Journey to the Homeland Tour – Ukraine & Germany
North Dakota State University Library Sponsored Tour
18 May – 28 May 2011
Biographies of Tour Group Members
Birgit Arnold, Konstanz, Germany
I was born in northern Germany after WWII and I am married. We have been living in Konstanz in southern Germany for almost 40 years now.
We personally do not have a German-Russian heritage, but we are very interested in the history of these people because of our family history which we started to look after several years ago.
My husband’s ancestors have been living for more than 400 centuries in the old German village Bernhausen which is situated beside Stuttgart airport now. In 1818, Johann Georg Schraitle, a cousin of one of his ancestors, left this village to join the Moravian Brethren who sent him to Russia (Volga region). About 1825 he became a (Lutheran) teacher in Josefstal (near Dnjepopetrosk) where he was late in 1855.
J.G. Schraitle (who spelled his name Schreitel in Russia) had seven living children, four sons and three daughters. The daughters married settlers from Josefstal. His daughter Charlotte was married to a man named Paul Tietz who later joined the “Jerusalem friends” and emigrated to Palestine. His four sons became teachers as well; two of them in Josefstal, one in Elisabethgrad and one of them founded a school in Odessa where he was director. He died in Odessa about 1901.
As we are retired teachers, my husband and I tried to learn as much as possible about these four brothers who were teachers as well and so we became very interested in the history of the Germans from Russia. We succeeded in finding offsprings of the Schreitel family in Germany who didn’t know very much about their German roots. We contacted offsprings of the Tietz family who are now living in Germany as well after leaving Palestine after 1948.
By accident I read about your homeland tour in May 2012 and thought it might be a possibility to go to the Odessa region with a group and to meet Germans from Russia living in the United States today.
Adrienne Barreto, Winter Park, Florida
Ancestral Villages: Kutschurgan District Villages
My name is Adrienne Barreto, maiden name Schell. My father, Tarey B. Schell, was born in Rugby, North Dakota on January 19, 1939. My paternal grandfather, Joseph Schell, was born in Orrin, North Dakota in 1905. My great-grandfather, Joseph Schell, was born in the village of Elsass in 1873 and moved his family to South Dakota and then to Orrin, North Dakota where he died in 1930. My great-great-grandfather Sebastian Schell was born in Elsass where he lived until his death. The only information I have on the Schell family is based on oral history, photographs that my grandfather documented with names, birthplaces and dates, and a “family tree” that my dad’s sister researched and constructed in the early 1970’s.
I was born in Munich, Germany in 1963. I am the second oldest of four children. My father was a graduate of West Point Military Academy and our family traveled to and lived in many states during my dad’s 21 year Army career. I am what you would fondly call an “Army Brat.” I graduated from Villanova University in 1984 with my B.S. in Nursing.
I currently live in Winter Park, Florida with my husband of 22 years, Raul and our three wonderful sons; Raul who is 20, Ryan who is 15, and Ross who is 11. I work as a neonatal nurse at the Florida Hospital for Children, where I have been employed for the past 17 years. I enjoy gardening, bike riding and boating and any outside activity that involves my family. With four boys, I generally just “go with the flow.”
I am looking forward to sharing this experience with my mother, Priscilla Schell. I plan on keeping a journal and taking lots of pictures so I can share my experience with my siblings and my family.
Yvonne (Rempfer/Roth) Beebe, Nisswa, Minnesota
Ancestral Villages: Beresina and Neu Beresina (Bessarabia); Alexanderhilf (Liebental District)
I was born in McIntosh County in Zeeland, North Dakota which is 100 miles south of Bismarck, North Dakota and two miles from the South Dakota line. I was third in line of four children born to Fredrick and Wilhelmina (Roth) Rempfer. My first husband Robert Petersen and I had four children who we raised in Fridley, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I worked in an electronics factory for 27 years. The last 10 years I was a supervisor to about 50 employees, until I moved to Brainerd, Minnesota where I married Jay Beebe in 1982.
My father Fredrich Rempfer born in 1894 was the eighth child of 13, born to my grandfather George Rempfer. George was born in 1856 in Bessarabia, South Russia. His father was Johann George. My grandmother Friedricka Brietling, whom he married in 1878, was born in Beresina, South Russia in 1860. Grandfather George started a Mercantile store and was post master in Kassel which was 15 miles west of Ashley, North Dakota. He was elected County Commissioner of that area, and held that office until his death in February 1900. He was only 44 when he died, and is buried in the Kassel cemetery next to Grandmother, who died in 1927 after marrying two more times.
My mother Wilhelmina Roth was born in 1912 and died in 1992. She was the oldest of seven children of Henrich Roth and Lydia (Brietling) Roth. My grandmother, Lydia, was born in 1894 and my grandfather, Henrich, was born in 1889. He was a well driller by trade, as was my father Fred Rempfer. My great-grandfather George and Katharina (Heather) Roth lived in Venturia, North Dakota. He left Alexanderhilf, South Russia when he was an officer in the Russian army. Later in life he moved next door to his son (my grandfather) where he died in 1946 at the age of 88.
I wish now I would have asked more questions about our ancestors, when I was younger, as I am so very interested now. A little too late.
Marlene Ruth DeVoe, St. Cloud, Minnesota – with Phil Schloss
Ancestral Villages: Baden, Germany; Prussia, Poland, Switzerland, England
First of all, Phil Schloss is my husband and we were married on August 17, 2002 in St. Cloud, Minnesota. My first marriage was to James DeVoe (March 3, 1962) and we had two daughters: Deborah DeVoe (Fehrenbach) born in 1962 and Kathie DeVoe (Gibson) born in 1964. There are two grandchildren on my side: Max Gibson born January 6, 2005 and Charlise Gibson born September 23, 2007 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
My father, John Joseph Persik, was born in Cedar, Michigan on a farm in Leelanau County to Frank Persik and Frances (Fleece, Flees). His father, Frank Persik, was born in Wisconsin and his parents were John Perszyk and Katherine (Lewanowski) who both emigrated from Prussia/Poland/Germany in the 1870’s. They lived in Wisconsin, then moved to Michigan and homesteaded a farm in Leelanau County (Centerville Township).
John Perszyk’s parents were Christopher and Maggie (Levaduka) Perszyk who were from Germany and to the best of my knowledge lived and died there. The parents of Katherine Perszyk (Lewanowski) were Mike Lewandowski and Anna Lapinski from Poland/Germany. The parents of my grandmother, Francis Persik (Fleece), were Jacob Flees and Gertrude (Nimschinsky) who we think emigrated from Poland/Germany in the late 1800’s.
My mother, Marjorie Persik Glazier (Hoffman is maiden name) was born in Chicago in 1916 and is now 95 years of age. Her parents were Fredrick Hoffman and Bessie May (Hancock) Hoffman, Yentzer.
My grandfather, Fredrick Hoffman (born in Germany in 1888) emigrated from Basel, Switzerland from Germany on December 31, 1890 at the age of two with his mother Pauline Hoffman (Stouter, Stadler) as his father Fredrick Hoffman came to the United States earlier. They first were in Bucyrus, Ohio then St. Paul, Minnesota. His father, Fredrick Hoffman was born in 1856 in Baden, Germany and baptized at Katholisch, Diaedeshaeim, Mosbach, Baden. He died in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1923. His parents were Mathias Hoffman and Catherina (Slatler) Hoffman, both born in Germany. Pauline Hoffman (Souter) was born in Wurttemberg, Germany in 1850. Her mother Dorothea Sutter (Souter, Sutter) was born on February 23, 1822 in Neuenkirchen, Baden, Germany and christened on February 25, 1822 in Evangelisch, Neuenkirchen, Baden. Dorothea Souter’s mother was Eva Catharina Sutter. Pauline Hoffman’s father was John Souter, Germany.
