Grusendorf, G. Hoerholdt, and G. Urbantke, as trustees, buying block 10 from a Mundine for $50 cash. The church was built on this land and dedicated on 29 Jul clear and free of debt.

Other arrivals 1883-1885

Others arrived at Lexington and became active in the church. Bernard Retzlaff had moved from Industry  to Giddings. He was active in the church there and had purchased some land. Exact date of his moving to Lexington is unknown, probably in 1883 which is when he bought some land.

Oscar Hillegeist, who was born in Harris County, arrived sometime in the 1880’s. His father, August Adolph, (1829 – 1864) came from Clausthal, Germany in 1845 at age 16. He bought land in Harris County and was working in a gun powder mill during the Civil War on Spring Creek when he was killed in an explosion in 1864. Oscar was two years old at the time. Oscar fished around Houston with his stepfather. In the late1870s he moved to Schulenburg where he worked in a lumber yard for several years before moving to Lexington. He was probably visiting his mother who had married Fritz Grusendorf. He married Johanna Gest on 20 Dec 1883 in Giddings.

Carl Bauer, a friend of the Hornungs from Unterkessach, arrived in Apr 1885 with three children, all girls, the oldest seven and the youngest three and his mother. (Naturalization papers state that the family came through New York.) His mother was very homesick and died in 1888.

Also in 1885, Robert Otto, 23, a single man, born in Homburg, Germany, came through New York. He married Pauline Letterman in 1890.

Louis Letterman came from Unterkessach, through New York, in 1892 (from naturalization papers) as a single man, age 18. His sister, Pauline, who married Robert Otto, came in  1888, at age 19. Another sister, Ernestine, came and married C. W. Raschke in Oct 1904. Louis married Pauline Bauer, daughter of Carl Bauer.

One of the first weddings of church members was that of Oscar Hillegeist and Johanna Gest. They were married 20 Dec 1883 in Giddings. The first baptism was that of Otto Retzlaff in 1885.

Let’s take a look at the families involved in 1885.

1. Carl Bauer, 32, Katherine 33, with children, Fredricka, 18, Pauline, 6, Callie, 3 and Carl’s mother.

2. Fritz Grusendorf, 66, with his new wife, Augusta Hillegeist, 67, and young John Raesener, 12.

3. Henry Grusendorf, 30, Bertha, 25, with children, Minnie, 3 and Alice, 1 (Henry moved back to Grassyville in 1886).

4. Oscar Hillegeist, 22, who married Johanna Gest, 22, in December.

5. Gottfried Hornung, 48, Christine, 44, Louis, 24, who would marry Friedricka Haussecker on 1 Jan, Willie, 18, Pauline, ?, Elise,12, and Louise, ?.

6. Robert Otto, 24, single, did not marry until 1890.

7. Franz Peterson, 40, Mary 35, with children, Marie, 13, Carl, 12, Herman, 10, Bertha, 8, Otto, 5, Albert, 3, and baby Edward born in January.

8. Adam Raesener, 31, Mary, 27, with children, Martha, 6, Annie, 3, Otto, 6 months. (Adam had just moved to Lexington.)

9. C. W. Raschke, 32, Lucy 27, with children, Clara, 9, Emma, 6, Louise, 4, Charles, 1.

10. Bernard Retzlaff, 48, Mary 30, with children, Ludwig, 10, Mary, ?, Fritz, 7, Adeline, ?, and newborn baby Otto.

11. Jacob Seifert, 44, Wilhelmine 31, with children, Emil, 11, Dora, 8, John, 4, and Augusta, 2. Frank had died the year before at age 13.

12. Gustav Urbantke, 44, Caroline 36, with children, Mary, 17, Gustav, 15, Carl, 13, Frieda, 11, Emil, 6, Alfred, 5, Helene, 3, and Hugo, 2.

Others involved in the church include

Konzelman, Christine, age 55, Dora 54.

Augusta Ahrendt, age 18, was a daughter of the Konzelmans and played the church organ for many years.

G. Hoerholdt, 27, was a trustee that signed the deed for church property in 1883. His brothers, Theo, 24, and William, 20, and himself never married. All are buried in the cemetery in unmarked graves.

Mary Nennotiel, age 20, was born in Oldenburg and arrived in America in Nov 1868 with her mother. She married Roland Bailey in 1920. She died in 1958 and is buried in the City Cemetery.

Louise Hester, 45, and her parents Leopold, 70, and Leopoline, 71, Wolf. (Louise arrived at Lexington with her parents, Leopold and Leopoline Wolf in 1857 for a visit with relatives intending to return to Germany. However, she fell in love with Nick Hester. Mr. Hester became a successful merchant whose sudden death shocked the town in 1889. He is buried at Early Chapel Cemetery. Louise took over management of the store. There are no references as to when she joined the church or if her husband joined. She was very generous because she paid $20 for two cemetery lots. Others had paid only $6/lot. She and her parents are buried in the cemetery. Her father was the first adult buried.)

Marriage of Louis Hornung, 1 Jan 1885

Fredrickia Haussecker came to America from Bittlebroun, Wuertemberg, because of a drinking step-mother. She worked in New York and lived there for several years. She met quite a few young German men who wished to marry her. But having a drinking step mother she wanted no part of alcohol. The friend that helped her come to America and was somewhat related to the Hornungs told her about Louis down in Texas. An agreement was reached that if they did not care about each other, they would not marry.

She came to Texas in Nov 1885. They met, fell in love, and were married on 1 Jan 1886 and had a wonderful life together.

On 28 Sep 1889 F. Grusendorf, J. D. Seifert, and G. Urbantke, trustees for the church, signed a deed purchasing Block 25 in the city of Lexington from Christine and Dora Konzelman for $350. This is where the parsonage was built, southwest of the church. The parsonage was not built until 1916 under Rev Homberg.

Railroad arrives, 1890

This is the year in which the railroad arrived. Lots were laid out around a city square north of the town. This was “new town” and as time passed all of the business closed in old town and moved to “new town.” The church was located in “old town.”

Fritz Grusendorf dies  Feb 1897

Fritz had traveled to Copperas Cove to visit the families of two of his daughters, Adeleid Kattner and Johanna Fickle. His first wife died in 1880 soon after moving to Lexington. His second wife died in 1895. He then made his home with C. W. Raschke, his son-in-law. Adam Raesener, his son-in-law, journeyed to Copperas Cove to administer the last rites. (Adapted from Obituary.)

Fritz was the first of the Founding Fathers to depart this life. Did his passing cause an interest in starting a cemetery? Many families were involved in his death. He had a big influence on the church at Lexington. He has thousands of descendants living today, those of Adeleid Kattner, Caroline Stuessy, and Johanna Fickel, that did not marry into the Church Family, and those of Henry, Louise Raschke, and Mary Raesener that did. And there is only one of his descendants living today with the Grusendorf name, M. L. (Marvin), living at Hewitt. I have often wondered about the dynamics in the family, with his daughter, Louise Raschke, married to, probably, the wealthiest man in the church and certainly one of the wealthiest in Lee County who is listed in The History of Texas and his daughter, Mary Raesener, married to, probably, the poorest, financially, in the church. It probably made no difference because God played such a big part in their lives. They were all rich, spiritually.

Trustees buy land for cemetery, 1898

Before the cemetery started family members were buried at other cemeteries. Fritz Grusendorf’s first wife Marie died in 1880 and is buried at Early Chapel. Those buried at Germania Cemetery include Frank Seifert, Mar 1884, Dora Seifert, 1895, Christine Bauer, (mother of Carl), Oct 1888, Augusta Grusendorf, (the second wife of Fritz), Dec 1895. There are records of an unmarked grave for a Seifert baby with no death date. Oscar Hillegeist lost two children at birth in 1885 and 1888. It is unknown where they are buried.

Carl Adlof and his wife, Caroline Hornung, lost two young children that are buried in Germania. Hugo, their fourth child, died 4 Jul 1891 at age three. Willie,  their seventh child, died at six months. No dates are marked on his grave. Ruth Haak relates that the story she heard was that these two died as a result of receiving vaccinations. These are the only known deaths in the church family from the time the church started until the cemetery was established.

Deed records show that on 3 Nov 1898 trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Lexington, G. Urbantke, F. Petersohn, C. Bauer, G. Hornung, and J. Seifert, paid $50 cash in hand and a note for $25 without interest, for two acres of land from F. Petersohn.

Emil Seifert was the secretary and kept the book from 1899 until his death. His daughter Mary kept the book after his death. When Mary was unable to keep it, Emil’s daughter, Frieda, kept the book. The Emil Seifert family kept the records for 99 years!

The first page of the cemetery book shows that G. Hornung, F. Petersohn, C. Petersohn, H. Petersohn, J. Raesener, L. Hornung, C. Raschke, G. Urbantke, B. Retzlaff, and A. Raesener each paying $6 for various lots and Mrs. L Hester paying $20 for two lots. This was a total of $80. The next lot went to O. Hillegeist in 1899. His son Gus, age 4, died 30 Apr 1899. Bernard’s son died 27 Apr 1899. The following is from the application for the historical marker.

The cemetery is located on County Road 410 just outside the city limits east of Lexington and is under the care of the Lexington Memorial Cemetery Association which was organized in 1971 with a long list of charter members. Previously, it had been cared for by the church. Most of the burials in it are of those early church members and their descendants. The names of the early families that were active in the church when the cemetery was established include: Bernard Retzlaff, Gustav Urbantke, Franz Peterson, Gottfried Hornung, Henry Grusendorf, (Fritz Grusendorf, Henry’s father had died in 1895), Adam Raesener, C. W. Raschke, Jacob Seifert, Carl Bauer, Oscar Hillegeist, Robert Otto, and Louis Letterman. All twelve of these men, their wives, and many of their descendants are buried here.

Lutheran Burials, 1899-1902

In Jul 1899 a Herklotz baby was buried and in Jul 1902 a Schweis baby was buried. Their age was not recorded. They are in unmarked graves. Why would they have been buried here? Lutherans were buried in Germania until they started their own cemetery.

Why? There is one source, John Hornung. His mother told him that the babies were not baptized and there was some disagreement. They could not be buried in the Lutheran Cemetery.

Return to the home land, 1901 & 1912

In 1901 Bernard Retzlaff and his sister returned to Germany for a visit to relatives they had not seen for nearly 50 years. (Lee County History) Records at Galveston show they returned on 12 Aug 1903. Robert and Pauline Otto returned to Germany in 1912. They were on a ship when the Titanic sank. Relatives were worried. The Titanic sank in Apr 1912. Records at Galveston show they departed from Germany on 22 Aug and arrived at Galveston on 14 Sep 1912. They were disappointed with the trip because things had changed so much back home. There must have been lots of talking at church when they got back home.

The Wedding of Alfred Urbantke and Louise Raschke, 15 Jan 1903

This must have been one of the big events in the life of the church! It had been established for 20 years.         Many youngsters in 1885 where now married with families of their own. This couple was related to nearly everyone in the church. The Raschkes were related to the Raeseners and Grusendorfs. The Urbantkes were related to the Petersons and Hornungs. Alfred’s sister had married a Seifert. One of his brothers had married a Retzlaff and another brother, a Grusendorf. There is a picture of all of the people at the church for this wedding. A joyous celebration!

Sudden Deaths, 1903-1905

Six short months after the joyous celebration of Alfred and Louise’s wedding, Louise’s mother, Mrs. C. W. Raschke, died at age 45 on 9 Jul 1903. Then, on 8 Nov 1904, the wife of Emil Seifert, Mary Urbantke Seifert, 35, died a horrible death — of rabies.

She walked barefoot in the cow pen and a cow had gone mad. This was before modern medicine. It took four to six men to hold her down under a mattress. Her half uncle, Julius Urbantke, held the funer service. Emil, 21, and Mary, 27, were married 30 Dec 1895. The story is that Emil was really in love with Mary’s younger sister, Frieda, who was 21 at this time. However, Gustav insisted that he marry the older daughter. Emil wrote the following in Mary’s “friendship book.” Was it romance? You be the judge.

To Miss Mary ——  The Bible

Behold the book whose leaves display

The truth, the life, the light, the way.

The mines of earth no treasures give

That could this volume buy.

In teaching me the way to live,

It teaches how to die.

Emil Seifert, 19 April 1892, Lexington, Lee Co.

Emil married Frieda Urbantke in July of 1907. Frieda died in childbirth in 1914. There is a story that Emil asked Gustav for the hand of another daughter. Gustav said, ”No, you have lost two of my daughters and I am not going to give you another one to lose!”

On 17 Mar 1905 Gottfried Hornung died. This sadness was followed by the joy in the birth of a grandson, John Hornung, on April 26. Wilhelmina Seifert, the wife of Jacob, was the midwife for the delivery. She caught pneumonia, the story goes, and the doctors would not treat her because she was their competition! She died on 15 May at age 53.

Weddings, 1910

On 17 Nov a double wedding was held. Alice Grusendorf, 26, and Ed Hillegeist, 23, were married. Her sister, Emma, 23, married Bernard (Ben)Retzlaff, 23. On the wedding day the weather was disagreeable – it was raining. The reception was in the yard at the Grusendorf home.

World War I and Military Service, 1918

Charter members that served in the Civil War include Jacob Seifert, Union Army, Gustav Urbantke, Confederate Army, and Bernard Retzlaff, first in the Confederate Army and then in the Union Army.

Members of the Church that served during WWI and have military markers at the Cemetery include Ernest Peterson, Robert Otto, Otto Hillegeist, and Frank Retzlaff. Others listed as veterans in A History of Lee County include Gus Bauer, Arthur Grusendorf, Louis Hornung, Otto Hornung, Arthur Peterson, Edwin Peterson, Frank Raschke, and A. G. Seifert. A. G. Seifert was called and got to San Antonio. However, the war ended and he returned home. Louis and Otto Hornung might have been in this same category. The war ended but the suffering did not. Because of the trauma they had experienced, two of these men required extensive treatment for mental problems for many, many years after the war had ended.

Confirmation Class, 1924

This was the last confirmation class that was conducted in German. The preacher was G. T. C. Doerr. Members of the class were Frieda Seifert, Clarence Raschke, Hallie Retzlaff, Rufus Urbantke, Albert Peterson, Tillie Peterson, Marie Peterson and the preacher’s daughter. Elsie Marie Peterson was related to everyone in class except Elsie and Frieda, (from Marie Peterson Weiss and Frieda Seifert Placke)

The last confirmation class was conducted by Pastor Schmidt in about 1939. The members of this class were Fred Ahrendt, Fred Raschke, Nellene Raschke, and Nelson Schmidt, the preacher’s son.

Accident, 1926

August Raschke, 39, was killed on 22 May 1926 when a boiler fell off its stand. The boiler was being moved and was to be used in a cotton gin. His son, Clarence, who had just turned 16 on 19 May witnessed the accident. August was married to Ida Peterson. They had lost a son, Homer, 6, in 1921. Other children, besides Clarence, are Mary, Hellene, and Lester. At some time, Charlie Raschke, a brother, lost an arm in a cotton gin accident.

Joy that turned into Sorrow, 1932

There was going to be a big church wedding and celebration for Hallie, the daughter of Louis Otto Retzlaff and Emma Raschke, who was marrying Edward Haug on 30 Aug 1932. When Louis arrived at the church he got out of his car, greeted Arthur Elley, the preacher, took a few steps, and fell to the ground, dead. The mother, Emma, had to be put to bed. The parents lived just across the street from the cemetery. The couple were married a short time later, after the funeral, in the home of the parents.

The Closing, 1939-1942

The Merger

The union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, or German Methodist, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South was consummated in 1939. When the two churches merged their combined strength was 244 members. The Southern church had the more adequate house of worship so it was agreed to use it. The German church had a much better parsonage, so it was put into service for the new pastor, the Rev. H. L. Leckie. Unfortunately, it burned to the ground on the night of 17 Mar 1941, with the Leckie family barely escaping with their lives. Some of the records of the two churches were lost in the fire. (From A History of Lee County.)

E. E. Schmidt, the last pastor, moved out in 1939. Rev. Leckie died shortly after the fire, in Oct 1941.

The merger occurred in 1939. However, the old church building was still being used for worship by some who could not understand English well enough to get anything out of a sermon. John Hornung reports that his mother would get nothing out of a sermon in English. Oscar Hillegeist reports that Pastor Schmidt would stay with them on Saturday night when he came to preach in German. He also preached at the Methodist Church, South in English.

Tootsie Otto, who was seven at the time, remembers the event, that Sunday morning in April. She had spent the night with her “grosspapa,” Robert Otto, and rode off to church with them. When they arrived, everyone was standing around outside. Then, she saw that holes had been drilled through the doors, a chain was put through these and locked. She remembers how her grandmother cried when she saw the lock. It was reported by Carrie Peterson that they came to church and found it locked. She remembers how Rev. Sneller, who was of German descent, came while they were standing around outside and telling them that now they would have to come to the other church where they belonged. Robert Otto became very angry and called him a “swine” for locking the church. Ruby Vance reports that Louis Hornung said something like “That   is where we belong. Let’s go.” Frieda Seifert Retzlaff was pregnant with Leon at the time. They did not tell her what was going on for fear of upsetting her. Others report that it was locked by a few older men from the “new” church and Pastor Sneller. Pastor Sneller must have felt that this needed to be done.

Ruby Vance reports that many members in the “new” church were very upset about what happened. Two carloads of men went to Bryan to discuss the situation and inform district officials that Pastor Sneller should be moved because he could no longer be effective in Lexington.

Some of the members that went to the Baptist church after the church was locked. These include the Alfred Urbantkes, the Herman Ottos, and Otto Hillegeist, his wife and son, Oscar, Ernestine Raschke and her daughter, Edna. Dorothy Louise, Otto’s daughter, went to the “new” church, where her cousins, Marie and Clara Lee, were going. Those that went to the Baptist church were known as the “Sneller” Baptists. Mrs. Robert Otto went to the Lutheran Church where they had German services. Priscilla Brister reports that her grandfather, Louis Letterman, never went to church after this. Families that went to the “new” church soon after the merger include Ben Retzlaff, his wife Emma (Grusendorf), Ed Hillegeist, and his wife Alice (Grusendorf) and their children, Minnie Seifert Ahrendt and her children, and probably others. After the closing many that had been worshipping in the old church went to the “new” church and became very active. Otto Raesener served as Sunday School Superintendent for years. Mary Seifert Otto was Sunday School Secretary for years.

Oscar Hillegeist remembers that soon after the German church was locked his Aunt Emma, Mrs. Ben Retzlaff, came to visit his mother, Mrs. Otto Hillegeist (perhaps to heal the wounds or to seek reconciliation). Oscar overheard them as they were talking. His mother started crying. She said that she thought they were treating the older people as horses or mule and just putting them out to pasture. His mother felt that they should have been more understanding of the old people that could not understand English.

Only three of the Twelve Founding Fathers were living at this point. Robert Otto died in Oct 1942; Louis Hornung in Apr 1946; Louis Letterman in Dec 1946. Robert Otto’s funeral, which was held in the home of Otto Hillegiest, his son-in law, was conducted by Rev. Makowski, assisted by Rev. Dill, the Baptist minister. A few words were spoken by Alfred Urbantke, concerning Mr. Otto’s devotion to the church. Oscar Hillegeist, Otto’s son, remembers that there were pews in the house (from the closed- church?). Robert’s wife, Pauline, went to the Lutheran Church after this where they still conducted some services in German. Her funeral services were held in the Lutheran Church.

The closing of the church was very trying on everyone. The war was going on. There was a lot of anti-German feeling. People wanted to be loyal to the United States. People wanted to be to worship in a language they could understand. There were deep feelings on all sides. Some of the people that went to the Baptist church are not buried in the German Methodist cemetery where their parents and many relatives were buried. We know that God’s people face many trials. This was a big one. Hopefully, these wounds have been healed and we, as God’s people, have been reconciled with each other, and with God.

There is nothing left of the church building. The land has been sold. However, land purchased by the Bauers, Lettermans, Hornungs, Ottos, Petersons, Retzlaffs, and Urbantkes in the 1880s and 1890s is stilled owned by descendants. Many descendants attend the United Methodist Church in Lexington and are very active lay people. The only child of the Twelve living today is John Hornung.

The Lexington Memorial Cemetery Association

When the two churches merged the cemetery belonged to the United Methodist Church. In 1971 the Lexington Memorial Cemetery Association was organized, primarily through the efforts of Gilbert Urbantke, a grand-son of Gustav Urbantke and Henry Grusendorf.

Title to the land was transferred from the United Methodist Church to the Association. There were 86 Charter Members that contributed to establish a trust fund to maintain the Cemetery. There was worry and concern about the future of the cemetery, but thanks to Gilbert and the other Charter Members the interest from this trust fund has maintained the cemetery in satisfactory condition.

From the constitution-


The purpose and aim of this association shall be to put the Memorial Cemetery in good condition, and maintain the property in good condition. Secondly, to work toward the improvement of the road to the cemetery, making it accessible by automobile at all times. Thirdly, to consider and deal with other items of matters relative to Memorial Cemetery, and history of German Methodist Church and Community.

Ministers that served

Ott 1881 – 1884

Julius Urbantke 1886 – 1889

Kleinknecht 1901 – 1905

Groth 1909

Homberg 1909 – 1916

Makowski, W. 1916 – 1923

Elley 1927 – 1930

Schleckte, C. W. 1932 – 1925

Bohmfalk, B. 1935 – 1937

Schmidt, E. E. 1937 – close. (From conference books.)

The congregation was served by the following pastors: Jacob Ott, G. Urbantke, H. Pape, Julius Urbantke, Louis Kappenhagen, John Kleinknecht, J. C. Groth, F. Reitz, William Felsing, Albert Liefeste, H. Homburg, G. T. R. C. Doerr, and four unverified – Arthur Elley, C. W. Schlechte, Ben Bohmfalk, and E. E. Schmidt. (From newspaper article by Ernest Hornung. This is the same list as in A History of Lee County.)

Ott, Urbantke, Pape, Urbantke, Koppenhagen, Kleinknecht, Groth, Reetz, Makowski, Doerr, Elley, Schlechte, Bohmfalk and Schmidt (From another newspaper list.)


One thing about the German Methodist Church in Lexington that made an important, lasting impression on me was the fact that the very early committed pastors encouraged the practice of family devotions. All the families that I was associated with held a family devotion each morning and each evening after meals. I remember when I spent one night I with a girl cousin who had five brothers, 1 was astonished when immediately after supper there was no devotional! My disappointment was relieved, however, when at bed-time, Uncle John called the family together for their devotional. All the boys sat on the floor with their toes pointing toward the center. Then I realized that a devotional can be held at different times. (Marie Peterson Weiss.)

Memories – I have fond memories of the Sunday School picnics down at the Seiferts branch. The lemonade was made in a large wooden barrel. No lemonade ever tasted as wonderful as that lemonade. (Goldie Elley Short)

I will never forget that wonderful lemonade. (Carl Letterman)

Each Christmas there was a huge tree reaching almost to the ceiling, a cedar of huge circumference. I can recall standing under it and giving a long “recitation.” There was always a large sack of fruit and candy under the tree for each child, even the visitors.

Everyone in the church attended Sunday School. Since there was only one building naturally all the classes were here in it. Sunday school ended with each child and some adults standing before all and reciting a Bible verse learned that week.

