Journey to the Homeland: Odessa, Ukraine
and Stuttgart, Germany
May 26 - June 7, 2002
Biographies of Tour Group Members
* Identifies Deceased
Ann (Meier) Bauer, Grand Forks, North Dakota
Ancestral Villages: Rosental (Crimea), South Russia
I was born in Napoleon, North Dakota, September 1931, the youngest
of seven children born to John Meier and Rose (Kuhn) Meier. I graduated
from high school in Napoleon in 1949. I married Ray Bauer on November
13, 1950. We had three children: Tim, who passed away in 1995, and
Rita and Rhonda.
I lived in Napoleon until the death of my husband in 1983. I then
moved to Grafton, North Dakota, to be close to my children. I worked
at the Grafton State Developmental Center for 18 years. After retiring
in October 2001, I moved to Grand Forks.
I well remember the many stories my parents told of the "old
country." My parents worked hard all their lives as farmers
near Napoleon. My mother often spoke of the hope to return to Rosental.
She was never able to do that. I am looking forward to this tour
so I can actually see what my parents spoke of.
Robert Otto Dambach, Fargo, North Dakota
Director of Programming & Production, Prairie Public Broadcasting
I was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1951, and received my bachelor's
degree in communications at the University of Dayton, Ohio in 1973.
I hold an M.A. degree in speech communication, radio, TV, and film
from the University of Iowa and served as Assistant Instructor of
Radio and TV in Wichita, Kansas, moving to Program Manager in 1976
to 1979. I have also served as Program Manager in Las Vegas, Nevada,
and presently serve as the Program Manager and Producer of Prairie
Pubic Television, KMUW.
In the past 5 years I have produced two major documentaries on
the Germans from Russia, The Germans from Russia: Children of the
Steppe, Children of the Prairie (1999) and Schmeckfest: Food Traditions
of the Germans from Russia (2002), as well as Recipes from Grandma's
Kitchen: Germans from Russia Food Preparations and Traditions, Volume
I (2002). Presently I'm completing a documentary on Lewis and Clark
in North Dakota and Germans from Russia Wrought Iron Crosses that
will premiere in August 2002.
My hobbies are history, skiing and woodworking. I am married to
my wife, Virginia, and have two daughters: Mary (18) and Jeanne
(14). My heritage is German from my father's side and Irish from
my mother's side.
Oskar and Helma (Seefried) Eberle
Ancestral Villages: Marienberg, Eigenfeld, Hoffnungstal, Schönfeld
Oskar Eberle and his wife, Helma (Seefried) Eberle, were both born
in the Odessa Oblast, Ukraine (South Russia). Helma was born in
Marienberg (Nagornoje), a daughter colony of Bergdorf near Krasny
Okny, in 1938. This was only a few months after the Bolsheviks took
away her father, Emanuel Seefried, never to be heard from again
by his wife, Karoline Huft, and their six children. Emanuel Seefried
was the youngest brother of Janice Huber-Stangl's maternal grandmother,
who had immigrated to the U.S. in 1899. Oskar was born in the village
of Eigenfeld (Sachanskoje), a short distance north of Hoffnungstal
(Zebrikovo), Odessa, which was the home of his mother's family.
Oskar's father's family came from the colony of Schönfeld (Koschary),
near Rasdelnaja, Odessa.
The German Army evacuated both of their families from Ukraine in
March 1944 to the Warthegau in Occupied Poland. There they applied
for German citizenship. In January 1945, at the end of
WWII, they had to flee again to the West in front of the advancing
Soviet Army, to the vicinity of Berlin. In 1945 both families were
deported to the USSR, to Sverdlovsk in the Ural Mountains, remaining
in guarded barracks until 1959. Oskar and his family moved to Tajikistan,
where Helma joined Oskar as his bride and where their two daughters
were born. Oskar worked as a chauffeur for the local commissar,
and Helma was a crane operator. In November 1972, they were able
to immigrate via Moscow to Germany, settling in the Stuttgart area.
They currently live in Weissach, near Leonberg, Germany. Over the
later years, Oskar and Helma's siblings also have been able to leave
the USSR and resettle in Germany. This trip to Ukraine will be Oskar
and Helma's first visit to their home villages since 1944.
Theresa (Meier) Eissinger, Napoleon, North Dakota
Ancestral Villages: Odessa, Ukraine; Rosental and Neusatz (Crimea),
South Russia; Rohrbach and Johannestal, Beresan District
I was born March 19, 1929, in Napoleon, North Dakota, to John and
Rose (Kuhn) Meier. I attended a one-room schoolhouse for the first
eight years of school and graduated from Napoleon High School.
My parents were born in Russia. My father immigrated to the United
States in 1907 from Odessa at the age of 21. My mother came to America
in 1911 with her whole family, which included her parents, two brothers,
four sisters, two nieces and three nephews.
My parents were farmers all their lives and I remember the hard
times during the Depression. I am looking forward to visiting Rosental
where my mother was born and Odessa, my father's birthplace.
Yvonne M. Eissinger, Edina, Minnesota
Ancestral Villages: Odessa, Ukraine; Rosental and Neusatz (Crimea),
South Russia; Rohrbach and Johannestal, Beresan District
Three or four years ago I became interested in genealogy and decided
to work on my maternal grandmother's family tree. Various family
members had bits and pieces of information and I spent about one
year contacting families from all branches of the tree. When I put
all the information together, I had over 1,100 names.
My maternal grandmother's family, the Kuhns, lived in Rosental
(Crimea), South Russia. I know they had emigrated from Germany to
Russia in 1809. Unfortunately, I have not been able to determine
where the family lived in Germany. In Rosental, the Kuhns were farmers
and my great-grandfather also raised horses. The entire family,
16 members, left South Russia and came to the United States in 1911.
They settled in Napoleon, North Dakota, and many family members
live there still. My maternal grandfather, John Meier, left his
home in Odessa and came to the United States by himself in 1907.
I know less about the Eissinger connection to South Russia. My
paternal grandmother's family, the Langs, came from Neusatz, Crimea.