My grandmother, Bessie May (Hancock) Hoffman was born in Bucyrus, Ohio on March 18, 1888 to Henry and Emma Hancock. At this point in time, we don’t have any further documented history. My grandmother told me that her ancestors had come over on the Mayflower (this side was English and supposedly related to John Hancock who signed the Declaration of Independence and another part was Pennsylvania Dutch (German). She married Frederich Hoffman on November 24, 1909 in Bucyrus, Ohio. They moved to Chicago where my grandfather was a painter and belonged to a union.
My brothers, Robert and Ronald Persik, and I were born in Chicago, Illinois. We moved when I was a baby to Cedar, Michigan to take over the family farm. There were two more sisters born on the farm; Donna and Barbara Jean. My father and brother died in 1953 when I was 10. Mom went on the following year to marry the neighboring farmer, Steve Glazier. Together they had two children giving me another brother Steve, and sister Patti Jo. I graduated from Glen Lake High School in Michigan and went to Hurley Hospital School of Nursing in Flint, Michigan. James DeVoe and I moved to Holland, Michigan in 1962 until 1983. I worked for many years at Holland Hospital as a private surgical nurse for three surgeons. Jim and I divorced in 1985. I went back to school and was awarded a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Wayne State University in 1990. I was in Philadelphia from 1989-1992 as a NIH fellow until taking a position at St. Cloud State University, where I am still working as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology.
Marvin & Audrey (Erker) Doepker, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Ancestral Villages: Krasna (Bessarabia)
We both grew up in rural Saskatchewan, now live and work in Saskatoon. We are looking forward to the Homeland Tour. My grandparents on both sides Erker/Wagner and Wagner/Fenrich came from Krasna, Bessarabia. My Erker/Wagner grandparents came to Saskatchewan, Canada in 1910 and my Wagner/Fenrich grandparents came to Saskatchewan in 1930. Some of their children were born in Krasna and the others in Saskatchewan. We enjoy looking into our family backgrounds and history of countries where our ancestors originated.
John Wallace Douglas, McDonald, Ohio
Ancestral Villages: Nordre Fron, Norway; Roxburgh, Scotland
My maternal grandfather was Thorvald Bryn who came to America in 1882 at the age of 12 with his 17 year old brother. In 1888 he and his brother bought 160 acres west of Devils Lake, North Dakota. In 1891 Thorvald operated the steamboat “Oxtail” carrying mail between Devils Lake and Ft. Totten. He had 11 children.
My paternal great-great-grandfather came from Roxburgh, Scotland and immigrated to Eden Grove, Ontario, Canada. His son, John James Douglas moved to Dunseith, North Dakota and worked as a blacksmith. He was elected sheriff of Roulette County for two terms. He carried a Colt Peacemaker.
My paternal grandfather, John Harry Douglas, operated a funeral home, a movie theatre, and a confectionary store in Dunseith.
I was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1941. My parents were Dr. Kenneth Douglas and Agnes Bertha Bryn, RN. I have one brother, H. Greg Douglas of Ridgefield, Washington. I attended first grade at a one room school in Grand Harbor, North Dakota. I graduated from Mayville State Teachers College in 1965 and taught high school science at Wishek, North Dakota. I met my wife, Loretta Schloss from Esmond, North Dakota when she moved to Wishek to teach Home Economics. We have one son, James who was born on a very cold day in January 1970. In the summer of 1973 I took a job with Tandy Corporation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Several years later we moved to McDonald, Ohio (population 1400) where we still live. We are both retired and enjoy traveling.
Loretta Joanne (Schloss) Douglas, McDonald, Ohio
Ancestral Villages: Balmas (Bessarabia); Baden and Selz (Kutschurgan District)
My grandparents, Michael Schloss who was born March 15, 1888 in Selz and Marianna (Volk) Schloss who was born December 8, 1885 in Baden, Kutschurgan, Ukraine came to the United States in 1913. Their son, who was my father Christian, and his younger brother Frank came with them. My dad was born October 20, 1911. We think he was born in Balmas, Russia. Grandpa and grandma had three more children after moving to North Dakota; Wendell, John, and Catherine. Grandpa worked for the railroad in Harvey until 1926 then moved to a farm south of Esmond and farmed until 1943 when they moved into Esmond. They both enjoyed gardening and had two large vegetable gardens. Grandma had lovely flower beds each summer.
My dad married June Kelts on October 12, 1943. Mom’s ancestors immigrated from England in the mid 1800’s. Dad farmed for a few years, worked on grain elevator construction, and worked for a farm implement shop. Mom taught in several one room school houses and operated a home based seamstress business.
I, my sister Sandra and brothers Phillip and Roger, were raised in Esmond, North Dakota. Phil and I attended the one room schools where mom taught and when she left teaching we attended school in Esmond.
After graduating from North Dakota State University with a B.S. in Home Economics Education in 1968, I taught at Wishek High School in Wishek, North Dakota. That is where I met my husband, John, who taught science. I also taught at Napoleon High School in Napoleon, North Dakota. Our son, James, was born while we lived in Wishek.
We moved from North Dakota in 1973 and lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for several years. We moved to McDonald, Ohio in 1979. Both John and I are retired. I retired June 30, 2009 from Trumbull Career and Technical Center where I worked with adults who were studying to become LPNs, auto mechanics, medical assistants, etc. John and I have traveled extensively since retirement and he is with me on this trip. Thanks to my brother, Phillip Schloss for researching our family’s history and sharing his findings with me. Phil and his wife, Marlene are also on the trip.
Frank Joseph Fitterer, Yakima, Washington
Ancestral Villages: Karlsruhe, Kathariental, Rastadt and Speyer (Beresan District)
I am 76, and a retired contractor born in New England, North Dakota. I was raised speaking German and learned English in the Catholic school system. I moved to Yakima, Washington at the age of 10. My father, Joseph Fitterer, migrated from Kathariental at the age of 14 in 1910.
Gary P. Fitterer, Kirkland, Washington
Ancestral Villages: Karlsruhe, Kathariental, Rastadt and Speyer (Beresan District)
I was born July 7, 1946 in Dickinson, North Dakota. I am the oldest son of Louis J. and Magdalena Schulz Fitterer. My grandfather, Joseph Fitterer, was born in 1895 in the Beresan village of Kathariental, South Russia. He is the son of Peter Fitterer and Katharina Ehlis (of Sulz); he was married to Eva Walter (whose father was from Landau). The Peter Fitterer family came to America from Russia in 1910 and in 1911 homesteaded in Stark County, North Dakota.
As for me, I am retired from a money-making job, but am a historian of the Old West. I specialize in researching and writing about lawful and lawless characters of the Texas frontier, something I have been pursuing since 1984. I also worked on my Fitterer family history for about 15 years.
I have many other interests as well, and I am looking forward to seeing Kathariental with my uncle Frank Fitterer. His father, Joseph Fitterer, was 14 when the family came to this country in 1910. I have spent many hours interviewing my grandfather during 1971-75. My grandfather remembered his birthplace vividly.
Marguerite (Peggy) Hildebrandt, Brainerd, Minnesota
Ancestral Villages: Rastadt (Beresan District)
The thing I remember growing up was that my Grandma, Dora Redler Hoefler, said we were White Ukraine. She was born in Colorado. Since January 2011 I have been actively looking for information on my family roots.