Before unification of the two churches in 1939, the Lexington church was served on half-time basis with the pastor also serving Cook’s Point, out from Caldwell. The parsonage was in Lexington. I recall that during Brother Makowski’s years, our family lived out on a farm on String Prairie. Brother Makowski would stop for a visit with us before continuing in his buggy toward Cook’s Point. He always played a game of ball with us.

This was on Saturday afternoon, and he spent the night with some parishioners at Cook’s Point.

The west side of the church was the men’s side and the east side for the women and young children. The mothers came prepared, and put a light quilt on the floor where her child could sleep if there was no room on the pew.

Two lay preachers who took turns preaching on the Sundays when the minister was gone were Ernest Peterson and Alfred Urbantke. They were both always eager to bring the word. The congregation always all attended, regardless of who was preaching. (Marie Hillegeist Hornung)

The Twelve

1. Bauer, Carl; 27 Oct 1852 – 13 Apr 1937 married on 13 Jun 1876 to Katherine Shimel; 21 Apr 1852 – 26 Nov 1942.


Friedericka; 14 Sep 1877 – 30 Apr 1952 @ Three Rivers

Pauline; 25 Sep 1879 – 10 Mar 1960 @ Lexington

Carrie; Apr 1882

Frieda; Mar 1887

Julius; Oct 1889

Gustav; Jan 1893

Ernest; 17 Feb 1895 – 5 Nov 1977 @ Lexington

Marriages inside the church family

Friedericka married Christian Friedle.

Pauline married Louis Letterman.

Other marriages

Ernest married Agnes Leutz.

Carrie married a Weichmann, then August Pape (brother to Charlie, that married Louise Hornung) at Cost.

Frieda married Anton Muenzler (grandson of Andreas Muenzler) and lived at Three Rivers.

Julius married Lucy Leutz (sister of Agnus that married Ernest) and moved to Three Rivers and Gonzales Nursing Home.

Gustav Carl married Bertha Bahlman of Cost, (to Veterans Hospital – Little Rock, AR) lived at Lexington.

Emest, lived at Three Rivers.

Carl Frederick was born in Unterkessack, Baden, Germany, 17 Oct 1852, baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran faith. His father and only brother died there. Mr. and Mrs. Bauer came direct from Germany with the three older children and his mother arriving at New York on 2 Apr 1885, on the Westlanert, which sailed from Antwerp, Belgium. (According to naturalization papers.) They went directly to Lexington where a friend from Unterkessack, Gottfried Hornung, had settled earlier. A step-sister went to Pennsylvania.

He farmed the first year and made one bale of cotton on two acres. He bought land from Vick a couple of years later. The family joined the Methodist church on 25 May 1885 and were ardent church workers. The family farm is north of Lexington and still owned by descendants.

Christine Bauer, Carl’s mother is buried at Germania Cemetery. She died on 15 Mar 1888 at the age of 80. It was reported that she was very unhappy in the new country and wanted to return home.

Katherine Bauer’s funeral services were conducted by Rev. Foerster (Fritz, that married a daughter of Adam Raesener?) of Monthalia, assisted by Arthur Williams pastor of Lexington Methodist, and Rev. Elley of Moody. She died in the home of her daughter, Mrs. August Pape on 26 Nov 1942 in Gonzales County, near Cost, where she had spent the last six years of her life. She was born in Wuertemberg.

2. Grusendorf, Fritz; 11 Jul 1819 – 7 Feb 1897 married on 29 Aug 1847 to Marie Hartung; 6 Feb 1823 – 8 Nov 1880; married on 1 Oct 1881 to Augusta Hillegeist; 24 Dec 1895 (tombstone says 28 Dec).


Caroline; 1848, who married Louis Stuessy (dates from Henry’s application).

Adeleid; 1853, who married Robert Kattner.

Henry August; 29 Sep 1855 – 23 Aug 1939, married Bertha Ebers on 8 Aug 1878.

Louise Frances; 27 May 1858 – 9 Jul 1903, married C.W. Raschke on 14 Jan 1876.

Mary; 27 May 1858 – 14 Oct 1911, married Adam Raesener on 1 Jan 1877.

Johanna; 28 Oct 1860 – 29 Aug 1897, married William Fickel on 5 Nov 1903.

3. Grusendorf, H. A. (Henry); 29 Sep 1855 – 23 Aug 1939, married on 8 Aug 1878 to Bertha Ebers; 16 Jan 1860 – 22 Feb 1925.


Lydia; Jul 1879 – 1880

Minnie; 27 Apr 1882 – 4 Apr 1937

Alice; 2 Aug 1884 – 21 Jan 1949 @ Lexington

Emma; 20 Jan 1887 – 30 Jul 1973 @ Lexington

Clara; 6 Jan 1889 – 21 Feb 1963 @ Lexington

Mary; 2 Dec 1890 – 26 Apr 1954

Will; 28 Jun 1893 – 29 Jun 1971

Arthur; 1 Oct 1895 – 1 Feb 1983

Linda; 7 Apr 1898 – 27 Jun 1978

Henry; 16 Jan 1901 – 8 Dec 1972

Bertha ; 19 Jul 1903 – 1 Jun 1990

Marriages inside the church family

Minnie married Emil Urbantke, son of Gustav, in 1902.

Alice married Ed Hillegeist, son of Oscar on 17 Nov 1910 (double wedding).

Emma married Ben Retzlaff, son of Bernard on 17 Nov 1910 (double wedding).

Mary married Otto Retzlaff, son of Bernard on 7 Jan 1909.

H. A.’s sister, Louise, married C. W. Raschke and sister, Mary, married J. Adam Raesener.

Other Marriages

Will married Minnie Boehme, step-daughter of Adam Raesener, on 12 Jun 1916 and Dora Alexander on 3 Nov 1962.

Arthur married Meda Glatzner on 23 Dec 1920.

Arthur married Adeline Neighbors on 26 Aug 1958.

Arthur married Roberta Johnston Carson.

Linda married Will Makowski on 16 Feb 1921.

Henry married Frieda Makowski on 21 Mar 1925.

Bertha married Ed Makowski on 6 Jan 1925.

* (The Makowskis were preacher’s children, Inside the Church Family.)

Frederick was born in Gifhorn, Hanover, Germany. He landed at Indianola on 18 Aug 1845 (according to application of Arthur) or 1846 (according to his obit) on the Everhart. He went to New Braunfels and married Marie Christine Hartung on 29 Jul 1847.

Marie Christine was born in Schallenberg, Germany. She came with her parents, Johanna, and Justina in 1844 to Galveston. From there they went to Indianola. They were going to Fredericksburg, but stopped and built at New Braunfels. They were married on 29 Aug 1847. In 1850 they moved to Bastrop. In 1853, at age 34, he was converted and joined the Methodist church. He never lost his child like faith. In 1855 they moved to Grassyville with 7-year-old Caroline and two-year-old Adeleid. The following is from a paper by Ed Makowski, Jr.

Fredrick Grusendorf and his brother-in-law Ludwig Hartung formed a partnership in 1871 for the purpose of building and operating a gin, grist mill, and a saw mill on a four-acre tract. This was part of the 172-acre tract purchased by Fredrick in 1866 from his older brother Heinrich. Grusendorf purchased Hartung ‘s interest in 1876 and in 1879 sold the property.

In 1872 Adam Raesener arrived with his parents and a brother named Henry. Both of the parents died the year after arriving and left a 6-month old baby named John. The Grusendorf family took the baby and raised him as one of their own.

Henry, 23, married Bertha Ebers, 18, in Grassyville on 8 Aug 1878, with Bertha’s brother, Reverend Herman Ebers, officiating. Fritz and Henry moved to Lexington in 1879 with their families. Lydia was born in Jul 1879. In November of that year they were visited by Henry ‘s sister, and her husband, Rev. Adam Raesener. The Raeseners were on their way to assignment in Victoria. Marie died on 8 Nov 1880 and is buried at Early Chapel cemetery. There is no record of Lydia’s grave in the Early Chapel Cemetery records

Fritz married Augusta Hillegeist on 1 Oct 1881. She was married to the father of Oscar Hillegeist, then to Peter Cramer in 1866, then to Wilhelm Reuter in 1873, and later was married to Fritz’s brother, Henry August Grusendorf who lived in Grassyville and was postmaster for a time. (This is from information from Emma Urbantke. Hillegeist data does not say she ever married Fritz’s brother.) She died on 24 Dec 1895 according to the obituary and is buried at Germania. The tombstone says 28 Dec.

Henry moved back to Grassyville in 1886 and returned to Lexington in 1891 and bought a 200-acre farm on String Prairie. The east boundary of the farm was the west boundary of the Early Chapel Cemetery. The farm was sold in 1915 and Henry moved to town. (According to Arthur’s application. Conflicts with paper by Marie Hillegeist Hornung which says that her mother, Alice, was born in Grassyville.)

Fritz was a trustee for the church when it started in 1882 and signed the deed for the property in 1883. He must have started a grist mill. Henry operated the mill and blacksmith shop for most of his life. His son-in-law, Ben Retzlaff took over the business.

During his last years Fritz made his home with his daughter and her husband, C. W. Raschke. His children saw that he lacked nothing. In February of 1897 he went to see his daughters, Adeleid and Johanna, who lived in Copperas Cove. He became ill and died on 7 Feb 1897 and is buried there. His son-in-law, Rev. Adam Raesener administered and led in the last honors.

Fritz had a big influence on the church at Lexington. He has thousands of descendants living today, those of Adeleid Kattner, Caroline Stuessy, and Johanna Fickel, that did not marry into the Church Family, and those of Henry, Louise Raschke, and Mary Raesener that did. And there is only one of his descendants living today with the Grusendorf name, M. L. (Marvin), living at Hewitt. I have often wondered about the dynamics in the family with Louise married to, probably, the wealthiest man in the church and one of the wealthiest in Lee County who is listed in The History of Texas and Mary married to, probably, the poorest, financially, in the church.

Arthur, Henry’s son was president of Blinn College for a time. After that he was a professor at Southwest Texas State College at San Marcos. The following is from his application for membership to the Sons of the Republic of Texas.

In 1850 the Friederich Grusendorf family moved to the town of Bastrop, where they purchased 51 acres of land. In July 1855 my grandparents moved to the Grassyville community. My parents, Henry August and Bertha Florance (Ebers) Grusendor (were married 8 Aug 1878, my uncle, Reverend Herman Ebers, officiating. They moved to Lexington, Texas in 1879. Their first child, Lydia, was born that year and died in infancy. She was buried at Early Chapel cemetery. My parents moved back to Grassyville in 1886. In 1891 they moved back to Lexington and bought a 200-acre farm from J. N. and Elisa Smith. I was born on that farm on 1 Oct 1895. The east boundary of that farm is the west boundary of Early Chapel Cemetery. My parents sold the farm in 1915 and moved to the town of Lexington.

4. Hillegeist, E. O. (Oscar); 17 Nov 1862 – 6 Jan 1931 married on 20 Dec 1883 to Johanna Gest; 6 Apr1862 – 10 Nov 1947.


Baby; 8 Apr 1885 – 8 Apr 1885 @ unknown

Eddie; 12 Dec 1886 – 3 Dec 1971 @ Lexington

Ernest; 19 Oct 1888 – [?] 1888 @ unknown

Laura; 30 Sep 1889 – 13 Oct1953 @ Lexington – exhumed, moved to Lexington City cemetery

Otto; 31 Jan 1893 – 27 Jul l964 @ Lexington

Gus; 19 Mar 1895 – 30 Apr 1899 @ Lexington

Adele; 13 Oct 1898 – 22 Sep 1975 @ Lexington

Vernon; 16 Sep 1903 – 9 Feb 1986 @ California.

Marriages inside the church family

Eddie married Alice Grusendorf on 17 Nov 1910, daughter of Henry Grusendorf.

Otto married Pauline Otto, daughter of Robert Otto on 21 Mar 1921.

Other marriages

Laura married Henry Fickel, grandson of Fritz Grusendorf on 25 Nov 1909.

Adelene married Charlie Campbell on 15 Feb 1942.

Vernon married Jewel Bexley on 1 Sep 1923.

Vernon married Dorothy Ellis.

Laura was buried at the German Methodist cemetery. However, her body was exhumed by her husband and moved to the city cemetery. (Because there was not room for him to be buried beside her, according to his daughter.)

Johanna Gest was a sister to the father of Selma Seifert, Mrs. Max Herklotz, Mrs. Frank Ahrendt, etc.

Oscar’s father, August Adolph (1829-1884), was born in Clausthal, Germany. When he was 16 years old, 1845, the family left Germany for the United States. In 1854 he had settled on 160 acres in Harris County, which he later received as a homestead grant. August married Augusta Hessing, on 8 Feb 1855. Augusta was born in Darmstadt, Germany on 29 Nov 1834. Oscar, the 3rd of 3 children, was born on 17 Nov 1862. In 1864 Oscar’s father was killed in a gun powder mill explosion before Oscar was 2 years old.

His mother remarried a Peter Cramer in 1866. They lived in Houston’s second ward where Peter was a porter. It is unknown what happened to him. She married a third time to Wilhelm Reuter in 1873. She married a fourth time to Fritz Grusendorf on 27 Jan 1880.* Augusta died on 28 Dec 1895 and is buried at the Germania Cemetery. *(Page 22-25 in a book about the Hillegeist family. This was not footnoted while other events were. It conflicts with date in Fritz’s obituary, 1 Oct 1881 and dates from Emma Urbantke. His first wife did not die until 8 Nov 1880. Emma Urbantke’s data says that Augusta married Henry August Grusendorf, Fritz’s brother, before she married Fritz.)

Oscar and his stepfather fished the bayous around Houston. In the late 1870s he moved to Schulenburg where he worked in a lumber yard for several years. Later, he moved to Lexington, (to be near his mother who had married Fritz Grusendorf?) where he met his future wife, Johanna Gest. They were married on 20 Dec 1883. They were both 21 at the time. He was a farmer and joined the Methodist church. The first land transaction was in 1906 in the Johnson survey, out String Prairie road.

Other Data

(There is a Vernon Hillegeist- baby- buried no dates in a Bexley family plot at Lexington city cemetery. There are no records of graves of two babes born in 1885 and in 1888. Gus was the second burial in the cemetery.)

5. Hornung, Louis; 16 Jan 1861 – 21 Apr 1946, married on 1 Jan 1886 to Friedericka Haussecker; 11 Jul 1864 – 14 Oct 1941.


Lulu; Sept 1886 – 1977

William; 12 Jan 1888 – Sep 1942

Emma; 19 Oct 1890 – 14 Feb 1972 @ Lexington

Henry; 9 Oct 1892 – 26 Nov 1923 @ Lexington

Mary; 27 May 1894 – 2 Aug 1977 @ Lexington

Louis; 29 Sep 1896 – 11 Apr 1963 @ Lexington

Herman; 11 Sep 1898 – 19 Feb 1958 @ Lexington (DOB on census shows Jun 99.)

Otto; 5 Jan 1901 – 12 Jun 1970 @ Lexington

John; 4-16-1905


Lulu married Rev. A. E. Elley, who served Lexington at one time.

William married Annie Menking, went to Three Rivers.

John married Myna Watson.

Emma lived at Robstown.

Herman lived at Ramona, Oklahoma.

Mary, Louis, and Otto lived at Lexington. None of these married.

Gottfried Hornung; 24 Feb 1837 – 17 Mar 1905 married Christine Weeber; 31 May 1841 – 4 Sep 1915.


Carl; died in Unterkessah at age 6 or 7

Louis; 16 Jan 1861 – 21 Apr 1946 @ Lexington

Caroline; 13 Jul 1863 – 16 Apr 1917 @ Gonzales

Willie; 19 Sep 1867 – 15 Aug 1945


Eliza; 15 Jun 1873 – 10 Dec 1916 @ Lexington


Marriages inside church family

Willie married Mary Peterson, daughter of Franz, on 29 Dec 1892 and lived in Gonzales.

Eliza married Herman Peterson, son of Franz, and lived in Lexington.

Other marriages

Caroline married Carl Adlof, lived at Cooks Point, then Gonzales County.

Pauline married Willie Loehr and lived at Cooks Point, Caldwell County; married Jessie Hadox.

Carl died at an early age.

Louise married Chas. Pape and lived at Monthalia.

Gottfried was born in Unterkessach, the son of Johann Heinrich Hornung. Johann’s sister, Susanna, had married Andreas Muenzler, and this couple came to Industry in 1846. Gottfried came to this country in 1881, at age 44, with his wife and 6 children and went to Industry. Gottfried and Andreas’ sons-in-law, Gustav Urbantke and Franz Peterson, traveled to Lexington and bought land. Gottfried and Franz signed deeds on 22 Dec 1881. Gustav signed a deed on 21 Dec. All three deeds were recorded in Giddings on Dec 23. They were probably on the way back to Industry to celebrate Christmas. This land has remained in the families of these men until today.

Gottfried was one of the organizers of the church and served as trustee.

Selections from booklet, William Heinrich Hornung 1867-1945, written 15 Nov 1945 by Rev W. L. Hornung

…They lived in village of Unterkessach, in Province of Baden, Gernany not far from the Black Forest and about 16 miles from the university town of Heidelberg. In May 1881 the family said farewell to friends, took train to Rhein, steamer to New York, across country to Columbus where they arrived in Jun 1881 and were met by relatives and friends at Industry. They made their home with grandfather’s Uncle Andreas Muenzler.

…. The very hot summer, was followed by a wet fall and newcomers were sick for the paved roads of the homeland.

…Willie was confirmed in the Lutheran Church under ministry of pastor Gerstman at Rockhouse. Later he with family united with Methodist Church at Industry, Father spoke of a great religious experience which came to him at a camp meeting near Paige, Texas during the pastorate of Rev Wm. Moers 1889-1891. This completely dominated his later life.           

…The chief reason they left the homeland was aversion to a military system which exploited the country. Another reason was that Methodist ministers who had connections in America came to the village and spoke in glowing terms of the US as a paradise of opportunity for the common man. Our folks brought over $1200 in gold which represented their earthly possessions. In the fall of 1882 the Hornung and Peterson families moved to Lexington.

…In the fall of 1897 father (Willie) traveled by wagon to western Gonzales County, three miles from the post office of Monthalia.

…At the funeral service Rev. W. Froehner led prayer. Rev. A. F. Foerster read scripture. Rev. Buehrer spoke the prayer. Rev. Wm. Sievers spoke in the mother tongue.

Goldie Elley Short relates the story of her grandmother:

Friedricka Haussecker came to America from Bittlebroun, Wuertemberg, because of a drinking step-mother. She worked in New York and lived there for several years. She met quite a few young German men who wished to marry her. But having a drinking step mother she wanted no part of alcohol. The friend that helped her come to America and was somewhat related told her about Louis Hornung, down in Texas. An agreement was reached that if they did not care about each other, they would not marry. She came to Texas in November 1885. They met, fell in love, and were married on 1 Jan 1886. They were always grateful for their meeting and for coming to the US. They loved each other very much and had a great love for their grand-children, and we for them.

The following is selected and adapted from the obituary of Mrs. L Hornung, Sr:

Mrs. Hornung was born 11 Jul 1864 in Bittlebroun, Wuertemberg, Germany and came to America in March 1884. She stayed several months in Brooklyn and then two years in Albany, New York. She came to Texas in Nov 1885 and married Louis on 1 Jan 1886.She became a charter member of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Lexington. She died 14 Oct 1941, age 79, at her home after ill health for several years. Funeral services were conducted by Rev. W. L. Hornung, a nephew, Rev. E. E. Schmidt, and Rev. F. R. Dill assisted.

Louis was one of the last of the Charter Members to die. He was a very successful farmer and outstanding community member. The farm is still operated by his son, John Hornung. In 1998 this farm was inducted into the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Family Land Heritage Program.

6. Otto, Robert; 2 Nov 1861 – 23 Oct 1942, married Pauline Letterman; 6 Sep 1869 – 20 Aug 1960.


Robert; 4 May 1892 – 9 Feb 1969 @ Lexington

Pauline; 24 May 1895 – 9 Sep 1964 @ Lexington

Louise; Dec 1898

Herman; 8 Sep 1901 – 1993 @ Lexington City Cemetery

Marriages inside the church family

Robert married Mary Seifert, granddaughter of Jacob Seifert on 14 Feb 1955.

Herman married Elnora Seifert, granddaughter of Jacob Seifert on 5 Dec 1933.

Pauline married Otto Hillegeist, son of Oscar Hillegeist on 21 Mar 1921.

Mother Pauline was a sister to Louis Letterman and Ernestine Raschke, wife of C. W. Raschke.

Other marriages

Louise married a Unfried and moved to California.

Robert came from Grimma, Saxony at age 24. In his naturalization papers he states he was born in Homberg, and arrived in New York in Nov 1885 on the California which sailed from Saxony. He came directly to Lexington in 1885. Other relatives came, including a brother, Alfred, who came in 1900. He was a farmer near Gustav Urbantke. He married Pauline in 1890. She came to US in 1888, at age 19. Tootsie remembers her writing to relatives in Germany.

Deed records show that the first land he purchased was in October of 1893 from Perry. They built a home which is still standing. Descendants still own some of this property. Herman and Robert farmed on String Prairie. Louise moved to California.

The couple went back to Germany and were disappointed because things had changed so much. They were on the ship when the Titanic sank. Relatives were worried. The Titanic sunk in Apr 1912, which would have been 22 years after marriage. Records at Galveston show that they departed from Germany on 22 Aug 1912 and arrived in Galveston on 14 Sep.

Robert died on 23 Oct 1942. Because the church had been locked in March his funeral was held at Otto Hillegeist’s house. The service was conducted by Rev. Makowski, who served at Lexington from 1917-1922, and Rev. Dill from the Baptist church. Pauline Otto went to the Lutheran church after the closing. Her funeral service was conducted by the Lutheran minister.

7. Peterson, Franz; 20 Aug 1845 – 1 Jul 1929, married in Jan 1871 to Mary Muenzler; 11 Dec 1850 – 22 Sep 1911.


Marie; 19 Feb 1872 – died @ Gonzales

Carl (Charlie); 12 Nov 1873 – 1964 @ Lexington

Herman; 15 Sep 1875 – 11 Jan 1944 @ Lexington

Bertha; 14 Dec 1877 – 9 May 963 @ Rosenberg

Otto; 21 Apr 1880 – 9 Aug 1957 @ Lexington

Albert; 25 Oct 1882

Edward; 21 Jan 1885 – 29 Dec 1968 @ Beeville

Adolph; 1 Apr 1887 – 1979 @ Lexington

Ida; 27 Jan 1890 – 25 Sep 1978 @ Houston, buried @ Lexington

Ernest; 15 May 1892 – 20 Jul 1973 @ Lexington

Marriages inside the church family

Franz’s wife was sister to wife of G. Urbantke.

Marie married Willie Hornung on 29 Dec 1892 and moved to Gonzales in fall of 1897.

Charlie married a Willenberg – related to Raeseners in 1896.

Herman married Elisa Hornung, daughter of Gottfried Hornung in 1895, remarried ??.

Bertha married John Raesener, brother of Adam Raesener on 28 Oct 1897 (by Adam).

Adolph married Augusta Retzlaff, daughter of Bernhard Retzlaff in 1910.

Edward married Emma Retzlaff, daughter of Bernhard Retslaff on 27 Jan 1910.

