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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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November 22, 1934, The Assignment of Candidates for the Preaching and Teaching Ministries at the Seminary of the Missouri Synod in St. Louis 45 Years Ago

Saturday 06 October 2091 at 01:15 am

This article written by Rev. G. Birkmann and translated by Ray Martens first appeared in the Texas Lutheran Messenger of the Texas District of the Lutheran Church Missouri - Synod on November 22, 1934.

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October 24, 1935, Visitations in Texas from 1863 to 1879

Sunday 08 October 2090 at 06:25 am

This article by G Birkmann and translated by Ray Martens first appeared in the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt on 24 October 1935.

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1933-1935 Early Days at Fedor

Saturday 07 October 2090 at 05:49 am

This article by G. Birkmann first appeared in the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt, Giddings, Texas, sometime in the period 1933-1935.

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December 19, 1935 Memories of Christmas Eve in Fedor Many Years Ago

Saturday 07 October 2090 at 05:10 am

This article by G. Birkmann first appeared in the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt, Giddings, Texas on December 19, 1935.

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June 24, 1937 My Memories of the Convention of the Western District of the Missouri Synod in St. Louis in 1876

Saturday 07 October 2090 at 05:09 am

This article by G. Birkmann, pastor emeritus, and translated from German by Ray Martens, first appeared in the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt on 24 June 1937 and Part 2 on 1 July 1937.

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August 12, 1937 My First Ride to Serbin, Texas

Saturday 07 October 2090 at 05:08 am

This article by G. Birkmann first appeared in two parts in the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt on August 12 and 19, 1937. It was translated from German by Ray Martens.

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December 9, 1937, Obituary for Anna Louise Kilian

Saturday 07 October 2090 at 05:00 am

This obituary written by Rev. G. Birkmann for Anna Louise Kilian first appeared in the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt, Giddings, Texas, on December 9, 1937.

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June 15, 1939, Memories

Saturday 07 October 2090 at 04:45 am

This article by Rev. G. Birkmann first appeared in the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt, Giddings, Texas on 15 Jun 1939.

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April 28, 1932 Memories of My First Years in Texas, Part II and III

Thursday 05 October 2090 at 7:00 pm

This article by G. Birkmann and translated by Ray Martens first appeared in the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt, Giddings, Texas on 28 April 1932.

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April 21, 1932 Memories of My First Time in Fedor

Wednesday 05 October 2089 at 6:45 pm

The article by G. Birkmann and translated by Ray Martens first appeared in the Giddings Deutsches Volkblatt, Giddings, Texas, on 21 April 1932.

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July 6, 1939 Your Sons Will Come From Afar

Saturday 09 July 2089 at 06:47 am

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.

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Introduction to Birkmann's Tribute to Johann Kilian Upon His Death by Ray Martens

Saturday 07 October 2084 at 06:28 am

From Gotthilf Birkmann's many writings one can glean something about the bond formed between him and the Rev. Johann Kilian. Kilian had made a most favorable impression on the young (not yet twenty-three) Birkmann when the two first met in the spring of 1877 at a pastoral conference in Warda, Texas, involving the eleven pastors serving in Texas at the time. That initial impression was enhanced when Birkmann was a guest in the Kilian home (along with three other visiting pastors) for the conference hosted by St. Paul's, Serbin, the following fall. (The occasion was the first on which Birkmann met the Kilian daughter, Hulda, then sixteen and living at home with her parents and two siblings. Clearly, courtship and marriage were not on his mind at the time, but Gotthilf and Hulda were married eight and a half years later in 1886, after both her parents had died. Even in 1884when he wrote this article, he probably had no inkling that he was writing about a father-in­ law and the grandfather of his first three children.) Though minimally documented, Birkmann and Kilian must have met and talked often between 1877 and 1884, when Kilian died, for Birkmann surely knew him quite intimately and admired him greatly.

The article, in Birkmann's typical rambling style, includes significant historical detail, doubtlessly shared with him by Kilian himself, but also based on publications which had come to Birkmann's attention. (Note, for example, the reference to the journal, Zeitschrift für die gesammte lutherische Theologie und Kirche [Journal for the Entirety of Lutheran Theology and Church], written and co-edited by Andreas G. Rudelbach and H. E. F. Guericke, conservative Lutheran pastors and prolific authors, and published in Leipzig, Germany, from 1839 forward. That journal enjoyed some circulation also in the United States.) Birkmann does not avoid an occasional editorial comment about what the Missouri Synod might have done better, but he concentrates on what Kilian did well in the face of difficult situations, and has produced what reads as a heartfelt and somewhat emotional tribute.