My great-grandfather, Ben Redler (Roedler), was born November 29, 1866 in Rastadt, Russia. The Roedler family came to America in 1884. The family had migrated from Germany to Russia. I am not sure where my family lived in Germany and/or France. Some indications are they lived along the French-German border in Rastatt, Germany, Alace-Lorraine areas.
The name of Roedler was changed to Redler possibly while still in Russia or upon arriving in America. Many Redler’s went to Nebraska to live, but the Ben Redler family went to Colorado, then to Texas, back to Colorado and finally settled in Albion, Nebraska. It appears the Redler family have always been farmers.
I was born at home in St. Bernard, Nebraska. I was the second child of 11 children to Joe and Helen (Hoefler) Kirzeder. My family moved to Wahpeton, North Dakota to a farm. I attended first through tenth grade in the Wahpeton area. I graduated from Wrenshall, Minnesota High School in 1958. In 1959 my parents gave up farming and moved to a resort in the Brainerd, Minnesota area.
I have two sons, twin granddaughters and a grandson. I retired after working 37 years at the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center.
I am very excited about being able to go on the Homeland tour in May 2012, and seeing where my great-grandpa lived and where he was born.
Caroline (Klein) Horsman, Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan
Ancestral Villages: Rastadt (Beresan District); Simferopol (Crimea)
My maternal great-great-grandfather, Gottlieb Schroeder, was born in Simferopol, Crimea around 1828. My maternal great-grandfather, Frederick Schroeder, also born in Simferopol married Magdelina Weiser and they had 13 children, one of which was my grandfather, John Schroeder. John immigrated to Canada around 1910 and married Mary Maier who was born in Klosterdorf. They farmed near Chamberlain, Saskatchewan. My mother was born in 1914, one of seven children.
My paternal grandfather, Dyonisius Klein, was born about 1862, lived in Rastadt, married and was widowed leaving at least three daughters. He then married Angelina who had been married to a Selinger and herself widowed leaving at least two children. My father, the youngest of four children, was born in Rastadt in 1909. In 1910 my grandfather and grandmother immigrated to Canada arriving at Ellis Island before moving to Regina. They brought with them seven children and a married daughter and son-in-law. They eventually moved to Chamberlain where they farmed.
I was born in Penzance, Saskatchewan, in 1942 and spent my childhood on a farm near Craik, Saskatchewan. I then moved to Regina, married and lived in Tanzania before once again moving to a farm, this time near Fort Qu’Appelle. My husband, Don, and I are still living on the farm although we are retired.
Donald Horsman, Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan
My paternal grandparents immigrated to Canada from Bradford, England about 1905. My father was born in Orillia, Ontario, in 1908 and the family moved to Fort Qu’Appelle in 1912. He married my mother, who was of German descent, and together they farmed until 1974.
My maternal side of the family is of German descent. My great-great-grandfather, Anthony Haid, was born in Wurttemberg, Germany in 1824. He married Walburga Hahn also of Wurttemberg, Germany. The marriage was in St. Clements Ontario, Canada. The seventh child, John is the father of my grandfather, Edwin Joseph. Edwin married Margerite Schmous and they moved to Saskatchewan and farmed at Briercrest and Indian Head. My mother is their oldest child.
I grew up on the farm near Fort Qu’Appelle and went to a country school for the first nine years, then high school and the University in Regina and Saskatoon. I taught in Regina and Tanzania before coming back to the farm in 1974. We retired in 2007. Carol and I have four children and seven grandchildren.
Carol (Bleth) Huffman, Vancouver, Washington
Ancestral Villages: Neu Karlsruhe and Rastadt (Beresan District); Dennewitz, Krasna and Kulm (Bessarabia); Ludwigstal
I was born and raised in Vancouver, Washington where I still live. It’s a beautiful area with views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood, evergreen trees and an hour or two to the Pacific Ocean. I graduated from Oregon State University in Home Economics. I currently work for a small accounting firm. I have two grown children and two grandchildren.
My mother has also lived in Vancouver her entire life. Her mother was born in Ontario, Canada of parents from Prussia. My mother’s father, David Scherruble, was born in Dennewitz. His family came from Esslingen, Germany just to the east of Stuttgart.
My father was born and raised in North Dakota, the nearest town being Lemmon, South Dakota. He was one of eight children born to Jacob Bleth and Katherine Riehl. Jacob was a grandson of Gregor Bleth and Marieva Weinberger who brought their family from Karlsruhe (or Neu Karlsruhe?), Russia to North Dakota. Gregor’s ancestors were from areas near Pfaffenroth, Baden, Germany. The Riehl family lived in Krasna before coming to the US in 1905. It is believed they were originally from the Alsace.
Jacob’s entire family eventually moved to Washington State around 1931 after many of his brothers and their families moved here.
Barb (Stickel) Janman, Calgary, Alberta
Ancestral Villages: Borodino (Bessarabia); Romanofka (Russia)
My grandfather was Gottfried Stickel, born in Borodino, Bessarabia on March 10, 1882. He died on March 1, 1973 in Shamrock, Saskatchewan, Canada. My grandmother was Louise Stefan, born in Romanofka, Russia on July 14, 1884. She passed away in July of 1971 in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. They were married on February 12, 1907 at Romanofka, Russia. Grandfather served in the Russian army for several years, prior to fleeing to Canada.
They came to Canada on a ship named the S.S. Prinz Oskar. They departed from Rotterdam, Netherlands and arrived in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on June 10, 1910. With them came my aunt Melita who was born November 5, 1908. They also traveled with Gottfried’s younger sister Lydia who was born February 24, 1891 and died January 24, 1966, and her husband Gottfried Mueller. My grandfather had another brother Jacob who was born October 17, 1885 and died November 21, 1970, and one sister Elizabeth who was born in 1887 and died in 1948. He also had two half-brothers, Emil and John, and two half-sisters, Magdelena and Christina. It’s believed that all the siblings immigrated to Canada and the United States approximately in 1905. My grandparents were the only couple who ultimately stayed in Canada as far as we know at this time.
In addition to Melita, they had five more children. Irma who was born November 10, 1910, Clara who was born March 7, 1913, my father Wilhelm who was born September 15, 1914 and died March 4, 1998, Arthur who was born December 5, 1918 and Fredrick who was born August 24, 1920.
Through the Western Canadian Land Grant, Gottfried and Louise officially received two quarters of land in southern Saskatchewan, upon their arrival in Canada, on July 10, 1910. This is where they raised their family. SW 34-13-6W3 and SE 34-13-6W3 was the land that became part of the West Slope school district in the Kelstern, Saskatchewan area.
My grandparents were very self-reliant, as all pioneers were. They raised all their own animals, gardens, fruit trees and vineyards. They had a black smith shop to fix all equipment as necessary, and they broke the land from prairie grass and rocks to arable productive land. In 1918 they built a new two story home, with grandpa doing most of the work himself since he was an excellent carpenter. He also built the altar in the Kelstern Lutheran Church, which they attended every week. In 1949 Gottfried and Louise retired to Regina, Saskatchewan where they built their own home again. Their son Arthur worked the farm until 1954 when Wilhelm (Bill) and his family moved to the farm until 1963.
My parents were Bill and Anna (Adams) Stickel. My mother was born on June 23, 1921 and died on July 22, 2008. My parents, along with my brothers Gordon and Robert, moved to the farm from the oil and gas industry in which my father made his living. With that life came frequent moving and my parents decided to settle on the farm so we could get our education completed. My mother is from the Calgary, Alberta area and her family history resides in England and Scotland. My parents met when my dad moved to Alberta in 1939 or 1940 to work. He had been in Sudbury, Ontario in the nickel mines prior to then. In the Black Diamond area he worked as a truck driver. They were married on December 20, 1941 and had their first son, Donald, in December 1942. Unfortunately Donny passed away in October 1943 when mom and dad were visiting. Donny is buried in the Kelstern Luthern cemetery in Saskatchewan.
