Telling the stories of Texas with photographs (and words too...)
When you see the name “Suess” what’s the first thing you think of?
I’m betting it’s green eggs and ham, the Grinch, or the Cat in the Hat.
Take a look at that name again, though. The fellow you’re taking about is Dr. Seuss (spelled slightly differently)!
In late 1876, the Rev. Simon Suess arrived in Winchester, Texas (about ten miles south of Serbin) with the intent of establishing a congregation there. Suess was officially installed in February of the following year by the Rev. Timotheus Stiemke of Holy Cross in Warda, but by that August Suess had taken a call to Salem Lutheran Church in nearby Freyberg, where he served until his death in 1904.
Outside of a few certificates signed by Rev. Suess, no official records of his efforts exist today, and whatever congregation existed during his brief tenure faded away, and the Lutherans of the area traveled to Serbin and Warda to attend services.
Rev. Stiemke continued to hold occasional services in Winchester, as did his successor, the Rev. Gottfried Buchschacher, but the prospects seemed so dim that Buchschacher was reportedly advised to not waste his time there, as nothing would come of his efforts.
Rev. Buchschacher, though, much like the man in Jesus’ parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-9), took no notice of the apparent character of the ground, and after about ten years, the seed took root.
On September 29, 1887, about twenty families met to organize a congregation. That congregation took its name from the feast day on which it was organized – St. Michael’s Lutheran Church.
Initially, it was part of the Holy Cross parish and was served by Rev. Buchschacher, but within a year it was clear that they needed a pastor of their own, and they called the Rev. Ernst Stark of Cypress.
Many of the founding members of St. Michael’s were Wends who had purchased land in the area. Among those early members were Albert J. Peter and his wife Theresia Martha Peter (née Kilian), who was the daughter of Rev. Jan Kilian of Serbin.