Proske, Johann A. (1857–1943)

By: Daphne Dalton Garrett

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Updated: April 26, 2016

Johann A. Proske, newspaper founder, son of Andreas and Johanna (Kasper) Proske, was born on December 29, 1857, in Petershain, Lusatia, a part of Prussia. He attended Christian day school in Petershain before emigrating at the age of thirteen with his family from their Wendish homeland to Texas. In March 1871 they arrived in Milheim, Austin County, where Proske attended the "Latin School" of Ernst G. Maetze. Proske enjoyed hunting and fishing with his friend William A. Trenckmann, who later became a colleague in the newspaper business. In the fall of 1875 the family moved to Lee County near Serbin, where Johann pursued the vocation of farmer. He was confirmed in Wendish at St. Paul Lutheran Church at Serbin by Rev. John Kilian on April 9, 1876. In 1899 Proske founded the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt, a German newspaper that also offered several columns in Wendish. At first, he published the paper in a shed on his farm near Giddings, but in 1903 he purchased town lots and moved the print shop to Giddings. He gave up farming in 1907, when he moved the family to Giddings. He was a man of much energy and concurrently managed the newspaper and print shop, sold homeopathic medicines, owned the Variety Store from 1911 until 1925, and built furniture for a hobby. Since Proske did not have a middle name he adopted the middle initial "A" to avoid being mistaken for an uncle and cousin in Texas who were also named Johann (John) Proske. He chose that because of his father's name, Andreas, but did not intend for it to denote Andreas or August as is sometimes recorded in church records and history books. He was called John by his friends and relatives, and the Volksblattmann by the public. J. A. Proske became a naturalized citizen on September 13, 1906. He joined the Texas Press Association in 1908 and attended most of the annual conventions. He was a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Giddings, a Democrat, and a member of the Giddings Chamber of Commerce.

He married Martha Fritsche on November 25, 1884. They had seven daughters. The entire family assisted in the production of the Volksblatt. Proske's daughter Marie learned to handset the type and managed the shop when Proske was out of town. In 1938, at the age of eighty-one, Proske sold the Volksblatt and retired. He died on March 23, 1943, in Giddings, where he is buried in the City Cemetery. See also WENDS.

History of the Texas Press and the Texas Press Association (Dallas: Harben-Spotts, 1929). Lee County Historical Survey Committee, A History of Lee County (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1974). George R. Nielsen, In Search of a Home (University of Birmingham [England] Department of Russian Language and Literature, 1977; rev. ed., College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1989).

  • Journalism
  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Newspapers
  • Publishers and Executives
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers
  • Literature
  • Memoirs, Diaries, Letters, and Travel
  • Publications, Journals, and Magazines
  • Wends

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

Daphne Dalton Garrett, “Proske, Johann A.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 08, 2022,

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May 1, 1995
April 26, 2016