Victor Knell Collection
The Victor Knell Collection was donated to the Germans from Russia
Hertitage Collection in April 2002. Victor is a historian who has
influenced identication and preservation of dialect-usage and folk
traditions. Victor serves as village historian for Brienne and Teplitz,
in Bessarabia; serves as editor for the well-informed Red River
Chapter newsletter; and serves on editorial-publications projects
at the Germans from Russia Heritage Society, Bismarck. The collection
has photographs, musical artifacts, textiles, and ephemerals which
reflect ethnic pioneer life in Mercer County, North Dakota.
Victor Knell has complied five family histories for Knoll/Knell,
Breitling, Oster, and Adolf heritage. The Knoll/Knell family (from
ancestral village of Necketailfingen, Wuerttemburg, Germany) were
among the religious pietists of “emigration harmonium”
to South Russia. They traveled by “ulmer barges” down
the Danube River toward the Black Sea. The Oster family were reformed
religionists at Lambsborn, Palatinate, Germany. They were tailors
who immigrated in 1798 to Tscherwenka village (in Austria-Hungarian
Empire, today Yugoslavia) as linen weavers, later moving near Odessa,
South Russia. The Adolf family were printers in Berlin, Brandenburg,
Germany. From Oderberg, Prussia, they immigrated in 1817 to (the
former German village of) Brienne, Bessarabia, where the Adolf family
erected and operated a wind-powered flour mill.
The Victor Knell Collection was donated to the German
from Russia Heritage Collection in April 2002 by Victor Knell Fargo,
ND. Listed below are short histories, ancestral villages, family
members and dates of the Knell, Breitling, Oster, and Adolf families.
These family histories were written by Victor Knell. They were retyped
by Kristi Krebs, September 24, 2002.
Town & County Histories
1. Heinemeyer, C.B. History of Mercer County, North Dakota,
1882 to 1960. Hazen, ND: Hazen Star, 1960. *Institute
for Regional Studies F642.M5H45 1960.
2. Heinemeyer, C.B. History of Mercer County, North Dakota:
a commemorative of the 50th anniversary of the first white settlers,
1882-1932. Hazen, ND: Hazen Star, 1932. *Institute
for Regional Studies F642.M5H45.
3. Peace Lutheran Church, Hazen, North Dakota: September 13,
1959, 1909-1959. Hazen, ND: The Church, 1959. *Institute
for Regional Studies BX8076.H48P43 1959.
Knöll, Knoell, Knell Family History:
**Knell, Victor. The Jacob and Pauline Knell Family. Fargo,
ND: Knell, 1978. Germans
from Russia CS71.K58 1978
** Knell, Victor. Pioneers and their children a Knöll history
and genealogy. Fargo, ND: Knell, 1987. Germans
from Russia CS71.K58 1987
The family came from Neckertailfingen on the Neckar River south
of Stuttgart, Germany. The family was part of a “pietistic”
movement whereby they became ‘separatists” who gathered
in private homes for church services called “stunden versammlungen”
(hourly gatherings) lead by a layman. Some believed that Christ
was to return to earth in 1836 at either Jerusalem or on Mt. Ararat.
In 1817 the Knöll family joined an “emigration harmonium”
of people wanting to go to Russia. The family was granted permission
to migrate to Russia in February of 1817. They gathered at Ulm,
Germany to take an “ulmer schachtelen” (ulmer barges)
on the Danube River to Russia. It was July when the family reached
the island of Stiborg, where they were in a quarantine camp for
24 days. Many people died of typhus, fever and dysentery on the
voyage and in the camp. The baby of the family died on the trip.
They settled at Teplitz, Bessarabia. In 1892 the family moved to
Friedensfeld for more land. From here in 1902, Johannes and his
family left on the S.S. Weimar and made the voyage to Baltimore,
In September 1905, Jacob, my grandfather, on board the S.S. Montrose
came to the Canadian port of Quebec. He went to Winnipeg and then
to St. Paul, MN. From there Jacob went to New Salem, ND. His brother,
Johannes, met him there and took him to Mercer County, ND, where
he worked for farmers to pay off his passage to the United States.
