The Wend Who Immigrated Twice

In the nineteenth century, leaving your home and relocating across the ocean was a pretty big deal. Peter Zieschang did so– not once, but twice!

First, in the 1850s, he joined some of his Wendish compatriots and established the Hochkirch (German for “high church”) community near Victoria in Australia. However, things did not go well for Zieschang. His wife, Magdalena, died there, and soon poor health forced him to return to Saxony with his two sons.

Zieschang longed for the frontier life, though, so in 1870, he boarded a ship again along with 35 other Wends. This time their destination was the Texas, where a large group of Wends had settled in the 1850s. That November they landed in New Orleans, where they made the long trip to the heart of Texas.

At first, he settled near Fiskville (just north of the I-35/US 183 interchange in Austin), but the following year he acquired a large plot of land east of Taylor, where he established a community that he named Hochkirch (apparently he was fond of the name). At that time, there was no Lutheran church in the area, so Zieschang and his family made long trips to Serbin modern-day Lee County to attend church whenever possible.

A few years after Zieschang’s land purchase, the International and Great Northern Railroad began work to extend its line from Rockdale to the east into Austin. The route passed about two miles north of Zieschang’s land.

In 1878, the town of Thorndale was established about eight miles to the east on the route. The booming railroad town began to attract members of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in nearby Fedor, and by 1885 the number there was so great that Trinity’s pastor, the Rev. Gotthilf Birkmann, began to travel to Thorndale and Hochkirch to serve the Lutherans there.

Both communities soon organized congregations– Thorndale (St. Paul’s) in 1890 and Hochkirch (Christ) in 1891. The land for the Hochkirch congregation was given by Peter Zieschang. The Rev. E.P. Gesterling was sent to serve both congregations along with a mission in Taylor that did not take root and a fledgling congregation in Austin (St. Paul’s Lutheran Church).

In 1902, Hochkirch received a post office, and it was renamed Noack after its first postmaster. Sixteen years later, in 1916, Christ Lutheran church dedicated the building pictured here.

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1 thought on “The Wend Who Immigrated Twice”

  1. Carla Schreiber

    Peter’s wife did not die in Australia, that was his daughter (also named Magdalena) who died in Australia. Peter and his wife, Magdalena, and their 2 sons traveled to Germany from Australia and then to Texas. Magdalena is buried in the cemetery there in Noack. Thanks-I’m one of their many great granddaughters. I’m thoroughly amazed at my ancestors.

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