Journey to the Homeland: Russia, Ukraine and Germany
May 17 - June 31, 1997
Biographies of Tour Group Members
* Identifies Deceased
|The tour group standing in front of the
palace of Catherine the Great, St. Petersburg, Russia, in
Rev. Myrin D. Bentz, Portland, Oregon
Ancestral villages: Neudorf [Glückstal District]; Melaschna,
Neusatz and Perway [Crimea]
Rev. Myrin D. Bentz writes, "I was born and raised in the Russian-German
culture of Mercer County, North Dakota. My maternal and paternal
ancestors are of that background. My first language was German in
the Schwabish dialect. I had many opportunities to learn of my German
heritage in connection with my college and seminary studies. During
those years I gained some ability with 'High German', but that has
been lying dormant in the past thirty years. In my work as a Lutheran
pastor I have had many occasions to know people of the heritage
similar to mine and have always been eager to enrich my understanding
of the people from whom I have come.
"The Bentz part of me traces back to the Bentz Township in what
is now Gregory County in South Dakota. My grandfather, George F.
Bentz, was born in the Kherson Colony of Romania. He came to this
country at the age of five. In 1902, as a grown man, he moved to
North Dakota where he homesteaded near Hazen. One of his children
was George F. Bentz, my father, who lived his entire life in the
Oliver-Mercer County areas until his death in 1994. It would be
very meaningful to see that part of Rumania from which these ancestors
"My maternal roots are traced through my grandmother's side. She
was one of eleven children of Wilhelm and Elizabeth Goetz, who emigrated
from the Crimea Peninsula where they were successful in their lives
as farmers. It would be great to have an opportunity to visit those
parts of the Crimea from which they came.
|The tour group near the Odessa Airport,
Odessa, Ukraine in May, 1997.
"I am the Senior Pastor of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Portland,
Oregon. My long pastorate here began in 1969. Prior to that I served
congregations in Anchorage, Alaska and Kansas City, Missouri.
"For our retirement we have purchased an acreage in the Columbia
Gorge which features grasslands and meadowlarks, reminiscent of
the wide open spaces in North Dakota. Our dream is to develop a
retreat site on our property for the ministry in our later years."
Audrey Bentz, Portland, Oregon
Ancestral villages: Neudorf [Glückstal District]; Melaschna,
Neusatz and Perway [Crimea]
|The tour group standing at the entrance
of the former Lutheran German Church today a Russia Orthodox
Church in Grossliebental (Liebental District) near Odessa, Ukraine.
Audrey's maternal grandparents, William Jansen and Matilda Peterson,
came from the Kiel, Germany, vicinity about 1876. Christian Bensen,
her paternal grandfather, also emigrated from the same general area,
although they think the proximity to the Danish border may account
for the spelling of his name. It was the tradition of these people,
that as each young person was confirmed in the Lutheran Church,
they would then, on their own, emigrate to the United States. Most
of the girls would become indentured servants and often the boys
would find work on a farm here in the United States.
Although it is her husband Myrin who has the Russia-German roots
in the Crimean area, she, too, has an interest in this culture.
Audrey grew up on an Iowa farm -- the same one on which her maternal
grandparents lived most of their adult life. Myrin and she met at
Wartburg College in Iowa and were married before Myrin entered the
Lutheran Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. They have three children by
birth, and two more Afro-American children by adoption. Their oldest,
Michael, is presently planning his fourth experiment on a space
shuttle through a NASA contract. They also have eight grandchildren.
After working many years in the criminal justice system, she did
her seminary studies and is now an "Associate in Ministry" in the
*Viola Wolff Bertsch, Bowman,
Ancestral villages: Bergdorf, and Glückstal [Glückstal District],
Tiraspol and Blesetski
Viola Wolff Bertsch was born to Henry and Amalia (Flemmer) Wolff
in Mercer County on a farm near Golden Valley, North Dakota. "My
father Henry Wolff was born December 18, 1895, in Blesetske, a small
village near Bergdorf. He was the son of Christian Wolff and Elizabeth
Rau Aipperspach Wolff. My mother Amalia Flemmer Wolff was born in
Eureka, South Dakota, June 20, 1903. My mother's parents, Karl Flemmer
and Christina Kasande Flemmer came from the Glückstal area. The
Christian Wolff family immigrated to the United States in 1911.
"I attended elementary school in a rural school and graduated
from Golden Valley High School. Then I attended Dickinson Teacher's
College and taught in rural schools for several years. In 1949,
I married Gordon Bertsch. We moved to Oakridge, Oregon where Gordon
was employed by the Southern Pacific Railroad Co. In 1950, we moved
to Fargo, North Dakota. Gordon attended Moler Barber College. He
did his apprenticeship in Watford City and Killdeer, North Dakota,
then operated a shop in Zap, North Dakota.
"In 1954, we moved back to Oakridge, Oregon where Gordon worked
as a barber. In 1957, we moved to Bowman, North Dakota, where we
still reside. Gordon is a barber, while, in 1993, I retired from
work at the Sunset Care Nursing Home as a CNA for 22 years. We have
four daughters: Carol Marie was born in Watford City, North Dakota.
Cora Sue was born in Oakridge, Oregon, in a clinic by candlelight
as there was no hospital and the electricity was off. Crystal Gaye
and Andrea May were born in Bowman.
"Carol married Roger Durnny, an Air Force man. They were stationed
in Brindisi, Italy, and later at the Ramstein Air Force Base in
Germany. We were fortunate to visit them at each base. Together
we toured Italy, Germany, parts of Austria and Switzerland. We visited
our Kasanke cousins in Baden, Germany. They now reside in Show Low,
Arizona. They have two daughters: Shawna and Melanie. Melanie has
set her wedding date for July 12, 1997.
"Cora Sue is married to Stan Bashor, living in Englewood, CO,
with two children: Amaleah and Aaron. Crystal, our only daughter
living in North Dakota, is married to Rich Erickson with one daughter,
Tessa. Andrea is married to Brian Watson, living in Oakland, Maine,
with two children, Travis and Kaitlin.
"They are all excited about my trip 'Journey to the Homeland.'
Andrea is the youngest granddaughter of Henry Wolff's, the inheritor
of a special gift: a rolling pin made by her great-great-great-grandfather
Knorr. He made it as a wedding gift for his granddaughter Elizabeth
Dorothy Bader Breitling, Wishek, North
Ancestral villages: Franzfeld and Friedenstal; Alexanderhilf
and Neuberg [Liebental District]
Dorothy was born south of Wishek, North Dakota in 1933 to William
and Dorothea (Joachim) Bader. "My father's family immigrated from
Alexanderhilf and Neuberg in May 23, 1885, on the SS Eider from
Bremen to New York, to South Dakota, and finally to Wishek, North
Dakota, where they homesteaded. My mother's family came from Friedenstal
and immigrated to Eureka, South Dakota.
