2006 Memories of Tour Members, Part III
29 May 2006
Marie Tandeski Delizonna
San Jose, California
Visiting the Kutschurgan District villages
was a visit to Elsass, Strassburg and a return to Selz for lunch
at the home of Louisa Riesling, located near to the former Basilica
Church. After lunch, we walked over to visit the new Museum room
near the church.
The Elsass church has its roof, in relatively good shape, and is
being used as a sports gym. We did not get inside since it was Sunday
morning. Nearby the church is the former parish house and German
school. There is an Orthodox Church near to the former Catholic
Church where services were being held. I noticed that it was almost
all women attending the service and one man.
We viewed the German cemetery outside the village. The Germans
planted lilac bushes to cover all of the gravesites. The original
cross that was at the front entrance of the Elsass Catholic Church
was remounted in cement and stands today at the front of this Ukrainian
In Strassburg, the former Catholic Church is probably in the best
condition, which is being used for meetings, cultural center, and
The countryside is all green wheat fully headed out along with
other grains and large gardens. In many ways, it looks like the
fertile land of North Dakota.
Traveling towards Strassburg and Selz, we stopped at the large
outdoor market near Kutschurgan [former German village of Strassburg).
This was Sunday morning so the market was filled with many items
and people. One could buy various items for life's necessities including
fish, vegetables, fruit, spare car and tractor parts, clothing and
dishes. This is the same market location near Strassburg when are
ancestors lived here.
Many persons from Moldova come to this Kutschurgan market to buy
and sell items. Moldova is just across the border.
Shopping is a must in Odessa including the outdoor park in the
city center with much handmade arts and crafts. There were so many
nesting dolls that it was hard to decide.
Today, 29 May, is our last full day here in Odessa. I will travel
to former Catholic Black Sea German villages of Kleinental and Franzfeld
near Odessa. Later in the day I hope to put my feet in the Black
Donald and Marjolaine Schmitt
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Donna Neiffer Larson
Fort Dodge, Iowa
Visiting the Glueckstal District villages of Bergdorf, Neudorf and
Glueckstal, Trans-Dnjestr Republic, Moldova
"Donna Neifert Larson, my wife, Marjolaine and I Don Schmitt,
accompanied by our guide Serge Yelizarov and our driver, Vladamir,
took an excursion to the Glueckstal villages, Bergdorf, Neudorf
and Glueckstal. Donna's interests were Bergdorf and Neudorf, and
mine were Bergdorf and Glueckstal. To arrive at these villages,
located in Moldava, we had to cross the the Ukraine, Trans-Dnjestr,
and Moldova border. It was quite a process and with Serge's knowledge
and a Border Securtity guard that he had acquainted previously,
it took two hours to cross the border and three hours for the return
While there, Serge made connections for us at all three schools
and museums connected with them. He took us to homes in each village,
which were probably some of our ancestors according to plot plans
he provided for us.
We stayed at the private home of Martha Kammerer, and her family.
Their home was very primitive but the hospitality was extraordinary.
The Glueckstal Colonies Research Association (www.glueckstal.net)
had provided the 1804-2004 hardcover book about Glueckstal and its
immigrants that we were to present to the Glueckstal Museum, located
in the school.
With the Museum director, the Mayor of Glueckstal and the daughter-in-law
of Martha in attendance, we were treated as dignitaries. They had
15 children present a program of Folklore dancing, musical numbers
and readings, which they had rehearsed for us.
Saturday, was a rainy day so was unable to explore the cemetery
in Bergdorf, but was able to enter the church, where my Granparent
Schmitt's were married.
Sunday we attended a portion of a Russian Orthodox Church service,
walked to Glueckstal and saw two houses, where Schumacher ancestors
live and also the Glueckstal church where their marriage took place.
A very pleasant and eventful trip!"
Gary and Peggy Sinnemaki Haar
Visiting the former German villages near Simperofol, Crimea, Ukraine
"We arrived at the Ukraine Hotel in Simperofol after traveling
through land that looked very much like South Dakota (where I was
born). We had a wonderful dinner and walked around the town of Simperofol.
It was a very cosmopolitan city - lots of young people in the streets.
