The whole time when I was growing up, I thought
that I was of German descent. It wasnt
until 1997, that I found out that I was actually Wendish.
My research started with the death of my
great Aunt, Elsie Malish-Kropp (Aunt Sookie). When
we went to the funeral and then to her burial, I became interested in knowing, just where
exactly did my ancestors come from. I saw the
tombstone of my 2nd great grandparents. This
piqued my interest. I began researching and
stumbled upon my Wendish heritage. The irony
is, Aunt Sookie, is not Wendish, but rather Czech.
My Wendish heritage, I have been able to trace back nine generations. This is in part due to my wonderful cousins that I
have met while posting queries on the internet.
However, with my Czech ancestors, I
have hit a brick wall.
Who are the Wends anyway? The Wends are a Slavic tribe that have coexisted
with the Germans in Germany for thousands of years. You
can still find Wends in Germany, although, they are a minority. My ancestors emigrated to the United States, mainly
due to religious persecution. They were being
Germanized and nevertheless, oppressed. They
lived in Germany, but they were often paid less for the same job, because of their
heritage. They never attained national freedom
and the Germans wanted to get rid of them because they were different. The Prussian Government decreed in 1817 that the
Lutheran and Protestant churches merge. They did not
want to merge.
With the help of Pastor Johann Kilian, they packed their small
belongings and set sail on the Ben Nevis in 1854.
Click here for my list of
ancestors listed on the Ben Nevis.
A lot of people died en route to the United
States. One of my great great grandfathers,
Peter Symank, was actually born on the ship and is the only known baby to survive.
Click here for an excerpt
from the shipboard diary of Pastor Johann Kilian.
The ironic and sad fact is once they settled
in towns across Central Texas, they slowly became Germanized again. This explains why all of my grandparents and great
grandparents spoke German instead of Wendish.