"I lived on the family farm with my parents and sisters, went
through eighth grade in a one room country school, then graduated
from the Wishek, North Dakota High School. I was married to Howard
Breitling in 1953. We have three daughters, Sonia, Dorinda, and
Mary Jo. Living on a farm until 1965, we moved to Wishek, North
Dakota. I worked at the Wishek High School Library and now enjoy
sewing, reading, gardening, traveling, and doing genealogical research
which I have been doing since the 1980's.
"Howard and I were in Russia in 1988 with an Agriculture Tour
to St. Petersburg, Moscow, and to some collective farms in the Lvov,
Chernovtsy (Ukraine) and Kischinev (Moldova) areas. It was a very
interesting and educational tour. We have also traveled to Australia,
New Zealand, Austria, Mexico, and most every state as well as Hawaii
"I am looking forward to The Journey to the Homeland Tour as it
will give me an opportunity to visit the historic villages where
my ancestors lived, where they originated in southwest Germany,
and to learn further about my heritage and culture."
*Howard Breitling, Wishek, North
Ancestral villages: Beresina [Bessarabia]; Johannestal [Beresan
Howard Breitling writes, "I was born March 3, 1929, in Eureka,
South Dakota, to Ida (Bertsch) and Gottlieb Breitling Jr. Gottlieb
Breitling Jr. was born in the USA on August 11, 1901. His father
Gottlieb Breitling Sr. was born Jan. 1, 1864, in Beresina, Bessarabia,
and his mother Friedricka Dobler was born in 1870. Howard's mother
Ida was born July 26, 1903.
"Her father Jacob D. Bertsch was born Oct. 10, 1862. Her mother
Katherina Diede was born Feb. 23, 1871. Both in Johannestal, South
Russia. Jacob served 4 years in the Russian Army (1884-1888). They
immigrated in 1889 to America and homesteaded in McPherson County
in South Dakota about 30 miles NE of Eureka, South Dakota. Fourteen
children were born to this union.
"The Gottlieb Breitling, Sr. family came to America in 1884, and
homesteaded 13 miles north of Eureka, Dakota Territory, 7 miles
SW of Venturia in McIntosh County, North Dakota. Fifteen children
were born to this union."
Howard received his 8 years of elementary education in a one room
school house in rural Johnstown District, 6 miles south of Venturia.
He graduated from Eureka High School in 1948. He attended Ellendale
Normal and Industrial College to obtain an elementary teaching certificate.
Howard taught elementary grades 1-8 in a rural one room school house
In 1953, Howard married Dorothy Bader. During 1953-1965, Dorothy
and Howard were owners and operators of a 1200-acre livestock and
grain farm with responsibilities for developing crop plans, livestock
feeding programs, with lines of credit averaging an annual operating
budget exceeding $70,000.
In 1962, he was appointed District Director for 9 South Central
North Dakota counties in the administration of Federal Farm programs
as assigned to USDA - ASCS. In 1970, he accepted a position as manager
of the Wishek Farmers Union Oil Company.
In 1977, Howard represented the Farmers Union Central Exchange
as a licensed insurance agent providing insurance needs for North
and South Dakota regions until he retired in 1991. Howard and Dorothy
still own and manage their family farm.
In 1988 Dorothy and Howard toured the Collective Farm Systems
of the Ukraine, including Lvov, Chernovtsy, Kishinev, then traveled
to St. Petersburg.
"In March of 1995, I was selected by Winrock International, an
Institute for Agricultural Development, to spend three weeks in
Russia. Tour highlights included three days in the Noginsk Regional
Agricultural Institute where 50 full time and 30 part time faculty
members oversee a student body of 4000. Next venue was south to
Ingushetia, about 300 miles from Iran, where we toured several Moslem
villages in the nearby Caucasus mountain range. The final days of
this tour were spent in the cities of Vladmir and Moscow."
June Kulm Brown, Kingwood, Texas
Ancestral villages: Neu Glückstal and Hoffnungstal
"My parents were Alexander and Lena (Hedberg) Kulm. My father
was born and raised in Neu Glückstal, Odessa Region, South Russia,
and came to the United States in 1908 at the age of eighteen. I
was born in Southern Idaho, where my parents were pioneer homesteaders;
but when I was still a toddler they moved the family to Washington,
where I spent most of my growing-up years.
"I married John C. Brown and we lived in Alaska and in Brazil
ten years before starting a family, then settled in California.
We had five children, whom I raised alone after my husband died
in 1963 when the youngest was barely two years old. For many years
I had my own business, Brown Investment Realty, in Los Altos, California,
until my retirement.
"I became interested in the Kulm family and its Russian history
in 1973, and since then my main activity outside my work and children
has been locating and organizing Kulm relatives throughout the world,
researching Kulm history, and studying the overall history of the
German Russians. I finally published an in-depth history of the
Kulm family in 1996. Included was much history of the German-Russian
in the Black Sea area (as well as the overall German-Russian history).
"During my research I made three trips to the U.S.S.R., including
to Odessa twice, but each time was not allowed to go to our ancestral
village of Neu Glückstal or Hoffnungstal, although I was within
twelve miles of Hoffnungstal twice. I made up my mind to eventually
get to these villages; so here I am!"
Mary Lou Leintz Bueling, Wahpeton,
Ancestral villages: Selz [Kutschurgan District]; Krasna [Bessarabia]
"I was born in Mandan, North Dakota, in 1945, and grew up on the
family farm near Raleigh in Grant County with an older brother,
Mike, and two sisters, Angie and Sharon. My parents, Adam and Ella
Leintz, the children of German-Russian immigrants, also grew up
in the area. One great-grandfather, Michael Volk, was a founding
father of St. Gertrude's Church. A grandfather, Frank Fergel, was
one of the pioneer farmers instrumental in building St. Gabriel's
Church in Shields, North Dakota.
"A one room country school provided my elementary school education.
After one year at McIntosh (South Dakota) High School, St. Gertrude's
High School was built and I finished my high school years there.
I attended Presentation Junior College in Aberdeen, and received
a standard certificate. After teaching at Christ the King School
in Mandan for a year, I returned to school and finished my undergraduate
work at Valley City State University.
"From 1967-1973 I taught in the elementary school at Dunseith,
North Dakota, and attended summer sessions and night classes to
obtain a Master's Degree in Learning Disabilities from Nothern State
College in Aberdeen in 1973. From 1973-1976 I worked as a Learning
Disabilities Consultant in the Enderlin and Sheldon Schools, and
from 1979 to the present I am working in this same capacity in the
Wahpeton Public Schools.
