Letter to Brother Leonhard from “Jake”

Ellen Trinklein, 2nd great niece to Pastor J. J. “Jake” Trinklein found this letter and translated it.


3940 Avery Av.
Detroit, Mich. on November 1, 1939

Dear Brother Leonhard!

I just received your letter from yesterday. I see that you’re still on your feet, and with all Christian composure allowing the floods of misery to flow downstream, and that you and Äsops (the yard dog) aren’t making any serious effort to drink up the whole river or to make a meal out of the green skins lying on the ground. Yes, what more does expressing our distress and worries do than simply add further unbearable and futile agony. This is so in general, in anticipation.

Concerning to the aforementioned thing about the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt, I want to quickly say that our address can be reached from Giddings, Texas. This publication comes out once a week and costs $2.00 for the whole year, or one dollar for the half-year, post free. If you both want to have it, the cost is not oppressive. My first article is in No.34 of the 40th [Issue] from the 10th of October, and you’ll have to subscribe starting from this number, if you want to read all the articles from then on. You will surely be able to request the older numbers as well.

This publication has a pretty broad circulation, especially in Lee, Coryell, Bell and neighboring counties. Serbin, where Pastor Johann Kilian founded the first Wendish-German parish in 1854, and which spread out to over 100 parishes in our synod, lies about 6 miles inland from Giddings. Serbin – Kilian was for Texas what Frankenmuth was for our church in Michigan, only that Father Johann Kilian spent his entire life there.

He died in 1889 [should be 1884]. In 1883, his son Hermann became his assistant and, a few years later [1] the senior pastor. An older brother, Gerhard Kilian, was already a teacher in this parish, and remained so until his end. Pastor Hermann Kilian died long ago. [Pastor Herman Schmidt, a Wend, is now the pastor in Serbin.] This parish still serves the Wends just as yours serves the Franks. Lee County, east of Austin, is, like Frankenmuth, exclusively populated with Germans – Lutheran Germans – who’ve spread themselves out over a hundred miles. Our biggest parishes can be found here: Serbin (2), Warda, Fedor, Giddings, La Grange (Martin Schleier), West Yegua, Winchester, Swiss Alp, Loebau, Goose Creek[2], Thorndale, Walburg, The Grove, Coryell, Austin, Taylor to up past Hamilton where there is a whole complex of parishes that can directly or indirectly trace their existence to Kilian’s effectiveness. This year, the state of Texas is honoring the memory of Pastor Kilian, and the governor of the celebration will lead the unveiling of a monument that Christians have placed there for him.

You can take from all of this that George feels very at home down there and has experienced many interesting things, without having to constantly cling to my trail from 1887-1889. George hasn’t written me since August. If I’m not wrong, it is because there is a new form of Texas exploration to be had up to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to New Mexico, where I shot rabbits for 3 years in 1884. I wouldn’t be able to entirely work out the meaning of his silence any other way.

In his last letter, he told me about how he got lost in the Texas Panhandle past Lubbock on the way to Walter[3] Lösel, and also how he helped a sheriff hunt down runaway convicts in the eastern woods near Huntsville, TX, and then got into a consummate bandit fight, from which he wisely withdrew by hiding behind a thick oak trunk, and took them to Sam Houston Park near Huntsville. If you and Mike come and visit us soon – I won’t quite allow myself to accept any decision that you bring to me – I have also been squeezed by a pair of narrow shoes to the point of corns and hot tears and simply need to move onwards. So I’ll expect a visit from you and Mike. Then I’ll handle you and your intended brother’s-greeting verbally.

Until then farewell,

Your Brother Jake



[1] Actually the next year.

[2] There is no church at Goose Creek. Should most likely be Greens Creek.

[3] Should be Waldemar Lösel.