Breitling Family History:
They came from Boeblingen, Wuerttemberg, Germany.
In 1804 the family settled in Poland, which was the territory of
Prussia at the time. After being forced from this land by Napoleon,
in 1816 they moved to Beresina, Bessarabia.
In 1889 the family took passage on the S.S. Munchen to the U.S.A.
They landed in Baltimore in June 1889. They went to Scotland, S.D.
They moved to Burlington, CO. Here they found work as stone cutters
in Denver. They moved to Hazen, N.D., where they stayed until 1910.
They moved to McCook, NE. In 1918 they came back to North Dakota,
where Phillip died in 1919. His wife Caroline went on to wed Jacob
Keller, and after he died, John Birkholz. They are both buried at
St. Peter’s Church, rural Hazen, N.D.
Oster Family History:
** Knell, Victor. Yesterdays and today: an Oster history.
Fargo, ND: Knell, 1989. *Germans
from Russia CS71.O85 1989
They came from Hermersberg, Palatinate, Germany. The family left
Germany on June 28, 1784 to make their way to the village of Tscherwenka
in the Danube River basin. Today the area is part of Yugoslavia.
In 1807 the family moved to Freudental, Odessa, Russia. And in
1816 the Oster sons moved to Brienne, Bessarabia. About 1870 the
family moved to the village of Eigenfeld in the North Caucasus,
where there was more land.
The family took the S.S. Polynesian to New York on April 14, 1888.
They were processed at the Castle Garden processing station. They
came to Dakota Territory to settle in Mercer County.
Extract from Unser Tscherwenka (Our Tscherwenka),
by Roland Vetter and Hans Keiper, published by J.F. Bofinger Publishing,
Tuttlingen, Germany, 1983
Oster, Theobald, A tailor of the Reformed religion, migrated
from Hermesberg, Palatine, Germany. He was recorded at Vienna,
Austria on June 28, 1894 with his wife and four sons. He was born
April 21, 1851 at Kaeshofen, Palatine according to the church
book at Lambsborn, Palatine. He died on April 12, 1798 in Tscherwenka
(a village of the Austria-Hungarian Empire, was later part of
Yugoslavia). His father was Johann Nikolaus Oster, a linen weaver.
He was married to Catherina Zimmermann, who was of the Reformed
religion. He died on June 13, 1827 at age 75 years and 6 months
Information on only two sons could be found; Jakob, born November
17, 1775 in Hermesberg, Palatinate according to the Horbach Catholic
church book. He died August 5, 1826 in Tscherwenka. It is not
known who his first wife was. His second wife was Maria Margaretha
Stadler or (Stader?). The other son was Johann Adam, born February
7, 1777 in Hermesberg, Palatinate, according to the Horbach Catholic
Church records. He died August 20, 1857 in Tscherwenka. He was
married in 1796 to Dorothea Neber.
Both of the sons had been baptized at the Horbach Catholic Church.
They remained with the Reformed religion however. The church building
could have been used by both Catholic and Reformed confessions.
The village of Hermesberg belonged to the Reformed Church Parish
at Waldfischbach, which was a much greater distance from Hermesberg
Theobald and Heinrich Oster migrated to Freudental, South Russia.
They could have been the sons of Theobald.
Translation by Victor Knell, August 2004
Adolf Family History:
**Knell, Victor. Settlers on the steppes and the plains: the
story of the Adolf family. Fargo, ND: Knell, 1978. *Germans
from Russia CS71.A235 1978
** Knell, Victor. The past and the present: an Adolf history
and genealogy. Fargo, ND: Knell, 1991. *Germans
from Russia CS71.A235 1991
They came from Berlin and later Odenberg, Prussia, Germany. One
of the early Adolfs was a printer in Berlin. In 1817 the family
migrated to Brienne, Bessarabia, where he set up a wind powered
In 1889 the family took the S.S. Ems to New York on April 23, 1889.
They came to Mercer County, N.D. They only stayed five months, when
they departed for Newberg, Oregon. On February 23, 1892 Friedrick
left his family and came back to North Dakota, where he married
a widow with five children. They had 9 children together.