Vorwerk Family Papers
An Inventory of the Collection
Emma Elizabeth Arend was born to Henry and Emma (Henkes) Arend on November 30, 1904, in the community of Richland near Manor, TX. Richland was settled by German immigrant farmers who named the community “rich land” because of its rich soil. Emma married Bernhard (called Ben) A. Vorwerk on December 21, 1922, and had four children: Henry Vorwerk, Edmund Vorwerk (died in Pearl Harbor in 1951), Dorothy Vorwerk (later Gault), and Francis Vorwerk (later Sassin, then Gibich). The family made their home in Richland, TX, except for a brief time in the beginning of their marriage when Emma and Ben lived in Cotulla, TX.
Emma and Ben lived on a farm in the community and raised cotton, the principal crop of the area. The family attended St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, also called St. John United Church of Christ, which served as the heart of the Richland community since 1877. Emma was actively involved in the church's Women's Guild, which was established as the Richland Frauenverein in 1920 by a group of sixteen women, one of whom was Emma's mother. This group met monthly and organized the church's social events, organized charitable contributions, and assisted parishioners in time of need. The group was also instrumental in purchasing pews, heaters, and other equipment and supplies for the church. Emma served in many different leadership roles, including President, Vice President, and Secretary.
Emma was an active member of the Texas Agricultural Extension Service's Home Demonstrations Clubs. These clubs were organized by county throughout agricultural communities in Texas and provided homemaking training to women by a professional home economist. The Home Demonstration Clubs provided leadership opportunities to women, and Emma served in many leadership positions in the local Richland Club, including secretary, treasurer, council representative, hospitality chairman, and chairman of the Expansion, Education, and Civil Defense committee.
In addition, Emma was active in researching and documenting her genealogy and recording daily events in her and her family's life in numerous notes, diaries, and calendars.
Emma lived her final years in New Hope Care Center and Pflugerville Care Center and died on August 11, 2000, at the age of 95.
The Vorwerk Family Papers, 1866-2000, include the calendars, correspondence, journals, handwritten notes, and legal documents of Emma E. Vorwerk and members of her immediate family, and assorted items of the Arend (1903-1943, undated), Henkes (1884-1932), Kasiske (1941-1974, undated), and Maxey (1866-1868) families.
Emma's involvement with family life, church, and other civic activities comprise the bulk of the Vorwerk Family Papers. Emma's personal materials (1936-1989) record details of her daily domestic activities, interaction with friends and family, involvement in the church, descriptions of farm life, and notes from her various travels around the United States. Correspondence (1919-1987) provides insight into Emma's relationships with several family members. Emma recorded the details of her involvement in the St. John's Church Women's Guild (1928-2000, undated) in her meeting notes, which are supplemented by more contextual items such as a history of the Women's Guild (1972) and the St. John's Constitution and By-laws (1975). Emma documented her involvement in the Texas Department of Agriculture's Home Demonstration Club in her notes on meeting activities (1964).
Documents related to Emma's husband, Ben Vorwerk include certificates and handwritten notes (1919-2000), medical records (1959-1986), and items related to his death, such as his will and statement (1963, 1972).
Edmund Vorwerk's death in Pearl Harbor is documented by assorted items including newspaper clippings, letters, and mementos (1948-1952) and memorial cards (1951-1952). In 2018, materials were donated relating to Vorwerk family reunions. The materials date from 1957 to 2013 and consist of invitations, lists of attendees, meeting minutes, and some correspondence. Additionally, a photo album containing color photographs documents the family reunions from from 1985 to 2005. Most photographs contain the name or names of people who are pictured.
The Vorwerk Family Papers (General) subseries includes assorted personal papers and papers related to the Vorwerk farm, including deeds and leases recording the selling and leasing of land within the Vorwerk extended family (1879-1981). A substantial portion of the materials documenting the Vorwerk family history, including audio and video cassettes, were collected by Francis Gibich, Emma Vorwerk's daughter.
The Arend family papers (1903-1943, undated) contain biographical information about Henry Arend and a 19th century wedding photo of Emma and Henry Arend.
The Henkes family papers (1884-1932) contain the will of Christian Henkes and various land deeds and related documentation.
The Kasiske Papers (1941-1974, undated) include genealogical notes, a commencement program, and a photograph.
The James Maxey Papers (1866-1868) include legal documents belonging to James Maxey.
Restrictions on Access
Open to all users.
Restrictions on Use
Vorwerk Family Papers (AR.2005.037). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/2005/105, DO/2005/106, DO/2008/016
Donation Date: 2005, 2009, 2018
Finding aid by Rebecca Herscowitz, 2012. Updates by Kelly Hanus, 2018.
Detailed Description of the Collection