The Eissinger family came from Rohrbach and Johannestal, both Beresan
I was raised in Napoleon, North Dakota, and graduated from high
school there. I attended the University of North Dakota's College
of Nursing and some years later earned a master of science in adult
psychiatric/mental health nursing from the University of Texas at
El Paso. Recently I completed requirements for a clinical nurse
specialist in psychiatry.
After finishing college in Grand Forks, I lived there another four
years. I then spent 12 years in Fargo, working for the most part
at the mental health center. In 1989, I moved to Edina, Minnesota,
and currently I am working at Park Nicollet Clinic.
This trip has turned into a family reunion. I will be traveling
with my mother, sister, aunt, two first cousins and two of my mother's
*Margaret Ann (Aman) Freeman, Redondo Beach, California
Ancestral Villages: Bergdorf, Glueckstal, Kassel, Neudorf (Glueckstal
District) and daughter colony Marienberg north of Kassel near
the Kutschurgan River
Margaret writes, "I was born on an Iowa farm where I spent
my early years in the corn fields, attended rural school and did
all the things growing up that were typical of the thirties and
forties. The church, which my grandparents had founded, was over
the hill on the same section as our farm, and we lived on part of
the land that Grandfather Zimmerman had been able to purchase with
his hard work and frugal ways. Born to older parents who were each
the youngest child born late in life to their parents, the 58 cousins
on the Zimmerman side and the 58 cousins on the Aman side (with
the exception of two) were all older than my sister and I. We did
not lack for playmates or activities, and a goodly part of this
activity was work.
At the age of 12, my confirmation year, we moved into the town
of Monticello where I participated in many activities in high school.
After that I attended a small girls' school, Shimer College in
Mt. Carroll, Illinois, and then went on, with the help of scholarships,
to Linfield College in Oregon. From there I went to the University
of Hawaii for graduate work in sociology, aided by funds from a
graduate assistantship. There I met my husband Bob (see below) at
Graduate Club. After our two sons were in school, I took the necessary
courses for a teaching credential at USC and am now retired after
23 years in the Santa Monica Elementary Schools.
Growing up among my father's North German family, there was little
contact during the Depression and the war years with Mother's Germans
who lived nearly a thousand miles away. It was not until much later,
when Aberle's book became known, and even later, when we attended
an AHSGR meeting in 1978, that I really began to learn about my
rich heritage in the Germans from Russia. One of the greatest things
was to discover all this before my mother died. We attended conventions
for several years together, and I was able to put the history book
on the Aman family in her hands before she died. Incidentally, that
was the first computer printed family history book in the library
of either GRHS or AHSGR.
At threshing time, when the hired men ate elsewhere with the threshing
crew, Mother would cook Käse Knipfle for herself and her nieces.
Of course we always had Kuchen with prunes and apples, absolutely
delicious. Our food likely had the Germans from Russia seasoning,
which I never thought much about. And of course we ate borscht,
which we called vegetable soup.
In the late eighties, some friends and I started the Glückstal
Colonies Research Association, deciding to research all the inhabitants
of Bergdorf, Glückstal, Kassel and Neudorf. We were fortunate
to have Gwen Pritzkau's considerable help, since her husband Julius
has ancestry in Kassel (see Gwen below). We were also fortunate
to have found Carolyn Wheeler, who is competent in publishing and
proofreading and who we now realize is also a cousin.
Our group has grown and is an amazing collection of very dedicated
workers. Under the direction of Harold Ehrman, we have published
the Glückstal Colonies Births and Marriages and Glückstal
Colonies Deaths and have extended plans to publish Glückstal
Colonies Families. Much of the data is already in GEDCOM format,
thanks to our many industrious researchers. GCRA has been successful
in putting many families together and finding cousins on many continents
with the help of the computer. We have been able to meet our goal
of uniting families."
Robert A. Freeman, Redondo Beach, California
Bob writes, "I was born in Pasadena, California. As a boy
I worked for my father, a landscape gardener who supervised the
creation of the Kellogg Arabian Horse Farm in Pomona, California,
among other projects in Southern California. During summers I worked
at the Caltech Marine Laboratory in Corona del Mar, California.
After serving in the U.S. Army, I graduated from UCLA in biology
and education and took advanced work in tropical soils in Hawaii
and landscape architecture at Harvard University. In the 1960s,
I studied and then taught computer programming at System Development
Corporation in Santa Monica, California, and later served on the
corporate staff from which I retired as Director of Technical Information.
Since retirement in 1986, I have developed an interest in family
history research and am active in computer and communications technology
as it relates to group research activities. I am a founding participant
of the Glückstal Colonies Research Association and am currently
responsible for its computer facilities and services."
Margaret Freeman (see above) writes about her husband Bob, "Bob
and I were married in graduate school and then went to live in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, where Bob continued his studies at Harvard. We lived
in Lexington for several years, had a son, Bill, and returned to
California to live near Bob's parents. Bob took a job with System
Development Corporation and we settled in Santa Monica where we
lived for 36 years, 35 in the same house. Another son, George, was
born in Santa Monica and we feel fortunate that both boys went all
the way through the Santa Monica school system while we were living
at the same address."
Dena (Marquart) Graham, Belvidere, Illinois
Ancestral Village: Burtschi, South Russia
I was born in Napoleon, North Dakota, on June 5, 1929, to George
and Elizabeth (Kuhn) Marquart. My dad was born in Zeeland, North
Dakota, on September 29, 1890. My mother was born on April 15, 1892,
at Burtschi, South Russia, to Gottlieb and Marie (Bosch) Kuhn. She
was 18 years old when the family left South Russia, immigrating
to the United States and landing at Ellis Island in 1911. They settled
in Emmons County at Linton, North Dakota, and later moved to a farm
in Logan County at Napoleon, North Dakota.
I married Richard Graham on July 5, 1948. We have three children:
Georgann, Rick and Kelly. Georgann and Kelly are teachers, and Rick
is a pharmacist and also owns a farm. We have seven grandchildren
and one great-grandchild.
I was employed by the Rockford Public School System as an instructor
in the environmental education department for about 15 years. Later
I opened a gift shop in 1981 and enjoy that immensely.
I am so thrilled so many of my Kuhn relatives are joining us on
this trip, delights my very soul. Finally to walk in my mother's
footsteps is a long awaited lifetime dream.
