Fayette County, Texas Family Histories


William Primm

contributed by Harold Mitchell
Dr. William Primm was descended from one of the old, aristocratic and wealthy families of Virginia. Several members of the family became professional and noted men. William Primm moved to the then Territory of Missouri, where he remained until 1830, and in that year located in Mississippi. He then moved to Louisiana, and in 1835 made a prospecting tour into Texas, where he purchased from Wm. Barton the headright of a league of land which was located in the Colorado Valley and was among the best plantations in the state. After the Texas revolution, Dr. Primm returned to Louisiana for his slaves and personal effects, and after coming again to the state obtained a headright from the Republic of Texas for one third of a league of land. He remained on his farm the remainder of his days, dying 1865. He did not desire to practice his profession here, but as good physicians were scarce, the people for miles around called on him for his services, and he always attended. He would never accept pay for his services, and his kindness was appreciated by his many friends.

In the probate records of May, 1865, the will by William Primm states that all of his children were born to him by Celia, a free woman of color, whom he had set free and manumitted in the State of Ohio in the year 1817, and that all of his children were born free and had the right to inherit his estate. His will further states that many persons condemned him for having children born of a woman of African descent, and that he regrets that their mother was not a free white woman, but that no condemnations or regrets could undo what had been done, and that it was imperative for him to provide for his children, and that he hoped that "charity which is long suffering and kind will prompt others to approve this course". He also directed that Celia and his son St. John should move to Mexico upon his death and that sufficient funds would be provided for their expenses.

The doctor's eldest son, James B.L., the only survivor of the family by 1893, was born in Missouri in 1820, and remained with his father until the latter located in Texas. He then traveled in different states and in Mexico, and finally engaged in business in Mexico, where he remained until the close of the Civil War. After his father's death, he was the executor and manager of the large estate and resided at the old homestead. The inventory of Dr. Primm's property states that his estate included more than 8000 acres in Fayette County and an additional 5000 acres in Bexar, Matagorda, and Live Oak Counties. The value of all of his lands was listed as $51,000. William Primm's oldest daughter, Sophronia, married D.L. Wood. His second son, Galen, died in 1852. The next daughter, Mary A., married Frank Reese. The third and youngest son, St. John, by will inherited his father's entire estate, because the will states that the others had already been provided for. He was born in Louisiana in 1834 and received his education in Ohio. He made many improvements on the old estate, and had he lived would have been very wealthy. He married Mrs. Frances M. Inge, who was a daughter of Arthur J. Faust and Elizabeth Speirs Faust, natives respectively of South Carolina and Georgia. Elizabeth Speirs was a daughter of John Speir. Elizabeth's first husband was Jones Weatherford, then Arthur Faust and then James Manning. After her father's death, Francis came with her mother to Texas in 1855, where she married Vinson Inge who owned a store at Kirtley. They had four children, two of whom, Newton H. and Franklin engaged in farming in Bastrop County. She married St. John Primm in 1870 and they had five children; Julian B., Volney, H., Albert L., Theodosia H., and Estell (Stella). During his lifetime, St. John Primm contributed liberally to the education of his children. His three sons were graduates of a college in Ohio and were engaged in merchandising in Smithville. The daughters attended colleges in San Antonio and Austin. He died in 1880.

In 1881, Mrs. Primm married James Primm, the eldest brother of her husband. Together they had one son, William A. Primm. They resided at the old homestead at Kirtley, where they had about 2200 acres under cultivation. Eighty tenants were employed on the place, and they made from 600 to 900 bales of cotton annually. The family residence, a two story frame residence was situated on an elevated plat, overlooking the entire plantation. Volney H. married Minnie Ehlers, a cousin of Alfred Ehlers; Albert L. married Katherine--. They had two daughters; Helen married to E.L. Fondren, and --- married to Leslie Baumgarner. Both lived in OK. Julian B.'s spouse's name is unknown. Stella was married twice, first to C.F. Haynie and then to T.C. Woods. Theodosia was married to M.R. Cook. It is believed that he either died or she divorced him and that she married again.

Meiners, Carolyn. "Dr. William Primm" based on the Freytag Files - Fayette Heritage Archives; Fayette County, Texas Heritage, Vol. 1.; Curtis Media, Inc.; 1996

Corrected information above regarding Frances Faust Inge from Brenda. 

Chanie Maxwell-Rivers

by David L. Collins, Sr.

Chanie Maxwell RiversChanie Maxwell was born in March 1867 in Fayette County, Texas.  On December 21, 1882 she married Thomas Rivers, son of Matthew Rivers, Sr. and Sabry Daws.  Thomas Rivers was born in 1860 in La Grange (Fayette County), Texas.  Thomas and Chanie  had a total of 15 children between 1883 and 1910.

Chanie Rivers was a very busy woman raising her children  over a period of 44 years until her death in Sweet Home (Lee County), Texas.  After her marriage in 1882, she had a child in 1883, 1884, 1887, 1889, 1891, 1982, 1894, 1896, 1897, 1899, 1900, 1902, 1905, 1908 and 1910.  Her youngest child Almeda Rivers was 17 years old when she died.

Based on a Birth Certificate reported by Dr. Robert H. Seymour, M.D. of Warrenton, Texas her, next to last child Lula was born November 13, 1908 (Book 2, Page 218, Certificate No. 3329) of Fayette County Records was born on the Wagner Farm.  The farm is located along Cummings Creek between Round Top, and Ledbetter, Texas; which today is in the area of Round Top Road and Weyand Road just west of Round Top, Texas (Justice Precinct 3, Fayette County, Texas).

Based on the 1920 U. S. Census the Thomas and Chanie Maxwell-Rivers family were living in Justice Precinct 5, Lee County, Texas with seven (7) of their children still living at home.  They were a part of the great migration of African American Pioneers from Fayette County, Texas to Lee County to buy cheap land to build a new home and continue raising their family.

All of the Thomas and Chanie Maxwell-Rivers family moved away from Fayette County, with the exception of David Rivers, born March 9, 1891 in Fayette County, Texas.  He married Malissa Hobson in 1920 in La Grange, Texas, the daughter of John Hobson and Anna Anderson.  She was born on May 21, 1895 in Fayette County and died on May 24, 1998, in Kendleton (Fort Bend County), Texas.

I was fortunate enough to meet Malissa Hobson-Rivers in 1997 and interviewed her.  She indicated that her husband David Rivers was a very resourceful person. She told me that David owned a 127.5 acres of land along Highway 159 between La Grange, Texas and Rutersville, Texas (about 4 miles from La Grange).  He developed a chicken farm in the mid 1950’s with about 2500 to 3000 head of chickens.  He also owned 100 acres of land in Lee County near Sweet Home Baptist Church.  David River’s wife and two twin son were still living on May 18, 1998.

When I interviewed Malissa Hobson-Rivers the daughter-in-law of Chanie Maxwell-Rivers in Kendleton, Texas she was 102 years old.


Benjamin Franklin Rose, M.D.

contributed by Iris Rose Guertin 
Dr. Benjamin F. Rose
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN3 ROSE, M.D. son of ROBERT AND ELIZABETH ROSE of Washington, D.C. He was born Aug 1809 in Washington, D.C., and died Nov 28, 1889 in Schulenburg, Texas.  He is buried in Navidad Baptist Cemetery outside of Schulenburg, Texas. He married (1) REBECCA GIDEON Jul 09, 1832 in Georgetown, D.C. (Dumbarton United Methodist Church), daughter of JACOB GIDEON and MARY COONS. She was born Mar 03, 1813 in Washington, D.C., and died Feb 09, 1838 in Centreville, Virginia. He married (2) ELIZABETH FORD HIGGS Sep 02, 1838 in Centreville, Virginia (Oak Hill Plantation), daughter of BENJAMIN HIGGS and SARAH LANE. She was born Jan 03, 1819 in Fairfax County, Virginia, and died Feb 04, 1865 in Lyons, Texas. He married (3) MARY ANNA KNIGHT Aug 23, 1866 in Fayette County, Texas, daughter of William and Mary A. Knight of Prince William County, Virginia. She was born 1837 in Washington Co., Virginia, and died Feb 27, 1906 in Schulenburg, Texas.

Benjamin F. Rose graduated from Columbian Medical College (now part of George Washington University, Washington, D.C.) along with his brother-in-law Dr. Peterson T. Richardson in 1833. They were in the same graduating class as famous physician Dr. William Beaumont that discovered how gastric juice plays role in digestion. Graduation was held at Unitarian Church on Wednesday March 6, 1833. Columbian College was the home of the city's first medical school that opened in 1825.

“For entrance to the Classical Dept. an applicant was required "to sustain a reputable examination in English Grammar, Geography, Arithmetic, Latin Grammar, Greek Grammar, Virgil, Sallust, Caesar's commentaries, Cicero's select orations, Latin and Greek Testament, etc.... and produce satisfactory evidence of a good moral character." In addition, those attending had to maintain proper conduct—"Honorable and gentlemanly deportment to be maintained in all respects...playing dice, cards, billiards, backgammon, contentious falsehood, intemperance, injustice, profaneness , immodesty, uncleanliness, any kind of immorality would be punished." --from the Rules of Columbian College, c.1825.

He practiced medicine in Fairfax County, Virginia and later in Fayette County, Texas from 1833 to 1889. Dr. Rose also was commissioned September 28, 1841 as a magistrate (*gentleman justice) of Fairfax County, Virginia and qualified as magistrate on November 15, 1841. He served as a magistrate from 1835 through 1858. He is listed as a magistrate and "escheator" in the Register of Justices and County Officers, Fairfax County, Virginia.

*Gentleman Justice of Virginia - Highest in the hierarchy of the officers of the county and the court were the justices. Originally designated as "commissioners", and, by the 1850's referred to as "magistrates". Popular usage in Virginia fostered the custom of speaking of the members of the court as "Gentleman Justices". They were both the products and caretakers of a system that placed control of public affairs in the hands of an aristocratic class, and at any time in the County's history up to mid-nineteenth century a list of the County's justices was certain to include the best leadership the County had. Appointments were for life, and lacked any provision for compensation. Service on the court was considered an honorable obligation of those whose position and means permitted them to perform it. Justices were appointed by the governor.  Appointments to the county court in some instances seemed almost hereditary, for when a justice of one of the prominent local families died or retired to attend to other interests it frequently occurred that his place was taken by a younger relative.”

Dr. Rose and his family resided in Lyons, Texas. It is believed that their home was a short distance from Navidad Baptist Cemetery, located either on what is now known as Vacek Loop or Jahn Road. Dr. Rose liked to play fiddle at local dances. He was fluent in several languages, including German.


           MARY GIDEON4 ROSE, b. Oct 25, 1833, Washington, D.C.; m. WILLIAM GEORGE MOORE (Private Secretary to President Andrew Johnson, Private Secretary to the Secretary of War, Paymaster of the Army, Adjutant General of Volunteers, and other prestigious positions), on Oct 15, 1853, Washington, DC.; b. Jan 28, 1803, Somerset, Maryland; d. Jul 12, 1898, Washington, D.C..

           REBECCA ELIZABETH ROSE, b. Mar 31, 1835, Washington, D.C.; d. Aug 05, 1915, San Francisco, California; m. ALEXANDER THOMAS LANGTON (established the first Pony Express Company in Downieville, California), on Oct 15, 1853, Washington, D.C.; b. Mar 15, 1826, Loudoun Co., Virginia; d. Jul 05, 1894, Napa City, California.


           ROBERT SAULS4 ROSE, b. Jan 22, 1840, Centreville, Virginia (Oak Hill Plantation); d. Oct 31, 1905, Stockdale, Texas; m. SARAH ELLEN AESQUE, Oct 09, 1874, Schulenburg, Texas; b. Jul 10, 1856, Richmond, Virginia; d. Aug 23, 1943, Seguin, Texas.

           LAURA C. ROSE, b. 1843, Centreville, Virginia (Oak Hill Plantation); d. Aft. 1880, Travis Co., TX; m. ALBERT W. EDGE, Dec 14, 1862, Colorado Co., Texas; d. Abt. 1868, Virginia.

           BENJAMIN F. ROSE, County Judge of Coleman, Texas, b. 1845, Centreville, Virginia (Oak Hill Plantation); d. Apr 04, 1905, Coleman, Texas; m. ELLA ABERNATHY; d. Abt. 1916.

           JOHN FORD ROSE, b. 1847, Centreville, Virginia (Oak Hill Plantation); d. 1889, Columbus, Texas; m. JENNIE OR NETTIE R. BROOKS, Apr 13, 1875, Colorado Co., Texas; b. 1858, Tennessee; d. Abt. 1910, Columbus, Texas.

“Universal regret was expressed in this city upon the reception of the news of the death, last Sunday, of Mr. John F. Rose, express agent at Schulenburg. Mr. Rose resided many years in this city, was married here, and had a host of friends, who loved him for his affable, courteous bearing, his strict integrity of character and honesty of purpose. He died of complicaton of diseases, la grippe being succeeded by a virulent attack of pneumonia, from which the best medical skill and good nursing failed to relieve him. His remains were removed to this place, and buried from the residence of Mrs. M.A.Brooks, at the Odd Fellows' Rest at 4 o'clock last Monday, under the auspices of the Knights of Honor, the Rev. G. H. Collins officiating at the residence and the grave. A good man has gone from us, and the bereaved widow and children have universal sympathy. [Married Nettie R. Brooks Apr 13, 1875]. Colorado Citizen, February 12, 1891.

           CHARLES HIGGS ROSE, b. Oct 11, 1848, Centreville, Virginia (Oak Hill Plantation); d. Mar 13, 1917, Schulenburg, Texas; m. ADELIA BERTHA COOKSEY, Jun 12, 1873, Fayette Co., Texas; b. Mar 13, 1856, Montgomery Co., Texas; d. May 27, 1928, Waxahachie, Texas.

