“And Their Works Do Follow Them”

This article by Teacher L. O. Kasper first appeared in The Giddings News on Friday, August 1, 1947.

[Professor L. O. Kasper, author of the “Three Bouquets” which recently appeared in these columns, has compiled some historical facts of special interest for a large number of readers. We are grateful to Prof. Kasper for releasing ”…And Their Works Do Follow Them” for publication in The News this week. –The Editor]


“And Their Works Do Follow Them”

                More than 55 years have passed since the departure of the Rev Carl Ludwig Geyer on March 6, 1892. It is proper that we pause and meditate when we hear his name today, or see it in print, because Geyer was the only one of the fathers and Lutheran pioneers of the Missouri Synod (whose founding in Chicago on April 26, 1847, is being observed this year in Lutheran centennial celebrations throughout the land) who for a number of years (1876-1892) served a congregation in Texas (St. Peter’s at Serbin), and whose earthly remains repose in Texas soil (more exactly in the historic Lutheran cemetery at Serbin. Dedication of this 92 year old cemetery, and the first funeral – that of Pastor John Kilian’s four weeks old daughter Maria Theresia – took place on March 17, 1855, or within a few weeks after the larger section of the colony of 600 Wends, who had landed in Galveston on Dec. 14, 1854, had settled in the Serbin community. The name Serbin became the official name of the town in 1860 when the U. S. Government established a post office there.)

Present When Geyer Was Stricken

                Let some of the people among the living today who were present when their sainted pastor was stricken during his last communion service tell us a little about it and his passing five hours later. Their names – as far as they have been reported to this writer – are: Herman Noack, August Menzel, Carl Wukasch, Marie Menzel, Anna Weiser, and Emilie Koenning of Serbin; Theresia Moerbe, Warda: August Biar, Giddings; Gerhard Urban, Manheim; Bertha Weiser, Lincoln; Carl Kurio, Thorndale; Emma Boehnke, Muldoon; Otto Menzel, Port Arthur; Emma Gersch, Round Rock; Emil Wiederaenders   of Clifton.

                Under the date of June 8, 1947, Emil Wiederaenders (father of pastors Herbert and Roland Wiederaenders) informed us that he and his mother (Johanna, 1828 – 1899) partook of holy communion, which on that Sunday preceded the main service (three or four times a year before the main service, August Menzel tells us) and that he included himself in his confessional address as though he had a foreboding of the end so near before him. “It was customary,” Mr. Wiederaenders writes, “that the men approached the Lord’s table first (customary at Serbin to this duy). As the pastor presented the holy wafer to me he said ‘das wahre Leib’ instead of ‘der wahre Leib’ (confused use of the definite article before the noun body). When the ladies went to the table, and just as the pastor was going to present the cup to my mother, she saw that he could not hold it and therefore took it out of his hands whereupon he leaned against the altar. (Herman Mutscher reports that his mother Christiana, 1850 – 1911, was in the same group of guests.) John Pillack (1846 – 1910) and other men rushed up an prevented the pastor from falling and carried him into his house. A service was then conducted in which the sermon was read. That was a sad moment for the congregation.

                Pastor Geyer confirmed me in 1884. We were 8 boys and 4 girls. Hermann Noack is one of the only two still living, as far as I know. We received a very thorough course of instruction for confirmation. The memory verse which Pastor Geyer selected for me was Ps. 37:37,” (the same which the late Rev. H. T. Kilian, 1859 – 1920, chose for this writer, confirmed Apr 12, 1896, in a class of 7 boys and 3 girls, of whom 4 boys and 1 girl have passed on. There was also a class of 5 boys and 4 girls confirmed in the Wendish language of whom two boys and two girls have departed.) Our pastor uttered the prayerful wish in our confirmation service to meet all 12 in heaven,” Mr. Wiederaenders remarked.