Glenn A. Isernhagen, Longmont, Colorado
I was born February 3, 1942, and grew up in the house of my grandpa,
Georg Isernhagen, and his wife Elizabeth (Zweygardt) Isernhagen,
built on the farm he homesteaded northwest of St. Francis, Kansas.
My parents, Otto and Alice Isernhagen, were born four miles apart.
They were baptized, confirmed and married by Pastor Otto Zeilinger
at Salem Lutheran Church. The church was built by members of the
Zweygardt and Raile clans who emigrated from Russia in the late
1800s. My great-grandfathers donated the land for the church. It
was 100 years old in 2001 and is still active.
I grew up on the farm, the eldest of three, with my sister Maxine
and my brother Fred. We milked cows on dairy route and raised wheat
and feed for cows. I attended school from 1st grade through high
school in St. Francis, Kansas, graduating in 1960. I played baseball,
football and wrestled all through school becoming a state champion
wrestler twice. I attended Kansas State University in Manhattan,
Kansas, on a football scholarship and graduated in 1964. I went
onto Trinity Seminary (formerly Evangelical Lutheran Theological
Seminary) in Columbus, Ohio. I married Louanne Theilmann on December
18, 1965, and graduated in 1968. I was ordained in Zion Lutheran
Church in St. Francis in June 1968. Parishes I've served include
Zion Lutheran in Scotland, South Dakota, from 1968-1972; Our Savior's
Lutheran in Topeka, Kansas, from 1972-1983; Bethlehem Lutheran in
Longmont, Colorado, from 1983-present.
I love to hunt elk in Colorado and pheasant and quail in Kansas.
I enjoy travel abroad and have been to Germany several times to
visit relatives on my grandpa Georg's side, taking my parents, wife,
brother, son and nephew in 1996 on a "roots" trip. I love
the high plains and would like to live on the farm in St. Francis
someday-at least to keep it in the family until 2007 when it becomes
a Kansas Centennial Farm.
Louanne (Theilmann) Isernhagen, Longmont, Colorado
I was born December 14, 1942, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Giles
and Komora Theilmann. My paternal grandparents were Louis Theilmann
and Jesse (Baugh) Theilmann of Missouri. Maternal grandparents were
Allen Williams and Margaret (Charleton) Williams of Cameron, Missouri.
None of them were from Russia. My ancestors were from Germany and
I grew up in Parkville, Missouri, until age three when we moved
to nine acres in Tecumseh, Kansas, five miles east of Topeka on
the Kansas River. I attended Tecumseh Grade School for eight years.
I loved riding my pony, Goldie, and milking our dairy goats. I was
active in 4-H and church. I attended Highland Park High School in
Topeka from 1956-1960 and Kansas State University in Manhattan,
Kansas, from 1960-1964, where I received a bachelor of science degree
in elementary education.
From 1964-1965, I flew as a flight attendant for TWA out of Chicago's
O'Hare and Kansas City. I married Glenn Isernhagen, my college sweetheart,
in Topeka at 1st Presbyterian Church on December 18, 1965. We spent
our honeymoon on TWA passes in Cairo, Egypt; the Holy Land; Athens
I have mainly worked as a homemaker, but also taught 2nd and 3rd
grades, have been a school librarian and now am working part-time
at the Longmont Public Library. I play violin, handbells and sing
in the choir and women's trio at church. I love books, libraries,
writing and animals. Glenn and I both love to travel and we just
bought a condo along Fall River in Estes Park. We have two children:
Jonathan (33) who lives in Dallas and Anne (29) who lives in Seattle.
Our grandchildren are Evan (6) and Ben who will be one year old
on May 1st.
Elaine M. (Job) Klusman, New Salem, North Dakota
Ancestral Villages: Ottersheim Pfalz; Neudorf, Glueckstal District
My great-grandparents came from the Ottersheim Pfalz area and settled
in the Neudorf area. My grandparents lived in the Glueckstal area
and came to America in 1897 when my father was under one year old.
They settled south of Tappen, North Dakota.
My mother and father were married and moved to Jamestown, North
Dakota. Father died in 1937. I graduated from Tappen High School
and Bismarck Hospital School of Nursing then worked two years before
marrying Roger W. Klusman. After our family was raised, I became
an EMT on the New Salem Ambulance Squad for 10 years. I was church
organist for 23 years and at present am teaching a high school Sunday
school class. I think I am the first in the extended family to visit
Roger W. Klusman, New Salem, North Dakota
Ancestral Villages: Neudorf, Glueckstal District
I am a partly retired dairyman from New Salem, North Dakota. I
have spent my whole life in this occupation, with the exception
of spending two winter quarters at North Dakota State University.
I am still milking part-time in the evenings for our two sons, who
now own the farm.
My grandfather, Charles Klusman, Sr., emigrated from Bueramt Melle
Hannover, Germany, to Mexico, Missouri in 1883. He farmed with a
brother until 1900 when he moved his family to our farm, "The
Klusman Stock Farm," located north of New Salem, North Dakota.
He married Anna Gaebe from Addieville, Illinois.
My father, Charles A. Klusman, Jr., married Florence Wildy of New
Athens, Illinois. At this time they took over the home farm. They
started selling grade-A bottling milk in Bismarck in 1939 to the
same spot that our sons are selling to today. All four of my parents
and grandparents lived to be in their nineties.
In 1952 I married Elaine Job of Jamestown, North Dakota, and took
over the Klusman Stock Farm, raising registered Holsteins and registered
Columbia sheep. We have five children, eight grandchildren, and
one black lab named George. We are members of the United Church
of Christ. I love animals, trees and also do some hunting.
Timothy A. and Judith (Anderson) Klusman, Dubuque, Iowa
Ancestral Village: Neudorf, Glueckstal District
Tim writes, "I was born in 1953 in Bismarck, North Dakota,
to Roger W. and Elaine (Job) Klusman. My family has dairy farmed
near New Salem, North Dakota, since the early 1900s. After graduating
from New Salem High School, I studied diesel mechanics at North
Dakota State School of Science in Wahpeton, North Dakota. From there
I returned to farm with my parents. In 1977, I married Judy Anderson
from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and we continued to farm with my parents
until 1979 when we moved to Judy's home farm in Wisconsin. We dairy
farmed there until January 1999. Then we sold the herd and I began
driving truck over the road. Judy and I now live in Dubuque, Iowa,
where she is going to school. Next year we will be in Fort Morgan,
Colorado, where she will be serving her internship in the Lutheran
This will be my first trip to Europe and my ancestral homeland.