           HENRY (HARRY) CLAYTON ROSE, b. Feb 1855, Fairfax, Virginia; d. Jun 13, 1929, Austin, Texas; m. (1) Eliza J. (Jennie) Halsey; b. 1861 Wythe Co., VA, d. after 1910 in Texas; ; m. (2) KATHERINE SHARP, Abt. 1892; b. Abt. 1854;  (3) SARAH ELIZABETH PARKER; b. Apr 20, 1859, Louisiana; d. Dec 20, 1934, Temple, Texas.

           WILLIAM LANE ROSE, b. 1856; d. 1930, bachelor, for many years was superintendent of The Oil Mill in Coleman Co, TX.   He helped organized Runnels County and established the county seat at Old Runnels, the location of the first court of justice in Runnels County. 

           SARAH "SALLIE" LANE ROSE, b. 1859, Virginia; d. Jan 02, 1906, Dublin, Texas; m. JOHN W. GIBSON, Nov 22, 1882, Colorado Co., Texas; b. Abt. 1859, Manassas, Prince William Co., Virginia; d. 1916, Coleman, Texas.

Children of BENJAMIN ROSE and MARY KNIGHT are:

           WALTER THOMAS4 BURNS, b. 1857, Texas; foster child (son of J. R. Burns and Adeline Thomas Burns).

           SARAH GRAY (SALLIE) MCINTEER, b. 1862, Fayette Co., Texas; d. Abt. 1885, San Felipe, Austin Co., TX; Stepchild; m. THOMAS A. HINSLEY, Oct 30, 1880, Fayette Co., Texas; b. 1856, Mississippi; d. Aft. 1880. (daughter of Capt. John P. Thomas and Mary Anna Knight Thomas).

           LUCIEN KNIGHT ROSE, b. 1868, Fayette Co., Texas; d. Aft. 1880.

           JACOB GIDEON ROSE, b. Mar 07, 1870, Schulenburg, Fayette Co., Texas; d. Sep 29, 1928, Boling, Texas; m. WILAMETH LUCRETIA (LOU) CLEVELAND, Mar 16, 1902, Colorado County, Texas; b. Jul 11, 1884, Fayette Co., ?, Texas; d. Mar 04, 1931, Boling, Texas. Died running back into an industrial fire to save his brother-in-law Garland McClung. Both perished.

           NORVILLE ROSE, b. 1874, Texas; d. Aft. 1880, Texas.

           JAMES ROSE, b. 1878, Fayette Co., Texas; d. Possibly California.

            (LOUIS) MARK BROOCKE POMEROY ROSE, b. Jul 30, 1879, Schulenburg, Texas; d. Dec 24, 1948, Galveston Texas; m. SUSIE DORRIS, Jun 22, 1905, Texas; b. Feb 15, 1884, McDade, Bastrop Co., Texas; d. Jun 28, 1946, Houston, Harris Co., Texas.

           ALEXANDER THOMAS LANGTON ROSE, b. Sep 06, 1881, Fayette Co., Texas; d. Mar 15, 1969, Edna, Jackson Co., Texas; m. DORA EVALINE CLEVELAND, Oct 08, 1903, Fayette Co., Texas; b. 1889; d. May 15, 1973, Edna, Jackson Co., Texas.

           LUCRETIA ROSE, b. 1876, Texas; d. Jan 12, 1958, Galveston, Texas; m. JOHN PARK FRAZER, Nov 15, 1899, Fayette Co., Texas; b. Mar 24, 1877, Texas; d. Mar 29, 1914, Texas.

 "Battle of Chantilly." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 6 Jan 2007, 01:35 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 4 Feb 2007 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Battle_of_Chantilly&oldid=98777577
The Fairfax County Courthouse, Ross D. Netherton and Ruby Waldeck, Fairfax Compr.Planning, July 1977, pg. 18-19.
Gamble, Robert S., “Sully”, Sully Foundation, Limited, Chantilly, VA, 1973, pg. 90.
Guertin, Iris Rose, “Rose Famly Research”, 1982 – 2007 and DNA Research 2004.
Hearon, Eloise Rose, Rose Family Information and Photographs, Austin, Texas, 1982.
Lewis, Marian Lewis, Rose, Higgs and Lane Information, Copies of Documents from 1700’s Pertaining to the Higgs and Lane Families, B. F. Rose’s textbook, several family heirlooms from Oak Hill Plantation and Rosemont Plantation, Manassas, Virginia, 1984.
Breitzke, Margaret “Peggy”, Rose and Gideon Information and Photographs, Sandwich, Massachusetts, 1986.
Watson, Mary Frazer, Rose and Frazer Information and Photographs, Galveston, Texas, 1987.
Lewis, Percival Ashby, Rose Letters in Higgs Family Files, Manassas, Virginia, 2000, 2006.
Obituaries of Sallie L. Rose Gibson, Judge B. F. Rose, Dr. Benjamin F. Rose, William L. Rose,
Fairfax County, Virginia “Register of Justices and County Officers, 1793-1850”, No. 7 in 1905 Calendar of Transcripts, pg. 81.
Lavaca County, Texas Census Records, 1850-1930.
Fayette County, Texas Census Records, 1850-1930.
Colorado County, Texas Census Records, 1850-1930.
Rose, Martin A., “The Rose Family and Descendants”, written record, Fort Worth, Texas, 1968.
Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, records for Henry Rose, Robert Rose, John F. Rose, http://www.ltd.nps.gov/cwss/Personz_Detail.cfm
Fayette County, Texas Brands.

Phillip James Shaver

by Sue Dunlavy McIlveen

Phillip James Shaver was a founding pioneer. He not only fought for Texas independence but became a strong advocate for community development after the Republic became the state of Texas. He purchased land and laid out plans for the town of Fayetteville. In order to assure a thriving community, he carried out a bold and generous plan to attract settlers and provide them with the civic, educational and religious facilities needed. The enduring, rich heritage of the city is a testament to the early efforts of Phillip James Shaver and others that followed.

Phillip James Shaver, or P. J. as known by some, was born to Sally Holmes (Dauze) and Phillip Jacob Shaver on June 17, 1814 in Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina. He was one of at least nine children.[i] Phillip’s family later moved to LaGrange, Fayette Co., Tennessee where his father Phillip Jacob Shaver, a blacksmith, and Colonel Edward Cress were in business together manufacturing carriages.[ii] After Phillip’s father died in 1838,[iii] Phillip James left Tennessee for the new and rugged Texas frontier. 

Philip J. Shaver, who followed in his father’s footsteps to become a blacksmith, arrived in Texas, put his blacksmith’s talents to use, and settled in the community of Rutersville around 1840.[iv] Two years later, Phillip J. Shaver received his three hundred twenty acres of land as a result of settling in the Republic.[v] With the turbulent encounters between the settlers and the Indians and Mexicans in those early days, Phillip joined the Republic of Texas Army as a private in the fall of 1842 under the command of William Eastland. He joined with many other courageous Fayette County citizens who engaged in the confrontation with the Mexicans that led to the Dawson Massacre.[vi]

Upon Phillip’s return to Rutersville, he resumed his career as a blacksmith.[vii] Being ready to settle down, he met Mary Ann (Bass) Holloway, a young lovely widow with four children. This cultured Virginia native arrived in Texas in 1845 and married Phillip James Shaver on December 2, 1847.[viii] They lived in Rutersville for a short time and then moved to Ross Prairie. Phillip purchased 525 acres of Alexander Thompson’s fertile prairie land. The well-known San Felipe stage made a stop here on its route between San Antonio and Bastrop. This area already had a few settlers which called the stage stop Alexander’s Landing or Lick Skillet. It is here in the rolling hills that Phillip surveyed and platted the town called Fayetteville.[ix] Some early pioneers suggested that the new town be named Shaversville, but Phillip J. Shaver decided to name it after his earlier home in Fayetteville, Tennessee. A biographical sketch of Phillip J. Shaver’s wife, Mary Ann “Grandma Shaver,” appeared in the October, 1911 San Antonio Express newspaper shortly before her death. The article’s inclusion of the statement that “he gave away every second lot to induce settlers to come in” indicates his desire to have a successful town.[x] Two photographs with a message written to relatives by Phillip J. Shaver’s daughter, Martha Jennings Shaver, also, include the statements of lots being given to settlers by her father.[xi] Phillip J. Shaver and his wife constructed the first log cabin which was situated on the town square. Many visitors, who included the Revs. Robert Alexander, Isaac John, and the Elder Rabb, often found it a comfortable resting place. Settlers came into the area with the majority of the population being of German or Czech heritage.[xii]

In order to have a productive and flourishing community for the new settlers, Phillip Shaver realized the importance of having facilities for educational, religious and civic activities. Phillip helped bring these three major necessities of life into the new community of Fayetteville. Phillip James Shaver donated the land and the Ross Prairie Citizen constructed a school which was built in 1848.[xiii]  Classes opened in 1849 and by 1851 the non-sectarian school called Fayetteville Academy had thirty to forty students. A two day public examination was administered in 1852. Those two days included a barbecue dinner and entertainment by German musicians.[xiv] In 1850 the Texas Legislature passed a charter to create the school called Fayette (Fayetteville) Academy.[xv]

Phillip Shaver donated property for the Fayetteville Masonic Lodge #240 and became a charter member on August 27, 1859. The lower level of the building was offered to the newly formed private Fayetteville Male and Female Academy in 1860. In addition to teaching the basics, music lessons were made available for the first time. However, the school closed in 1861, probably due to the local unrest surrounding the Civil War.[xvi]

The property Phillip J. Shaver donated for the Fayetteville Academy was also used by the interdenominational Union Church when Fayetteville was first formed. Later, individual churches began to build their own places of worship. Phillip J. Shaver sold lots to the Catholics and the Methodists. However, he and his wife Mary Ann “for the reverence and respect that we entertain for the public Worship of God” conveyed a lot for one dollar to the Baptist Church.[xvii]

Phillip James Shaver’s active participation in civic endeavors during the 1850’s included several terms as the Justice of Peace.[xviii] As expected, one of his duties was to perform marriage ceremonies for the citizens of the community. At the start of the Civil War some of the Fayette County residents were vehement and caustic in their opposition to seceding from the Union. Phillip J. Shaver joined the Home Guard which was headquartered in Fayetteville.[xix] However, the vocal opinions had simmered to a passive resistance by 1864. It was at this time that Phillip Shaver had an unsuccessful, contested campaign for mayor against G. F. Haswell.[xx]

Phillip James Shaver, a prosperous businessman, owned and operated the first hotel which was located close to their home.[xxi] In the late 1850’s the family moved from their first log cabin home into a two-story colonial house which was built on the outskirts of Fayetteville. Agriculture was the most profitable business in the region. Like many others in that time period, Phillip actively engaged in farming and raising stock until his death.[xxii]

Phillip James Shaver died on April 6, 1875.[xxiii] It is appropriate that Phillip James Shaver is buried in the Fayetteville City Cemetery as he made a donation of this land to the city. Phillip James and Mary Ann Shaver had a large family, five of whom died in infancy. In addition to his own children, Phillip helped raise and care for the Holloway children and even gained guardianship of two Holloway boys.[xxiv] Only seven of the children from the Shaver’s marriage lived to adulthood. They were Sarah Elisabeth (Bettie) Shaver who married Henry Franklin Dunlavy, Robert Alexander Shaver who married Lillie Terrell, Emma Lou Shaver who married Carroll M. Breeding, William Spears Shaver who married Mary Elizabeth McGehee, Juliet Willellen (Ella) Shaver who married L. W. Ahlers, P J Shaver who married Bertha Vetter, and Martha Jennings Shaver. James J. Holloway married Lizzie Nicholson, Mary Francis Holloway married Major B. F. Dunn, John B. Holloway married Mattie Ware, and Richard Edwin Holloway married Ella Hancock. Most of the Shaver and Holloway children moved to the neighboring Colorado County. Mary Ann Shaver continued to reside in Fayetteville for a number of years, but eventually moved to Weimar. She died there on January 2, 1912 and is buried in the Weimar Masonic Cemetery. Many of the descendants continue to live in close proximity to Fayetteville to this day.[xxv]

Phillip James Shaver, with his devotion to his community, founded a wonderful little town which is prosperous and retains a rich German/Czech heritage today. The saying “What is the city, but its people” certainly applies. Phillip J. Shaver has recently been honored with his photograph as founder of Fayetteville on a delightful flyer promoting the annual 2000 Lickskillet Days and the prestigious invitation for the city of Fayetteville to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. The churches, the schools, the city and the people have all been recipients of Phillip James Shaver’s vision. Even Phillip Shaver’s choices of street names are still in place today in the quaint, historic community. The present residents have made good use of what was placed before them. Louis Polansky, a recent Fayetteville historian, stated the following:

If it wasn’t for the Shavers, our town would probably not exist, and this would be a loss to the entire State of Texas, for where else can you find a place like the town of Fayetteville.”[xxvi]