The Doctor Called

                Hermann Noack relates that he and another young man (Aug. Mertink, 1866 – 1946, Gerhard Urban tells us) were dispatched by horseback to Giddings (6 miles north of St. Peter’s Church) to call a doctor – who was none else but Pastor Geyer’s own son Dr. Carl Louis Geyer (1851 – 1929) who had his office in the building now occupied by Henry Lehman. (His residence was located where Charley Fields resides now). However, Dr. Geyer was not found in his office – but among the worshipers in Immanuel Lutheran Church (located at that time in the southern part of town.

Geyer’s Last Confessional Address – His Sermons

                Interesting? Indeed, and of historic value? But listen to what is coming now, accompanied by a letter of June 9, 1947, from 81 years old Helene Wiederaenders widow of the late John Wiederaenders, 1866-1928, of Vernon, Texas, who informed us that but let her announce the unexpected news herself: “I still possess the original manuscript of Pastor Geyer’s confessional address which he delivered on the day of his passing. Would you like to have it? I cannot read it because of the small letters – and the pastor wrote it without the use of glasses, a special gift of God.” (Geyer’s age was 80 years, lacking 10 days).

                Yes here it is, showing a steady, neat, clear handwriting in straight lines running crosswise on ruled paper, written with pen and ink in German script, and showing only one short word crossed out for correction. This substantiates a statement by the late Dr. G Birkmann (1854-1944) who declared that Geyer wrote out his sermons to the last. Birkmann also wrote that Geyer looked over his text on Sunday evening, carried it with him in his thoughts during the whole week, wrote out the sermon, and committed it to his memory. When he delivered it he looked straight ahead of him from his high pulpit. His sermons were simple, instructive, drawn from the Scriptures and directed to the hearts of the hearers. His language was fluent, elegant, and impressive. (From an article by Birkmann published in December 1931.)

The introduction of this historic confessional address, translated (except parts which translate themselves) and arranged as found in the manuscript, is as follows:

Serbin, March 6, 1892

I. N. J.

Dom. lnvocavit

11 Timothy 2, 19.

Confessional Address

                Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

                In Christ beloved Confessants (Beichtende.)

                You have appeared here to go to the Lord’s Table. Since the blessings offered in this meal cannot be obtained without faith, the Apostle admonishes us first to examine ourselves. To do this, let the Word of the Apostle serve us.

                Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

                The address is signed:

                L. C. Geyer, Pastor

                The small crosses following the signature probably stand for the sign of the holy cross made by the pastor immediately after he presents (1) the bread, and (2) the cup. (Note: The manuscript will be preserved in some historical institute entitled to it).

Pastor Geyer’s End

                In the article mentioned before, Dr. Birkmann states that after Geyer had been carried into the parsonage he lay unconscious most of the time. When at short intervals he came to, he tried to rise, and in doing so called upon the name of the Savior, and, it is said, longingly stretched out his arms towards Him – like a helpless child pleading to be taken up by a loving parent. Helene Wiederaenders remarks in her letter that her sainted pastor fell asleep peacefully at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. She also states: “I was not in church on the Sunday when he passed away, but my brother Ernst Zschech (1856 – 1918) and his wife, Hermine, (1861-1915) sister of Dr. Birkmann, partook of communion. Mother Wiederaenders told me that she was the last one to receive the bread.”

Tribute to Geyer

                Forty years after Rev. Geyer’s passing, Dr. Birkmann wrote of him: “In his everyday life Geyer was humble and modest and gave the impression of a quiet meek character. In everything pertaining to the doctrine of the Word of God he was firm and determined. He cherished and upheld time honored customs and practices. His conduct and mode of dressing was always proper and blameless. One could not help but honor and respect the venerable and beloved gentleman, and his congregation knew what a good pastor it had in him.” And fifty-five years after her pastor’s departure, Mrs. Helene Wiederaenders writes: “Pastor Geyer was a faithful, beloved, and contented pastor. His highest salary was $25.00 per month.”

                A word which may serve as a fitting close to the foregoing? Yes, Revelation 14:13, of which the last sentence reads: “and their works do follow them.”

