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KLEIS, THEOBALD G. (1826–1853). Theobald G. Kleis, one of the first two Lutheran pastors to move to Texas and the builder of the first Lutheran church there, was born on July 25, 1826, in Meissenheim, Baden. He enrolled in the Pilgrim Mission Training School at St. Chrischona, Switzerland, in 1849 and on March 17, 1850, was ordained to the ministry. In the same year he immigrated to Texas, where he stopped in Victoria and then moved on to Hortontown and Neighborsville, near New Braunfels. He opened a school in his headquarters but conducted worship services for settlers in such towns as Seguin, San Antonio, Castroville, and Quihi. In 1851 he was instrumental in the erection of a small church at Neighborsville. It was built of cedar on a stone foundation and had a seating capacity of 180. His work was so extensive and so promising that he could place three pastors sent to Texas in answer to his pleas in 1852. Later the same year ill health compelled him to travel northward. He organized a congregation in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and laid a cornerstone for the church on June 5, 1853. He died in Johnstown on October 7, 1853, and was buried in Levergood Cemetery on Vine Street.


Heinz Carl Ziehe, A Centennial Story of the Lutheran Church in Texas (2 vols., Seguin, Texas, 1951, 1954).

W. A. Flachmeier


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

W. A. Flachmeier, "KLEIS, THEOBALD G.," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 27, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.