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1854 Kleinwelka Bell Order

by Robert Wuchatsch

Our last newsletter included an article by Robert Wuchatsch on the mystery of the bell ordered from Kleinwelka (near Bautzen) in 1854.  Mrs Gertrud Mahling of Bautzen, author of Shores of Hope: Wends go Overseas, discovered the bell order during her research and contacted Robert to ask if we knew which group of Wends in Australia ordered the bell.

On 4 October 2015, Robert received this response from Richard Gruetzner of the Texas Wendish Heritage Society:

Working at the Texas Wendish Heritage Society Museum in Serbin today, I found the September 2015 issue of the Wendish News….. I noticed a brief query on the research page in which Gertrud Mahling had inquired about a bell cast for the Wends in the foundry in Kleinwelka in 1854. She indicated it was for the Wends going to Australia and your response indicated the bells in your area were all from later in the century. ….Could the bell order Ms. Mahling is researching have actually been one that ended up going to Texas with Pastor Kilian and his congregation and not one intended for a congregation in Australia? It has been said that the congregation originally intended to go to Australia but was dissuaded by letters of complaint from earlier settlers and then decided to go to Texas.      I have attached a photo of “our” bell as it is currently displayed at Concordia Lutheran University in Austin, Texas. As shown in the foundry casting, the bell was cast in 1854 at Kleinwelka. It was carried to Texas with the Wends under Pastor Jan Kilian and placed in the steeple of St Paul Lutheran Church. From there it was later transferred to Concordia Lutheran College site in Austin where it was placed in front of Kilian Hall. When that site was sold and the (now) university moved to a different location, the bell was relocated to its present location which is shown in the photo.

Richard Gruetzner
Texas Wendish Heritage Society

On 16 October 2015, Robert received the following response from Gertrud Mahling:

Thanks for the message…… I know about the bell in Texas – I have seen it at its old and its new place in Concordia, Austin.  But I have a source, that they made in 1854 in Kleinwelka two similar bells – one for Texas and one for Australia.  But if in Australia nothing is known about such a bell, maybe the source is wrong. Greetings from Lusatia Gertrud

Thanks to Gertrud Mahling, Richard Gruetzner and Robert Wuchatsch for this information.