GERMAN ROOTS DISCOVERED BY LOCAL PASTOR
By Fr. Ken Keller
Pastors hopefully influence their parish, but the opposite occurred as I spent the last decade in this rural German-American community. I was always aware of my German ancestry but it took helping organize the historical exhibits of Nazareth’s German roots to motivate me to discover my own heritage.
Upon the death of my parents two years ago, I inherited a Keller family tree that listed Josef Keller (1862-1929) of Talheim, Germany, as my great-grandfather and the one that led his family eventually to “Punkin Center” (Haynesville, TX, five miles north of Electra). I began to wonder why they had immigrated and what was the environment of “Talheim” (German for small valley)?
Last semester here in Nazareth, I had the pleasure of meeting our German student, Zoe Bieringer, and her parents. Invited by them to visit in Germany this September, Zoe’s mother and father, Cosima and Klemans, helped me answer my questions, even though some detective work occured. We discovered that there are 18 Talheims in and around Germany – witnessed by the fact that the country is a fairly modern unification of a dozen of states and kingdoms, each with their own “little valley”. One of my relatives thankfully described our Keller’s Talheim as near the Black Forest, Switzerland, and Lake Constance; thus, helping us pinpoint the correct one.
Once in the village of about 30 homes, Cosima led us from door-to-door until the Kellers were found. Willy and Katherine Keller still live in the original home that Josef Keller lived in before coming to America – although many modernizations had occurred to it since the house and barn used to be connected. With the help of the Bieringers as translators, I found the answer to my other question on the reason for immigration. Willy said that it was basically an economic reason – Josef and his wife, Johanna, had fourteen children while farming on less than one hundred acres of land. They came to this land like so many through the centuries, and even up to today, to care for their family who might otherwise have been subjected to great hardship. Love of family was a great reason to start the Kellers anew in what for them must have been a great and radical change – black forest, scenic lake, and picturesque valley were far different from Wichita County, Texas.
On Sept. 30th, Ms. Hunter’s 5th Grade class joined 5th Graders from Kress for a Playa Festival at the Outdoor Classroom south of Nazareth. The event gives students a chance to learn out on the land, and see how the water cycle and food webs work in a playa ecosystem. Students learned that we may not have mountains or rivers in the High Plains, but we have the most playas in the entire world! The bonus this year is that most of our playas had surface water, so students viewed American avocets, sandpipers, blue-winged teal ducks, plus a variety of wetland plants. This is the 11th consecutive year that Ms. Hunter’s 5th Graders have participated in a Playa Festival.
These gorgeous fall asters delight anyone strolling by Holy Family Church in September and October. Decades of beauty, all because of careful transplanting by Joe & Rita Woetovich over 20 years ago. Makes you wonder: what is the legacy that each of us is planting in this world?
Nazareth Swifts Beat Kress Kangaroos
By: Mason Kleman
This week we took on Kress in our second home game of the season. We were looking to continue our winning streak and polish up some things before district started. We did a great job in doing what we needed to do. We had everybody doing their job as well as some younger guys stepping up to fill roles. We start district play next against White Deer. This is a team we should be able to handle if we execute on both sides of the ball like we need to. So come out Friday and watch us in White Deer as we start our district schedule and our run to playoffs.