The Texas Wendish Renaissance
The Wendish language and the awareness of being Wendish were slowly dying in the minds of the descendants of the Wends who migrated to Texas. Rev. Herman Kilian wrote the last Wendish obituary on the occasion of the death of Emma Christiana Schubert on 15 May 1906. It also happened to be the last obituary he wrote that we have.
In 1906, religious instruction ceased to be given in the Wendish language at St. Paul’s Serbin because of a lack of students who wanted to be taught in the Wendish language.
Worship services at Serbin were conducted in the Wendish language until the time of Pastor Herman Kilian’s death. As far as we know, this was the end of the public Wendish language speaking in Serbin. From this point forward, the only Wendish language speaking was in the homes, between neighbors, and between pastor and parishioner.
The following announcement was printed in the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt on 29 August 1929 and undoubtedly announced at the 1929 anniversary service at Serbin:
“Appeal to all Wends and Descendants of the Wendish Colony under the leadership of the sainted Pastor Johann Kilian in the year 1854.
This appeal concerns all still living Wends and their descendants, with the cordial request to send their names and addresses to the “Volksblatt” (German newspaper), or to Pastor A. E. Moebus, La Grange, Texas. Besides that, it would be of great interest and satisfaction for us, if you could share certain old Wendish clothes and folk costumes that are still existing. This is in regard to a very important matter, where we need the help of our Wendish friends and fellow citizens. Professor Engerrand from our State University has shown a great interest in writing the story of the Wends, which would be kept for all time in the State Archives of Texas. To have such a prominent position, would bring honor to the Wends. So Please!”
As a result of this request and the cooperation received, Dr. George Engerrand wrote The So-Called Wends of Germany and Their Colonies in Texas and Australia, which was published in 1934 as a University of Texas Bulletin.
In 1937, the State of Texas erected a historical marker in front of St Paul Lutheran Church in Serbin, dedicated to the memory of the Wends.
This was the beginning of what I like to call the “Texas Wendish Renaissance.”