[i] North Carolina Daughters of American Revolution, Genealogical Records Committee Report, presented by Mrs. Stahle Linn, Jr., Elizabeth Maxell Steele Chapter, Miscellaneous Records – Rowan County, Years 1600-1970, “Johannes Schaefer Family,” (National DAR Library Washington, D. C., Microfilm by Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City, September 22, 1972), Clayton Library, Houston, TX., ID No. 901217, Roll 1383, Item No. 1, Section IV – Philip Shaver, pp. 13-53.
[ii] Fayette County, Somerville, Tennessee, County Clerks Office Deed Book, Vol. G, p. 376.    
[iii] Western Carolinian, Salisbury, N. C., September 20, 1838.
[iv] 1840 Census of the Republic of Texas, ed. Gifford White with forward by James M. Day (Pemberton Press: Austin, 1966), p. 40 
[v] General Land Office, Archives and Record Division, Austin, Fayette County Claim    No. 236b.
[vi] Republic of Texas Papers – Public Debt Claim 2052, Texas Library and Archives Collection, September 6, 2009, retrieved from http://tslarac.tsl.state.tx.us/repclaims/157/15700428.pdf - 15700434; Houston Wade, compiled The Dawson Men of Fayette County,  (no publisher Houston:  October, 1932) pp. 15-23.
[vii]  1850 United States Census, Fayette County, Texas, Town of Fayetteville, p. 196a.
[viii]  Fayette Co., LaGrange, Texas, County Clerks Office, Marriage Records, Vol. A No. 165;  Carolinian Watchman, Salisbury, N.C., February 17, 1848.
[ix] Fayette County Deeds, Vol. G p. 122;  Vol. J. p. 360; Ernest Emory Bailey, ed. and compiled “Dr. Phillip James Shaver,” Texas Historical and Biographical Record, (The Texas Historical and Biographical Record: Austin, 1939?)  pp. 278-279.
[x] Reprint of article in The Mercury, Weimar, Texas, January 12, 1912.
[xi] Photographs in the private collections of P. J. Shaver descendants, Kay Myers of San Antonio and Jane Blanks of Houston.
[xii] Fayette County Texas Heritage, Fayette County History Book Commission, (Curtis Media: 1996), Vol. II,   p. 444.
[xiii] Ibid. Vol. I, p. 207.
[xiv] Students of La Grange High School, Fayette County: Past and Present, ed. by Mrs. L. Williams, (La Grange High School: 1975), p. 63;   Frank Lotto, Fayette County, Her History and Her People, (Sticker Steam Press: Schulenberg,  1902), p. 340.
[xv] Texas State Gazette, September 21, 1850, Texas History Center – Eugene C. Barker Collection.
[xvi] James Carter, Education and Masonry in Texas 1846-1861. (Masonic Publishing:  Waco, 1964), pp. 93-94.
[xvii] Fayette County, Deed Records, Vol. K, p. 7.
[xviii] Fayette County Clerks Office, Bond as Justice of Peace, Vol. F, p. 112; Fayette County Election Returns 1848-1856.
[xix] Leonie Rummel Weyand and Houston Wade, An Early History of Fayette County,   Copyright – LaGrange Journal (Eakin Press: Burnet, Texas, 1936), p. 278.
[xx] Frank Lotto, Fayette County, Her History and Her People, (Sticker Steam Press: Schulenberg, 1902), p. 138.
[xxi] Leonie Rummel Weyand and Houston Wade, An Early History of Fayette County, p. 117; LaGrange Journal,  March 16, 1922, R. E. Dunn (Shaver step-son) describes event of January 4, 1866. 
[xxii] United States 1860 Census, Fayette County, City of Fayetteville, p. 271b; “J. J. Holloway,” Memorial and Genealogical Record of Texas, (Goodspeed Brothers: Chicago, 1894), pp. 403-405.
[xxiii] Fayette County Probate Records, Book J, File No. 1184.
[xxiv] Fayette County Records - Guardianship File #380.
[xxv] Family records compiled by the following descendants: Edith Harwell of Victoria (deceased), Mary Grant of Weimar (deceased), Mary Louise Kennedy of Chicago (deceased), Jane Blanks of Houston, Sarah Ritter of Houston, Phyllis Collins-Rummel of Dripping Springs, Sue McIlveen of Houston.
[xxvi] Fayette County Texas Heritage, Vol. II, p. 444.


Johann Ludwig Karl Heinrich von Struve

Written and contributed by Jon Todd Koenig
Heinrich Struve
The man who was the progenitor of the Texas Struve family lines, Heinrich von Struve, was born Johann Ludwig Karl Heinrich von Struve on August 9, 1812 in the city of Stuttgart, then the capital of the Kingdom of Württemberg, as the eleventh and youngest child of the eleven children of Johann Christoph Gustav von Struve and Sibilla Christiane Friederike von Hochstetter, themselves both descended from noble families. Heinrich was a Russian subject, since although he was of German heritage and was born in a German land his father was a subject and an officer of the Russian Court.

As a boy, Heinrich studied with tutors in Stuttgart, and attended “Gymnasium” in Karlsruhe, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Baden, where his father was the Royal Russian Ambassador to the Badonian Court. Here he also attended the “Polytechnicum”. As he grew older, his experiences began to expand, as in 1825, at the age of thirteen he traveled to Bern, Switzerland to live with his uncle Konrad von Hochstetter and his family and where the young Heinrich attended the Bern Riding Academy and learned his horse riding skills. It was during this stay that in 1828, Heinrich’s father suddenly died, and his mother and young sisters came to stay with Heinrich and his Uncle’s family in Bern.

Shortly after this time, in the fall of 1828, Heinrich entered into military service with the Russian Army, upon the advice of is brother Karl Anton von Struve, who was engaged at that time as the Russian Legation Secretary in Dresden, the capital of the Kingdom of Saxony. In this service, Heinrich traveled to what was then the Kingdom of Poland (also known as Congress Poland), although it was actually a puppet state administered by the Russian Tsar. He trained and exercised throughout the region around Warsaw and then upon request was honorably released from service on 11/28/1830, the day before the Warsaw Revolt against Russia began, and thus he escaped what would have been certain death.

After his release from Russian military service, he lived for time with his brother, Georg von Struve in Kolo, and then went to live with his brother Gustav von Struve in Göttingen, in the Kingdom of Hanover, where he studied law. After his law studies, he returned to the now defeated former Kingdom of Poland, at the suggestion of his bortehr Georg, where we worked as an overseer of the domain (akin to a plantation) of Prince Maximilian Karl of Thurn and Taxis in the then Grand Duchy of Posen, in present-day Poland. He later transferred to another domain in the same region, where he become acquainted with the local “Landrat” or head civil servant, J. von Borowsky, whose daughter, Stephanie von Borowsky would become Heinrich’s first wife.

Heinirch could not at first marry Stephanie, as he did not own any land, however his future father-in-law, sold him a small domain (or estate) in the Prussian controlled region of the Kingdom of Poland, called Schlesian (Silesia), where Stephanie has been born. Thus, Heinrich and Stephanie were married on September 19th, 1836 at the home of Stephanie’s parents, and they then retired to Heinrich’s Estate where four children were born to them; a stillborn boy, Amand, Louis, and “Silly”. Of these latter three chidlren, only Amand and Louis are belived to have survived, as no mention or reference to “Silly” von Struve can be found today.

Heinrich determined in 1842 that the family had outgrown the small estate and sold it, notwithstanding the Von Borworsky links to it, and purchased a larger estate in Congress Poland, which was controlled by the Russian Tsar. Two years after moving to the larger etsate, Stephanie died of a fever and Heinrich was a widower for two more years until he married his cousin Wilhelmine Charlotte Margarete “Minna” Von Hochstetter, to whom a young girl was born to them in 1847, Stephanie von Struve, named for Heinrich’s beloved first wife. In Heinrich’s own words, “everythig went along fine until the year 1848”.

In 1848, the Revolutions of the German States occurred, where liberal republican uprisings shook numerous German cities and where the monarchies were denounced, which caused great anxiety among the crwoned heads of Europe, not the least of which was the Russian Tsar. Despite not being polictical (unlike his brother Gustav von Struve), Heinrich was blacklisted by the Russian authorities in control of the Kingdom of Poland and thus Heinrich feared arrest. On May 10, 1848, Heinrich received word from contacts in Warsaw that he should flee the Kingdom, which he did with his family via a daring cross-river middle-of-the-night escapade, leaving his estate behind to be confiscated and him penniless but free. After his escape the small family traveled to Berlin to stay with Uncle Konrad von Hochstetter (and father-in-law as well now), where Heinrich contemplated his future.

It was in this climate that Heinrich decided to emigrate to the United States, and specifically to Texas, as it was a country where with diligence and energy everyone could make his way. Thus, on September 19th, 1848, Heinrich, his wife Minna, and their then three children, Amand, Louis and Stephanie, sailed from the free Hanseatic City of Hamburg, aboard the Bark Colonist via Copenhagen and Havana, and after ten weeks at sea arrived in Galveston, Texas on November 22, 1848.

Leaving his family in Galveston, Heinrich and a group of fellow immigrants made their way traveling overland for eight days to Cedar near La Grange, in Fayette County on the Colorado River. Here Heinrich heard of land for sale in the vicinity of Rutersville, thus he traveled back to La Grange and on to Rutersville where he met a local farmer who negotiated a sale of a 400 acre farm to Heinrich, who quickly closed the deal, procured his family from Galveston and started his new life in Texas.

The new life in Texas found Heinrich pursuing a number of vocations in addition to the obligatory farming and ranching, among them hunting, fishing, owner of Fayette County’s first cigar factory, owner and operator of a carrier business, peach-brandy shop owner, and father of four more children with wife Minna; third son Konrad born 1849, and daughters Fanny born 1853, Sophie born 1857 and Amy born 1858.

Life in Texas was hard but rewarding. Heinrich and his older boys, Amand and Louis worked the soil planting corn, sweet potatoes, and tobacco and numerous fruits including apples, pears, plums and peaches. They also raised cattle, horses, swine and fowl, using the brand ISI for their cattle. Early on the family found the going harder than they had anticipated, however through the assistance of John Robert Baylor (whose name was given to Baylor University) and his family, the Struves managed to make a success of the farm and the various businesses Heinrich ran.

Socially, Heinrich and his family mixed with numerous other settlers, Anglo and German alike. The Struve family was one of the members of the “Latin Settlement” which was a group of the better-educated German immigrant families who annually congressed together in Bluff to socialize, talk politics and generally expose themselves and their families to some high culture in the then Texas wilderness.

Thus it was until the spring of 1860, which marked the end of the third year of an extended period of little to no rain in Fayette County. It was at this time, that Heinrich’s wife, Minna, who had come from a well-off noble family, had had enough and asked that the family be allowed to return to Europe, which Heinrich agreed to. Minna and the younger children left for the homeland in March of 1860; however Heinrich, Amand and Louis remained behind. The boys had become young men and more importantly had become Texans, and Heinrich stayed to wrap up his business affairs. He conveyed the farm to his two boys, and then traveled north to New York, via steamship from New Orleans to Cincinnati and from there by train to New York to visit his brother Gustav Struve, who like Heinrich had emigrated to the U.S. in 1848, although in his case, for good reason, as he was a bona-fide revolutionary.

In New York, Heinrich met up with Gustav who as always was “stirring” the political pot with his somewhat slanted tome “World History”, however, for all Gustav’s bluster, he did have friends in high places. Among these friends was Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, with whom Gustav had become acquainted during the presidential election of 1860. Being an ardent republican, Gustav had successfully persuaded a great number of other German immigrants to vote Republican and thus helped sway New York into Lincoln’s camp which in turn help Lincoln win the election. As a result, Lincoln always counted Gustav Struve (who had dropped the von due to his republican ideals) as a friend and even was going to appoint Gustav as consul general to the Royal Court of Baden, except that by that time, Gustav like Heinrich before him had traveled back to Europe and was fomenting more revolution and thus was considered unacceptable by the Royal Court.

After visiting with Gustav in New York, Heinrich traveled back to Europe and joined his family in Rheinfelden on the German / Swiss border where he operated a “cure house” for sixteen years, which was in essence a hostelry with curative mineral baths.

But again, Heinrich’s “wanderlust” took hold and he decided to sell out to his son, Konrad so that he could return to Texas to see his sons. This he did in 1876 and it was then that he first met his sons’ brides; Amand’s being Christiane Pfeisler and Louis’s being Clementine de Lassaulx. Heinrich stayed mainly with his eldest son, Amand, who had by then moved on to western Texas in and around Hale County. He stayed with Amand and his family for three years, but this was not to last, as Heinrich again longed for the family he left behind, who had by that time migrated themselves from Europe to Brazil!

So Heinrich then traveled from Texas to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1879 where his son, Konrad had emigrated with his wife and family as well as his younger sister, Sophie von Struve. Additionally, Stephanie von Struve, Hienrich’s eldest daughter and full sister to Amand and Louis, had married a Paul Larcher who had immigrated to Brazil to pursue a career as a railroad engineer.

Heinrich stayed in Brazil with Stephanie and her husband and his daughter Sophie, who by that time was living with them and generally was simply a houseguest, keeping his daughters company as Paul Larcher was often gone fro months on his railroad job, and it was during this time that he had a very interesting encounter one day near to the Larcher hoe in Petropolis, Brazil, which just so happened to be the summer residence of the Brazilian monarch, Dom Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil. The Emperor was fond of travel stories and had heard of Heinrich von Struve’s times in Texas, and thus was summoned to tell these tales to the monarch. This Heinrich did and he evidently made a grand impression on the royal leader.

Sophie evidently was not well in Brazil and thus, Heinrich took her out of Brazil to Texas for a third time to visit Amand and Louis in 1882 and stayed for two years during which time he served as a United States Postmaster and a Justice of the Peace..

In 1884 Sophie again became unwell, and Heinrich resolved to take her to Scotland, where his daughter Fanny was living with her husband and where his wife Minna and daughter Amy were also then living. Heinrich lived here for six years, though 1886 when Amy and her husband Julius Betzler, a missionary traveled to India to proselytize to the Kols, a native tribe there, and on until March 15, 1890 when Heinrich, Minna, Sophie and Fanny moved back to the Continent to Eisenach in the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (present-day German state of Thuringia) where they loved for two years, and where his youngest daughter Amy and her family rejoined them after their return from India.

