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near the Polish border.1' The sword which he carried for his protection is in the possession of
one of his descendants here in Texas today. Oskar Horn did not follow in the footsteps of his
father where his occupation was concerned. Rather, he became a weaver. However, when the
Industrial Revolution began to take hold in Germany, it yielded the handwork of the weaver
virtually useless. This being the case, Oskar Horn took a job on the railroad. The area in
which he lived was a coal producing area. A large rail system was built between Berlin and
Goerlitz. It was on this rail system that Oskar Horn worked as a plate layer.12
In 1876, he married Ida Schade, who was then a resident of Weisswasser, Germany.13
About a year later, the couple had a son, Leopold Hugo Horn (who would become my greatgrandfather).
Not feeling particularly fulfilled, and knowing that many people were immigrating
to America, and hearing glowing reports from Wendish families who had lived in the same
area of Germany, but had, since 1854, been making their way to Texas in America, Oskar
Horn and his wife decided to start a new life in Texas. In 1879, Oskar Horn and his family left
their homeland to begin a new life in Texas. Oral tradition has it that the ship on which they
traveled struck an object in the water and caused a hole to be formed in the vessel. With the
ship taking on water, Oskar was to have told his wife their son and try to
save him in the event that the ship would sink. The ship did not sink, however, and they made
it safely to Texas. The only part of this story that can be confirmed is that they did, indeed,
make it safely to Texas.14
Having arrived in Texas, they settled in Lee County, where a large number of Wends
(from the same area of Germany from which he had come) had settled already in 1855.
Oskar applied for and received U.S. citizenship.15 He was a successful farmer and was
very active in the Lutheran Church. He and his wife had four more children, all born in Texas.
He died in 1930.
My Wendish Forefathers
The families of Mickan. Neitsch, Svmank. Birnbaum. Kieschnick. Pilak & Zoch.
The Wends (or Serbs) are a Slavic people who have inhabited about 1500 square miles
in the southeastern portion of Germany since, at least, the ninth century A.D. Having never
had a homeland of their own, they occupied this portion of Germany (which borders Poland on
the east and Czechoslovakia to the south). For centuries they have maintained their own
autonomous language, which has similarities to Czech and Polish, but which is, nonetheless,
autonomous. In fact, there are two dialects of the language. The Wends were "converted" by
force to Christianity in about the twelfth century A.D. By the time of the Reformation in Germany
in the 1500's, they were more Christian by persuasion. The Reformation had a powerful
impact on them and many endorsed that branch of Christianity around which the Reformation
had been formed, namely, Lutheranism. In the centuries to follow the Wends became, in fact
and in large measure, staunch Lutherans.
1 Ibid. Birth/Baptismal Record. In possession of David Goeke, San Antonio, Texas
12 Berlin-Goerlitz Railroad, Certification of employment, 1876, original in possession of David Goeke,
San Antonio, Texas.
13 Certificate of Marriage, 1876, Number 28, Muskau, Germany. Original in possession of David
Goeke, San Antonio, Texas.
14 Horn, Adolph. Letter to David Goeke, 1979. Original in possession of David Goeke, San Antonio,
15 Declaration of Intent, on file at Lee County Court House, Giddings, Texas, October 12, 1879, page
Texas State Genealogical Society. Stirpes, Volume 34, Number 1, March 1994. San Antonio, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth39868/. Accessed July 29, 2014.