52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Out of Place   

In the Mayer Cemetery in Washington County, Texas, there is a headstone located towards the edge of the property, approximately 75 feet away from other graves.

It is a common design, multi-tiered and topped by a spherical finial. The writing is in German and reads:

Hier ruht meine Schwester 

Die blume pranat und fällt dann ab         

So bluhl der mensch und sinht ins grub   

In English, this translates to:

Here rests my sister

The flower dances and then declines.

So blooms a person and sinks into the grave.

This headstone marks the burial site of Bertha Wiebusch, who died in 1900 at the age of 20. Through census records, I was able to piece together the following history:

Bertha was born in Texas on May 2, 1880. Her parents were Theodor Eduard Wiebusch and Sophie Piehl. She had three brothers. Bertha was the oldest of four children. She was 10 when her mother died, 12 when her younger brother Rudolph died, 13 when her father died, and 18 when her older brother Albert died. At the time of her death in 1900, she and her surviving brother George were living with her mother’s brother, William Piehl and his wife Elisabeth. There are no details of her death and no death certificate.

Her only surviving brother was George, who was 16 when Bertha died. In 1910, he was living in Refugio, Texas with other members of the Piehl family and was working as a carpenter. George died of tuberculosis in 1920 at the age of 36.

George was very young when his parents and brothers died, and he must have been very close to his big sister. I imagine him as an adult, picking out an expensive headstone to commemorate his sister, who died so young.

This still does not answer why Bertha’s grave seems so out of place. Did she die of a communicable disease, which under state law necessitated a burial where she could not “contaminate” other graves? Did she die by suicide, which would also explain why she was not buried on holy ground? Or was it a matter of convenience? Other graves in the Mayer cemetery are  scattered about, so maybe the plan was to have a section for other members of the Wiebusch family. In any case, it is a mystery that for the present will remain unsolved.

The red circle on the aerial map denotes Bertha’s headstone.

E. Theodore and Rudolph are buried in the Eben Ezer Lutheran Church cemetery in Berlin, Texas. I was unable to locate Albert or Sophie Wiebusch’s graves.

One thought on “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Out of Place   

  1. Jerry Jaeger

    William and Elisabeth Piehl must have been extremely big hearted and loving people by today’s standards. You can figure out the family connections. This is from the 1900 census:

    Name: Bertha Wiebusch
    Age: 20
    Birth Date: May 1880
    Birthplace: Texas, USA
    Home in 1900: Justice Precinct 6, Washington, Texas
    Sheet Number: 9
    Number of Dwelling in Order of Visitation: 143
    Family Number: 143
    Race: White
    Gender: Female
    Relation to Head of House: Niece
    Marital Status: Single
    Father’s Birthplace: Germany
    Mother’s Birthplace: Germany
    Occupation: Farm Laborer
    Months Not Employed: 0
    Attended School: 0
    Can Read: Yes
    Can Write: Yes
    Can Speak English: Yes
    Neighbors: View others on page
    Household Members (Name) Age Relationship
    William Piehl
    48 Head
    Elisabeth Piehl
    51 Wife
    Herman Piehl
    19 Son
    Lena Piehl
    17 Daughter
    Hedwig Piehl
    15 Daughter
    Robert Piehl
    14 Son
    Benny Piehl
    6 Grand Son (Grandson)
    George Wiebusch
    15 Nephew
    Bertha Wiebusch 20 Niece
    Fritz Herm
    77 Lodger

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