"In 1974, my husband, Lynn Bueling, and I were married. We have
two sons, Brandon and Clint, who are both attending college.
"My interest in genealogy was sparked in high school when a class
assignment was to interview an older family member and write a family
history. Little did I realize at the time that this would be my
only link to Russia. I interviewed my maternal grandfather, Frank
Fergel, who spoke of Selz, his hometown, and of my grandmother,
of the names of his parents, and of my grandmother's parents, a
few dates, and of the name of the ship that brought him to America.
It was a sketchy interview. I never asked enough questions, and
I never understood all of what he said -- half in English, half
in German. I will always regret that. But, I would also be grateful
for what little I had found. Grandma died the next year, and grandpa
followed one year later.
"My maternal grandparents, Frank Fergel and Catherine Baumstark,
were married in the 'Pfarrkirche in Selz' in the year 1908. Frank
immediately left for America, and Catherine joined him one year
later. Frank's mother was Veronica Noel, and Catherine's mother
was Katharina Swidersky.
"My paternal grandparents are Felix Lientz and Braxada Volk. Felix
came to America in 1908 with his brother's family. He was just 16
years old. His family, as well as Braxada's, were from Krasna. Braxada,
daughter of Michael Volk and Helena Riehl Volk, came to America
with her parents and siblings in 1905."
Robert Dambach, Fargo, North
Producer and Director, Prairie Public Television
Bob writes, "I was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1951, and took
a bachelor's degree in communications at the University of Dayton,
Ohio, in 1973. With a MA degree in speech communication, radio,
TV, and film from the University of Iowa, I served as Assistant
Instructor of Radio and TV in Wichita, Kansas, working as Program
Manager in 1976 to 1979.
"Having next served as Program Manager in Las Vegas, Nevada, I
presently serve as the Program Manager and Producer of Prairie Public
Television. My hobbies are history and woodworking. I am married
to my wife, Virginia, have two daughters, Mary, age thirteen, and
Jeanne, age nine. My heritage is German from my father's family
and Irish from my mother's family. In June, 1996, I joined the tours
to Ukraine and Germany."
Mayo F. Flegel, Le Sueur, Minnesota
Ancestral villages: Katzbach, Kulm and Tarutino [Bessarabia]
Born on October 12, 1931, on a farm near Kulm, North Dakota, Mayo
Flegel went for eight years to a rural school and spent four years
in Kulm High School. One year at Ellendale Teachers College was
his next step, then one year as a rural school teacher. Mayo farmed
three and a half years near Kulm and spent three years serving in
the Army, including 18 months in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
"I studied at North Dakota State University for four years, graduating
with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering in 1962." He
then worked for Green Giant from 1962-1978, Pillsbury from 1978-1988,
and is now principal consultant of Flegel and Associate, Engineering
Consulting in USA, Europe, South America, and Asia.
He has been past president of his Church Council, North Star Chapter,
AHSGR in Minneapolis; and ISM from Minnesota. Mayo has membership
with Ida. Deta. P., Mensa, AIIF, and ASME. The sports that he enjoys
are baseball, softball, and basketball. In his spare time he enjoys
wood working and photography.
Barbara Huck (German descendent of Alsace Lorraine also) and Mayo
were wed in 1964. She's a school teacher from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
They have three children: James, Paula, and Anne. Some of the community
activities that she participates in are: church council, stewardship
committee, community long range planning, two committees on church
expansion, company cabinet in local $100,000 fundraising, hospital
foundation board member, and life trustee of a hospital endowment
Mayo has four sisters - Mrs. Cliff (Irene) Feil of Mandan, North
Dakota, who is a teacher and artist. Mrs. Henry (Wanda) Gebhardt
of Monango, North Dakota, who is also a teacher. Mrs. Irwin (Genevieve)
Zintor of Browns Valley, Minnesota, who is a teacher, and Mrs. Lyle
(Claire) Bjor, of Kulm, North Dakota, who is a teacher also.
Dave Geck, Glen Ullin, North
Videographer, Prairie Public Television
David writes, "I was born and raised in Glen Ullin, North Dakota,
the youngest of eight children. Father farmed 1800 acres of land
and as a young boy, I remember my parents speaking German whenever
they wanted to keep us in the dark on certain subjects.
"I attended school in Glen Ullin and the vocational school in
Wahpeton, North Dakota before Broadcast School in Denver, Colorado.
"I have been working in television for nine years. The best rewards
about a career in television is traveling, meeting distinctive people,
and seeing places that most would only dream about. Yes, very rewarding
for me. (Dave was a videographer for the June, 1996 tour.) We live
on a farm near Glen Ullin raising buffalo while continuing to work
"I have been married to a beautiful woman with a Washburn, North
Dakota, farming background. We have two beautiful little ladies:
Samantha is eight, in the second grade, and Mary is four. My hobbies
are cars and remodeling our home (Some hobby!). I enjoy the outdoors
Cordavee "Blees" Heupel, Sturgis,
Ancestral villages: Landau, Rastadt and Speyer [Beresan District];
Kassel [Glückstal District]; Beresina, Kulm, Leipzig and Tarutino
"I was born in Bowman, North Dkaota, to Roszella (Mosbrucker)
Blees and John Blees. I lived and attended school in Bowman. Then
I attended X-Ray Technological Training in Bismarck, in 1957-1959,
when I married Ray Heupel, a South Dakota native. Ray's parents
are Nora (Rattei) Heupel and Alfred Heupel. My mother's parents
immigrated from South Russia, while my father's parents came from
Luxembourg to Minnesota. My mother's parents homesteaded in Slope
County, North Dakota, along with my grandfather's parents. My husband's
families all came from South Russia to North Dakota.
"After marriage, we lived in Mobridge, South Dakota, for four
years before we moved to Pipestone, MN. We lived there until 1968
when we moved to Bowman, to my parents farm. We raised five children
there and then moved to South Dakota in 1979.
"I got my interest into genealogy when I was in high school, writing
down all the new babies in the family as they were born. Sad part
is: I never visited with my grandmother about her family and where
they lived in Russia. She passed away in 1959. I got back into genealogy
again in the late sixties, when I attended my first workshop in
Rapid City. I researched many books and libraries, etc., traveling
as much as my finances would allow for a hobby at that time.
"By adding my husband's genealogy to mine, I kept attending workshops
to learn more about the country, where my ancestors came from. I
would be all 'gung ho' until I hit a dead end, when research would
get put away again until someone would write or ask about someone.