Ida married August Raschke, son of C. W. Raschke.

Ernest married Carrie Friedel, granddaughter of Carl Bauer.

Ernest Hornung, son of Marie née Peterson Hornung, grandson of Franz Peteson married Anne Weichmann, granddaughter of Carl Bauer.

Other marriages

Albert married and moved to Calififornia.

Otto married Emma Zarth.

Franz was born in Anhalt, Dessau, Zens, Germany on 20 Aug 1845 according to family records. However, his naturalization application shows that he was born in Senst and his last residence was Koswig. He was a weaver. He came to this country on 5 May 1870 at age 25, to Galveston from Bremen on the Frankfort. He worked on the farm of Andreas Muenzler in Industry and fell in love. He married Andreas daughter, Marie, age 20, in Jan 1871. While living in Industry he must have farmed with his father-in-law. He came to Lexington in the fall of 81 with Gustav Urbantke his sister-in-law’s husband, and Gottfried Hornung, a cousin of his wife. All three bought land and recorded it on the same day, 23 Dec 1881. He bought the land from H. D. Vick in the Morrow survey. In 1882 they set out for Lexington with five children, the oldest 11 and the youngest about two. Family papers show that Albert was born in Industry on 25 Oct 1882.

After moving to Lexington, Franz was one of the organizers of the Methodist Episcopal church along with Gustav Urbantke and Gottfried Hornung in 1882. They met in the Baptist church until a church was build and dedicated on 29 Jul 1883. On 3 Nov 1898 he sold two acres of land in the Thomas Morris Survey to the German Methodist Episcopal Church for use as a cemetery. Trustee for the church at that time were G. Urbantke, F. Peterson, C. Bauer, G. Hornung and J. Seifert. Franz and his sons, Charlie and Herman bought the first lots when the cemetery started. He was very active in the church, being a deacon for 21 years. He farmed at Lexington. He and his wife were one of the few families that did not lose any children. All ten children were alive when Franz died in 1931. However, Ida Raschke had lost her husband. The Peterson family was at the heart of the church family. Eight of the ten children married within the church. His faith is must have been an inspiration to his descendants, especially those that entered the ministry. Those that entered the ministry are listed below under other data.

Other Data

Descendants that entered the ministry:

Donald Raschke, son of Clarence, son of August & Ida Peterson, great grandson of Franz Peterson.

Gloria Voges Lear, daughter of Emma Voges, daughter of Edward, great granddaughter of Franz Peterson.

Warren Hornung, son of Ernest, a son of Willie Hornung & Mary Peterson, great grandson of Franz Peterson.

Walter Hornung, son of Willie Hornung and Marie Peterson, grandson of Franz Peterson.

Calvin Peterson, son of Arthur, son of Charlie, great grandson of Franz Peterson.

Arthur Carl Peterson, son of Charlie, grandson of Franz Peterson (1897 – 1976)

Albert Peterson, son of Charlie, grandson of Franz Peterson (1910 – 1992)

Elmer Elzey, son of Louise, grandson of Ernest Peterson, great grandson of Franz Peterson

Spouses of descendants that are ministers include Joe Baisden, Neil Bockelmann, Elmer Elzey, and Don


8. Raesener, J. A. (Adam); 4 Jan 1854 – 2 Feb 1931, married on 1 Jan 1877 to Mary (Maria) Grusendorf; 27 May 1858 – 14 Oct 1911; then married in 1912 Lina née Eckert Boehm; 17 Feb 1863 – 12 Jun 1933.


Lydia, Nov 1877 – 1 Jan 1880

Martha, 12 Oct 1879 – 1977

Annie, 1882 – 1978

Otto, 31 Dec 1884 – 23 Mar 1961 @ Lexington

Rosie, 1887 – 1965

Carrie, 1889 – 1978

Mollie, 1891 – 1973

Henry, 1893 – 1956

Herman, 1896 – 1954

Willie “Bill,” 1899 – 1962

Marriages inside the church family

Adam married Mary Grusendorf, sister to Henry Grusendorf and sister to C. W. Raschke’s wife.

Adam married Lina née Eckert Boehm, who was mother of W. F. Grusendorf’s wife.

Otto married Augusta Urbantke, daughter of Gustav Urbandtke on 21 Nov 1907.

John, Adam’s brother, married Bertha Peterson, daughter of Franz Peterson in 1898. He was living in Needville at the time of Adam’s death.

Other marriages

Martha married John Kielman, then married a Jeffery and lived in Copperas Cove. They have an adopted daughter, Louise Jeffery.

Annie married N. B. Willenberg who died 4 Dec 1908 @ Lexington, then married Charles Pluenneke and lived in Castell.

Carrie married Edward Fluth and lived in San Antonio.

Rosie married a minister, Fritz Foerster, and lived in Manor. Fritz was a great nephew of Gustav Urbantke. His mother sent him to America to learn to farm. He read scripture for the funeral service of Willie Hornung on 15 Aug 1945 and died 20 days later on 5 Sep 1945.

Mollie married a minister, Alvin Vetter, and lived in Chappel Ranch.

Henry married Jewell Pluenneke.

Herman married Nell Lehmburg.

Willie “Bill” married Selma Hoffinan, and lived at Llano.

The obituary for Mary lists nine children. Lydia died as a child. There was no Martha listed but a Mrs. John Kielman. She must have remarried later before Adam died because in his obit she is listed as Martha Jeffery.

Adam was born in Muehlenhausen, Germany on 4 Jan 1854 and arrived in America at Galveston on 2 Nov 1872 with his father, mother and brother Henry. They left Bremen on 2 Sep 1872 and sailed on the Iris. They settled at Rabbs Creek, Lee County, Texas. They left 3 brothers and sisters in Germany. Both parents died within eight weeks of each other during the first year. They left a six-month old child, John. The Fritz Grusendorf family took the child and raised him.

Adam joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1874. On 1 Jan 1877 he married Mary Grusendorf at Grassyville near Paige. (This Methodist church was established in 1856. A parsonage was built but no special building for worship, which was held in the homes of members. In 1875 they met to discuss the building of the church, Adam’s name is not listed. From the History of Lee County.)

In 1878 the annual conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was held at Grassyville. Adam was called and entered the Southern Conference in 1878. He was given Schulenburg as his first charge. He was not very successful there. He was asked to take over Victoria for the last quarter of the year. The next conference was held in Industry in November of 1879. Here he was accepted on trial in the conference. He was assigned to Victoria. The following is from his diary:

… In this God forsaken country it was again proven that all beginning is hard. I myself (still new and inexperienced know no one with whom I could enjoy the communion with God my Savior. The people who should have come to the services, I had to look up first.

… After many obstacles Nathan Mann finished the next quarter year for me …

Our next conference met in Industry … in Nov 1879. Here I was accepted on trial in the conference …

For my pastorate, I was assigned Victoria with $300 mission money. Under the greatest difficulties we, I, my wife and child, undertook the trip from Lexington, the place where my parents in law were living, to Victoria. We arrived there8 Dec, and the same month God blessed us with a baby girl, who at baptism was named Martha Maria Cornelia. The first of January we were stricken with a great tragedy! Our Lydia was taken from us by death. She died 1 Jan, 8 PM at the age of 2 years, 1 month, and 11 days. As I couldn’t get a pastor to perform the necessary functions, I had to do it myself A hard task for me. That was the first work I had to do in Victoria. Bury my own child! Hope to see each other in heaven.

He served in Lavaca County, Victoria, Hochheim, and was serving in Dallas when he was compelled to retire in 1885. He moved to Lexington at this time at the age of 31 and started farming. Deed records show that he bought property in Dec 1894 in the Clemons Survey. This was 105 acres out on the old Belton road north of Lexington.

Land transactions show there was a release to John F. Raesener from Blinn College in 1921 signed by Gus F. Urbantke, Treasurer. This was land he had bought in 1908. See other data, census of 1900.

According to the obituary of his father-in-law after notifying the relatives of his death, he (Adam) journeyed to Copperas Cave to administer and lead in the last honors that were bestowed. This was in 1897. On 28 Oct 1897 he was the minister for the marriage of his brother, John, and Bertha Peterson. Adam’s wife died in 1911 at the age of 53. He remarried in 1912 and remained at Lexington for the rest of his life. His health was not good. He must have been the poorest of the twelve, and his wife’s sister was married to the richest man in town.

9. Raschke, C. W. (Charles); 27 May 1853 – 22 Dec 1938, married on 14 Jan 1876 to Louise F. Grusendorf; 27 May 1858 – 9 Jul 1903 and in Oct 1904 married Ernestine Letterman; 4 Apr 1873 – 2 Nov 1943.


Clara; 21 Oct 1876 – 12 Mar 1915

Emma; 14 Jan 1879 – 21 Feb 1963 @ Lexington

Louise; 7 Apr 1881 – 3 Sep 1967 @ Lexington, City

Charles; 2 Feb 1884 – 12 Sep 1952

August; 7 Sep 1886 – 22 May 1926 @ Lexington

William; 12 Mar 1889 – 15 Jan 1979

Fritz; 11 Jul 1892 – 27 Nov 1975 @ Lexington, City

Flora; 24 May 1896 – 18 Dec 1967

Bismark; 26 Jan 1897

Second Marriage:

Edna; 1 Feb 1908 – 13 Feb 1989 @ Lexington

Marriages inside the church family

C. W. married Louise Grusendorf, daughter of Fritz Grusendorf and sister to Mrs Adam Raesener. After Louse’s death C. W. married Ernestine Letterman, sister to Louis Letterman and Mrs Robert Otto.

Louise (Lizzy) married Alfred Urbantke, son of Gustav Urbantke on 15 Jan 1903. They had three children.

August married Ida Peterson, daughter of Franz Peterson on 21 Jan 1909. They had four children.

Emma married Ludwig Retzlaff, son of Bernhard Retzlaff on 8 Jan 1905. They had four children.

Other marriages

Charlie married Amanda Olson, 20 Sep 1884 – 22 Sep 1923. They had three children. He was a cotton ginner.

Charlie also married Mittie Seal.

Fritz married Mary Homburg, a preacher’s daughter, (he served Lexington from 1909 until 1916) and lived at Lexington and worked in the gin.

William married Martha Hahn and moved to San Antonio and was an engineer.

Flora married Fred Buehrer and lived in Brenham. They had one child. He/she was a store manager.

Clara married D. A. Fisher and lived in Brenham. They had four children.

Bismark married Myrtle Horner and lived in Baytown.

Edna married Larkin West and lived in Lexington.

C. W. was born in Prussia (Bochow, Brandenburg, Prussia, the son of Charles and Ernestine (Graf). His father was a bookkeeper for a mining concern. There were three other children, August, Caroline, and Ida. After his father died in Germany and his mother came to America in 1881, she married Paul Schulze and is buried in the cemetery at Grassyville. Her brother, Carl Graf and his wife, Caroline were living in Giddings where Carl was employed as a bartender and store keeper. C. W. was employed on a farm in Germany for 2 years. He left for the New World in Jun 1869 only 16 years old. He spent a short time in New Your, went to Florida, didn’t like it, on to Galveston, then to Serbin. In his naturalization papers he states that he arrived at Galveston in Jun 1869 on the Eugenia which left Hamburg on Apr 21. (Is this a conflict with other documents?) For a year he was employed in saw mill and blacksmith work. Then he engaged in mill operations at Grassy Creek. He had his first experience in the cotton gin business.

A Carl Raschke is listed as present when a meeting was held to build a new church at Grassyville in 1875. (From History of Lee County). Ida, a sister that had remained in Germany, set sa1e for America. C. W. went to Galveston and waited for weeks for her to arrive. But, the ship did not arrive. It was lost at sea. (From papers of Emma Urbantke)

On 14 Jan 1876 be married Lucy Grusendorf, daughter of Fritz Grusendorf in Bastrop. Lucy had a twin sister, Maria, who married Adam Raesener on 1 Jan 1877. C. W.’s first purchase of land in Lexington was in July of 1879 and again in December of 1880. This was about the time that his father-in-law moved to Lexington.

In 1882 the family moved to Lexington with three small children. C. W. continued in the cotton gin business. In 1900 he erected a second gin. Then in 1910 he sold half interest to his oldest son, Charles. Charles lost an arm in a gin accident. In 1912 it was incorporated as Lexington Gin and Cotton. In 1919 he sold his cotton gin interest. He was associated with A.A. Wheatly. He was one of the leading business men of Lee County and one of the organizers of Lee County State Bank. His biography is in The History of Texas by Clarence Ray Warton.

After Lucy’s step-mother, Augusta Hillegeist Grusendorf, died in Dec 1895, her father, Fritz Grusendorf, came to live with the family. He lived there until his death in Copperas Cove in Feb 1897.

After the death of Lucy on 9 Jul 1903, C. W. married Ernestine Letterman, a widow from Galveston, in Oct 1904. She was a native of Germany who came over at age 15 in 1888. Her brother, Louis Letterman, and her sister, Mrs. Robert Otto, were living at Lexington at this time.

Other Data

At an annual Raschke reunion, held in Brenham in l 966 to celebrate the 50 wedding of Flora and Fred Buehrer, Mrs. Campbell presented rose cuttings of the Martha Washington rose bush that Mrs. C. W. Raschke had planted.

August started a cotton gin and was killed 22 May 1926 while moving a boiler for a cotton gin.

Homer, son of August and Ida, that died in 1921 at age of 6.

10. Retzlaff, Bernard; 5 Nov 1837 – 11 Jan 1919, married on 14 Jul 1874 to Mary Krake; 11 Jul 1855 – 21 Nov 1935.


Ludwig; 1 May 1875 – 30 Aug 1932 @ Lexington

Mary; 8 Aug 1876 – 9 Jun 1953 @ Lexington, City

Fritz; 28 Jun 1878 – 20 Feb 1947 @ Lexington

Adline; 15 Sep 1879

Emma; 23 Apr 1881 – 15 Jun 1861 @ Beeville

Gus; 17 Jun 1883 – 11 Apr 1955 @ Lexington

Otto; 1 Mar 1885

Bernhold (Ben); 29 May 1887 – 6 May 1976 @ Lexington

Augusta; 26 May 1888 – 14 Jan 1963 @ Lexington

Frank; 17 Aug 1893 – 13 Jul 1964 @ Lexington

Reinhold; 27 Jan 1897 – 27 Feb 1899 @ Lexington * first burial at cemetery.

Marriages inside the church family

Ludwig married Emma Raschke, daughter of C. W. Raschke.

Adeline married Carl Urbantke, son of Gustav Urbantke.

Emma married Edward Peterson, son of Franz Peterson.

Gus married Sophie Seifert, granddaughter of Jacob Seifert.

Otto married Mary Grusendorf, daughter of Henry Grusendorf.

Ben married Emma Grusendorf, daughter of Henry Grusendorf.

Augusta married Adolph Peterson, son of Franz Peterson.

Frank married Alice Peterson, daughter of Franz Peterson.

Frank married Frieda Seifert, granddaughter of Jacob Seifert.

Other marriages

Mary married Robert Vance.

Fritz did not marry.

Bernard was born in Posen, Germany on 5 Nov 1837. (Birth place from History of Lee County) Naturalization papers state he was born in Bromberg, Prussia. He left from Bremen, Germany (so he would not have to serve in the Prussian army) in Sep 1855, on the Mississippi and arrived in Galveston in Dec 1855, just after he was 18. He worked as a farm hand around Industry. When the Civil War came he enlisted on 4 Apr 1882 in Company E, Infantry, Waul’s Legion (the same outfit as Gustav Urbantke). Before the end of the year he was captured and taken to an Illinois POW camp. He suffered frostbite during the trip north and carried the

evidence of the cruelty of those war years the remainder of his life. Overtures were made to him to join the north in the fight against slavery. He went into Company B, Twelfth Regiment of the Illinois Cavalry Volunteers on 17 Dec 1862 and served until 16 Dec 1865. He did not like to talk about the war, even to his family, but he was proud that he was present when Lincoln made his famous Gettysburg address. He was proud of the two horses he was allowed to bring home. Stock of these remained in the family for nearly a century.

He married Mary Krake of Giddings in 1874. He farmed in Giddings and was active in the church. Deed records show he signed a deed, as a trustee for the German Methodist Church, for land in Giddings in Jun 1876. In 1878 he bought land in the Wm Moore survey two miles north of Giddings from Augusta Fischer. He bought land in the Corneal survey two miles west of Lexington, (same survey as Jacob Seifert had bought land) in 1883. Records show Gustav was born north of Giddings so the family must have moved after Jun 1883. He was one of the first members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Otto, who was born in 1885, was the first baby baptized in the new church. He lived and farmed west of Lexington and later bought property just north of the city limits where they made their home.

Bernard realized a long standing dream when he and his sister Emilie Ries returned to Germany in 1901 to visit relatives they had not seen for nearly 50 years (from the History of Lee County). Records at Galveston show the return date as 12 Aug 1903.

Bernard had two brothers, Arnold and Adolph, and two sisters, Augusta and Otilie that attend the Retzlaff Reunions.

The Retzlaff family, with the Peterson family, was one of the most involved with the church. Eight of the eleven children are buried at the cemetery. Of the children that married, only one married outside the Church Family. Three of the children married Petersons.

Valley Kleinschmidt’s father was a brother to Bernard who lived up north. He and his wife went back to Germany and took Valley back but her suitor, Kleinschmidt, followed them back to Germany and brought Valley back and married her. Valley came to Texas with her two children, Arnold, age 9, and Ester, age 3, in 1933. They lived in the Retzlaff house for a while and later in a house of their own.

11. Seifert, Jacob; 9 May 1841 – 29 Dec 1931, married on 8 Jan 1871 to Wilhemina Fischer;1851 – 14 May 1905.


Frank; 12 Nov 1871 – 18 Mar 1884

Emil; 10 Nov 1874 – 22 Jan 1954

Dora; 1877 – 1895

John; 28 Nov 1880 – 13 Apr 1955

Augusta; 22 Feb 1883 – 18 Apr 1959

_______* unmarked Seifert grave @ Germania

Marriages inside the church family

Emil married Mary Urbantke, daughter of Gustav Urbantke and married Frieda Urbantke, daughter of Gustav Urbantke.

Dora was engaged to marry Carl, son of Gustav Urbantke.

Emil’s daughter, Sophie, married Gus Retzlaff, son of Bernhard Retzlaff.

Emil’s daughter, Mary, married Robert Otto, son of Robert Otto.

Emil’s daughter, Frieda married Frank Retzlaff, son of Bernhard Retzlaff.

Other Marriages

John married Selma Gest, niece of the wife of Oscar Hillegeist.

Augusta married Hugo Gest, nephew of the wife of Oscar Hillegeist.

Jacob’s father was Anton Seufert (uncertain when the spelling was changed) and his mother was Maria Eva née Woerner. They lived in Massenbachhausen, Wuerttemberg, Germany where Anton was a citizen and a weaver according to Catholic church records. Anton and his wife had 3 children before Jacob was born and baptized on 9 May 1841. His name at birth was Daniel Seufert. There is no record of the name Jacob until he entered the Union army. City records at Massenbachhausen show that Anton renounced his citizenship so he could come to America. Church records show the family left for America in 1852 and the Wuerttemberg Emigration Index VI lists Anton, a widower, and family (four children) as leaving in August of 1852.

He enlisted in the Union Army as Jacob Siverts at Mannington, Virginia on 1 Oct 1861 and was discharged on 31 May 1865 as a private at Cumberland, Maryland.

The next record we have of Jacob is the 1870 census for the Western District of Burleson County. He is listed as Daniel Cevat, blacksmith, 28 years old, with no real estate and a value of $100 for his personal estate. Place of birth is shown as Wertenberg. He was living with the Christian Konzelman family. Mr. Konzelman, a retail grocer, was from Wertenberg. Mr Konzelman and his daughter, Augusta (Ahrendt) were active in the of the church.

Records of Burleson County show than on 8 Jan 1871 he married Wilhelmina Fisher. Rev. M. Cole, a Baptist minister performed the ceremony. On 12 Nov 1871 Frank was born. On 10 Nov 1874 Emil was born. Then, in 1877 Jacob’s sister, Elizabeth Hess, moved to Texas.

Jacob purchased a hundred acres of land west of Lexington from Ellen Morris on 30 Aug 1879 in the Correll Pt survey. This is the Gussie Drosche place at the present time. The Germania cemetery was nearby. Frank was buried there in 1884, at age 13 and Dora in 1895 at age 18. Dora was to marry Carl Urbantke.

One morning in 1896 a baby was found in a basket, hanging from a cultivator handle. This was Agnes and her presence was a complete mystery. (From History of Lee County.) She remained in the Seifert home. She is listed as Agnes Lane on the 1900 census as living with Jack Seifert and being born in Apr 1895. John and Augusta where still living at home at this time. She is listed on the 1910 census as living with Jacob. No others are listed.

Emil married Mary Urbantke on 30 Dec 1895. Mary was 27 and Emil was 21. He lived on String Prairie out in the woods near the Franklin Boettcher home. It was known as the Sandy Farm, and might have been owned by Gustav, his father-in-law. The children born were Anton in Oct 1896, Sophie in Mar 1898, Minnie in Nov 1899, and Tillie in Oct 1904. Shortly after Tillie was born Mary got rabies. It is suspected that she got this germ

through a cut in her foot. She went barefoot in the cow pen and one of the cows died from rabies. She died a horrible death on 8 Nov 1904 at age 36. Her half uncle, Julius Urbantke, held the funeral service. She was the third adult buried at the German Methodist cemetery Her children went to live with their grandparents, the Urbantkes.

According to the History of Lee County, Wilhelmine served as a midwife. The last baby she brought into the world was John Hornung on 16 Apr 1905. Wilhelmina caught pneumonia and according to stories, the doctors let her die because she was their competition. She died at age 53 on 14 May 1905 four weeks after delivering John and six months after her daughter-in-law, Mary had died of rabies. What tragedy for the Seifert family! What tragedy for the church!! There had been 7 children and 4 adults – Leopoldtine Wolf, age 87, Louise Raschke, age 45, Marie Seifert, age 35, and Gottfried Hornung, age 68 – buried since the cemetery started in April of 1899.

When the cemetery started in 1899 Emil was 25. He started keeping the “books.” After he was unable to keep them, his daughter Mary kept them. Frieda kept them after Mary until 1998.

On 17 Jul 1907 Emil married Frieda Urbantke, his first wife’s sister. They were both 33 years old. The rumor is that Emil really loved Frieda but Gustav made him marry Mary because she was the oldest. Frieda died giving birth in 1914. The rumor, from several sources, is that Emil asked Gustav to marry another one of his daughters. Gustav replied that he was not going to give him another one to lose.

He lived on the farm with his daughter, Augusta and her husband, Hugo Gest, for a time. The Gests moved closer to town and John and Selma moved to the farm. The Gests moved to Houston about 1925. Jacob went to Houston and lived with them until he became very feeble when he returned to live with Emil. When he applied for his pension in November of 1931 he was listed as nearly blind and deaf and very weak physically. He signed his name on the pension application with an X. He died on 29 Dec 1931 at the age of 90.

