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My People – My Forefathers

By Kathryn Glatt Wald, originally from rural Hague, North Dakota
Now residing in Strasburg, North Dakota

[information in brackets was given by Val Wangler]


My grandparents came from the Kutshurgan area by Odessa, Russia which included Selz, Kandel, Neu Baden, and Mannheim. I am an only child of Lambert and Barbara (Wangler) Glatt.

The Family Wangler left in the year 1592 out of Tirol, (Ostrreich) Austria- 20 km from Innsbrook; out of the dorf or community Schwarz in the Black Forest – (eingewandert) settled. Between 1648-1660 – near the end of the 30 year war in Europe, there settled one family Wangler – that came out of Tirol in the Black Forest by Freiburg (Breisgan). This is called Simonswald/Emmendigen. Up to this time, no one lived there in this area.

[The earliest Wagler ancestor found dates to the middle 1600's in the village of Münchweier, Germany. Münchweier is located about 50 miles north of Switzerland and about five miles east of the Rhine River.]

In 1820 a widow, Elizabeth Wangler, fled with five sons out of the Black Forest in that far away Czarist Russia. One son, Franz Xaver Wangler b. 1830- d. 1911- settled in the Dorf of Baden, Odessa, others in Odewitsch/Beresan or (Bessarabia); and even Northern Russia in Siberia. Only one Wangler family – this mother Elizabeth and her five sons went to Russia from the Black Forest.

[In 1808 Johannes Baptista Wangler left Münchweier with his family and moved to Steinmauren, Germany located 50 miles north of Münchweier. Johannes Baptista was a blacksmith. While in Steinmauren, Johannes Baptista's wife Ludgard died and in 1814, he married Elizabeth Wessbecker. In 1818, Johannes Baptista and his family emigrated to Baden, Odessa District with his immediate family along with his nephew who was also named Johannes Wangler.]

Many documents are believed to have burned in the German and French war of 1870.

Anton Wangler, son of Wendelin and Magdalena (Schuh) [Schoch] Wangler, was born September 29, 1870 in Neu-Baden, South Russia. Anton married Magdalena Gross – daughter of John and Benedicta (Laturnus) Gross on January 3, 1894 in Neu-Baden, Russia. Magdalena was born in Mannheim, Russia on June 15, 1873.

In 1900, Anton and Magdalena decided to come to America where her parents and many relatives had gone. They made the journey with five healthy little girls: Margaret – 6 years old, Magdalene, Benedicta, Veronica, and Rosa – 11 days old, when they started out for the almost unknown world.

They drove 30 miles with a team of horses to board a train that took them to Bremer [Bremen], Russia. Here Anton and the family got on the ship “George Washington” for their two month long journey to America. Mrs. Wangler and the children all got seasick. All were afraid that the ship would hit an iceberg. They reached New York harbor in November 1900; took a train west to Oakes, North Dakota two days later, finally reaching Logan County on November 25th, 1900.

Anton Wangler homesteaded 14 miles southwest of Napoleon, North Dakota. Anton’s brothers Raphael and Felix, sisters Veronica and Magdalene remained in Russia. They were all taken to Siberia where conditions were treacherous. Anton’s brother Raphael starved with his wife and three children. These families lived in Northern Siberia for approximately 20 years. They were condemned to hard labor and suffered dearly from the severe cold and hunger. I am currently communicating with my mother’s first cousin who now resides in Bad Duerrheim West Germany, but has lasting memories.

[Raphael, his wife, and four of his seven children died in 1933 during the Stalin induced famine. Felix and his entire family were exiled after World War II in Tajikistan where he died in 1967. Veronica died in the famine of 1933 and Magdalena died in the Soviet Union in the 1950's.]

Anton and Magdalena had 14 children – five sons – Anton Jr., Joe, Valentine, John, and Wendelin; and nine daughters – Margaret, Magdalena, Benedicta, Rosa, Veronica, Anna Marie, Katherine, Barbara, and Agatha.

Anton died at his home on March 3, 1939. Magdalena lived to be 87 years old. She died January 2, 1960.