Then I would dig again. Several times I was fortunate enough to
find someone else who had done knowledgeable research, such as Phylis
Feser or Gwen Pritzkau. They came to my rescue and helped me get
on track again.
"My X-ray training has fallen by the wayside, while banking became
my job in Mobridge, Bowman, and now again in Sturgis. My husband
has always been an auctioneer and seems to end up working in livestock
barns, besides his love for horses and cattle which he raises.
"Our children were raised beyond North Dakota and South Dakota.
The oldest, Colin and his wife Debbie are team truckers out of Denver,
Colorado Our oldest daughter, living with us at this time, is going
to school part-time for a degree in Elementary Education. She already
has a degree in Agriculture Education, but has a tight job market.
Our other daughter is a counselor in a group home in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
She is wanting to get her masters degree.
"The middle son spent this summer working for the world's largest
hot air balloon company, traveling the USA by balloons. Then he
returns to Big Sky Country of Montana, to work on Big Mountain making
snow for the skiers, for the last eight years. Our youngest son
lives in Frederick, Maryland, with his wife. He works for FEMA doing
all their TV programs and filming disasters. This is pretty much
the history of our family."
Elaine Helbling Hundley, Rochester,
Ancestral villages: Karlsruhe and Speyer [Beresan District]
Elaine Hundley writes, "I am 63 years old and I've been married
to James B. Hundley for 42 years. We have five children: Mary Jo,
Leslie, Jamie, John, and Rachel. They are all married, giving us
six grandchildren. Jim is retired from the State of Illinois Dept.
of Public Health. In North Dakota he worked at University of North
Dakota in the Public Health Department from 1954-1968.
"I am a registered nurse and have been Director of Continuing
Education for Nursing for 16 years at Lincoln Land Community College
in Springfield, Illinois. Prior to that, I practiced as staff development
director in a hospital. My other nursing experience is staff nurse,
critical care, recovery room, hospital wide coordinator, also clinical
"I was born in Mandan, North Dakota, in 1933, to Constantina (Braun)
Helbling and Valentine Helbling Jr. Constantina was born in the
Odessa region and emigrated to the USA in 1904. Valentine was born
in North Dakota, but all his siblings were born in the Karlsruhe
and Speier area. I had two brothers and two sisters, all born in
Mandan, N.D. My mother was one of 13 children, most born in the
Odessa area. Her parents were Eva Kopp and John Braun. My father
was the youngest of six brothers and two or three sisters. Two sisters died in Russia.
"My education includes St. Joseph Grade School, Mandan High School,
and RN School at Sisters of St. Joseph School of Nursing of North
Dakota, graduating in 1954. I attended North Dakota State University
in Fargo, also the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Then
I graduated from the University of Illinois in Springfield with
Bachelor's degree in Nursing. At Columbia Pacific University I received
my master's degree in Nursing Administration/Education. I am certified
as a Continuing Education/Staff Development Specialist.
"Also I'm a certified Catechist in the Springfield, Illinois,
teaching Catholic religion classes for 21 years. St. Mary's College
in Bismarck, is where I became certified. I was principal of religion
schools in Champaign and Rochester, Illinois. I've studied Latin,
Spanish, German, and currently Russian.
"I have close ties with family, relatives and friends in North
Dakota. I attend my high school class reunion every five years since
1951. My husband and I enjoy a good life in rural Illinois. We live
in hard woods forest (quite a contrast to North Dakota) and enjoy
nature, reading, music, and travel. Our children come home frequently
for family gatherings. I have always sung in the church choir wherever
we've lived; it is one of my greatest pleasures. I'm a lector at
St. Jude's Church in Rochester, Illinois.
"My family, as I grew up, was very poor. My father earned his
living as a brick mason and at one time worked for a utility power
plant. My mother was always home, caring for the family. To earn
money to educate us children, she cared for bedridden elderly from
the county welfare department in our home. She also did laundry
for neighboring single men. She was thus able to send me through
nursing school. She sent my brother, Richard, through the University
of North Dakota at Grand Forks for a teaching degree and then again
for a Master's in Education Administration. He taught in the California
school system his entire career.
"My sister, Donna (Anderst), was educated at North Dakota State
University and at the University of Pennsylvania as a physical education
teacher and later taught in schools in North Dakota and Wisconsin.
My sister Dorothy (Wagner) worked in Mandan, and in the state of
Montana. During the second world war she lived in Washington State
with our father who worked in the shipyards. My oldest brother,
Eugene was a pilot during WWII, before his lifelong career as a
salesman in North Dakota.
"As a child, I remember that my Great Grandmother, Carolina Kopp,
lived with us. She spoke only the German-Russian dialect (Swabish).
Also farm cousins lived with us while they attended Catholic school
during the week, making a full household: A small two bedroom house
(five children and great grandmother in one room). In the basement
were two small bedrooms for cousins, or sometimes we rented out
to families with five children."
Loretta Mitzel Huschka, LaMoure,
Ancestral villages: Selz and Straßburg [Kutschurgan District]
"My parents, Martin and Mary (Welk) Mitzel, were of German Russian
descent, and they stayed in the community where their parents had
settled. In fact, my father continued on the family farm after his
father died. They farmed in Pierce County, near Orrin, North Dakota.
My three brothers and one sister and I were born while we lived
"My father, who believed very strongly in a good education for
his children, sold his farm and purchased a grocery store. He moved
his family to town to ensure that we had the opportunity to go to
high school and further if we so desired. The saying, 'You can take
the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of
the boy' proved to be true for my father. After a couple of years
of town living, he went in search of land once again to farm. With
one requirement: there had to be good schools near by; thus we came
to Hope, North Dakota.
"This is where my youngest sister was born. All of my sisters
and brothers graduated from high school and some of us went for
further education. I completed a summer session at Valley City Teachers
College, then accepted a teaching position at a one room school.
I soon learned that my education was too limited to be teaching;
thus, I married a farmer, Valentine Huschka, and raised my family.
I didn't work outside the home until my last two children were in
"Since I became a widow, I have attended Interstate Business College
pursuing a medical secretary's position. I thoroughly enjoyed being
back in the classroom and desire an opportunity to reflect back
with regional history studies.
"In addition to reading as my favorite pastime, I enjoy gardening,
quilting, embroidery, and my grandchildren. My ancestral history
is very fascinating with the idea of retracing their steps. I have
many questions about their beginnings and hopefully some answers
through my Journey to the Homeland."