What conversations did Jacob and Gustav Urbantke have? They were both born in May 1841. Jacob came to America in 1852, at age eleven. Gustav in 1859, at age 18. Both served in the Civil war, one for the North and one for the South. Both lost their wives, Jacob in 1905 and Gustav in 1918. Both lost children, Jacob lost Frank at age twelve, Dora, who was to marry Carl, Gustav’s son, at age 18. Gustav lost Herman at two weeks, Gottfried at one, Ernest at four months. These children must have been buried in Industry. They lost daughters and daughters-in-law Mary in 1904 and Frieda in 1914. And how many grandchildren? Jacob was born a Catholic, Gustav, a Lutheran. What did they say about the German Methodist church of Lexington, which they helped organize in 1883? They both lived to be 90, longer than any of the other Charter Members. They died within a three-month period.

12. Urbantke, Gustav; 4 May 1841 – 12 Mar 1932, married on 3 Feb 1868 to Caroline Munzler; 27 Jan 1849 – 8 Jan 1918.


Mary; 4 Dec 1868 – 8 Nov 1904 @ Lexington

Gustav; 19 Jan 1870 – 1957

Herman; 22 Dec 1871 – 6 Jan 1872 @ Industry

Carl; 6 Dec 1872 – 1948

Frieda; 17 Nov 1874 – 19 Feb 1914 @ Lexington

Gottfried; 16 Mar 1876 – 22 Apr 1877 @ Industry

Ernest; 9 Dec 1877 – 20 Apr 1878 @ Industry

Emil; 4 Feb 1879 – 4 Apr 1937

Alfred; 18 Jun 1880 – 13 Mar 1969 @ Lexington, City

Helene; 25 Feb 1882 – 20 Feb 1978

Hugo; 16 Nov 1883 – 1962

Augusta; 19 Oct 1886 – 16 Apr 1965 @ Lexington

Sara; 19 Jan 1886 – 8 May 1954 @ Castell

Lydia; 15 Jan 1891 – 26 Feb 1952 @ Castell

Marriages inside the church family

Mary married Emil Seifert, son of Jacob Seifert on 30 Dec 1895.

Carl was to marry Dora Seifert daughter of Jacob Seifert but she died and he married Adeline Retzlaff.

Frieda married Emil Seifert after her sister died.

Emil married Minnie Grusendorf on 10 Sep 1902.

Augusta married Otto Raesener, son of Adam Raesener on 21 Nov 1907.

Other marriages

Gustav married Emily Eversberg on 27 Aug 1895.

Helene married Louis Fickel, grandson of Fritz Grusendorf on 5 Nov 1903.

Hugo married Malinda Klebb.

Sara married Dan Schuessler in Mar 1920.

Gustav was born in Beilitz, Austria (now Bielsko, Poland) on May 4, 1841 to Fredrick and Augusta Urbantke. Fredrick was born in 1799 in a small community near Beilitz. When he was four years old he was one of three survivors in the community. The soldiers burned the village as a precaution against the black plague. His parents had four children: Wilhelm, Karl, Gustav and Fritz prior to 1828. All four died of the black plague. Then they had four more children that they named the same as the ones that had died. Then they had two

daughters, Augusta and Anna. Fredrick was a weaver and with the Industrial Revolution things got difficult.

Gustav’s older brother, Carl, was the first to come to America in 1853. He farmed at New Ulm, near Industry and was able to send for his family. Fredrick, age 60, had remained and came with his new wife and eleven-year-old son, Julius, in 1859. Gustav followed soon after. Karl was active in the Methodist Church, became a circuit rider, and founded Blinn College. He wrote of his life in the book Texas is the Place for Me. In the early part of 1862 a Captain Brenham came to New Ulm to recruit men for the Confederate Army. Gustav volunteered and went to the plantation. Waul came to the plantation and organized the famous Waul’s Texas Legion. They served at the siege of Vicksburg and Gustav was captured a short distance from Vicksburg at Yazoo City on 14 Jul 1863. He remained in prison until 9 Jun 1865. After he was released, it took months to return home.

He took the oath of allegiance five times. When he became a citizen, after his release from prison, when he arrived home the occupation authorities made him take it a third time. In 1885 at a final reunion in Brenham he took it a fourth time, and in 1891 when the court house burned in Giddings he took it the fifth time.

On 23 Feb 1869 Gustav married a young widow, Caroline Muntzler Werner, who had one son, Henry. Her father, Andreas Muntzler was born in Wurttemberg, Germany in 1810 and her mother Christina Hornung was born in Unterkessach, Baden, Germany in 1823. They left Germany in 1845, were shipwrecked on the coast of England, and finally arrived Galveston in September of 1847.

Caroline and Gustav both joined the church in Industry where Carl served as minister. They had buried three children by 1882 when they left Industry. In December, Gustav, Franz Peterson, and Gottfried Hornung went to Lexington. Franz and Gustav had married sisters. Gottfried, who had just arrived from Germany, was a cousin of the sisters. All three bought land and signed deeds in December of 1881. Descendants of these three still own this land.

Gustav and family moved to String Prairie and built a two room log house just behind Anton Seifert’s present home. Wilhelm, Gustav’s brother, who had served in the military in Germany for years before he came to this country, in 1870, came to Lexington and lived with the family. Henry Werner, Caroline’s son from her first marriage, lived with the family. Henry was not normal, probably a little retarded. There are some reports that he was treated as a step-child. They must have moved in January or early February as Helene was born in Lexington on 25 Feb 1882.

Gustav was one of the charter members and trustee of the German Methodist Church at Lexington. He was one of the three trustees that signed the deed for the lot on which the church was built. Also, he signed the deed, as trustee, when the land for the cemetery was purchased. In 1884 Gustav was ordained a deacon by Bishop Harris. He served as pastor at Lexington and Caldwell for 38 years.

Gustav and Caroline took in Emil’s three children when the daughter, Mary died of rabies in 1904. Tillie was a baby. When Emil married Frieda he moved to the road near the Urbantke place. Tillie stayed with Gustav – she was having too much fun (according to Frieda).

Gustav moved to Castell with his daughter, Sarah, when she married Dan Schuessler. (Dan had been married to Alma Grots who died 27 Sep 1918.) Dan would not take Tillie, according to stories. He said she had a daddy and he could take care of her. (According to John Hornung.)

Sarah married in March of 1920, at age 31, and moved to Castell on 4 May 1920 which was Gustav’s birthday There was a big celebration at the home. Lydia, and Henry, the half-brother, went to Castell in the summer. Sarah and Lydia had been together all the years. In the fall Gustav and Tillie went to Castell by train. They were attached to Tillie and wanted to take her with them. But, Papa Emil said NO! So, Tillie came back to Lexington in the fall to live where she was to be. (According to Frieda.)

During the last eleven years of his life Gustav served as pastor at Hoerstersville. About a week after he preached his last sermon, he became ill with influenza, which turned into pneumonia. He died 12 Mar 1932. Funeral services were held in Hoerstersville with the following ministers attending: Brannies, Moerner, Leifeste, Radetzky, Raeke, Willmann, and Grote. Services held in Lexington the following day were attended by Elly, Makowski, Kattnew, Behrens, Bohmfalk, Foerster, and De Young.

Other Data

Henry Werner, 14 Nov 1867 – 24 Jan 1945, son of Caroline, is buried in Castell as are Sarah, Lydia, and Dan.

Letterman, Louis; 3 Sep 1874 – 31 Dec 1946, married in 1902 to Pauline Bauer; 25 Sep 1879 – 10 Mar 1960.


Luise Pauline; 18 Aug 1902 – 31 Aug 1902 @ Lexington

Louis Henry, Jr.; 5 Dec 1903 – 22 Mar 1978 @ Lexington

Lydia; 9 Oct 1906 – 12 Feb 1998 @ Lexington

Ella; 21 Jan 1909 – 10 Feb 1958 @ Lexington

Carl; 29 Feb 1917 – 18 Feb 1999 @ Lexington

Marriages inside the church family

Pauline was a daughter of Carl Bauer

Louis’ sister, Pauline, married Robert Otto in 1890

Louis’ sister, Ernestine, married C. W. Raschke in October 1904

Other marriages

Louis, Ella, and Lydia did not marry

Carl married Edna Weidner on 3 Dec 1939

Perhaps Louis should not be included with the other eleven families. Louis is younger than many of the children of the other twelve. However, he and his two sisters were certainly a big part of the “church family” and are included for that reason. Also, he was present at the time the cemetery started and is buried there. He was present from the beginning until the end.

The Lettermans lived in Baden, Germany. Louis was born in Unterkessach. His mother died and the father married again and then died. The children could not get along with the step mother so they left, one by one, to come to America. Pauline Otto came in 1888. When Ernestine came is not known. She waas married and widowed in Galveston. Then, she married C. W. Raschke in 1904 and moved to Lexington. A sister, Mrs. Grossman, came and stayed in Galveston. Louis was the last to come in 1891. Naturalization papers state that he arrived in New York on 10 Nov 1892 on the Drave which sailed from Bremen. The first land transaction by Louis was from Jim Vick in Morrow in Jul 1905. Louis and family farmed just north east of Lexington. Descendants still own some of this land.

Louis was the last of the twelve to die. He is the only one of the twelve to have all of his children buried in the cemetery. Priscilla Brister, a granddaughter reports that Louis never went to church after it was locked in 1942.


J. A. G. Rabe

[This is a portion of an article written by Rev. Arthur Repp titled, St.Paul’s and St Peter’s Lutheran Churches, Serbin, Texas, 1855-1905. It was first published in the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, Vol. XV, No. 2, July 1942.]

A number of Germans were scattered in the Pin Oak and Rabbs Creek region before the Wends came into the territory. A certain Mrs. Ch. Eisenbach and her young son, John Rabe, by a previous marriage, had formerly attended the Methodist church in La Grange during a short stay there. This family eventually joined the church of Kilian. John Rabe has left a personal record of the time, though written many years later:

“A large number of Serb or Wend families had settled in our vicinity. These had their own preacher, who also preached in the German language. Since there was an absence of any other church group, my mother joined this congregation. When I was 14, she also sent me there for confirmation instruction. Mr. Kilian made every imaginable effort to show me that the Lutheran religion was the only true and correct one, that it was the only correct middle between the extreme of the Roman superstition and the pietistic enthusiasm [Schwaermerei]. He had me learn many passages and funneled into me [trichterte] with great zeal the dogmatics of his Church. Of the living, saving faith; of the sincere confession and the complete change of heart; of the assurance of the forgiveness of sins and the testimony of the Holy Spirit; of all these great and elevating things of the Christian religion, not one dying word. Of course, I did not know anything else, as though there were no more to religion, and these proffered powerless hulls seemed a comfort [Labsal] to me. I looked with wonder and awe to my Gamaliel and marveled at his comprehensive Bible knowledge. Naturally I felt at this time a strange emptiness in my heart. A need did make itself known temporarily, which satisfaction, were I to follow the lead of my spiritual leader, I would have to look for in the foggy distance.

The day of my confirmation arrived [The second German confirmation performed by Rev. Johann Kilian in the Low Pinoak Settlement, 24 May 1857]. I felt the importance of the same, and during the act tears streamed down my cheeks. Not with a careless heart but with earnestness and humility I went to the Table of the Lord for the first time. Yet I found in all this no satisfaction, no rest for my soul.”

Since this was written years after its author became a German Methodist preacher, we realize that much of it is subjective. Nevertheless it gives an interesting view of a difficulty which was already beginning in the latter part of 1856. During this year a certain Rev. E. Schneider preached on the Pin Oak and Rabbs Creek, later organizing the present Grassyville congregation.



Of the

Sixty-Seventh Annual session

Of the

West Texas Conference

Methodist Episcopal Church, South

Held at

Laurel Heights, San Antonio, Texas

October 28th to November 1st, 1925





John Andrew Gottfried Rabe was born February28,1843, in Pommern, Prussia, his parents being John Gottfried Rabe and Julianna, née Peterson.

In the year 1851 his parents emigrated and came to LaGrange, Texas, and sometime later to Bastrop County, where his father died, and where he spent his boyhood days. On March 18, 1867, he married Miss Augusta S. Pfeil, of Cibolo, Texas. This union was blessed with six sons, namely: Julius, Ben, Willie, John, Charles and Cornelius; and two daughters: Emma and Julia. His wife died in the year 1888, and his daughter, Julia, also preceded him in death.

On December 3rd, l889, the deceased entered into a second marriage, with Miss Katie M. Merkel, who bore with him the joys and hardships, for 35 years, of an itinerant life, and who now mourns his departure.

Brother Rabe joined the Methodist Episcopal Church but when a boy fifteen years old, in what is now the Grassyville congregation, in the year 1858. He received his education at Soule University, Chappel Hill, which is now Southwestern University. He was licensed to peach in 1868, and received on trial in the Texas conference in 1869. He was ordained a deacon by Bishop D. S. Doggett, in New Orleans, La., in 1871, and ordained elder at the same place, by Bishop J. C. Keener, in1873.

Brother Rabe served the following charges in order as given: Bastrop; Mission; Craps Street, New Orleans; Dryades Street, New Orleans; Cedar Bayou, Texas; Agent for Fredericksburg College; Galveston; Houston Mission; District High School at Industry, Travis; Bellville; San Antonio; Cuero; New Braunfels; East Bernard; Grassyville; Senior Assistant Preacher at San Antonio; Cibolo; Landa and Floresville; Editor of “Der Mission Freund” from 1894 until his translation from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant. In the year 1919 when the German Mission conference, of which body he was a member, was merged with the West Texas Conference, Brother Rabe became a member of this conference.

Brother Rabe translated the following works into the German language; Summers’ “Life of Wesley;” “The United Standard Catechism of the M. E. Church and the M. E. Church, South; Junior Catechism” and the “Discipline of 1898.”

Deceased was the second oldest member of our conference and leaves a record of fifty years of active itinerant life, and of editorial work of thirty years. Thousands were blessed under his long ministry, and now is the promise fulfilled in him, which says: They that be wise, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that have turned many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.”

On Sunday, July 5th, at 6:30 P.M., the summons came gently and sweetly, and while the sun, clothed in resplendent glory, sent his last rays through the evening sky, this servant of the Lord passed into eternal rest.

Besides his wife and seven children, the deceased is survived by a step-brother, Mr. Anton Eisenbach of Grassyville, Texas, and 22 grandchildren.

Brother Rabe served in the Confederate Army, in Kreuzbauer’s Light Artillery, stationed at Brownsville and Rio Grande City.

The funeral service was held in the Prospect Hill Church, conducted by the pastor, Brother Rowland; Dr. Hawk, presiding elder of the San Antonio District, led in prayer; Brother Rector, presiding elder at the Kerrville district, paid a high tribute to the noble work and character of the departed one. Interment took place in “Confederate Rest” where the Chaplain of the local chapter officiated at the grave.

P. H. Hensch


My Life’s Journey by Julius Edward Urbandtke

This is a story of Julius Urbantke, his early life in Bielitz, his coming to the United States in 1859 at age ten, and of his life and experiences as a pioneer preacher in Texas. The story he wrote was in German script on three pencil tablets. Many idiomatic expressions that make the German language so colorful and expressive are lost in translation, but every effort has been put forth to pass on the meaning Julius put into words as closely as possible.

Texas was chosen by many German speaking people in earlier days as the place to go to be relieved of pressures from military, industrial, and religious hardships in Europe after the middle of the nineteenth century. Julius Urbantke’s mother and father heard of the opportunities which the New World to the West afforded through Carl Urbantke, an older son, who had emigrated to Texas in 1853, and who later sent his father enough money for their trip to America.

When one reads the most interesting account as Julius Urbantke, in his autobiography, told of the many hardships that were encountered in the early days in Texas, one is truly amazed in the thought of how the world has changed since 1859: from travel on horseback and ox wagons to space-age travel; from straight one-row plowing with oxen or mules to contour multi-row farming with tractors and other machinery; from starched and ironed homemade shirts with celluloid collars to short-sleeved permanent press open-collar shirts; from country roads rough and impassable especially in rainy weather to four lane freeways with three, four, and five decked interchanges; from one-room schools with one teacher trying to educate several grades to the present consolidated elementary and high schools with busses gathering its students in the surrounding area; from Methodist preachers who tried to serve three or four churches in a circuit to Methodist churches with several pastors and some with women ministers. These are just a few of the drastic changes that have come about since grandfather came to America in 1859. One has to wonder just what Julius would have to say about our country and world today over a hundred years after his arrival in Texas.

Julius Urbantke was a man of childlike faith, a man with an heroic spirit and great missionary zeal. Although the education of ministers in the pioneer days did not have to be extensive, some training was necessary. Even though Julius’ formal education was very elementary, he was willing and able to put himself to any hard task. After giving his life to the service of the Lord, he endeavored to live up to the highest Christian principles and spent much time in prayer.

A short synopsis about Julius E. Urbantke was found in the superannuated preacher’s listing in the Jubilee Edition of the Southern German Conference in Texas and Louisiana printed for the conference session in Seguin, Texas, in November, 1922. This synopsis gives a bit more information and shows grandfather’s standing among his fellow workers in the conference. Following is the translation from German to English of part of page 91 in the Jubilee Conference Journal: “J. E. Urbantke was born on September 29, 1849, in Bielitz, Schlesien, Austria. After he came to this Land (America) in 1859, he joined the church in 1868. As a thoroughly converted, talented young man, he received his local preacher license in 1873. Since 1879 he has been a member of the Southern German Conference. In the 27 years of his successful active ministry,

he served seven different fields. He was the builder of three churches and enlarged four parsonages. Never did he leave behind any debts. No one knew the story of the Southern German Conference as well as he. Since 1903, he lives with his gentle and noble wife and family near Copperas Cove, Texas, where he, despite his high age, is still a powerful pillar in that congregation.”

It is the wish of the undersigned that the heretofore introduction of the man who wrote the story of his life, and who truly lived his life with all possible physical and mental energy that a Christian pioneer of his day needed, will inspire you, the reader, to be eager and enthusiastic to delve into the pages of this remarkable autobiography.

A grand-daughter,

Estelle Kattner Froehner


By Julius Edward Urbantke

Several years ago, I wrote my personal record, but by mistake it was destroyed. Time and again since then several of my children requested that I write another report of my life. So I will try again. Will I succeed? My eyes are getting very weak, and my hand is unsteady, but in God’s name, “Forward”!

I was born on September 29, in the year 1849, in the town of Bielitz, which was at that time in Austria, Silesia, but which now belongs to Poland. My father’s name was Friederich Urbantke. He was born on August 21, 1798, also in Bielitz. My mother, Auguste, née Bisiner, was born February 12, 1824.

I was baptized in the Evangelical Church and went to school and church in a Christian environment. I was fairly well instructed in the basic school subjects, and to this day I am thankful for the Christian foundation and understanding and the basic book learning that was imprinted in my mind there in the Evangelical Congregation until I was eleven years of age. Even today the school house and the church stand distinctly before my eyes. If I were an artist, I would, from memory, be able to put them on paper or canvas.

I was an only child of my father’s second marriage. Four brothers, Frederich, Wilhelm, Carl, and Gustaf, as well as two sisters, Johanna and Augusta, from his first marriage, were still living.

My father, as well as practically the whole town of Bielitz, was engaged in the weaving of wool, and in this trade had acquired comfortable prosperity. But now hard times began to enter into this trade of weaving. My father had come into prosperity during the time that each thread had to be spun by hand. Every journeyman weaver also had to learn how to card and spin wool. During the winters, very little weaving was done, for everyone had to spin. Nov the use of the machine came into being, and with it the revolution of 1848. During the violent revolutionary years in Austria and Germany, my father lost a shipment of finished cloth on the way to Pest in Ungarn. This shipment represented most of his material wealth. What a terrible blow that was! There was nothing left for my father to do but to declare himself bankrupt, and to work as a wage earner in the weaving mill in order to make progress. This was difficult. The wages for the workers became lower and lower. The machine could do the work much cheaper. Brother Carl had also learned weaving but did not find any pleasure in this trade, especially since the position and life appointment of the small weaver became more difficult every day. The factory began to crush the small weavers. At that time the newspapers brought articles and reports about Texas. As a result, Carl quickly conceived the idea to seek his fortune in the New World. He could not get a passport, but my father succeeded in getting for him a traveler’s pass for six months. With a very light money purse, he departed from his hometown, Bielitz, on August 10, 1853, and reached Bremen on August 15, 1853. There he boarded the sailing ship, “Frederick the Great,” which, on the same day, lifted the anchor to sail directly to Galveston, Texas.

The beginning in Texas was not easy. Carl was, however, able to get his own piece of land in Lower Millheim. There he built a log house and brought part of the land under cultivation. Since he was still unmarried, he took a tenant family in to live with him. This family took care of his scanty necessities, and so, with hard but effective work, things went quite well for him.

Brother Wilhelm had been taken into the army in Austria. The two sisters were married. Brother Gustaf was approaching draft age. In spite of all the strain and faithful work and thrift, it was now difficult to keep poverty away from the door.

Carl reaped a very good harvest on his farm in Texas, and since my father’s entire possessions did not provide enough to pay for the passage to Texas, he offered to send my father $100 so that we could go to Texas. Finally, my father decided to do so, even though he was now over sixty years old. Brother Gustaf could not get a passport because he was too near the age for military service. So, about the middle of August, 1859, my father, my mother, and my humble self, set out for Texas.

The journey was via Bremen. The sailing ship, “Geshner,” with Captain Lankenau, took us to Galveston. We had a very good trip, and on November 3, 1859, we landed in Galveston. The ocean voyage will remain as a sweet memory to me until the end of my pilgrimage on earth. When near the end of our journey, the captain once asked me, “Wouldn’t you like to become a cabin boy?” I immediately went to my father and assailed him with requests to allow me to be a sailor. I did not give up with my requests until, in Galveston, a nice oleander switch ended my dreams of being a sailor.

During the night, a little steamboat took us up the Buffalo Bayou to Houston. When we arrived there, an ox wagon picked us up, and we were comfortably on our way to San Felipe. On the fourth day, in the afternoon, we crossed the Brazos River, and after about two more miles, our belongings were unloaded on the prairie. Brother Carl’s home was another four miles away. Early the next morning, my father and I started out toward his home. Mother, alone, had to watch over our possessions. After we had gone about half way to the farm, two riders came toward us. One of them was brother Carl. And so, on the broad Texas prairie, father and son greeted each other after a seven-year separation.

What were the first impressions that the new home made on us? I can still see the saddened countenance of my father as we entered the log hut. He was very depressed, and spoke very little. Carl had immediately hitched up the oxen to the box wagon in order to fetch our mother. The tenant family prepared a meal which was ready when Carl came back with the possessions. To the table we went! There was fine beef, sweet potatoes, and cornbread. Whee! I had never seen such a piece of meat on my plate before.

I had ridden back with Carl to fetch our mother and our belongings. I was amazed at the enormous number of wild rabbits that covered the prairie. On our return trip, the sun was about to set. Mighty flocks of wild geese constantly came and flew in a systematic way over the flat prairie. Oh! It must be the greatest pleasure to go hunting there, and come home loaded with booty. Indeed, I later experienced all these pleasures. Not until a late night hour did we arrive at the farm with the whole “Caboodle.”

Brother Gustaf could not get a passport because he was too near the age for military service, so he did as brother Carl did seven years earlier. He came alone a few weeks later than we, and arrived “safe and sound”. Soon he found employment with adequate shelter and wages with a local farmer. Father, Mother, and I lived with brother Carl.

