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Ludwig and Christina (Schwahn) Welk Homestead Strasburg, North Dakota

Pioneer Heritage, Inc. P.O. Box 52, Strasburg, ND 58573

The Welk Homestead is open Sunday, 24 May 2014 to 31 August 2014, with the following schedule:

Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
10 am to 5 pm

Historical information on the Welk family

The story of the Welk family can be traced to Moritz Welk who married Magdalena Arth in 1802 in the village of Winzenbach, located in Lower Alsace, France. In 1808 Moritz and Magdalena Welk, along with a hundred other German-Catholic families from Alsace, immigrated to southern Russia. They founded the village of Selz in the Kutschurgan district near Odessa and the Black Sea.

Moritz and Magdalena Welk's eldest son, Kasper, married Magdalena Gutenberg in the 1820's. Kasper and Magdalena Welk had a son named Johannes, born in the 1830's and raised in the colony of Selz. Johannes Welk, who became a blacksmith, married Marianna Schweitzer from the colony of Strassburg, Kutschurgan District, Black Sea Region. They are the grandparents of the famous bandleader, Lawrence Welk.

Significant in the story of the homestead is the third child of Johannes and Marianna Welk. Ludwig Welk was born in Selz, Russia, on August 24, 1864. He married Christina Schwahn, who was born in the colony of Strassburg on March 1, 1870. Besides being a farmer, Ludwig Welk became a blacksmith, like his father.

Ludwig and Christina immigrated to America, as did many other Kutschurgan families, arriving in New York in 1893. They traveled by rail to Eureka, South Dakota, where they acquired a wagon and a team of oxen for their trek northward to Emmons County, North Dakota. Ludwig and Christina lost their first child, Anton, before leaving Russia. When they emigrated in 1893 Christina was carrying their second child, John, born on July 3, 1893. There were eight children in all in the Welk family. Born in the sodhouse still standing on the homestead were Barbara (1895), Anna Mary (1896), Louie (1898). Agatha (1900), Lawrence (1903), Michael (1905), and Eva (1909). Lawrence Welk died on May 17, 1992 in Santa Monica, California.

When Ludwig and Christina Welk retired to Strasburg, the farm was taken over by their youngest son, Michael and his wife Catherine (Hager) Welk. Today the land is farmed jointly by brothers Larry and Jimmy Schwab who are husbands of Evelyn and Edna, daughters of Michael and Catherine Welk. Evelyn and Edna have granted a 99-year lease of land to Welk Heritage for the restoration of the farmstead begun in 1990. They serve on the Board of Directors of Pioneer Heritage, Inc. and as tour guides at the homestead.

The Welk Homestead has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The ground-breaking for the homestead restoration took place on June 25, 1990. Along with a reunion of the Welk family, the dedication was held June 7, 1992 and was attended by 3,500 people. Guests at the dedication included Lawrence Welk II, accordionist Myron Floren, and champagne music lady Norma Zimmer.

The homestead has been carefully restored to its 1920's condition. The house was made of mud and clay brick, a method of construction used by Ludwig Welk's ancestors 85 years earlier on the steppes of South Russia. Besides the house, other buildings include a summer kitchen, a granary, buggy house, blacksmith shop, outhouse, and barn. The restoration of the barn has not been completed. It will eventually house an interpretive center telling the story of the Welk family and the heritage of the Germans from Russia.

In Lawrence Welk's autobiography, Wunnerful! Wunnerful!, appears the following: "On March 11, 1924, I woke up early in the morning. I was twenty-one years old ... My father and I had a bargain, and we had each kept to the letter the spirit of agreement. He had kept his word and I was free to go. Now it was up to me to prove that my dreams were more than dreams ... I jumped into the buggy and I began the three-mile trip to Strasburg ... Now the fields straight ahead of me, beckoning me toward my future ... Occasionally I would turn around and look back toward the farmhouse. All the rest of the family had returned to their chores, but my mother stood out where she could see me as I drove down the road; and whenever I turned around she would withdraw her hands from beneath her white apron and wave both arms in the air. I waved back, until finally I came to a turn in the road ... and I could see her no more. "

It is important in the context of the Welk homestead to note other sites relating to the Germans from Russia, all within easy driving distance of each other. The churches in Strasburg and Hague are beautiful examples of structures consecrated to the Christian Faith of German-Russian homesteaders. Both churches are on the National Register of Historic Sites. The John and Magdalena(Baumgartner) Schwab farmhouse, located west of Strasburg, has been restored by Schwab family members. Another farmhouse, that of Johannes Goldade, is not far from the Schwab farmhouse. Beautiful wrought iron crosses characteristic of German-Russian Black Sea Catholic cemeteries can be found in south central North Dakota near Hague, Napoleon, Strasburg, Linton, and Zeeland. Also of interest are the historical museums located in Eureka, South Dakota, and in the towns of Linton, Napoleon, and Ashley, North Dakota.