Cynthia Mitzel Longtin, Fargo, North
Ancestral villages: Selz and Straßburg [Kutschurgan District];
Kandel and Mannheim
"At age 42, I am the youngest of six children born of German-Russian
Catholic parents. My father was conceived in Russia and born in
North Dakota, July 1909. There is a 13 year span between my next
sibling, Mary Lou and myself. When my eldest brother, at age 24,
came home from serving in the Korean War, he didn't know about his
new sister. He asked mom whose baby she was watching! I grew up
on a farm west of Hope, North Dakota, attending Luverne Public School
and one year at NDSU.
"At age 19, I started working ten years for Blue Cross-Blue Shield
of North Dakota. I have been employed at The Equitable, a life insurance
company, since July 1985. I met my French-Norwegian husband, Stuart,
at a church seminar in October 1983; we decided to marry two years
later. I've been leading the life of Frau Longtin thereafter. I
have two stepsons, Joseph and James, who lived with us until their
college days. Joe is married now and has a sweet little daughter
who entertains Granpa and Gramma lots, pure joy.
"I have my parent's love of travel, having visited 36 of our 50
states, Canada, Italy, Greece and Turkey. Good food, sipping wine
and meeting people wherever we go is a great satisfaction. A good
book, movie or music keeps me content. Stuart and I are well involved
with our parish of St. Anthony's in Fargo. With 24 nieces and nephews
we never lack for someone to help, visit or play. Family is very
"I remember well my maternal grandfather, Balthazar Welk, who
lived with us for six weeks every year until his death in 1966.
His wife, grandmother Margaret (Baumgartner) Welk died in 1954.
Granpa Welk entertained me during those times he spent with our
family. He taught me how to trap gophers and made a tree swing out
of an old tire, together. Granpa sang songs in German to me while
I learned to count to '10' in German and Russian. Learning words
too, I would go to school and teach my friends Russian. I thought
I was hot stuff!!
"I remember visiting my paternal grandmother, Elizabeth (Volk)
Mitzel, a resident of the Harvey nursing home. She always wore a
black head scarf. As a child I liked to have my mom tell me stories
about my grandparents, aunts, and uncles who were born in Russia.
As an adult my curiosity has become a genealogy MISSION. My husband
has been into genealogy for a number of years and inspired my dreams.
It is our goal to go back to the beginnings of all our families,
To walk on the land and to try to imagine what their lives were
Stuart Longtin, Fargo, North
Stuart writes, "I was born January 24, 1951. I have two sons:
Joseph, who is 26, and James who is 21. I am the youngest of my
parents, three children, having one brother and one sister. My parents
are deceased. My ancestry on my father's side is French, having
traced my paternal ancestry back to Paris, France, to 1738. It is
interesting to note that my French ancestors came from an area in
France that is 150 km from Alsace, the origins of the ancestors
of my German-Russian spouse.
"My maternal ancestry goes back five generations to an area north
of Trondheim, Norway. Members of my mother's family still correspond
with relatives here. I have been tracing the ancestry of my parents
for over 15 years. Recently, I became involved in tracing the German-Russian
heritage of my spouse, Cindy Mitzel Longtin. Cindy and I published
a family history of Philip Mitzel, born in 1860. This interest has
continued to the maternal ancestry of my spouse, the Welk family.
We have been successful in both families' history, with origins
to the Alsace area, to 1750. I have become adapt at utilizing Familytree
Software and the Internet for this purpose. My organizational skills
have come in handy during this project.
"My career has been in the telecommunication industry. I have
worked for AT&T for 26 years. Presently, I am the Services Manager
for installation and maintenance of business telecommunications
systems in North Dakota and western Minnesota."
Leone Helbling McGarry, Yakima,
Ancestral villages: Landau and Speyer [Beresan District]
"I was born in Mandan, North Dakota, October 26, 1931, the youngest
of five children (in fact I was born at Elaine Helbling Hundley's
mother's house (a fellow tour member) with a midwife in attendance.
My father, Henry Helbling, was the 4th of 6 sons of Valentine Helbling,
Sr. My Grandfather Helbling immigrated from Russia. My mother, Katherina
Schaff Helbling, was born in the Odessa, Russia, area. She was about
4 years old when her parents, Jacob Schaff and Monica Roll Schaff
immigrated. Monica Roll Schaff was born in Moscow. I have very little
information about my maternal grandparents. My mom did not speak
about her background very much. I never did know my grandparents.
I was very young when they died.
"My parents lived on a farm at St. Anthony, North Dakota, my grandfather
Helbling's homestead. We were very poor, but always had enough to
eat as my parents grew their own fruits and vegetables. To provide
some 'cash', my dad brewed 'illegal spirits' during the depression.
He had a distillery along with several of his brothers. They would
move their still to various places to keep it hidden from the 'revenuers.'
He also traveled to Mount Angel, Oregon, to work for some nuns to
financially support his family.
"I attended a one-room school for 8 grades, before Mandan High
School. I was the only family member to attend high school.
"After high school, I worked one year to save money for nursing
school in Minot, graduating in 1953.
"I married Jack McGarry in 1953. We moved to Seattle, Washington,
were Jack was attending Seattle University. He worked and went to
school, while I worked as an RN and cared for our two little boys.
Jack was an IRS agent for 15 years and then manager of the General
Accounting Department of the University of Washington, where he
retired. I continued to work at Doctor's Hospital in Seattle.
"In 1972, we decided to relocate for more sunshine than what Seattle
offered, moving to Yakima, Washington. I worked as Department Manager
at Memorial Hospital in Yakima for 21 years, retiring in 1993.
"I have launched a search for information about Jack's ancestors.
His father was Irish and held a dual citizenship of the USA and
Ireland. His mother was Scots and Irish.
"I was able to speak German before I could speak English. I can
speak German but am very rusty. I can understand most of spoken
German if they do not speak too fast. I can read a little German
if it is not in the old script. My sisters and I practice speaking
German when we get together."
*Bruce G. Mehlhaff, Rapid City,
Ancestral villages: Kassel [Glückstal District]
Bruce Mehlhaff writes, "I was born April 25, 1939, in Eureka,
South Dakota. My paternal grandparents were German Russians from
the village of Kassel. They immigrated to the United States in the
late 1880's, settling in Eureka, where they were married and lived
their lives. My maternal grandfather was born in Klein Margen, Ostfriesland;
my maternal grandmother in Woodstock, Illinois, of Norwegian parents.
The two met in Eureka and also lived out their lives there.
"I am the youngest of six children, all of whom were raised in
Eureka. Following high school, I showed signs of becoming a professional
student. I have a B.A. degree from the University of Minnesota with
a major in Speech and a minor in English. I next attended Northern
State Teachers College and picked up a minor in social studies and
the necessary credits to be certified as a secondary school teacher.
"I taught in Eureka for five years and then returned to school
to get an M.A. degree in Drama from the University of Washington.
