This article by Rev Gotthilf Birkmann first appeared in the German language in the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt, Giddings, Texas, July 6, 1939 – Your Sons Will Come From Afar [early congregations in Texas]. (Comments and translation by Ray F. Martens, grandson).
Rev. Gotthilf Birkmann wrote an article in two installments to appear in successive weeks in the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt in order to identify the families who had been members of Trinity, Fedor, in the 1870's and 1880's. The first installment, which appeared on July 6, 1939 (and thus when he was eighty-five years old, totally blind, and living in retirement in Giddings), explains the rationale for the title he chose and some general information about the places from which and the circumstances under which his members arrived in Fedor. For both installments of his article, he used the title, "Your Sons Will Come From Afar," a quotation from Isaiah 60:4. He acknowledged that the passage was intended to be a prophecy of how the Gospel would reach out into the entire world and of how men and women from everywhere would be gathered into the people of God. But he found the statement to be applicable also to the phenomenon by which Lutherans from Germany, whether newly arrived or second generation, had come in significant numbers to be a part of the church in central Texas. These people became his flock because they "came from afar." After some comments about the growth of the vast Western District of the Synod and then of the Southern District beginning in 1888, he shared information about the people newly arrived in Fedor, reporting that, whether they had come from Serbin, another Texas location, or directly from the old country, they were almost all in search of land. Typically, they were required to rent property at first until they gathered the funds to buy inexpensive land wooded with post oaks and then to expend the labor to clear and prepare it for farming. The reason for such explanations was to provide background for the numerous families whom he came to know and love as members of his congregation, those he proceeded to identify (by the father's name) in the second installment of that article.Read More