Anna Blasig, a daughter of Rev. Herman Schmidt, third pastor of St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Serbin, wrote her Master’s thesis about the Frontier Experiences of the Texas Wends. She took that thesis and formed it into the first popular book about the Wends, The Wends of Texas, and has been informative reading since 1954. The letter below will help you understand a little more about who Anna Blasig was and the forces that shaped her life.
Scottish Rite Dormitory
June 16, 1954
Dr. Fred C. Ayer
The University of Texas
Dear Dr. Ayer,
My father [Herman Schmidt], who was a Lutheran minister for 49 years, was born in a log cabin on a Lee County farm. His mother [Hanna Krause] was a descendant of the first Wendish settlers who came to Texas in 1853. My mother [Carolina Mennicke] was born in a parsonage at Rock Island, Illinois where my grandfather served as a Lutheran minister for 50 years. My mother’s mother of’ English descent was born at St. Louis, Illinois. My mother was a talented musician, and was an organist of the church as long as I can remember. Her three brothers were ministers, her five sisters married ministers and one sister married a parochial school teacher.
I was born in Sealy, Texas, which was the place where my father’s first congregation was located. I was the first of the five children of his first family Six months after I was born my parents moved to Galesburg, Illinois because my father’s malaria was so acute that his family doctor suggested that a move to a different climate might affect a cure. I lived with my parents at Galesburg until I was nine years old and it was here that I enjoyed the privilege of attending a public school located across the street from a Carnegie Library. Dexter, Iowa, located 40 miles west of Des Moines, Iowa, had a parochial school which was taught by my father, and for one year before going to high school I was kept at home to care for my mother who was in bad health.
I took a normal training teacher’s course because my father insisted that I had to work after I finished high school and that I would not be able to get a job if I took only typing and shorthand. During the time I attended high school, I served as a substitute during the absence of a teacher, and I graded Latin and English grammar papers.
My record at high school as valedictorian of my class with the highest scholastic average in the history of the high school was the reason I was privileged to attend the University of Iowa, located at Iowa City. If I had not made this record, my education wou1d have stopped at this point. My father had no intention of sending me to college because I was a girl and his salary was meager. A business man offered me a loan, and in spite of my father’s protests that it was more important to educate his boys than girls and that I should have accepted one of the jobs to tech a rural school, I enrolled at the state university. A teacher had led me to believe that she had arranged a job for me. When I arrived at Iowa City to attend the University of Iowa I had neither a room nor a job. When I inquired about the job I thought I had I was told that there was no job. I replied. “I’m here, I have no money to return home, I’m willing to do anything.” The next day I had both a job and a room.
I did more extra-curricular than curricula work while attending school, my jobs varying from doing housework in the home of the dean of the University to working on spelling lists supervised by Dr. Ernest Horn. During the summers I sold a one-volume encyclopedia despite my father’s aversion to “book agents.” To the amazement of the people of my home town I had deposited $600 in the local bank at the end of the first summer. I had the privilege of working in Dr. Carl Seashore’s psychology laboratory doing some of the spade work for the music tests. I taught one year at the University of Iowa laboratory high school, and I taught at the pre-school under the direction of Dr. Bird Baldwin. I taught Sunday school at the Crippled Children’s hospital. While attending the university I was organist at the Lutheran church, and I was paid for singing at funerals
Near the end of my junior year my mother died unexpectedly. At first I was expected to keep house for my father, but my younger sister [Ruth] insisted that I finish my university work. Upon return from my mother’s funeral I found a note that I had been selected a member of Phi Lambda Theta, and that I had to take a test on the constitution immediately to qualify as a member.
A few months after my mother’s death my father moved to Giddings, Texas. He declined the call to this congregation two years prior to this time, but since my father was the only minister who knew the Wendish language, he became convinced that the call was a divine one.
During the summer at Giddings I sold church books and met my husband. I received my degree (B. A.) from the University of Iowa in 1923. I majored in history and sociology and minored in education. When I graduated from the university I was offered a job as district manager of the book company for which I had worked during my summer vacation. Although the salary was higher than that for teaching school, I decided to teach school because that was what I had wanted to do ever since I had been able to read the Sunday School lessons to my sister and brothers. My first position was at New Braunfels High School as head of the history department. After teaching there one year, I was married and we moved to Brady, Texas.
Since both my husband and I had college debts, it was necessary for me to work. I taught kindergarten and gave private music lessons for one year. My husband was a missionary and because of his meager salary we were told that we would never be able to afford to have any children.
The happiest moment of my life was when our daughter Carolyn Anne Blasig was born. Carolyn is married to Milton Walther who graduated in the field of mechanical engineering this June. They are now living in Lufkin with their two children. Milton is employed as a designer of the Lufkin foundry.
After my daughter was born I did not return to teaching, although I had a leave of absence for two years. I served as a substitute teacher, was correspondent for a “string” of state newspapers, and was editor of a weekly newspaper in Brady until we moved to Brownwood, Texas. I failed to mention that after three years in the ministry, my husband changed his profession to that of a Chamber of Commerce manager. At Brownwood, he was head of the Works Progress Administration. After two years, he returned to the chamber of commerce work. We lived at Colorado City, Olney, and New Braunfels before moving to the Rio Grande Valley in 1940.
Before being pressed into teaching at Mercedes during World War II, I sold Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedias and as manager of the Rio Grande Valley trained salesmen and women. In one of the contests, I rated first in Texas and second in the United States. Since I disliked knocking on doors, I was persuaded to teach in the North Ward School attended exclusively by Latin-American boys and girls. This was my first experience in the elementary field. I taught fourth grade, and fifth grade history. During the last year a number of teachers had persuaded me to teach their music classes.
During the three years I didn’t teach following this period, I sold World Book Encyclopedias, operated a personalized book store service, and wrote a column for the Mercedes Enterprise. I also served as correspondent for a number of newspapers, such as publicity director of the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show, which included writing scripts for the radio. My husband was manager of the Mercedes Chamber of Commerce and of the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show, which he established, for 12 years. He is now manager of the San Benito Chamber of Commerce, and has served as president of the state chamber of commerce organization.
During the past five years, I have taught at Travis Elementary School at Harlingen, Texas. For four years I taught in the fifth grade, and during the past year in the sixth grade. I would like very much to be a supervisor or an elementary principal.
I received my M. A. Degree in 1951. Last year I was awarded an H. E. Butt scholarship to the “Human Development Workshop” at the University of Texas. I have attended a number of other workshops.
Since this letter has become lengthy I will mention briefly that I have been active in Parent – Teacher and Federated Club work, as well as in other community organizations. I am proud of my 1ife membership which was awarded me for my service in parent-teacher work, which includes offices on local, county, and district levels. I am past state president of the Lutheran Woman’s Missionary League, and elected parliamentarian of this organization, Tuesday, at Waco.
I am a member and retiring officer of the Harlingen Association, and belong to the Texas State Teachers Association and to the National Education Agency. I was the first woman vice-president of the MidTexas Teachers Association.
My article, “Conservation of Human Resources” was published in the l953 yearbook of the National Elementary Principal. A unit on “Holding and Election” was published in Bulletin No. 279, a bulletin published by the State Department of Education of Texas in regard to teaching government. I am author of the book, The Wends of Texas, which will be released by the publisher in about a week.
My hobbies are playing the piano and organ, creative writing, art, and collecting quotations.
I appreciate the privilege of being a member of your class.
Mrs. Carl Blasig