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.