Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
African American Lives
Profiles
Analyzing the Evidence
The Science and the Investigators
Who am I? A Genealogy Guide
Sharing Stories
For Educators
Resources
About the Series


Sharing Stories
One Families Story: Read a story matching the term you chose:
STORYTELLER: mother's parents LOCATION: Kingsville and Bishop, Texas YEAR TOOK PLACE: 1950s
TELLER'S PLACE OF ORIGIN: Lee County, Texas HOW HEARD: Genealogy research

Both grandparents (Grmother & Grfather) spoke what we thought was German which it primarily was. When I decided to attempt to collect our family Genealogy it was discovered they were not German. They were both Wendish. Being descendents of one of the largest Wendish migrations from Europe who settled in Serbin, TX.

Our Wendish ancestors were a group called Sorbs/Slavs from Saxony Germany who emigrated in 1854 due to the German King's oppression and relgious persecusion. It was just by an act of God Himself that we didn't end up in Australia, as that was where another large group of Wends emigrated to durring the same time period.

Our Gr Grandfather Jakob Mörbe (AKA Moerbe) occupation listed as a "gardner" and Taylor, along with his first wife Anna Holfield, and brother Ernst Mörbe and 585 other Wends came to Texas with their Lutheran pastor Johann Kilian & family upon hearing glowing reports from a small group who emigrated a few years before, decided to come to TX.

They left on Sep, 1854. Traveling by rail to Hamburg they found 2 ships waiting for them. Not wanting to be seperated they decided to wait several weeks for one large ship so they could travel together. When the big sail Ben Nevis was arranged to take them they traveled to Liverpool, England where it was waiting on 2 ships across the North Sea to Hull, England, then by rail to Liverpool. They found another long wait while the Ben Nevis was made ready.

In the mean time Liverpool was being attacked by an epidemic of cholera. Many died before and on board the big ship. So many that they were forced to lay over in Queenstown, Ireland for 3 more weeks. On Oct 22 they were allowed to reboard and continue on to Galveston, TX arriving Dec 16, 1854.

They found another scounge awaited them, Yellow fever. They all took a steamer to Houston. All told of the 588 that left Germany 73 died on the trip to TX. 55 of cholera, 9 from diarrhea, 1 of a breast ailment, and 7 others from misc. ailments.

They elected a group of men with funds to go to an area of Lee county to buy land. Afterwards the majority of them followed and purchased their own plots and they founded the Town of Serbin, TX, a small rural township close to Giddings. They built a church, St. Paul Lutheran, that is still in use today along with a school, and daycare center.

Those who didn't have the funds, stayed behind and waited until the others got settled

Among the dead was my Gr Grandfather's first wife, Anna Holfield, who died somewhere between Ireland and Galveston, and was buried at sea. They had been married less then a year.

Jacob Moerbe was said to have been instructed by Anna on her death bed to take care of her best friend Johanna Rachel Dube, who had lost her father and some siblings along the way as well.

Jacob true to his word, he married Johanna in 1855 and his branch of the Moerbe family are still mostly found in TX. From Dallas all the way down to the Valley. While a great many of them were famers, or merchants, we have in our clan CEO's and lawyers as well.

While they had left Germany to try to keep from being Germanized and lose their Wendish Heritage, most took on the German Heritage and the Wendish Heritage and Culture was almost forgotten, that is until recently. The Wendish Heritage Society now has a museum on the church grounds and because of a renewed intrist, it is alive again. Sep 24 or the last Sunday of that month is the Wendishfest, in Serbin, the music, the language (a mix of German, Polish, Czech) of sorts is spoken and relished along with the foods of our ancestors, dress, and dance. "I en Vendish Ja!"





back to story list back to sharing intro