I am excited that Judy and I will be sharing this experience with
my parents. We have two sons: Charles (23) studying elementary education
at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, and James (19) studying aviation
at the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa."
Judy writes, "Wisconsin has been my home for most of my life.
I was born in Neenah, Wisconsin, and raised on the family dairy
farm near Oshkosh. After graduating from Winneconne High School,
I attended Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, for two years.
It was during this time that Tim and I began dating. After living
in North Dakota for 18 months, we returned to Wisconsin. Both of
our sons were born in Neenah at the same hospital I was born in.
My family started our farm in 1853 when my great-great-grandfather,
Ole Anderson, came from Norway. When our boys decided they didn't
want to pursue farming as their careers, Tim and I decided it was
time for a change in our lives. After farming and serving 12 years
in the Wisconsin State Assembly, I am now a student at Wartburg
Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, studying to be a pastor in the Lutheran
Church. Interestingly, my journey to seminary started in Ukraine
when I was doing volunteer work near Kharkiv through the Farmer
to Farmer Program in 1997.
This will be my fifth trip to Ukraine and the first to my husband's
ancestral village in Neudorf. On previous trips I fell in love with
Ukraine and the warm and loving people that I met there. I am very
excited about sharing this trip with my family and all of you and
am looking forward to getting to know the wonderful people in the
Black Sea area."
Bernadine B. (Lang) Kuhn, Owatonna, Minnesota
Ancestral Villages: Glueckstal, Gueldendorf and Friedenstal, South
I was born in Napoleon, North Dakota, Logan County, on January
21, 1943. Mrs. Thomas (Helen) Schwartzenberger was the midwife attending
the delivery process. My parents are Theodore and Louise (Gums)
Lang who farmed in Kidder County (Peace Township) in rural Tappen,
North Dakota. The farm was homesteaded by Christian and Christina
(Rott) Roesch Roesler in 1906.
Christian and Christina Roesler were immigrants from Glueckstal,
South Russia. They immigrated to the United States in 1905, on the
passenger ship Kaiser Wilhelm. My grandmother, Rosina (Roesch) Lang,
was born in 1897 and was a young child about eight years of age
when she immigrated with her parents Christian and Christina Roesler.
My grandfather, Frederich Lang, immigrated to the United States
in 1907 at age 14 on a freighter ship with his parents. Karl and
Elizabeth (Humann) Lang emigrated from Friedenstal, South Russia.
Karl and Elizabeth homesteaded property in Kidder County (Peace
Township), also in rural Tappen, North Dakota.
My maternal grandparents, Phillip and Elizabeth (Maier) Gums, emigrated
from Gueldendorf, South Russia, in 1910. They homesteaded in Logan
County at Napoleon, North Dakota. My mother, Louise (Gums) Lang
was the second child born to Phillip and Elizabeth (Maier) Gums
Alice Ann (Meier) Lippert, Burke, Virginia
Ancestral Villages: Black Sea villages
I was born in Bismarck, North Dakota, on July 26, 1952. My parents
are John and Katherine (Meier) Lippert, who are no longer living.
My father passed away in 1979 and my mother in 1998. Katherine Meier
was born June 27, 1919, in Napoleon, North Dakota, daughter of John
and Rose (Kuhn) Meier. Both Rose and John came from the Black Sea
area. John Lippert was born on May 27, 1916, in Wishek, North Dakota.
He is the son of Mathias and Caroline (Deibert) Lippert, who were
also born in the Russian Black Sea area.
I have one younger brother, John Lippert, who currently resides
in Bismarck, North Dakota. My older half brother, Nicky Meier, resided
in Napoleon and passed away in 2000.
I attended grade school in Burnstad and Wishek, and junior high
and high school in Napoleon. I graduated in 1970 and attended the
University of North Dakota where I received a bachelor of arts degree
in German literature. After working for a couple years, I decided
to obtain a graduate degree. So in 1977, I moved to Madison, Wisconsin,
to attend the University of Wisconsin. I earned a master of science
degree in consumer economics in 1979.
After graduate school, I moved to Washington, D.C., where I accepted
a position with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I am currently employed
with the U.S. Department of Energy. I am married to John Facada
(1977) and have two children: Katie (18) and Kyle (14).
Michael M. Miller, Fargo, North Dakota
Ancestral Villages: Straßburg, Kutschurgan District; Krasna,
Michael writes, "My first visit to the villages of Straßburg
and Krasna in June of 1994 is an experience I shall never forget.
I was especially touched by the warmth and friendship of the local
villagers. I returned to Odessa and to the home of the late Antonina
(Welk) Ivanova in the village of Selz in December 1995."
Michael was raised in Strasburg, North Dakota, learning to speak
English and German. His college degrees are from Valley City State
University and the University of North Dakota. He has been on the
North Dakota State University Libraries staff since 1967, where
he compiled the annotated bibliography, Researching the Germans
from Russia, published by the Institute of Regional Studies,
He serves as Bibliographer of the Germans from Russia Heritage
Collection, NDSU Libraries. Since 1999, he has been an executive
producer for Prairie Public Television documentaries including the
award-winning The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children
of the Prairie (1999), Schmeckfest: Food Traditions of the Germans
from Russia (2000); also Recipes from Grandma's Kitchen: Germans
from Russia Food Preparations and Traditions, Volume 1 (2002) and
Germans from Russia Wrought Iron Crosses (2002). He has visited
Odessa and the former German villages each year since 1994 to 2003.
*Gwen W. Pritzkau, Riverton, Utah
Ancestral Villages: Bergdorf, Glueckstal, Kassel, Neudorf (Glueckstal
Gwen was born and raised in Utah. She is the wife of Julius Pritzkau,
who was born and raised in North Dakota. She writes, "We share
the same children and grandchildren." Almost all German-Russian
convention attendees know Gwen as a lady of great genealogical information.
