Frederick Herman Wendrich
(Note by Randall T. Peterson, grandson of Frederick Hermann Wendrich: This account was written by grandfather during his last year of life. I have always loved and been inspired by his story, especially as expressed in his own words.
It has been reported by family members that Frederick adopted his father’s name (Friedrich Hermann Wendrich), it has also been reported that he changed his name to “Frederick Hermann” sometime after coming to the United States. I will use his preferred name, Frederick Hermann in my notes. To his siblings and family in Germany he was known as “Fritz”, to his posterity and friends in the United States he was known as “Fred”.
His early narrative reflects conditions and circumstances that existed in Germany when he left in 1913. I have retained his original text. In an effort to make his account more understandable today (in consequence of the geo-political changes that were made in Germany at the end of World War II in 1945) I have annotated this account with descriptions and additional details. My annotations (indicated in bold italic) include supplemental information, current names of locales that were changed after Silesia was given to Poland and details about relevant events that have occurred subsequently.)
I have always been interested in and enjoyed the histories of nations and people. Since my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I appreciate the history of my ancestors even more than ever before. Most of what I write I heard from my grandfather, Friedrich Johann Wendrich who was my dearest and closest associate in my childhood until the time of his death in 1911. Countless are the enjoyable conversations I had with Grandfather in the fields while at work, in the forests or in the evening as he sat on the weaving chair and Grandmother at the spinning wheel. As a small boy I lay and listened to my grandparents reminisce of days gone by. I wish that I could have recorded many of the stories I heard in those days of my ancestors.
PART ONE: A brief history of my country and village and of events which impressed me as a child.
In the southeastern part of German, along the Russian border, lay the province of Silesia. It was the largest province of Germany and on the map it appeared the shape of an oak leaf. In 1905 it had a population of four and one half million people.
(The German Empire at the time of Frederick’s birth and youth. Note that Prussia (Preußen in German -- the area in blue) consisted of 14 provinces and constituted the largest member of the federation. (Silesia (Schlesien in German) is in the east, bordered by Russia (Russland), Hungary (Ungarn) and Austria (Österreich).)
The province was divided into three sections: Upper Silesia with Oppeln (Opole) as its capital, Middle Silesia with Breslau (Wrocław) as the main city of the whole province, and Lower Silesia with Liegnitz (Legnica) as its capital. (In 1945 this part of Germany was given to Poland, the German people were expelled and the names of the cities were changed to Polish names. I will annotate Fredrick’s record with current Polish names and make some additional notes. The designations “Upper” or “Ober”, “Middle” or “Mitte” and “Lower” or “Nieder” refer to elevation. Lower Silesia lay along the western border of Silesia (present-day Poland) and the northern border of the Czech Republic. Upper Silesia was east of Lower Silesia. Fredrick’s description of the border with Russia describes Germany in 1913, when Silesia was the eastern border of the Kingdom of Germany and before Poland gained independence from Russia. The cities mentioned in Frederick’s account are primarily clustered east of present-day Görlitz, Germany.)
In Lower Silesia there were 16 counties. In the county of Bunzlau (Bolestawiec) there were two towns and 83 villages.
(This map shows the area surrounding Giessmannsdorf (renamed “Gościszów”). This map is from the period when Silesia belonged to Germany.)
(This roadmap shows the location of Gießmannsdorf (southwest of Bunzlau and northeast of Löwenberg). A major city of this part of Schlesien at that time was Bunzlau, the principal city was Liegnitz.)
One of the largest villages, was the village of my forefathers as far back as the beginning of the 12th century. Giessmannsdorf’s history dates back before the introduction of Christianity to that part of Germany.
In an old cemetery in Giessmannsdorf stood some ancient stone urns which had been discovered by excavations and which stood as monuments to the age of the village. The urns had been chiseled from stone with fancy carvings and engravings upon them and were fitted with lids. In the days before Christianity, the people cremated their dead and these urns contained the ashes. As a youngster, I was intrigued with the thought of these ancient urns existing through the ages.
About the time of the Savior’s birth, the country of which I write was covered by endless forests and swamps, like the rest of Germany. Wherever there was a clearing or an open valley, it was inhabited by the Teutonic tribes. These tribes worshipped many gods, the greatest being Wataw. Their god of thunder was Donner; the god of war was Zeus. All their brave men after death went to Walhalla, a place for them to sit with the council of the gods.
At the beginning of the ninth century, Christianity was introduced to that part of Silesia from western Germany. According to history, there was much blood shed in its establishment.
About the year 1000, there reigned over Silesia a Prince Boleslaw the Brave. He had built a fortress where Breslau now stands. Boleslaw fought relentlessly for Christianity. He destroyed idols and altars, having them thrown into the swamps. The son of Boleslaw the Brave was Heinrich der Bartige, (Henry the Bearded One), because of his great beard. He married a princess from Westphalia, a province in western Germany. She was twelve years old at the time of their marriage. At one time Hedwig was journeying from Breslau to Westphalia to visit her parents. She stayed in Giessmannsdorf for a few days rest. At that time she ordered that a castle be built with moat, drawbridge, water, and all that made those ancient castles. Two hundred years later another castle was built adjoining the old one. An arched stone bridge was built to enter the new castle. It took an hour and a half of brisk walking to go from one end to the other. Part of the old castle still remained when I left Germany in 1913. After Hedwig’s death, she was sainted by the Pope because of the good life which she lived. She and Heinrich der Bartige had a son called Heinrich der Fromme (Saint). He must have inherited his mother’s goodness.
