My great-great grandfather was a German immigrant who founded the 2nd German Baptist Church in Texas, in Washington County
My dad’s mother’s (Imere’s) grandfather
Born in Leobshutz, Germany in 1833, Ferdinand heard his calling to the ministry at 22, then emigrated to England where he met and married Elisa Marie Bock (or Bach) in 1858. He graduated from Regent’s Park College and was ordained at German Missionary Church in London in 1866, and pastored there until 1870. Ferdinand and Elisa Marie had eight children (listed below) in London before they came to the United States in 1870. Ferdinand’s purpose was to carry his German Baptist ministry to central Texas near Brenham, where many German immigrants had settled. The family of ten traveled on the SS City of London from Liverpool, landing in New York August 2, 1870. They also reached Galveston by ship. One of the children, Florence Eliza, died only a few weeks after arriving in the United States at the age of one.
The Sail Steamer “City of London” the Heisigs traveled on in 1870
The mother of ten, Elisa Marie, was probably born in Paris; the family said she was from Alsace-Lorraine. We aren’t sure of her actual maiden name, but the ship record listed a fellow traveler Johan Bock, maybe her brother. Even if she wasn’t a “Bach”, the family said she was an excellent pianist. While her grave spells it Elisa, she was “Eliza,” in places and the child who died traveling had that name. She was very small, brunette, and spoke French and German but never conquered English.
In February 1871, Ferdinand co-purchased the former homesite of General Sam Houston, in Independence, Washington County, Texas. He sold it 22 months later, on December 23, 1872, and two weeks later purchased 70 acres on Tommelson Creek in the Cedar Hill community, near the German Baptist Church where he served as pastor for at least 7 years (1872 until 1879). According to History of Texas Baptists p.293, this was only the second German Baptist Church in Texas (the first being the Ebenezer German Baptist Church in Greenvine, Washington County, where he also preached). The Cedar Hill church is no longer standing.
Ferdinand and Elisa’s 10th child was born in July 1873, but a couple of months later mother and baby Esther died 5 days apart. It must have been a sad week when their bodies were laid to rest there on the Cedar Hill property.
After Cedar Hill, Ferdinand headed north where he held pastorships at St. Paul, Minnesota, 1879 to 1880; at the 2nd German Baptist Church, New York, New York, 1880 to 1886; at Houston, Texas, 1886 to 1892; at Newton, Kansas, 1892 to 1899; and finally, at Denton, Texas from 1900 until he retired. He was actively involved in the German Baptist and Texas Baptist state organizations. He attended their association meetings and state conventions and gave sermons or the opening prayer at such events. He was also a Moderator of the German Conference of Baptist Churches and a member of that organization.
In Flowers and Fruits in the Wilderness, published in 1872, the author stated,
“Two years ago Elder F. Heisig came to Texas, leaving the pastorate of a German congregation in London, England, and has since been giving to the German mission the benefits of his talents and energies. As a Baptist, he makes no compromise with error. He is in possession of a clear and discriminating mind, has enjoyed the benefits of a thorough education, and is eminently qualified to oppose those systems of error that have taken such a deep hold upon the German mind. He is under the patronage of the mission board of Union Association, and while he preaches with great power in his native tongue, preaches also acceptably in English.”
The Dallas Morning News reported on one of his sermons in 1905:
After Elisa Marie’s death, Reverend Heisig married Sophie Breihan in July 1874. They had a child, Lillie, in 1876. Sophie died December 16, 1877, and is also buried in the Heisig cemetery on the Cedar Hill property.
Ferdinand married his third wife, Johanna Menten, on October 15, 1885 in Union, New Jersey. She was born in Emmden Germany on July 17, 1844 and died March 8, 1921. They had no children. As of 1910 Ferdinand and Johanna still lived in Denton City, and he was retired. Ferdinand died in 1918, at age 85, and is buried in Odd Fellows Cemetery in Denton County, Texas.
Ferdinand was a strict father, dogmatic, domineering and ruled the purse strings. The family spoke German, French and later English. Most of his sermons were in German. All of his children were ambitious, worked hard from childhood and became successful. His two entrepreneurial sons Paul and CT offered to invest money for Ferdinand, but he would only agree if the money was used after his death to build a church in the German village where he was born. It is unknown whether this ever occurred.