Julius Betzler was summoned to serve a congregation in the vicinity of the Odenwald in Bavaria, and in 1893 Heinrich and his wife went there to be with them. It was in Rothenberg in der Odenwald where Heinrich and Minna lived out the remainder of their years, celebrating their golden wedding anniversary, with Heinrich passing away on March 3rd, 1898 at the age of eighty-five.

Louis Joseph Struve

Written and contributed by Jon Todd Koenig
Louis & Monica Struve
Louis Joseph Struve, as he was known since like his older brother Amand he too dropped the aristocratic von from his surname, was born the second surviving son of Heinrich von Struve and Stephanie von Borowsky on November 21, 1839 in the province of Silesia in the Kingdom of Prussia. Louis, like his older brother was born in Silesia on the land where his mother, Stephanie von Borowsky had been born. However, as the von Struve family grew, Heinrich sold the old homestead and moved east to greener pastures.

At the young age of eight years old, Louis immigrated to Texas with his father and step-mother, Minna von Hochstetter Struve, whom his father had married after Louis’s mother’s death in 1843, as well as his brother Amand and half-sister, Stephanie. He and his family sailed to Texas from the free city of Hamburg aboard the Bark Colonist on September 19, 1848, arriving in Galveston on November 22, ten long weeks later.

Like his brother, young Louis amused himself with the other children aboard ship playing games and listening to stories about what the Texas frontier held in store for the young man from Europe.

Upon arriving in Texas, Louis traveled with his family from Galveston to Fayette County to a small farm his father had purchased in the vicinity of Rutersville, where he soon learned that along with the adventure came a great deal of hard work which had to be done.

As all children did in those days, Louis helped out on the farm with the usual chores including tending the livestock and the crops, as well as helping his step-mother with her household duties. However, despite the toil of the frontier life, Louis found time to study alongside his brothers and sisters, which by 1860 counted seven, including himself, his brother Amand and his half-siblings; Stephanie, Konrad, Fanny, Sophie and Amy von Struve.

In 1860, after a three year drought, his step-mother Minna had had enough of the frontier life and had asked Louis’s father to return with the family to Europe. By this time, Louis had become an able-bodied independent young man of twenty-one and more importantly, Louis had become a Texan. Therefore, when his father and step-mother and younger siblings left for the homeland, Louis stayed behind along with his brother Amand and managed the farm which his father had left to them.

Not two years later, on May 1st, 1862, Louis like so many other Texan men, enlisted in the Army of the Confederate State of America, specifically Creuzbauer’s Battery which later became Charles B. Welhausen’s Battery (also known as the 5th Texas Battery), 5th Company, Field Artillery. Louis held the rank of Bugler and is believed to have served primarily in Texas, and is known to have served in Montgomery County, Texas. He served through the duration of the War and was discharged at the end of it. He later received a pension for his service upon his application for such in 1911, when he was sixty-three years of age and penniless.

On May 29th, 1866, after his service in the War, Louis returned home to Fayette County and married Miss Clementine de Lassaulx, who was born the daughter of Otto de Lassaulx and Margaretha Fassbender de Lassaulx on June 22, 1846 in the city of Koblenz, the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia at that time. The de Lassaulxs (also known as von Lassaulx), like the von Struves were a semi-noble family as Otto’s father and grandfather were well-renowned architects who served the Prussian Court over many years, much like Heinrich von Struve’s forebears had served the Russian Court. Thus, these two middle-children of middle-children of semi-noble families were well-matched.

By 1876, when Heinrich von Struve returned to Texas to visit his two Texan sons, Louis and Clementine’s family had grown to five children, and by the time grandfather Heinrich returned for his third and final visit to Texas in 1882, the family had grown to seven children, and by the turn of the century, the family had grown to a whopping eleven living children among them Eliza/Elise, Leo, Sophie Agnes, Julius, Clemens Amand, Jean Claude “Shanklo”, Otto Guido, Paul Joseph, Monica Agnes, Liane Marie and Felix Louis.

When grandfather Heinrich visited in 1876, Louis and his brother, Amand had sold the old farm, as Amand had by then moved west to Hale County, Texas, and Louis and Clementine and their family were living with the de Lassaulxs some 20 miles from the City of Columbus in Colorado County, Texas, near to where the railroad had then been built between Columbus and La Grange, in the vicinity of the village of Biegel, Fayette County, Texas (which at the time of this writing lies submerged at the bottom of the Fayette Power Plant Lake).

It is evident from the fact that Otto de Lassaulx’s will leaves his entire estate to Clementine (in lieu of her six sisters and one brother) for the care she had provided him and her mother prior to their deaths whilst they resided with her family, as well as from the fact that Louis Struve’s Civil War Pension application was approved due to his financial hardship, that Louis and Clementine were not wealthy landowners. This hardship on Louis was worsened when his bride passed away at the relatively young age of fifty-nine on February 21st, 1905 and Louis followed her in death some sixteen years later on Christmas Day, 1921, at the age of eighty-five in La Grange, Texas in the home of his daughter and son-in-law, Liane and George Weber.

Both Louis and Clementine were life-long Catholics, having attended both Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Frelsburg, as well as St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Fayetteville. They are buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Fayetteville, next to Clementine’s parents, Otto and Margaretha in an unmarked plot surrounded by a concrete border labeled STRUVE and DE LASSAULX.


Anton and Andela Fiser Sumbera Family

by Carolyn Sumbera Heinsohn 

Anton Sumbera, the fifth child of John and Marie Blahocek, was born on July 17, 1875 in House #37 in Velke Kuncice, Silesia, now in Moravia. Anton’s paternal grandparents were Josef and Anna Kreczmarska Sumbera, and his maternal grandfather was Josef Kreczmarsky of nearby Bartovice. His father and paternal grandfather were also born in Velke Kuncice.  Marie’s parents were Jiri and Maria Slivy Blahocek of Kuncice. Anton’s village of origin, Velke Kuncice, was razed in 1949 and replaced by the Nova Hut steel mill near present-day Ostrava in northern Moravia, Czech Republic.  Anton was baptized at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Vratimov, a neighboring village, because there was no Catholic church in Velke Kuncice.  In 1879, at the age of four, he emigrated with his family on the Nurnberg from Bremerhaven, the port near Bremen, to New Orleans, where the family boarded a train and traveled as far as Schulenburg.  Within three weeks, his parents purchased a 130-acre farm approximately six miles south of La Grange on William’s Creek.  Anton had three brothers, Josef (m. Marie Hanus), John (m. Agnes Stavinoha and Annie Poncik) and Alois (m. Agnes Bohac), and three sisters, Marie (m. John Parma and Paul Lidiak), Frantiska (m. Josef Fisher) and Agnes (m. John Walla); Agnes was the only child born in Texas.

Young Anton went to the Radhost School located across William’s Creek toward present-day Highway 77 South between La Grange and Schulenburg. The school site is next to East Radhost School Road.  His teacher was Jan Hilscher.  On February 1, 1904, Anton married Andela Fiser (Fisher), the daughter of Peregrin and Filomena Vacek Fiser, early settlers of Ammannsville, Texas. The Fisers had emigrated in 1876 from Vermerovice in northeast Bohemia, where Peregrin owned and operated a flour mill.

Anton’s father died at age 50 of tuberculosis in 1894, so Anton continued to live on the farm to help his mother, even after his marriage.  In 1908, he bought the farm, which was 157 ½ acres at that time, from his mother, who then went to live with her oldest daughter, Marie Lidiak, who lived in Ammannsville. Marie’s first husband, Jan Parma, died at age 28, so Marie then married Paul Lidiak, who operated a business in Ammannsville.  Anton purchased an additional 86 acres of land in 1922 and lived on his farm with his family until his untimely death at 57 years of age on December 23, 1932, following thoracic surgery for empyema (infection of the pleural cavity) secondary to pneumonia and influenza.  Andela’s children continued to live on their farm until each of them married, except for Jerome and Johnnie, who left circa 1941 to live in La Grange, where they operated a blacksmith shop in the Riverside addition until they were drafted into the Army.  Jerry Sumbera with his wife, Antonia “Tonie” Mazoch, and son, Leonard, moved from Ammannsville to the farm to live with his mother during the war years.  In 1946, Jerry purchased the farm from his mother, who then went to live with her only daughter and son-in-law, Josie and George Kallus, in Ammannsville. The Kalluses were living on part of the Peregrin Fiser farm that Andela had inherited from her parents. Andela died of a coronary thrombosis on February 3, 1963, at the age of 80.  She and Anton are buried in the Ammannsville Catholic Cemetery.

Anton and Andela had six children; they also attended Radhost School or a school in Ammannsville. The Radhost School did not always have enough students to comprise a particular grade, so during those years, the Sumbera children had to attend school in Ammannsville. The children were: (1) George (Jiri), born 7/39/1905, married Rosie Dusek of Ammannsville, who was born 3/30/1905.  They had three children - Robert, born 8/30/1929, died 5/28/2007, buried in the La Grange City Cemetery; Adolph, born 10/5/1932, died 1/25/1940, buried in the Ammannsville Catholic Cemetery; and Bernice, born 7/9/1935.  George died 8/10/1971, and Rosie died 3/27 /1997; both are buried in St. Michael’s Catholic Cemetery in Weimar, TX (2) Josef, born on 3/4/1908, married Betty Vasek of Plum, Texas, who was born 12/24/1912; they had one daughter, Dorothy, born 12/23/1932.  Betty died 10/3/1981, and Joe died 10/10/97. Both are buried in the La Grange City Cemetery. (3) Jerome, born 6/18/1909, married Mary Dusek of the Bluff community, who was born 12/17/1920.  They had three sons – John, born 3/2/1948; Daniel, born 4/24/1949; and James, born 6/8/1951.  Jerome died 7/1/1980, and Mary died 11/18/2001; both are buried in the Granger Catholic Cemetery.  (4) Jerry (Jaroslav), born 4/2/1912, married Antonia “Tonie” Mazoch of Ammannsville, born 4/6/1915. They had two children – Leonard, born 5/10/1940 and Virginia, born 12/22/1944.  Jerry died 6/16/1998, and Tonie died 9/28/2009; both are buried in the Ammannsville Catholic Cemetery.  (5) John, born 10/12/1915, married Minnie Hoelscher of Ellinger, born 7/19/1924; they had three daughters – Carolyn, born 3/14/1944, Jane, born 1/16/1951 and Marlene, born 2/16/1955. John died 7/6/1981, and Minnie died 8/29/1985; both are buried in the La Grange City Cemetery. (6) Josie born 2/27/1920, married George Kallus of Hostyn, born 2/22/1915; they had four children – Bernard, born 9/19/1941; Marcus, born 2/14/1944; Valerie, born 2/14/1945; and Angeline, born 3/26/1951.  Josie died 6/29/07 and George died 7/16/2004; both are buried in the Ammannsville Catholic Cemetery. 

Besides being a farmer, Anton was a carpenter and a blacksmith.  He did blacksmithing for his neighbors, in addition to making much of his own farm equipment and tools.  Two items that his descendants remember his making were a cotton duster that was pulled by mules and a hand-operated bellows used in his smithy.  In addition to those talents, Anton was a musician who made stringed instruments such as violins, violas and string basses, some of which were used by the members of the family and others that were sold to musicians in the area.  He made his instruments out of cedar, box elder from his farm and ebony parts that he ordered, and then glued everything together with homemade wood glue made of flaked resin and cooked chinaberries.  One of his violas is still in the possession of his granddaughter, Carolyn Sumbera Heinsohn.  The whereabouts of the remaining instruments are unknown. Anton played in the Ammannsville Oldtime Band founded by his father and the Sumbera Family Band.  His brothers, John and Alois, and sister, Agnes Walla, were also musicians who played stringed instruments. Agnes played five instruments, including the violin, mandolin, string bass and guitar. Anton instilled his love of music in his youngest son, John, who played the string bass and then drums for a number of bands all of his adult life, including the Ray Baca Orchestra for over 20 years.

Anton’s obituary written by his friend, John Dusek, who was also the father-in-law of his son, George, describes Anton as “being a quiet man with a peaceful nature, tending to his affairs tiredlessly and working with a lot of effort.  He saved so that his family would be assured a respectable livelihood and own property.  He stood by his church and the school.  He was not an objector.”

Andela is remembered by her granddaughter as a tiny woman, also of a quiet nature, with a sweet smile and disposition.  She too was a hard worker and excellent cook.  The smell and taste of her pastries, cookies and homemade wine were vividly imprinted in the memories of her children and grandchildren.  She raised her own poppies for poppy seed for her kolaches and had a greenhouse filled with flowers. She only spoke Czech, although she probably understood more English than she would admit. 

Her parents had purchased 500 acres of land and donated three of the eleven acres for the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and Cemetery, as well as the main altar for the first church, which was destroyed in 1909 in an inland hurricane. However, photographs indicate that the main altar was salvaged and used as the left side altar for Mary’s statue in the second church, which burned in 1917.

In addition to farming, the Fisers initially raised cattle for income, but their herd was wiped out by brucellosis, forcing them to rely on farming for a long while thereafter.  Andela’s brother, Josef, who lived on part of the original farm, continued the cattle raising tradition, which is still being carried on by some descendants in other areas of Texas.

Andela attended the first Czech school in Ammannsville, got married, and never ventured very far from Fayette County, except for one time when her son, John, took her to visit her sister-in-law, Agnes Walla, who was living in Caddo, Oklahoma.  Andela had never seen mountains, so when she was taken up Mount Locke in southern Oklahoma, which is not a very high mountain, she had to be coaxed out of the car.  She was afraid to look down from that elevation.