At the beginning of the 12th century the Mongols came in countless hoards through the area which is today the Balkan states and into Upper Silesia and devastated everything before them with fire and sword. Proceeding to Lower Silesia to Wahlenstein, a village near Liegnitz (Legnica), they were met by Heinrich der Fromme and a small army he had gathered together. Although they were small in numbers compared to the Mongols, they went bravely into battle and made an excellent stand, inflicting heavy casualties on the Mongols. Then the Mongols brought cannons into the fray with which they shot poisonous gases and bits of iron at the army of Heinrich der Fromme. As fire and gas-belching cannons were not known in Europe at that time, the superstitious people of that day thought the Mongols to be in “cahoots” with the devil. The Silesian army fell back. Only Heinrich and a few of his trusted soldiers remained to give battle until they were all slain by the Mongols. The Mongols triumphantly carried the head of Heinrich upon a long pole, which caused the remaining army to retreat in panic.
The crescent-shaped village of Giessmannsdorf lay in a fertile valley surrounded by low sloping hills. It had a population of 1,500, a brickyard, three flour mills, an old-fashioned Dutch mill, a saw mill, and a creamery. When I left in 1913, the whole village was electrified (not at my leaving), just provided with electric power. A creek flowed through the village which was the cause of the crescent shape. It was from six to ten feet wide and was called the Ivenitz.
There are two churches in Giessmannsdorf, both Lutheran. One, which was built in the 18th century, is used each Sunday for services. The other was built in the 11th century and is of the old Gothic architecture with massive stones. Upon entering, one finds a large arched ceiling room which is 24 feet wide, 30 feet high, and 60 feet long. In the front there is an altar 9 feet wide and 15 feet high. The altar contains many wooden figures which were individually carved and then put together. The carving was done by a shepherd named Sachis-Hausdorf while herding sheep. The altar had been painted in the most beautiful colors. The original paint was still on the figures. One had to pass through the base of the tower which was replaced at the beginning of the 19th century. The tower was 210 feet high. In the heavy timbered roof hung three bells, the largest of which weighed 1,200 pounds. On Sundays and holidays it was a thrill to hear the glorious tones of the bells as they resounded over the hills and valleys. How those chimes still ring in my ears! The tower was of white stucco and at the base of the roof ran a balcony. From this tower one had a wonderful view of the country. A watchman on the tower could tell where there was a fire or observe and notify the town of any other such happenings. The high arched ceiling was tinted blue with silver stars resembling the heavens at night. Over the altar in the west was a crescent-shaped moon. The archives of the old church contained the sword and lance of the knight Kaspar Hans von Warnsdorf. He was a crusader to the Holy Land and fought against the Turks. In his later years, he composed hymns for church services.
During the 30 Years War which raged between Catholics and Lutherans from 1618 to 1648, the old church was taken away from the Lutherans. It was returned by the Catholics in 1810.
The village of Giessmannsdorf took in an area of one “rittergut.” This was an estate of about 1,000 acres of farmland and forest. The estates had been handed down from the days when knighthood was in flower. The area of Giessmannsdorf was owned by Baron von Sövenstein who owned five other such estates also. On this particular estate there were sixty farms of about 200 acres each and 200 smaller farms of twenty to fifty acres each. The old Wendrich homestead was one of these smaller farms of fifty acres, with every foot under cultivation. The rotation of the crops was worked as long as any could remember. There were families living on two to fifteen acres of land, too. There were the businesses of craftsmen if the village. There were three roadhouses, one brewery, one cafe, two butcher shops, three grocery stores and three dance halls.
In the whole of Silesia there were but three Protestant churches for worship in my great-great-grandfather’s day. I remember my grandfather telling how in that day people would leave on Friday evening by horse and wagon and travel to Saxony-Haugsdorf, the nearest Protestant church, for Sunday worship. Because of this distance, attendance at church was seldom, and for a special occasion. The owners of the horses and wagons would also take as many with them as possible who had no means of transportation. In the mid-17th century, the people of the village built themselves a church and hired a pastor.
I would like to mention now a little incident that happened during the Seven Years War which was fought by Frederick the Great for the possession of Silesia. After the Battle of Chatelik-Hennersdorf, the King led his army through the village from the west along the old Army Highway which passed the old castle, where Pastor Miller had bade him welcome to their village. He stopped to rest under a peculiar shaped pear tree. The trunk of the tree sharply curved and grew out five feet, then curved again upward and grew naturally. This made a seat the length of a davenport. It was here that Frederick the Great sat and wrote his orders for the day. From that day on that tree was known as the King’s Pear Tree.
The village cemetery was around the old church. This was the final resting place of all the Wendriches of the village. The cemetery was surrounded by a high stone wall similar to that which surrounds the Temple Square in Salt Lake City. At time of war the villagers fled to the cemetery for protection behind the walls. One high iron gate was the only entrance. On top of the gates were three of the huge stone urns of which I wrote earlier. At its earliest time in history, the village was called Grawiensdorf; later Guessmansdorf, and since the 16th century it has been called Giessmannsdorf.
PART TWO: Brief sketches of the six generations of owners of the Wendrich homestead.
The forty acre farm of the Wendrich family was located in the middle of the lower part of the village of Giessmannsdorf (Gościszów).
(Wendrich Homestead, circa 1913, depicting Berta (sister), Maria Pauline (mother) and Friedrich Hermann (father).
It was build in 1703 and was the Wendrich home until 1945.)
The dwelling was built on a little knoll. During the Thirty Years War of 1618, many of the homes in this area were destroyed. The owners who were not killed fled to other parts of the country. After the war, the land which was not repossessed by its homesteader was taken over by the Barron (von Sövenstein). Before the Thirty Years War, the Wendrich homestead consisted of about 200 acres. A little wagon trail led east from our home through the fields indicating the farm boundaries of early times. When my grandfather, Friedrich Johann Wendrich, was a young man, he was ploughing for a vegetable garden one day when his plough struck a large area laid with flat stone squares, indicating the farmyard of former days.
It was in the year 1703 that my first know ancestor, Hans Georg Wendrich, bought the land that at that time consisted of eight acres. The piece remained in the Wendrich family until 1945. If February of that year, my brother Ewald, with his wife and children, were driven off by the Russians. It was also at this time that the aged and infirm were driven into a barn and the torch was set to it. My mother, Maria Pauline Wendrich with her lifelong friend, Mrs. Schubert, were two of those ill-fated ones.