My second brother Gordon, who was born June 10, 1944, is retired and lives in Black Diamond, Alberta. My third brother Robert was born on May 14, 1946 and died on April 14, 2011. I was born July 30, 1947 and am currently retired as of 2008. I am living just west of Calgary, Alberta. I have two children, a son Timothy and a daughter Leslie. They are both married, but we have no grandchildren. Prior to retirement, my husband, Bill, and I worked together for 21 years in our own business. We now enjoy our gardens, fish pond, our cat Buddy and life in general. We travel as much as possible and are looking forward to our spring trip to the “homeland.” This will be the first of several visits to Europe to see where our ancestors lived and where they came from.
Along with traveling, hiking, and skiing, I am also a wood carver. I mostly carve birds. In 2010 I was the first woman and the first Canadian to win the International Carver of the Year in the intermediate category. My birds can be viewed on the International Wildfowl Carvers Association website.
Bill Janman, Calgary, Alberta
My ancestral heritage is from Ireland and England; we are making this trip to the homeland to visit some of the ancestral villages of my wife’s family.
I am Canadian by birth, currently live in Calgary, Alberta where I have spent most of my working life with my earlier years growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Since retirement in 2008, I was the general contractor on our retirement home which included doing lots of hands on work from framing to tile installation.
We travel, hike, ski, spend time gardening and I am a carvers assistant helping with various tasks.
Garred Francis Kirk, Yakima, Washington
Ancestral Villages: Karlsruhe, Kathariental, Rastadt and Speyer (Beresan District)
I am the 20 year old grandson of Frank Fitterer, born and raised in Yakima, Washington. I spent a year in Peru as a Rotary Exchange Student and speak Spanish. I am attending Gonzaga University and majoring in history with a teaching endorsement. I am looking forward to traveling with my grandfather to his homeland.
Eileen Iris (Klein) Krenzel, Castle Rock, Colorado
Ancestral Villages: Strassburg (Kutschurgan District)
I was born in Rugby, North Dakota, the oldest of nine children, and grew up on a grain farm just outside the community of Balta, in Pierce County. I went through the parochial schools then moved on to earn a degree at Minot State University. In 1959 I married and then proceeded to live in different parts of the United States, as my husband was transferred with his job. One of those places was Dallas, Texas where for three years I taught in a suburban school district. Then I went back to school and earned a Master’s Degree at Southern Methodist University. My husband was moved to Denver by his employer and we settled there permanently. I taught for 25 years in the Littleton, Colorado school district. I have been retired for almost 20 years and have done various volunteer jobs during this time. My husband and I enjoyed both domestic and foreign travel and as a result I have been to all the continents and to many countries. A real favorite for me is Germany.
I have done some research about my grandparents’ families; they come from the Catholic villages in the Odessa region, such as Strassburg, Selz, etc. I expect this journey will provide large amounts of information about my brave and resourceful relatives. I feel grateful to have such a rich heritage and to be German on both sides of my family.
Marlene (Schumacher) Lindquist, Bismarck, North Dakota
Ancestral Villages: Strassburg (Kutschurgan District)
My parents are Leo and Eva (Klein) Schumacher (Halliday, North Dakota). My grandparents are Anton and Anna (Funk) Schumacher (Russia). My great-grandparents are Franz and Cecilia (Senger) Schumacher (Russia). My great-grandparents John Funk and Katherine (Aspherber) Funk (Russia). My other grandparents are Joseph and Johanna (Schwahn) Klein (Russia). My great-grandparents are Lorenz and Eva (Mastel) Schwahn (Russia).
I am the sixth child of eight children. I was raised on a farm community full of German relatives and traditions in Dunn County, North Dakota, south of Halliday. I have lived in Bismarck, North Dakota, since 1974 with my husband James Lindquist. We have three children, Kari (Beau) Weber, Tracy (Travis) Price, Jason (Jeannine) Lindquist and seven grandchildren. I worked as a Religious Education Office Assistant for 27 years and retired in 2008. My husband retired in 2009. We have traveled and hiked some of the National Parks in southern United States and spent time in Arizona during the winter. I am enjoying my retirement with my children and grandchildren and road trips to parts of the United States that my husband and I never had a chance to visit.
Since my travel to Paris and Rome with my cousin in February 2010, I have become interested in visiting the countries of Germany and Russia, where my ancestors lived before coming to America around 1906. I have done some research of my family and this trip will help by visiting the places they lived and worked.
Donna Mathern, Casper, Wyoming – with Mark Mathern
As a child growing up in Casper, Wyoming I was always fascinated by the fact that my grandmother Bordeaux spoke with a heavy accent. While I found it charming and tried saying some of the words she used, I never learned French. Probably a good thing as I soon learned when I repeated a common sentence I had learned from my grandmother to a junior high foreign language teacher. Her horrified face was enough to tell I had said something terribly wrong, and her words verified it, “WE never use those words in polite society!”
I was a teen before I realized that her French accent was indicative of a larger story…the immigration of many distinctive groups of people from Europe to the United States. As an educator, I would have the chance to both study and teach about the great periods of immigration between 1850 and 1920 that changed the face of the United States. Indeed, my family’s heritage story begins in the late 1880’s with the immigration of my father’s Danish Olsen and Norwegian Sorenson families along with my mother’s French Charest and Leggett families to the United States.
The Sorenson/Olson families and the Charest family entered the United States through Canada. The Sorenson/Olson families settled in South Dakota. The Olson’s were farmers and the Sorenson’s worked for various railroads. My grandmother, Sylvia Olson met my grandfather Scott Sorenson while working as a dispatcher for a railroad company. They married and lived for a short time in Hills, Minnesota where my aunt Betty and Dad, Leland were born. In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, three more children followed; Frances, Scott Jr., and Richard. Striving for a better life, Scott attended a pharmacy trade school in Omaha and worked a short time as a pharmacist when WWII broke out. Lured by high wages and plenty of work he moved his family to Seal Beach, California to work in the shipyards during WWII. With the war’s end he found work as a pharmacist for Walgreen’s in Casper, Wyoming. The family made Casper their home. Upon high school graduation in 1942 my father, Lee, enlisted in the Marines. He served four years as a tank driver in the 2nd Division and participated in many important Pacific battles. After his enlistment was up, he followed the family to Casper.
The Charest family settled in New Hampshire and worked in shoe factories. My grandmother, Alice Charest, left home at 16 and eventually was attracted by plentiful jobs in Wyoming sparked by the new oil drilling industry. She drove water trucks from Casper to Midwest Wyoming where the Salt Creek Oil Field was pumping oil to various Standard Oil refineries located throughout the US. She married Oscar Alexander (Jack) Leggett, had my mother, then divorced and later married Jack Bordeaux. Jack Bordeaux adopted my mother Grace. My mother, Grace, worked a short time after graduating from high school as a telephone operator. She met Lee Sorenson when his sister, also a telephone operator, introduced them. They were marred for 61 years!
Born in November of 1948, I am the oldest child of Lee and Grace (Bordeaux/Leggett) Sorenson. One event marked my entrance into life, the most devastating snowstorm in Wyoming’s history, the great Blizzard of 1949. Family photos show our house and our neighborhood covered with tall drifts and my mother has often shared that she was fortunate that I was a healthy child because she could not have gotten out of the house for many days to attend to medical needs!
