A HISTORY OF THE HENRY BEN KIESCHNICK FAMILY
By Mrs. Mary Helen Terrell
At least three, perhaps four, books detail at length the story of the Kieschnick forebears, Andreas and Johann Kieschnick, the grandparents and great grandparents of Henry Ben Kieschnick, who were a part of Pastor Johan Kilian's Wendish colony, who sailed from Liverpool, England, for Texas aboard the full-rigged sailing ship Ben Nevis on September 26, 1854, and docked in Galveston on December 14, 1854. The ship carried Kilian's entire congregation of 586 Wends from their home in Prussian Lusatia, south of Berlin, to their new home in Serbin, Lee County, Texas. Of the original colony of 586 Wends who left on the Ben Nevis, 76 died of cholera and dysentery and were buried at sea.
The Wends spoke and wrote a Slavic language, known as Wendish, and held services in that language. They left Prussia because they feared the "germanization" of their culture by the Prussians, but the "germanization" that they feared actually took place in Texas. After arriving at Galveston, their ship was quarantined for three weeks, and most of them ended up walking the two hundred miles to their new home in Serbin.
Henry Ben Kieschnick was born on July 13, 1905 in Lee County, Texas. His father was Samuel Friedrich William Kieschnick, and his mother's maiden name was Mary Kaspar. He was baptized at home on July 14, 1905 by Pastor F. Wunderlich of St. John's Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Texas.
Ben and his twin brother, Arthur, were the fifth and sixth children born to Sam Kieschnick and his wife. Sam had eleven children in all: Paul Kieschnick, Sam Kieschnick, Louise Kieschnick Behrend, Alma Kieschnick Wukasch, Mathilda Kieschnick Arldt, Bertha Kieschnick Arldt, Renata Kieschnick Schaal, Fred Kieschnick, and Edward Kieschnick.
Five years later in 1910, his family moved to another farm, this time near Manheim, Texas. When Ben was thirteen years old, on Palm Sunday of 1919, he was confirmed. He was still on the farm, helping with all the farming chores, when he became seriously ill from a ruptured appendix. His father took him by train to Austin where he had surgery. After surgery, he learned he could not go back to riding horses, so he went to work at St. David's Hospital in Austin and lived with a sister there. Two years later, on August 3, 1927, he moved to Port Arthur, Texas, and he worked there for 43 years at Texaco refinery until his retirement in 1970.
On July 16, 1929, Ben Kieschnick married Martha Evelyn Dunk of Austin, Texas, the daughter of Charles Dunk and Christina Edling. Her family had a small grocery store in Austin. Martha was confirmed May 19, 1929, at St. Martin's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Austin by Pastor F. G. Roesener, and she was married in the same church less than one month later.
The couple's first home was a garage apartment on Fifteenth Street in Port Arthur. Two years later they built a home in Port Arthur, and four of their children were born there.
Seven years later, in 1938, the Kieschnick family moved to Nederland, to 1323 Hill Street, which has been the family home since then. They bought the Nederland property from Tom Eagleson, who owned a nursery in Port Arthur, and for whom Ben Kieschnick worked part-time. The two youngest Kieschnick children were born in Nederland.
Their first child, Henry Ben Kieschnick, Jr., was born prematurely and died on March 27, 1931. The other six Kieschnick children are still living, as follows: Alice Marie Kieschnick, born on April 6, 1933, was married on April 7, 1946 to Fred L. Clotiaux in Beaumont, Texas.
Franklin Ben Kieschnick, born April 13, 1934, married Sarah Frances Clark on July 14, 1961, and they are the parents of four sons, as follows: Stuart Ben Kieschnick, born May 19, 1962, married Jodi Rodnick on July 18, 1990; Todd Clark Kieschnick was born on July 13, 1965, which was his grandfather Ben's sixtieth birthday; Wade Eric Kieschnick, born July 22, 1968; and Thad Franklin Kieschnick, born June 23, 1970.
Nellie Bernice Kieschnick, born April 28, 1936, married Marion E. Jones,a postal supervisor, on December 9, 1955, in Nederland, and they are the parents of three sons, as follows: Russell Marion Jones, born December 17, 1961, married Caroline Williams on November 7, 1980. Russell and Caroline have a daughter, Rachael Cherie, born April 21, 1985, the family's only great grandchild. The two youngest sons are Phillip Wayne Jones, born October 3, 1963, and Joel Edward Jones, born August 6, 1966.
Martha Ann Kieschnick, born January 8, 1938, married John Harry Murphy on May 15, 1966. They are parents of one daughter, Staci Ann Murphy, born on March 3, 1975.
Mary Helen Kieschnick, born on April 29, 1940, married Charles Roy Terrell on November 26, 1959. They are the parents of two children as follows: Timothy Charles Terrell, born September 27, 1966, who married Teresa Cain on November 24, 1990; and Tamara Deanne Terrell, born on April 30, 1969.
The younges Kieschnick family member, Elmer Earl Kieschnick, was born on June 17, 1943, and married Ann Heartfield on December 31, 1986, in Beaumont.
The Kieschnick family were lifelong members of the Lutheran Church, but for the first nineteen years that they resided in Nederland, there was no Lutheran congregation in Nederland. For that reason, they attended Trinity Lutheran Church in Port Arthur. Hence, when Holy Cross Lutheran Church was organized in Nederland in 1957, Ben and his family became charter members. Ben and his family loved the Lord and wanted to share their Savior with others. Ben and Martha Kieschnick served actively on the church's various boards, departments, and committees, as well as teaching Sunday School and Bible classes.
Ben Kieschnick was also an avid gardner and always had a large garden on Hill Street in Nederland. He also loved flowers and grew large beds of these as well.
Henry Ben Kieschnick died on May 16, 1982, at his home on Hill Street, only two months short of his 77th birthday. His funeral service was held at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Nederland, Texas, on May 18th, with burial in Memory Gardens Cemetery. His widow, Martha, still resides at the family home, and three of her children still reside in Nederland.