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Wesley J. Valek

LIESKE, AUGUST (1855–1939). August Lieske, immigrant of German ancestry, Polish birth, and Russian citizenship, son of Michael and Julia Anna (Hass) Lieske, was born at Gostyń, Poland, on July 9, 1855. The family was typical of the staunchly Evangelical Lutheran Germans who migrated to Poland and later to Russia to escape religious and political persecution. August Lieske was self-educated and at the age of fifteen moved to Neudorf, a German colony in the Ukraine, where he taught school. In 1873 he moved to Włodawa, Poland, where he again was employed as a schoolteacher; there he married Emily Gerth. In 1876, on the eve of the Russo-Turkish War, Lieske was drafted into the Russian army, where he served as a secretary to officers for five years. After his discharge he joined his wife and child in Zhitomir, near Kiev, where he taught school for two years. He bought land in 1884 and farmed until 1895. Unable to obtain title to his land unless he joined the Russian Orthodox Church, he decided to emigrate and took his wife and six children to Converse, Texas, in 1895.

Grave of August Lieske
Photograph, Grave of August Lieske in Cisco. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

High rents and poor yields forced him to move to Eastland County in 1899. He settled south of Cisco among German-speaking Lutherans the following year and bought 160 acres of virgin brushland, which he cleared with axe and mattock. Although a successful cotton farmer, he encouraged agricultural diversification and experimented with pecans, fruits, and peanuts. In 1907, at the age of fifty-two, Lieske leased his farm to his son and became a professional photographer. Where and how he learned the art is unknown, but dozens of his surviving photographs show artistic merit. He was also an accomplished musician who provided Christ Church, south of Cisco, with music and preached in the absence of the minister. Even though his formal education was limited, his unpublished autobiography reveals both a flair for writing and a sense of history. An insight into his struggles and success gives credence to the immigrant's vision of America as the land of opportunity. Lieske died of a heart attack at Cisco on April 10, 1939.


Wesley J. Valek, "The Autobiography of August Lieske," Cross Timbers Review 1 (December 1984).

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

Handbook of Texas Online, Wesley J. Valek, "LIESKE, AUGUST," accessed June 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fli28.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on April 27, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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