Born in November 1950 was my brother Paul, and in November 1952, my sister Bonnie entered the world. Last, but not least, in January of 1954 my brother Mark was born. We lived in Casper, spent many summers at a friend’s ranch, Silver Spruce located outside of Glenrock, Wyoming. Looking back we lived in idyllic life. My mother stayed at home, and my father worked for Standard Oil (later American Oil) Company for 33 years. While we didn’t have much money, we had love, laughter, a clean home, family meals, and a whole neighborhood of kids to play with. Baseball, kick the can, hide and seek, a free flowing creek close by, and bikes to ride…we were only limited in our play by the hours in the day. Our family weekends at Silver Spruce taught me the value of hard work balanced with play, laughter and camaraderie shared between good friends.
A subtler message gleaned from working at a ranch was that women could do anything they wanted and in fact…the first lessons of “equality” were learned there! If work needed done, the ranch owners looked around and if you were in their eyesight you got the job! As a result of those experiences I decided I would go to college, something no one on either side of my family had done. I chose to be a teacher, matching my love of learning with the challenge of becoming a career woman. I graduated from the University of Wyoming with a BA in Education, earned a Master’s Degree from Lesley College, and have worked on a Doctorate with the University of Wyoming. For 39 years I worked as a teacher and school principal. I now work supervising Wyoming outreach student teachers for Valley City State College in Valley City, North Dakota and also do contract work in leadership for Natrona County School District.
My life has been rich and rewarding. I have two children from a first marriage: Beth Ann and Aaron. Beth is married to Major Fred Catchpole, USMC and they are currently stationed in Stuttgart, Germany. After teaching for five years, Beth stays at home with their two wonderful children, Jackson and Ella Grace. Aaron is married to Sabrina (Boster). He is a gifted graphic artist and works for Peden’s, a shirt printing business. His specialty is designing shirts for the ski and summer recreation industries. Sabrina is a talented RN working in the local hospital. She is in charge of triage for the Emergency Room. A new baby girl, whose name is yet to be revealed, will soon join their delightful daughter Greysen Scout in April!
I have been married to a fantastic man, Mark Mathern for over 15 years, and together we share life with his son Jon. He lives in Colorado Springs with his marvelous girlfriend Amy Herzog. Jon is a talented low voltage electrician and Amy is a technical recruiter. Mark and I share many loves! We travel to Germany to see our kids and to participate in school accreditation visits. We have had the joy of experiencing German Christmas markets, food, language and skiing in the Alps. We are remodeling a small cabin on Casper Mountain and find our compatible work ethics (learned on ranch and farms) help us accomplish much.
Whether experiencing work, kids, love, laughter, travel or a soon to be finished family retreat…both of our lives have been enriched by the decision of our European relatives to immigrate to a better life in the United States. We hope they look down on us with joy!
Lorene Mathern, Fargo, North Dakota – with Tim Mathern
I am of northern European decent. My maternal grandmother was Swedish and my maternal grandfather was Norwegian. My paternal grandfather was Swedish and paternal grandmother a mix of several nationalities.
I was raised near Berlin, North Dakota and went to junior high and high school in Edgeley, North Dakota. That is where this Protestant Scandinavian met a cute German-Russian Catholic. We have been married 41 years and have four children and five grandchildren. We live in Fargo, North Dakota. I was educated as a registered nurse, was a stay at home mom until our youngest started school, and now work with special needs for Fargo Public Schools.
I enjoy camping, grandkids, crafts, stained glass, and photography.
Mark Mathern, Casper, Wyoming – with Donna Mathern
Ancestral Villages: Georgthal and Mannheim (Kutschurgan District); Durmersheim, Germany
Family names are Mathern, Mattern, Matern, Wolf, Vetter, and Wald. Several trips to visit my wife’s daughter and her family in Stuttgart, Germany as well as carrying on some school related business has helped rekindle a longing for family roots and traditions from the homeland. Even though I grew up in a household where German was spoken by both parents, John Mathern and Christina (Wolf) Mathern, that native language gave way to the pressure of 13 children speaking English. My understanding of German was enough to pass the milk, fetch a hammer, or bring the punch and chisel. Indeed, it was enough for me to recognize some of the language when I arrived in Germany where the food looked and tasted much like my mother and grandmothers made.
My parents carried German traditions from Napoleon and St. Michaels area to our farm four miles south of Edgeley, North Dakota. In a family where church, the value of faith, and religious calling superseded any other obligations, many of my siblings and I took turns exploring religious vocations. When I was 13, I left home to board in Cardinal Muench Seminary and graduated from high school in 1978 and attended an additional year in college. My parent’s primary interest to provide a nun or priest for the family led to embracing education as a calling rather than pursuing anything to do with farming or religion. I have been an English and Latin teacher, a school administrator, and a district administrator for the past 30 years. Inspired by my mother’s experience teaching in a one room country school at age 16 and her determination to have each of us graduate from high school, I was able to complete my doctoral studies at Seton Hall University a year after she passed away.
I am married to Donna (Sorenson) Mathern and live in Casper, Wyoming. I have two grown children, Jon Mathern (Colorado Springs, Colorado) and Ray Alexander (still discovering his life - current location unknown.) Donna’s two children, Aaron Cawiezell and Beth Catchpole, are busy raising our grandchildren in Casper and Stuttgart, Germany. I am Associate Superintendent for the school district in Natrona County, Wyoming. Donna is a retired school principal and works with aspiring teachers through Valley City State University. We are members of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and are active on Vestry and other ministries. In Wyoming I have been able to connect with descendants of a few of the original Mathern immigrants to the United States. Wyoming cousins include children and grandchildren of Cecilius Mathern and great grandchildren of Ludwig Mathern.
*My father, John Mathern, was the second oldest child in a family of 12 who grew up near Napoleon, North Dakota. He married Christina Wolf (third child of Mathias Wolf and Kenegunda Vetter) on October 10th, 1944. They moved to Edgeley, North Dakota in 1946 where he added a middle initial “J” to his name to distinguish himself from an elder first cousin, John Mathern, who lived only two miles from our family dairy farm. My grandfather, Joseph, was the youngest child of Johannes Mathern (Mattern) who emigrated from Russia in the early 1900s (Johannes’ approximate birthdate, 1852, Katharina – both born in Mannheim, Russia). He was born near Odessa, Russia; lived in the village of Mannheim about 25 miles from Odessa; attended church in Mannheim. The family moved to another village one or two miles from Mannheim, named Georgthal. He was the seventh of seven sons. The first son was Andreas. The second was Joseph who died at age two. Stanislaus was the third son. The fourth son was Cecilius. Ludwig was born fifth. Ignatius was the sixth son and the seventh son was Joseph.
Joseph’s grandfather, C(K)arl Mattern, on his father’s side was an orphan raised by a family named Schatz who knew his name was Mattern; his grandmother is unknown. Karl Mattern and his family accompanied him to Russia in 1819 from Durmersheim, Rastatt-Baden, Germany. Johannes Mathern and his family immigrated to the United States on June 17, 1905, arriving at Sault St. Marie by Canadian Pacific Railway. Andreas, Joseph’s oldest brother, preceded his parents and siblings to North Dakota where the family settled at St. Anthony parish, 15 miles south of Napoleon, North Dakota. Joseph grew up there and eventually took over farming on that homestead.