Barbara Wangler, b. March 22, 1906 my mother, married Lambert Glatt on December 17, 1929. Lambert, son of Michael and Katherine (Faith) Glatt was born July 24, 1898 and died March 19, 1956. Barbara died November 11, 1957. They lived on the family farm two miles Northeast of Hague until their retirement in 1947.

My great-grandfather, Michael Glatt and his wife Katherine (Hopfinger) Selzler had a son also named Michael, born September 29, 1860 in Kandel, Russia. Michael, my grandfather, married Katherine Faith b. March 25, 1863, d. November 4, 1931; of Selz, Russia in 1883. In 1885 Michael, his wife Katherine, and their first child – Katherine, born in Russia; along with his brother Anton and sister Rosalia came to the United States. The Glatts lived in New York for several months before moving to Ipswich, South Dakota where Michael worked for a farmer for two years.

With a team of oxen and a covered wagon, the family moved to Hague, North Dakota in 1887. Michael and Katherine took up a 160-acre homestead two miles east of Hague. Here, their first home was a crude dugout. They built a house of adobe blocks later. Michael and Katherine had 10 children; 5 sons: Joseph, Michael, Ludwig, Lambert, and Frank; and five daughters: Katherine, Karolina, Johanna, Juliana, and Eva.

Michael died March 8, 1915. Katherine continued to farm with sons Lambert and Frank until 1919; when she retired and moved to Hague. Lambert started a new farmstead one-half mile northwest, where he lived as a bachelor for a few years until his marriage to Barbara Wangler.

I, Katie, being an only child – now live on this farm and land that was proclaimed a Centennial Farm in June 1987; being under constant ownership of the Glatt family for 100 years.1

I was born November 5, 1930 and married Felix Wald of Strasburg, North Dakota on July 8, 1852. Felix, son of Anton M. and Ida (Bernhardt) Wald was born October 23, 1930.

Felix and Katie have four sons – Gary, Duane, Dean, and Darin; six daughters – Jody, Kathy, Janet, Karen, LeeAnn, and Carrie. The family is also blessed with 12 grandchildren.

Sylvester Wald, the emigrant, was born in Oberlauterbach; son of Philipp Wald and Anna Eva Stoltz. He got married at the age of 21 in Niederlauterbach on February 17, 1789 to Margareta Illig, 19 years old, and daughter of Johann M. Illig and Christina Wolf. The names Wald and Wolf have vanished from this area where as the name Illig still survives in Niederlauterbach as well as Stoltz in a nearby village.

The great-grandparents of Felix are Martin and Rosina (Badge) Wald. Their son, Martin b. November 11, 1868 in Russia; married Magdalena Keller on December 28, 1892 at Fort Yates, North Dakota. Magdalena born in 1876; died February 4, 1909 at Strasburg, North Dakota.

Martin remarried Dorothy Meier in 1911; she died October 4, 1931. On January 28, 1932 Martin got married again to Josephine Shaeffer. Martin died March 7, 1956.

Anton – son of Martin and Magdalena (Keller) Wald was born October 16, 1898 at Strasburg, North Dakota. On November 7, 1921 he married Ida Bernhardt at St. Michael’s Catholic Church. Anton died September 28, 1978 at Strasburg.

Anton and Ida had three sons – Martin, Felix, and Anton; three daughters – Benedicta, Marie, and Alice.

Martin Wald lived in Russia until he was 19 years old. Upon his arrival in America, he settled at Menno, South Dakota for eight months. Martin came to Emmons County and homesteaded east of Strasburg in 1890; remaining there for 36 years.

In 1806, Franz Bernhardt, at the age of 20 migrated from Bruchsal, North Baden Germany with his parents and family to Odessa, Russia. Bruchsal is located close to Karlsruhe. Franz and his family moved to Kostheim, a village which was already established in the Moloschna, Taurien area. This territory is named Saporoshji at present and is located about 200 miles Northeast of Odessa.

