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The organ was built at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church by the German immigrant, JohannTraugott Wandke (1808-1870), and was dedicated on January 13, 1867.

This instrument derives its historical value from several facts. It is entirely constructed from local cedar wood including all 408 pipes. Wandkes surviving  notebooks give as detailed information what he knew about organ building and his hand written hymn book give as knowledge what music he played on his organ. The survival of his organ tools, donated to the Round Top Museum, give us a detailed idea how he built his organs.  I had the privilege to restore two of his surviving 3 organs and had a chance to visited his home town Kowalice in Poland ( former Nikolschmiede in Schlesien).


Wandke was the first organ builder in Texas and his organs are the oldest pipe organs built in Texas. Almost every part and piece in the organ is hand made by him, he even turned such minute parts as the screws from oak wood.   There are no metal pipes in his instrument.


I was asked to completely restored this famous instrument in 2007.



Principal 4 Fuss (front)

Quinta 1 1/3 Fuss

Klein Gedeckt 4 Fuss

Gross Gedeckt 8 Fuss

Viola di Gamba 4 Fuss

Viola di Gamba 8 Fuss

Octave 2 Fuss

Regal 8 Fuss








The organbuilder Traugott Wandke (1808–1870) left not only his tools but also a handwritten hymnal book, now at the library in Austin, written for the Bethlehem Lutheran Church down the road where is workshop and his largest instrument is still located. Wandke was born in 1808 in the town of Nickolschmiede in Silesia, today in Poland, and we assume he completed an apprenticeship as cabinet maker prior to his immigration in 1855, at the age of 47. We know very little of his life in Germany in contrast to his extensive notes of his life in Round Top. His detailed dairy during his trip from Hamburg to Galveston is a pleasure to read. He brought his wooden turning lathe (today at the museum in Round Top) with him and gave performances of his craftsmanship on the sail ship to the amusement of the crew and his fellow immigrants. Detailed descriptions of organbuilding and medical advise to the survival in Texas fallow in his notes. During the restoration of his instruments I was impressed from his accuracy of all his work. He hand-planed all wood to the perfect thickness in smallest fractions to built hundreds of organ pipes with a precision I only could do today with the help of machinery. It is clear to me his complex organs require an planing process with advanced knowledge of organbuilding. After reading his detailed measurements of the Eugenio Casperini Organ in the town of Görlitz, 80 kilometers from his home, I believe Wandke was very involved with pipe organs prior to his emigration and he must had training as an organbuilder rather an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker. He could have traveled often to Görlitz to tune the organs in town. He knew the world famous German Casperini family who builded organs for several generations. Eugenio Casparini had traveled to Italy to work as an organbuilder, was invited in to Vienna as “Organbuilder for the Emperor” and returned later to his workshop in Sorau only 30km from Wandkes home, to built 1706 his masterpiece the “Sonnenorgel” in Görlitz. Wandke took detailed measurements of this instrument. And not only measurements he had detailed description of every organ part including the characteristica of different organ stops. He came clearly with the intention of building organs to Texas. Although shortly after his arrival Wandke had to realize his ambitious preparations combining the finest Italien and German craftsmanship had little use in undeveloped Texas. To built his three instruments he scald down to almost two materials that their available to him but made the finest small organs simply from cedar wood and leather and one of them is at the Lutheran Church in Round Top.

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