After almost 200 years, the Matt(h)ern family will return home. Invitations from Catherine the Great and the United States government have allowed this family to put down roots three different times on two continents. Each opportunity provided for greater devotion to religion and practicing faith. For this writer, however, the greater opportunity has been to use God-given talent and good fortune to once again take advantage of an opportunity to learn; not behind a desk with nose buried in a book, but as a traveler eager to discover the origin of our traditions, faith, and unending need to succeed.
*(I adapted this information from a second cousin, Vernon Mathern, who captured it while visiting with his grandfather in 1970).
Tim Mathern, Fargo, North Dakota – with Lorene Mathern
Ancestral Villages: Georgthal and Mannheim (Kutschurgan District); Baden, Germany
For some reason I find intrigue with my ancestry as I try to live the last half of my life with vigor. My father, John J. Mathern and mother, Christina Wolf, spoke German but devotion to their Catholic faith, family and hard work seemed more important. Other ancestor last names include Wald, Vetter, Schneider, Matern, and Hoffart.
Farm work at Edgeley, North Dakota was a great base and going off to seminary as a freshman in high school opened up worlds beyond what my parents had open to them. While I was born in a house I was fortunate to have 12 healthy siblings survive! We all have families and gather at least once each year. Mom and Dad have passed on to their eternal reward and would be proud of their kids figuring out how to make the Homeland Tour a source of understanding for all of us.
I have graduated from North Dakota State University, University of Nebraska and Harvard. The latest brought me into close contact with people around the world. It was the first in-depth experience of many cultures and governments, not all of which see America as God’s chosen country as we were taught in school to believe.
Most of my life I have worked at Catholic organizations and presently work at Prairie St. John’s hospital. I have been elected as a state senator continually since 1986 and was the 2008 Democratic-NPL party nominee for governor. I am married to Lorene, have four children by birth, three additional by their marriages, and five grandchildren. I want each to know of their history to appreciate that they come from a long line of people of purpose and considering all that has happened to people in their history, are blessed to exist.
“Let Your Life Speak” is my motto. I believe all my ancestors will be available for sharing the true details of our history in the next life. This journey to the homeland is a major chapter in the making for a book I plan to write!
Vernon (Vern) J. Mathern, Mesa, Arizona – with Phyllis Young
Ancestral Villages: Elsass, Georgthal, Kandel, Mannheim and Strassburg (Kutschurgan District); Oberlauterbach and Seltz, Alsace, France; Baden and Durmersheim, Germany
The surname of my father’s ancestors has three common spellings: Matern, Mathern, and Mattern. I have traced this paternal direct lineage to Johann Georg Matern, born about 1740 in the Baden District of Germany. His grandson, Karl Matern was married to Catharina Rapp at Durmersheim, Baden, from where they emigrated in 1819 to Mannheim, Kutschurgan, with their two sons Maximillian and Albin. Karl’s brother, Raimund, age 14, also emigrated to Mannheim at that time.
My mother’s maiden surname is Schatz and she is descended from Anton Jacob Schatz, born about 1705 in Alsace, France. Anton Jacob’s grandson, Franciscus Ignatius (Ignatz) Schatz emigrated from Seltz, Wissembourg, Alsace, in 1808 with his wife, Walburga Mücher to the Kutschurgan District. He also emigrated with his four sons Karl, Bartholomaeus, Ignatius and Joseph to the Kutschurgan District where Ignatz was one of the founders of Mannheim.
Of my four grandparents, three descended from Kutschurgan District families and the fourth from families in the Austria-Hungary Monarchy. For that reason I have been able to focus 75% of my research on the Kutschurgan District and the remaining 25% on the now Burgenland District of Austria, southeast of Vienna, which was once a part of Hungary.
It was my paternal great-grandfather, Johannes, who first spelled his surname Mathern. My paternal great-grandparents immigrated from Mannheim and Strassburg in 1905 and settled in Logan and Emmons Counties, North Dakota. On my mother’s side, her paternal grandparents immigrated from Mannheim and her maternal grandparents immigrated from St. Andrä, Austria-Hungary in 1885 and settled in Campbell and McPherson Counties of South Dakota.
My paternal grandparents, Ignatz Mathern and Catharina Wald, were farmers east-northeast of Strasburg, North Dakota, where my father, John Mathern, was raised. My maternal grandparents were John Schatz and Margaretha Seiler. They were farmers east-southeast of Zeeland, North Dakota, just inside Campbell County, South Dakota, on the south side of the state line where my mother, Juliana Schatz, was raised. Although their farm was in South Dakota, they conducted business and social activities primarily in Zeeland, North Dakota because it offered most of the services they needed and was within five miles distance.
When my parents married, they moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota to start their lives together. I was born there in 1939 and a year+ later the three of us moved to Edgeley, North Dakota where I grew up with six younger brothers and no sisters. God bless my dear mother in heaven!
Victor Mathern, Edgeley, North Dakota
Ancestral Villages: Georgthal and Mannheim (Kutschurgan District); Durmersheim, Germany
I have been a lifelong dairy farmer at Edgeley, North Dakota. I married the “neighbor girl” Terry Scallon. We had a great marriage; we had 9 children and have 27 grandchildren. Terry was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2007 and died September 1, 2007. We did do some traveling, although we wanted to do more upon “retirement.”
Our catholic faith was always important to us. It still is and even more important now. One reason I wanted to go on this trip was to find out how people keep the faith despite the hardships they go through.
Michael M. Miller, Fargo, North Dakota
Ancestral Villages: Krasna (Bessarabia); Strassburg (Kutschurgan District)
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. When I returned to Odessa, I visited the home of the late Antonia (Welk) Ivanova in the village of Selz in December 1995; where I completed a cassette tape interview in the German language. Antonia died in October, 1998.”
Miller grew up speaking both English and German and became interested in the heritage, culture and history of his ancestors. An important focus throughout Miller’s life and career has been the preservation and documentation of the rich heritage within the German-Russian community in North America.
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 and annotated bibliography, researching the Germans from Russia, published by the Institute of Regional Studies, NDSU, 1987.
He serves as Director and Bibliographer of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Library. Since 1999, he has been an executive producer of 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); Germans from Russia Wrought Iron Crosses (2002); A Soulful Sound: Music of the Germans from Russia (2005); We’ll Meet Again in Heaven (2005); and It’s All Earth and Sky (2010). He has visited Odessa and the former German villages each year since 1994. A complete biography is at: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/biography.html.
Miller writes, “My life long dream has been to keep alive and enhance the heritage of Germans from Russia.”
Marlys (Ruff) Nickisch, St. George, Utah
Ancestral Villages: Hoffnungstal and Mathildendorf (Bessarabia) – Mathildendorf located 25 km north of Borodino, current name is Zhovtnevoye
I am really looking forward to going back to the Homeland! Being able to walk on the land where my ancestors lived and walked will be a very awesome moment. My father, Reinhold F. Ruff, was born in Mathildendorf, South Russia and came to the United States with his parents when he was two years old. They homesteaded in the Fredonia, North Dakota area. My mother’s parents, Gottlieb and Katherina (Schott) Scherbenske were born in Hoffnungstal, South Russia. They homesteaded north of Lehr, North Dakota. As a child I spoke German until I was four years old. In preparation for school, my parents decided to speak English, but I was expected to converse in German with my grandparents. After high school graduation in Lehr, I went to Westmar College in LeMars, Iowa. (My sixth grade teacher was Harold Miller – an older brother to Michael.) I married my best friend and soul mate, Steve Nickisch of Wishek (Nickisch Co. – farming, furniture, appliances and funeral service). I taught Home Economics for a number of years and then many years of substitute teaching in addition to being a stay-at-home mom. Steve’s family came from Germany (father’s side) and Paulstahl, South Russia (mother’s side). After Steve’s serious auto accident I became very involved with the funeral business (others had been sold). We retired in 1994 and did some traveling in our motor home. Steve died in 2003 and in 2007 I moved to St. George where I live in Sun River (a 55 community with a lot of amenities). Best part of living here in southern Utah is the mild winters and my only two grandchildren live a half a day instead of two days away from me.
