Wends settled in area in mid 1800s

April 27, 2010 at midnight
Updated April 27, 2010 at 11:28 p.m.

By Martha Jones

If someone tells you their ancestors were Wends, do you know what they are talking about? The Wends were a group of Europeans who lived on the border of Saxony and Prussia.

Suffering ongoing oppression, they split into two groups with one coming to Galveston harbor in 1854 on the Ben Nevis, an English sailing vessel, and the other heading to Australia.

The Texas Wend group proceeded to Lee County in search of religious liberty and the right to speak their Wendish tongue, a combination of Slav, German, and Prussian.

They formed a community five miles south of Giddings in the beautiful rolling hills area known as Serbin.

Today there is nestled an excellent Texas Wendish Heritage Museum with their nearby beloved St. Paul's Lutheran Church.

The museum displays historical clothing, books, furniture, photographs, and beautifully decorated eggs.

On the fourth Saturday in September, descendants and friends gather in Serbin for the Wend Festival. This year's special guest is the world famous egg decorator, Kornelia Thor of Leipzig, Germany.

In addition to lunch, musical entertainment, homemade noodles and sweets for sale, the beautiful eggs may be purchased.

Many Victorians claim Wendish heritage. Some of these are Wuensche, Neitsch, Keisnic, Michalk, Schubert, Morbe, Islet, Pampel, Becker, Birnbaum, Urban, Sommers, and Melde. Others included Schneider, Kasper, Kiesling, Krause, Spahn and Simmank.

Surname spellings change through the ages and some of these may now have slight variations.

Dr. Jim Lueders, retired veterinarian's great-grandmother was a Wend. Her name was Boehnke. In his library is a copy of Baptismal Records of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Serbin, Texas 1854-1883 by Pastor John Kilian. The church baptismal records include the date, time, and place of birth, date of baptism, name of child, name, occupation and residence of father, number of child and of marriage, first and last name of mother, number of her children and her marriage, name, occupation and residence of the baptismal witnesses and a final column for notes.

Jim also has a German hymnal printed in 1889, retrieved just before his mother was getting ready to toss it. What a delight to sing through those golden brown fragile pages, the same ones the Wends sang from more than 100 years ago.

Their leader, Johann Kilian, was an admirable person. He was well educated in academics as well as theology and not only lead them from Germany into Texas, but was their Lutheran minister who traveled the area, preaching in Wendish, German, and English, taught school, and was the judge and jury for disputes among the Wends.

Happy researching and don't forget the Annual Wend Festival on Sept. 25 in Serbin. Look for the beautiful eggs.

Note: If you e-mailed me recently and did not receive an answer, please send your message again. We have had some computer problems. The Texas Tracer trip to Salt Lake City in June is filled. Contact me to add your name to next year's list.

E-mail Martha Jones at mjones@vicad.com. VCGS members will research queries requiring extensive study.



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