I dabbled in teaching again at Worthington State Junior College
in Minnesota before returning to the University of Washington a
second time to earn an M.L.S. degree. This career stuck and I worked,
over the years, as a cataloger, reference Librarian, and assistant
director at the Rapid City Public Library and as the archivist at
the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
"My vocations include acting, singing, genealogy, and photography.
I have done as many as four plays a year with the local community
theater and am in rehearsal for Hello, Dolly as I compose
this biography. I also sing in a church choir, a barbershop chorus,
and have sung with the Black Hills Symphony chorus in the past.
"I spent Christmas 1994 in southern Germany, while traveling from
Heidelberg to Rothenburg, passed through Bad Wimpfen, the village
where the Mehlhaff line apparently began. I plan to extend this
tour with a return to Bad Wimpfen for further reseach and experiences.
"Rather than return to college, I now feed my need for 'continuing
education' by doing independent research. I have done some writing
and plan to do more."
Michael M. Miller, Fargo, North
Germans from Russia Bibliographer, NDSU Libraries, Fargo
Ancestral villages: Straßburg [Kutschurgan District]; Krasna [Bessarabia]
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 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
NDSU Libraries staff since 1967, where he compiled the annotated
bibliography, Researching the Germans from Russia published
by the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU, 1987.
He produced the visual program At Home on the Prairies: the
Germans from Russia for the Germans from Russia Heritage Society.
Working with the family of Lawrence Welk, he was instrumental in
the family's decision in 1992 to donate the archives of the late
bandleader to the NDSU Libraries.
Besides his university work, he is a photographer. His photography
assignments have taken him to the Olympics in Los Angeles, Seoul,
Calgary, Albertville, Barcelona, and Lillehammer.
He has visited Odessa in June 1994, December 1995, and June 1996.
*Lois M. Myers, Havre, Montana
Ancestral villages: Kronental, Friedenstal and Adamsfield
"I was born on a farm near Raub, McLean County, North Dakota,
The fourth child of J. Dort Myers and Clara (Jacobina) Weisz. My
dad's father (son of Heinrich Myers, born in Russia in 1820, and
Annetta Bowers, born in Hanover, Germany, 1825) was born in Lee
County, Illinois, on June 26, 1853. Hulda Jane Dort (my father's
mother) was born June 26, 1856, in Hancock, IL. She was the daughter
of Calvin Dort, born August 2, 1808, in Gisun, New Hampshire and
Emeline Warner, born January 26, 1812.
"John and Hulda were married December 23, 1875, at Carthage, Illinois.
They lived there until coming to Iowa in 1882. My dad was born on
October 21, 1891. The family moved to North Dakota in March, 1902,
coming to the Weller district west of Underwood. In the fall, they
moved to their homestead at Blackwater, where they lived in a three
room sod house.
"On March 8, 1914, my parents were married. My mother, Clara (Jacobina)
Weisz, was born in Russia on October 26, 1895 as the daughter of
Gustav Adam Leonard Weisz. He was born December 15, 1863, in Kronental,
South Russia, (the son of Adam Weisz), and Rosina Christian Weisz
born October 3, 1865, in Friendental, South Russia). My grandparents
were married January 28, 1886. They came to America in May, 1909,
living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, before coming to the Underwood
"My mom and dad's homestead was in the Raub area of McLean County,
where they homesteaded in 1914. This is where I grew up, attending
country school, Loquemont #1, graduating from the 8th grade, then
attending Parshall High School, graduating in May 1938. Precious
memories of special days on the farm, even thru the depression.
We often visited our grandparents and other relatives in the Underwood
"Neither of mother's parents learned much of the English language;
we loved to hear them conversing in German. Eventually, we could
understand some. Our grandmother always had a supply of German goodies;
we still like them today! She enjoyed flowers and always had a beautiful
flower garden. My mother inherited this love and a 'green thumb,'
which some of my sisters also have. Our grandpa passed away June
18, 1937, and our beloved grandmother just five weeks later, in
"In the fall of 1939, I entered Nurses' training at the Sacred
Heart Hospital, Havre, Montana, and graduated from a 3 year course
in May 1942. I received my R.N. degree that September. It was war
time. Work took me to California briefly; then I returned to Havre
where I supervised and taught student nurses at the same hospital
where I trained. Nurses were classified in priority of a necessity
to draft. Fortunately enough nurses volunteered so drafting was
not necessary. In 1950, I left the nursing profession to go into
church missionary work. First in Montana and later in 1955 to Chile,
South America, where I lived nearly 20 years.
"After 20 years my parents left the farm bought by government
reclamation. The farm structures were moved to higher ground to
avoid flooding caused by the building of the Garrison Dam on the
Missouri River. They retired to Minot, N.D. where my dad passed
away in September 1968. My mother continued to live in their family
"Returning from Chile in 1972, I continued to the missionary field
in Montana, Oregon and North Dakota. Mother's health began to deteriorate,
so I returned home to be with her in her last years. It was, indeed,
a special time and priceless memories remain of those four years.
She would tell me of her childhood at Odessa, spending time with
her grandparents, as her grandmother had poor eyesight.
"She told us of the vineyards, orchards, flowers, and bashtan.
Even though we are very aware of many changes since then, with great
anticipation I look forward to the Journey to the Homeland Tour.
It is very special that our nephew, Robbie, has the same desire
that I have to walk where our forefathers walked. We appreciate
very much those who are making this tour possible."
Rob Myers, Parshall, North Dakota
Ancestral villages: Kronental and Friedenstal
"I was born to Jim and Peggy Myers living on a farm near Parshall,
North Dakota, on September 4, 1971. I lived in Parshall until I
was 18. After I graduated from high school I joined the U.S Navy.
I went to basic training at Great Lakes, Illinois. After basic training,
I stayed in Great Lakes for advanced training as a Gunners Mate.
After about a year in Illinois, I was assigned to the Amphibious
Assault ship, U.S.S. GUAM. I served for four years on the Mighty
"In those four years I made two six months Mediterranean deployments.
In April 1995, I decided to leave the Navy and go to college. I
started attending North Dakota State University in the fall of 1995
and also joined the North Dakota Army National Guard. I am currently
studying for a degree in Management Information Systems.
"My German-Russian roots come from my father's side of the family.
I learned a lot about my heritage after my grandmother passed away
in 1989. That was when my Aunt Lois told me about how my grandmother
was born in Odessa and how she came with my grandfather over here
to the states. I was very interested in my family's roots at that
"Another aspect of this trip I am looking forward to is the opportunity
to visit some of the Soviet warships that are moored up in navy
*Raymond H. Pfau, Racine, Wisconsin
Ancestral villages: Karlsruhe, Katherinental, Speyer and Landau,
and daughter colony, Felsenburg [Beresan District]
Raymond Pfau writes, "Both of my parents were born in South Russia.
