SALEM, TX (WASHINGTON COUNTY)
SALEM, TEXAS (Washington County). Salem is at the intersection of County roads 32 and 33, three miles southwest of Brenham in Washington County. Following the visit of a German Lutheran pastor, Rev. Johann Georg Ebinger, in 1854, a Lutheran church was organized in Berlin, the first German settlement in the county. But because of Lutheran doctrinal differences and some articles of the proposed constitution, a number of conservatives and the pastor moved to the area southwest of Brenham and in 1856 organized the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Salem. The first church building, a log structure, was built on land donated by F. W. Bohn and dedicated in 1857. It was replaced in 1867 by a frame building. An extant picture of the church's interior shows the ornate German-style design painted on the walls. In 1913 the congregation purchased land one-third of a mile northeast of the original site and built a new structure. The church cemetery was established in 1869 on donated land, and in 1886 the congregation started a public school. This two-teacher school adjoined the church lot and served as a community center until consolidation with the Brenham school district in 1958. Salem had a "Round House," an octagonal structure built by Gustav Weiss in the 1850s as a feedmill modeled after the mills of Holland and designed with no interior corners. Before he could install the milling machinery Weiss was called to serve in the Confederate Army. He died shortly after his return to Salem. His widow remarried and had the building moved 1½ miles north to a site across the road from the Salem Lutheran Church, where it was incorporated into her new home. The unique structure was a tourist attraction until its removal by the landowner in 1958. A country store was located at the same place from the early 1900s to the 1950s. A new brick church was dedicated in April 1975 on the 1913 site. The Frederick Weiss home and the J. Frederick Schawe home, which was built before 1862, remain in the possession of the original families and are in view of the church site. The Texas Historical Commission presented a historical marker to the Salem Lutheran Church in 1981.
Brenham Banner Press, October 15, 1958. W. O. Dietrich, The Blazing Story of Washington County (Brenham, Texas: Banner Press, 1950; rev. ed., Wichita Falls: Nortex, 1973). Elizabeth A. J. Lehmann, The Schawe Family in Germany and Texas, 1635–1977 (Brenham, Texas, 1978). Mrs. R. E. Pennington, History of Brenham and Washington County (Houston, 1915). Charles F. Schmidt, History of Washington County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1949).