Anton and Andela instilled a love of family, a love of music, and a strong work ethic into their children, which has been passed down to their descendants.  Anton’s creativity and mechanical skills, and Andela’s skills in the kitchen and garden have continued through subsequent generations. [Updated February 6, 2011]

John Sumbera Family

by Carolyn Sumbera Heinsohn 

Jan and Marie SumberaOn October 19, 1879, John Sumbera and his wife, Marie (Marianna), set sail with their six children (the seventh was born in Texas) on the steamship Nurnberg from the port of Bremerhaven near Bremen, Germany.  Their village of origin was Velke Kuncice, Silesia near Ostrava (presently the Moravian area of the Czech Republic).  This village was razed in 1949 during the Communist regime to make room for a large steel mill called Nova Hut.  Since there was no Catholic church in their village, the Sumberas attended church in the nearby village of Ratimov, now Vratimov, located just south of Velke Kuncice. 

After twenty-two days at sea, the Sumbera family arrived in New Orleans on November 9, 1879.  From there, they traveled by train to Schulenberg, Texas, and then on to the Bluff community south of La Grange, where some of their acquaintances had already settled.

John was born on January 22, 1844 in Velke Kuncice in house #37.  His father, Josef Sumbera and grandfather were also born in Velke Kuncice.  His mother, Anna Kreczmarska (Krecmar), was the daughter of Josef Krecmarsky (Krecmar) of nearby Bartovice.  John was twenty-two when he married Marie Blahocek Speczikova (Speczik), age twenty-seven, on July 10, 1866 in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Ratimov (now Vratimov).  She was born on July 5, 1839 in Kuncice, the daughter of Jiri and Maria Slivy Blahocek.  She was the widow of Johan Speczik and had no children from her first marriage.

Unfortunately, fifty years of records have disappeared, so it has been impossible to research farther back than John’s parents.  It is possible that the Sumbera (Schumbera) family ancestors originally were German-Silesians, and that they were among the German colonists who had settled in Silesia and the borderlands of Bohemia and Moravia, some arriving as far back as the 13th century. The coal mines in the area of Ostrava were incentives that enticed German colonists to migrate to that area. There are Schumbera families still living in Germany. One Schumbera gentleman, who lives in Germany, claims that his ancestors also migrated to the same area of Silesia.  Many of the German colonists changed the spelling of their names to Czech versions; hence, Schumbera became Sumbera with a hajek (diacritic mark) over the “S”, changing the sound to “Sch”.

John had four brothers: Josef (b. 1845), Anton (b. 1847), Ludvik (b. 1852), and Frantisek (b. 1863); and three sisters: Frantiska (b. 1840), Agnes (b. 1849) and Jenovefa (b. 1850).  Apparently Josef died at an early age, since no other records have been located on him.  Agnes died in 1851 at three years of age and is buried at Vratimov; Frantisek died at ten months of age of “stomach cramps”.

Three weeks after arriving in Fayette County, John purchased a 130-acre farm in the Arthur Powell League, approximately five miles south of La Grange for $2600.  This farm with additional acreage is still owned by the family of Jerry Sumbera, a grandson of John and Marie.  In early 1880, John built a simple wooden frame home that was torn down in 1908 by his son, Anton, who bought the farm from his mother, Marie, that same year.  A new larger home was built nearby; a second story was added later.  This home was torn down in 1956 by Jerry Sumbera, who purchased the farm, which was 157 ½ acres at that time, from his mother, Andela, in 1946. He used the lumber from the old home to construct a new one-story home.

John was not only a farmer, but was also a musician and blacksmith, as well as having mechanical and carpentry skills.  He played stringed instruments and made them as well.  Most of his children inherited his musical aptitude and learned to play a wide variety of musical instruments. Family tradition states that John had organized the Sumbera String Band in Ammannsville, Texas, but due to poor health and an early death, his band was short-lived.  His sons and grandsons also inherited his blacksmithing, mechanical and carpentry skills.

John and Marie’s oldest child was Josef, born on June 11, 1867 in Velke Kuncice, Silesia.  On January 23, 1894, Josef married Marie Jenovefa Hanus, the daughter of Vaclav and Maria Hanus, who was born on February 26, 1973 in Ammannsville. Her parents emigrated from Katerinof, Bohemia in 1870.  Josef and Marie first moved to West, Texas and then to Baylor County in 1906, where Josef and his brother, John, bought a 360-acre farm.  Josef was killed in a tragic accident on November 10, 1907 by a fall from a runaway hay wagon, leaving his widow and six children, who continued operating their farm until the children were all grown. She first had the help of her brother-in-law, John, and then her nephew.  Marie died on January 31, 1960; both she and Josef are buried in the Cache Creek Cemetery near Seymour, Texas.

Marie, the second child of John and Marie Sumbera, was born on July 8, 1869.  On November 14, 1892, she married John Parma of Ammannsville; his family had emigrated from Frenstat Moravia.  A musician like many members of the Parma family, John died of an unknown cause at 28 years of age in December 1898.  Marie then married Paul Lidiak in Ammannsville on August 6, 1900.  They lived in the town of Ammannsville, where Paul operated a business.  They adopted one daughter, Viola, who was one of the orphaned children sent from New York City on an orphan train. Viola married Edmund Stavinoha, had five sons, two of whom died in childhood; she died at age 30 of pneumonia.  Paul died on April, 27, 1947, and Marie died on January 27, 1961.  Both are buried in the Ammannsville Catholic Cemetery.

John was born on August 24, 1871 in Velke Kuncice, Silesia.  He married Agnes Stavinoha, daughter of Josef and Agnes Adamcik Stavinoha, in Ammannsville on November 19, 1895.  The Stavinoha family emigrated from Zabreh, Moravia.  John and Agnes had seven children, three of whom died in early childhood.  John was a blacksmith in Ammannsville, as well as a mechanic and farmer. His smithy was located at the corner of FM 1383 and Mensik Rd. across the road from the KJT Hall. An old well can still be seen at the site.  John and his family moved to Baylor County in 1906, where he purchased a farm with his brother, Josef.  In 1908 after the death of his brother, John sold his half of the farm and moved to Temple, Texas, where he continued to farm and operate another smithy. Agnes’ parents had previously moved to Temple from Fayette County, so that was probably the decisive factor for their move.  After Agnes’ death on July 10, 1910, John married Annie Poncik, born on November 25, 1887, on September 13, 1912.  They moved to Holland, Texas, where he operated a cotton gin.  They had six children together.  John died in Temple, Texas on January 7, 1960 at 88 years of age.  Annie died on July 24, 1986 at 98 years of age.  Both are buried in Temple, Texas.

Alois was born on August 1, 1873 in Velke Kuncice, Silesia.  On November 3, 1903, Alois married Agnes Bohac, daughter of Frank and Agnes Bohac, who emigrated from Moravia in 1882.  Agnes was born on February 4, 1883 near Ammannsville on a farm that was adjacent to the Peregrin Fiser farm.  Alois and Agnes bought a 102-acre farm a short distance from his parents’ farm, approximately five to six miles south of La Grange. Alois was a musician like his father and brothers.  He played the viola and violin and initially played in the Sumbera Band, but gave up playing with an organized group because of family commitments.  He and Agnes had eight children, three of whom died in infancy.  Agnes died on December 15, 1956, and Alois died on May 9, 1958.  Both are buried in the Ammannsville Catholic Cemetery.

Anton, who was born on June 17, 1875 in Velke Kuncice, Silesia, married Andela (Angelina) Fisher (Fiser), born December 27, 1882, the daughter of Peregrin and Filomena Fiser, on February 1,1904 in Ammannsville. The Fisers had emigrated from Vermerovice, Bohemia in 1876 and settled just northwest of Ammannsville, where they eventually acquired 500 acres of land.  Anton and Andela lived on his parents’ farm and helped his widowed mother with the farming. They purchased the 120-acre farm from his widowed mother in 1908 and later purchased an additional 86 acres. In addition to being a farmer, Anton was also a carpenter and blacksmith, making his own farm equipment and tools.  He was also a musician who made violins, violas and string basses. Anton and Andela had five sons and one daughter.  After Anton’s death, Andela remained on the farm with her family until the farm was sold to their son, Jerry, in 1946, when Andela went to live with her daughter, Josie, who lived on part of her father’s original farm near Ammannsville. Anton died on December 23, 1932; Andela died February 3, 1963.  Both are buried in the Ammannsville Catholic Cemetery.

Frances (Frantiska), who was born on June 13, 1877 in Velke Kuncice, Silesia, married Josef Fisher (Fiser), born at Bluff, TX on June 13,1877, a brother of Andela Fiser Sumbera, on November 20, 1901. Her brother, Anton, married Andela, so a brother and sister married a brother and sister.  They lived near Ammannsville on his parents’ farm. Josef eventually inherited the part of the farm with the Peregrin Fiser home.  In 1923, he incorporated the old one-story home into a new two-story home. Besides being a farmer, Josef operated a meat processing business and later raised horses for income.  Josef and Frances had nine children, two of whom died in childhood, and a daughter who died in her 30s.  After retiring from farming, they lived in a small house in Ammannsville. Josef died on June 30, 1952; Frances died on June 16, 1963.  They are both buried in the Ammannsville Catholic Cemetery.

Agnes Marie, born on the family farm on March 15, 1881, was the youngest child and the only one who was born in America.  She married John J. Walla (Vala) on November 14, 1905 in Ammannsville. John was the son of Paul and Marie Vala, who had emigrated from Moravia in 1891 and settled in the Bluff area. In 1907, Agnes and John with their first child, Henrietta, followed her older brothers and moved to Baylor County. For some unknown reason, they moved to southern Oklahoma in 1914, where they farmed near Bokchito until the Depression, when they lost their farm. They later rented a farm near Caddo, Oklahoma, which had better soil for farming.  After they retired from farming, they purchased a house with three lots in Caddo. Agnes is remembered for her musical talents, being able to play five stringed instruments.  She and John had ten children.  John died on July 4, 1946; Agnes died on December 3, 1970 at the age of 89.  Both are buried in Bokchito, Oklahoma.

In 1881, John’s two brothers, Anton and Ludvik, and two sisters, Frances, the widow of Vavrince (Lawrence) Mozisek (Mojzisek), and Jenovefa and husband, Frantisek (Frank) Kruppa, and their families decided to also leave Silesia (now Moravia in the Czech Republic) to join their relatives in Texas.  They sailed on the Hohenzollern from Bremen, Germany to Galveston and initially settled in Fayette County.  Eventually some of their families moved into Wharton, Colorado, Bee and Bastrop counties.

The Sumbera family first belonged to the Bluff (later Hostyn) parish; however, when the St. John the Baptist Church was established in Ammannsville in 1890, they joined that church, which was a mission church of Bluff for several years. 

John Sumbera, Sr. died on September 30, 1894 of tuberculosis at age 50.  Marie went to live with her daughter, Marie Lidiak, and husband in Ammannsville.  She died of a stroke on January 14, 1919 at age 70.  Both she and John are buried in Ammannsville, although not together.  Heavy rainfall for a week prior to Marie’s death made it impossible to get to the far end of the cemetery to bury her next to her husband, so she is buried closer to the cemetery entrance, a short distance behind the Peregrin and Filomena Fiser graves. [Updated February 6, 2011]

John and Minnie Sumbera

by Carolyn Sumbera Heinsohn 

John George Sumbera was the fifth child of Anton and Andela Fiser (Fisher) Sumbera.  He was born on October 12, 1915 on the family farm located approximately five miles south of La Grange, Texas in the Bluff community.  He had four older brothers: George, Joe, Jerome and Jerry, and one younger sister, Josie (Kallus).  His grandfather, John Sumbera, immigrated with his family from Velke Kuncice, Silesia (now a part of northern Moravia) in 1879.  Within three weeks, his grandfather purchased a 130-acre farm on William’s Creek in Fayette County.  After the elder John died in 1894, his wife, Marie Blahocek Sumbera, continued to live on the farm until 1908, at which time the farm was purchased from the Jan Sumbera estate by John George’s father, Anton, who had remained on the farm to help his mother, even after he married Andela Fiser on February 1, 1904. After she sold the farm, Marie Sumbera went to live with her oldest daughter, Marie (Lidiak) in Ammannsville. Anton purchased additional land to enlarge his farm, which is where Anton and Andela raised their family, although they owned another 100-acre farm that they had purchased from the Peregrin Fiser estate in 1914. There were two homes on that property that were alternately lived in by Anton and Andela’s married children before they moved elsewhere. This farm at Ammannsville eventually was passed down to their daughter, Josie, by Anton’s widow, Andela, who lived with Josie after she married George Kallus.

John’s grandparents first belonged to the Bluff (Hostyn) parish, but after the church was built in Ammannsville, Texas in 1890, they joined that parish.  John was baptized there at the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.  He first attended the one-room Radhost School, located between William’s Creek and Highway 77 South from grades one through five. Since there was no sixth grade at Radhost, we know that he attended the Ammannsville School for one year in 1927-28.  It is not known whether he only attended school through the 6th grade, or actually completed the 8th grade.  However, he later completed GED classes offered by Blinn College at La Grange High School.  In spite of his limited formal education, he was a self-learned man with much common-sense, an engineer’s mind, an innate ability to perform any type of mechanical skill, and the ingenuity to “make something out of nothing”.  He was very inventive and creative, evident by his “sculptures” made from various types of metals, old tools, nails, nuts and bolts. Many times, if he didn’t have a particular tool, he would make it, utilizing his blacksmithing and welding abilities. In addition, he had an artistic ability, especially with his little cartoon characters drawn on scraps of paper. 