HANS GEORG WENDRICH, my grandfather four times removed. Little is known of him except the name of his son, Heinrich Wendrich.
HEINRICH WENDRICH, my grandfather three times removed. Heinrich Wendrich first inherited the homestead. He was known as a fruit and vegetable peddler, driving two small sorrel horses. It was told that one day the Barroness von Bybraim, owner of a large estate, stopped Heinrich and offered him a two hundred acre farm for a very reasonable price. Heinrich refused the offer, saying that he could make a better living peddling as he was that working a 200 acre farm.
ABRAHAM WENDRICH, my great-great-grandfather next acquired the land from his father, Heinrich Wendrich. About 1809 the home was destroyed by fire. The story is told that the wife of a close neighbor had been drinking one night when she took a torch and went into one of their buildings where oil from linseed was extracted. A spark from the torch lit in the oil causing such a fire that both homesteads were destroyed. Abraham then rebuilt the home fifty feet from where the original building had stood. The homes of that day were built of wood and clay. Abraham built a large two-story high gabled building. It was the longest building in the village, measuring over one hundred feet. This structure of stone and timber still stood in 1945.
It was during Abraham’s day that Napoleon was waging war with Russia in 1812. The army passed through our village, sleeping at night in barns and buildings wherever they could find a shelter to rest under. Napoleon was defeated that year, but the next spring, 1813, he again attacked and many battles were waged around Giessmannsdorf. At that time the Wendrich home was made a field hospital. Abraham learned to speak French very well. A wounded French officer who had become friendly with Abraham gave him his personal sword for his kindness before his death. The sword was of the finest steel and workmanship and still hung as an heirloom when I left home in 1913.
Abraham Wendrich was born November 11, 1776. They had eight sons and one daughter.
DAVID WENDRICH, my great-grandfather was the youngest son of Abraham and was next to inherit the homestead. It was the custom in western Germany for the oldest son to inherit the home. However, in eastern Germany, it went to the youngest son. David was born July 21, 1795 and married Johanna Rosine Gierth in 1819. David was a young man at the time Napoleon was warring with Russia. He was unfit for military service as he had a goiter, but his brothers were all drafted except one who went over the border to Saxony. (It was the descendants of this Wendrich who had settled in Saxony who familiarized my wife Wally with the name. As a girl in Zwickau, Saxony, she had heard the name of Wendrich and pondered over it. Then years later, what a coincidence that she should come to America and marry a Wendrich.) David was assigned to work in the army bakery. He had to knead bread dough with his feet. David owned a small snuff box of black horn. It was of excellent workmanship and on the lid was engraved in gold lettering “Hear much, say little. Don’t tell everyone your worries, try to master the unpleasant things of life.” David and Johanna had seven sons and five daughters before his death on October 25, 1866.
FRIEDRICH JOHANN WENDRICH, my grandfather, was the eleventh child of David Wendrich and was the next heir of the homestead. Friedrich was born November 9, 1836. He married Johanne Borrmann and died July 3, 1910. My grandmother was born December 25, 1837 and died November 18, 1907.
Grandfather was a stately man six feet four inches tall and weighing 250 pounds. He served with distinction in the army with the Sixth Infantry Regiment in Schweidnitz, Middle Silesia. He was a veteran of two wars—1866 against Austria, and 1870-1871 against France. It was quite an ordeal for Grandmother to care for things while my grandfather was away. Grandfather was mayor of the village for a number of years and knew every man, woman, and child in the village by name and all about their families. Grandfather was my dearest pal for he was everything that a father and grandfather could be to a boy. Wherever we labored together in the field or barn or during the long winter evenings with him seated by the weaver and Grandmother at the spinning wheel, I was entranced by his tales and reminiscing of days gone by. My grandmother’s mother died when Grandmother was but a few months old. It was Grandmother’s wish to be buried in her mother’s grave where she was laid to rest 69 years later.
HERMANN WENDRICH, my father, and the youngest son of Friedrich Wendrich, was born July 8, 1866. This was the same day his father had to leave home for the army. My father did not wear his knees out, nor the seat of his pants in church. I believe his prayers were few and far apart, but her had a strong and abiding faith in his Creator—faith which had been handed down from generation to generation. Father was a very diligent farmer who understood his work and took great pride in it. His knowledge was obtained only through his experience and that of his forefathers. I can picture Father now after the soil had been tilled and the seed sown, standing and surveying the work while we boys stood nearby awaiting further orders. Then Father would say, “Well, boys, we’ve done all that we know how and now the rest is in the hands of the good Man above.”
MARIE PAULINE LIEWALD, my mother, was a farmer’s daughter also from Giessmannsdorf. She was born November 27, 1865 in a family of fifteen children. Her father in his younger years was a schoolmaster. Later, much against his wishes, he had to take over the family farm as he was the youngest son and obliged to do so. This consisted of 200 acres. Grandmother Liewald was a wonderful woman, loved by all who knew her. All of my ancestors were faithful and God-fearing people; my mother was truly a saint. She was an example of faith to all of us children. She always began and ended her day with a prayer of thanks to her Heavenly Father and implored His blessings upon her and her family. She was a benefactress of the poor and needy and always remembered them. Especially at holiday time did she see to it that they might enjoy the good things of the earth.
PART THREE: My personal history.
I, Frederick Hermann Wendrich, was born July 22, 1891 in Kieslingswalde – Rachenau (Sławnikowice is about 25 kilometers east and north of Görlitz, Germany and about 27 kilometers west and north of Giessmannsdorf (Gościszów) in present-day Poland) by Görlitz, on the Neisse, a small river in the Ober-Lausitz.
(This is a map of Kieslingswalde – Rachenau (Sławnikowice) as it appeared before it became part of Poland. This is the birthplace of Frederick Hermann Wendrich. His birth certificate (and attached annotations) indicate that his parents were connected in some way to this place at the time of his birth and their subsequent marriage.)
