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Richard Gruetzner… (October 5, 1939. …): Thank you! An excellent and interesting article that adds a few small pieces to the family history p…
George Nielsen (2. Birkmann Lette…): I had not seen the letter before and it reinforces my envy of Birkmann’s memory. It also reminded …

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2. Birkmann Letter to George Engerrand

Friday 05 October 2096 at 5:43 pm

The second is a report of Birkmann's personal observations of Wendish people in their Texas surroundings, written in English in the form of a nine-page letter addressed to a Prof. George C. Engerrand, who had solicited information from this seventy-five year old pastor, living in retirement in Giddings. The fact that Engerrand is the author of a book which appeared in 1934 (The So-Called Wends of Germany and Their Colonies in Texas and in Australia, University of Texas Bulletin No. 3417, published May 1, 1934, and reprinted in 1972) explains the circumstances. (Prof. Engerrand was a member of the anthropology department of the University of Texas at Austin from 1920 until his retirement (and death) in 1961. He had been born in France (1877) and received his undergraduate education there. He held research and teaching positions in Belgium (1898-1907), Mexico (1907-17), and Mississippi (1917-20) prior to his time in Austin. Three articles in the Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 32 (1961) commemorate his life and contributions.) It is clear from what is said that the two knew each other, had met in person, and intended to meet again. Rather remarkable is the fact that the account was written on August 26, 1929, two days after the tragic drowning death of Walter Gersch, Freda's husband and his son-in-law. In a second cover letter, dated September 11, 1929, the date on which the material was actually placed in the mail, he explains the timing by saying, "I wrote to occupy my mind," after what in an earlier paragraph he described as "the most grievous experience of my whole long life." That second letter also acknowledges with thanks Engerrand's expression of sympathy, which has to mean that there was some intervening contact.

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