Ray Friederich: He Launched Statewide Germans From Russia Organization 25 Years ago

"Ray Friederich: He Launched Statewide Germans From Russia Organization 25 Years ago." Pierce County Tribune, 8 May 1995, 24.

It has been 25 years since the late Judge Ray R. Friederich of Rugby set out to organize a statewide group to "foster and promote the compilation and preservation of the German people who migrated from Russia to the United States and particularly to North Dakota."

Friederich organized a caucus in Bismarck in October 1970 for that purpose. The 18 people who attended voted to take action immediately to establish a Historical Society of Germans from Russia. The North Dakota HSGR was born when articles of incorporation were completed in December 1970.

The charter members of the statewide chapter in 1970 who listed local addresses were Ray and Irene Friederich, Katherine Ebach, Mary Ebach, Clara Ebach, Alex Ebach, James and Mary Schmaltz, Sebastian Volk, John and Anna Gross, Joe and Elizabeth Gross, John S. and Agnes Axtman, Joe A. and Caroline Schmaltz, Clem and Marion Schmaltz, Martin A. Voeller, Mrs. Emil C. Vetsch, Nick and Ann Schall, Kathryn Nelson, Irene Freitag, Betty Axtman, George and Christine Kraft, Wendelin W. Senger, Walt and Elizabeth Miltenberger, Fred and Edith Fleck, Neil B. and Eve Childress, John and Rose Giesinger, Peter and Leonida Koenig, Bruno and Margaret Kuntz and Frank and Lugarda Schaan.

Three years later, the Heart of America chapter was formed. Charter members of the local chapter who were not listed on the state organization as charter members were: Betty Axtmann, Magdalen Bossert, Rose Boehm, Gottlieb and Esther Ottmar, Matt and Mary Volk, John P. and Theresa Schaan, John Tebelius, Mike and Elizabeth Krim, Leo Stein, Louie and Avonne Jaeger, Glenn and Marlys Fleck, Steve and Mary Fritel, John and Harriet Heilman, Christ and Pat ley, John and Julia Malke, John and Regina Neigum, Louie Hoffert, Bryce and Theresa Jordan, Dominic and Dorothea Tuchscherer, Herb A. and Fern Edgecombe, Dominic E. Tuchscherer, John and Bernice Hilzendager, Peter and Elizabeth Mattern, Frank and Theresa Brossart, Pete and Marie Burkhartsmeier, Renee Bauer, Frank and Caroline Voeller, Barbara Bartsch, Gabe and Lillian Tuchscherer, Fred and Margaret Bischoff, Wendolin and Mrs. Stickler, Pius and Madalin Wangler, Pete and Katherine Busch, Pete and Barbara Schell, Leroy and Ann Dissette, Daniel and Delores Koenig, Sophia Maddok, George and Lena Heintz, Emanual and Josephine Hagel, Leo and Maggie Degenstein, Julia Bickler, Nick F. and Vernice Axtmann, Katharina Brossart, Elizabeth Thompson, Rose Brossart, Joe and Eva Fritel, Larry and Paula Kraft, Lemuel and Mrs. Braunagel, Edward and Rose Volk, Rochus and Elizabeth Streifel and Jerome and Kathy Blessum.

The statewide organization had 65 charter members in 1970. The Heart of America chapter had 140 members and is now at 69 members. The Heart of America chapter hosted the state convention in 1974.

Current officers of the Heart of America chapter are Karl Wiederoder, president, Mary Schmaltz, vice president, Clara Ebach, secretary, and Theresa Jordan, treasurer.

Friederich was elected the first president of the statewide organization in 1971.

The organization's name at the time of incorporation was "The North Dakota Historical Society of Germans from Russia." That name was changed in 1979 to "The North Dakota Germans from Russia Heritage Society." One of the strongest reasons behind the proposed name change was to show that the organization was distinct and separate from the North Dakota State Historical Society.

Past presidents of the local chapter (from beginning to present) were John Gross, Frank Brossart, Karl Wiederoder, John Giesinger, Stonas Buckmeier, James Schmaltz, Joe Fritel, Clem Schmaltz, Frank Hager, John Giesinger, James Schmaltz and Karl Wiederoder.

The Dakota Pioneer chapter of the Society will host the 1995 convention in Bismarck July 12-16.

Friederich was born near Fredonia in McIntosh County. More than 90 percent of the residents of McIntosh County were, and "still are," of German-Russian ancestry, a member of the organization says.

He studied at the one-room school in the Hoffnungstal School District, graduated from Kulm High School and earned a bachelor's degree from UND, Grand Forks. After serving in the European theatre of World War II, he returned to UND and the University of Minnesota to complete his law degree.

He came to Rugby to open an office and was shortly thereafter appointed to the bench. He died in office in Rugby in 1979.

Reprinted with permission of the Pierce County Tribune.

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