We have two sons; both graduates of NDSU. Dan is a software developer in the Seattle area and Bryce is a civil engineer (cruise missles) at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden.
Judy Oldenburg, Donnelly, Minnesota
Ancestral Villages: Freudental (Liebental District); Worms, Beresowka and Baliatschuk (Beresan District) – Beresowka west of Worms; Baliatschuk west of Neu Freudental & southwest of Beresowka
I grew up on a farm near LaMoure, North Dakota and received B.A. and M.S. degrees from Concordia College and Minnesota State University Moorhead respectively. I served in the Peace Corps in Colombia, but met my Colombian husband Fernando Oldenburg, in Brazil. Fernando’s father was from Hamburg, Germany. In total I lived in South America for 10 years. My hobbies are genealogy, reading, sewing and quilting, and traveling.
Fernando and I lived in Fargo, North Dakota for many years and retired to a farmstead near Donnelly, Minnesota in 2009. We have a big garden and have raised chickens for the last two summers.
My maternal grandmother, Sophia Lauf, and her sister Natalia (Nettie) were born in Freudental in 1886 and 1890 respectively. Their older brother was born in Worms in 1882. Two other children were born and died in Russia – we don’t know if in Volhynia or the Odessa region. Their parents, Adolph (Adolf) Lauf and Otillie Froemke, were married in 1879 in Volhynia.
Adolph and Otillie moved to the Odessa area in about 1880-82. In 1892 they immigrated from Balaitschuk in the Odessa area to America on the ship City of Chicago from Liverpool and settled in Ransom County, North Dakota. (I wonder how they got to Liverpool.) After Adolph’s death, Otillie married Henry Bassen and lived near Marion, LaMoure County, North Dakota.
Adolph was born in 1857 at Ochle (near Konin) in what is now Poland. Adolph’s father, Karl died at age 27, and his mother Friederike (Dullin) Lauf married August Roesler in 1863. In 1909 August and Friederike were living at Beresowka (near Worms), and Friederike died there in May.
One of Adolph’s brothers, Emil, lived at Beresowka at that time, and we don’t know what became of him. Adolph’s brother Robert was married in 1882 in Rosental, Crimea, to Mathilda Suess (she was born in Crimea), and they lived in Arzis, Bessarabia, before immigrating to America in 1885.
Otillie Froemke was born in 1857 at Samotschin, Posen Province, Prussia (now Samoczyn, Poland). Her parents moved to Volhynia in about 1864. Her mother died in Volhynia, and her father, Carl Froemke, immigrated to North Dakota.
Priscilla H. Schell, Peachtree City, Georgia
Ancestral Villages: Kutschurgan District Villages
I inherited my German-Russian connection when I married Tarey B. Schell, a man with long paternal roots in Elssas. Tarey was born in Good Samaritan Hospital in Rugby, ND on January 19, 1939, the son of Joe J. Schell and Myrtle Bessette Schell. Both families had lived in Rugby for many years.
I met Tarey on a “blind date” when he was a cadet at West Point and I was a nursing student in New York City. To me, North Dakota was simply a state on a map. We married in 1961 and have four children and nine grandchildren. My daughter, Adrienne Barreto, is with me on this great adventure. An “Army brat,” Adrienne was born in Munich, Germany in 1963.
In 1971 my husband’s sister became interested in genealogy and completed a family tree for Schell that goes back to 1767, and she did this without the internet! I have been able to verify that most of her research is correct.
Martin Schell, born 1767 in Kandel-Germersheim-Pf and his wife, Catherine Rink, arrived in Elsass in 1809. Martin’s married children emigrated at the same time. Allegedly, Martin’s father was Konrad or Michael Schell, born 1734 in Kandel-Germersheim. In order: Konrad/Michael, Martin, Conrad, Sebastian, Joseph, Joseph, Tarey. The first Joseph was married to Katherine Bartsch (both born in Elsass). They left Elsass in 1900 and traveled by ox cart to Brussels, Belgium and on April 1, 1900 they sailed to the United States. They settled first in Milbank, South Dakota later moved to Orrin, North Dakota then to Rugby.
Other surnames in this genealogy, e.g. maiden names, include Cosson, Keller, Heagle, and Kline.
Looking forward to meeting all of you and sharing our stories.
Phillip Christian Schloss, St. Cloud, Minnesota – with Marlene DeVoe
Ancestral Villages: Balmas (Bessarabia); Selz and Baden (Kutschurgan District)
My dad Christian, his brother Frank, and their parents Michael Schloss and Marianna (Volk) Schloss came to the United States in about May 1913. My grandfather, Michael, was born on March 15, 1888 in Selz and my grandmother, Marianna, was born on December 8, 1885 in Baden, Kutschurgan, Ukraine. I think they sailed from near Hamburg, Germany. They came by train to Esmond, North Dakota and then went to Harvey, North Dakota where grandpa worked for the railroad until 1926. In 1926 they moved to a farm 1 ½ miles south of Esmond, and farmed there until October 1943 when they moved into Esmond and bought a house with a double sized yard on the east edge of town. On this lot they had two garages, a small granary, and a chicken coop. They also had two very large gardens where they raised most of their food. The basement of the house had a root cellar, and the other walls had shelves for canned food. They canned meat and vegetables. They had a couple of wood barrels in which they made juneberry and chokecherry wine every summer. They also had several Red Wing crocks – fairly large ones – that they used for dill pickles, pickled whole small watermelons, sauerkraut (with some whole heads of cabbage for “pigs in the blanket”) and salt pork. It always amazed me that they could almost live off what they grew in their gardens.
My grandfather’s (Michael Schloss) parents were Peter Schloss born in 1857, and Johanna Heilmann born in 1861. They were married about 1885 in Russia. They had seven children all born in Russia: Melchoir 1886, Michael 1888, Maris 1890, Johannes 1892, Anna Maria 1896, Margaretha 1897, and Barbara 1904. They all came to the United States except for Melchoir who stayed in Russia. He was a gunmaker and the family legend is that he was shot by a firing squad. Peter and his brother John came to Canada in about 1911 and then crossed the border to the United States. Johanna and the five daughters came to the United States in 1912.
My grandmother’s (Marianna Volk) dad was Valentine Volk. She had at least two brothers who came to the Esmond area earlier, and farmed west of Esmond. We have no information on her mother.
My dad, Christian Philip Schloss was the oldest son of Michael and Marianna (Volk) Schloss. We think he was born on October 20, 1911 in Balmas, Russia. My dad married June Kelts on October 12, 1943.
I, my sisters (Loretta and Sandy), and brother (Roger) were born and raised in Esmond, North Dakota. We attended Esmond High School and I graduated in 1961. I graduated from NDSU with a BS in Electrical Engineering. I worked for IBM in Duluth and Rochester, Minnesota for nearly 30 years. Since retiring from IBM in 1994, I have been doing Computer Consulting.
I married Kathleen Knopf on December 27, 1965 in Fargo, North Dakota. We had two children who were born in Duluth, Minnesota. Christine was born on November 17, 1966 and Matthew was born on December 18, 1968.
Kathleen and I divorced in 1983. Matthew is married and has two daughters.
