William Wessels

William Wessels

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8 years · 2 months · 22 days
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I have interest in the Prairie Valley Cemetery because it is the resting place of many of my ancestors. My great grandparents, Adolph and Hilma, as well as my great great grandparents and even my great great great grandmother are there.

I remember as a small child, going to the family reunions at the Lodge across the street from the church and cemetery. During my junior high, high school and college years, I had not thought of these days because of all the other things that occupy a young persons mind. It was not until later my thoughts returned to those early days. A few members of our family took the time to prepare family trees and research that restored my interest. I'm both inspired and grateful for all the work they have done.

One of my memories as a small child was visiting the cemetery with my grandfather, George F. Wessels Sr. I saw the grave of the Wessels Twins (Gerhard and Ida) and asked about them. He told me they were not related to us. That memory returned when I noticed many Wessels buried in the cemetery were not on our family tree. Research revealed a group of Wessels were in Prairie Valley before the arrival of my ancestors, Heinrich and Johann with their families. I feel Herman Wessels Sr. is the patriarch of that group because he donated the land for the church and cemetery. Further research revealed yet another group in Halstead / Rutersville, just north of La Grange. All these groups came from Germany, most likely from Bremen to Galveston. All unrelated to each other.

Over the years, the Prairie Valley groups help develop the community and many lived in the nearby towns of West Point and Plum. St. Peter Lutheran church worked with the churches in Rutersville and La Grange. In the early days, it was an all-day trip to go to La Grange. First the church was established and then the cemetery. Heinrich was the first interment and now it is the resting place of many of the church founders and their descendants. By the third generation, most of the German language had faded into history. The early headstones provide testimony to the changing times. My great grandfather, Adolph translated the sermons to English as all were spoken in German. His sister Annie married Herman Wessels Jr., linking the 2 groups together.

I regret that I had not asked questions about my ancestry at an earlier age. Those that could best answer them had already passed on. I guess many families can identify with this. For this reason, I'm so thankful for the work that had been done. I hope putting what I have learned into this website will provide the same for future generations. I urge all who have pictures and / or stories to tell will add them to the site.

In addition to the family trees and a beautiful publication by Audrey Huenefeld entitled St. Peter Lutheran Church – 100 years, I researched Death Certificates, as well as Birth and Marriage Records to help confirm my data. Many pictures presented at past reunions were thrown away because no one could remember who they were. Please do not let this happen to your family history. Pictures and stories add a lot to a memorial and keep the person's contributions and memory alive for generations to come.


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