She was a cataloging specialist for the Salt Lake County Library
System for more than 25 years. After retiring from her position
at the library, Gwen is now volunteering at the Utah State Prison
as the director of a project teaching the old German script to the
inmates so they can extract the St. Petersburg records of all the
Lutheran Germans inside the western portion of the Russian Empire.
She joking says she is "doing '5 to life' with no chance of
parole." Her background is Danish but her love and interest
in the German-Russian people has been of great importance in her
Janice Huber-Stangl and Thomas Stangl, Sterling, Virginia
Ancestral Lands and Villages: Baden-Württemberg, South Prussia,
Bessarabia, Glückstal, Kassel, Odessa, Nesselrode and Neu-Beresina
Janice Huber-Stangl was born, raised and educated in Edmunds County,
South Dakota, and attended Northern State College in Aberdeen, South
Dakota, completing an associate degree in elementary education.
Her ancestors originated primarily from Baden-Württemberg and
were colonists in South Russia in the early 19th century, immigrating
to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her paternal
ancestors were colonists in Ukraine, emigrating from Glückstal
and Kassel. Her maternal ancestors were colonists in South Prussia
and Bessarabia and later in Odessa, in the villages of Nesselrode
and Neu-Beresina. Jan has close relatives, currently living in Germany
near Stuttgart, who lived in the Glückstal District until the
Umsiedlung (evacuation) in 1944.
Jan and her husband, Thomas Stangl, have three children and three
grandchildren. Jan is currently retired from teaching elementary
and musical education, travels extensively with Tom and is actively
involved in many aspects of genealogical research for her family,
as well as Germans from Russia in general. She is currently a member
of the Board of Directors of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society
(GRHS). She is a Village Coordinator (VC) for several villages for
GRHS and the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia
(AHSGR). She is a life member of both GRHS and AHSGR, as well as
a member of the Glückstal Colonies Research Association (GCRA).
Jan has kept her childhood Schwäbisch dialect and continues
to improve her German language capabilities. She is co-author of
the book Marienberg, Fate of a Village, co-published in May 2000
(in German and English in one volume) by the Germans from Russia
Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries and
GCRA. Marienberg was a daughter colony of Bergdorf in the Glückstal
Thomas Stangl is not of Germans from Russia ancestry, but he had
the good sense to marry someone who is (so says Margaret Freeman).
Tom's ancestry is Austrian/Pomeranian and Irish/English. He was
born in Bowdle, South Dakota, and grew up on a farm near Java, South
Dakota. He attended a rural one-room school and then attended high
school in Java and Bowdle, graduating from Bowdle. He received a
degree in animal husbandry from South Dakota State University and
has taken graduate school courses at George Washington University,
Washington, DC, and the University of Virginia. Tom began his government
service career in 1957 with the Department of the Interior, Bureau
of Indian Affairs, on the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation in South
Dakota. He was also stationed at the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain
Ute Indian Reservations in Colorado, as well as the Cheyenne River
Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. In 1970, Tom accepted a position
at the Bureau's central office in Washington, DC, as a program analyst.
In 1987 he retired as the Assistant Director for Financial Management,
having been Chief Budget and Program Planning Officer for the Bureau
for over eight years.
Since Tom became actively involved in genealogical research with
Jan, he has traced several branches of her family back to Germany
to the early 1500s. Tom and Jan have published several short articles
in the GCRA newsletter about some of these families. While Tom does
not speak or understand much German, he can read all forms of old
German script, as well as some Russian, Polish, French and Latin.
Tom has not neglected his own families, but has had the good fortune
of finding several "new" cousins who have done the research
on several of them. Since shortly before Tom's retirement, Tom and
Jan began to travel abroad, starting with a trip to England in 1985.
They have since traveled to Western Europe many times, including
trips to Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland,
the Netherlands, France, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar,
Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Ukraine and Moldova. They have also traveled
to Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia; and closer to home, to Canada
In August 1997, Jan and Tom began their research of the Berlin
Document Center (BDC) microfilms located at National Archives II,
College Park, Maryland. These thousands of rolls of film include
naturalization records (Einwandererzentralstelle--EWZ) for ethnic
Germans who applied for German citizenship during the period 1939-1945.
They have been able to find records for some of Jan's "lost"
relatives who stayed in Old Russia during the American immigrations
around the turn of the 20th century. They have continued to conduct
BDC research for others seeking information about their own family
or relatives. They posted a notice on the Odessa Digital Library
and have received requests for assistance from all over the world.
Especially gratifying has been being able to help several ethnic
Germans still living in the former Soviet Union prove their German
heritage, with the hope of being able to immigrate to Germany.
Cora (Wietgrefe) Raugutt, Casper, Wyoming
Ray did a good job including me in his biographical sketch, but
I will try to add a little more information.
We have been doing family research for only two and a half years
but are hooked on genealogy. As my ancestors came directly from
Germany, we hope to stay in Germany for awhile after the tour and
do some research there. I have been in touch with some families
with my surname of Wietgrefe and hope to make some family connection.
One of my cousins lays claim to the Neuschwanstein castle, but
even though I fear she is incorrect, I still hope to visit there.
Neuschwander was my mother's maiden name.
My life has been a series of wonderful experiences: living in the
beautiful western U.S. for 45 years, working in national parks,
meeting many relatives in North Dakota, Minnesota, Oregon and Iowa
that I never knew existed until after retirement and traveling throughout
the U.S. I am looking forward to the next trip - the Homeland Tour
Raymond L. Raugutt, Casper, Wyoming
Ancestral Villages: Leipzig and Beresina, Bessarabia
I was born on my parents' homestead near Mobridge, South Dakota,
on December 26, 1932. My parents were Michael and Paulina Raugutt.
My dad was born in Leipzig, Bessarabia and came to the U.S. with
his parents at the age of seven. My maternal grandparents, Joseph
and Karalina Frigen, came from Beresina, Bessarabia.
I attended school in Mobridge, South Dakota, and graduated from
Northwestern Lutheran Academy (high school). I served in the U.S.
Air Force for four years after high school as a B-36 mechanic.
