Witt Genealogy

The Decendents of Heinrich Witt
and Caroline Meister

SOME BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES
Concerning the Ancestors of Wilhelmina (Min) Witt-Repp

by Arthur Christian Repp

The paternal ancestors of Min can be traced to their home in Rojewo (also known as Rojewo Kaczkowerdorf or Rojewer Neudorf) in present day Poland. Rojewo had been in a part of West Prussia, called Posen, since 1772. With the establishment of the German Empire in 1871, Posen became a part of Germany and remained so until the partition at the end of World War I, when Poland was re-established.

The earliest Witt ancestor known to us was HEINRICH WITT (19), Min's great grandfather, who was born 25 December 1814. Heinrich was a blacksmith and inn keeper according to birth records of his children. Heinrich married CAROLINE MEISTER (20), the daughter of EMPHRAIM MEISTER (135). Carolina was born 24 March 1816. The marriage was blessed with at least six children; two, possibly three died very young.

  • CAROLINE WILHELMINA (93): born 3 April 1839, received an emergency baptism 2 June 1839 and died soon after.
  • ALBERT AUGUST EDUARD (94): born 5 February 1841, died 18 April 1841.
  • FRANZ THEODOR (95): born 19 February 1842, no further record of him.
  • *IDA HULDA (96): born 15 May 1845, confirmed at the age of 14 in the Lutheran church in Rojewo.
  • *FRIEDRICH WILHELM (23): born 7 May 1848. (Min's grandfather)
  • *AUGUST EDUARD (21): born 13 June 1850.

Why Heinrich and his family left West Prussia for the United States is not known. Very likely the economic situation was a factor. Between 1830 and the U.S. Civil War, and even after, there was a massive emigration from the German states to Texas. Much of the lure was created by the large number of books that were published by Germans who had visited the United States. Texas was often the star of these accounts. The number of books has been estimated to have been more than fifty. In addition, idealized stories and poems by persons who had not visited Texas, helped glorify the area to many potential emigrants.

Perhaps some of these accounts motivated the Witts too. Whatever the reasons, Heinrich, Caroline, and their last three children decided to leave their homeland for Texas. In 1860 the family traveled to Bremen, where they boarded the FORTUNA, destined for Galveston, Texas. They arrived sometime in October 1860. Their destination, according to ship's records, was RICHMOND. The family settled in the Richmond area and later moved to ROSE HILL where Heinrich set up his blacksmith shop.

We have no record of what effect the Civil War had on the Witts after Texas seceded from the union in March 1861. However, business for Heinrich must have been good in spite of the confusion and turmoil of the war and the reconstruction period. He was able to purchase a parcel of land from CHRISTIAN DUER in February 1867. The land comprised 166 acres in Harris County and 40 acres in adjoining Montgomery County. The price was $513.50. The sale was witnessed at Rose Hill and recorded in Houston 11 February 1867. (See copy in appendix)

About this time Ephraim Meister came to Texas to join his daughter and her family. As a parting gift to remind him of his homeland, the church council of the Rojewo Lutheran Church presented him with a book of sermons which their pastor, Richard Reinhard, had collected and published in 1859.

On 21 December 1870, Friedrich Wilhelm, the grandfather of Min, married WILHELMINA FRIES (24). She had been born in Houston on 20 August 1853, and was baptised in Brazoria on 27 April 1855. She was seventeen years old when she married Friedrich who was twenty-two. The couple settled in Rose Hill. Their union was blessed with eight boys. From 1871 to 1879 the first four children were born:

  • FRIEDRICH WILHELM JR (25): born 23 December 1871, Rose Hill.
  • EDWARD AUGUST (27): born 7 September 1873, Rose Hill. (Min's father)
  • HEINRICH ARNOLD (99): born 10 October 1877, Rose Hill.
  • BERNARD (Ben) JULIUS (29): born 16 September 1879, Rose Hill.

During this time Ephraim Meister, who had lived with his grandson August Edward, died on 14 February 1877. The following year sadness again befell the family with the death of Caroline Witt, mother of Friedrich Wilhelm Sr. She died 31 January 1878 and was buried in Rose Hill. The last four boys were born to Friedrich and Wilhelmina by the beginning of 1888:

SIMON AMADUS (twin)(100): born 14 March 1883, Rose Hill. SAMUEL (twin)(33): born 14 March 1883, Rose Hill. ALBERT ERNST (34): born 14 October 1886, Rose Hill. FRIEDRICH ANTON (Tony)(101): born 18 Jan 1888, Rose Hill. Died 25 January 1902, Houston.

On 16 May 1888 the founder of the Texas Witt clan, Heinrich Witt, died. He was buried in Rose Hill near his wife.