Millheim was a fairly large, completely German settlement in Texas. The people were mostly well educated. Also, many a person had had control of important financial resources. All of them remembered and withstood the riots and afflictions against the governments before the revolution broke out in 1848 in Germany and Austria, and now they had sought and found refuge in Texas. A goodly number succeeded, without difficulty, in obtaining a fairly nice home while others had a miserable existence. They were all people who, in Germany, had moved up in higher society.  Indeed, all opposed God’s Word and the church with indifference and even hostility. Several miles east of Millheim, eight families had settled very close together because of the economic situations of that time. Carl was one of these. The others were all people from Mecklenburg of the poorest day laborer class with practically no education. My father or Carl often had to play the role of secretary when a letter arrived from the Homeland, or when such a letter had to be answered.

Without tiring, these people did the hardest work in the field and in the woods. All lived in log huts which they had built themselves. At least these log huts provided shelter from rain and cold.

What was our life like under these circumstances and associations? It was surely not easy or pleasant for my father. All that he had left over there — the church, the congregation, and his remaining corresponding cultural refreshing, stimulating society — were lost. Not only were the people in the neighborhood far below my father in culture, but also, they spoke the genuine Mecklenburger Plattdeutsch (Low German), which we did not understand at all. How could a good conversation be possible? For miles around, there was no talk about church or divine services. Our nearest surrounding acquaintances must have had miserable experiences with pastors and churches in the old country, about which they often informed my father whenever he turned the conversation toward religious fields. So, as far as spiritual nourishment was concerned, we had truly run into a wilderness. The nourishment for our bodies was not much better either. In the old country, the scanty rations had been far from extravagant. Often they had been measured out stingily, however, so we had been accustomed to that since childhood. Many vegetables, which only the German women knew how to prepare, and that splendid German rye bread were absent altogether, and the glass of beer that even the poorest man in the old country had enjoyed, was lacking. Perhaps you say, “Could you not make your own gardens and raise vegetables?” Oh yes, but, under prevailing circumstances, it was practically impossible to put up a fence compact enough to keep out the wild rabbits and other enemies of the vegetables. It was very difficult to order vegetable seeds, and, also, the newly broken land of the prairie did not lend itself to the use of raising vegetables. In addition, my father possessed a genuinely critical mind, and he often made plans that, under the prevailing conditions, could not be carried out, and he soon got into arguments with brother Carl. This often led to many unpleasant scenes. Brother Carl also had a head of his own.

And how did things go with me? Very quickly, I had found myself to be at home in the new situation. The dining table set with beef, sweet potatoes, and cornbread always pleased me greatly. These foods had previously been very scarce. Besides that, I would much rather go with Carl to the fields and woods, where the work was often hard, than to go to a bad-tempered, disliked teacher in school. Carl even carried the fishing pole and rifle along. Oh, what a pleasure! — a real picnic! Many a hunt also brought wonderful wild game into the kitchen. Soon I also felt completely at home on the back of a Texas pony. Everything was to my wishes, and all the farm work pleased me greatly, and at the age of 13 years, I could swing the ax quite well. I had a strong, healthy body, which was much in my favor. Nothing was lacking to fulfill my satisfaction except a good comrade of my own age. In the whole settlement, there was only one young man who was very friendly to me; however, there was an age difference of ten years.

Now, our mother was the good spirit in our house. Quickly she adjusted to the new surroundings. It was surprising how quickly she made a noteworthy improvement in the kitchen, even with the most meager of means. She was very angry at the birds of prey and the animals of the forest that often stole her young chicks and eggs. These robbers carried away much from our farmyard, and we led a bitter war against them. With the coming of Spring, a fresh milk cow soon made it possible for mother to set a genuinely appetizing table. We lived much better during the second Spring. Vegetable seeds were now available, and soon the much-loved and long-awaited German potato appeared on the table, as well as cabbage, beans, and other vegetables in abundance. Oh what wonderful joy at the table when mother had charge of the kitchen! She had, indeed, been in maid service in the higher middle class, even rich homes, in the old country. There she had learned much and did not forget what she had learned. This was good for her, and very good for us.

Our wardrobe was in terrible condition. The greatest part of our clothing had been stolen on our overseas journey. It had been taken out of the trunk and replaced with worthless rags. In this situation my mother also proved her ability and cleverness in the best manner by producing shirts and trousers with her skillful hands that were always suitable. Hats were also soon produced. The palm tree grew in large quantities in the wilderness and in the Brazos swamp. The wide center leaf, plucked at the right time and dried and bleached, provided good material for all kinds of braid work which one could then sew together to form hats of all shapes, and mother did make real pretty hats for herself and others. I, too, braided palm, but I left the sewing together of the braid for my mother to do.

At this time, a very unwelcome guest appeared. It was the angry, but not highly dangerous malaria fever. The months of May and June had been very wet. As a result, this guest came in August, and so it happened here. As mentioned before, it was not a highly dangerous disease, but the patient felt as if he would rather die, since strength and the desire to live had been taken from him. Usually, with appropriate medical assistance, it disappeared in October, though sometimes it showed up again at irregular intervals during the whole winter and weakened the body so completely that the affected one was not capable of doing any kind of work.

My father yearned for the religious establishments and divine worship that were missing. Father heard of a German minister, and wrote to him, asking him whether he would visit us at least once and preach for us and administer the Lord’s Supper. Soon the answer came. Yes, he wanted to come the distance of 45 miles, and for $45 he would make the round trip. For an additional $5 he would preach on Sundays and administer Holy Communion. At this point, the minister’s letter fell from father’s hand. There probably was no $50 to be had in the whole settlement!

Now another very evil guest appeared. The Civil War broke out. Oh, what a sudden change! As soon as the first shot of the revolution had cracked at Fort Sumter, the call went out throughout the land for volunteers in the Southern Army, and very agreeable promises were associated with this call, about how wonderful the Southern States would reward the fighters after a victorious war. The young men followed this call in great numbers, most of them being of the opinion that the entire war would last no longer than six or seven weeks and, at the most, that many months, and then the victors would return home crowned with honor and rake in the reward for their heroic deeds. My brother, Gustaf, had run away from Austria in order to avoid the military duty there, and here he went as a volunteer in the Southern Army. These gentlemen were violently disappointed, for, instead of weeks or months, they had to remain for four years in the war, and then came home as captured, beaten, and ragged men. Oh, to get home!

From day to day our situation became more dismal. No one wanted to buy our main product, which was cotton. The North immediately closed all ports of the Southern States and would not allow our products to leave, and would not allow the necessities, which we had received, partly from the North and partly from Europe, to enter. Many of the supplies that were on hand in our area were confiscated by the States. This was followed by two very dry years, one after the other. Whatever could still be grown was taken by the government for the army, and so the price of corn rose to $3. per bushel and more, and often one could not buy it for that. We did not starve during the whole war, but our scanty rations were very different from that of the previous years. Very few vegetables had grown during the drought, and those that did grow were imperfect or defective. Soon we came to the table and there on each plate lay a little piece of cornbread hardly as large as two soda crackers. On the table stood a large pan of beef. We were given the signal to help ourselves. Whenever we ran out of meat, it could always be replaced with more with a little work. A real good ox was obtainable for $6. A day’s wages for work was from fifty to seventy-five cents, or sometimes even a dollar. There was, however, no money. consequently, soon there was meat in the house again as our pay for the work we had done.

During the middle of the war and some five miles northerly from us, a memorable, — I must say, — a peculiar episode, occurred. An evangelical minister drove around at Piney, near Bellville, for some time. His faith must have suffered shipwreck in the old country. Some of the farmers of that area asked him to preach for them, and to administer Holy Communion on one of the following Sundays. On the next Sunday, it happened, and he received a worthy compensation for it. He spent that afternoon and a part of the evening with other company, playing cards and drinking. During the night, as he became aware that all of his money was missing, he began to rage fearfully and to curse God shamefully. A woman who had earlier participated in the Lord’s Supper heard this, and when she heard the minister curse blasphemously, a sort of religious madness came over her. She screamed and declared that this ungodly man had not served her Christ’s blood, but devil’s blood, and now she must go to hell. She held fast to this erroneous impression, and no one knew what to do. One day the husband of this woman met a free thinker of the area, and after they had spoken with each other about the condition of the woman, the man, with a strong mocking sound in his voice, said, “Why don’t you ride to Industry? A Methodist preacher lives there. They are, indeed, the best exorcists. Go get him and let him try his cure!” The next day this man, the husband, rode to Industry. At this time. Rev. Schneider served Industry as pastor. He was a little, unimpressive figure body-wise, nevertheless, he was a hero in faith and prayer, and in proclaiming God’s Word. As this man finished telling of his concern, Brother Schneider first prayed with him, and had another short conversation with him. The next morning, the minister rode home with the man. As soon as the woman saw him, her raving and lamentation stopped. Rev. Schneider prayed and read to her from God’s Word. Often neighbors came and together they held little prayer meetings. Brother Schneider stayed until the end of the week. Meanwhile, he could notice a distinct change for the better in the woman. Pastor Schneider came again the middle of the next week, and some of the members of the Industry congregation came with him. They all stayed through Sunday, when they all celebrated divine worship, and the Lord’s Supper. The woman praised the grace of God which had come back to her. She served God faithfully until the end of her life. Yes, where sin had become powerful, the grace of God became even more powerful.

A sort of invigorating revival came over the area, and soon a small congregation was created. The strong congregation in Industry helped, so the new congregation could purchase an adequate house for a parsonage and worship services. Late the following Fall, Rev. Schneider was sent there as preacher.

Ammunition was practically impossible to attain, and the State had confiscated most of the good rifles. Even fishing hooks were scarce. For three years, we had not seen even the dust of white flour, and often even salt was missing. All wagons were seized by force, for now the State began to haul the cotton to market the long way through Mexico. The scarcity of guns and ammunition pressed heavily upon us. One could observe the increase of thieves (birds and rabbits) that afflicted our gardens and chickens, and the game which existed in abundance, whizzed by right under our noses. The scarcity of white flour was remedied somewhat by the yield of potato flour. The grinding process was a very wearisome transaction. One bushel of potatoes yielded not more than seven pounds of flour.

Day after day, the relationship between my father and my brother, Carl, became more gloomy, so my father decided to rent a small farm in Cat Spring, and we moved there in the winter of 1861-1862. A neighbor sold us a good yoke of oxen and waited until harvest time for his pay. The owner of the farm, a widow, owned the necessary implements, and let us use them without pay. We gathered a very good harvest in 1863.

The need for clothing was now very severe, and as it became known in the neighborhood that my father was a weaver, the neighbors pressed him to take up his old job again. “If you will give me a weaver’s loom, I will weave again,” was his answer. A weaver’s loom was built and a few weeks later, father sat behind the loom and wove cloth. We others carded and spun the cotton from which we had plucked the seeds with our fingers. This plucking and spinning pleased me very little.

I have probably omitted a lot that I ought to make up for. In the year 1860, Carl built a new house. Brother Carl, Mother, Father, and I moved into it, and turned the log house over to the renter, who later moved away, and in late Autumn, 1863, my father, mother, and I moved into the old log house again.

Father wove as much cloth as possible. Mother and I worked a part of Carl’s land. By this time, I had naturally become a grown man — big and strong. I had spent the year in a good school in Cat Spring, for there we had lived among the oldest and most experienced farmers of that area. One day there was quite a lot of excitement in the settlement. A pastor had come without invitation or calling, and invited the people to attend worship service on the following Sunday in the home of one of the neighbors who had offered his home for that purpose. This preacher was our beloved Brother Schneider. The worship service was held, and what an assembly! The female sex of all ages was well represented. Among the male sex only the very young and the elderly were present. The strong, stable men were entirely absent. They were either in the army or hidden from the patrol who continually roamed through the land in order to drive the manpower into the army. The Kenney congregation, which Pastor Schneider now served as resident pastor, and the Industry congregation belonged to the same English Conference. Although the representation was poor, the worship service was held. I did not attend it and don’t know what was discussed there. After the service the assembly made mention of the question

of money, and to the surprise and astonishment of the assembly, the preacher said, “Come and hear God’s Word. If it is beneficial to you, the rest (money matters) will find a way. In two weeks I will be here again and preach. Come again and invite others and let us work out our soul’s salvation with fear and trembling during these earnest, hard times.” He then visited several who were ill and then rode home. In the following weeks, practically all of the conversations changed to the subject of the pastor’s visit. As pastor Schneider came the second time, the news about him also went to Millheim, and the big intellectuals there immediately took harsh position against him, and intimidated the people so that no one wanted to offer his home for a worship service, and so Pastor Schneider had to discontinue his visits to the settlement.

Here I want to report something that pertains to me personally. I was much in need of suitable company. In the whole settlement, I had no person my age to associate with, and often I said to myself, and once even to my mother, “Why don’t I have a brother or sister?” Hunting and fishing were my only entertainment and pastime. In time I also felt much at ease in the saddle, but I was much in need of suitable fellowship. I could also swing the lasso quite easily. I found the need for ammunition to be oppressive. Therefore, all pleasure hunting and game hunting were cut off, and our situation became very depressing.

One of our neighbors owned a fairly large herd of cattle and also some very fine horses. Especially in the springtime, he often had me to help with the spring drive, for indeed, he was not at ease in the saddle. Once I had helped him several days, and after supper he came and paid me my contract pay of 35 cents for a day’s work. The man had a reputation of greediness, and worse yet, a bad name, but on this evening came a “dessert” that could not have been more wonderful, and that almost lifted me into heaven. The man still had a good double-barrel shot gun, which he brought out, along with about two pounds of gun powder and several pounds of suitable shots, and with it a box of percussion caps. He said, “I will lend you the gun until the war business is over, until one can buy things again. I will give you the ammunition, for you have often done a service for me.” Believe me, I did not walk home that night, but felt suspended as in Heaven. I thought, “It certainly is good that some people never learn to be at ease in the saddle,” and as he himself said, “On the hunt, there is always too much room beside it” (meaning the thing one shoots at). For that reason, such a wonderful treasure finally came to this poor wretch. I found Mother still busy sewing at home. Father was already asleep. Mother made a very sad face, and after the first greeting, she got up and fetched the cornmeal sack and said, “See here, son, that is the last thing that is edible that we have in the house.” There was barely a quart of meal in the sack. “Say, Mother, look at my treasure. All our want will be helped,” was my answer. Immediately the gun was carefully cleaned and loaded. “And, Mother, wake me at five o’clock.” The game bag which had long hung quiet was carefully put in order. Mother awakened me on time, and away I went to find a turkey roosting place. On the way, I found a recently perished cow, cut off a piece of it, and as soon as I got to Mill Creek, I fixed several fishing hooks with the bait, and then went to hunt turkeys. I did not have to hunt long, for there were many on hand. In the dark, I sneaked under the tree on which they sat. Now I had to wait until it was light enough to be able to aim accurately, for not one grain of the ammunition should be squandered casually. I was successful in getting two very excellent turkeys out of the tree. Oh, what wonderful joy in hunting! Quickly, with the turkeys on my back, I was on my way home. But my fishing lines! I had killed enough game, but as I got to my lines, there hung at least a fifteen-pound fish on one line, so I had a rather good load to carry home. The neighbor, owner of the gun, received one of the turkeys and a generous portion of the fish.

At this time, we did not have worship service any more. In the first place, the opposition from Millheim exercised a great influence. In addition, Pastor Schneider was not satisfied. No house was offered to him anymore, and the people did not assemble any more. But the congregation in Piney grew and was added unto, and soon an exchange of preachers occurred. Brother Carl Biel became the new preacher for the congregation at Piney, and tried hard and faithfully to find entrance in Millheim, as well as with us. In Millheim, everything was fruitless. With us more progress was made. It developed into a sort of revival. Some of the people stood determined on the preacher’s side, and others withdrew themselves completely. Soon, my brother, Carl, was profoundly converted and became very active in the up-building of the congregation. A congregation of from twenty to twenty-five members was founded. This membership held regular worship services and prayer meetings, even when Brother Biel was not there. Carl soon became class leader and local preacher. I, however, was looking far ahead. I had at that time grown into a rather strong youth, and there was danger that the Patrol, which roamed through the land in search of new man power, would one day simply take me with them, for during these times, the men asked few questions pertaining to the ages of those concerned. So I decided rather

to take the oxen whip in my hand and to become a freight driver. I was employed with 19 others by a wagon master. We received $10. a month wages, and board was promised us. The swindle that accompanied the approaching end of the war was very imposing. The wagon master was probably one of the main swindlers. He had us twenty boys under formation and command. For some time, we, with our valuable freight, drove from Alleyton around the country. Each one drove a wagon with five or six yoke of oxen loaded with ten bales of cotton, and as it appeared, we were supposed to carry the load to Brownsville on the Mexican border. Soon, at a suitable place, we made a sort of camp, and we had nothing to do but to watch out that the oxen did not go astray. Then, one morning the wagon master came to us, paid each one $12 and simply told us that we had been dismissed from our jobs. What? How come? Why? Somewhere, halfway to Mexico on the prairie! Finally, he gave us a little instruction as to what we could do. About five miles from our camp was a big ranch where a man had a large group of young ponies that he would sell us cheaply. We were supposed to stay in camp that day, were allowed to cut a wagon sheet to pieces and make ourselves some knap-sacks, in which we could provide ourselves with food as far as the provisions in camp reached. The next day we could go to the ranch, buy ponies, and ride home. Each one of us had been required to bring a saddle along. We did as he advised, and on the next morning, twenty boys, each with a knap-sack and a saddle on his bark, and $12 – in his pneke.t, started out. Everyone can guess how we felt. Soon after noon, we reached the ranch. The owner seemed much amazed over our visit, still he was not quite lacking in knowledge of the situation. Yes, the boys were immediately supposed to break a number of ponies, and the next morning some more. Then we could select. Every pony that was not yet broke for riding could be bought for $8 a head. We would also be permitted to stay at the ranch for several days until the fellows were a little at ease in the saddle. He (the owner) would also butcher a yearling (for our food). On the next morning the fun with the Spanish ponies began. Have you ever seen boys roll in the sand? It was good that the whole area was deep, loose sand. This circus was carried out without harm to the riders. On the third day, the company started homeward. For a few days, they were still in a united group, but as we reached an area where there were signs of civilization, we heard that the war was over. We also found out where we were, and now each one inquired about the nearest way to his home.

The war was now over, but not its consequences. Oh, the misery! They made themselves known. Many a home had lost its master. He did not return. Many parents waited in vain for their son’s return. He did not return. No one knew where many of the young men had found their last resting places. Others returned, but in a savage and desolate and wild state. Still others were crippled and with seeds of death in heart and mind, and the Grim Reaper of Death gathered a rich harvest during the post-war years. How did the people now look upon the tidings of peace? You see, the greater part of them had no God. Instead of thanking the Lord for the final end of the war, they indulged more each day in vile lust, balls, and dancing. Drinking bouts of all sorts, such as had never been before the war, caught hold all around. A part of the cotton which had been picked during the war was still lying in raw condition in the houses since it could not be taken to market during the war. Now the gins were quickly put into working order. The cotton now brought from 20-25 cents. From the North and from Europe, all kinds of clothing materials were brought, but also some terrible trash, and at prices that were not at all a match for the 25 cent cotton.

Our situation also improved remarkably. Some bales of cotton that had been picked during the war brought a great deal of money. Therefore, sufficient clothing and other necessities could be provided for. Brother Gustaf returned from captivity in the North.

Soon after the end of the war, Carl became acquainted with a young widow in the Industry congregation. He married her and moved to Industry to live with her on her farm. My father, mother, Gustaf, and I now rented Carl’s farm in return for adequate compensation. The young man whom I mentioned before returned from the war unharmed, and was now my only companion. We spent many a joyous day hunting together, but since he soon married, this companionship also ended.

Brother Gustaf now also went a courting and found a young widow with a tolerably well improved farm. And so, soon I was alone with my father and my mother on Carl’s farm in Lower Millheim. Farming pleased me quite well. but I could not say that about the companionship. It seemed to me as if Millheim was much more refined after the war than before, and companionship with the cattle drivers at their campsites became more vulgar from day to day. Under prevailing conditions, I could not completely withdraw myself from them, but they disgusted me.

As the Methodist soldiers returned from the war, bad-tempered morale in the Industry and other German congregations was observed. Preachers from the Southern Methodist Church had come to them, but they did not preach the Christ, the Prince of Peace, but told them how skillfully they should beat the Yankees, who wanted to rob them of their negro slaves. The Germans were practically unanimous against slavery, and did not, until now, find out that they belonged to a church which supported slavery to the end. According to public affairs, slavery had now been abolished, but among the people of the South, it lived on. The North had robbed us of our labor, that being the opinion of the South. Our German people simply said, “We do not want to belong to such a church anymore,” and steps were taken to unite again with the Mother Church in the North. Brother Carl had played a leading role in this achievement. There had been dissension over the question. The greater part of the membership rejoined the Mother Church, while the smaller part stayed with the church of the South.

Brother Carl was greatly encouraged to accept the appointment of itinerant preacher. More and more congregations in Texas had joined the Mother Church and they were short of preachers. So Carl sold his farm in Lower Millheim, and entered the active ministry. Father, Mother, and I moved to his wife’s farm in Industry. This move was not according to my wishes. The Industry area was too thickly settled to allow opportunity for hunting, and there was simply no suitable water for fishing. Likewise, cattle breeding on a large scale was out of the question, and the Spanish pony, with all the fun and pleasure he afforded me, had remained in Lower Millheim.

I did not as yet belong to the Methodists, but I found here among them immediate union and fellowship that suited me, and they accepted me. I found here for the first time a person of my age who found in me, and I in him, true friendship. The bond lasted as long as the good brother lived. Too soon the faithful brother went to his heavenly home. At this time my father still carried on some weaving. He dirt not concern himself with farming any more. Mother and I understood each other well and had fairly good success with the farm work.

Brother Carl was sent to Industry as a prospective preacher. He worked in the congregation and the surrounding area with very good success. Father was now attacked by the painful malady of old age which at times caused his life to be real agonizing for him. He died in September in the year 1875. Now I was alone with Mother, and I gradually desired to establish my own home. Carl, as preacher, had again taken up confirmation instruction for the young people and examined a nice class in church. Soon after the examination, at an evening meeting, some of these young people, without invitation, came forward and requested the public prayers of the congregation. There was a renewed revival in the congregation, and my heart and mind too, were powerfully moved by these actions. I now joined the church and was admitted into full association. I was immediately approved and accepted for work in the Sunday School. It soon became clear that I was supposed to show the children a way that I did not know myself. It now also became clear to me that it took more to be a Christian than a religious doctrine and prayers and to learn the confession of faith. Deep were the impressions that I received at the aforementioned revival. Often my friend and I had long conversations pertaining to the state of our souls. We both felt that we could not enter the Kingdom of Heaven as we were. Although we did not participate in heavy active sins, our minds and wills were directed to worldly and sinful things. We heard powerful sermons and their basic sound was always, “You must be born again.” Yes, we heard them say as Nicodemus, “How can such a thing come to pass?”