Children and grandchildren of Ferdinand and Elisa Marie Heisig:
1. Dr. Theodore Heisig, born April 4, 1859, London, England; married Anna Hammann; died Nov. 7, 1929.
Dr. Theodore Heisig graduated from Baylor University in 1882, while it was located in Independence, Texas and became a Baptist preacher like his father. He also attended Rochester Theological Seminary in New York where he obtained a degree in 1888. He was ordained at Waterford, New York and pastored churches throughout the north and south United States including New York and New Jersey. He was also a teacher at Baylor College at Independence for some time.
His wife Anna was born Anna Von Hammann on June 5, 1862; she died August 21, 1951 and is buried at Magnolia Cemetery, Beaumont, Texas. She was also a teacher at Baylor College at Independence. Family notes said they met in Germany when Theodore returned to visit; the 1920 Baylor yearbook states for Mrs. Anna Heisig,
“She with her brother came as a young girl to Baylor at Independence from their home in Germany. In a most remarkable way, she adapted herself to Texas customs. She learned English so perfectly that she would never be considered one of foreign birth. After a few years she and her brother became teachers in Baylor College. In 1888 they visited their home in Germany and took with them another Baylor Teacher. Mention should be made of Dr. Theodore Heisig, who was also a teacher in Baylor College at Independence. He has been a most generous contributor to the Baylor College loan fund, and never fails to respond to an appeal for Christian Education.”
Children of Theodore and Anna:
- Elsa Heisig McLane (1892-1977). Born in New York. She married Alan McLane and had a son Alan, Jr. who was raised in Louisiana and died in Houston in 1993.
- Theodore Heisig Jr. (1897-1970). Born in New Jersey while his father was pastor there, married Marie (maiden name unknown) and worked as an executive at Texaco for years, living in both Texas and New York area. He died in Baytown, buried Forest Park Cemetery, Houston. Two children Anna and Charles Theodore (“Ted”).
2. Ferdinand John Robert (FJR) Heisig, born March 8, 1861, London, England; married M.F. Barnhill in Burleson County, Texas in 1886; married Nellie Nance on December 18, 1896 in Washington County; died May 17, 1911 and is buried in Magnolia Cemetery, Beaumont. [Note his birth record in England gives his name as Ferdinand John Frederick Heisig, but all U.S. records have shown him as Ferdinand John Robert (or F.J.R.) Heisig.]
In 1880 Ferdinand Jr. worked on a farm in Fayette County. In 1900 he, wife Nellie and daughter Nellie C. lived in Austin County, Texas where he was a school teacher.
Children of Ferdinand Jr. and Nellie:
- Nellie C. Heisig (1897-1983). Her father’s 1911 obituary stated she was a pupil at Baylor College (she would have been only 14). In 1922 she married V.R. “Jack” McManus, a rancher, in Liberty County. As of 1940 they had 3 sons and were living in Liberty County, Texas.
- Charles Heisig (per family records).
3. Dr. Ernest Samuel Heisig, born March 16, 1862, London, England; married Emma Cornelia Bering (daughter of August Bering, of one of Houston’s founding families); died November 26, 1943. (Emma was born about 1863 and died Feb 7, 1941 in Houston.) Both are buried in Glenwood Cemetery.
Ernest was a physician in Houston, Texas from at least 1892 and practiced there for many years.
Children of Ernest and Emma:
- Gladstone Heisig (1893-1986). Attended University of Texas (1917); became Professor of Chemistry at University of Minnesota; also lived in New York.
- Ernest Willers Heisig (1896-1914). Died at age 18 of illness while attending Rice University; buried Glenwood Cemetery.
- Merle Heisig (1899-1919).
- Doris Heisig Brown (1902-1988). Attended Rice University; married Arthur Lee Brown and lived in Houston.
4. Charles Theopolis (“CT”) Heisig, born March 31, 1863, London, England; married Vida Jane Young, January 1, 1900; died June 13, 1932, Beaumont, Texas. [Note his England birth record spells the middle name Theophilus although many subsequent records have shown Theopolis and it was said this was Latin for “City of God”.]
CT moved to Beaumont around 1898 and became a successful real estate investor. He built the Heisig Hotel, owned the Heisig Storage Company, the Beaumont Coca-Cola Company, part of the Gray Building, helped found Gulf Steel Company (later Lone Star Steel Company) and was a director of Citizen’s National Bank. In 1901 he was one of the founders and first secretary of the Higgins Oil Company which drilled at Spindletop and found the second major gusher; it was later absorbed by a larger company. CT spent a great deal of money and time backing agricultural enterprises in southeast Texas and at the time of his death he owned a rice farm and a large fig farm. In 1903 CT was listed in the Houston Post’s publication of “Men of Texas: A collection of portraits of men who deserve to rank as typical representatives of the best citizenship, foremost activities and highest aspirations of the State of Texas.”
Children of Charles and Vida:
a. Cecil Emerson Heisig (1902-1903) Died at one year old while on a trip with his mother to visit her sister in Pennsylvania. According to the family, the doctor gave him an overdose of medicine while treating him for the croup.
b. Carla Theo Heisig Harris (1900-1928) Married J. Wylie Harris. Died shortly after the birth of her second child. Two children, J. Wylie Harris, Jr. (“Wylie”) (1928-2018) and Carla Harris Robinson (1926-2020).
e. Marjorie Jane Heisig Browne (1917-2005) Lived in Beaumont for many years, married Ernest Browne; two sons still living.
f. Marguerite Joyce Heisig Schlosser (1917-2000) Married John Henry “Jack” Schlosser; lived in Plano, Texas; 3 daughters still living.
5. Henry Albert Heisig, born September 2, 1864, London, England, died March 14, 1865 (age 6 months).
6. Paul Henry Albert Heisig, born August 26, 1866, London, England; married Amelia Tod Hathorne in 1891; died January 8, 1950. (Amelia, known as “Aunt Toddie,” was born February 15, 1864 and died 1915, buried Evergreen Cemetery in El Paso. The maiden name seems to be Hathorn rather than Hawthorne; a son was named Hathorne with this spelling in the records; however, Paul, Jr. spelled his mother’s maiden name “Hawthorne” in his SAR application.)
Paul moved to Beaumont around 1899 and entered real estate with his brother CT. He owned Norwell & Heisig Co., the local wholesale grocery business, local newspaper “The Beaumont Enterprise,” and various buildings including the Gray Building downtown. After first wife “Toddie” died, he remarried Mary B. and moved to Los Angeles, (as of the 1920 census was still in Beaumont with Mary, Hathorne and Gilbert) where he also practiced real estate and himself purchased the former home of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, “Pickfair.”
Children of Paul and Toddie:
- Paul A. Heisig, Jr. (about 1895-1957) Attended University of Virginia; 1st Lieutenant in World War I served May 8, 1917 to September 1919 and a Major in World War II (no active service); died in El Paso.
- Fergus “Hathorne” Heisig (1898-?) Followed his father to Los Angeles, California.
- Gilbert Heisig (1901-1975) Attended Virginia Military Institute (1917); died in Los Angeles, California.
7. Lydia Rosa Heisig, born October 12, 1867, London, England; died July 14, 1868 (age 9 months).
8. Florence Eliza Heisig, born July 6, 1869, London, England, died August 25, 1870 (age 13 months). Note that this baby traveled on the ship with the Heisigs to New York, arriving on August 2, 1870 but died only a few weeks later.
9. Fannie Davis Heisig, born July 15, 1871, Independence, Texas; married Allen B. Robinson; lived in Palmyra, New York; died, February 10, 1907. No children.
10. Esther, born July 1873, Cedar Hill, Texas; died September 6, 1873 (age 2 months). Buried in Heisig Cemetery.
Children and grandchildren of Ferdinand and Sophie Heisig
- Lillie Heisig, born August 25, 1875; as of the 1880 census, Lillie was living with her grandparents, the Breihans, in Austin County, Texas. Her mother Sophie died in 1877 and is buried in Heisig cemetery. Lillie married Otto Lindemann (born September 1870) on February 22, 1900, perhaps at the German Methodist Episcopal Church in Industry. Lillie died December 3, 1909, age 34, and is buried in the Industry Methodist Church Cemetery.
Children of Lillie and Otto:
Robert Otto Lindemann, born December 13, 1904; married Hedwig “Hattie” Frieda Eckermann; died December 16, 1985; child Robert Lee Lindemann (1933-2007).
- Robert Heisig, buried in Heisig cemetery, may also have been Ferdinand and Sophie’s child. This has not been confirmed, but Lillie Heisig Lindemann named her son Robert; perhaps she named him after her brother who she lost, possibly when she also lost Mamma Sophie.
Flowers and Fruits in the Wilderness, by Z. N. Morrell, 1872, p. 198:
History of Texas Baptists, by B. F. Fuller (Baptist Book Concern, 1900; Google Ebook).
The Ministerial Directory of the Baptist Churches of the United States of America, by George William Lasher, (Oxford News Co., 1899; Google Ebook).
United States Census Records
Other records obtained on ancestry.com and Texas GenWeb sites
Washington County Genealogical Society
Dallas Morning News, Beaumont Enterprise