Following my discharge I married my high school sweetheart, Cora
Wietgrefe, from Ipswich, South Dakota. We moved to Missoula, Montana,
where I attended the University of Montana receiving a bachelor
of science degree in forestry in 1959. I worked as a forester, specializing
in timber management, for 30 years with the U.S. Forest Service
with periods of duty on the Nez Perce National Forest at Grangeville,
Idaho; Lolo National Forest near Missoula, Montana; Kootenai National
Forest at Fortine, Montana, and Idaho National Forest at Priest
Prior to our marriage, Cora taught school on an Indian reservation
in Arizona. While our children were young she was a mother and housewife,
but did much volunteer work with the school systems. Once our children
were grown she worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 13 years.
After retiring in 1988, Cora and I began working seasonally in
the national parks. We worked five summer seasons in Yellowstone
National Park, one winter in Big Bend National Park in Texas, and
two winters in Death Valley, California.
We have two grown children, both living in Casper, Wyoming. Dale
is an electrical engineer with Pacific Power and Light and Debra
is a CPA with an accounting firm.
I am looking forward to visiting the two villages where my ancestors
lived. Cora is also of German descent and hopes to do some genealogy
research on her ancestors in Germany.
Dr. Harley Roth, Northern California
Ancestral Villages: Glueckstal, Beresan, Odessa and possibly Volga
All four of my grandparents are Germans from Russia, emigrating
from Glueckstal, Beresan, Odessa and possibly Volga villages. They
settled as dry-land farmers, had large families and carved a living
from the rolling hills of northeastern (Keota) Colorado, Java and
Long Lake, South Dakota and Ashley, North Dakota.
I was born in Greeley; my parents were farmers during the Depression.
We later moved to Stockton, California during the war. At the age
of six, I remember my father selling our furniture and other possessions
at auction, and we drove to California in the dead of winter in
a '32 Model A Ford. My dad went to work in the shipyards and later
became a heavy-duty equipment mechanic. As a homemaker, my mother
raised three sons and supplemented our family income with seasonal
The work ethic and family values (and good teachers) influenced
me to become the first to graduate from college by working my way
through school. My wife, Eleanor, and I married and we have three
children and six grandchildren. I started my 25-year public education
career as a teacher and principal before Sputnik. In 1969, I received
a fellowship from the Mott Foundation and Michigan State University;
Eleanor and I were graduate students together. In the spring, she
completed her master's degree in library science (U of M) and I
completed the doctorate (MSU) later in the summer. My career continued
at MSU and later Virginia Tech, teaching at the master's and doctoral
level. Later, I returned to my public school career as a superintendent
of schools (in New Jersey) and then we returned to California.
After five years of coordinating programs with school districts,
industry and various government agencies in Santa Clara Valley,
my career goals changed. I began consulting in strategic planning
and management training in the high tech industries here in Silicon
Valley. Out of those experiences, I did the entrepreneurial thing...raised
venture capital and started a software company developing and marketing
educational and industrial training products. I have continued consulting
and teaching college courses in management, personnel, research,
health services administration and marketing. Completing my 45th
year of teaching this year, I am currently adjunct professor of
marketing in the MBA program at Golden Gate University in Silicon
Valley, San Francisco and the greater Bay Area.
Hobbies include traveling, building and woodworking, gardening
and reading. As a family, we have lived and taught in the inner
cities of the North, the coal mining areas of the South, the suburbs
(and resort communities) of the East and the agricultural and high
tech regions of the West. We have traveled to Spain, England, Greece,
Mexico, the Caribbean and throughout the U.S. and Canada over the
years. My wife, an avid family history researcher, retires as a
public school librarian this spring. We plan to live in Arizona
in the winter and Northern California in the summer, where I'll
continue to teach for GGU. We'll enjoy our children and grandchildren,
travel, continue our hobbies and research our family heritages together.
Rev. Delbert Sailer, Thiensville, Wisconsin
Ancestral Villages: Bestrek, Friedental, Kronental, Sochta-Er,
I was born June 9, 1943, in Beulah, North Dakota. My grandparents
on my father's side were German-Russians. Grandfather Peter Sailer
was born in Bestrek, Crimea. My grandmother, Margaretha Sailer (nee
Morast) was born in Meschen, Crimea. My father George was born in
Lesy, Crimea. My father came to America with his parents in 1906.
He came with his father, mother and nine brothers and sisters. Upon
their arrival in America they settled about 10 miles north of Hazen,
North Dakota. My father would later buy a farm adjacent to my grandfather's
farm. My mother was also of German background, but not German-Russian.
She was the daughter of the Lutheran minister in Krem, North Dakota.
I was the youngest of 12 children and lived on the farm until I
was in the fifth grade when my parents retired from farming and
moved to Hazen. While living on the farm I went to a one-room school
about a mile from the farm until I was in third grade. The school
I was attending closed and so I had to ride my horse to another
one-room school about four miles from our farm. I enjoyed the one-room
school experience. I also enjoyed growing up on a farm in a large
family. I was too young to be a part of the threshing crews, but
I remember them. I especially enjoyed the huge dining room table
filled with relatives and neighbors eating and recalling the day's
events. I also remember that relatives, uncles, aunts and cousins
would often visit on weekends. The children would play outside,
and the adults would sit around the living room and visit. It was
then that I would often hear stories of the homeland.
After we moved to Hazen I attended school there. It was something
of a shock to be in a classroom with 30 other students. I graduated
from Hazen High School in 1961. Upon graduation I moved to Rapid
City, South Dakota, to work during the summer months with some of
my brothers who were in the construction and painting businesses.
It is there that I met my wife Shari Wickard. We were married in
1964. I received my bachelor of arts degree from Wartburg College
in Waverly, Iowa, in 1965. I then went to Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque,
Iowa, and received my master of divinity degree in 1970. Upon graduation
from the seminary, I received a call to be the pastor at Faith Lutheran
Church in Cuba City, Wisconsin. I served that parish and Lutheran
Campus Ministry at the University of Wisconsin in Platteville until
1978. While I was campus pastor I did some reading on my German-Russian
I then received the call to be the senior pastor at Norway Lutheran
Church in Wind Lake, Wisconsin. I served that congregation from
1978 to 1993. Norway Lutheran has the distinction of being the oldest
Norwegian Lutheran Church in the United States. In 1993, I then
received the call to Grace Lutheran Church in Thiensville, Wisconsin,
and am still serving this congregation.
