August 30, 1934 – Memories of Conferences in Earlier Times, Fourth Continuation

This article by Rev. G. Birkmann, em., and translated by Ray Martens first appeared in the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt on 30 August 1934.

Conference in Rev. Fr. Wunderlich’s Congregation, Fall, 1895

Since 1884, Wunderlich has been pastor at Perry, Falls County. The congregation was founded by Rev. J. J. Trinklein in 1883, and the church was dedicated the same year, called “the little church near Friedensau.” In the following year, Candidate Fr. Wunderlich was called, and he served the congregation for twenty years as a faithful pastor, and always managed the school as well.

At the beginning, the circumstances of the congregation were wretched. Probably in many cases land was bought on credit, but the region consists of very good farmland, and over the years most of the farmers became wealthy, and so matters in the congregation in Perry improved greatly also with respect to church and school. Also other denominations, especially the German Methodists, favored the area. When I made a visit there in 1888, I saw large buildings, one of which was built through the efforts of Mr. Schlumberg, a frequently mentioned Methodist itinerant preacher of the time. Also Bethmann-Hollweg, the German Chancellor twenty years ago, had inspected the area as a young man and had bought land, I have been told.

Rev. Wunderlich hosted our Texas conference in his congregation already in 1888, but I attended this second one in August of 1895, and it is imprinted on my memory. Of course, I do not recall the papers presented, but I can say that we were there over a Sunday, as otherwise too a Sunday was always included at the time, and that Deffner and Schaaf preached on Sunday and that the Monday evening service for the pastors included the celebration of Holy Communion. Rev. Gans delivered the confessional address, and I preached. Our President Wegener came from New Orleans and shared his gifts with us the entire time. A pastor of the Danish congregation in Waco—I believe his name was Torrison–also visited with us at the time.

On the trip coming and going, we who were from Lee County went through Waco and stopped in the bachelor quarters of Rev. Rische, who lived in Waco at the time. There we were entertained nicely before we could board the train to Giddings.

A List of the Self-Supporting and Missionary Pastors and Congregations in Texas in 1895

The conference reported on above (August, 1895) took place almost exactly in the middle of the eighty years that have passed since the founding of the Wendish colony in Serbin. It may be desirable to inset here a list of the pastors and places which belonged to the Missouri Synod in 1895. I am not capable in every instance to give the first names of the persons in question, nor always to be exact about possible dates, but, nevertheless, I do hope to serve some good purpose with this list.

