Imagine this… it’s 1873. You’ve just graduated from the Pilgrim Mission Training School in St. Chrischona, Switzerland, and you’ve received your first assignment. It’s to a tiny new congregation in very rural (and undeveloped) Texas.
That’s the situation the Rev. Johann Christian Eduard Zapf found himself in. He was assigned to Holy Cross Lutheran Church of Rabb’s Creek by the Texas Synod. The congregation had been established just that year, and he served both as their first pastor as well as the first teacher at parish’s school.
Zapf was installed on August 24, 1873– the same day Holy Cross’ first building was dedicated. By April of the following year, the congregation consisted of about sixty communicant members and he had confirmed six children.
After a brief tenure of less than a year, Zapf succumbed to typhus fever on June 23, 1874. His fiancée was en route to Texas to marry him. A group from Holy Cross met her at the station in Giddings with the unfortunate news.
Five years after Zapf’s death, Holy Cross had outgrown their first modest building, and under the leadership of Rev. Gottfried Buchschacher, the congregation moved two miles down the road to Warda, where they used lumber from the first building to erect their second.
Zapf is buried in the old Holy Cross Cemetery, where the first building stood from 1873-1881.