Pioneer Heritage, Inc. offers, for the enjoyment and education of future generations, the story of the Welk family and their homesteading experience in North Dakota, along with general documentation on the heritage of the Germans from Russia and biographical material on the best known member of the Welk family, Lawrence Welk.

The restoration of this homestead is of interest and value to Americans of every ethnic extraction whose forefathers pioneered and settled the Great Plains of our country. A glimpse into the past cannot fail to engender an understanding and appreciation of those courageous, hard-working people who laid the groundwork for our present-day quality of life. Pioneer Heritage, Inc. invites you to step back in time with a visit to the birthplace of Lawrence Welk. The Welk homestead, located three miles northwest of Strasburg.

The Lawrence Welk Collection
Institute for Regional Studies
NDSU Libraries
Dept. 2080, PO Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-231-8877 E-mail: ndsu.library.archives@ndsu.edu

In 1993, the family of Lawrence Welk selected North Dakota State University to house The Lawrence Welk Collection. This archival repository is dedicated to the preservation and study of Lawrence Welk materials and memorabilia. It contains original musical arrangements, personal items, scrapbooks, oral histories, and artifacts relating to Lawrence Welk and his Musical Family. Some of the items from The Lawrence Welk Collection are featured in display cases at the homestead provided on loan from the Lawrence Welk Collection at NDSU.

North Dakota Horizons published an article authored by Michael M. Miller titled "Polkas, Waltzes, and Champagne Music: Gift of the Lawrence Welk Collection to NDSU", Winter, 1994. The article including photographs can be located at the following website - http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/history_culture/lawrence_welk/ndhwelk.html

If you, or someone you know, have items you are willing to donate, including artifacts, phonograph records, photographs, correspondence, pamphlets or other items of historical interest, please contact The Lawrence Welk Collection, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU Libraries, P.O. Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599.

Welk Resort Center and Champagne Theatre, Branson, Missouri
Tel: 1-800-505-WELK Website: http://www.welkresortbranson.com

The wonderful sound of Lawrence Welk and his Musical Family is once again delighting people of all ages. The Lawrence Welk Resort and Champagne Theatre opened in May, 1994 at Branson, Missouri and includes a 2,300-seat theatre, a deluxe 160 room hotel and a 400 seat restaurant.

Germans from Russia
Important information and mailing addresses of archives, libraries and societies of the Germans from Russia in the United States

Germans from Russia Heritage Society
1125 West Turnpike Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58501
Tel: 701-227-6167 E-mail: grhs@grhs.org
Website: http://www.grhs.org
Hours open: 8 a.m. to 4p.m. - Monday - Friday

GRHS extends membership to all those interested in the heritage of the Germans from Russia. Membership includes a subscription to Heritage Review and access to extensive genealogical records, especially of the Bessarabian, Black Sea and Crimean Germans. The society has a bookstore at its headquarters in Bismarck and members receive a discount on all books purchased. GRHS maintains a library for research and study. An annual convention is held in July with members attending from throughout the United States and Canada.

Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-237-8416 or 701-231-6596
E-mail: Michael.Miller@ndsu.edu
Website: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc
Hours open: 8am to 4pm Monday-Friday

Located on the NDSU campus, the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection is one of the major resources relating to Germans from Russia in North America and the world. Its emphasis is on the Bessarabian, Black Sea and Crimean Germans who emigrated to North Dakota.

American Historical Society of Germans from Russia
631 D St., Lincoln, NE 68502
Tel: 402-474-3363 E-mail: AHSGR@ahsgr.org
Website: http://www.ahsgr.org

AHSGR maintains genealogical records, archives, and a library relating to the Germans from Russia including Volga, Black Sea, Bessarabian, Crimean and Mennonite Germans. AHSGR has extensive Volga German records and family history information. For further information and membership write to the society.

Glückstal Colonies Research Association
611 Esplanade, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Tel: 310-540-1872 E-mail: GCRA31@aol.com
Website: http://www.glueckstal.net

GCRA is primarily made up of members with ancestors from the Glückstal colonies today located near Odessa, Ukraine and in nearby Moldova. These villages include Bergdorf, Glückstal, Kassel and Neudorf. Its primary goal is to coordinate the genealogical efforts of Glückstal descendants and to provide access to all available resources. Many of the Germans from Russia of these villages settled in south-central North Dakota and north-central South Dakota, not far from Strasburg, ND.

Kutschurgan Regional Interest Group
Website: http://www.grhs.org/chapters/krig/index.html

The Kutschurgan Website is important to the heritage of the Welk family, since it include much information about the former Catholic Black Sea German villages in South Russia (today near Odessa, Ukraine). The Kutschurgan District mother colonies were Baden, Elsass, Kandel, Mannheim, Selz and Strassburg. In the 1880s and 1890s, the Strasburg area and north-central and south-central North Dakota was settled by who immigrated from these Kutschurgan District villages. Since 1996, the North Dakota State University Libraries has been offering the Journey to the Homeland Tours to these ancestral villages near Odessa.

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
NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-231-8416
Fax: 701-231-6128
Last Updated:
Director: Michael M. Miller
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