I married Marlene Ruth DeVoe on August 17, 2002 and we live in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Marlene is with me on this trip, as are my sister Loretta JoAnn (Schloss) Douglas and her husband John.
Glenda (Wegerle) Skrzypek, Garfield, Arizona
Ancestral Villages: Worms (Beresan District); Belogorsk, Karassaber, Kronental and Rosenthal (Crimea)
I was born in 1947 (now age 64) in Devils Lake, North Dakota to Gordon Wegerle and Minnie Wetzel Wegerle. When I was five, my parents left their farming families in Beulah and in Glen Ullin, North Dakota respectively and moved to Wichita, Kansas where I attended school. In my twenties, I lived in the Midwest and on the East Coast. During those years, as a wife and mother of one son, I worked as a secretary.
In 1985, I moved back to Wichita; and two years later, I went back to college at age 40. It took me ten years to obtain my B.S. from Northwestern University and my M.S., Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Kansas. To date, I maintain a part-time geriatric psychology practice in Wichita.
In addition to my work, I enjoy spending time with my retired husband, a Polish immigrant, who also has a Ph.D. in psychology. We live on Beaver Lake and enjoy boating, jet skiing, and swimming with our friends and family.
The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection has been invaluable since I started compiling info. It has answered many of my questions from my childhood as to why my Wetzel grandparents spoke German in public, Russian in private, but no English. Whereas my Wegerle grandparents spoke English and some German, but no Russian language. Yet, with that background, my father could speak and read German but my mother could speak only a little German. Neither the language nor the stories of the Homeland were passed on to my generation.
This homeland trip is my homage to the generations before me: Wegerle, Zeiszler, Buchmann, Hartwig of Crimea, South Russia (Ukraine) and Wetzel, Sonnenfeld, Benz, Mauch, Nagel, Schwenk, Bickel, Herbold of Worms, South Russia (Ukraine). Thus, I’m looking forward to seeing the Homeland and sharing this blessing with my family, especially my mother who is 87 years old.
Diane Jeanis (Schumacher) Weber, Bismarck, North Dakota
Ancestral Villages: Elsass, Kandel, Selz and Strassburg (Kutschurgan District); Seltz, Weissenburg and Winzenbach Alsace, France
I was born to Frank Schumacher and Magdalena (Fleckenstein) on April 28, 1946. My father’s mother was Anna Funk and his father was Anton Schumacher, both of whom came from South Russia at the turn of the 20th century. A generation before that includes Franz Schumacher and Cecilia Senger and John Funk and Katherine Aspherber. Generations before that left Alsace, Germany/France to go to Russia at the turn of the 19th century.
My mother’s mother was Eva Massett who came from Odessa at the turn of the 20th century. Her father, August Fleckenstein, came from Romania. A generation before that includes Anton Fleckenstein and Helen Krenzel and Lorenz Massett and Magdalena Held.
I am child number nine of 12. My parents spoke German and English, using whichever language best suited the issue at hand. We children usually answered in English. I attended country school for grades one through eight. I attended Halliday High School for two years and graduated from St. Mary’s High, Richardton, North Dakota in 1964. I spent a year on the farm, then went to Williston to work as a telephone operator.
I enrolled at UND, Grand Forks where I received a BA in German in 1970. I joined the Peace Corps and served in Micronesia. I taught German in Clearbrook and New Prague, Minnesota for three years, retired and went to Mitchell Technical Institute in Mitchell, South Dakota for Clinical Lab diploma.
I met my husband, John, at Mitchell Tech. We were married in 1975 and have two daughters. Nicole (1976) received her BA and MBA from the U of Minnesota’s Carlson School. She is employed at Protivity in Minneapolis. Melissa (1977) received her BA from Notre Dame. She is employed at Wrigley/Mars in Chicago. John passed in August 1998 after thirty years at Mitchell Tech as cook/chef instructor and Culinary Arts Department Head.
In 2000 I sold our home and property south of Mitchell and moved to Bismarck. I worked in food service until retirement in 2008. I am now free to travel which has always been a dream of mine.
James (Jimmy) Thomas Weschler, Jr., Chesapeake, Virginia
Ancestral Villages: Kutschurgan and Strassburg District Villages
I was born in 1990 in Norfolk, Virginia to Jim and Cecelia Weschler. I attended Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina, where I received a Bachelors of Arts degree in History.
Being a history major, I have always had a fascination with people’s roots. Genealogy is one of my favorite pastimes. I have compiled a series of period documents about my great-grandfather on my maternal grandmother’s side, and am now looking to gather information on my maternal grandfather; Frank Wikenheiser.
Frank was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota in 1922 to a German farming family which had come over from the Ukraine at the outbreak of World War One. There they settled and formed a new homestead.
I am interested in this trip because it would be a marvelous experience and an opportunity to gather more information regarding the origins of my family; feeding my genealogical and historical interests.
Phyllis Jean (Schulz) Young, Mesa, Arizona – with Vern Mathern
My great-great-grandfather, Peter Schulz came to the United States from Baden, Germany on the east side of the Rhine River. Peter Schulz was 49 years old in 1846 when he arrived with Maria Eva, his wife and four children, John, Margaret, Louis and Philip. The family is listed as one of the original founders of St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Naperville, Illinois in 1846.
My mother’s maiden name is Ruth Turner. Her parents, George and Caroline Turner, came from England to Cleveland, Ohio in the early 1860’s and later moved to Wilmington, Illinois where they were farmers. My maternal grandmother, Julia’s maiden name was Diven. The Divens came from Ireland in 1812 to Cumberland County, Pennsylvania then to Canton, Fulton County, Illinois in the 1840’s. Great-grandfather, Thomas Diven was a lawyer in Chicago, Illinois.
My parents Philip and Ruth (Turner) Schulz lived in Lemont, then Yorkville, Illinois, where they were farmers. I am the fifth child of six kids. I had three sisters and two brothers. In 1970, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona and then moved to Mesa in 1974.
LeAnn Zimmerman & John A. Dvorak, Kansas City, Missouri
Ancestral Villages: Johannestal (Beresan District); Bergdorf, Kassel and Neudorf (Glueckstal District)
I (LeAnn) met and married my husband John in Fargo and today we live in Kansas City. We share a Germans from Russia background.
A native of McIntosh County and a graduate of Wishek High, I hail from the Black Sea line of German immigrants. John, who grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, is half Czech and half German. Some of the relatives of his German mother came from the Volga River area. We have never visited our German roots before, although we both spent a day in Odessa several years ago while on a cruise. We both have visited Germany and the Czech Republic.
Of the four grandparents, only one, Jacob Nies, was born overseas. Jacob Nies was my maternal grandfather. He was from Glueckstal and came to North Dakota as a teen in 1905 or 1906. Unfortunately, we know nothing about his life in the old country. He farmed in the McIntosh County area, then moved to Lodi, California. We’re short of information on my great-grandparent’s, too, although we know they were from the villages of Kassel, Bergdorf, and Johannestal.
Our parents never visited their roots in Europe nor showed an interest in traveling there. Why? We don’t know. They certainly could have made such a visit after their retirements. They didn’t seem anxious to volunteer any information about their heritage. But then, we never asked them or our grandparents for much of that kind of information.
I graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1972 and worked at The Fargo Forum as a reporter and editor. John, a University of Nebraska graduate in 1972, also worked as a reporter for The Forum. We moved to Kansas City in the mid-70’s. John was a reporter for The Kansas City Star, the local daily newspaper, for many years before retiring. I still work as a research analyst at Shook, Hardy & Bacon, a large Kansas City law firm.