View Full Version : My Heritage

August 19th, 2012, 04:21 PM
The thread on the mysteries of the English language reminded me that many Americans have never spoken anything but it, or maybe Spanish. That is true of the current generation, but not of the generation of my parents and grandparents. My grandparents only spoke German and my parents only German until they were 18, even though they were born and raised in Texas.

In the middle 1800's, there was a group of people called Wends that lived in eastern Germany almost to the Polish border. They felt they were being persecuted because of the language they spoke, Wendish, as well as for their Lutheran religion. About 150 of these people decided to immigrate to America under the leadership of their Pastor, John Killian. Before the group left, they sent scouts ahead to find a block of land. These scouts thought central Texas looked like their homeland (and it does), so they bought 4,000 acres. The group then left overland to Liverpool where they caught the sailing ship, the Ben Nevis. On the journey over, they lost a number of people to sickness. They landed at Galveston, Texas, and made their way to the land.

Each family bought blocks of land from the original block for their home. The group set aside a number of acres for their church in the center of the block. They built St Paul Lutheran church with a school, and named the area Serbin.

Since the group lived so close to each other, they stayed tight knit. They spoke their Wendish language until Germans immigrated and settled nearby. They eventually lost their language and adopted German instead. German was spoken in their church, school, and in the shops in the nearest town, Giddings. Thus was the environment when my grandparents were born in 1988, and my parents born in 1921. I am, therefore, of pure Wendish descent.

My grandparents never spoke English. My parents learned English in school as a second language, but never really heard or spoke it until they were 18. I am attaching a picture of my Mother's Tauf-Shein, or baptismal certificate. It is written in German, but you can see it was issued in Serbin, Texas.

My Grandfather kept buying land for farming. He needed to pay for it. He sent his children, including my mother, to Houston to work. That forced them to learn English. My mother was a maid that had full room and board, and she sent her entire paycheck home to her father. A year before she married, her father allowed her to keep her paycheck, and she saved it all. If you heard my mother speak, you would think she came from Germany, her accent was so heavy.

The same story applies to my father, but for some reason he lost a lot of his German accent, but never the language. It is part of the land of my Great Grandparents (my father's grandparents) upon which we live now. I am the fourth generation to live on the land, and I love it so.
This probably the reason I took German in school. My hubby has a lot of the same history, but from San Antonio. We laugh and say we think we are really brother and sister.

I thought you might enjoy this story. Here is a link to the Wendish Society page.



August 19th, 2012, 04:49 PM
This is fascinating! Loved reading about your people. My husband was also raised Lutheran. I also noticed the name Lehman in this accounting. We have friends with that name. I can't wait to ask Chuck, if he is part of this culture. This country is so blessed to be the place that people came to be free from persecution and able to have their religion practiced in the open. Although there are those who still burn temples, mosques, and churches here too. You would think that they would learn to accept in this day and age.
Thanks for the link and the history lesson. Hugs, Jan L.

August 19th, 2012, 05:02 PM
Interesting. It's great you know so much about your family. we know quite a bit about my dad's family.
most of my mom's family history died with her parents and older siblings. My maternal GPs emmigrated from Hungary as young teens around 1900. Met and married here. they spoke only Hungarian at home although my GF did speak broken Eng. because he worked in factories etc. My mom and her siblings didn't speak Eng. till they started school. The eldest aunts spoke with a noticable accent. Out of 8 kids, my mom was the only one to finish HS. the others left school young to work in the local factories and help support the family

August 19th, 2012, 05:34 PM
Na dann mal auf Deutsch. :icon_bigsmile:Das ist Interessant! So vieles zu wissen über deine Familie. In 2010 habe ich meinem Bruder besucht in San Antonio. Wir haben Fredericksburg besucht, und sind bei Luckenbach gewesen. Wir waren in Driftwood, bei die Salt Lick BBQ und in Bulverde, bei Tejas Rodeo. Ich glaube das muss dan bei dir in der Gegend sein? Es ist eine wunderbare Umgebung.

August 19th, 2012, 06:14 PM
Love your family history. You are so lucky that it has been passed down through the years. Just wish I could say the same for mine as both sides of my family hardly spoke of 'the old days' and most of our grandparents died before we were born or when we were very young. I only had one grandparent, my father's father who was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1884 and spoke English as did all of my Aunts and Uncle. None of my sibilings or cousins speak Italian unless they learned it in school. Another problem is that we don't have any relatives back in the old country and also have no idea when my father's family emigrated to the US. I've been researching my family for the past few years and have gathered some info but it takes a lot of time and effort. One good note is that just last month a long lost cousin contacted me and he has found lots of stuff about our grandparents so we're going to pool our info.