Geyer’s Funeral – Tolling the Church Bell

                Geyer’s funeral took place on Wednesday (March 9, 1892) following his passing on Sunday. The Rev. G. Buchschacher (1852- 1930) of Warda officiated in the home; the Rev. H. T. Kilian of St. Paul’s congregation at Serbin delivered the funeral address in the church. On the Sunday following the Rev. Gresens of Winchester conducted a special memorial service at Serbin by request of St. Peter’s congregation. Geyer’s earthly remains were laid to rest in the Serbin cemetery.

                Gerhard Urban of Manheim recalls in loving remembrance that it was his privilege to ring the church bell at the noon hour each day for a week, three times in succession, 150 strokes to each ringing, allowing time between long enough for praying the Lord’s Prayer.

At Pastor Geyer’s Grave

                Let us in spirit take a stroll over the historic cemetery of Serbin, which for many years was jointly used by St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s congregation before they were consolidated in 1914, and pause for a while in front of a tall monument of white marble standing in the center of the cemetery and visible from the place where these lines are being typed. It was placed in affectionate memory by the members of St. Peter’s congregation. Hermann Noack, of Serbin remembers that each family of the congregation was to contribute five dollars towards the purchase of the monument, consisting of 8 pieces which gave it a height of 3 feet and 7 inches. On the face of the second base we can see from quite a distance in large raised letters the name G E Y E R. The face of the lower die contains the following inscription in German): “Here rests in Jesus, Carl Ludwig Geyer, faithful (treuverdienter) Pastor of St. Peter’s Ev Luth Congregation at Serbin, Texas. Born March 16, 1812, at Zwickau in Saxony. Died March 6, 1892, at Serbin, Texas. Age 79 Y 11 M 20 D. I have fought a good fight. I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, etc. 2 Tim. 4:v. 7, 8.” On the south side of the die we read, “Luke II:v. 29,30: Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” On the north side: “Daniel XII:v.3: And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”

                From the above dates we see that Geyer outlived his cousin Dr. Walther, (Oct. 25, 1811 – May 7, 1887) by more than four years, and Pastor John Kilian (March 22, 1811 – Sept. 12, 1884), the “Patriarch of the Lutheran Church in Texas,” for whom the administration building of Lutheran Concordia College at Austin is named “Kilian Hall,” by about seven and a half years.

                Still lingering at the grave of this father and Lutheran Pioneer of the Missouri Synod, we recall for the sake of completeness the following – borrowed from an article by A. C. Stellhorn, Secretary of Lutheran Schools, St. Louis, published in the April 1939, issue of Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly: Geyer’s father, Carl Friedrich August, owner of a small variety or carder business in Zwickau, died (of typhoid which Russian troops had carried to the town) when the boy was a year old. Before he had finished his studies at the University of Leipzig, also his mother (a sister of Dr. Walther’s mother) died. Having passed his theological examinations in 1836 Candidate Geyer served as private teacher for two years. In 1838 Geyer and his sister, Natalie, older than he, joined the Saxon Lutheran Emigration Association (consisting of about 700 members), embarked on the Johann Georg, and arrived at St. Louis January 2, 1839. (Some years 1atcr Natalie Geyer married Ferdinand Boehlau, second treasurer of the Missouri Synod.) Candidate Geyer, who on board ship had taken a leading part in the instruction of the 26 children of school age, taught school in St. Louis for one year and in Perry County, Missouri, four years Then he served as pastor at Lebanon (near Watertown), Wisconsin, 16 years (1844-1860), at Carlinville, Illinois, 16 years (1860-1876), and at Serbin, Texas, 16 years (1876-1892).