After his father died of complications of influenza and pneumonia in 1932, John remained on the family farm with his mother.  Although he was only seventeen when his father died, he had already learned some of his father’s skills, namely, blacksmithing, automotive and farm equipment mechanics, carpentry and farming.  However, the musical ability that John inherited from his father and grandfather probably gave him the most pleasure in life.  He first began playing one of the string basses that his father had made - Anton made violins, violas and string basses.  John began playing with the Havelka Band of Hostyn around 1935 when he was 20 years old.  However, they needed a drummer, so he taught himself how to play the drums and began a lifelong passion for music.  He played with the Walter Schoenvogel Orchestra, Joe Fajkus Band, Gus Lindemann Orchestra, Ray Baca Orchestra and on occasion with the Ray Jurecka and Joe Cervenka Bands.  He was best known, however, as the drummer for the Ray Baca Orchestra of Fayetteville.

Around 1940, John and his brother Jerome moved from the farm to La Grange, where they operated a small blacksmith shop in the Riverside addition of La Grange.  He eventually met Minnie (Wilhelmina) Hoelscher, who had moved with her mother, Anna, from Ellinger to La Grange in 1940.  Minnie was born on July 19, 1924.  She was a member of the Hoelscher-Buxkemper family, one of the earliest German families in the Ross Prairie and Live Oak Hill areas of Fayette County.  Minnie was working for a physician in La Grange when she met Johnnie, as he was known by many.  They dated until John was drafted into the Army in March, 1942.  He was sent to Camp Barkeley in Abilene, Texas.  In April, 1943, Minnie boarded a bus and traveled alone to Abilene, where she and John were married in a simple ceremony in a Catholic church on April 11, 1943.  They had one witness, no attendants, no guests or wedding reception.  However, their 39 years together was proof that all of the extras are not necessary for a good marriage.

Minnie boarded with a family in Abilene until John was transferred to the desert near San Bernadino, California, for “maneuvers”. She followed him there, traveling by train, and stayed in a boarding house in San Bernadino.  Knowing that John was being prepared for overseas duty, and because she was also pregnant, Minnie returned to La Grange to live with her mother. 

John was transferred to Fort Dix, New Jersey, awaiting embarkation, when their first daughter, Carolyn Ann, was born on March 14, 1944.  John left three weeks later without seeing her until his return.  He was assigned to Patton’s Third Army in the Texas Oklahoma 90th Infantry Division, first as a light truck driver and then as an artilleryman.  He landed on Utah Beach in Normandy on D-Day plus two and fought in France, Luxembourg, Germany and Czechoslovakia. 

When he returned to La Grange after the war, Carolyn was almost 20 months old, so father and daughter had to learn to bond.  Shortly thereafter, John went to work as a mechanic for Brasher Motor Company, where he remained for almost 33 years, having become a master mechanic who specialized in transmission repairs in his later years.

In 1947, John and Minnie built a home in La Grange, where they remained for the remainder of their lives, although they did remodel it twice.  Their daughter, Carolyn, moved back into the home in 1990 and continues to live there.  She became a registered nurse, married, had a son and daughter and lived in California and Houston, TX, prior to moving to La Grange, where she worked as a school nurse until retirement. Their second daughter, Jane Marie, born on January 16, 1951, also became a registered nurse, working in home health care; she married, had a son and daughter and lives in Deer Park, TX.  Their third daughter, Marlene Francis, born on February 16, 1955, worked as a dental assistant for many years, married, had one son, and after living in Houston and Bellville, TX, has lived around the world with her husband, who is a structural engineer.  There are now four great-grandchildren.

John was not only respected for his musical and mechanical abilities, but was also respected by his daughters for being a wonderful role model.  He believed in hard work, but had a love for the “good times”.  He loved to dance, tell jokes and relate humorous stories about his childhood.  He was very witty with a“little-boy” mischievousness in him that he never outgrew.  Although he was rarely sick throughout his life, his last three years were filled with the pain caused by an unusual form of abdominal cancer.  He passed away on July 6, 1981 at the age of 65 and was buried in the La Grange City Cemetery.

Although Minnie can best be remembered as a “non-stop” homemaker, mother and good cook, as well as an excellent seamstress, who made all of the clothes for her daughters and herself and some for her older grandchildren, she was also known for her love of elderly people.  In addition to caring for her aged aunt and uncle, she found time to visit and help many elderly friends in their homes and local nursing homes, frequently baking cookies and cakes to take to them.  She was an active member in many organizations and served as officers in most of them, especially the Altar Society, the Catholic Daughters of America, the Bluff Home Demonstration Club, the PTA and the VFW Ladies Auxiliary.  She and John also served as adult sponsors for the Catholic Youth Organization longer than anyone in the diocese and received an award for their services.  They continued working with the youth in their parish long after their daughters had already graduated from high school.  Minnie also did countless hours of volunteer work for the community and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in La Grange.  In fact, it was while she was working in the concession stand at the local VFW bingo, that she became ill and later died of a cardiac arrest on August 29, 1985 at age 61.  She was buried next to John.

John and Minnie were wonderful parents and grandparents, who not only left their “footprints in the soil of Texas” and their mark in the community, but who also taught their daughters to appreciate the importance of family and to take pride in their German and Czech heritage.   Their daughters are attempting to pass this legacy to their descendants.

John Wesley Taylor

by David L. Collins, Sr.

John Wesley TaylorJohn Wesley Taylor was born on October 16, 1866 in Lee County, Texas.  He died on August 18, 1918 in San Antonio (Bexar County), Texas.  His father was Wesley Taylor Sr. who was born in 1846 in Virginia, and his mother was Annie Marcus of La Grange, Texas.  To this relationship there was also a sister of John Wesley named Eula Taylor, both of whom were outside his fathers marriage.  While growing up in Lee and Fayette County, Texas, he met and married Katie Rivers, who was born on August 24, 1883 in Fayette County, Texas, daughter of Matthew Rivers, Sr. and Sabry Daws.  She was born in 1864 in La Grange (Fayette County), Texas.        

Katie River’s brother, Tom Rivers, and his wife, Channie Maxwell-Rivers, were living on the Frank Wagner’s place, north of Round Top, Texas along Round Top Road and Weyand Road. 

In my review of old birth records and deed records, I was able to locate data on my Great Great-Grandfather Wesley Taylor.  According to Addie Louise Taylor’s birth certificate, Wesley Taylor was born in Virginia and his wife Martha Jane Crenshaw was born in Tennessee.  At the time of Addie’s birth, he was 41 years old and Martha was 38 years old.

John Wesley Taylor and Katie Rivers were the proud parents of four (4) children.  Wesley Taylor, my grandfather, was born on April 16, 1886 in La Grange (Fayette County), Texas.  He died on April 30, 1980 in Giddings (Lee County), Texas.  He married Josephine Little on July 11, 1911.  She was born on October 30, 1886 in Ledbetter, Texas. She died on March 29, 1967 in Houston (Harris County), Texas.

His second child was Leander Andrew Taylor, born on February 10, 1887, in La Grange, Texas.  He died on April 26, 1960 in Kerrville (Kerr County), Texas.  Andrew Taylor served in the Armed Forces from October 30, 1917 to July 12, 1919.  After service, he returned to San Antonio, Texas and lived at 315 N. Cherry St.  Uncle Andrew passed away on April 26, 1960 in the VA Hospital in Kerrville, Texan and was buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

Mattie Taylor, his third child, was born on August 21, 1894 in Giddings, Texas.  She died on October 21, 1988 in San Antonio, Texas.  During the course of her life, she married Flem Rucker and Alex Jernigan.  Alex Jernigan was born on September 26, 1888, and he died on March 1985 in San Antonio, Texas.  Aunt Mattie and Flem Rucker had one child named Lena Bell, and Alex Jernigan and Aunt Mattie had one adopted child named Lena Kathryn Jernigan born on September 28, 1939.

I was told by my grandparents, that as the year 1900 rolled around, John Wesley Taylor and Katie Rivers separated.  My Grandfather Wesley Taylor and Aunt Hattie Taylor went with their mother Katie Rivers, and Andrew Taylor and Mattie Taylor went with John Wesley Taylor to San Antonio.  He later married a lady named Amanda Tank.  They lived on N. Cherry Street in San Antonio, Texas until his death on August 18, 1918.

My Grandfather Wesley Taylor and Hattie Taylor remained in Lee County, Texas for the rest of their lives and raised a family.  He told me that his mother Katie Rivers-Taylor married Henry Shields and had one child named Lena Shields-Byrd, who eventually moved to Oakland, California, where she died in 1994.

My Great-Grand Mother Katie Rivers-Taylor is still a mystery to me, and my search for her has been unsuccessful; however, I will continue my search.


Josef and Magdalena Vacek

by Carolyn Sumbera Heinsohn 

Josef and Magdalena VacekJosef (Joseph) Vacek, Sr. was born on March 2, 1837 in Cermna, Bohemia located in the Lanskroun District of the Empire of Austria (presently the Czech Republic), the son of Josef and Anna Blaschke/Blazek Vacek, according to church records in the regional archives in Zamrsk, Czech Republic. His birthdate is inscribed on his tombstone, however, as March 25, 1836. Anna was the daughter of Jan Blaschke/Blazek, a farmer in Horni Dobrouc, Bohemia, and Johana Schmied Blaschke. In circa 1855-1856, Josef married Magdalena Schreiber/Srajbr, born on July 14, 1836 (her tombstone has 1835), the daughter of Frantisek Schreiber/Srajbr, a farmer of House No. 21 in Dolni Hencina, Moravia near the Bohemian border, now Hyncina, Czech Republic, located a few kilometers southeast of Zabreh, and wife Anna Aplova of House No. 28 in Najdorfu, Moravia, now Mirov, Czech Republic. Mirov is a few kilometers southeast of Hyncina. Anna Aplova was actually born in Frenstat, Moravia – her family later moved to Najdorfu/Mirov. Both Anna Blaschke and Magdalena Schreiber were of German descent.  Many Germans had settled in the Sudentenland region (borderlands) of Moravia and Bohemia, as well as Silesia, during the 13th through the 15th centuries.  

Josef was a miller by trade; Magdalena was a registered midwife. There are no marriage records for Josef and Magdalena in Cermna, so more than likely, they were married in Hyncina, Magdalena’s village of origin, where they lived for awhile after their marriage, because their two oldest children, Josef J. and Peter, were born there.  Sources indicate that Josef and Magdalena had moved to Frenstat, Moravia, the village of origin of Magdalena’s mother, by 1862 when their third child, Alois, was born.  Another child, Filomena, was also born in Frenstat. Apparently, Magdalena still had relatives living in Frenstat, and there must have been some compelling reason for their move, perhaps to be caregivers for a relative. The family moved back into the old Vacek homestead, House No. 58 in Cermna, Bohemia in 1867 to live with Josef’s parents, where they farmed until their immigration to Texas in 1873.

Records dating back to 1591 have been obtained on the Vacek family by Carolyn Sumbera Heinsohn, a great-great niece of the Vaceks.  Josef was the older brother of Filomena Vacek Fiser, Carolyn’s great-grandmother.  Carolyn has visited what is left of the old Vacek home, House No. 58 in Dolni Cermna, Czech Republic.  The present home is occupied by the family of Mrs. Jaroslav Vacek, who claims that her deceased husband was from a different Vacek family.  Actually, her husband’s grandfather, Vincenc Vacek was born in House No. 62 in Cermna, which was occupied by common ancestors of his family and Josef Vacek’s family as early as 1659.  Vincenc Vacek purchased House No. 58 after Josef and Magdalena immigrated to Texas.  Census records in Cermna state that Josef’s parents, Josef and Anna Blaschke Vacek, also applied to immigrate to Texas, but no passenger records have been found showing that they actually arrived in the United States, nor are there any other records that could provide clues as to what happened to them.  Obviously, if they did leave Bohemia, they died sometime between the immigration application and their intended arrival in Texas, or prior to the next U.S. census in 1880.  If they actually arrived in Texas, Josef, Sr. did not apply for his Intent to Naturalize prior to his death.  Also, no church burial records have been found for either Josef or Anna, so more than likely, they never arrived in Texas. Another theory could be that they both died on the ship while traveling to the United States.     

By 1714, Matej Vacek, the direct ancestor of Josef Vacek, had moved from House No. 62 to a different house in Cermna, so the ancestral lines of Josef and Ladislav Vacek, whose family still lives in House No. 58, split in the 18th century.  Jiri Vacek, the son of Matej Vacek, bought House No. 58 in 1754.  Therefore, Vaceks have lived in House No. 58 for more than 250 years.  The census records of Cermna show that someone was already living on the property in 1583.  The oldest structure on the property at this time is the brick barn, which was attached to an older house, which is no longer standing.  The foundation of the old house now supports a fence that encloses a yard in front of the newer house, which is attached to the rear of the barn. The newer house is located behind what was the original house. There is an existing photograph showing the older home, so it was more than likely still standing in the early 1920s.  Considering the history of the country, the newer house more than likely was built prior to the depression of the 1930s and the Communist regime following WWII.  Josef Vacek was not born in this home, but his sister, Filomena, and younger brothers, John and Vincenc, all of whom immigrated to Texas, were born in House No. 58.

Vaclav Vacek of Dolni Cermna, a third cousin once-removed of Josef Vacek, provided Carolyn with many records of the Vacek family; other records were obtained from church and civil records in the Zamrsk Archives, with the research having been done by Frantisek Silar of Nepomuky, a village near Cermna.  Vaclav Vacek died at 83 years of age in March, 1995.  Carolyn was fortunate to be able to visit with him twice before his death and with his wife, son and daughter three more times since then.