We have two children. David is in marketing at Orchestra Hall in
Minneapolis, and Jon is a therapist supervisor at an autistic center
in the Twin Cities.
I am excited about the trip to the homeland.
Shari L. (Wickard) Sailer, Thiensville, Wisconsin
I was born on July 5, 1943, in Edgely, North Dakota. My father
was of German background; my mother was English. My father was in
the service when I was born, and when he returned we moved to Rapid
City, South Dakota. Throughout my growing up years we lived in various
parts of the country: Sioux City, Iowa; Woodstock, Illinois; and
Fairfield, California. Mainly I would look upon Rapid City as my
hometown. I graduated from Rapid City High School in 1962.
I met my husband Dell in Rapid City. We were married in 1964. I
received my associate degree from the University of Wisconsin in
Waukesha. Then I attended Holy Redeemer College near Waterford,
Wisconsin, and received my bachelor of arts degree in 1985.
Neither of my parents are of German-Russian background, but I have
gotten to know the culture well through Dell and his eight brothers
and three sisters. We have traveled overseas before, and I have
enjoyed it each time. We have been to Israel twice, London once
and El Salvador once. I enjoy traveling with a group. I love to
read, and Dell and I have belonged to a book club for 20 years.
I also enjoy singing in the choirs at church.
I worked for six years as a pre-school teacher, but when we moved
to Thiensville, I began work with Kid's Kingdom in day care in the
infant room. I have always enjoyed children. I especially like my
three grandchildren Ethan, Elijah (both from China) and Olivia.
I look forward to the trip and meeting new people.
Joyce A. (Eissinger) Sieckert, Edina, Minnesota
Ancestral Villages: Odessa, Ukraine; Rosental and Neusatz (Crimea),
South Russia; Rohrbach and Johannestal, Beresan District
I was born in 1955 in Napoleon, North Dakota, to Theresa and Reinhold
Eissinger. I have one sister, Yvonne, who is also on this trip.
I graduated from high school in 1973 and attended the University
of North Dakota. I graduated with a degree in elementary music and
elementary education and taught at Grand Forks Air Force Base for
three years. I then moved to Minneapolis and earned a master's degree
in special education from the University of Minnesota. I have worked
at the Carver-Scott Educational Cooperative for 19 years, where
I have taught in special education, vocational education and adult
education. I currently supervise programs for youth at risk, adult
education and English as a second language. In 1993, I married Steve
I am traveling with my sister, mother, aunt, two cousins and two
of my mother's cousins. My sister's research on our family has generated
a great deal of curiosity about our heritage. I am looking forward
to visiting the homes of my mother's parents, as well as my father's
Leila M. (Sailer) Simpson, Kirtland, Ohio
Ancestral Villages: Bestrek, Friedental, Kronental, Sochta-Er,
I'm interested in this trip because my father lived as a lad in
Germany and then Russia. He spoke of both places, and I would like
to know more about them. My mother was of German descent also. She
was the daughter of a Lutheran minister who had moved to the Hazen-Krem
area from Canada.
I was born in Hazen, North Dakota, the tenth child in a family
of twelve. There were nine boys and three girls (of which I was
the youngest). We grew up on a farm about 10 miles north of Hazen.
I attended a rural school my first eight years, starting first grade
at age five. Then I was off to high school and after that, six weeks
of summer college at Wartburg in Waverly, Iowa. I then taught at
a rural school at the age of 16. After one year of teaching there
I went back to Wartburg and got my bachelor of science degree. I
then went to Cleveland to teach. I taught school in Cleveland for
a few years, then became a secretary and retired four years ago.
I met my husband in Cleveland. He was a firefighter. We have four
daughters and five grandchildren. My husband died in 1995. I now
baby-sit my three-year-old granddaughter, and I am a hostess at
a restaurant. Whenever possible, I travel. Am really looking forward
to this trip!
Janice Ann (Marquart) Spotts, Portland, Oregon
Ancestral Village: Burtschi, South Russia
I was born Janice Ann Marquart on March 23, 1937, in Napoleon,
North Dakota. My parents were George and Elizabeth (Kuhn) Marquart.
My dad was born in Zeeland, North Dakota, in 1890. My mother was
born in Burtschi, South Russia, in 1892.
Every time my mother spoke of Russia she would speak so highly
of the fruit they picked near the Black Sea. When they came over
through Ellis Island she was 18 years old. They first moved to Linton,
North Dakota, where they had relatives. Then Grandpa bought a farm
at Napoleon and that became our hometown.
I'm the youngest of five daughters. I graduated from Napoleon High
School then became a registered nurse. I was married then divorced
after we moved to Portland, Oregon. I worked at Oregon Health Sciences
University (medical school) for my entire nursing career. I have
one daughter Kim, a son-in-law Jon, and two beautiful grandchildren,
Jimmy and Emily.
After retiring from nursing, I opened a gift shop called George
"E." Marquarts,' in Sherwood, Oregon. What fun! I enjoy
doing crossword puzzles and working in my yard and am anxiously
awaiting this tour to Russia.
Thomas A. and Janice (Huber) Stangl, Ashburn, Virginia
Ancestral German villages: Alf Elft, Arzis, Borodino, Jargara, Neu
Elft and Neu Sarata, Neu Beresina, Bessarabia; Glückstal and Kassel
(Glückstal District); and Nesselrode/Birsula
Thomas A. (Tom) Stangl was born in Bowdle, SD, a descendent of Austrian/Pomeranian and Irish/English immigrants. He grew up on a farm near Java, SD; attended a rural one-room school; and went to high school in Java and Bowdle, graduating from Bowdle in 1953. He received a degree in Animal Husbandry from South Dakota State University in 1957; and has taken graduate school courses in economics and public management at George Washington University, Washington, DC, and the University of Virginia. He married Janice (Jan) Huber Stangl on 15 June 1958; they have three children, three grandchildren and one great grandson. Jan is of Germans from Russia ancestry, thus leading Tom into his deep interest in the group's heritage.
Tom began his government service career in 1957, with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Dept. of the Interior, on the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation in SD; also serving at the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservations in CO, as well as the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in SD. In 1970, Tom accepted a program analyst position in the Bureau's Central Office in Washington, DC, moving his family to Sterling, VA. In 1987, he retired as the Assistant Director for Financial Management, having been the chief budget and program planning officer for the Bureau for over eight years. For another five years he worked part-time as a consultant for various Indian tribes around the US.