My father in Kalsruhe, Beresan, Black Sea, and my mother at Leonopol
in the Nikolajew Gebiet on the East side of the Bug River.
"A cousin, Phyllis Hertz Feser, has compiled a family history
on my mother's side (Hertz, Mosbruckers). Most of my research has
been on the Pfau side of my family. I helped Joan L. Bouchard with
her book Pfaus published in 1983. I have compiled data on
sixteen lineages of Pfaus of German-Russian origin.
"Born in Racine, Wisconsin, in 1930, I was raised in Mandan, where
I received my early education. After night school, I attended North
Dakota School of Forestry at Bottineau for three years. After two
years in the Marine Corps during the Korean crisis, I attended Iowa
State College in Ames, Iowa, where I received a Bachelor Degree
in Agriculture with a major in Horticulture.
"After graduation, I spent a year and a half working in a Milwaukee
greenhouse. In 1958, I joined the faculty at North Dakota School
of Forestry, teaching; greenhouse practice. (The school later became
NDSU-Bottineau). In 1973 moving to Kenosha, Wisconsin, I taught
Horticulture at Gateway Technical Institute (now Gateway Technical
College) until my retirement in 1988.
"While at Bottineau, I took a year's sabbatical towards a Master's
Degree in Horticulture at North Dakota State University, which I
received in 1975, while working at Gateway Tech."
Joan Andrews Pope, Bowman, North Dakota
Ancestral villages: Landau and Rastadt [Beresan District]
"I was born in Bowman, North Dakota, to Josephine Mosbrucker Andrews
and Albert J. Andrews of Ohio, on Feburary 17, 1935.
"My mother's parents were Susie Hirsch born in Rastadt, Russia,
on September 23, 1878, and Raphael Mosbrucker born March 2, 1876,
in Landau, Russia. His parents were George Mosbrucker born August
17, 1848, in Landau and Lucia Horner born December 13, 1852, in
"After eight years of attending Star School and then four years
in Bowman High School I married Stanley Pope on September 8, 1953,
in Bowman and we moved to his folks' ranch north of Bowman, where
we lived for 40 years.
"Two years ago, we leased our ranch to our oldest son Doug and
our youngest son Duane, who are both single. We also have another
son, Dennis, who has a commercial hay grinding business and a manure
hauling business. Dennis married Karen Rokusek of Mott, North Dakota.
Karen works for Bowman Drug. They do not have any children. Our
youngest girl, Darcy, is a dental hygienist in Fargo. She married
Todd Fuchs of Williston, North Dakota, having one daughter, Rani.
Darcy and Todd own a Temp Agency for dental hygienists. Todd also
works for Leisure Industries of Fargo. Our granddaughter, a freshman
at West Fargo High School, enjoys riding her horse and has two cats.
She's active in 4-H, plays the flute in concert band and the piano.
"Stan and I enjoy traveling but don't do much of it yet. We still
help the boys during the busy season on the ranch, cooking for extra
men helping at branding. We both enjoy going for coffee at the local
cafe in downtown Bowman."
Dr. Brooks Ranney, M.D., Yankton, South Dakota
Brooks was born on January 31, in Daytona Beach, Florida. As a
baby he moved with his parents to Metamora, Illinois, where he attended
grade and high school. Brooks attended Oberlin College and then
Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago. During WWII he
served as a medical officer with a 181st Engineers Heavy Pontoon
Battalion in Europe.
He practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Yankton, S.D., for 48
years. He's a past national president of the American College of
Obstretics and Gynecology. Brooks has written three books and authored
over 75 medical articles.
His heritage is Scottish, English, German and French.
Viona (Thum) Ranney, Yankton, South Dakota
Ancestral villages:Alt-Postal, Klöstitz, Kulm, Tarutino and
Bessarabia; Alexanderhilf, Freudental and Grossliebental [Liebental
District]; Worms [Beresan District]; Kassel and Neudorf [Glückstal
Viona was born on August 14, 1936, to Oscar John Thum and Martha
(Winckler) Thum. She could not speak English (only a German dialect)
when she started school at the age of five; this was in a one-room
school house. Viona attended Scotland High School and in her later
years received a degree in Business Administration from Mount Marty
College in Yankton, S.D. She is a 23 year veteran banker. She has
also been a professional fund-raiser for the March of Dimes and
at present is the Executive Director of the Yankton Area Concert
Association. Her hobbies are genealogy, gourmet cooking, singing
The Ranneys are tour escorts for Rupiper Travel in Yankton. They
have a tour group going to Europe in July. Viona has been married
to Dr. Brooks Ranney, a gynecologist, for almost 16 years. They
met at the Congregational church in Yankton, which they both attend,
after losing their first spouses. Life has been good to them!
All of her great-grandparents came from German colonies in Russia.
Viona remembers two of her great-grandmothers talking about life
in Russia. Never did she ever dream she would one day visit these
same colonies from where they came. She fears she will be overcome
with tears of joy upon arrival in Grossliebental! Her family is
anxious to view the huge number of pictures they will be filming
on this trip. Viona can hardly wait to meet other members of the
tour group and enjoy this wonderful journey together!
Mary Lou Mitzel Roller, Hope, North Dakota
Ancestral villages: Straßburg and Selz [Kutschurgan District]
"My name is Mary Lou Sylvia (Mitzel) Roller. I was the first sibling
of six born to my parents, Martin and Mary (Welk) Mitzel, at the
Rugby, North Dakota, hospital, on Dec. 28, 1941. German was the
only language I knew until about the age of four, when I learned
English. After my parents moved to the Luverne and Hope, North Dakota,
areas in 1948, I subsequently never spoke German and am not able
to speak or understand German today.
"After I graduated from Luverne High School, I completed a nine
months secretarial course at Valley City State College, working
as a legal secretary for the State's Attorney of Barnes County for
"Since married to Donald Roller, also of German-Russian ancestry,
(September 1961), we have farmed on the homestead which his parents
purchased in 1942. Matthew, our oldest child, farms with his father.
He is married to Brenda Grandalen; they have three children: Kayla
is twelve and Brandon is nine, attending school in Hope. Megan whom
I babysit three days weekly is three. Maria, our daughter, is a
secondary education science teacher at Starkweather, N.D. She also
is the varsity girls' basketball coach, having no losses so far
this year. Dennis, our son, is a CPA who works through the State
Auditor's office in Bismarck. He does most of the traveling in the
family. Both Dennis and Maria have e-mail!