                About a year after he came to Lebanon, Geyer was engaged (Oct. 1845) to a nineteen­year-old Christian young lady of his congregation, Johanna Maria Schwefel, on her mother’s side a descendant of the Salzburgers who had emigrated to Georgia a hundred years before (1734). The wedding was to be on the festival of Epiphany (Jan. 6), 1846. Since no other Lutheran minister was available Geyer preached his festival sermon on the Gospel lesson for the day, an elder read the Lutheran marriage rite and a prayer at the close of the service, and a justice of the peace performed the civil marriage.

                In the early fifties of the last century Geyer wrote the first German primer (Schulfiebel) which for many years was very extensively used in the Lutheran schools – also in this community. (Note: If any one possesses this ancient book, or knows of one, he is kindly requested to report it to the editor of this paper).

                The article will be concluded in the next issue, or as soon as the latest information pertaining to Geyer’s children and children’s children will have been received. The story will then have covered very briefly 150 years extending over five generations of the Geyer tribe and in its last part will take us in spirit to Austin, Houston, New Orleans and Washington, D. C., where some of the descendants live today.

! Conclusion !

(Note: After the recent article on Geyer’s departure had gone to press, the following additional items of interest were submitted by Mr Gerhard Biar of Thorndale)

                The late John Urban Sr. (1852-1922) was also among the men who carried the pastor into the parsonage after he had been stricken during his last confessional service on March 6. 1892. The late Rev. H. T. Kilian of St. Paul’s whose church was located a short distance from St. Peter’s, was unable to serve immediately the remaining nine communicants, of whom six had received the bread but not the wine, because he was just ready to ascend the pulpit in his church when notified. He served them later. Dr. Geyer brought with him the late Dr. J. A Fields (1866-1921). They found that the pastor’s end was close at hand. Around three o’clock in the afternoon the tolling of the church bell announced the departure. –

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At The Graves of Geyer’s Wife And Son

                Two steps south of the Rev. Carl Ludwig Geyer’s monument in the historic Lutheran cemetery at Serbin stands one showing this inscription: “Here rests in Jesus, J. Marie, wife of Pastor C. L. Geyer May 5, 1826 – August 27, 1902. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” And next to this a duplicate monument is inscribed as follows:

           “Here rests in Jesus, Pastor C. A. Geyer March 24, 1849 – July 26, 1897, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Inscriptions are in German). These two monuments of blue granite were purchased in 1933 by the late Helene Buchschacher (1862-1939), second wife of the late Rev. G. Buchschacher (1852-1930) at whose side she rests in the Lutheran cemetery at Warda, Texas. Before her marriage (in her advanced age) “Lenchen” Geyer, for many years and intimate friend of the sainted mother (1859-1941) of this writer, earned her living and helped to support her mother, by sewing for other people.  She left no children of her own. Her brother, Pastor Carl Adolf Geyer, taught school in Illinois, Michigan, and Louisiana. He remained unmarried.

Pastor Geyer’s Other Children

                In addition to the two children mentioned above Pastor Geyer had one married foster daughter and two sons when he came to Texas in 1876. John, the oldest, was a member of a congregation in New Orleans. He also served the Southern District of the Lutheran Church as treasurer for some time. Carl Louis was a doctor of medicine. At Carlinville, Geyer lost a nine year old son. Since no other Lutheran minister was in the neighborhood, Geyer was compelled by circumstances, to go through the same heart-rending experience as the Rev. John Kilian when for the same reason it became his sad duty, March 17, 1855, to officiate at the grave of his own child, his four weeks old daughter Maria Theresia – the first person to be buried in the 92 year old Serbin cemetery.

                A little interlude to Geyer’s genealogy may here be in place. At Carlinville Pastor Geyer enjoyed a good reputation also among his fellow citizens not belonging to his congregation. The story is told that when his children went to an Irish merchant to do a little shopping the Irishman would tell them something like this: “You have an excellent father. Strive to become what he is. I have never met an all-around straighter and more honest man than your father.” Undoubtedly, the Irishman had been deeply impressed by Geyer’s genuine sincerity and conscientiousness – and thus learned by firsthand methods the full meaning of the saying: “What you do speaks so loud that people cannot hear what you say.”