Brother Carl was transferred to Brenham and Brother Stroeter became his successor. He was still a young man, had attained a university education in Germany, and was also excellent in music. With the passing of time, he made a name for himself in German Methodism. I was practically fearful before this man and his learning. However, I was amazed at how such learned men can understand how to step down and meet the unlearned half way. Truly, from that man I learned much. He had a powerful gift of sympathy and he understood the questions which often burdened my heart and mind, but which I could not put into words. He put the thoughts into words himself, and then answered the question. I learned much from him. During the second year of his ministry in Industry, the first camp meeting was held. It was not very successful in bringing new members, but it had a great influence on the otherwise completely non-Christian neighborhood. After two years, Brother D. Stiehl, also a young man, followed him. Now I also experienced what is called being born anew, through the light from the Spirit of God, and attained the peace that passeth all understanding. Costly gifts were obtained for us sinners

at Golgotha. He died for me so that I may have forgiveness, redemption, and complete peace. Hardly had I made a confession of my profession before the congregation, when he, (Bro. Stiehl), without warning and against my will, gave me license to preach, and immediately assigned me to conduct meetings.

I refused, but it didn’t help. I had to get out into the public, and I succeeded, too, and I must have given satisfaction in the congregation. At the next quarterly conference, license was given to me, against my will, to be a local preacher. I felt no desire or pressure to enter the ministry. Very enthusiastic, however, was my desire for my own home. Through the years I had done a good amount of carpenter work for which I had much desire and from which I derived pleasure. I had also learned enough to meet the needs of carpentry in the country, and I dreamed now of a little piece of land and a house, a little farming and cabinet work! Yes, that would be nice. In the good harvest of the past year, we linr1 saved $100. had loaned it to a member of our congregation for interest. This brother came to me one day and said, “I don’t see how I can pay you back this money. I have heard, however, that you would like to buy a little piece of land and to build your own home. I want to sell you twelve acres of my farm for the customary land price of $25. per acre, and with that pay my debts. The land is good and nicely located for a little home.” I grabbed at the offer and built me a modest, charming little house, and in the Spring of 1876, my mother and I moved into the new home. Mother was pleased with everything.

Since my conversion, and especially since I had been pressed from all sides to enter the ministry, I prayed often, “Lord, show me your way and will for me!” I did not have a call to enter the ministry. I gladly helped in the congregation where and how I could. Also, I made devotional experiences in my heart whenever the spirit brought home to me the given word, but a clear call into the ministry I had not.

The question of a life’s companion now became obvious, but it seemed as if, in our congregation, none was available to me. I had also included this question in my prayers, and had received an answer to it without understanding it. Brother Daniel G. Stiehl was our preacher. He and his wife came from Fredericksburg. Shortly before Conference, her young sister came to visit with them. When I saw her for the first time, it was clear to me that “She was IT” — not love at first sight, but as an answer to my prayer to God. I accepted it, and I proposed to her and she accepted. A few days later, I introduced my mother to her future daughter-in-law, whom she heartily accepted.

I went immediately to her parents to ask for her hand in marriage. Gladly they gave their consent. This was in March, 1876. Our wedding was on September 12, 1876. Brother Pluenneke tied the knot, and it held well.

A few days later, we went on our honeymoon. No greater or richer man of the world could march off more proudly. A powerful freight wagon took us up, hitched with oxen and two brown mules on the shaft, with my brother-in-law, (Ludwig Kneese) in the saddle as guide.

First station: Yonkers Creek: a wild romantic area, all kinds of music from the animals of the prairie. In the morning, early departure and a romantic drive.

Second station: Miller’s Creek: There was no more danger of Indians in this area. They probably, even at the time of the wedding, had carried out their last sudden attack westerly from Fredericksburg.

Third station: Night lodging in open country with early departure the next morning, and in the afternoon we reached Austin.

The next station: Just as long and as far as the stretch we had already laid behind us, we had reached that same night, found Brother Carl at the railroad station and soon drove to our home in Schonau, which we reached toward night. Mother heartily accepted her new and only daughter.

I had hoped that, with my marriage, the pressure from the preachers to draw me into active ministry would cease, but that was not so. Often the call of the Church as well as the call from God were present, but I could not approve the argument. Everything was directed to the establishment of my home and own house. I practically saw a sign from above that said, “Stay where you are.” One thing was clear before my eyes. I cannot enter itinerant ministry until and unless I get definite, clear evidence that God has called me to enter the ministry. I can honestly say, I have often prayed, “Lord, show me the way.” But silence remained in my heart and soul concerning this. I put the question out of my mind and, with my young wife and my mother, lived a very comfortable life in our home. Our life was rather pleasant. I had work, and earned good pay. I gladly helped in our church, and dreamed of a comfortable future. During the Annual Conference in 1876, which convened in Austin, I was employed as a carpenter in Schoenau, not far from our home. I did not, however, go home every night. One evening when I returned home, a big carriage stood in the yard, and in the room by the heater sat Brother Pfaffle. “Well, what good news do you bring?” I asked. Abruptly, but convincingly, Brother Pfaffle answered, “I bring for you by order of the Conference, a field of work for the coming year.” I did not give a very nice answer, and do not want to write down here what I said. However, Brother Pfaffle would not let himself become bewildered, but spoke as if the matter had already been arranged for, and that my family and I would go there immediately. I could not agree, and made an appeal against what, in my mind, was a blunder which the Church had committed. A long discussion followed until late into the night. Brother Pfaffle said, “The Church is calling you as God’s messenger.” To this I answered, “The Church has often made mistakes and taken false steps which no one can deny.”

I did not sleep that night. The next morning, I said, “Come, let us go to Brother Carl in Industry, and hear his advice about this question.” So it was. The whole matter was talked over another time, and at last, I very abruptly said, “Here God calls, and there the Church calls. Which call shall I follow? Does the Lord want me in His vineyard? I do not know. The Church has often erred. I am willing to serve the Lord in any life’s appointment to which he wants to call me.” To this Carl said, “Julius, if you honestly want to have certainty, I will give you this piece of advice. It may cost you a sacrifice, but the Lord is rich in all things.” “Well, let me hear it,” I said. Then Carl gave me this advice: “If you are in earnest that this matter should clear up in your mind, leave your place, take the field that the Church has assigned to you, truly do your duty, and surely before the end of the year you will have certainty whether the Lord wants you or not.” This was a good piece of advice, but one that did not please flesh and blood. I did not give Brother Pfaffle an answer immediately, but I felt that now I had a decision to make. When I reached home, I found my wife and mother both willing to leave our home and make a sincere endeavor in the new field of work. It was as if a stone fell from my heart. I had feared that there would be opposition to leaving our home, but this was not the case. I had told my young wife at our engagement that, if the Lord would call me to enter the ministry, she would simply have to go along. At that time, she gave her promise which she faithfully kept through all the changes of time. After three days of pondering, I said, “My Savior gave up the wonders of his Father and took up the cross. What is the greatest that we give up by trying this appointment? One year at the appointment, and if the Lord will say clearly and distinctly, ‘I cannot use you’, then we’ll go home again, and another year of faithful work will make up for the lost Lord will make it right.”

I wrote Bro. Pfaffle that I would go to the appointment as quickly as possible, and do my best. At the same time, I proposed that, under the condition that, if, at the end of the year I came to him and said, “Brother, I am now certain that the Lord does not want me,” he would let me go home without further ado.

The field of work which the Conference had assigned to me was located about four miles west of Brenham in post oak woodland. During the beginning of February, 1877, I made the move. Brother Gustaf and another brother in the congregation came with their wagons. It was not a nice morning when we departed from Schonau, and the weather got colder and colder. By noon, it began to rain, mixed with ice. Brother Gustaf asked, “Aren’t you regretful about your decision?” A short “No” was the answer. About dark, we reached Brenham, and now we still had four miles of terrible roads to travel in pitch dark night. I went on ahead with my lantern. At the worst places, I had to help direct each wagon individually. Later in the night, we reached the parsonage without any mishap. The gloomy night, and the likewise gloomy outward and inward appearance of the parsonage brought a few tears to the eyes of my wife, but I must say in her defense that, throughout my career in the ministry, she held up as a champion and seldom cried or complained or blamed me for leaving our nice home in Schonau.

My reception in this congregation was not the best. My predecessor had not been able to pass his examinations after three years of study, and now had to be dismissed. The people spoke all kinds of German dialects. They had little German blood and spirit.

The congregation was small and there was little opportunity for mission work. The area was at that time thinly settled, so the work was very hard. I had much opportunity and time to improve my imperfect knowledge through diligent study, especially with Brother Stroeter as teacher. He had been preacher and teacher for two years in Industry, and was now supervisory preacher in Brenham. Truly, I could not wish for a better teacher for myself.

During this year all kinds of summer meetings were conducted to which my presiding elder often took me. These meetings were especially stimulating and beneficial, not only to the congregations, but also to me. I had heretofore not been stirred about the religious framework of the world. I always had to travel the roads to the meetings on horseback. At the meetings one came in contact with all kinds of people. There was often conversation that was very exciting, but which drove us to prayer about certain issues. During the summer, God’s spirit gave me the distinct sign: “You shall be my messenger.”

Now I had to sell, at a great loss, my home in Schonau, as well as all the stock and equipment. I could not report any great progress in my congregation. To the contrary, I often had to wonder why there was so much quarreling and fighting among the members. It was not easy to keep my head above my shoulders and to preserve, to some extent, peace among them.

The next Conference session was in Houston. There I was admitted on probation and sent to the Giddings Circuit. The move took place soon after the Conference, and was very “watery.” My old bosom friend, Adolph Niebuhr, was now a blessed family man, farm owner, and steward in the congregation in Grassyville, which was a part of the circuit, this being where a church was located, as well as a parsonage. That was a joy. He helped with the moving with one wagon, and I drove the other. We were both tough country boys, but when the last ditch had been passed, and last load taken from the wagons, we said, “Thank God!” from the bottom of our hearts.

There was no lack of work here. I had six locations in which to preach, and there was only one Sunday in a month when I did not preach two or three times, and put from ten to eighteen miles behind me on horseback. During the week, there were prayer meetings and numerous other meetings to conduct. I had and needed a good saddle horse since the paths in the area were too bad for buggies. Soon the first year had passed and the next session of Conference was in Grassyville. Giddings was my assignment for another year. Brother Carl now became my presiding elder. At this Conference, four young men were admitted. One of them was sent to Williamson County. Brother Carl was also his presiding elder. After the Conference, Carl came to me and said, “Julius, you must go with young Wiebusch on a mission trip to Williamson County. In all his life he has not been loose from his mother’s apron strings. I will write him to come to you, and then you go together through the area and see what there is to do, and whether a suitable place for lodging can be found for him. None of our people have ever been there.” The young brother came, and the next day we went on our trip. We took the Central Railroad as far as Elgin. From there we went to Brushy Creek. Near this stream, we found a fairly large number of German settlers, most of whom admitted us in a friendly manner, but sometimes not. On Friday evening we arrived at Taylor, and saw a German name on a sign at a blacksmith shop. We dropped in and were received in a friendly way. The good man immediately took care of our horses. Now his wife also approached with a child in her arms, and said, “Look here, dear men, now I can really be happy about this child. These preachers shall not leave Taylor without our child being baptized.” There I stood as if I had been struck. I was as yet not even ordained. I slept very little that night. Mister Hannes took care of our lodging as well as location for a worship service on Sunday. Saturday we rode into the country and invited people to the worship services. On Sunday, about forty people attended the service, and we had a very nice meeting. At the close of the meeting, two men came to me and asked me whether I could baptize their children that afternoon. They had lived in the wilderness for several years, and no preacher of their church had been concerned about them. I promised, and that Sunday afternoon, I baptized a number of children — don’t remember exactly how many. Many laughed over my doubt about not being ordained, but not I, especially since I later experienced through my often grievous conscience, that many parents are doubtful that their children were not baptized by ordained ministers. Such old regulations should not be thoughtlessly handled as is often the case today, and certainly not a blessing to the Church. The Church ought not send her workers to work for which they have not been fully endowed or qualified. For me this regulation passed over without further consequence.

On Monday morning, we continued our trip. Williamson County was still sparsely settled. Also, land was offered us for $1 an acre. Wood and water were lacking, and fence wire had not yet been developed. We found practically no more Germans. We finally came to Rockdale. Then I directed my way homeward, while Brother Julius Wiebusch headed toward Taylor, where through the negotiations of Mr. Harmes, his lodging had been provided. That afternoon, we left Rockdale, and reached Lexington at pitch dark and found lodging for the night. The next morning, two German businessmen heard that we were on a sort of missionary trip, so they asked us whether we could also include Lexington as a place to preach. During the last years, a goodly number of Germans had settled in that neighborhood and more and more were coming. I told them that such a thing was not possible for me, since my Sundays were all arranged for. For Brother Wiebusch, the distance was too great. During further progress of the conversation, I made the suggestion whether people would come to worship service on a night when there is a full moon. Then I could come once a month at full moon time to conduct divine services. They snatched up the suggestion and promised their support. They were both members of the English Baptist Church in Lexington, and offered their church for the worship services.

Two weeks later, I preached for the first time in that very place to some 50 listeners, and was urgently invited to come back again.

The year 1879 was a year of drought in the region, if not also in the whole land. There was practically no corn, and very little cotton. The whole region was in post oak forest, and these old oaks were loaded this year with acorns as not often before. A well-organized band of thieves had their union from Texas to Missouri. At first they aimed only at horses and good mules. Soon, however, the men also attacked hogs, and as the beef cattle went up in price, they attacked them also. The government seemed powerless, and whenever a swindler was captured, dirty lawyers soon helped them to gain freedom. Impoverished slave holders and their offspring, who were too proud to beg and too lazy to work, supplied the band in this way. There were not many families who did not lose one or more horses to the thieves.

One day a good brother came and brought me a quarter of a young hog. “Brother,” he said, “Money will be miserably scarce this year. We have practically no harvest. I hope, however, that we will not be lacking in meat. I have sixteen excellent “grunters,” and you shall have one of them. The older brothers said, hope we will butcher them ourselves, isn’t that right?” He had earlier had bad experiences, and the cunning ways which the swindlers possessed in order to carry out their pranks astonished everyone. The hogs had become ready for slaughter this year because of the acorn crop. Slaughtering time was here, and all were waiting for cold weather appropriate for butchering. On a Sunday during the afternoon service, a dry norther blew up. After the service, the brothers said, “Tomorrow is butchering day. This morning they (the hogs) were still all there. I hope they will still be there tomorrow,” but he never saw a single one of his hog’s again, and had to buy his own supply of meat.

The stork had come to our house with a weak little boy child, and as the ladies came to see him, they returned home with a gloomy look. However, soon the little one developed into a right robust namesake, full of life and foolish tricks. Toward the end of the third year, a strong and healthy daughter also arrived to the joy of the grandmother, who truly did not lack in attention to her, but who also practiced good rearing.

The next Conference took place in Industry. My three years in the Giddings Circuit had, so far, passed pretty comfortably, but poor. During my first four years in the Conference, my salary did not reach $300. Clothing was very expensive. Therefore, much miserable rubbish was consigned to us. Flour was always over $6 per 100 pounds, and occasionally reached as high as $9. So my previously earned few dollars soon vanished in spite of all modesty in the kitchen and in clothing. Here I want to remember mama (Sophia) and my mother. They were modest in all their promotions.

At the Conference, the bishop called out: “Seguin: J. E. Urbantke.” That meant I had to move. I cannot say that I accepted this change with great joy. Until now, Seguin and Guadalupe Valley had been two separate fields. Now they had been thrown together. This made it one of the largest and also one of the most intelligent congregations in the Conference. I, with my little formal education, found it to be a most difficult move.

Brother Henry Dietz now became my presiding elder. We lived in Seguin and had very good brothers and sisters as neighbors. We had plenty of work, ‘but it was mostly nice, agreeable work.

The quarterly conference allowed me $400. in salary. We would have lived on that too, but now a very evil guest came to the parsonage — a sickness which did not leave during the three years we stayed in Seguin.

The church and the parsonage were quite incomplete. During the first year, I succeeded in completing the church, and to adequately enlarge the parsonage. Since the next yearly conference was to be held in Seguin, these improvements were very necessary. A month before our Conference, the Southern Methodist Church also met here. The impression that it left in the town was not n good one.

At this, our Conference, Blinn College was now born under the name of Mission Institute. Brother Carl was elected to become leader of this undertaking, and a body of trustees was elected. A few days after the close of the Conference, a man named Jones came and said, “I am not a member of your church, but I attended several of the sessions of your Conference, and I heard you preach several times. It seems to me that you people still have a heart and are concerned about the want and sin of the people. In my neighborhood, it looks very evil. I have a nice piece of land which I would give to you if your Church would build a school on it similar to   the one that you planned in your sessions.

I pointed out to the man that such a thing would be impossible for us, and it would be nonsense for them without contact near a railroad. Schools that were built before railroads were built all had to either move to another location or close up, for the near vicinity alone cannot support

such a school.

The man left, promised to return, which he did. He let himself be persuaded to sell said piece of land, and send the money to Blinn College, which at that time was still a Mission Institute. The amount was $800 which formed the ground work for a maintenance and preservation fund for this school. Our Conference bishop and preachers must have made a very good impression in the city of Seguin, especially our Bishop Bowman and also our missions secretary Fowler.

In the year 1882, the congregation held a wonderful camp meeting on the Guadalupe. The Spirit of God worked wonders, especially among the youth of the congregation.

I was blessed the third year with this congregation.  During this year, the congregation built a new and nice big church in Guadalupe Valley.

I had a heavy heart, for my burden of debts grew steadily and alarmingly heavy, and I could not understand that the people loaned, yes, even offered me money when they knew my situation and financial position. I don’t deny that at that time my thoughts were that the Lord did not want me in His work anymore because He did not provide better for us. We certainly could not cast our lives unto fast living.

The debts had come over me from I knew not where. There were doctor bills and prescription bills, and the cost of convalescence rose steadily even though our own demands were small. The next session of Conference was in Brenham, and there I received notice to move. Hedwigshill and Llano was the next appointment — a large field with five places to preach, and members living in four counties. I went there with much concern and fear, for my $400 debt was pressing me hard.

We were heartily received, but that field of work gave me a very uncomfortable or disagreeable difficulty. I had no kind of vehicle, only a good saddle horse. Until now we had always had a store nearby where we could get our necessities, but here the nearest one was seven miles away. It was no pleasure to bring a sack of flour home on a horse. The service round gave Beaver Creek only three of the five Sunday services, and on the other two Sundays, my wife and my mother had to stay at home alone. Still, we were of good courage although the sun did not shine. In the congregation, rays of hope could be seen.

One day, I sat at home alone in the morning. Mother and my wife had gone to neighbor Brandenberger’s home to quilt. Suddenly Father Pluenneke stood beside me, and began to speak in a business-like manner as follows: “Listen! You must have a vehicle. Without it, it just won’t do. We have done very well up here with our cattle industry. Here I have brought along $100. that I want to lend you. We will not write a note and we will not even mention interest. If you can pay it back later, fine, and if not, well, that is all right too. So go over there and buy yourself a vehicle. A few people have offered their old family wagons for sale.” He directed his eyes to one of them. I thought for a while about the unexpected offer and then said to him, “First of all, thanks for your friendly offer, but I simply cannot accept it, for the Discipline is not only for the members, but also for the preachers, and it says, ‘Don’t make any debts without good prospects to pay them.’ I don’t have any prospects of paying.” “But”, he said, “You can’t go on like this. You are hindered in your work.” We argued and discussed the situation a while longer. Brother Pluenneke himself withdrew his first offer to buy an old wagon, for one can just as well borrow a couple of hundred dollars and pay the interest as to have a worn out carriage constantly standing in the repair shop. Also, the owners, who previously probably had to pay a big price, had now also set a big price on the used vehicle. The same kind were now being sent down from the factories in the North, and at reduced prices. For a while we sat quietly beside one another. Then Brother Pluenneke said suddenly, “Just what is going through your head?” “I wanted to ask the same of you,” said I. “You are the older, so speak.” “No,” he said, “I see that my plan has fallen through, and I think that is good. So you speak.” “Well, good. What is the cheapest for which I can get a suitable vehicle?” He immediately told me that for about $175. I could buy another horse, double harness, and a good wagon. “Good,” I said. “Now I want to make a suggestion. You take this money back home with you, tell no one about our discussion here, and if the dear Lord should reveal to another the same or similar thought that he gave to you, then I will consider that the Lord wants me to have a vehicle, and I will come and get the money which you have offered me. To be quiet about it is a command, so it will be sure to be kept secret.” Brother Pluenneke went home. He had been gone only a short while when Brother Brandenberger came in and made me the same offer with $50. I gave him the same information, and he also went home again. The prayer meetings here were held right after noon, and it was now time for me to be on my way to the prayer meeting, which was supposed to be held at the home of Brother Pluenneke’s second son. On the way, close to Brother John Brandenberger’s, a little shower of rain overtook me, as so often happened. Quickly I galloped to the house and found Sister Brandenberger at home alone. “Well,” she said, “That hit us just right. I have been wanting to speak with you alone. When our mother died last fall, she gave each of us girls $20, but she said we should not spend it on ourselves, but should do something good with it. My sisters all gave theirs to the missions. I have still kept mine. I am probably a little more hardhearted than the others. Now I hear that you are desperately in need of a wagon, but cannot buy yourself one. Now take this money. It can help you some. If you ever can afford it, you can give it to a good cause. And since I have been so hardhearted, I will now add five dollars of my own to it.” There I stood! Lord God, how can you direct people’s hearts? How you acknowledge your children who walk in religious faith! When I soon thereafter arrived at the prayer meeting, I found Father Pluenneke already there. He had gone in at his son’s house because of the same shower of rain that had caused me to stop at Sister Brandenberger’s. Brother F. Brandenberger now also came to the prayer meeting. I called them into one corner alone, and informed them about what had happened. Both stood there full of amazement and praised God for his revelations of grace. Each one still had his money with him, and admonished me to take it immediately.

A few days later, a promising young man came to me and wished for a conference with me. He told me what a rough life he had as a youth. His father had been a mocker of everything holy. The children had grown up under strict discipline. The father had died, and he himself, (the young man), because he felt a tug at his heart to do so, had hired out to a member of the congregation. There he had become acquainted with a devout girl of the congregation. She was an orphan along with her three sisters. He had married her, and established a small home. A

short time before my arrival there, she had died. The grief over his loss was still apparent on his otherwise nice fresh face. “The first thing I want to do is follow in the faith of my wife and my Savior. My deceased wife has led me to Him. She has gone on ahead. I want to follow. Oh, believe me, I have learned the Christian truths of salvation from her and with her and would now like to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am indeed willing to undergo a test.” The test was in the form of an instructive and devotional conversation, and on the following Sunday, I baptized Brother Gustaf Schulze in the church at Beaver Creek. Later, I also baptized a grown brother and sister of his. Soon came the time for our district meeting in Guadalupe Valley. I met Brother Schulze in the store, and so, quite at random, I said, “Wouldn’t you like to go along with me to the district meeting?” “I probably will not go. The cattle drive is not quite over, and the horses are about all exhausted, so a day to Guadalupe Valley would not be the right medicine,” he answered. I said, “I don’t want your horses to go along. I will arrange for a horse for you. We will ride to San Antonio, buy a new wagon there, drive in it to Guadalupe Valley to the district meeting, and when it is over, we will leisurely ride home to Llano.” He answered, “That sounds like music to my ears. Certainly I will go with you.”