Birkmann's readers in 1884 would have understood references to a "union" and to "Old Lutherans" without commentary because these belonged to the experiences of their immediate forbears in most cases. Current readers, however, will surely benefit by a little context. Rulers of nations and provinces in Europe typically have selected, governed, and fostered churches for their subjects. The House of Hohenzollern, from which came the rulers of Prussia (and the surrounding territories, including much of Saxony), characteristically was willing to foster both Roman Catholic and Evangelical churches, but they became increasingly insistent that there should be but one united Evangelical Church, not Lutheran and Reformed independent of each other. It was Frederick Wilhelm III (who ruled 1797-1840) who brought the matter to a head with a series of always more onerous decrees: that a council develop one liturgical agenda (service book) - twenty years in the making ­ for the use of both groups, that its use be mandatory, and that penalties be enforced for the failure to use it. The point was to force a (Prussian) "Union" of these two denominations. A wave of protest led to some modifications, but quite a large group of Lutheran dissidents, known as "Old Lutherans," refused to adopt an agenda, which, in their view, among other points at issue, denied or at least compromised the doctrine of the Real Presence of the body and blood of Jesus in the Lord's Supper. 1830 was the notorious year in which it became a crime not to comply. Even though enforcement of these standards was relaxed by the succeeding Prussian king in 1840, numerous staunch Lutherans were convinced that they could not avoid the poison of unionism without leaving their homeland altogether.

October 30, 1939 The Beginning of Our Mission Work in China Through Missionary Arndt Twenty-five Years Ago

Wednesday 22 March 2017 at 12:01 am

This article by G. Birkmann, pastor emeritus, was first written in German for the 30 October 1939 edition of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt. It was translated by Ray Martens.

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October 20, 1938 Memories of the Rev. A. W. Kramer, Who Died in 1920

Friday 17 March 2017 at 4:07 pm

This article was written in German by Rev. G. Birkmann for the 20 October 1938 edition of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt. It has been translated by Ray Martens.

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Something About a Congregation’s Constitution and Meetings

Tuesday 14 March 2017 at 5:39 pm

This article by G. Birkmann, pastor emeritus, first appeared in German in Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt on September 22, 1938. It was translated by Ray Martens.

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August 28, 1938 Memories of a Visitation Trip I Made in the Fall of 1893

Thursday 09 March 2017 at 01:20 am

This article by G. Birkmann, pastor emeritus, was written in German for the 28 Aug 1938 edition of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt. It was translated by Ray Martens.

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August 4, 1938 Waiting for the Robert E. Lee

Sunday 05 March 2017 at 7:19 pm

This article written by G. Birkmann, pastor emeritus first appeared in the Giddings Deutsches  Volksblatt on 4 August 1938. It has been translated by Ray Martens.

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Mar 17, 1938 Sixty Years Ago

Saturday 04 March 2017 at 4:48 pm

This article by G. Birkmann, pastor emeritus, first appeared in German in the 17 Mar 1938 edition of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt. It is presented here transnlated by Ray Martens.

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August 31, 1939 Memories of My First School Years in Illinois

Saturday 25 February 2017 at 12:48 am

This article was written in German by Gotthilf Birkmann for the 31 August 1939 edition of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt. It also appeared on page 273 in Worthy of Double Honor, the Rev. G. Birkmann, D. D. where it was translated by the author Ray Martens.

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May 11, 1939 Missouri Synod Congregations in Illinois About to Celebrate Their Centennials

Saturday 25 February 2017 at 12:42 am

This article was written in German by Gotthilf Birkmann for the 11 May 1939 edition of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt. It also appeared on page 266 in Worthy of Double Honor, the Rev. G. Birkmann, D. D. where it was translated by the author Ray Martens.

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April 13, 1939 More About My Childhood - Farm Experience

Saturday 25 February 2017 at 12:34 am

This article was written in German by Gotthilf Birkmann for the 13 April 1939 edition of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt. It also appeared on page 278 in Worthy of Double Honor, the Rev. G. Birkmann, D. D. where it was translated by the author Ray Martens.

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December 22, 1938 My Christmas Vacation as a Student, 1874

Saturday 25 February 2017 at 12:28 am

This article was written in German by Gotthilf Birkmann for the 22 December 1938 edition of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt. It also appeared on page 287 in Worthy of Double Honor, the Rev. G. Birkmann, D. D. where it was translated by the author Ray Martens.

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November 17, 1938 Memories From My Childhood

Friday 24 February 2017 at 1:58 pm

This article was written in German by Gotthilf Birkmann for the 17 November 1938 edition of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt. It also appeared on page 276 in Worthy of Double Honor, the Rev. G. Birkmann, D. D. where it was translated by the author Ray Martens

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June 7, 1938 My Vacation in Ohio, 1871

Friday 24 February 2017 at 1:50 pm

This article was written in German by Gotthilf Birkmann for the 7 June 1938 edition of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt. It also appeared on page 285 in Worthy of Double Honor, the Rev. G. Birkmann, D. D. where it was translated by the author Ray Martens.

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April 14, 1938 We Enjoyed Singing at Our College in Fort Wayne

Friday 24 February 2017 at 1:19 pm

This article was written in German by Gotthilf Birkmann for the 14 April 1938 edition of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt. It also appeared on page 285 in Worthy of Double Honor, the Rev. G. Birkmann, D. D. where it was translated by the author Ray Martens.

The complete renderings of the songs in German and their English translations were not part of the original article and are presented here by the Wendish Research Exchange for your listening enjoyment. By clicking on the titles to the song one can hear the melodies and sing the songs.

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