Franz had a son named Damian who married Katherine Wolter. They hand a family of six sons and four daughters. One son, John, is the grandfather of Ida (Bernhardt) Wald.

Jacob and Regina Bernhardt family immigrated to America in 1906. The Russian border was guarded by the Bolsheviks. The family took an alternate route by train for St. Petersburg in Northern Russia. There were many German settlements near St. Petersburg. They boarded the ship – Furnessia – at Glasgow on June 8, 1906 and arrived at New York on June 18, 1906.

The Jacob Bernhardt family boarded the train once again and arrived at Linton, North Dakota June 23, 1906. They settled on a farm 10 miles east of Temvik, North Dakota.

Ida Bernhardt, daughter of Jacob and Regina (Mae) Bernhardt was born May 13, 1903 at Maryfield, Russia. She died June 23, 1971 at Strasburg.

Jacob Bernhardt was born March 21, 1863 in Russia; died March 24, 1937 at Strasburg. Regina was born February 25, 1868 in Russia; died August 5, 1942 at Strasburg. Jacob and Regina were married October 7, 1886.

Ludwig and Christina (Schwan) Welk had immigrated as children to Russia from Alsace-Lorraine. Ludwig b.? d. 1937; Christina was born in 1871 and died in 1940. Ludwig Welk came to America in the late 1890’s. For many years he followed his trade as a blacksmith; operating a shop in Strasburg. He was an old country musician and played for weddings throughout the county in the early days. Their children were John, Lawrence, Louis, Michael, Barbara, Anna, Mary, Eva, and Agatha.

The Ludwig Welk homestead farm located three miles west of Strasburg represents the ingenuity of the German Settlers from Russia. The home built in the late 1890’s with 18-inch mud brick walls is typical of the German settlers.

Lawrence Welk, son of Ludwig Welk, was born on the family farm near Strasburg, North Dakota on March 11, 1903. He left the farm on his 21st birthday- March 11, 1924; determined to make a career for himself in the field of music. In 1925, he joined Geo. T. Kelly’s “Peerless Entertainers” and experienced his first road work. Welk’s radio career was started with his own 5-piece band on WNAX, Yankton, South Dakota in 1927; playing at the station during the day and appearing at dance halls in five surrounding states at night. In 1936, Lawrence made an appearance at the St. Paul Hotel in St. Paul – followed by an engagement at the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh. It was there that “Champagne Music” became his trademark. In 1951, Welk and his group moved on to their first television program and became the most popular music show in Los Angeles. When the Dodge dealers signed on to sponsor him nationally on the ABC TV network, the show caught on with such tremendous impact that Welk signed the first “life-time” contract in music history. Mr. Welk received the Horatio Alger Award at ceremonies in New York, being one of the only two North Dakotans ever to receive it.

Lawrence Welk married Fern Renner on April 19, 1931. They have three children; Shirley Jean (Fredericks), Donna Lee (Mack), and Lawrence Jr.

Growing up only 15 miles from Strasburg, North Dakota, my husband’s home town, Lawrence Welk was a prominent man in the community. His popular T.V. show became a part of our life; an on many occasions, his visits back to Strasburg were always a memorable occasion. Lawrence being a German-Russian meant that he was one of us; and everyone loved him – young and old alike. His memories of Strasburg and the goodness of his heart always remained with Lawrence as he made numerous contributions to the city of Strasburg.

Lawrence and his family are lending their full support to the restoration of the Homestead Farm near Strasburg where Lawrence grew up as a young man. The finished farm site will be a fitting tribute to the man whose “Champagne” music entertained millions for over three decades. The Welk Heritage Foundation project will restore Lawrence Welk’s birth place to the condition it was when he left home in the early 1920’s.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Welk home site restoration were held Tuesday June 26, 1990 at 2:00 p.m. Among the list of dignitaries attending were: Governor George Sinner, Clarence Bauman, President of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society, and Bob Mitchell of the State Historical Society. Nearly 200 people attended in record-breaking temperatures. Entertainment was furnished by the Young German Singers, the Strasburg High School Band, and others. Lunch was served by members of the local Germans from Russia Chapter.