In San Antonio we bought a wagon and harness and reached Guadalupe Valley the next day. It was a good district meeting. Much business was transacted, concerning the calling of preachers and preparation for work. Also, the Mission Institute was discussed. On the way home, I found the young man to be very quiet. As soon as the talk was of the above mentioned theme, he had an endless number of questions, and sought for answers to these questions. “Gus,” I said at last, “I noticed how you stand. The Lord calls you to His work, but the flesh is unwilling. But when the Lord calls, one better follow immediately.” After that, he spoke practically nothing more, but it was easy to observe that an earnest battle was going on in him. In his luggage, there was a suit which had been bought in San Antonio. In about a month, there would be a wedding to a sister of his first wife. But now came the call from the Lord: “Go out into the vineyard.” Not right away, but after the district conference, on the next Saturday, he came to me and said, “I am in the clear, and if you, at the quarterly conference, can provide recommendation for my admission into the Institute, then I am prepared to go.” “What does your fiancee say?” I asked. “She cried a little, but she knows, too, that God’s way is the only way for us. We prayed then, and want to try it completely with the Lord.”

The congregation had gone through heavy storms. The cattle thieves had visited the congregation, and then the neighborhood a great deal, and it came, so to say, into open war and shooting, etc., but probably also with secret settlements with defense protection. The government, it seemed, was, as mentioned earlier, powerless here as elsewhere. Soon after the war, a lynch court gained strong ground in San Felipe. Four men rode around there through all the war years, but the various patrols never succeeded in seizing them. They stole the people’s livelihood, and it is said that they robbed much from the soldiers, and tormented them. Not long after the close of the war, all four were hanged on a tree on the banks of the Ballinger River, and when, two days later, no one had been concerned about the bodies, they were buried without coffins on the bank of the river. The present day thieves were of a different sort. Practically all were the descendants of one time wealthier slaveholders who had come down in their circumstances — too proud to beg, but too lazy to work — so there was nothing left for them to do but to steal. These men carried on their cattle stealing, not by sneaking around like a pack of hounds and grabbing here and there a pair, but they drove herds up to 2000 head together, and then defended themselves as only thieves and robbers do it. The area was at that time very thinly settled. There was many a bad dispute and quarreling with fatal results. These horse thieves helped dishonest lawyers when they were freed, and they stole so much more in order to pay the lawyers.

Some very energetic sheriffs of the land did some good deeds during these times. They made short process, and shot the swindlers down at the least resistance. They knew the crowd and their doings exactly. Many probably also encountered the condemning lynch group.

One morning as an old Welchman near Giddings wanted to fetch his mules to work, he found four of the worst horse thieves hanged on a tree. He sounded an alarm. The day before, the sheriff had caught them in action and put them in jail. When the old Welchman sounded the alarm, all of Giddings became excited when they got to the jail and it was empty. No door or lock was harmed, and the key was in its place. The sheriff had probably loaned it for a while, and knew why. He was tired of staking his life for retaliation. And so it was with judges in surrounding settlements. Farther in the west, a few capable sheriffs with help from a Ranger captain, established orderly conditions, but, as a result of all the events and experiences lived through, many deep wounds were cut into soul and heart, which often bled again and again under certain circumstances.

The Quarterly Conference (in Llano) set my salary at $500. Life up there was simple and cheap for us, but my horses were very expensive to keep up. I had to keep them in good condition, and the feed for them was always expensive, since very little was raised there. The health condition of my family and my mother improved very quickly, and we had three years of good health up there.

The first seven months that we lived up there were exceptionally wet and rainy, and often the Llano River roared more madly than the herds of cattle. All kinds of vegetables and fruit grew exceptionally well in this valley. Then, however, the drought set in, which lasted 23 months. During this drought, however, the mesquite bushes produced a huge harvest. All cattle and wild creatures liked to eat these beans and pods, except the old creatures, which, since they could not chew with their bad teeth, could not benefit, for the beans are very hard. The price of cattle fell to less than half of what it had been. As a result of the water shortage, the cattle could not be driven to market, because the watering places were too far apart, and many were completely dried up.

Each year the congregation conducted a camp meeting. Because of the fact that the members were so greatly scattered, this meeting was at the same time a sort of reunion, and always proved to be a blessing. The First Quarterly Conference came to the decision that the parsonage should be enlarged. This was very necessary and was immediately carried out. At the last Conference in 1884, it was decided to build a new church in Hoersterville. This church was dedicated on Pentecost in 1885, free of debt. I had three years of work on horseback, and also at the work bench, planing and sawing, but there we received from the Lord of the vineyard many blessings to body and soul.

Until this day, I cannot explain how I proudly brought my debt of $600, which I had had on my mind and shoulders in the Spring of 1884, down to a small balance by the end of the three-year period. Truly, we lived very cheaply in many respects, and received, in addition to the $500 salary, much friendly support, but as I have already mentioned, my horses were a great expense to me. The blessings of the Lord make one rich. We must travel the paths of faith if we want to have experiences in faith. I did not, however, write that last sentence to encourage the making of debts. The Lord had proven himself favorably to his people in a spiritual manner, and especially at the before mentioned camp meetings, where many a burning battle of repentance resulted in glorious victories and reconciliations. Indeed, many a time the preacher’s family had to wait a fairly long time to begin their ride home. After the meeting, he (the preacher) had to meet with two or three to have another meeting alone under a tree where no one else could listen in. Many good fruits grew from these experiences.

The next Conference gave me Paige, Lexington, and Caldwell for my field of work. Giddings and Grassyville (congregations) had perished during the last six years. The church from Giddings was moved three miles west of Paige and the Grassyville church was built into a parsonage beside the church. Truly, it was not a very inviting field. For that reason, there was this huge expansion. From the parsonage (in Paige) to Caldwell was 55 miles, and all three Yeguas (creeks or streams) and their terrible valleys had to be crossed. Lexington had developed quite well during the last six years, and had built a suitable church. Part of their growth was through transfers from other congregations, and part through members won in the vicinity. In Paige, the congregation was practically a wreck, regretfully, greatly because of the failure of the preachers assigned there. It never did come to life and thrive. Here I found my old bosom friend again. Faithful at my post, however, I had to guide him to the grave after one year. Yes, the Lord takes the righteous before affliction. But what it means to lose such a friend must be experienced. I cannot describe it. In Lexington and in Caldwell, the work of the Lord developed quite well with the help of faithful local preachers. Also, under the leadership of my successors, and in spite of all the effort given to the work in Paige, the complete decline of the congregation could not be avoided. It soon perished completely.

The only time in my ministry that I ever said a word about my appointment was at the Conference in Freyburg. I had even spoken in earnest to the congregation without mentioning an opinion, but it seemed now that an opinion must be given. It seemed as if the impossible was going to happen, and it seemed to me as if I stood in the way. I mentioned this to my presiding elder, and that I was willing to move if he approved of it. Brother Matthai (the presiding elder) said: “Good! If you move, what do you say about going to Industry?” I told him that I never have chosen and never will choose my own field of work, but that I must remind him that a prophet is without honor in his own country. Industry was my mother congregation.

The Conference sent me to Industry, and this was the most difficult move that I have ever made. Much rain and muddy roads, and the increased family made it difficult. The congregation accepted us in a friendly manner, and did not cause her own pupil any difficulties. The congregation was in good condition, but it had a remarkably small group of youths, and a small Sunday School. The youths that were there were very good, and allowed themselves to be guided. Still, their number was very small in comparison to the membership. Some attacks of snobbery from worldly people were not hard to reject. Thank God, no one could recall any great faults of mine.

If I may use the expression, these were the five most comfortable years in my ministry. Here I could spend pretty much time in study and sermon preparation. I imagined that I did better, at least, it didn’t hurt me. For years the best preachers in the Conference had served here, so it often seemed difficult to be their successor. I took great pains to bring the best messages possible from the pulpit of this congregation. I wonder if I always succeeded. Often, the presiding elder held me in demand to conduct protracted meetings and camp meetings because I had only one church — Industry. During the third year of my stay in Industry, the congregation celebrated its 25-year jubilee, and, at the same time, hosted the Annual Conference. Our previous pastor, Rev. Stroeter, and his wife, also visited us, which caused us much joy. During the fourth and fifth years, our Sunday School grew exceptionally. Not only did the members of the church send their children more than before, but several families who had been outsiders joined the church.

Now the five-year period had come to an end, and the five-year rule was still in effect. (At this time, a minister could stay not more than five years at one place.) The Conference took place in Brenham. It was a nice meeting. Brother Kienle had become presiding elder of the Brenham District. My appointment was Perry and Meier’s Settlement. The move was very smooth, but oh, how the responsibility for my position and duty fell upon my soul as I was riding on the train from Marlin moving my goods, and I could see the church from the train.

We were accepted in a friendly manner. There were a number of members that we had known in Industry. No other congregation had transferred as many members as Industry, and at the same time kept a good membership and financial strength.

Meier’s Settlement also had a church for themselves, and on Sunday afternoons, the preacher went there for Sunday School and a sermon.

The Sunday School in Perry was large and well organized, to which the practically built church gave good opportunity for growth, and they also had a good teaching personnel. There was an equally good Epworth League in the congregation. I had fear in my heart. I did not go to people for advice, but to the Lord, the head of the church. He truly fulfilled his promise to me. “As your days, so shall your strength be” — specifically in regards to body and spirit. There was much work. There were also some capable assistants at hand. At both places, six classes were organized, and class leaders provided for each, but in one voice, they said, “We expect to see you as often as possible at the prayer meetings.” From that time on, I had only Monday and Saturday evenings at home at my disposal, and often not even those, although I always fought for the Saturday evenings. The prayer meetings proved to be blessed occasions, and the Sunday worship services added considerably to the membership so that the big church was often too small. In the summer, we conducted a camp meeting, and the Spirit of the Lord worked powerfully outside the congregation. Twenty-five new members joined the congregation. At many places, one could feel the power of God, regretfully from many people through forceful grumbling about the Methodists, but the joy of conflict was broken by many, and later bore good fruits, even if such did not always become Methodists. They sometimes made it “pretty hot” for their unconverted preachers.

I never did really succeed in establishing unity between the members in Meier’s Settlement and Perry. There must have been some evil things going on between the two congregations, even before my time, and no one was willing to confess or forgive.

The financial status of the land was very depressing. For three years, the price of cotton had stood at 5 cents a pound. It was especially difficult for the renters who were supposed to pay $5 per acre rent, and the owners would not come down, until here, too, a sort of court of justice Gained ground, and a number of owners of the land were frightfully beaten. No one could find out who had done it. Other renters left their fields, but first they sowed them with Johnson Grass seed, the weed plague of the South, so that no other renter would want to cultivate the place. Now, as in olden days, the owners began to take a part of the harvest for their rent.

A very earnest question now entered my mind. “What shall become of my children?” (There were 7 or 8 at this time.) The other preachers of the Conference were all so situated that their children could receive good school instruction so that they could become teachers or business men. For me, this was impossible. The state school was hardly established, and education made itself noticeable first in the cities. Also, it appeared as if the special authorities put obstacles in the way of the completely German settlements, like Industry and Perry. My family and I benefited very little from the state schools. At every appointment where I lived with school age children, I had to pay heavily and help otherwise in order to provide school instruction to some extent for my children.

It did not enter my mind to let fourteen and fifteen year olds leave home. I began to observe that the Lord of my life wanted to allow a turning point to come about, and I only prayed: “Lord, show me your path and I will gladly take it.”

Toward the end of the third year in Perry, a piece of raw land was offered to me, to bring it into cultivation for Spring, and with the required work thereby to pay the full rent. Fritz (Fred) had now become a strong youth. The land lay near the parsonage. I took the offer, and in addition, I bought another pair of horses and the necessary implements. We went to work and were successful. The land produced a good average crop.

During the next year, we went to work in earnest with our farming, and the yield this year probably surpassed the crops of all the farmers in the neighborhood. In the summer, the presiding elder called me to help with a series of meetings (revival) at Copperas Cove. This was a field recently taken up by Brother Felsing. I looked at the region more closely and saw that it pleased me. I asked about a rent place, and found one that was suitable to my circumstances. I rented it for the coming year.

The circuit was now divided. Meier’s Settlement built a new parsonage, and got a preacher of their own.

At the next Conference, I took the position of a superannuate, and went to the rent place at Killeen Prairie, which was about seven miles from our church in Copperas Cove.

Brother Schmalz was serving Bartlett and Copperas Cove. Bartlett was by far the stronger congregation, and the Quarterly Conference decided that the preacher should be in Bartlett two Sundays, and in Copperas Cove on the third Sunday, but that Copperas Cove should pay half of the preacher’s salary. Bartlett was rich. Copperas Cove was poor in comparison to Bartlett. In spite of all protests, this arrangement was kept. There was no danger for me to get rusty as a preacher. Indeed, I had more work to do in Copperas Cove than the preacher in charge. The Copperas Cove congregation also laid the work of the Sunday School on my shoulders. I wonder if Bartlett did not have to blush with shame, especially since they also had a good local preacher!

My move from Perry to the farm went successfully, even though it was with several obstacles. Some of the members of the Congregation offered me their wagons, oxen, and a driver. We had spent the second night in Temple. The day had been gloomy with heavy clouds, and the snow which fell was heavier than any I had ever seen before or since in Texas. The next day we could go only as far as Belton. On the next day, we reached the place which should be our home for the next year. Enthusiastically, we went to work. We had enough work oxen. The Copperas Cove congregation accepted us wholeheartedly. Most of them were old acquaintances who had moved here from Paige and Grassyville. Everything was very cheap except beef cattle. Even the price of land had fallen greatly. In midsummer, my brother, Carl, visited us. He observed the region, and on the second day, he said: “Julius, if you can find something worth having, and can buy it at a reasonable cost, I will lend you $2000 at 5% interest. The region does not appeal very much to me. However, it is possible that you and your children can find land here.” I started hunting for land. A 400-acre piece of land was offered to me for $2000. I made the purchase. About 30 acres of the land were under cultivation, and about 70 acres more were fit for cultivation, but that meant for us to grub out rocks and haul them away. The remainder of the land was pasture, but there was fire wood on a great part of it. I don’t want to say much about hard work. I knew it would be hard work. The children helped faithfully and sincerely. The harvest on the rent place was good, and from that profit I built a stable and enclosed the land. Wire and posts were needed in great quantities, for everything had “gone to the dogs,” as was found to be the case on most American farms at that time.

During the first year on the farm in 1900, there was a tremendous harvest. All grain, vegetables, fruit, and cotton bore prodigiously, and the price of cotton began to rise. By the beginning of November, it had reached 20 cents per pound. The farmers could shout with joy, and so they did, too. But was it always in the right tone? Copperas Cove was indeed a rugged terrain, with many rocks and gravel hills, but in 1900 the entire area made its nicest appearance and many a person who saw it had the desire to live there.

Out of the proceeds of the harvest, I could pay for all the improvements on the farm, and that was significant, and I could also pay the interest on the purchase price of the land.

Until now, the family had continued to grow to the extent that we regularly sat thirteen around the table. The table was always set simply, but set with sufficient nourishing food.

Now the number began to dwindle. Fritz was the first one to leave the parents’ home, in preference to a business and town life in Marlin, not to his advantage. In the Spring of 1901, Anna married John Haug, and went to Perry. The year 1901 was a contrast from the year 1900. The drought was so powerful that one could call it a real harvest failure. It did not cover the needs of the year for humans and animals. The scarcity struck everywhere.

One day Brother Winkler from The Grove visited me. This was a side station of Waco, which was just as displeased with its service from Waco as Copperas Cove was displeased with its service from Bartlett, and both had reason for their dissatisfaction. We talked about the condition, and came to the conclusion that it would be better if Copperas Cove and The Grove would be put together, and a preacher be sent to serve the two places, but then a parsonage would have to be built. There were no funds for this. The congregation was quite unwilling to give, but they didn’t have anything either, because of such a failure in harvest. Brother Winkler said: “If that is all, I am willing to make the congregation an advance loan of $800 to $1000. There will be good harvests again, and then they can pay it off gradually. Bring the situation into discussion at the last Quarterly Conference. If the Conference can send us a preacher, then we will see about a parsonage.” So I did just that. The presiding elder gave no firm promise, but said that he would do his best to send us a preacher. The session of Conference was again in Brenham, and on the second day of the session came a telegram: “Secure a parsonage, for you will have a preacher.”

Immediately I went to Copperas Cove and searched for a house to rent, but there was none to be had that deserved the name house. My heart practically fell into my shoes. Close toward evening, a retired railroad agent came to me and said: I cannot rent out my house, but I will sell it to you for $800.” This was reasonable. It was not a parsonage as one must be today, but it was right livable. When the man heard that he would get the whole price of the house in cash, he subtracted $50 from the price, and the purchase was closed.

Brother Jacob Ott was sent to be our preacher — or did he choose Copperas Cove? During the year before, he had made a lengthy visit with his relatives here, and had seen the country in its bounty and fallen in love with it. Now he got to see it in its poverty and bareness. I have never seen such a dissatisfied person as our brother Ott. The congregation did everything possible for him, but it was more poor itself than the good brother. The affliction became still worse. The whole landscape offered a very sad view. In the Spring of 1902, a few light rain showers fell, and the corn developed quite nicely. Wheat and oats were again a complete crop failure, and did not grow tall enough even to be cut for feed. Corn stood somewhat promising, but one night an electrical storm came, and it must have lowered everything to the ground, for from, that day on corn and every other kind of grain stood still and did not grow anymore, and could not be dried and kept for the winter. One had to let it lay in the sun so long to dry, and even then, when one set it into stacks, it began to ferment and rotted. Finally, in early July, abundant rain came. The cotton recovered somewhat and produced a small harvest. Grain plants produced a fairly good second cut for winter feed, and what was best of all was that the prairie was soon covered with green grass as in Spring. Still, a fairly hard, lean winter lay before us. The gardens had failed us completely. For the Germans, that is always a difficult loss.

Brother Streit was our presiding elder. He managed the office quite well. However, I clashed with him in regard to the question of money between Copperas Cove and Bartlett. My last word was: “The situation cannot remain thus for another year or I will discontinue all the work that I have been doing until now.” Then the good man finally softened, and volunteered to ride home with me. That night a long session was held. Brother Ott had told him specifically: “I will not stay in Copperas Cove another year.” Then I said to him: “Then you see about the $51 moving cost and the $6. traveling expense here for us.” Bartlett said: “We have already paid for a move this year.”

At last, after much pressure and reprimand, we agreed that I should take over the supervision of Copperas Cove for a year, but then Copperas Cove must have a preacher again.

The session of Conference was in Lexington. The dearth of the two arid years showed itself everywhere. Nevertheless, there was no noticeable decrease in the Conference collection, particularly from the small congregations. Also, the Conference session was nice and pleasant. The field of work that was given to me for a year included Copperas Cove, The Grove, and Ballinger. Good enough! The Grove, discouraged with the treatment from Waco, took new courage. Ballinger, however, was different. Most of the Methodists that went up there during the drought said: “I first want to secure for myself an excellent piece of land from this soil, and then we want to ‘see how the world turns!’ “

From the beginning, it seemed useless to me to work further there. Also, the people were widely scattered in the area. I could not see how any sort of impulse could come to improve the condition of the congregation.

The year 1903 was a blessed year. The members proved to be thankful. I remained in my house on the farm, and the newly acquired parsonage was rented out. Two Sundays a month belonged to Copperas Cove, one to The Grove, and one to Ballinger.

I have forgotten a few important happenings of the very first years, and I want to review these occurrences here. Whoever is interested in it will, indeed, find the conclusion of the entire thing and comprehend it.

Indeed, at the very beginning, I mentioned how difficult it was to get vegetable seeds. This difficulty was remedied in the following manner: Mr. F. Engelking, whom I have already mentioned in another place, found, in a newspaper that he subscribed to, the advertisement of a garden seed catalog. The name, as I can best remember it, was Landareth and Son. We wrote to the seed house and soon received a gracious answer. Soon thereafter, an agricultural association was formed. In fun, it was called the Kraut Association, and the members were called Kraut Junkers. Each member paid 50 cent dues, and received for that an abundance of vegetable seeds, more than he needed, especially in the variety of vegetables. The seed was good. Unfortunately, now came the deplorable Civil War. The seed came from a house in Philadelphia, and with the coming of the war, all business to the place was canceled. At the end of the war, the Association immediately revived, and took up its useful activity, not only in Millheim, but also in Cat Spring, Industry, New Ulm, Frelsburg, Roedershume, and Round Top until the seed supply developed into its present state. Surely this was a very useful undertaking for the circumstances of those days.

The Germans brought their German thirst along from over there (Germany), but did not find a way to quench it over here. Beer breweries were tried, but so far they were not successful, because the sparse settlement did not pay for itself.

As previously mentioned, there were, indeed, many well educated men among the first German settlers. Among them was a completely experienced university professor, a wonderful person, by the name of Hagemann. He was a chemist and nothing else. He was among the very first settlers.

In the cultivated fields at that time, the little red tomatoes came up in masses. Indeed, no one had planted them. The settlers who had already lived there during the early 1830’s related that, at one time, a mysterious migration of wandering pigeons had flown over the area. Their droppings fell as thickly as a pretty strong rain shower, and whoever did not want to become stained, had to take an umbrella with him, if he had one, or remain under roof. The usual day’s work was supposed to have remained undone for many hours. Since that pigeon flight, the little red tomatoes grew in the fields, and often out on the prairie, in large quantities. Mr. Hagemann took notice of these tomatoes and immediately began to make experiments with them. “Wine! Wine! Wine!” his red nose shouted! He had come from the Rhineland. Soon he was successful, and when we came into the area, Mr. Hagemann’s tomato wine was fairly well known. Instead of cotton, he planted only tomatoes. The new ground seemed to encourage tomato growth, and the yield was large. Children gladly saw to the picking. He built an adequate press, and, at appropriate times, he always ordered a load of sugar direct from the sugar farms in the lower Brazos Valley, and adequate containers came from Houston. He would not allow anyone in the press room or in the store room except his son, and his wife, and kept his entire activity a secret.

It seems as though the Civil War itself did not hinder his undertaking. Both son and father were very determined Union people, and the son refused, with determination, to join the army of the South, rode on horseback to Mexico, and from there traveled to Germany. There he learned the art of beer brewing, and, at the end of the war, came back to Millheim, where something happened to the peace between father and son. The father wanted to make wine, but the son, beer. The family left their home and moved to New Ulm, and now the son should direct the brewing of both wine and beer. However, the wine would not be made from tomatoes, but from Herbemont Grapes. This was entirely against the father’s will, and it was rumored in the area that there was a violent scene in the family that resulted in a complete splitting up. The father said: “My wine recipe I have burned, and no one can take it from my head and memory.” Soon after, the father died. The son wanted to carry on both wine and beer brewing, but had little success therewith. Beer brewing was not very successful. It seemed as though he could not satisfy the tastes of the masses. The grape plants (grape vines) grew quite forcefully. They were all superior tendrils that he had grafted onto our native wild grape roots. The yield of the grapevines was huge. Many people had laid out up to six acres in vineyards, and Mr. Hagemann, Jr., rejoiced. As now, even a railroad came to New Ulm, everything overflowed in glory. But then came the end of the “80”s and the beginning of the “90”s. That was the “end of the song.” The superior vine which was grafted on the native root grew too fast in all directions, and could no longer be nourished by the root stock. So the wonder gardens died away very quickly.