(Official birth document registered by a midwife (Johanne Vater) on July 24th declaring that a son was born to Marie Pauline Liewald (unwed) on July 22, 1891 and given the names of “Fritz Hermann” ans she (Vater) was a witness. On the left side of the record are two annotations: one dated 18 December 1894 in which Friedrich Hermann Wendrich acknowledged “Fritz Hermann” as his child and another dated 6 April 1895 indicating that Friedrich Hermann Wendrich and Marie Pauline Liewald were married on 2 November 1894. Both annotations were subsequently recorded in Görlitz on 24 April 1895.)
(I was baptized in this river twenty years later, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) As a baby, I lay in the same cradle with my cousin Alfred Liewald, my mother’s sister’s oldest son. It was through Alfred that I found the church. (Alfred’s mother is Pauline Liewald (13Feb1870) from Giessmannsdorf, Silesia, Prussia. Her parents are Johann Carl Ehrenfried Liewald (26Oct1830) and Johanna Caroline Liewald (29Jan1835) from Giessmannsdorf.)
April 22, 1897, a very rainy day, I entered grade school in lower Giessmannsdorf, the home of my ancestors since the beginning of the 12th century. My elderly teacher was Richard Hemm, a very nervous and emotional man. Under his tutorship I went to school for eight years. Richard Hemm and I got along nicely in history and geography, but when it came to singing and arithmetic, I was mud. On March 31, 1905, at the age of fourteen, I finished grade school and was confirmed a member of the Lutheran Church by Pastor Janke. Many were the times after graduation that I wished I could go back to school for a rest from the continuous labor of the farm. It was work, work, work from sunup to sundown every day. One can well imagine that this routine at times seemed quite monotonous to a youngster, although on the whole, I enjoyed farm life.
I remember one particular morning after several hours of had labor in the fields, I stood for a moment resting. I was thinking of how hard we had to work for our meager living and feeling just a little sorry for myself. As I looked across the field up the road, I was in the distance a cloud of dust made by an approaching horse and carriage. As the carriage drew nearer, I recognized it as belonging to one of the wealthier families of the village. How I envied them their wealth and comfortable life. But only for a moment, for I remembered that the only child of this family was a sickly and mentally deficient person. How thankful I was for my own good health, my sound mind and body. Grateful and invigorated by this realization, I attacked my work with renewed energy and with a song in my heart and on my lips.
I enjoyed working with the cattle and livestock on the farm. I liked to hear the crunching of the soil beneath my feet as I walked behind the plow and watch the plow turning over the soil. The swish of the scythe cutting the ripened grain and the falling of the seed on the prepared soil, which I broadcasted by hand and which sounded like the scatter of lead shot, were pleasing to me.
It was at this time of liege (leisure) that I would lie on my back at night and wonder about the origin of man, from whence he came and the unknown after death. Was birth on this earth the real beginning? Was death the end? Where did matter begin and end? I could never find a satisfactory answer, not even from my beloved grandfather.
(Frederick at age 18.)
On October 2, 1911, a Monday morning at 5:00 a.m., I left my father’s house for the train to Rauchwalde (A western suburb of Görlitz where Frederick’s mother’s parents, Johann and Johanna Liewald, were living at the time. Görlitz is 31 miles (50 km) west if Giessmannsdorf.) by Görlitz in the Ober-Lausitz. My brother Oskar went to the depot with me.
(Johanna and Johann Liewald.)
(Frederick’s brother Oskar.)
It had always been my desire to learn to operate a farm on a large scale and my cousin Alfred Liewald (The only son of Frederick’s mother’s sister, Pauline.) had secured work for me on a 200 acre farm owned by Emil Weber, a man of some wealth. In that day, 200 acres was considered a very large farm. I was very pleased for this opportunity; especially so, since Emil Weber was a good employer and treated me as his son. I enjoyed the two years I worked for him.
(Richard Herman Alfred Liewald.)
Cousin Alfred worked on a neighboring farm. So all week long, we labored on our respective farms, but on Sunday noon, we would generally meet and go to our grandparent’s home. The Liewalds lived on the opposite side of town from our places of employment. (This suggests that the farms where Frederick and Alfred worked may have been east of Görlitz in the area which is now Poland.) Each time Alfred would say, just as we entered the town, “Now you go on to our grandparents and I’ll meet you there later. I’m going to a meeting first.”
Before I had left my father’s house, I had been warned about associating with Alfred Liewald since he had joined “that terrible cult from America” and become a Mormon.
(This is the Görlitz Branch record of ordinances. Alfred was baptized in the Görlitz Branch on 9 December 1910.
See line 6 of the baptism record above.)
I assured them that they had no need to worry as I would never bring such disgrace upon my family. It was considered a great disgrace to leave the faith for which our forefathers had given their very lives. However, I had always enjoyed and respected Alfred and was now curious about his Mormon meetings.
After a few Sundays together, I asked Alfred about his meetings. To my questioning he said, “Come and see.” One Sunday afternoon, I did go with him. Never will I forget the spirit of that meeting—its simplicity—its peacefulness. I wondered at my feelings of reverence in such simple surroundings when I had been used to worshipping in high vaulted cathedrals adorned with the splendor of the centuries. To think that I could find peace of mind among these few simpleminded people, the peace that passeth all understanding, was unbelievable. There were about fifteen people present, which number I was told was a good group on that particular Sunday. A Brother Taylor from Provo, Utah, was the missionary who spoke. (The Görlitz Branch records show an Elder “T.S. Taylor” participated in a confirmation in the branch on 7 Jan 1912. My brother, Val Wendell Peterson’s wife’s ancestor, Thomas Sterling Taylor (DOB: 7Jul1890), served a mission in Görlitz, Germany at that time.) I wondered much about that meeting in November 1911. The following six months I did not attend any church, trying to content myself with answering my own questions about life. As time passed, I became more and more miserable and perplexed. Life had no meaning and I was torn with a desire to investigate Mormonism on one hand and, on the other, by the feeling of guilt which was generated because of my lack of faith in the religion of my forefathers. This constant turmoil within me left me very bewildered.