Min's father, Edward August Witt was confirmed 14 April 1889 at the Salem Lutheran Church by pastor G.J. Mueller. As he grew up, instead of becoming a farmer like his father, Edward became a grocer in Wharton, Texas and eventually owned his own store. In some way he became aquainted the LOUISE GOTTSCHALK (28) who lived in Houston (518 Houston Ave) and worked for a Mr Lottmann, the owner of a mattress factory. If Edward came to went to Houston from Rose Hill prior to settling in Wharton, this could explain how they met.

The ancestry of Louise Elizabeth Gottschalk is somewhat in doubt. Her forebears came from Elmshagen, in Hesse-Kassel, now part of West Germany. Her mother's name was ANNA ELIZABETH FINK, born 7  August 1842. Her older sister, MARIA, was born 8 March 1868 was the mother of the Heinman's (?). Maria and Min's mother remained close and were neighbors when later they both lived on Lubbock St. Maria was called Tante (aunt) Mary by the Witt children.

At any rate, Anna Fink had a baby girl on 19 April 1871 and named her Louise Elizabeth. Family history maintains that the father's name was SCHAUMLOEFFEL, but there is a discrepancy about the relationship. Louise Elizabeth said that her mother, Anna Fink, had been a servant in the home of the Schaumloeffels, a wealthy family in Frankfurt am Main. The son of the family fell in love with Anna and they got married. When the family heard of this they threatened to disinherit him if he did not annul the marriage. Since the son had no profession or trade, as was frequently the case amoung the very rich, he would not have been able to support himself, much less a family. He acquiesced to his family's demands and left Anna.

According to Tante Mary, the two had never been marrried and the relationship was broken off. Anna then returned to Elmshagen to have her baby.

Whatever the facts may have been, Anna Elizabeth eventually went to the United States with ten year old Louise Eliabeth in 1881. There she married Frank Anton Gottschalk, a cabinet maker, whom she had known in Germany. Frank was about twenty-eight years old at the time. The marriage was performed by a squire in Houston. Whether Frank Anton ever legally adopted Louise Elizabeth is not known, though he did raise her as his own daughter and gave her his family name. Frank and Anna had a boy in 1888 who died soon after birth. He was buried in Houston and later reinterred beside his mother in Washington Cemetery (formerly known as the German Cemetery). Unfortunately there is no marker.

Louise was confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church in Houston by Pastor Gotthold Kuehn on 29 March 1885.

Louise Gottschalk and Eduard August Witt were married at Trinity Lutheran Church in Houston (known as the German Trinity) on 18 December 1895. The attendants were the groom's brother Friedrich, Fritz Holm, Augusta Wottrich, and Amanda Koch. A brief reception was held at the bride's home on Houston Avenue.

Apparently ther was no honeymoon, for the couple immediately left for Wharton where the groom had fixed up his home for the new bride. The groom was so tied down by his store that he had not been able to leave before the wedding to help with the preparations and had asked his brother Fred to stand in for him.

While living in Wharton the couple had four children:

  • >
  • EDUARD BERNHARDT (79): born 6 October 1896, baptised at Trinity Lutheran 27 December 1896.
  • ELIZABETH LOUISE (105): born 23 February 1900. Died 24 February 1900. Buried in Washington Cemetery, Houston.
  • FRIEDRICH WILHELM (73): born 5 December 1901, probably baptised at Trinity.
  • WILHELMINA ELNORA ALBERTA (Min)(68): born 21 August 1906, baptised at Trinity Lutheran 23 December 1906.

The continued contacts with Trinity Lutheran were no doubt due to the fact that the children's grandparents still lived in Houston. While grandfather Frank Anton Gottschalk had died 27 July 1898, two years afte Eduard's birth, their grandmother Anna continiued to live there. Frank Anton was buried in Washington Cemetery.

In 1906 something occurred that was to have far reaching effect on the present generation. August Witt, the brother of Min's father, purchased 247.5 acres of land, partly in Montgomery County and partly in Harris County. The deed was signed 18 May 1906. This piece of land was later sold to Min's father with all mineral rights. Upon his death the land became the property of his children and is now a source of revenue to the family.

Min's parents moved to Houston in 1907 where her father opened a grocery store on Sabine Street, adjoining their home. Here on 17 January 1908, HERBERT LOUIS (63) was born and soon baptised at Trinity Lutheran. Eventually a new store was opened at 607 Houston Avenue.

Min's maternal grandmother, Anna Elizabeth Gottschalk died 26 December 1910. She was buried in Washington Cemetery. She had lived with Min's parents and her daughter Elizabeth cared for her during an extended illness. The paternal grandmother, Wilhelmina Witt, died 13 May 1919 and was buried in the adjacent Lutheran Cemetery. She had lived in the 1400 block of Alamo Street at the time of her death.

SUBSCRIPT

Min's parents died in Houston. Her mother on 27 November 1960, and her father the following year, on 31 March. They are both buried at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery in Houston. Min's brother Ed died on 5 May 1950 and Fred on 4 October 1971. They are also buried in the Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery. A.R.


Return