Construction advanced well ahead of schedule with the completion of the work on the Welk’s summer kitchen, buggy house/garage and the sod house. Construction at the Welk farmstead has ceased.2

Growing up in the German-Catholic community of Hague, North Dakota enriched my life with the full meaning of these German ethnics, food, customs, music, and dance that still remain a big part of our lives.

The German Russian women bore large families and were equal to men in working in the fields. As women shared the work of the farm yard, so the men also had their duties within the art of making Bratwurst (sausage) and hochzeitschnaps or “red eye”, a potent alcoholic beverage flavored with burnt sugar.

Courtship and wedding customs received much attention as the German Russians held elaborate festivals. The three-day celebration was typically held at the home of the bride. The gala fiesta featured an accordionist seated on the table providing the music of Polka’s and Waltz’s. German singing was another very popular custom of the time. These customs of German dance, music, song, kuchen, and strudels are still common in our daily lives. Even today, the “red eye” and German kuchen are symbols of a German wedding.

The German Russian wedding has become an important hallmark of ethnic identity and the event is enjoyed by all.

German singing and dance was the basic means of entertainment at the time as radio, T.V., and movies were not yet available.

The German Russians never lost faith in the “promise” of “Amerika” as the countryside was filled with numerous settlements, farmsteads, and rock piles.

Another noted feature is the church spires of the Cathedrals of the prairies that garnish our rolling plains of the German-Russian triangle. St. Mary’s Church of Hague, St. Peter and Paul’s at Strasburg, and St. Anthony’s of Padua, Hoven, South Dakota; being the most impressive with the Bavarian architecture.

Nonetheless, regardless of where North Dakota’s Black Sea Germans may find themselves today, they are slowly coming to the realization that theirs is a rich heritage to be proud of and to be shared. The people who have found employment elsewhere find that there is always a longing for how it was “daheim” (at home).

The Russian German made his greatest contribution to society in the form of manual labor. He built a granary out of the steppes and prairies.

I speak German Fluently and through the encouragement of friends, became a member of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society 19 years ago. In this organization, I have made life-long friends. Through their inspiration, my interest in the lifestyles of our ancestors was spurred on by leaps and bounds.

Thus, I started getting involved in family histories. My major concern was to record the heritage of our forefathers along with the genealogy of the prospective families. All this research has led me to write and publish three books entitled: “The History of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Town of Hague”; “Hague Area Part II”; and “The Wanglers.” Book one features the church’s beginning in Dakota land as well as all the church records up to date; also the establishment of the Hague community. “Hague Area Part II” focuses on local family histories, customs, as well as local and state data. “The Wanglers” is a family history featuring not only statistics, but the hardships endured by our ancestors upon their arrival in America; and also those who were unable to come to America.

I am currently communicating with several families from Germany. It was through my efforts and a German letter I had placed in the German Newspaper – Volk Auf Dem Weg – that the Jacob Harsch family of West Germany found their relatives in North Dakota in 1988. Mr. and Mrs. Harsch came to America in the summer of 1989 to meet their long lost relatives. They paid a visit to our farm home and were most grateful.

As I bring this resume’ to a close, I must say that I am indeed proud and honored to be of German Russian descent; living in the heart of Dakota country where it all began.

Auf Weidershehen!


1. Felix and I retired from farming in 1992; built a new home at Strasburg, ND where we reside today. Our son, Duane, and his wife, Eileen, currently farm all the land – now under family ownership for 117 years.
2. But the birthplace of Lawrence Welk continues to attract tourists – 3,000 plus annually; who are enlightened by life as it was in the early 1900s.
3. To summarize the wholesome memories of life as it was during the childhood years of my husband Felix and I – plus our 50 years of marriage and a family of 10 children – inspired me to write and publish Yesterday and Today: A Journey Through the Days of our Lives by Katie Glatt Walt, June 22, 2002 – consisting of 470 pages and 2400 photos (mostly color).

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
Libraries
NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-231-8416
Fax: 701-231-6128
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Director: Michael M. Miller
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