Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Wends of Texas

I had always been told by my Grandma (on my mother's side) that we are German descendants. Her mother was even able to speak back and forth German and English I've been told.  After some more genealogy research, I've found out that's not entirely true.

First let me tell you, my Grandma is like a character from a movie. Everything is overly-dramatized and stories are acted out with a lot of flair and probably exaggerated.  I know I am just like this and will be worse than she is when I'm an old lady.  The best way I can describe is her is as the mother in "The Glass Menagerie" play. Now don't get me wrong, I love her to death, really I do, but getting some sorta actual, factual info out of her for my family research is pretty hard.  Instead I get anecdotes like about her Aunt Emma having 44 yellow canaries in gilded cages on the back porch, which is pretty interesting, but are you starting to get my point here? 

She led me on to a very good clue for me to research this time.  My entire life I have heard my Grandma go on and on about the Wends of Texas.  She says it in such a dreamy type voice.  She would made it sound like we were born from kings and queens of Germany.  She always made a point to mention there's a book written about The Wends of Texas.  And hey, guess what?  There actually is.  And google and roots.com are full of info with just that little key word.

Do you know how the Mexicans have come into the US over in the Southwest area? They may be Americans; but would identify more so as being Mexican.  (Just go along with it for my analogy.)  This is somewhat how my ancestors were in Germany.  The people related to me were Wendish Sorbian people living in a concentrated area of Germany.  They were from Bautzen in Saxony, Germany (aka Upper Lusatia region).  The Wends from this area are more so of Czech descent.

The Wends immigrated over to Texas on a small boat less than 146 feet long named the Ben Nevis.  There was about 588 people stuffed on this boat where they would stay for about 3 months at sea and another month at dock quarantined for illnesses in 1854.  On my maternal grandma's side, members from her daddy's and mother's side were on this boat.  Grandma's parents are a good 2 generations younger than those on the boat, but still kinda cool to think all the family is from the same town in Germany.

Traditional traditions of The Wends are extravagant egg painting, corn husk dolls, and black wedding dresses. 

Cultural foods include sausage and thin egg noodles.

They would decorate the insides of their churches with images I can only relate to looking like the drawings from fairy tale books.  They enjoyed wood crafts - burning or carving folksy drawings into wood.  I notice a lot of these have a serpent type creature, which I haven't exactly figured out yet.  Some even have children playing with these snake-dragon like things. 

One of their holidays is called The Bird's Wedding which takes place on January 25th.  Children would leave out a little food outside for the birds and in turn receive a small gift or piece of candy. 

The women dressed very colorfully and decked out in dainty lace.  It's all so pretty and colorful. And such a change from now-a-days.