This article by Rev. G. Birkmann first appeared in the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt on August 31, 1931. It was translated from German by Ray Martens.
Psalm 128 opens with the words, “Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor.” God for you; you have it good. It goes on, “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house. Your children will be like olive shoots around your table.” A fruitful vine is not one that bears only a few grapes, and, when it is said that the children are gathered like olive shoots around the table, that again refers to a great number of children. Also, beyond that [original distorted] are named and that their [original distorted] already is about oil, which, for our situation, means grease and lard. Finally, the Psalm above says, “Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord will bless you from Zion that you may see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life and live to see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel.” God-fearing married people also have the promise here that they will have Jerusalem, that is, the church, grow, bloom, and prosper, and toward that end they faithfully lend their aid. And in that way they have looked after the welfare of their children and children’s children. That is how they will [live to] see their grandchildren. In this way I came to my topic for the golden wedding anniversaries in Fedor to which I was invited and at which I was to deliver a short address. There were only four of these, but there were five or six other married couples who reached their fifty years of marriage, but no celebration was arranged, and most of us knew nothing about the matter at the time.
The Andreas Falke, Sr., Couple
They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in June of 1891, primarily as a result of the effort of their daughter, the wife of Carl Dube, who asked me to hold a devotion for her elderly parents. I had to preach in Lexington that same afternoon and had to pull myself together quickly, but, yet, it was a new experience for me, for I had never been a guest at a golden wedding anniversary.
Andreas Falke, Sr., was an uncle of the well-known deceased Ernst Falke in Warda (later in Giddings, died 1917). The parents of Andreas Falke, like those of his wife, immigrated at the end of the 1860’s with their children, one daughter and three sons, John, Andreas, Jr., and August. At first they spent some years in Serbin, but in 1873 they came to the newly established congregation in Fedor and bought a farm there, which is to say, they, like the other people there, first had to prepare a place to be a farm. John Falke, the oldest son, later had his own place in Fedor, but in 1892 moved to Copperas Cove, and then, after about fifty years, to Thorndale, where he still lives with his daughter. So also August, the youngest brother, is there. Their brother, Andreas, Jr., remained in Fedor and has been dead since 1912.
The old Falkes, about whose anniversary we are thinking, were 75 and 73 years old at the time. The father lived on for about ten more years, and the mother, in spite of being sickly, for fifteen years. They were both pious and God-fearing, read daily from their prayer book, not easy for them because of failing eyesight, and always received gratefully their pastor’s message of consolation.
John Krautschick and Wife
If the celebration of the elderly Falkes was quiet and inconspicuous, then I found, on the other hand, a fairly significant party when I was invited to the golden wedding anniversary of the Krautschicks. Present from Goliad County were their daughter Christiane (ordinarily called Christel) and her husband, George Jank. Beyond that, Mr. Hermann Urban, the husband of their youngest daughter, Magdalene, was there. Along with Urban appeared a number of children from his first marriage and other relatives. Living in the house with his parents-in-law was Andreas Handrick, who likewise was married to one of the Krautschick daughters. After a cheerful meal, and after a couple of pipes were smoked by men who entertained themselves well, and when the women guests had told each other what needed to be reported, the service was conducted with singing, an address by the pastor, prayer, and the blessing. It was a friendly, sunny fall day, and the celebration proceeded in a very delightful manner.
Father Krautschick was born in 1824, and his wife may have been some years younger. He came to us about ten years after the founding of the Fedor congregation, as best I remember, directly from Germany. He was always a good member of our congregation, came to church regularly, also sometimes making his way on foot the couple of miles, as did a number of other elderly people. I was often awestruck when I saw that people who were 75 and older were marching two, three, and more miles to church. They wanted to be at the service, and, because no other way to get there presented itself, they used what was simplest and most natural.
Wendish was spoken in the home of Mr. Krautschick, just as was true of the old Falkes. At that time, there were still some, especially among the women, who found it difficult to express themselves in German. Yet, they understood well what was said in German.
Mr. Krautschick lived about another eight years beyond his golden wedding anniversary. He died at the age of eighty at the end of 1901, and his wife followed him in death about five years later.