One Saturday evening, Alfred, noting my mental depression, sat on my bed and said, “Fred, I’ve been staying away from you for I wanted you to fight this out on your own.” He continued, “I went through this period of uncertainty and mental anguish, as do all converts to the gospel, until they can, for an acuity, reach a decision.”
Then again I went to the Mormon meeting, met with the missionaries from time to time, and gradually learned the precious truths of the Gospel. Experiences became testimonies to me, too numerous to mention. I was thrilled by the Book of Mormon and the testimonies of the three witnesses. Hearing of the Kirtland Temple greatly impressed me. The many marvelous answers to prayer which I experienced are all a part of my testimony. For me, the doctrines of Mormonism became a necessity.
Some outstanding missionaries to work with me were Henry Rolfing and John E. Stosich.
(Elder John Stosich.)
Elder Stosich, as a boy, had run away from his home in Czechoslovakia. He had come to America as a stowaway on ship and train and had ended at a sheep camp in northern Idaho. The owner of the sheep camp converted him to the Gospel and, at the age of twenty, he was called to serve in the Swiss-German mission. To preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations of the earth was the greatest calling a man could receive as far as John Stosich was concerned. I like to compare my association with John Stosich to that of Paul the Apostle with Timothy.
Elder John Stosich baptized me on Saturday, December 21, 1912, at 8:00 p.m. (See line 14 of the Görlitz Branch record below.)
(Görlitz Branch ordinance book. Note the references to “Friedrich Wendrich” on line 14. Also, note the reference to “T.S. Taylor” on line 12.)
I remember that beautiful moon cast its light upon the River Neisse. I was immersed twice in the icy water. As I could not understand the English that was spoken by the Elders, I remember facetiously thinking to myself that I must be quite a sinner to have to be baptized twice to make it official. After my baptism, we walked to Elder Stosisch’s room. (Being an upper room, it made me think of the upper room in which Christ met with his disciples.) There he told me many glorious things concerning the church. How I thrilled to the story of the heavenly messengers appearance at the Kirtland Temple. It was nearing dawn of a Sabbath day when he walked home with me to go where I worked in Rauschwalde. It was only a half hour’s walk, but it must have taken me two hours for the sun was well over the eastern horizon. (I compare this walk to that of the two disciples when they were met on the road to Emmaus by Jesus, who walked with them and expounded the Gospel to them.)
When Elder Stosich completed his mission, it was his desire to go to Czechoslovakia and introduce the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those of his father’s household. He was very sad when I later met him and asked about the results of his visit. He said, “Brother Fred, I am still the only one of my father’s house to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Elder Stosich then returned to Idaho, married, and settled down on a prosperous farm fifteen miles east of Idaho Falls. I am grateful for the privilege of my association with this man.
About six months after my baptism, upon a visit home, I told my mother of my interest in the Mormon Church. Mother was aghast when she heard and drew back from me and asked, “Are you insane?” About that time, my father appeared on his way to the fields for the day’s labor. Mother asked if I could remain to help her with some chores about the yard. When Father was out of hearing, Mother said, “And now I want to hear what you have to say about this.”
I told Mother, as best I could, about Mormonism, explaining the Gospel as I was learning it. Mother listened in silence for a long time and then said, “Well, son, it sounds as if you may have something and, if it is all you say it is, cling to it, but mind you, not a word of this to your father.” Father would have been enraged as he would rather have me dead than become a Mormon. So long and so earnestly had I talked with Mother that we had not noticed the passing of hours until we saw Father approaching the house for mealtime.
In the early spring of 1913, I had my last examination and was drafted into the military service. I would have been stationed at Gross-Glogau, a fortress on the German-Russian border. About this time, I met a German missionary, August F. Meier. He served in the heavy cavalry, the Unlanen (Lancers), 1st Military Regiment. At this time, he was serving in his second German mission. He had few equals when it came to knowledge and ability to expound the Gospel. Brother Meier was very much against my going into military service, although he never told me so himself. He made this known to a Sister Herold one day when he said, “The blood of the Latter Day Saints is too precious to be spilled on the battlefields of Europe.” I thought much about this statement and wondered which was most right—serving in military service or going to America as the Missionaries urged me. (Richard Hermann Alfred Liewald, was killed in action on 8 September 1914 on the Western Front. His death was announced in “Der Stern” on 1 December 1914. (“Der Stern” is the German-language equivalent of “The Millennial Star” (an early LDS Church magazine published in London, England.)) His death was also noted in the “Millennial Star”. The notice in “Der Stern” (and a translation) are reproduced below. )
(Death notice (above) and translation (below).)
John 15:13 Revelation 2:10
From the field of honor the following members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encountered a hero’s death for their Fatherland.
Hans Max Walter Völker
Member of the Stettin Branch, born on January 25, 1894 in Mescherin, Randow, Pommern, baptized on April 6, 1914.
Richard Hermann Alfred Liewald
Member of the Görlitz Branch, born on March 21, 1891 at Kunzendorf in Schlesien, baptized on December 9, 1910.
Both brothers fell on the Western Front, Brother Völker on November 2, Brother Liewald on September 8, 1914.
We express our heartfelt sympathy to the sorrowing relatives. May our Father in Heaven succor them in their sorrow and may they find comfort in the knowledge that he who, like the dear departed ones, has kept the faith unto the end and has been true until death is not lost, but has gained eternal life, and has only been called home to a higher sphere and to a better world, to look forward to an eventual reunion with those he loves.
My parents had seen to it that I had the preliminaries for a military career. But I could not unite Mormonism with a military life. In the following days and weeks, I was in constant turmoil trying to decide what to do. One day it was military service and the next it was going to America.
