Volga Germans to Celebrate Heritage

"Volga Germans to Celebrate Heritage." Hays Daily News, 28 June 2001.

The Volga German heritage of the area will be celebrated in July, 125 years after the first German immigrants came here from their homes in Russia.

The celebration is planned July 21-27 in the six communities founded by the German Catholics who left the Volga River region of Russia after their once-guaranteed freedoms had been revoked.

Liebenthal, Catherine, Pfeifer, Munjor and Herzog were founded in 1876, and Schoenchen was started in 1877.

Liebenthal, in Rush County, is the oldest of the villages. On Saturday, July 21, the town will celebrate with a Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church, lunch and a traditional wedding march.

Schoenchen, the last settlement founded, was a spin off of one of the earlier settlements. On Sunday, July 22, a Mass will be celebrated at St. Anthony Catholic Church, followed by the opening of the church cornerstone and a burial of a time capsule. A traditional German meal will be served at noon, and a carnival and dance will follow in the evening.

Catherine´s founders were the first to leave Russia. They lived briefly in Hays until their townsite could be built. The celebration will be Monday, July 23, with a Mass at St. Catherine Catholic Church, followed in the afternoon by tours, food booths, a parade, games, dinner and a street dance.

Tuesday, July 24, will be a family reunion day set aside for descendants to gather together.

Pfeifer will celebrate Wednesday, July 25, with tours of Holy Cross Shrine, a Mass and a dinner. Its settlers arrived in August 1876, followed by others in October and November.

Munjor´s founders were part of the largest, single exodus of immigrants. In July 1876, 108 families left Saratov, Russia, and arrived in Herzog, now Victoria, in August before moving to their townsite. Munjor will celebrate Thursday, July 26, with a Mass at St. Francis Catholic Church, a picnic dinner and polka music.

Herzog was founded north of the English settlement of Victoria, and when the towns consolidated and incorporated in 1913, they took the better-known name of Victoria. Herzog´s settlers are known for their construction of St. Fidelis Catholic Church, known as the Cathedral of the Plains. Victoria will celebrate Friday, July 27, with Mass, luncheon, parade, entertainment and dance.

A special exhibit at the Hays Public Library will feature “From Far Away Russia: Russian Germans in Kansas,” July 18 to Aug. 8.

A brochure with details about the week´s celebration is available at the Hays Convention and Visitors Center, 13th and Pine, (800) 569-4505.

The Volga German Society also has a Web site detailing the week´s events at http://www.haysusa.com/html/volga_german.html.

Reprinted with permission of The Hays Daily News.

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