Karl Krueger and Wife
Krueger had come to Wisconsin with his parents as a little child already at the beginning of the 1840’s. Rev. Geyer, who subsequently was in Serbin, Texas, and who died there in 1892, had confirmed Karl Krueger in Wisconsin. That is to say, Geyer was one of our first pastors in Wisconsin. Krueger had married in 1857 and then was in business in Wisconsin for a time, and then moved to Iroquois County in northern Illinois, where he learned to know Rev. Simon Suess. At the end of 1876, these two families came to Texas, that of Suess and that of Krueger. First they settled in Winchester, but after some time, Suess moved on as the called pastor at a congregation in Fayette County which is now named after an angel [St. Michael, Winchester, but, in 1877, Salem, Freyburg]. Krueger, however, came into the vicinity of Lexington,
Texas, and lived in the brush there for about six years. Then in 1883, he drove me in his buggy with two horses to the Winkler brothers in The Grove, Texas. During that August, as we came to the vicinity of Taylor, we heard a distant noise and racket, and later we read in the newspaper that at exactly that hour the Krakatoa volcano had erupted and exploded, and that with it thousands of people’s lives had been destroyed. Each day after that eruption, we could also see the air darkened by tiny particles which came out of that crater.
Soon after this, the Kruegers moved from Lexington to Fedor, where they lived on their own place not far from the Middle Yegua Bottom, and the many boys that Krueger had found plentiful opportunities there for hunting, and, especially in the winter, for setting traps and catching valuable fur-bearing animals. But Mr. Krueger also had sent his children to school and to confirmation instruction regularly, holding to the principle that his children should stay with the church and the Word of God. God also visited upon the family a cross and misfortune difficult to bear. One son was shot, another injured so badly by a falling branch when a tree was being cut down that he died the following night. A little son also died as a result of illness.
During the spring of1907, Teacher Leubner and I were invited to the celebration of the Krueger’s golden wedding anniversary. Leubner harnessed his handsome, large horse, and we arrived at our destination and found many guests gathered. Several children had come from Missouri, others from other areas of Texas. Mr. Eisenbach with his wife Minna (née Krueger) and Robert Durrenberger with his wife Louise (née Krueger). We had much to which to listen and could not get over the astonishment over new things we encountered.
During the devotion we then held, things became sober enough, and especially the dear mother Krueger let us know how deeply moved she was by the proceedings.
Mr. Krueger died in 1913 at the age of 81 and his wife went home only a few years ago at the age of 91.
Ernst Dube and His Wife Anna (née Urban)
Teacher Karl Dube, one of the one named above and teacher in Giddings since 1918, came to me in February of 1921 and invited me to deliver a short message at a planned celebration in his parents’ home. I accepted, and on one of the following Sundays the golden wedding anniversary was celebrated at the Ernst Dube home.
Many guests were there too, mostly close relatives of the honored couple: Rev. Lammert, a son-in-law, with his family, Mr. Schneider from Warda, also a son-in-law, with his wife and children. And Mr. Gustav Mann and family. The latter was a widower whose dear wife, also a daughter of the honored couple, had died three years earlier. The sons of Ernst Dube were also in attendance: Karl from Giddings, Emil and August from Fedor, and Wilhelm from The Grove, Texas. Among other relatives, two uncles, Andreas and John Urban and their families, and so many other acquaintances and friends that the house was full and the prepared food came to good use. After the devotion conducted by the pastor, Teacher Dube delivered a short, cordial address for his dear parents in which with touching words he expressed thanks for and remarks about his parents in behalf of all the children.
Mr. Ernst Dube was born in Germany in 1819 and then came with the Kilian immigration to Serbin, as did his wife, except that she was born somewhat later in 1830. She was a daughter of the old faithful member at St. Peter’s who was known as “Uhrmacher [clockmaker] Urban.” The Ernst Dube family came to Fedor in 1881 and thereafter were counted among the most zealous and faithful members of the congregation. He was its chairman for twenty-five years and would have been elected again and again had he not very emphatically asked that another be elected, so much did he enjoy the trust of everyone. He stood in highest regard in the congregation and among all who knew him. This applies also to his godly wife, who served as a good example for everyone, even though she sought no such honor, and never thought about being anything other than a humble, faithful disciple of our dear Lord. The way that she listened carefully to the Word so as not to miss a single word was obvious to me and served as an encouragement to me, as did also the participation of the other listeners.
I said something at the beginning of this article about married couples in Fedor whose marriage reached fifty years but for which no special celebration was held. One must mention above all the Karl Janke couple, who lived together for sixty-three years, bearing joy and suffering jointly and patiently. Last year she was snatched away from him by death.
I think, furthermore, of Matthes Doman and his dear quiet and friendly wife, who, without a doubt, also were married for fifty years. Also the Andreas Noack couple, and father Penkert surely lived as long with his wife. Ernst Lehmann celebrated his golden wedding anniversary in Thorndale five years ago.