During this trying time of indecision, August Meier was my stalwart advisor and counselor as there were very few I could confide in. With all his urging, I could not see how it would be possible for me to go to America at that time. There were so many things to prevent my going. During one of our evening visits, I expressed my doubts to him. He became very impatient with me and said, “Oh, you of little faith, don’t you think the Lord can blind your opponents to your very presence, making a passport unnecessary.” He then proceeded to give account after account of the Lord’s protection and guidance of people because of their faith. For every argument I presented against the success of my journey, he had such convincing testimony that I finally submitted to his plans.
Now that I had made up my mind to go to America, I felt a peace, except for one thing. I felt I should not leave my mother without telling her of my plans. I worried so about this and made it a matter of prayer. I went upstairs to my room where I knelt by my bed, thanking the Lord for his countless blessings and asking Him in my simple way if I was doing right in leaving without informing my mother. I asked Him to bless Mother with understanding for my actions. I did not expect a miracle, but asked that I might have some assurance that what I was doing was right. I got up from my knees and went downstairs. At the bottom of the stairs hung my coat with my Bible in the inside pocket. I took it and opened it at random where my eyes fell upon a verse in Luke, Chapter 18, verses 29-30, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come, life everlasting.” I closed the Bible and said to myself, “This is the answer to my prayer.” I felt at peace.
(Marked passage in Fred’s Bible.)
From that time forth, the plans I had made with Elder Meier seemed to work out almost to perfection. What had seemed insurmountable obstacles, melted away.
Sunday afternoon, August 10, 1913, I met for the last time with my parents, brothers, and sisters. I remember there being a heavy electrical storm during the early afternoon. Finding myself alone with my mother for a few moments, I asked, “Mother, would you rather have me in the army and possible killed in this war, or in America where the headquarters of the Mormon Church is and alive?” She dropped her eyes and tears rolled down her cheeks as she said, “That’s the way of life. When our children are big enough to be of comfort and help, they leave us. With the oldest, so it starts.” It was six o’clock in the evening when I left my father’s house after being surrounded by my mother, two brothers Ewald and Oskar, and my three sisters, Bertha, Meta, and Frieda. There was much shedding of tears as if they had a premonition that we would never meet again. I knew, myself, that I would never see Mother again, and that it would be many, many years before I would see my brothers and sisters again, if ever. I finally tore myself away and, with a very heavy heart, left what had been the home of my ancestors for more than 800 years.
The few items pertaining to my journey shaped themselves into order while daily I became more convinced that, like the Lord helped in ancient days, so he would help me in these latter days and bring me to the destiny of my long journey in the Valleys of the Mountains. I was as poor as was Jacob of old who had only a staff as a companion. I went to strangers, while Jacob had gone to his mother’s household.
Wednesday, October 8, I worked the last day for Emil Weber, for whom I had worked for two years prior to my coming to America. On October 9, I took care of a few incidents. Of my baggage, some went to America, and some I sent home to my parents. On Friday, October 10 at 12 o’clock noon, I left Görlitz for Berlin. I arrived there that evening at 6 p.m., transferred to Hanover, arriving there the same night at 1:00 a.m. To my consternation, the train which I should have taken had just left. Now I was surely “sunk”, and I silently prayed to the Lord for guidance and direction. I went to the depot master and told him of my plight. Of course, I did not tell him that I was traveling without a passport. He looked over his chart and said, “There is one train leaving now at 2:50. It has only first and second class passengers and will not stop at the border, but will go right through to Rotterdam. It will cross the border at 6:00 a.m. and arrive at its destination at 9 o’clock in the morning. Of course, it will cost you a few dollars more.”
What a wonderful blessing this news was! What I had thought of as a catastrophe, was really a blessing in disguise, for if I had been examined by the German frontier guards, they would have surely asked for the passport I did not possess. As it turned out, when the train reached the Dutch-German border, the German crew stepped out of the train and the Dutch crew stepped on. When the new crew came through my compartment, they did not even bother with my meager belongings. With me in that compartment were a businessman from Petersburg, Russia, a student from Berlin, and a high-ranking officer of the German army. Since it was night and everyone was trying to snatch a little sleep, they paid no attention to me. Little did they realize that I was leaving the Kaiser’s army service behind. Of course, before I left, I had donned one of my new outfits, feeling that the more respectable I looked, the less likely it would occur to anyone that something might be wrong.
(Frederick Hermann Wendrich in 1911 (20 years old).)
Here, I should like to mention that my folks thought I was in Berlin by this time with my Uncle Hermann Liewald, my mother’s youngest brother, visiting with him. I only used this as an excuse so that I would gain some headway on my journey. The members of our church and all other people who knew me told the same story as to my whereabouts so that there was no conflicting stories as to my destination when I left home.
Now, back to the journey. I arrived Saturday morning, October 11, 1913 at 9 o’clock in Rotterdam. A station employee took my few belongings and walked with me the few blocks to my hotel, the Holandrig at Rochstrasse. After a little breakfast, I went to bed. I now learned that, although I had paid a higher fare at the station for myself, my trunk was detained at the border and the German authorities had claimed the trunk for inspection since I was not present. This caused me more worry and anxiety, but I decided that, if worse came to worse, I would leave the trunk behind rather than going back. Since the proprietor of the hotel spoke German, I explained the situation to him and he interceded for me. The next night my trunk arrived and my trouble vanished again.
In the afternoon of the same day, two sisters of the church traveling to Utah arrived—one a Sister Hannaack from Stuttgart and the other a Sister Elizabether Grau from Darmstadt. Sunday morning I visited the Sunday school in Rotterdam and in the evening, Sacrament Meeting.
Again here, I would like to bear witness. It doesn’t matter where you meet, in what clime or nation, the spirit of the Gospel is the same. It is no matter that you do not understand a single word. The feeling is the same.
The following Monday night at 8 o’clock, I left Rotterdam by a small canal boat, crossing the Channel to Hull, in England, where we arrived the following morning, October 14 at 12 noon. From there, we were taken by busses across England to Liverpool, arriving at 6 o’clock in the evening. We were immediately taken to the hotel. I remember the proprietor spoke German and was a native of Vienna. Speaking German myself gave me the advantage of conversing with him.
