How Pastor Proft Got His Gun

One hundred and fifty years ago, transportation in what is now Lee County, Texas (the county was established in 1874) was a bit more of a challenge than it is today. A number of Wendish folks had begun to settle around West Yegua (now Fedor), but still attended church in Serbin. If they had children who attended the parochial school, those children had to be boarded because of the distance.

In 1870, those folks established their own congregation and school. Their first pastor, John Proft, was a Wend who had been trained as a cabinet maker in the old world, had immigrated separately from the 1854 group, and had received theological training at the seminary in St. Louis.

One day, while out riding, Pastor Proft encountered another gentleman who invited him to accompany him. Proft was disinclined to comply, but the man produced a pistol, which made the invitation much more compelling.

They had traveled a short distance together when they came upon a house, and Proft’s companion decided it would be a good idea for them to rest a bit. After some time, Proft noticed the other fellow had fallen asleep so he got up and rode off, but not before taking the other fellows pistol so that he’d be better prepared the next time he encountered such an invitation.

Some years later, after Proft had taken a call to Sherman, Texas, he showed this pistol to the Rev. Gotthilf Birkmann, who at the time was at Zion Lutheran in Dallas. Proft still was carrying it for protection, though he hadn’t had reason to use it.

Birkmann writes about the above incident (and LCMS history in Lee County, Texas) in this letter:
https://wendishresearch.org/historical/people/rev-gotthilf-birkmann/june-3-1932-the-lutheran-missouri-synod-churches-in-lee-county-texas/

(Last night, they left the lights on for us at Trinity Fedor! Well, not really. But, we were out there as the sun was setting and I was taking long exposures when someone drove up and temporarily turned the lights on inside, and I was able to capture this photograph.)

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