Janice Huber Stangl was born near Hosmer, SD, and is 100% German-Russian; her maternal ancestors emigrated to Prussia-Poland, and later to Bessarabia; her paternal ancestors emigrated to the Glückstal Colonies of Glückstal and Kassel, and to Rohrbach/Beresan, in Odessa. She attended elementary and secondary school in Bowdle, SD, and graduated from Northern State Teacher's College in 1956 with an associate degree in intermediate elementary education, with a minor in music. Her first teaching job was in Selby, S.Dak., as a fourth grade teacher. Selby had no elementary music education program, so she traded a music class period with other teachers for their instruction in other various classes in her classroom. After teaching two years in Selby, Jan and Tom were married in 1958. They first lived in Gordon, Nebraska, where Jan became a full time elementary school music instructor. After moving in 1959 to Durango, CO, she "retired" temporarily after the arrival of their two daughters -- Janell and Janeen. In 1963, after a move to Eagle Butte, SD, where their son, Thomas Allan, was born, she taught music in the school at Dupree, SD, and gave private piano lessons. Their next move to Cortez, CO, in 1967, ended her teaching career, but she continued giving piano lessons there and in Virginia, until 1990. Their three children all graduated from Park View High School in Sterling, with their daughters graduating from West Virginia University and their son from Virginia Tech.
Starting with a trip to England in 1985, the Stangls began to travel extensively abroad, including two trips (1998 and 2002) to Ukraine and Moldova. When the Stangls are at home, their avocation is genealogical research, primarily relating to Germans from Russia. While Tom does not speak or understand much German, he can read all forms of old German script very well; and has also worked with handwritten Russian, Polish, French and Latin records. Since 1992, Tom has traced most branches of Jan's family back to the 1500s, and recently he has traced one of her families back to the 500s, using data found on the Internet. He has not neglected the genealogy of his own families, but has had the good fortune of finding several "new" cousins, who have done the research on several of them. Unfortunately, records are scarce in Ireland and Pomerania.
Tom has had several articles published in Heritage Review; the journal of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society (GRHS), Bismarck, ND. He has written many articles for the Glückstal Colonies Research Association (GCRA) Newsletter; and has contributed several major articles, extractions, translations, databases, and Points-of-Origin files for the 2004 GCRA book, The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America. He also wrote the original "story outline" which was developed with others into the script for the accompanying DVD/VHS award-winning documentary, Heaven is Our Homeland, The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America, which has been presented on numerous PBS television stations across the U.S. He has also contributed several articles and research materials to the 2008 GCRA book, The Glückstalers in New Russia, the Soviet Union, and North America. He continues to answer emails and write articles about his genealogical research on many GCRA families (who are not his relatives!), and hopes to find the time to help Jan with several of her long-planned, but unfinished, family books and translation projects.
Jan has kept her childhood Schwabish German dialect, and has been continuing to improve her German language capabilities. In 2000, she became a published author -- the bilingual book, "Marienberg - Fate of a Village; Schicksal eines Dorfes." -- published by GCRA and North Dakota State University Libraries. Marienberg, Odessa, Ukraine was the village in which her great grandmother, Euphrosina (Kruckenberg) Seefried Bader, lived during the last years of her life, until her death in 1922, in the nearby village of Seebach -- during the "Starvation Years" in early Soviet Russia. Jan also contributed several articles to the GCRA books, The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America, and The Glückstalers in New Russia, the Soviet Union, and North America. She continues to work on translating from German many more letters written to America from the village of Marienberg, with the intention of publishing them soon.
In August 1997, Tom and Jan began their research of the Berlin Document Center (BDC) microfilms located at National Archives II, College Park, MD. These thousands of rolls of film include naturalization records for ethnic Germans, who applied for German citizenship during the 1939-1945 period. They have been able to find records for some of Jan's "lost" relatives, who had stayed in Old Russia. They also conduct volunteer research on the BDC films for persons sending email requests from all over the world. Especially gratifying has been being able to help several ethnic Germans still living in the former Soviet Union to prove their German heritage, thus helping them emigrate to Germany.
Catherine (Kempf) Vogele, Rapid City, South Dakota
Kenneth for Cathy: Catherine was born on October 21, 1942, in Nespelem,
Washington, on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation where her father
was a physician in IHS. Her father, Terrence Kempf, is of German
descent although not via Russia. Catherine moved to Omaha when only
a few years old. She was raised Catholic (as bad as being German);
her mother raised eight children. Catherine completed her RN degree
about 1963 and helped put her husband through medical school. She
moved to Rapid City, South Dakota, in 1975 and raised two children:
Gretchen (32) and Brendan (28). The only nursing care she provides
now is for family and friends; as I write this, she is currently
in Omaha caring for her mother and sister.
Catherine owned and operated the Sioux Trading Post in Rapid City
from 1986-1993. Her interests are reading, grandkids, Indian art
(especially "kids' stuff"). She is more interested in
contemporary things than her husband. When not helping family and
friends, Catherine's main job is keeping her husband happy.
Dr. Kenneth Allen Vogele, Rapid City, South Dakota
Ancestral Villages: Glueckstal, Neu-Glueckstal
I was born on May 1, 1944, in Providence, Rhode Island, and raised
in Aberdeen, South Dakota, from the age of four onwards. My father,
Cleo Leo Vogele, was a physician and surgeon. His father, Christian,
and mother, Fredericka Schumacher, were from Glueckstal and Neu-Glueckstal
respectively. Dad owns Christian's homestead near Lowry, South Dakota.
I am a gastroenterologist, practicing in Rapid City, South Dakota,
since 1975. I have two children: Gretchen who is 32, married with
two-year-old twin boys and teaches English as a second language;
Brendan who is 28, single and does computer networking.
My interests are Northern Plains Indian history and art, the literature
of James Willard Schultz and a latent interest in genealogy through
the years. I only really began researching family history in March
2001. I feel somewhat inadequate making this trip now but the opportunity
is too great to pass up.
Glueckstal Memorial Dedication Tour Group
May 22 - May 28, 2002