The History of
The Methodist Episcopal Church
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.
THE GATHERING AT INDUSTRY
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.)
THE GATHERING AT GRASSYVILLE
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.
THE GATHERING AT LEXINGTON
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.
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.
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 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-
ART1CLE II – PURPOSE AND AIM
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.