The next day, October 15, 1913, at 5 p.m., I left Liverpool on the ship called the Corsica, belonging to the Allen Line, on which all the people of the Mormon church were traveling.
(Passenger manifest for the ship CORSICA.)
That same day at 12 o’clock, I was supposed to have entered the military service at Gros-Glogau and was then on my way to leave England.
I found out later that at 12:30 on October 15 the first telegram arrived at my father’s inquiring about my whereabouts and wanting to know why I had not arrived to be enrolled in the military. My father sent a telegram back saying that I had gone to Berlin to visit my uncle, the postmaster. The military kept the wires hot for a while. Uncle Hermann, the postmaster in Berlin, had never seen me. Emil Weber in Rauschwalde, my other relatives, and the members of the branch of our church all told the same story with none contradicting the other. After I was here a couple of months, Emil Weber, my former employer from the old country, sent me some money and a letter in which he scathingly denounced the Mormon missionary under whose spell, as he put it, I had become converted to their sect. At the end of his letter, he offered me help and asylum in my native land if I wanted to return. I thanked him most graciously and have never heard from him again. In my absence, they court martialed me for two years at the penitentiary.
We were favored with excellent weather when we left England for America, and but for two days, the sea was calm. A few times all the portholes were locked and the waves could be seen rolling over the lower deck. This was a magnificent sight, but at the same time, made me realize how small and insignificant a person can be against the elements of the earth.
The following Friday, October 24, we arrived in Quebec, at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. The passengers of the first class were permitted to go visiting the city of Quebec. Before members of the second class were permitted to leave the ship, two United States Emigration Commissioners came on board to examine the passports of those entering the United States and issue passports to those who desired entrance to the U. S. A.
In those days, it was customary to require that each emigrant possess $50.00, without which he could not receive his passport. On that occasion, I had only a balance of $25.00 in my possession. It was a constant source of worry to me how I would come by the remainder, for I knew nobody and if I had, I could not have asked them for it, for they would have turned me in and I would have been worse off that without the money. I had made it a matter of prayer, but without avail. I kept praying as the time got closer and closer and I was extremely worried. Now, the solution to my problem: a lady approached me who could, for her age, have easily been my mother. “Why are you so worried and discouraged?” she asked. I answered that I was born with a sour face, to which she smiled, realizing that I did not want to admit the truth about the shortage of money. At the same time, I was questioning myself if this person could be the answer to my prayer. She had such a motherly way about her that you could not help trusting her. All at once, she asked me, “Do you have money trouble? Are you short of the required amount which all emigrants must show?” At the same time, she opened her purse and took from there $25.00 in small bills, the very amount that I needed, saying to me, “Take this and when you receive the passport, hand me my money back.” Well, what do you think! My prayer was answered.
Humbly, my heart full of thanksgiving to my Father in Heaven, I entered the salon where the two U. S. A. Emigration Commissioners had established their temporary office. More than a dozen people of different nationalities were sitting on the lounging seats with their papers in their hands waiting for further examination before receiving their passports for entering the U. S. A. When I saw those people sitting around, my heart dropped again. It seemed that my whole journey was just a trip of constant worry from one incident to the other. I was depending upon the Lord as a newborn baby depends upon his mother. I had no papers in my possession from my native land giving me permission to leave, for under no condition would I have received a passport permitting me to leave. Now, I had to resort again to prayer that the Lord would move upon the two commissioners to grant me the passport to enter the United States. After a few preliminary questions, they asked me if I had the required amount of cash, to which I could truthfully answer. One turned to the other and said, “Give this man his passport, he is all right.” To me, this was the greatest document which I have ever held in my hand. Thanking them most humbly, for one of them spoke German, I went on deck, looking for the lady who had so graciously lent me the money. I returned her the amount and, thanking her, went on my way. Truly this favor was an answer to my prayers.
We left Quebec the 24th of October at midnight and arrived in Montreal Saturday noon. After looking around the city of a few hours, we left that same day at 10 in the evening and arrived in Chicago Monday morning, October 27, at about 9:00 a.m.
We stayed over in Chicago from 9 a.m. till 11 p.m. and had dinner there. We went to a working men’s restaurant not far from the depot. Of the four of us, I knew the only English—the word dinner. Being close to the noon hour, we ordered “dinner”. I remember it as well as it was yesterday. First, a big bowl of soup, mashed potatoes, two kinds of vegetables, bread, butter, and a big steak of beef. We all had the same thing. The beef steak surprised me. While we had the soup, the waiter brought a platter with a big steak. He pushed it over to me as I was sitting against the wall. I felt embarrassed for I had never seen so much beef for one person at one meal. I edged the plate by and by towards the center of the table, thinking that the meat was for all four of us. I felt that the waiter had wanted to make a “hog” out of me. But, lo and behold, before we were through with the soup, there was the waiter with three more beef steaks. We also had milk and what I found out later was a piece of pie to top it all off. We only paid a whole two bits or 25¢. Well, it was the surprise of my life. I had truly come to the land where milk and honey flows.
Leaving Chicago the same evening about 11 o’clock, we arrived in Ogden, Utah, October 30, at 6:30 a.m. We left Ogden the same morning at 8 o’clock and arrived in Salt Lake City about an hour later.
At the U. P. depot, all my fellow travelers from other lands and climes left me. I stood all alone, realizing as never before, my dependence upon my Father in Heaven. A middle-aged lady approached me. I did not know what she spoke. Then she changed to my native tongue and I think she mush have extracted the biggest smile from me. Again, I attribute her approach to an answer to my prayer. That last night on the train, I realized all at one how graciously the Lord had guided me—just like Jacob of old. Whenever I wanted to know which way to turn, he would always direct me. Now, I had just about arrived at the end of my journey and I questioned myself what would become of me and to whom I could turn. I knew not a single person. What else could I do? I made it a matter of prayer, thanking the Lord for his countless blessings and asking Him to continue to help me and guide and direct me to people who could help me. When this lady approached me at the U. P. Depot, I instantly recognized her as the answer to my prayer. Her name was Mrs. Margaret Fromm and she had lived in Utah for the last ten years at least. She had migrated from the city of Darmstadt, in Germany. Hers was a wonderful family, always ready to help their fellow man. She took me to her house and the who family treated me like I was part of them. I resided there for three months till I managed for myself. Never shall I forget their great kindness to me. I worked off and on at different odd jobs till May 8, 1914, when I took a job with J. R. Walker at 1205 East South temple. I worked there about two weeks when a young girl started there.