"We attend St. Agatha's Catholic Church in Hope, and all our children
were baptized and devoted. Matthew and his family attending church
services there. Also, this is the fifth generation to attend St.
"My mother would remind us we are related to Lawrence Welk, but
she could never show us a definite link. She also explained how
my father's mother came to the United States alone with six children,
while she was pregnant with my father. My father was born three
months after they arrived here. Our grandfather was held back for
whatever reasons. This has fascinated me, a journey with this many
children, no husband to help out, she had to have strong faith,
courage, and fortitude to embark on such a journey. This makes me
wonder where and what these people, our ancestors, are modeled.
"I desire to walk or see a place where any of my grandparents
lived, worshiped, or worked. I have always yearned for more knowledge
of my ancestry. Now my sister and brother-in-law, Cindy and Stu
Longtin, have really piqued my curiosity and helped me to join Journey
to the Homeland.
Doris Hoffman Schumacher, Seattle, Washington
"My heritage is English, Scots, Germany and French. My dad's father
came from Wunsiedle, Germany. I was born in Wenatachee, Washington.
We moved to Seattle to go to school when I was 18. I have lived
here in Seattle from since I was 18.
"I married Paul Schumacher in 1957. We have four sons and eleven
grandchildren with one more due the middle of August."
Paul R. Schumacher, Seattle, Washington
Ancestral villages: Friedentstal [Liebental District]; Glückstal
"My grandparents migrated to America in 1912, from Glückstal,
South Russia. My father was 17 years old at the time. My grandparents,
with five children, came as a family. My mother was born in Eureka,
"I was born at Eureka, April 13, 1929. We lived on a farm where
I lived with my parents until I entered the military in October,
1951. Served for two years in the Army, one year in Korea from May
1952 to May 1953.
"I was employed at Boeing from 1955-1970, then moved to Seattle
in 1955. In 1971, my wife and I owned and operated a TV and Appliance
Business for 24 years. I am now retired. My wife, Doris Schumacher,
is not related to any Germans from Russia."
*Cora Wolff Tschaekofske, Dickinson, North Dakota
Ancestral villages:Blesetski, Bergdorf and Glückstal [Glückstal
Cora Wolff Tschaekofske was born at Golden Valley in Mercer County,
North Dakota. "My parents were Henry Wolff and Amalia Flemmer Wolff.
Henry Wolff was born on December 18, 1895, in Blesetski, a small
village near Bergdorf. He was the son of Christian Wolff and Elizabeth
Rau Aipperspach Wolff. Amalia Flemmer Wolff was born on June 20,
1903, in Freeman, South Dakota, shortly after her parents Karl Flemmer
and Christina Kasanke Flemmer immigrated to the United States. Her
father, Karl Flemmer, was born in Glückstal on September 10, 1877.
Her mother, Christina Kasanke Flemmer was born December 7, 1877,
in a village near Glückstal.
"I attended a rural school and Golden Valley High School in Mercer
County, North Dakota. I then attended Dickinson Teachers College,
and taught in rural schools for several years, and did substitute
teaching in the Golden Valley Public School. Marrying Otmer Tschaekofske
in 1946, we farmed and ranched near Golden Valley for 43 years.
Both my husband and I were very active in all community activities,
especially in education and in the Lutheran Church.
"Having no children, our hospitality was always open to young
people. We hosted two International Farm Youth exchange students:
A young man from Germany and a young woman from the Island of Jersey.
We hosted many foreign students in our home; these were young men
who attended North Dakota State University. We also hosted young
people from Germany, England, and Japan. I have toured Europe twice,
having visited relatives and friends in Germany. I read and speak
"My husband and I retired from ranching in 1989, and moved to
Dickinson, where my husband died three years after retirement. I
live in our Dickinson home. I look forward to the Journey to the
Homeland. I desire to walk in my father's footsteps and to see that
walnut tree, which he said grew in front of their home."
Albinus Voeller, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Ancestral villages: Elsass, Kandel, Mannheim, Selz and Straßburg
Albinus writes, "I was born July 11, 1932, in Rugby, North Dakota.
My parents were Rochus and Katherine Voeller of Pleasant Lake, North
Dakota. I retired from American Airlines, as Director of Aircraft
Engineering on April 1, 1993. I have five sons and one daughter."
Lois N. Hayes Voeller, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Lois writes, "I was born June 4, 1933, in Fort Scott, Kansas.
My parents are Jerome and Marjorie Hayes of Fort Scott, Kansas.
I am a retired Medical organization director. I have five sons and
Ronald J. Vossler, East Grand Forks, Minnesota
Ancestral villages: Kassel [Glückstal District]; Neuberg [Liebental
District]; Rohrbach [Beresan District]; Alt Posttal [Bessarabia]
Ron writes, "I grew up in Wishek, North Dakota, and was educated
at Arizona State University (B.A in anthropology) and at the University
of North Dakota (M.A. in English); I currently teach in the English
Department there as a Senior Lecturer.
"Over the years, as a free-lance writer, I have published a book
of stories, along with various other articles, essays, translations,
reviews, memoirs, and fiction in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines.
I have also given various presentations, readings, and speeches.
All of my publishing activity has focused on the Black Sea Germans
and my own background growing up in McIntosh County, North Dakota."
Ron joined the June, 1996 tour to Ukraine and Germany. He is a writer
and interviewer for the May, 1997 tour.
"My current interest in a journey to Russia is to research a book
of memoirs I am writing called Passage to Alt-Posttal which
investigates my own ancestral background. Parts have already been
published in the Journal of AHSGR and in other magazines."
Ron has a long list of publications including articles in North
Dakota History Magazine, Grand Forks Herald, North
Dakota REC/RTC Magazine, North Dakota Horizons, North
Country, Plainswoman, North Dakota Quarterly and
the Dakota Arts Quarterly.
Charles Gideon Weisser, Shawano, Wisconsin
Ancestral villages: Bergdorf, Glückstal, and Neudorf [Gülckstal
"I was born in and grew up in Ashley, North Dakota. I taught school
for 36 years, six years in North and South Dakota and 30 years in
Shawano, Wisconsin, where I now live. Since retiring, I teach part-time
at a local community college in the areas of business and computers.
"Recently, I started writing a book relating the experiences of
my childhood growing up in a German from Russia community. My parents
also told me many stories about their parents and grandparents coming
to this country which I plan to include in this book.
"In the summer of 1996, I presented a portrayal of Gottlieb Weisser,
my great grandfather, prior to the centennial celebration of the
Ashley Baptist Church. Gottlieb was one of the founding fathers
of the church. This presentation, with some adaptations, will be
presented at the Germans from Russia Convention this summer in Jamestown.
"I became a widower when Audrey passed away in September 1996."