  • Freiburg or Blackjack, now Engel — Rev. Simon Suess. He was born in Baden, Germany, in 1822, went as a missionary from Basel to the Gold Coast of Africa in 1858, then served for a short time in the English Episcopal mission in Liberia, Africa, then in 1866 came to the United States, where he was first a pastor in Illinois and, since, 1876, in Texas. He was installed in Winchester, but soon went to the congregation at Engel, where he died in 1904.
  • Rev. R. Seils, Swiss Alp, from 1891 until about 1897 or 1898. In 1889, Seils was called as a missionary to Hamilton, Texas, from which location he had many places to serve. He was called up north from Swiss Alp and now lives in retirement in Joliet, Illinois.
  • Rev. [J. H.] Tietjen in Shiner, Texas. He was pastor in Klein around 1890 and 1891, then for a number of years in Shiner. He died of pneumonia at the end of 1896.
  • Rev. A. L. Gresens, Winchester. He was installed here in 1890 and worked there for fourteen years. Then he became the successor to Rev. Suess at Engel, soon went to Cisco, and shortly to Nebraska, where now he lives in retirement.
  • Rev. Gottfried Buchschacher, Warda. Born in 1832, Swiss by birth. He was brought into our synod by colloquy examination. He was first a pastor in Algiers, La., then in 1881 called to Warda, where he served faithfully for almost fifty years until he died in August of 1930.
  • Rev. H. T. Kilian. St. Paul, Serbin. Ordained in 1883, he worked in Serbin for thirty-six and one-half years, until his death in 1920.
  • St. Peter in Serbin, Rev. C. Bernthal. Called there at the end of 1892 as the successor to  Rev. C. L. Geyer, served that congregation until 1905, now pastor in Freistatt, Mo.
  • Rev. G. P. A. Kirschke, Giddings, served the congregation from 1893 to 1895.
  • Rev. August Wenzel, Sealy and Cat Spring, now living in retirement in Florida.
  • Wharton—I cannot say who was in ministry here at the time (1895).
  • John Barthels, Houston, where he served from 1889 to 1896, then went to Mobile, Ala., and is now in Lincoln, Ill.
  • Rev. Jaebker, Klein, later was pastor in Iowa. I am not aware of more detailed particulars.
  • Rev. Jakob Kaspar, Cypress, from 1889 to 1909, when he resigned; died within the last year.
  • W. Gans, pastor in Rose Hill from 1892 to 1900, then went to Nebraska, where he had served as a pastor already before he came to Texas.
  • Rev. [H. C.] Tiemann, White Oak.
  • Rev. Imm. Eckhard, Anderson, served there from 1886 to 1907, now lives in retirement in St. Louis.
  • J. Buenger, Willow Hole [North Zulch], since 1893, then later pastor in Honey Grove and in Swiss Alp, now emeritus in Illinois.
  • Hermann Foerster, pastor in Wm Penn, first for two years a missionary (Hempstead, White Hall, etc.), then, at the end of 1894, the successor to Rev. Schaaf in Wm Penn, went on to Anderson in 1907.
  • G. P. Gesterling, pastor in Manheim from 1893 to 1895, then called to Illinois.
  • Rev. L. Ernst, in Lincoln from 1889 to 1903.
  • Rev. G. Birkmann, in Fedor since 1882 (for the second time).
  • Paul Schroeder, Lexington, 1894 to 1896, now lives in Wisconsin.
  • Emil Deffner, in Austin from 1893 to 1898, later in Hamilton, Texas, and Lake Charles, La., and then again in Texas, Wichita Falls, Olney, and Klein; in Nebraska since 1916.
  • A. W. Kramer, pastor in Thorndale from the beginning of 1894 to the end of 1918; died in Kerrville, August, 1920.
  • J. H. Sieck, pastor in Walburg from 1890 until now.
  • Paul Riedel, pastor in Coryell City, also served Copperas Cove and other places; after a year, took a call up north.
  • Richard Oertel, pastor in Clifton from 1891 to about 1896, later in Shiner and Rose Hill, and, in 1904. to Nebraska; Oertel went to Pine Island (Cuba) in 1911 and died there in 1918.
  • F. Wunderlich in Perry, Falls County.
  • Rev. C. W. Rische, missionary in Waco since 1892, also served Cyclone, then transferred to Manheim in 1896, ten years later to Rose Hill, then, after fifteen years, made his way back again to this Manheim congregation.
  • Rev. [A. F.] Hopmann, Malone, from 1892 until almost fourteen years later he took a position in Nebraska, where he died twelve years ago.
  • Rev. Lange, in Hamilton, about 1894 to 1898.
  • Rev. E. F. Moerbe, Abilene, as missionary along the Texas Pacific Railroad, from 1892 to 1895, then pastor in Giddings until 1908, then took a call to Hamilton.
  • Rev. M. Waechter, around 1895 a missionary in Cisco and surroundings, soon left our state and continued his work in Minnesota, where he had served before; died a number of years ago.
  • John Schulenburg in Fort Worth, for many years a missionary in north Texas. From Fort Worth he sought out and worked effectively in Bowie, Decatur, Wichita Falls, Clara and Vernon. As soon as Wichita Falls secured a pastor in the person of Rev. Mehlhorn, he went back to Minnesota shortly.
  • Rev. [R.] Mehlhorn, missionary in Wichita Falls and other places since 1895; died early, already after about one year into his career.
  • Rev. M. Heyer in Dallas from 1890 to 1896.
  • Rev. [H.] Schmidt, Heyer’s father-in-law, in Honey Grove for a year.
  • G. P. A. Schaaf, La Grange in the fall of 1895

In 1895, we had only seven teachers in our parochial schools in Texas, five in Lee County and two in Harris County. There were parochial schools everywhere, but the rest were served by the pastors.

Of the thirty-seven pastors in Texas named above, seven are still living, to my knowledge. Four in Texas — Sieck, Moerbe, Rische, and the author of this are still in Texas.