August 19th, 2012, 07:51 PM
What a fascinating story of your heritage. I wish I knew more about my heritage. Other than Mom being born in Brisbane, Australia and her parents being both from England, I don't know much at all. My dad's side was very hush hush about their background.

August 19th, 2012, 08:14 PM
Joyce, that was fascinating!!! Thanks for sharing that!

August 19th, 2012, 08:16 PM
Na dann mal auf Deutsch. :icon_bigsmile:Das ist Interessant! So vieles zu wissen über deine Familie. In 2010 habe ich meinem Bruder besucht in San Antonio. Wir haben Fredericksburg besucht, und sind bei Luckenbach gewesen. Wir waren in Driftwood, bei die Salt Lick BBQ und in Bulverde, bei Tejas Rodeo. Ich glaube das muss dan bei dir in der Gegend sein? Es ist eine wunderbare Umgebung.

I understood 95% of what you said! It was the "dan bei dir in der Gegend sein" that stumpted me. You were pretty close to where I live when you were at the Salt Lick. Maybe an hour away from there. We have been there, too, and were in Fredericksburg three months ago to get peaches. Thank you so much for responding in German. I didn't even need to say "wie bitte", if that is correct!

August 19th, 2012, 08:24 PM
I have an extensive family tree (1,600 names) using info from relatives to start with, but so much more from Ancestry.com. You can buy software called The Family Tree Maker at most places that sell software, like Office Depot, or on line. It is about $30 or so. Then subscribe to Ancestry.com, which is expensive, about $200 a year or so. The two things work together. The software searches Ancestry.com and alerts you when it finds things, either in public records or in someone else's family tree. I found my grandfather's military registration from 1910, the original copy! Also, it has census information from 1940 back, and you can also view the original census taker's sheet of paper. If you find a relative of yours, you just press a merge button and it merges, no typing to do. We were at the family library in Salt Lake in January, and we want to go back there again. They have archives of records from other countries. In any case, if you are really interested in your family tree, invest in the software and ancestry.com.

Sandy Navas
August 19th, 2012, 09:03 PM
Such an exciting history - I learned a lot from reading your first post! Thanks for sharing your family with us.

Debbie MM
August 19th, 2012, 11:16 PM
Lenie, Thank you for responding in German, it allows me to practice reading, I am happy that you can trace your families, unfortunately I can't, african american families records tend to be incomplete because of secrets and lack of birth cerificates or records

August 20th, 2012, 12:00 AM
That's really an interesting heritage :) Thanks for sharing that with us, I never would have known about that! My grandfather does a lot of genealogy and has our family's history traced back to Bristol, England, where three brothers with the last name "King" (my maiden name) came to Newfoundland and settled in three different bays. Most Newfoundlanders are either British, Irish, or Scottish, and we are actually the only place outside of Ireland to be given an Irish name, Talamh an Éisc.

August 20th, 2012, 01:24 AM
Thanks so much for sharing that with us...the article was interesting as well.....I know that my paternal grandparents or great grandparents emigrated from Norway but that is about it! On my mother's side I just learned my grandmother was full blooded Indian (American Indian) and denied it her entire life! Of course when she was born it wasn't popular....late 1800's so I can't say that I blame her but wouldn't mind knowing what tribe etc....

August 20th, 2012, 11:10 AM
Such an exciting history - I learned a lot from reading your first post! Thanks for sharing your family with us.

Sandy, if this was a repeat post, I am sorry. I do have a tendency to tell the story.

August 20th, 2012, 02:51 PM
That absolutely fascinating....what a wonderful heritage! I'm only third generation Irish American. As a child I spoke with a strong accent, but once I got into school I quickly lost it. However, when I get angry it comes back pretty strong...what we are and where we came from never leaves our soul! It's a good thing to remember....

Granny Judy
August 20th, 2012, 03:09 PM
I love to hear the "family History stories". It's all facinating to me.. So many different back grounds coming together in the persuit of "freedom". Side note. Paternal side were Irish.. During the Potatoe famine, 3 brothers came to America. From there they multiplied and scattered thru out the USA. the Men were farmers and military. The women were nurses... We still have a strong history of Farmers, Career Military and NURSES.. ( I am a 3rd generation and my Daughter is the 4th generation Nurse in my maternal direct line)

We never fell far from the tree!!! TY for sharing your "stories".

August 21st, 2012, 01:54 AM
Wow! I think it's exciting that you know so much about your family history. I don't know much at all. I almost know more about my ex-husbands family history than I do my own family history. Sad but true.

Pam in Vegas