The alcohol content of the tomato wines must not have been very high, for one did not see any drunks very often. Now and then one could see a few tipsy ones. Yet for others, they did not remain quite so guiltless. I once was a witness to such a case myself. A so-called gang of cowboys came by Hagemann’s one day toward noon, and made their noon rest stop there. They had brought along a few strayed beef cattle for Mr. Hagemann, and delivered them to him. They did not want to take any pay for that, so Mr. Hagemann sent them a portion of fine wine right after noon. I do not know how full the container was in which he sent the wine, but there was probably a good one and one-half gallons in it — maybe more. The contents flowed well, and soon the empty container came back. But oh dear! What did it look like at the campgrounds? No one has probably ever seen a sicker group of cowboys, in which every one of the whole company doubled up in pain, as was seen here. No more cattle were driven that afternoon, and Mr. Hagemann was given thanks in all possible sounds and mumbles.


History of Grassyville Methodist Church

This article was published in three installments called Step Into the Past, in one of the Lee or Bastrop County newspapers, sometime after 1942. It was transcribed by Marcella Hamff Chapple in May 2015. Unfortunatley, the date and newspaper were not left on the articles as they were cut from the paper. If you know the exact year and date would you please let us know?

History of Grassyville Church

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles on the history of the Grassyville Methodist Church which is no longer in existence. The only thing left to mark its existence in that area is the church cemetery which has been preserved and is now surrounded by a sturdy fence.

PAIGE – The earliest organized Methodist Church in the Paige vicinity was established in Grassyville in the year 1856. Rev Edward Schneider served as pastor. This congregation grew and prospered. A parsonage was built but there was no special building for worship services, so the pastor and his congregation in various homes for this purpose.

QUARTERLY conferences and worship services were held in the home of various members. This naturally called for quite a bit of preparation on the part of the hosts and hostesses. And due to the many delays in traveling in those days, the quarterly conference was not always a definitely scheduled affair.

This incident is related concerning one of those meetings:

THE PRESIDING elder and other member of the quarterly conference arrived at the home of Sam Kieleman for a meeting. The custom of that day was that the home at which the meeting was to be held furnished the meat for the group. Mr Kieleman was taken somewhat by surprise because he had no domestic animals on hand for butchering. He took his gun and went out in the forest to hunt for meat.

LIKE MANY men of his day, he lived close to God and had utmost faith in his providence. He knelt to pray under a large tree. A strange noise aroused him. On looking around he beheld a large fat deer. He was a poor marksman, but the deer was so near to him that he had no trouble in getting it. Thereby, meat was supplied bountifully for all the members of the conference.

IN 1868 this congregation built their first church. It was called the Grassfork Church. The name and location of this organization was later changed to Salem Methodist Church of Grassyville.

HERE IS A quote from a document found in the corner stone of this church:

In the year of our Lord, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy Five, the congregation met to discuss the possibility of building a church.

PRESENT AT the meeting were Rev. J. C. Kies, Rev. J. A. Paule, Presiding Elder, and Rev. William Leiser to assist in this plan.

At this meeting the Salem Methodist Church was organized under the rules and regulations of the New Orleans District of the Methodist Church South.

ALSO PRESENT at this meeting were Herman Hempel, George Hempel, Sophia Hempel, Christian Hempel, Ida Hempel, A. Behrens, Anton Eisenbach, Emma Eisenbach, Wilhelm Peschke, Heinrich Dunk, Anna Dunk, August Kattner, Josephine Kattner, Christian Hamff, Jr., Anna Hamff, Christian Hamff, Sr., Caroline Hamff, August Hamff, Elizabeth Hamff, Ferdinand Hamff, Maria Hamff, John Dunk, Anna Dunk, John Dunk, Fredaricka Dunk.

ALSO Aug. Dolenger, Wilhelmina Dolenger, Franz Weise, Carolina Weise, Albert Orts, Sr., Dorothea Orts, William Ebner, John Krauter, Christina Krauter, John Sinn, John Kunkel, Sr., Gotlieb Kunkel, Anna Kunkel, Carl Raschke, Samuel Dalchui, Edward Dalchui, Anna Dalchui, Carrollette Dalchui, Theofield Vetter, Leopold Burgdorf, Wilhelmina Burgdorf.

ALSO Wilhelm Mosebach, Julianna Mosebach, Joseph O. Mosebach, Carl Boese, Catherine Boese, Catharine Boese, Catharine Franz, John Behrens, Wilhelmina Behrens, Bernard Behrens, Johanna Behrens, L. Sinn, Heinrich Weise, Herbert Schuman, L. Schuman, Wilhelmina Kortlang, Edward Hoffman, Pauline Hoffman, Peter Franz, Sr., Peter Franz, Jr., August Spieler, Reinhold Oltjen, Helen Oltjen, Wilhelm Spieler, Christine Spieler, Elizabeth Leiser, and Christine Hille.

IT WAS VOTED to send the Board of Trustees to the New Orleans Quarterly Conference to be authorized to build a new church. Those going were Herman Hempel, August Hamff, Ferdinand Hamff, Christian Hamff, Franz Weise, Edward Dalchui and William Ebers.

At the New Orleans conference was unanimously decided that a newer and larger church should be built to accommodate the increasing number of members living on the Grassy and Pin Oak Creeks.

THE BUILDING committee consisted of August Hamff, Albert Orts, Sr., William Ebers, John Behrens, L. Burgdorf and William Leiser (Continued next week)

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of article on the history of the Grassyville Methodist Church as compiled by Mr & Mrs A J Foerster and Mrs Olga Schultz.

THIS NEW CHURCH was named the Grassyville Salem Methodist Church. A parsonage was also built at this location. The lumber from the Grassyfork church built in 1868 was used to build this new parsonage.

This congregation became the second largest in the German Conference due to their deep and unwavering faith and their thorough and efficient methods in discharging their Christian duty to their church.

FROM THIS church went out into the ministry, J. C. Krauter, H. Ebers, H. W. Weise, J. A. G. Rabe, R. Moerner, A. R. Vetter, Ben Behrens, Dr. J. B. A. Ahrens, prominent in New Orleans, was converted in Grassyville.

Some of the pastors to serve this church were Rev. Jul. E. Urbanke, Rev. V. Bohmfalk, Rev. J. Sharper, Rev. F. Vordenbaumen, Rev. Dan Schrimpf, Rev. P. H. Hench, Rev. J. Kern, Rev. J. A. G. Rabe, Rev. E. A. Konken, Rev. J. F. Koch, Rev. D. Hart, Rev. W. F. Buss, Rev. R. Gamenthaler, Rev. O. W. Benhold, Rev. A. R. Vetter, Rev. W. C. Sterns, Rev. Sam Bowman, Rev. H. Miller, Rev. George Ryan, Rev. Lowell Ryan, Rev. Lundell, Rev. Henry Graves, G. A. Hempel, also served as local preacher.

IN JANUARY 1926 The Grassyville Church bought the Paige Church from the Christian Church. The only surviving trustees of the Christian Church that signed the deed were Harry Chapple and H. T. Wunneburger.

The trustees that bought this property were William Mosebach, Albert Orts, Jr., W. E. Burgdorf and William Hamff.

THE PAIGE church was never in reality organized as a separate church but was a branch of the Grassyville church [rest of sentence cut off, the next column starts with] stewards and trustee of Grassyville Church. The reason it was acquired was to better serve a group of member of the Grassyville Church that lived in and near Paige.

In 1927 the parsonage at Grassyville was burned and the church records were consumed in this fire making research impossible before that impossible. This membership was composed of the descendants of the patriarchs who organized the church. In 1875 a new parsonage was built to replace the one destroyed by fire.

SERVICES were held regularly in this church until 1941 but due to diminishing members, services were discontinued at Grassyville. Some of the members were transferred to Paige, and some to Giddings. The last pastor to live in the Grassyville parsonage and to serve the church was Rev. H. Grave. The members that live in Paige and the group that was transferred from Grassyville were joined by the group that came in from Mesquite Charge.

This gave the Paige church a membership large enough to give it better working unity. This was easily accomplished because the three churches had been served by the same pastor.

IN THE SPRING of 1943 the church property at Grassyville was sold except for the parsonage which was moved to Paige. Pastors who served the Paige church are John T. Sanders, Wayne Dunson, D. D. Hogan, Don Harwell, Calvin Peterson, J. K. Ader, Van Sickle, Griffin and E. E. Reeves.

(Continued from Sept 9 issue) The Paige Congregation has recently suffered a great loss in the passing of Wm Mosebach, E. O. Wilde, Louise Hooper, Orts, John Dunk, who were faithful members of long standing. The present members of the Paige Congregation are E. C. Behrens, Mollie Behrens, Herbert Stuessy, Marie Stuessy, Dean Stuessy, George Osteen, Alma Osteen, Rufus Osteen, Lillie May Queen, Willie Wusterhausen, Mattie Wusterhausen, Lawrence Hart, Dorothy Rohde, Walter Lindner, Louise Lindner, Otillie Goerner, Louis Peshke, Louise Peschke, Curtis Peschke, Margaret Peschke, Calvin Peschke, Dorothy Peschke, R. F. Peschke, Katy Peschke, Willie Peschke, Lina Wilde.

Also Olga Schultz, Louise Foerster, Bertha Burgdorf, Edna Burgdorf, Emil Schultz, Louise Foerster, Bertha Burgdorf, Edna Burgdorf, Emil Schultz, E. H. Kunkel, Delia Kunkel, Mildred Kunkel, Hugh R. Light, Alvina Light, Jerome Light, Mabel Anne Light, Bruce Light, Bettie Light, Earl Light, Bee Chapple, Bertha Wunn, Lizzie Kmoch, Maggie Orts.

The trustees are E. C. Behrens, E. H. Kunkel, Willie Wusterhausen, Louise Foerster, Olga Schultz, R. F. Peschke.

The Stewards are Louis Peschke, Herbert Stuessy, Bruce Light, Willie Wusterhausen, Olga Schultz, E. H. Kunkel, and Curtis Peschke.

This information was collected by A. J. Foerster, Louise Foerster, and Olga Schultz. We extend our gratitude to E. C. Behrens for the use of the papers that were in the corner stone of the Grassyville Church established in 1875.


The German speaking Methodists around Paige were at first a part of the Grassyville congregation. This group grew in numbers and soon felt that they were able to support an organization of their own. The trip to and from Grassyville was a long one to take in one day when people traveled in wagons and buggies, hacks and surreys. In 1885 a church was erected at Dixon Prairie. The carpenters were John Wunneburger and Krumnow. A parsonage was also built. Land was set aside for a cemetery close to the church.

This cemetery is still kept up and still serves as a resting place for many of the descendants of the fathers, who were responsible for the building and organization of this church. Among the families that formed this new congregation were: John Wunneburger, Julius Hill, Albert Frey, Abraham Brodbeck, Charlie Schneider, Richard Lindner, A. E. Schultz, Emil Lindner, August Kattner, Robert Kattner, Wm Fickle, August Dolgener, Fritsche, Gerhard, Krumnow, Wm Wusterhausen and others.

Some of the pastors that served this congregation and lived in the parsonage were; J. H. Bohmfalk, Julius Urbanke, W. A. Moers and John Hierholzer. Rev. Moers, while serving at Dixon Prairie organized a congregation at Paige and a church was erected there. After some years this congregation was absorbed by the Grassyville and Dixon Prairie organization. The church building was sold to the Woodmen of the World for a meeting hall. The W. O. W. sold it after their decline in Paige. It is now a part of a residence.

The last pastor to live in the Dixon Prairie parsonage was Rev John Hierholzer during his last year of service at this pale. The Bastrop Methodist Church (German) built a parsonage in Bastrop. After this the pastors lived in Bastrop and for a few years at the Dixon Prairie and Paige congregations were served by Rev J. Kleinknecht and Ivey.

Groth from Lexington, later the Dixon Prairie Church, was served by the pastors from Bastrop Methodist Church (German) Rev Doerr, Rev. D. Moehle and Rev. Ditzum made the trip from Bastrop by horse and buggy, a distance of 20 miles or more through a sandy pine woods country. Rev. D. Moehle often made the trip by bicycle. After the Dixon Prairie church was served by pastors from Bastrop, the church building was used for public school as well as a church. The teachers often lived in the parsonage. During Rev. Ditzum’s service the church moved from Dixon Prairie to Mesquite. This new church known as the Mesquite Methodist Church was dedicated by Rev Ditzum, November 11, 1912. Family members of this church were E. H. Kunkel, Emil Lindner, Sr., Richard Lindner, A. E. Schultz, J. T. McPhaul, Wm Wusterhausen, John Lindner, Walter Lindner, Aug. O. Schultz and others.

Rev. B. Z. Breihan, Rev. Roeke, Rev. G. C. Brannies, were pastors that served the Mesquite church from Bastrop. The Bastrop Methodist Church (German) was merged with the Bastrop M. E. Church (English). After this merger, the Methodist Church was served mainly students from Blinn Medical College. Some of these students were: Arthur Peterson, Peterson, Hornung, [ ] Haug, Elmer Hierholzer, and Milton Bohmfalk. The students have become fine doctors and are an honor to [their] calling. Mesquite was proud have given them a lift to [the] ground.

The Mesquite M. E. Church after struggling for a number of years merged with the Methodist Church (Salem) in 1942 while Rev Wayne [ ] was serving both churches [as] their pastor.


Grassyville in the News by Weldon Mersiovsky

The following news items were extracted from the appropriate newspapers that were found on the Portal to Texas History from 1878 to 1909. There are many more.

The Daily Banner. (Brenham, Tex.), Vol. 3, No. 151, Ed. 1 Tuesday, June 25, 1878

Brenham Weekly Banner. (Brenham, Tex.), Vol. 13, No. 26, Ed. 1, Friday, June 28, 1878

State News

– A flour mill has been started at Grassyville about nine miles from Giddings and is making an excellent quality of flour.

Fort Worth Weekly Gazette. (Fort Worth, Tex.), Vol. 17, No. 34, Ed. 1, Friday, August 12, 1887

The Galveston Daily News. (Galveston, Tex.), Vol. 46, No. 111, Ed. 1 Monday, August 15, 1887

Postal Notes.

George A. Hempel has been commissioned as postmaster at Grassyville.

The Galveston Daily News. (Galveston, Tex.), Vol. 47, No. 207, Ed. 1 Tuesday, November 20, 1888


The following appointments were made by Bishop Duncan at the closing session of the German Methodist conference Saturday evening:

Central District – Presiding elder, J. H. Schoper; Houston station, F. Vordenbaumer; Houston mission, to be filled; Belville mission, D. Schrimpf; Industry mission, W. W. Weise; Long Prairie mission, G. Mueller; Grassyville circuit, S. A. Shofer; Bastrop and Giddings, to be filled; Williamson mission, to be filled.

The next session will be at Cuero.

The Galveston Daily News. (Galveston, Tex.), Vol. 52, No. 217, Ed. 1 Thursday, October 26, 1893

Weather and Crops

Grassyville, Tex. – Quite a number of the people in Grassyville are compelled to water their cattle, and a great many have to haul water to drink. The weather is pleasant, except the mornings are somewhat cold.

The Bastrop Advertiser (Bastrop, Tex.), Vol. 46, No. 21, Ed. 1 Saturday, August 6, 1898



One of the pleasantest weddings ever celebrated in Grassyville, came at the quiet attractive residence of Mr John Behrens, on Wednesday august the 3rd. The contracting parties were Miss Bertha Behrens and Mr Otto Koihm, of East Bernard.

The bride, a highly respected and well accomplished young lady, is one of Grassyville’s prettiest roses. She was beautifully attired in white. Her graceful manners and affectionate greeting that she exercised to all her relatives and many chosen friends, made her the center of attraction and admiration. It was sad that her health failed from over-exertion in making the proper preparation for the occasion; yet, she was able to be up most of the time.

The groom is a bright, energetic prosperous young farmer, of East Bernard. He is to be congratulated for having made such a wise choice for his companion, who is to share with him the burdens and pleasures of life.

Relatives and friends began to gather in the forenoon. Precisely at 12 m., a sumptuous wedding feast was spread. To describe the same would occupy too much space. In short, everybody seemed to have his appetite stimulated by the mere sight of the many varieties of victuals. All united in praise of their high quality.

At 1:30 p.m. the ceremony was performed by Rev. G. Mueller, of the M. E. Church South, of East Bernard. With the reading of the 23rd Psalm and a few appropriate words of exhortation to accept Christ as their leader, and live according to his precept, Rev. Mueller tied the nuptial knot. After the ceremony was over, the young couple were surprised by the many valuable presents that were offered them. After the presentation, the numerous guests continued in the art of merrymaking till 3 o’clock in the morning. In all the wedding was one such as Christians delight to participate in. Good religious music, which was usually accompanied by the beautiful rich voices of the ladies and gentlemen, was furnished by Prof. Robt Moerner and Messrs. Hy Stuessy and Ed Dalchau.        C. B.

The Bastrop Advertiser (Bastrop, Tex.), Vol. 51, No. 32, Ed. 1 Saturday, October 17, 1903

Grassyville Gleanings

The weather seems more favorable for rain the last few days, and we would like to see it rain. the country is getting dry nd water is getting quite low.

Mr George Hempell has been, for the last two weeks and is still quite sick.

Miss Della Eisenbach, who has been quite sick, has fairly recovered.

Prof. August Kranter, of Llano arrived a few days ago and is visiting his uncle, Mr George Hempel. He will teach the Grassyville school for the next session.

Miss Bettie Hempel, after spending a few weeks at home, left last Wednesday for Llano, where she expects to spend a few months.

Miss Emilie Hempel returned from Paige last week, where she has been staying with Ed. Burgdorf’s family.

Mr Willie Kunkel and family moved to Paige last week, where they will run a boarding house.

Miss Bettie Kunkel went to Paige last week, to stay with her brother, Mr Willie Kunkel and family.

Our farmers are busy picking the few bolls of cotton that Mr. Bollweevel has allowed them to have.

Miss Amalie Hempel returned from Giddings last Saturday.

Mr John Behrends went to the city of Austin, on business, Monday.

We had a few little showers on Munday but not enough.


The Bastrop Advertiser (Bastrop, Tex.), Vol. 54, No. 37, Ed. 1 Saturday, December 8, 1906

Purely Personal

Alf Jung and family spent Thanksgiving Day with Miss Julia Jung at Grassyville.

The Bastrop Advertiser (Bastrop, Tex.), Vol. 55, No. 40, Ed. 1 Saturday, January 11, 1908


M. Dalchau, of Grassyville, was in the city, Tuesday.

The Bastrop Advertiser (Bastrop, Tex.), Vol. 56, No. 30, Ed. 1 Saturday, October 31, 1908


Sunday, October 4, Mr Chas. Kreidell, formerly of Paige, but now of Smithville, and Miss Lizzie Franz, of Grassyville, were quietly united in the bonds of matrimony, Justice Ed. C. Burgdorf performing the ceremony. Their many friends wish them abundant happiness and prosperity all along with their journey together, with never a wave of sorrow or trouble to flow athwart their pathway, is the wish of the writer and myriads of friends.

The Houston Post. (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 25TH YEAR, No. 27, Ed. 1 Sunday, September 5, 1909


Monday evening at 5 o’clock J. A. Hamff of this place and Miss Ella Goerner, near Bastrop, were married at the Grassyville church, Rev. F. J. Koch officiating.


Raesener Brothers of Grassyyille -A Story of Two Orphans

Those seeking more information may log on to www.rootsweb.com. At the top of the Home Page click Family Trees, then scroll down until you see Specific Database, enter germantexan in the box. The index that appears can guide you to the person in whom you have an interest. The information also appears in Ancestry.com as Texas’ German Families but navigating is a little more difficult there.


John Henry Raesener was born in Muehlhausen, Dusseldorf, Germany. In November 1872 he, his wife, and 18 year old son, John Adam, arrived at the Rabb’s Creek area of Bastrop Co, Texas. One son and two daughters remained in Germany. About 1 month later, on December 31, 1872 son John Traugott Raesener was born. Soon thereafter both parents died in either a disease epidemic or accident. The two orphaned sons were taken in by Fritz and Christine Grusendorf. The 1880 census of Lee County, Texas lists Janey Raisner (age 7) living with this elderly couple. This was John T. Raesener .

John Adam Raesener, his older brother, in 1887 married Maria Johanna Grusendorf, one of twin daughters of the foster parents. They had 10 children between 1877 and 1899. As a young man he became a member of the Grassyville Methodist Church and soon thereafter decided to be a Methodist minister. He was ordained in Schulenburg during a Methodist Annual Conference there. He served churches at Hochheim, Hugoville, Schulz, Cuero, Indianola, Dallas, Palmer, Ft Worth, and Denton before retiring in Lexington due to asthma and other health problems. After Maria’s death John Adam married a widow, Magdalena (nee Eckert) Boehme whose husband had died in 1907.There were 10 children in the Eckert/Boehme family, one of whom was Minnie. Minnie Boehme married Will Grusendorf, another cousin of John Adam.

This writer has on file a letter written to Bertha Grusendorf by her mother, in which she tells the following story: One day, while walking, Adam Raesener saw one of his nieces, Alice Hillegeist, and her daughters trying to coax a stray dog out of their yard. Adam offered to help but was bitten by the dog. Test for rabies was positive creating the need for Adam to receive a series of inoculations in Austin. He was accompanied to Austin by a nephew. The letter is dated Aug 5, 1925.

– Adam and Maria had ten children between 1877 and 1899. Maria died in 1911. Adam later married a widow, Magdalena (née Eckert) Boehme whose husband had died in 1907. The Boehme couple also had 10 children. Now there was a family in which each parent had 10 children and 10 step-children. Adam’s nephew, Will Grusendorf, married Magdalena’s daughter, Minnie. Adam and first wife, Maria, are buried at Memorial Cemetery in Lexington. Magdalena shares a marker with her first husband at Meiers’ Settlement Methodist Cemetery near Mart and Riesel in McLennan County. Magdalena’s mother, Maria Scharlock Eckert is buried in an adjacent grave.

John Traugott Raesener married Bertha Peterson in Lexington, Texas and they had six children. John was a farmer in Lexington until about 1930 when the family moved to Fort Bend County. Most of them spent the rest of their lives in that area. Some of them preferred using the name Raesner and that name appears on documents associated with those persons.

Most of the Grusendorfs and Raeseners moved out of Grassyville at about the end of the 19th century. Many went to Lexington in Lee County and thence to Falls, McLennan, Coryell, and Mason counties. This writer has on file a printed letterhead of Raesener Brothers Garage in Rosebud. These brothers were likely Herman and Henry, sons of Adam Raesener.

This writer recalls an incident in 1950 involving Henry Raesener: I, Edwin Makowski, with 2 friends, joined the US Air Force and decided to make the journey from Waco to Lackland Air Base in my automobile. When we arrived at Lackland we were refused entry because the vehicle was not registered and there were no open parking places in the basic training area. I called my father for advice and he gave me the phone number of Henry Raesener in San Antonio who was kind enough to invite me to leave my car at his home. On arriving there we were served a meal and then delivered back to Lackland Air Base in Mr. Raesener’s car. I retrieved my car about 3 weeks later and have often thought about the kindness of my mother’s cousin who I had not previously met.