In Touch with Prairie Living

October 1999

By Michael M. Miller


The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC) at the NDSU Libraries in Fargo reaches out to prairie families and former Dakotans. In various ways, it affirms the heritage of the Germans from Russia is an important part of the northern plains culture.

GRHC in cooperation with the Glückstal Colonies Research Association (GCRA) has published, "Glückstal Colonies, Births, and Marriages: 1833 - 1900" and "Glückstal Colonies Deaths: 1833 - 1900" both compiled by Harold M. Ehrman, Pacific Palisades, CA, and Eureka, SD, native. These important publications cover the Black Sea German villages of the Glückstal District (South Russia) today located in southern Ukraine and Moldova. The mother villages are Bergdorf, Glückstal, Kassel, and Neudorf. In 1999, the publications were published by GRHC with German language editions for many German-Russians of Glückstal heritage who have immigrated in recent years to Germany from the former Soviet Union.

These publications consist of thousands of birth, marriage and death records, which were prepared by many volunteers, reviewing the microfilm rolls with old German script.

James Gessele, Minneapolis, native of Bismarck, writes in reviewing the publication: "These works appear to have been a mammoth undertaking. Harold Ehrman, his contributors and cohorts within the Glückstal Colonies Research Association are to be congratulated on a wonderfully crafted work. This collection is one any Glückstaler can be proud of and one that could well set the standard for future extractions of records that deal with Unsere Leut." Marvin C. Hoffer, Lewistown, MT, a native of Java, SD, writes, "Thank you for making these rare documents available to thousands of Unsere Leut. It literally paves the way to genealogical success for thousands of us of German-Russian heritage who have been, and are lost in the genealogical wilderness with little knowing which direction to take."

Many Glückstal families from these villages settled in the central Dakotas. Many families later resettled in western United States. Names include Aman, Becker, Bertsch, Boschee, Dockter, Goebel, Guthmueller, Isaak, Klein, Krein, Kussmaul, Lang, Oster, Rau, Reich, Rudolph, Unruh, Weisser, Vossler, Zimmerman, Zoller, and many others.

Contact GRHC to secure the Glückstal publications. Join the Glückstal Colonies Research Association (GCRA) for $20 annual membership. Write to GCRA, 611 Esplanade, Redondo Beach, CA 90277 (e-mail: The GCRA website is

We have added a new section to the GRHC website for "Outreach Programs & Family Reunions" ( Pages relating to planning for a family reunion, suggested reading, website links, and other items are included. My thanks to Mary Lynn Axtman, Fargo, ND, a native of Rugby, ND, for assistance with these pages. Mary Lynn has completed important family histories of the Axtmans, Buechlers (Bicklers), Bohls, Reiters, Kistners, and Bertschs settling in Pierce County, ND.

The award-winning documentary videotape, "The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie," continues to be well received throughout North America. To secure the videotape, contact Prairie Public Broadcasting at 1-800-359-6900. This "Collector's Edition" of the videotape includes 20-minute bonus video footage, "Ukraine Places & Faces" of beautiful filming from the former German villages near Odessa not shown in the one-hour documentary. See many interesting pages about the documentary at the Prairie Public Broadcasting website:

My personal thanks to the North Star Chapter of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia in Minneapolis-St. Paul and the Minnesota History Center, as gracious hosts for the gala showing of the documentary on Sunday, August 22. There was a tremendous response from the Twin Cities community of Germans from Russia.

Our outreach programs include an information booth with Prairie Public Broadcasting at the Octoberfest on October 1-3, at the Fargodome. On October 13, I plan to attend the annual Sauerkraut Day at Wishek, ND, with GRHC information tables. Prairie Public TV staff will be at the Wishek event filming for the Germans from Russia foodways documentary to premiere on PPTV in March, 2000.

For further information about donations to the collection including family histories, outreach programs, Glückstal publications, videotape documentary, Journey to the Homeland Tour to Odessa, Ukraine, Alsace, France, and Stuttgart, Germany (including the large Germans from Russia gathering called the Bundestreffen), for June 6-19, 2000 tour; GRHC's latest publications, "Tender Hands: Ruth's Story of Healing" and "Homeland Book of the Bessarabian Germans," and German-Russian heritage, contact Michael M. Miller, NDSU Libraries, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel: 701-231-8416; E-mail:; GRHC website:

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller