BASTROP COUNTY HISTORICAL COMMISSION
Siloah Historic Cemetery
Little has been published about Siloah Cemetery; however, the documents surrounding the land and establishment of the cemetery fill many files. Thanks to the efforts of Ms. Linda Hicks of McDade, the Texas Historical Commission (THC) has approved an application for a historical marker to acknowledge this cemetery's history.
SILOAH CEMETERY - 1883
124 Wolf Road, McDade Texas 78650
The name Siloah is from the King James version of the Bible. The Siloah Pool was at the king’s gate in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3:15). Jesus healed the blind man by coating his eyes with clay and sending him to the Siloah Pool to wash his eyes (John 9:7 and 11). Siloah means “sent,” implying the blind man did what he was asked and was healed.1
The Siloah Cemetery is located in Bastrop County, Texas. It is east of the Colorado River, east of US Hwy 290 and two and one-half miles east of McDade, Texas. The cemetery is in the former Community of Siloah, and continues to be rural with farming, ranching and forest lands.2
Any account of the Siloah Community’s early years is piece-mill at best. There is no mention of the German farmers from Siloah in any of the early newspapers. The history of the area is mainly from family stories handed down through generations. The Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church History (formerly the Siloah Evangelical Lutheran Church) translated from German by Reverend H.C. Ziehe also provides insight into the history of the Siloah Community.3
As early as the 1850’s Bastrop County received many German settlers. Unhappy with the economic, political and social concerns in Germany, Germans immigrated to Texas, settling in communities where they tried to retain their way of life, speaking primarily German. Women especially spoke only German and rarely ventured away from the Siloah Community.4
Surnames like Behrend, Braun, Dube, Ehlo (Ihlo), Grosse, Ernst, Eschberger, Goerlitz, Kastner, Klemm, Kunkel, Kurth, Nesslbeck, Nitsche (Nitzsche), Rother, Schmidt, Voight, and Wolf were common in the former Siloah, McDade, and Paige communities.4 Early writings and cemetery grave markers reflect these same surnames. Many of these same surnames, having family ties by marriage or blood, are still present in the area today.2
German settlers immigrated to Texas during the nineteenth century and in the 1850’s many arrived in Bastrop County. Among them were brothers Franz Wolf and August Wolf, of Worlitz, Anhalt Dessau, Prussia, Germany. They arrived in America in 1856 with their mother, having boarded the sailing vessel, IRIS in Bremerhaven Germany, arriving at the port of Galveston, Texas seven weeks later.3,8 Just as their family and friends before them, they made the long, slow journey, probably on foot or with carts drawn by a team of oxen to the vicinity of Paige Texas, and finally to the Siloah Community, joining together with friends and relatives who had immigrated from the Worlitz area of Germany. One family, the Eschbergers, were family friends who hauled freight. They had come to America several years prior to the Wolf's arrival.7
Early settlers suffered hardships and problems associated with pioneer life. They welcomed the Evangelical Lutheran Pastor Lieb who lived 18 miles away at Serbin when he offered to serve them from time to time with God's word and sacred Sacraments.3 At first, services were generally conducted in the home of Mr. Hering (of the Catholic faith) who gladly provided his home for the services. Later, during the time Pastor F. Ernst and Pastor Pfenning served, services were conducted in the home of Mr. August Wolf.3
During the Civil War of 1862-1865, the Wolf brothers served and returned home with a bolt of cloth, the clothes on their backs, and their health.4 Cotton was the principle crop and corn was also grown, plowing the fields with teams of mules, oxen and horses. They built log cabins for shelter. Typical of the farmers of the time, a large garden provided vegetables for their families.4
According to the History of the Evangelical Lutheran Siloah Congregation records, August Wolf “in consideration of the love I have for the Lutheran Church,” made a gift of five acres of land in 1882 for the amount of $1 for the purpose of constructing a building to serve as a church, parsonage and school. This gift of land also designated a site for a cemetery. The land was purchased from the Kurth family. The deed to the parcel of land is from the R.S. Teal survey. Bastrop County Deed Records: Vol. 6 page 254 dated September 27, 1884.9 Said premises to be held in trust by August Wolf, Chas. Kurth, and G. Voight (Trustees of the Siloah School Community) and their successors, also to be used and forever held as a burial ground and never sold or conveyed.9 With this land a group of Lutherans from Germany including Franz Wolf, August Wolf, August Voight, Friedrich Pultz, Carl Kurth, Carl Behrend and Leberect Braun planned to employ a pastor to meet the educational and religious needs of their families. Pastor M. Haag accepted the call for an annual salary of $250.00, serving as both Pastor and teacher. On January 7, 1883, he conducted the first service. His sermon was based on John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” The school was opened on January 9, 1883, with eight children – four boys and four girls.3
The first structure, built in 1883, was a 20x26 foot wooden building. It served as church, school and parsonage. Three rooms, a parsonage and a hallway were built in 1893 when Reverend J. Appel was Pastor and teacher.10 In October of 1916, church trustees purchased 10 lots of block 19 in McDade for $350.00 from the J. H. Burnett Estate.10 In November 1916, a portion of the original five acres was sold back to the original owners, the Kurth family for $200, leaving 2.909 acres as the Siloah Cemetery.10 The second Siloah Church was built in 1917 on block 19 in McDade. It had a Sears Roebuck & Co. bell. In May of 1920, a storm blew the church off of its foundation. It was restored and guide wires were added.10 Then in August 13, 1925, lightning struck the steeple and the church burned to the ground. A small church was re-built on the same location and it disbanded in 1944.10 In April 13, 1962, the Siloah Lutheran Church reorganized, changing its name to Faith Lutheran Church.11 On November 17, 1968, a new brick church was dedicated on the property in McDade.11 In 2015, a gift of two acres was deeded back to the Siloah Cemetery Association. The two acres are a portion of the original Teal Survey, A-316. Thus, the property owned by the Siloah Cemetery Association increased to the current 4.9 acres.12
The first burial in Siloah Cemetery was a young man, Louis Wolf. He was the son of Ludwig and Maria Eschberger Wolf who resided near Giddings in Lee County. The family had immigrated from Dessau in Germany. Louis had traveled by train from Giddings to visit his relatives in the Siloah Community. In route to the visit he became ill with abdominal pains. He died 5 days later, May 17, 1883, from “Unter bib ent zundung,” translated as “an inflammation of the lower abdomen or bowels.”3 The second burial was a newborn, Amanda Helene Nitsche, daughter of Gustav and Juliana, who was born on November 5, 1883, and died on November 6, 1883. The third burial were Dube twins – birth August 11, 1887, and death August 12, 1887.2, 5, 6, 18 Seventeen graves are lost and unmarked, 15 of those unmarked can be identified.2, 5, 6, 18 As of October 1, 2017, there are 120 marked graves in the Siloah Cemetery proper.2, 18 Additionally, there are two graves located outside of the present chain link perimeter fence. Seventy-one feet from the northwest corner and 53 feet from the back fence are the graves of Karl Gottfried Kurth, 3-18-1843 / 6-30-1898 and Amalie R. Kurth 6-16-1843 / 1-10-1916.13
Military Service History burials at Siloah Cemetery include the following:
Franz Wolf 6-12-1827 / 7-17-1900
August Wolf 10-4-1819 / 6-3-1903
Arthur A Behrend 10-28-1892 / 10-1-1967 Infantry
Otto Nesslbeck 4-7-1894 / 3-30-1980 US Army
August H Gross 3-15-1911 / 4-20-1978 US Army
Charlie Klemm 4/14/1918 – 9-28-1999 US Navy
Dan Wolf 2-15-1929 / 7-17-1999 US Army
Elmer A. Koeppe 7-12-1926 / 7-19-1985 US Navy
Forrest M. McPhaul 11-21-1926 / 7/17/1981 US Army
Harry Nesslbeck 7-28-1925 / 8-9-1991 Disabled American Veteran
Otto Nesslbeck 10-5-1923 / 7-19-2010 US Army
Theodore Martin Wolf 4-9-1924 / 4-30-1975 US Navy
Lawrence Schulz 6-26-1930 / 9-30-2005 US Army
Tommy Gene Bogle 10-16-1930 / 4-29-2015 US Navy
Korea & Vietnam
Earl Chesley 1/7/1930 / 3-30-1998 US Air Force 2,5,6, 18
The church charter of February 7, 1919, states that the official name of the church was the Siloah Evangelical Lutheran Church. Therefore, the one room schoolhouse became known as the Siloah School and the cemetery, the Siloah Cemetery.14
Prior to 1901, church records indicate that burials were not in any planned order. In 1901, a planned procedure was implemented.3 According to the minutes of the August Wolf Family Reunion, the first meeting was held July 4, 1952. The main project was to take a free will offering to be used to clean and maintain the cemetery.15 At the Wolf Family Reunion meeting in July 1956, the name of the organization was changed to the the Siloah Cemetery Association.15 In 1968 by-laws were written and it became a Charter – minutes dated July 28, 1968.16, 17 Currently the cemetery is well maintained and the Siloah Cemetery Association meets yearly to continue oversight of the cemetery.
The official address of the cemetery is 124 Wolf Road, McDade, Bastrop County, Texas 78650.19 In 2009, the Texas Historical Commission designated the Siloah Cemetery as a Historic Texas Cemetery, Designation Number: BP-C19.20 The Siloah Cemetery stands as the only remaining link to what was once the thriving Community of Siloah. The grave markers provide a record of early pioneer families and military veterans. As the cemetery is still in use today, a historical section as well as modern sections are available to view. An Official Texas Historical marker for the Siloah Cemetery would provide important historical information of the early pioneer times and help to educate both young and old about the history of the past Siloah Community.
1 Comparative Study Bible. The Zondervan Corp. 1999. pp 1224 & 2722.
2 Siloah Cemetery Survey of Burials Compiled by Audrey Rother, Myrtle Gross, Evelyn Wolf with update by Linda Hicks. Initial 1983, update in 2017.
3 The Early Years of Faith Lutheran Church, 1883-1903. (History was written in German and was translated to English in 1968 by Rev. H. C. Ziehe)
McDade Lutheran Church, McDade, Texas. November 1968.
4 The Siloah Cemetery. History written January 1986.
5 Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com.
6 Ancestory. Com http://www.rootsweb.ancestory.com.
7 The Family of Gottlieb August Wolf. Compiled by Jed K. Dube, Evelyn Farris Wolf, Ernestine Wolf Schulz, and Lenora & Carl Wolf. 2008. pp.2.
8 Siloah’s Stones Still Speak. German Proverbs from the School Boy Days of the Rev. Walter Wolf. Compiled by Carl and Leonora Wolf, 1991. pp.1.
9 Bastrop County, Texas Deed Records. September 27, 1884. Vol 6, pp 254-255.
10 Faith Lutheran Church “Roots” and “Directory.” April, 1980.
11 Faith Lutheran Church Records. McDade, Texas. 1962 – present.
12 Teal Survey. Abstract 316. Bastrop County, Texas. 2 acres. September 3, 2015.
13 Siloah Cemetery – Detail map of graves outside the present perimeter fence. Bastrop Appraisal District. October 29, 1979. Cemetery No. BP-C219,
14 Siloah Church Records. Siloah, Texas. 1891-1944 (Minutes of the previous years are no longer available.)
15 August Wolf Family Reunion notes. 1952-1967.
16 Minutes of the the Siloah Cemetery Association. 1968 – present.
17 Bylaws of the Siloah Cemetery Association. 1968.
18 Siloah Cemetery Record of Burials and Reserved Plots. Recorder: Danna Rother, 2017.
19 Siloah Cemetery 9-1-1 Address Assignment, Bastrop County. BCAD Parcel ID No: R94042. February 2007.
20 Texas Historical Commission, Siloah Cemetery, Bastrop County. Historic Texas Cemetery Designation, No: BP-C19. 2009.
HISTORICAL MARKER INSCRIPTION
THE SILOAH CEMETERY IS NAMED FOR THE SILOAH POOL WHERE JESUS HEALED THE BLIND MAN AFTER COATING HIS EYES WITH CLAY. SILOAH MEANS “SENT,” IMPLYING THE BLIND MAN DID AS HE WAS ASKED AND WAS HEALED.
IN 1882, AUGUST WOLF, A MEMBER OF THE GERMAN LUTHERAN CONGREGATION AT SILOAH, DONATED FIVE ACRES OF LAND FOR THE PURPOSE OF CONSTRUCTING A BUILDING TO SERVE AS A CHURCH, PARSONAGE AND SCHOOL. IN ADDITION, THE GIFTED LAND ALSO DESIGNATED A SITE FOR A CEMETERY. PASTOR JOHANNES MICHAEL HAGG CONDUCTED THE FIRST SERVICE ON JANUARY 7, 1883. ON MAY 17 OF THAT YEAR, THE FIRST BURIAL OCCURRED WITH THE INTERMENT OF A YOUNG MAN NAMED LOUIS WOLF. IN OCTOBER 1916, CHURCH TRUSTEES PURCHASED PROPERTY IN McDADE. THE FOLLOWING MONTH, A PORTION OF THE FIVE ACRES WAS SOLD BACK TO THE ORIGINAL OWNERS, LEAVING A LITTLE UNDER THREE ACRES AVAILABLE TO BE USED FOR THE CEMETERY.
WITH CONSTRUCTION COMPLETED IN 1917, THE SECOND SILOAH CHURCH, LOCATED IN McDADE, SERVED McDADE AND SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES. LIGHTNING STRUCK THE STEEPLE ON AUGUST 13, 1925, CAUSING THE CHURCH TO BURN TO THE GROUND. A SMALL CHURCH WAS REBUILT ON THE SAME SITE BUT DISBANDED IN 1944. ON APRIL 13, 1962, THE CONGREGATION REORGANIZED AS THE FAITH LUTHERAN CHURCH AND DEDICATED A NEW BRICK BUILDING ON NOVEMBER 17, 1968.
IN 2015, A GIFT OF TWO ACRES WAS DEEDED BACK TO THE SILOAH CEMETERY ASSOCIATION. THIS ACREAGE IS A PORTION OF THE ORIGINAL LAND DONATED BY AUGUST WOLF.
THE GRAVE MARKERS PROVIDE A RECORD OF EARLY FAMILIES AND MILITARY VETERANS WHO THROUGH FAITH AND PERSEVERANCE FORMED A CLOSE-KNIT COMMUNITY. THE SILOAH CEMETERY STANDS AS THE ONLY REMAINING LINK TO WHAT WAS ONCE THE THRIVING COMMUNITY OF SILOAH.