Josef and Magdalena emigrated with their eight oldest children on April 13, 1873, according to Josef’s naturalization records, from the port of Bremerhaven, Germany.  Some family sources state that their intended port of entry was New York City, where they were not allowed to debark from their ship due to an epidemic at Castle Gardens, the immigration facility used prior to Ellis Island, which was not established until after 1890. Another passenger convinced the Vaceks to go to Texas, so they followed his suggestion and traveled on to Galveston, Texas, arriving on May 8, 1873.  They then rode the train to Alleyton near Columbus, Texas, which was the end of the railway line at that time.  From there, they traveled by wagon and oxen to Fayette County where they rented a farm located between O’Quinn and Bluff (now Hostyn) for several years.  

Passenger lists cannot be found on them, but naturalization records on file in the Fayette County District and County Clerk records validate the 1873 date, as well as census records, all of which dispute the 1872 immigration date that has been documented in several publications.  Perhaps, the passenger list for their ship was not filed in New York, since they never got off of the ship.  Since it is the usual procedure to process and document all immigrant passengers at the first port of entry, the Vaceks may have been overlooked in Galveston by the immigration officials, who assumed that they had been processed in New York.

In 1876, when Josef’s sister and brother-in-law, Filomena and Peregrin Fiser, immigrated to Texas, they first lived with the Vaceks or rented property near them.  When the Fisers purchased their first farm near Ammannsville, Josef and Magdalena also purchased a farm close to Ammannsville on the south side, where they lived for the remainder of their lives. Their farm eventually was purchased by their daughter and son-in-law, Magdalena and J.V. Dobrava.  

Josef and Magdalena had five more children in Texas.  Magdalena kept up her profession as a midwife and brought many babies into the world.  The Vaceks, along with the Peregrin Fisers (Fishers) and the Theofil Hellers, donated eleven and one-quarter acres of land for the Catholic church and cemetery in Ammannsville. According to deed records, the Vaceks donated three and one-quarter acres from their farm that was located south of the present-day church, so more than likely the cemetery and church are located on their donated land.  The school and home for the nuns were located on land donated by Josef’s sister and brother-in-law, Filomena and Peregrin Fiser.  Five acres of land behind the church and cemetery was donated by Theofil Heller.  Josef also served as a school trustee in Ammannsville, circa 1889.

Another brother, Jan Vacek, who had married Anna Ahler, emigrated from Valterice, Bohemia to Ammannsville, Texas in 1888 with their five children.  Jan operated a flour mill in Valterice, Bohemia.  A few years later, the Jan Vacek family moved to the East Bernard area. Jan was a leader in the community and one of the founders of and donors to the Holy Cross Catholic Church in East Bernard. For his contributions of time and money, Jan was given the privilege to name the church, which he named after his parish church in Valterice, Bohemia.  Both Jan and Anna are buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in East Bernard.

The youngest Vacek brother, Vincenc, who married Aloisia Dvorak, immigrated to Texas with his family of ten children through Ellis Island in New York City in 1893 from Lukavice, Bohemia, where he was a miller. Lukavice is in the vicinity of Cermna, his village of origin.  After arriving in Texas, they first lived in the Ammannsville, Texas area, where they had another child, but then moved to Colorado County, somewhere between Nada and Taiton, where they farmed for the remainder of their lives.  Both Vincenc and Aloisia are buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Nada.

Josef Vacek died on October 28, 1902 at the age of 65 years; Magdalena Schreiber Vacek died on September 5, 1901 at the age of 67 years. Both are buried in the St. John the Baptist Catholic cemetery in Ammannsville, Texas.

Joseph J., their oldest son, was born on July 8, 1858 in Unter Hinzendorf (Dolni Hencina), Moravia (now Hyncina).  He married Anna Chylek in Colorado County in 1882; they had seven children, two of whom probably died in childhood. Joseph J. was a saloon keeper, as well as a constable in Ammannsville, circa 1889, and then became the postmaster in Ammannsville, circa late 1890; he died on July 13, 1939 and is buried at St. Michael’s Catholic Cemetery in Weimar, Texas, where he lived after moving from Ammannsville. 

Peter, the next son, was born on April 23, 1860 in Unter Hinzendorf (Dolni Hencina), Moravia, (now Hyncina).  He married Mary Buzek Holub in Dubina in 1879.  She was born in Palkovice, Bohemia in 1858 and came to Texas in 1860.  He and Mary settled in the Bluff area.  They had ten children.  After her husband’s death, Mary adopted a daughter, Katherine (married John Cernoch), who was one of the orphans sent to Texas from New York City on the “orphan trains’.  Two of their children, Adolph and Filomena, died at an early age.  Another daughter, Albina, became a nun, Sister Mary Verona of the Order of Divine Providence of San Antonio.  Peter Vacek died at age 39 from injuries suffered in a wagon accident on August 13, 1899; Mary died on January 29, 1945.  Both are buried in Ammannsville, Texas.

Josef and Magdalena’s third child, Alois, was born on January 9, 1862 in Frenstat, Moravia; he died on March 25, 1915 and is buried in Needville, Texas.  He married Frances Barta circa 1884 in Colorado County. They had ten children.

The next child was Filomena, who was born on July 20, 1863 in Frenstat, Moravia.  She married Valentine Bartos/Bartosh in1882; they had six children.  Filomena died on August 30, 1928 and is buried in Granger, Texas.

Marie, born on December 8, 1867 in Cermna, married Adolph Peter Stavinoha. They had fourteen children. She died on May 10, 1936 and is buried in Hostyn, Texas. 

Anna (Annie), born on October 20, 1868 in Cermna, Bohemia, married John Sobotik, also born in Frenstat, on February 6, 1889 in Ammannsville, Texas. They had two children – the youngest was born six and a half months after his father’s death on June 27, 1890. Annie then married Frank Sobotik, John’s brother, on August 2, 1891 in Ammannsville.  She died on February 11, 1951 and is buried in Frenstat, Texas. 

John Vacek, born on May 1, 1870 in Cermna, Bohemia, married Cecilia Mensik on November 3, 1891 in Bluff, Texas (Hostyn).  They had three daughters.  He died on April 14, 1904 at age 34 and is buried in Schulenburg, Texas. 

Staches (Eustach), born on March 29, 1872 in Cermna, Bohemia, married Frances Balcar on August 1, 1893 in Ammannsville.  They had nine children.  He died on April 24, 1926 and is buried in Holman, Texas.  He owned and operated the general merchandise store, saloon and dance hall in Holman, Texas. 

Matilda Vacek, born on June 14, 1874 in Bluff, Texas, married Frank Balcar on November 7, 1893. They had at least three children.  She died on January 22, 1947 and is buried in Schulenburg, Texas. 

Magdalena, born on September 15, 1875 at Bluff, Texas, married Joseph Vladimir Dobrava on October 30, 1895 at Bluff.  They had six children.  She died on July 13, 1962, and is buried in Ammannsville, Texas. 

Frantisek was born on February 26, 1877 in Ammannsville; he died on July 26, 1883 at age six and is buried in Dubina, Texas. 

Vinc, born on October 7, 1879 in Ammannsville, Texas, married Vlasta Krupa; they had two children. Vinc died on August 8, 1906 at age 28 and is buried in Ammannsville, Texas. Vlasta later married Ignac S. Cernosek of Ammannsville; they had two children.  Both are buried by Vlasta’s first husband, Vinc Vacek in Ammannsville.

Emil, born on January 3, 1881 in Ammannsville, married Mary Clara/Marie Mladenka on January 20, 1905 in Fayette County; they had two daughters.  Emil and Mary Clara were divorced. He died in Moulton, Texas on August 14, 1942. His death certificate states that he was buried in Weimar/Ammannsville; however, no evidence of burial has been found in either place.

Certain vital statistics and information on the children of Josef and Magdalena were obtained from the story on Joseph Vacek, Sr., written by Willie Balcar, El Campo, Texas. Additional information was extracted from research done in the Czech Republic, from obituaries; census and naturalization records; marriage, death and church records; and other internet sources. [Updated February 6, 2011]


Alexander Eugen von Rosenberg (1857-1930)

Contributed by Jon Todd Koenig

Of the many descendants from the early settlers of Fayette County, perhaps few were more widely known throughout the county than was Alexander Eugen von Rosenberg, the son of Theodora and Carl Eugen von Rosenberg..

He attended school in Round Top, Texas. He was an apt pupil and he received thorough instructions. Beyond that, he was a self-educated man. He was a good mathematician as well as a good book-keeper. Throughout his business career in many real estate transactions, he seldom required the services of legal advisors. He was fond of music and was an accomplished pianist. His first position was that of clerk in a general store owned by George Weyand at Nassau Community, near Round Top. While there, he became acquainted with Emma Weyand, who later became his wife in 1880. He continued there as a clerk for several years. Later he worked in Knittel's General Store in Burton, Texas.

He then decided to own a business of his own, whereupon he bought the Zapp store in Round Top. In 1900 he sold his store there and moved with his family and his household effects to La Grange where he became owner of the White Dairy. He operated this dairy and a meat market on the square and later a general merchandise store for many years. His success was on a par with his remarkable energy and foresight.

He later carried on a successful business in buying and selling cattle and horses. He became an extensive land and real estate owner. He owned several business buildings in the business section of La Grange, Texas. However, he sold all but one, which was commonly called the "Iron Front Building". This name was given it because of its unique construction, in that part of the walls and columns were made of iron.

From him the Fayette County Fairgrounds was bought. Through his efforts, many new homes were built in that section. He carried on all these activities despite his health, which was usually below par. He was a lifelong Democrat and he was keenly interested in politics, but he never sought any public office. He declined to affiliate himself with any fraternal organization.

He became a member of St Paul's Lutheran Church in La Grange in 1914. In his later years he had to submit to a delicate eye operation, which probably hastened his death. He passed away and was buried in La Grange, June 1930.

Emma Weyand von Rosenberg (1858-1943)

Contributed by Jon Todd Koenig

Emma Weyand was born on a plantation at Nassau, Fayette County, Tx. She was the daughter of Justina Becker Weyand and George Weyand. She received her early schooling in the Nassau community. Later she attended a private school in Houston, Texas. She enjoyed the out-doors and life on the plantation. She was very fond of animals. She was a helpful companion to her father, particularly after her only brother's sudden death, which was a great shock to the entire family. As a girl, she was quite popular with the young people of the community. She met Alexander von Rosenberg when he became a clerk in her father's store.

After their marriage in April 1880, they remained at Nassau for several years, while her husband continued working in the store. The couple was blessed with six children, four sons and two daughters, to whom mna was. a devoted and understanding mother. To her husband, who was in ill health most of his life, she was a true patient, devoted companion until his death. Her life was indeed a full one.

Through her guidance and inspiration her children became good Christian citizens. She was a homeloving wife and mother, having no desire to take part in outside activities; yet she was very charitable, and always ready to help anyone in need. Her children and her husband had the happy privilege of finding her at home eagerly awaiting their return from school or various trips. One of the happiest occasions in her life was when in 1914 she, her husband and children, after receiving the holy rites of baptism and confirmation, became members of the St Paul's Lutheran Church in La Grange, Tx.

In 1917-18 during World War I, she suffered anguish of heart, as did many mothers, when her two sons, Alexander and Max, joined the armed forces. Perhaps she experienced her greatest sorrow when her youngest daughter, Leona, died of typhoid fever in 1921.

In April, 1930, the family celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. A few days later they visited their daughter Louise and her husband in El Paso, Tx. On this visit they also traveled into Mexico. This trip ended sadly. Before returning home, Alexander submitted to a delicate eye operation from which he never fully recovered.

After her husband died in June, 1930, she lost interest in many things. She lived resignedly and quietly, awaiting the call of her Maker. In October, 1942, she had a severe fall at age 84. She became an invalid and died on March 17, 1943.

Theodore Anna Arnoldine Henriette Sack von Roeder von Rosenberg

Written and contributed by Jon Todd Koenig

Theodore Sack, or Dorchen as she was known by her family, was born in Düsseldorf, Germany on 7 May 1829 as the eighth of nine child of Eduard Wilhelm Hieronimus Maximilian Sack (1794-1866) and his first wife, Dorothea Catharina Elisabeth Ficker (1799-1832).  Considering the children born to Eduard Sack and his second wife, Sophie Agnes Carolina Silly (1809-1871), Dorchen was one of twenty-one (21) children.  Despite the assuredly comfortable life which she and her many siblings enjoyed as the children of a highly placed government official, Theodore decided to emigrate at the young age of 20 in 1849 to seek her future in the wilds of mid-Nineteenth Century Texas, which she did in the Winter of that year.

Traveling aboard the Steamship Ohio with her then brother-in-law, Wilhelm Franz Xavier Jaentschke (1813-1884), husband to her eldest sister, Elise Otillie Anna Sack (1820-1890), the pair left for the United States of America on Halloween Day, 31 October 1849 from the port of Bremerhaven and arrived in the port of New Orleans on New Year’s Day, 1 January 1850, where they disembarked and procured passage to Galveston on the Steamship Palmetto, arriving in Texas on 6 January 1850.

The trans-Atlantic trip was so prolonged due to poor weather which delayed their departure.  First there were unfavorable winds kept the ship anchored near Bremerhaven unable to cross the North Sea.  The winds were so fierce that another smaller ship anchored nearby to the Ohio was grounded and broke apart upon the shore, killing all aboard except four.  Thereafter, more bad weather obstructed the ship’s passage in the English Channel requiring yet another anchorage near Deal in Kent, England.  They were finally able to weigh anchor and set sail again on 15 November 1849 when the winds changed for the better.  The Ohio led a convoy of over fifty other ships who like the Ohio had been calmed in the Channel.  The voyage took the travelers past Portugal, where sadly one of the sailors aboard ship was knocked overboard during a storm and lost.  On 3 December 1849, one of the passengers caught pneumonia and died and was buried at sea.  On and on the ship sailed, past Guadeloupe, Haiti and Cuba and finally on to New Orleans.

