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News Articles Dealing with the Early Years of Birkmann's Ministry

Sunday 05 October 2092 at 6:04 pm.

"G. Birkmann" served as byline for a great many articles which he contributed to the the Texas Lutheran Messenger of the Texas District of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod and to the Giddings weekly newspapers, more by far written in German for the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt, but also some in English for The Giddings News. These appeared in print with reasonable regularity between 1926 and 1939, when he was between seventy-two and eighty-five years of age and living in retirement in Giddings, or in Rose Hill (near Tomball) for several years immediately following the death of his wife, Helene, in 1932. Some of the articles tell of his childhood and school experiences, but the majority share memories of his time in Texas from 1876 forward, telling especially of people and events in his beloved Fedor, though he could and did report with remarkable detail as well on other settings and people he knew, both near and far. One must suppose that a fairly large audience of readers appreciated what he had to say, for those in the Giddings area who could read German were virtually all Lutheran, and German Lutherans knew about Birkmann and Fedor families, features, and customs in the time about which he wrote. They could reminisce with him or gain useful information about how things they knew came to be.

As anecdotal history, all of his published reminiscences are of value. So that such value not be squandered, all of the clippings in my possession will become a part of an archival collection at a site to be determined. (A complete file of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt through all the years of its publication is at the Dolph Brisco Center for American Studies (formerly the Barker Library) located in Sid Richardson Hall of the University of Texas at Austin, adjacent to the LBJ Library, another in the Texas Room of the Houston Public Library. These issues are also available electronically (digitally) through the Texas Wendish Heritage Society in Serbin, Texas. A review of the four hundred or so issues during the time that he was writing actively may reveal an undisclosed number of additional articles by him of which I am not aware.) For purposes of writing his story, I have studied all the clippings at my disposal, but have chosen to share in translation or as English originals only a representative sample of those which have to do with people and settings where he served. Any and all dates, facts, and figures are important, but priority was given to articles which reveal something about his personality and interests, and, as a result, help the reader to understand him as the man he was. "Made me very happy," "enjoyed very much," "was sorely disappointed," "was of special interest," and the like, whether stated or implied, are the key phrases which warranted inclusion in order to allow the reader to encounter him in his own words. What few poignant remarks about personal relationships one would expect to appear in print are also more nearly included than excluded.

Note as well that I have taken the editorial liberty, without specific notation, of omitting occasional paragraphs not germane to the topic at hand.   Ray Martens.

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