On 28 May, our translator, Albina, found the way to Friedenstal
where we had located the cemetery. After walking through the Russian
part of the cemetery, we were told by a villager where the German
graves were. Many gravestones have been broken, some have been placed
into a pile, but some remained standing even through they are surrounded
by trees and brush. We photographed those we could see easily to
try to interpret later.
After leaving the cemetery, we walked down the main street of Friedenstal
and discovered old German houses that had been deserted. They had
walls that were 12 to 18 inches thick. They were built to last forever.
At the bottom, were limestone blocks. The top were bricks made of
some kind of animal refuse and straw. The house we investigated
was quite large – about seven rooms.
After Friedentstal, we drove to Neutatz where we located the school
that was built by the Germans in 1878. Finding the school director
was harder. We did find her and her name was Galina Bondarchuk.
She was a very fine lady who stopped to put on her finest clothing
before she took us into the school. We left two shopping bags of
paper, pens, crayons and color books. In exchange, we received a
narrative of how the school was built and her desire to teach the
children not only of their history as a village, but also to import
the feeling of good will to all races and ethnic backgrounds. Galina
was a remarkable person - just the kind of person you hope are teaching
While at the school, it began to rain and then pour. We were not
able to see the rest of the village or visit the cemetery there.
Also when we got back to Simperofol, the streets had turned into
rivers so we were unable to visit the cemetery there.
On Monday, 29 May, we attempted to locate the village of Bulatsche
on our way back to Odessa. Our translator, Albina, did her best
to ask the local people where this village might be, and we were
in the process of tracking it down, but the roads were so muddy
raining so hard that our driver could continue now further on the
We discovered a lot and we enjoyed the trip gathering enough material
to keep us occupied awhile. We felt it was an excellent tip hindered
only by the weather."
Donna Neiffer Larson
Fort Dodge, Iowa
Visiting the Glueckstal District villages of Bergdorf, Neudorf,
and Glueckstal, Trans-Dnjestr Republic, Moldova
I traveled with Marjolaine and Don Schmitt, our guide and translator,
Serge Yelizarov and driver, Vladamir, to the Glueckstal villages
in what is now the Trans-Dnjestr Republic, Moldova. My special interests
were Neudorf, where my father was born, and Bergdorf where his mother,
Elizabeth Ahl, was born.
On the trip to the villages, we saw workers using hoes, or pushing
single blade cultivators, to clear weeds from the corn fields; as
well as people cutting grass along the road with hand sickles and
taking the grass home in horse drawn carts. Goats, cows, and horses
were staked out along the road to feed, and chickens and geese roamed
freely. It seemed as though we were the only car on the road most
of the time.
I was sorry to learn that the church where my father was baptized
is no longer in existence, and the cemetery where my ancestors would
have been buried was bombed during the war and/or destroyed during
the Communist Period.
But we visited the current school in Neudorf, and I was told that
the church I was interested in had been located on a hill just behind
the current school building. I believe that I must have walked on
ground where my father played as a boy. I also visited the location
of a house where my Neiffer ancestors may have lived.
The school museum in Bergdorf contains a brick from a deteriorating
house which had been in the Ahl family. I can’t be certain
it was a direct relative’s home but it much be a connection
to my ancestors. The director removed it from the display so I could
have my picture taken with it. We later visited the house and took
pictures of the house.
We walked around the village of Glueckstal on Sunday morning where
we were soon followed by a group of children. We couldn’t
speak Russian, and they couldn’t speak English, but their
big smiles assured us that they were happy to see us. When we returned
to our car, the children presented Marjolaine and me each with a
bouquet of flowers. We, in turn, gave them small gifts.
Our host family was delightful, and made every effort to see we
were comfortable. It’s true that their living conditions are
more like ours were in the Depression Era than now, but their hospitality
and graciousness made it very obvious that they enjoyed having us
I know that my visit to my ancestral homeland was enhanced by the
efforts of Serge and Vladamir, who made everything seem easier when
I’m sure it wasn’t, and by Don’s ability to speak
enough German to communicate with Martha when Serge and/or Vladamir
were not available. It was an incredible experience.