Interestingly, one of their travel companions was a young man by the name of Arthur Carl Wilhelm Gustav Anton Archibald von Meerscheidt von Gullesheim (1827-1887) of Braunschweig, Germany.  This man would later become Dorchen’s brother-in-law through his marriage to her second husband, Carl Eugen von Rosenberg’s sister,  Amanda Karoline “Lina” von Rosenberg (1832-1911).

Meerscheidt tells how, after traveling from Galveston to Houston on a still smaller steamship up the narrow and winding Buffalo Bayou, the three traveling companions (Meerscheidt, Jaentschke and Dorchen) arrived in Houston at eight o’clock in the evening on 8 January 1850.  The next day the trio left for Austin County, as Jaentschke was anxious to see his wife and young daughter who had been born just a year after his marriage and whom he had not seen in many months, Antonie Jaentschke (1848-1865).  Prior to their departure from Houston, the decision was made to purchase a horse so that Dorchen could ride, while the men would walk alongside.  A pretty bay mare was bought along with a Mexican saddle for 58 dollars for this purpose.

They set out in the afternoon of 9 January 1850 and traveled through first forests, then prairie, and then fields with ankle-deep mud and calve-deep water which made the decision to purchase the mare understandable and farsighted.  Meerscheidt sprained his ankle in the muck and this forced the group to cease their progress and make camp in the woods, where they found some warmth around a fire which they were able to start after finding dry wood.  As they sat around their makeshift hearth, Meerscheidt mentions hearing screeching raccoons and howling wolves, although they were not molested.  This must have startled Dorchen, having grown up in the city.

The next morning, they made their way on to a nearby way-station where they were given shelter and breakfast by “an old Frenchman”.  From there they traveled and experienced the flora and fauna of South Central Texas over a five day period, after which they arrived at Milheim (Muelheim) in Austin County on 16 January 1850, where Jaentschke was reunited with his wife and daughter, and Dorchen with her sister and new niece.

Meerscheidt remained with the Jaentschkes, as did Dorchen, rather than traveling on to his original intended new home in Texas, New Braunfels.  He assisted them in establishing their first farm and in building their fist  home, which Jaentschke bought from Ferdinand Arnold Otto Ludwig von Roeder (1807-1875), his wife’s first cousin through her aunt, Caroline Louise Sack von Roeder (1782-1865).  Following Meerscheidt’s engagement to Lina von Rosenberg on 29 July 1850 he moved to live with his future in-laws, Peter Carl von Rosenberg (1794-1866) and Amanda Fallier von Rosenberg (1806-1864) on their Nassau Plantation near Round Top.

Dorchen herself did not live long with the Jaentschkes, and like Meerscheidt she too swiftly found a helpmate in Wilhelm Adolph Johann Eberhard Ludwig von Roeder (1821-1852), her first cousin who was the son of her aunt, Caroline and her husband Ludwig Sigismund Anton von Roeder (1775-1847) and youngest brother of the afore-mentioned Otto von Roeder.

The choice of Wilhelm von Roeder was a controversial one from today’s vantage point as he was something of a black sheep in that before his marriage to Dorchen, he had been twice married before; first on 18 May 1845 to an “American”,  Elizabeth Stephenson, whom he divorced in 1847, and then on 5 April 1847 to Louisa Fuchs (1830-1847), who sadly died two months after the marriage.  The marriage between the cousins, not uncommon then, occurred on 12 October 1850, and the couple was blessed with a daughter, Marie Clara Theodora Louise von Roeder (1851-1878) born on 22 July 1851 (an interesting fact) in Bielefeld, Germany.  Given that Marie was born in Germany, it is evident that Dorchen and Wilhelm traveled back to Germany at some point between October of 1850 and July the following year, however no record of this voyage has been found. One wonders if the couple traveled back to Germany for the birth to shroud the fact that it was less than nine months from the date of the wedding?

The couple came back home to Texas, and established a home first in Round Top, near the groom’s brother Otto, but they later moved down to Coleto in Dewitt County in 1851 where they purchased acreage near where Wilhelm’s elder sister Philippine Sophie Rosalie “Rosa” von Roeder (1813-1907) and her husband, Robert Justus Kleberg (1803-1888) lived.  Misfortune followed Wilhelm and he died at the age of 31 on 2 Dec 1852 making Dorchen a widow at the age of 23.  Dorchen stayed with the Klebergs for a time, but in June of 1853 she sold the land which she inherited from her husband to her brother-in-law Otto, so as to return to Round Top in Fayette County and be near her sister and brother-in-law, the Jaentschkes.  It was there in Fayette County that she met the brother-in-law of her former traveling companion, Meerscheidt, and found the man with whom she would spend the rest of her life; Carl Eugen von Rosenberg (1830-1913).

Carl Eugen von Rosenberg
Dorchen and Eugen, as he was known, were married on 30 November 1853, and quickly set about starting a family of their own, to join Marie from Dorchen’s first marriage.  They lived initially with Eugen’s parents on the Nassau Plantation.

The first of the von Rosenberg children was Hermann Eugen (1854-1906), then came Alexander Eugen (1857-1930), then Anna Theodora (1860-1942), then Eugenia Concordia (1863-1949) and finally Clara Antonie (1866-1903), named for her cousin, Antonie Jaentschke, who had died the year before she was born.  An additional member of the von Rosenberg family was a young orphaned girl named Leonora Mathilde “Nora” Goldstein whom Dorchen and Eugen adopted at some point in the 1880s after her own parents died.

The von Rosenberg family were an integral part of the Round Top community, as had been Eugen’s parents, Peter Carl and Amanda von Rosenberg, before them.  Eugen, along with his brother Carl Johannes von Rosenberg (1826-1906), were instrumental in founding the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Round Top in 1867 along with the Bauer, Scheuddemagen, Marburger, Fuchs, Melchior, Levien and Weyand families, among others.  Having studied music in her youth in Düsseldorf, Dorchen was extraordinarily well-placed to lead the choral society of the then-burgeoning German community.  She taught voice and music to many of Round Top’s youth and led the local mixed choir for many years, sitting at her pianoforte, leading parties for the community’s youth.  She also was a skilled artist and needle-worker, as her paintings and embroidery were much prized.

When he was not tending to his small tobacco patch in his backyard, or smoking his ever-present long-stemmed pipe, Eugen was an industrious man.  He farmed, raised livestock and generally worked hard every day of his long life, having learned this craft during his youth on the ancestral von Rosenberg estate of Eckitten near Memel in East Prussia, where he was born on 13 December 1830.  He continued his outdoorsy education when his family emigrated to Texas in 1849 and settled on the Nassau Plantation after his father purchased such from Otto von Roeder.  This plantation had earlier been established by the Adelsverein in its attempt to colonize Texas.

When the Civil War broke out, Eugen was one of the first who joined the cause of the Confederacy.  He did so as a private on 2 June 1862 and he served with distinction as an assistant to the surveying party of Waul’s Texas Legion in the Battle of Vicksburg.  There he was taken captive along with the remainder of the Southern forces and was paroled by General U.S. Grant on 6 July 1863 and exchanged back into the Confederate Army.  Afterwards, he was released from active military service and returned to Round Top, where like many non-fighting men of the South, he supported the cause by hauling freight.  His teamstering became a full-time occupation that he built into a lucrative business which he fostered for the remainder of his life, hauling cotton to and from Mexico, using an iron-axled tarpaulin-covered wagon.

Dorchen passed away on 21 March 1904 at the age of 74 in Round Top and was buried in the Florida Chapel cemetery not far from Round Top on the road to La Grange.  Such was her popularity that her funeral was said to be one of the best attended in memory.  Her obituary in the La Grange Deutsche Zeitung states:

“Theodora v. Rosenberg passed away peacefully at 4 a.m. on Monday morning, March 21, 1904.  She was the wife of E. v. Rosenberg.  Her maiden name was Sack and she was born May 7, 1830 in Dusseldorf in the German province of Westphalia where she also obtained a solid education.  In 1849 she immigrated to Texas, first settling near Round Top and later becoming a resident there in 1859.  She was first married to Wilhelm v. Roeder . . . The graveside funeral service was conducted by Reverend Bracher.  In addition, the Round Top mixed choir sang two songs.  The large number of people who attended the burial, one of the largest number ever seen in the area, attested to the high regard in which the deceased was held.  Relatives such as Axel and Paul Meerscheidt of San Antonio, Miss Minna von Rosenberg and Miss Nora Goldstein both of Austin, all of whom Mrs. v. Rosenberg raised as children, as well as almost all of her relatives from La Grange were present to pay their last respects.  The deceased was a very well educated woman who gave instruction in both piano and voice in Round Top for over 40 years.  For many years she was the director of the Round Top mixed choir, a group that performed on many occasions between 1876 and 1890, after which time they eventually disbanded.  Despite this, she gladly continued to sing and play music as her health permitted until her death.  Without a doubt there are many citizens of Round Top who can state that she was the strongest supporter of music and song there.  She was also considered to be an able German housewife, having raised not only exemplary daughters but also sons who are considered to be upstanding citizens.  All those who had the pleasure of knowing her will not soon forget her.  May she rest in peace.”

Dorchen’s partner and husband, Eugen passed away himself nine years later on 15 October 1913 at the age of 82 and was buried next to his beloved Dorchen in Florida Chapel cemetery, as were her eldest son Hermann and his wife, Lucy Levien von Rosenberg (1862-1950).

Story by Jon Todd “JT” Koenig, 3rd great-grandson of Dorchen Sack von Rosenberg, written on 30 July 2011

Teachers at Baylor at Independence
George W. Willrich and Liane de Lassaulx

By George Willrich
Contributed by Rob Brown

My father, George W. Willrich, came of a family of jurists, his father, George Willrich having been Judge at Uelsen, Germany, where my father was born in 1823.  My Grandfather Willrich settled near La Grange, in Fayette County, in 1847, while my father continued his studies at the University of Gottingen. The neighborhood where the family located was for a long time referred to as the Latin Settlement from the number of educated people who made up the community

Coming to Texas after his graduation my father returned to Germany and was imprisoned for alleged participation in the students uprisings. While in prison he occupied his time in playing the violin and acquired considerable proficiency as a musician.

Returning to Texas he was in 1858 professor of languages at the Texas Military Institute at Rutersville, in Fayette County. From the Annual Report of the Superintendent (C. G. Forshay) to the Board of Trustees for that year, the following excerpt is made:

“Prof. G. W. Willrich, of the University of Gottingen, is Professor of Languages, and has given proof of his skill as a teacher, as well as his profound familiarity with Philology, in his classes recently examined. Since his acceptance of the chair of the Institute, we have added Gymnasium to our course in physical training, and Professor W. has instructed the corps in these exercises.”

Later my father became a member of the faculty at Baylor University at Independence, and mention is made of him in the Life of Dr. Burleson by Hon. Harry Haynes. It was during this time (Jan. 3, 1860) while my father and mother were both teaching at Baylor, that their marriage took place at the home of my mother’s parents near Rutersville, they leaving directly afterwards, as I’ve heard my mother say, by buggy for Independence, sixty miles away.

My parents lived at the Dr. Randall home in Independence where I was born the following year. When I was only a few weeks old (April 28, 1861) my father died of typhoid fever, and was buried in the cemetery at Independence, where his remains still rest.

My mother as Miss Liane de Lassaulx taught French in the Female Department of Baylor University in the late ‘50s, Prof. Horace Clark being superintendent. She was born in Coblenz, Rhineland, Germany, and came to Texas when a young woman. Her parents, Otto and Margaret de Lassaulx settled in Fayette County in 1856, and lived there continuously until their death. Though the change from old-world mode of living, manners, and customs was sudden and complete, my mother never looked upon these experiences and even hardships except as novel adventures in life.

The family home was near Rutersville, then the seat of the Texas Military Institute, and it was in this environment of intellectual cultivation and refinement that my mother’s young ladyhood was spent.

Col. C. G. Forshey was superintendent and he and Mrs. Forshey were warm friends of my mother’s and very likely it was through them that she became acquainted with my father.

After my father’s death my mother resumed teaching. As I was an infant the young ladies would take time about in caring for me while my mother attended her classes. Mrs. Jim Dallas of Brenham, a student at Baylor at that time, told me of this and stated that the young ladies preferred doing this as they considered themselves thereby excused from classes.

Throughout life my mother held her friends at Independence in affectionate remembrance. Among these were the General J. B. Robertsons, and it was with General Felix H. Robertson of Waco that I began the study of law. My mother spoke often of Professor and Mrs. Horace Clark, of the Hoxies, the Clays, and of General Sam Houston, a frequent visitor to her class room. She often dwelt in memory of the glory that had been Independence.

My mother taught the first school in Flatonia in 1875 and in 1878 was married to George W. Tuttle, a pioneer merchant of that place. After his death in 1899 my home in La Grange became hers. She passed away June 27, 1922, aged 88 years.

My mother loved teaching and never failed to leave her impress for good upon the community, so that one still finds here and there individuals who evidence her careful training.

Physical traits which distinguished my mother were erect carriage, and the care of complexion and hands, never stepping out without being veiled and gloved. In Germany in 1923, while visiting a cousin of my mother’s, in reminiscences of their childhood together, she recalled these distinctive characteristics.

Memory pictures my mother as endowed with a rare personality, with a charm of manner and appearance, and a typifying the gentle graces, poise and culture of her day.