She was two years my junior and her name was Wally Francisca Lucas. She was born May 17, 1893 in Steinpleis by Werdau, Saxony-Germany and she was doing housework.
I took care of the Walker’s two autos, mowed the lawn, and took care of the flowers and shrubs. Not being able to speak anything but English, Mrs. J. R. Walker sent for a Mr. Bauman, who was the chief gardener at the Temple Block, to come and instruct me how to take care of her lawn and flowers. The Walkers were an exceptionally kind and considerate family to me and Wally. It was as if we were a part of their family. They could not have treated us with more kindness and consideration. Wally and I had so much in common. I was hungering for someone to understand me and our association turned into a deep and lasting friendship which terminated on the 24th of November 1914. That Thursday afternoon, both of us went to the courthouse and applied for a marriage license, paying $2.50 for it. The next morning at 8 o’clock, November 25, 1914, we were married in the Salt Lake Temple for the Eternities to come. On the 10th of May 1915, Wally and I rented a fruit farm in East Crescent Way, out against the foothills. On July 25, 1915, at 6:45 a.m., Sybil, our first child was born.
We left the farm October 15, 1915 and lived at 1350 South 9 West in Salt Lake City. The following spring of 1916, I started to work for Inland Crystal Salt Works at Salt Air. My pay was $60.00 a month and “Ma” and I felt very blessed to receive so much pay. In the summer of 1919, I left Salt Air and went to Salduro, firing boiler for $180 per month. After six months there, my pay was raised to $250 a month. Ma and I thought we were really blessed. After laboring there for 21 months, I returned to Salt Lake City where I labored at West High School and different odd places. In March 1922, we bought out little home at 463 N. Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, where we have resided till this day when I write these lines, February 28, 1957. Four of our youngest children, Ileann, Lucie, Darlene, and Yvonne were born at the above address.
(Back: Lucy, Ileann, Darlene, Raymond, Charlotte, Sybil, Yvonne.)
(Front: Frederick and Wally)
(Wendrich Family 1942)
Now, what shall I write of these past 25 years? Ten years I labored for Henry Ashton, a good man. We felt like brothers toward each other. Two years I worked for the Airways which is a branch of the Department of Commerce. For Henry Ashton, I slaked lime and carried the hod—not for the love of hard work, but for the better pay that it gained in those days—$6.00 for an eight hour day. It was all worth while I thought many times. The children of Israel in Egypt’s bondage could not have been crowded harder than we hood carriers in my days. But even that is all over now—hood carrying is past history. Until September 1, 1956, I labored for Sears-Roebuck and company for 20 years, starting September 11, 1936. I was the custodian in charge of the janitorial work. Those 20 years with Sears were, in spite of plenty of hard work, my most happy years. From the highest, the general manager, to the least, there was not one of whom I could say I had a sour taste in my mouth. I would just like to mention the three general managers’ names under whom I worked—Mr. Veach, Mr. H. C. Shoemaker (at present living in Bountiful, Utah and now the new Tax Commissioner), and Mr. E. W. Jenkins, the present manager. Each were men with great hearts and understanding minds who felt the needs of those working under them. Those are two things I value highly among my fellow men, especially those that stand above me.
(Frederick Wendrich, Custodial Supervisor at Sears Roebuck in Salt Lake City, 1950.)
(Frederick and Wally raised their family on Redwood Road.)
(Back: Lucy, Ileann, Darlene, Raymond, Charlotte, Sybil, Yvonne.)
(Front: Frederick and Wally)
(Wendrich Family 1942)
(All who visited the Wendrich home on Redwood Road noticed the weeping willow trees in the corner
of the front lawn and in the adjacent field to the north.)
(These porcelain figurines were on the living room mantel of their Redwood Road home.)
(This 1982 photo of the back yard through the open garage door shows the chicken coop, the smokehouse, and the root cellar. It evokes a host of memories for anyone who was there.)
(Below are photos taken before the home was demolished, circa 1982.)
(Frederick in his element. He provided for his family on their “Farm” on Redwood Road throughout his life.)
(Frederick began early in his life to do family research. He left many hundreds of family group sheets to his posterity.)
Now, I would like to make a comment or two about what little I did in Church, that is the Church of which I am a member. In Salt Air, I was Superintendent of the Sunday School for 3 years until I moved to Salduro. Since moving to Center Ward, I became a member of the Sunday School Superintendency for 10 years. The last 3 years of those ten, I was the Superintendent and, in the early part of those 10 years, I also was the Elders Quorum President, which job I held for 2 years. I enjoyed my labor with the youth. During those years, I knew every child in Center Ward by name. I enjoyed the association with most of its people and had many enjoyable occasions and evenings with them. We lived through many “bitter pills” and we swallowed them as well as many distasteful occasions in our daily lives. When I look back at them now, they make me feel that we had to experience the sweet as well as the sour so that these things could help our growth, both mentally and spiritually.
(Temple recommend typical of the date. Beginning soon after his marriage in 1914, Frederick performed the temple ordinances for many of his ancestors, including his cousin, Alfred Liewald.)
(Frederick Hermann Wendrich died and was buried in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 3, 1959. As of March 2017, the posterity of Fred and Wally Wendrich was numerous and productive (see table below).)
FHW Posterity as of March 2017
2nd Great Grandchildren
3rd Great Grandchildren
Total Missions Served