Reasons for Emigration

Compiled by Phyllis Chaussee

Edmunds, Washington

Our ancestors were not among the earliest Germans immigrated to Russia. Catherine the Great first appealed for her former countrymen to come to Russia in 1762. Our ancestors migrated from German during the time of Catherine’s grandson, Alexander the First, “the most important stipulations contained in the ordinances were:

1. The free exercise of religion
2. Exemption from land taxes for ten to thirty years and for ten years in the cities
3. Interest-free loans for the purchase of equipment
4. Exception from military service “for unlimited time”
5. Self-administration of the community and the school
6. Free apportionment by the Crown of 30 to 80 dessiatine (81 to 216 acres) of land to
each family” (5:24)

In Alexander’s manifesto of 1804, the emphasis was that “foreign settlers were to serve as models in agricultural occupations and in craftsmanship.” The immigrants had to “meet certain requirements:

1. They had to prove ownership of at least 300 gulden in cash or property.
2. They had to apply to the Russian diplomatic representatives who often required testimonials of character from the local authorities before they granted immigration visas.
3. Married couples with children were given preference, since they were better able to cope with the difficulties of agricultural pioneering.
4. The number of immigrants per year was restricted. (5:25)

The reasons that motivated many Germans to leave their homeland and immigrate to Russia can be summed up in four categories:

1. Political reasons – military service, foreign occupations, wars, suppression by their
own governments or ruling princes
2. Economic reasons – crop failures, high taxes, years of famine, lack of living space
3. Religious reasons – especially in Wurttemberg
4. Personal reasons – relations of kinship with princely houses, relationship with earlier
emigrants (5:25)

For our family the migration started in 1805, when Johann Heinrich Wagner Gossele left the village of Schorndorf (5:260) near Stuttgart, which is in the southern part of Germany, in the ancient province of Swabia. Phillip Fehr and Elisabeth Wagenblass migrated in 1819, to Worm, Ukraine and were the 104th German family to settle there. The Fehra originally came from the Rhine Valley village Kirchardt, near Heilbronn. The Wagenblasses had lived in Obrigheim, Germany. (5:260) Johann Jakob Bauer Müller, age forty-one and Anne Maria, age thirty-two, ventured to Johannestal from Neckartailfingen in 1817. (5:380) Müller was born in 1776 and his wife was born in 1785. Johann was a “Landwirt” or farmer. Müllers were the seventh German family to settle in Johannestal. (5:14) They took the southern route along the Danube to Budapest, Belgrade and Odessa. Their son Christian was a year old at the time. He was our direct ancestor. His two sisters Anna Margareta, five and Barbara, one year also accompanied the family. (5:714) Jakob Bickel came to Russia from Boffenheim, Bavaria, in 1819. (5:224)

Jakob Bickel

Phillip Fehr
Elisabeth Wagenblass
Johann Heinrich

Wagner Gossele
Johann Jakob & Anna Marie
Bauer Muller
Christian Muller

Adam Bickel

Heinrich Gossele
Anna Muller
Gottieb Muller
Mary Elizabeth
Christina Bickel
Jakob Fehr
Jakob Gossele
Regina Muller

(K) Carl Fehr & Lidia Gossele


The Muller, the Gosseles and Christine Fehr Mehrer resided in this town. “The settlement of this colony began in the year 1820 when thirty-four families, consisting of 122 persons, seventy-one males and fifty females, arrived on the settlement site. Since there were no houses in which the newcomers could live, they had to find shelter in Rohrbach until the spring of 1821, when they were able to build themselves clay huts, using money advanced to them by the crown.

The colony was first established on the eastern bank of a valley, called the Soziska or Sasika, midway between, Rohrbach and Landau. Because of a water shortage it had to be moved in 1833 to a location two thirds of a mile southward. The community land had an area of 11,202 acres and was entirely level. (2:31) “The soil was very productive when there was sufficient rainfall. It produced luxuriant vegetation and tall grain” (4:220) A patch of forest was planted in 1837 and much of it still existed when Lidia left the village. Stone quarries were at the south end of the village. (2:31, 4:220)
The colony was named “Johannestal” after General Ivan Insov (Inzow). He helped them organize the settlement. By 1847 there were seventy-seven families, with a total population of 421. Most of the people were Lutheran, with a few belonging to the Reformed Church. (2:31)

“Apart from the non-refundable food ration and travel money granted by the government, the immigrants received an advance loan for the purchase of building materials and farm equipment amounting to 660 rubles for each of the 34 pioneer families or a total of 22,440 rubles. The property that most of the immigrants brought with them consisted largely of clothing, bedding, and household goods. Only a few had actual cash, but this was spent before they learned how to put it to good use.” (4:221) The advance was “almost double the normal amount,” since the settlers were very poor. (4:75)

Johannestal lived through a number of misfortunes. “Several fires did heavy damage, reducing houses, mills, and threshing barns to ashes. In the years 1827 and 1845 locusts ate all the grain and the grass. In 1830 and 1845 numerous children died of measles. In 1845 half the cattle died. There were complete crop failures in the years 1833, 1834, and 1842. The crops were exceptionally good in 1825 and 1837.” (2:32)

The peak of Johannestal’s population in 1914 with 1620 was inhabitants. Six thousand and seventy two acres were plow land, 4,334 were pasturage, 270 were in town lots, 173 in vegetable gardens, 30 in woodland, 22 in roads, 11 underwater, 16 in hay, and 2.7 acres in clay pits. (3:32, 4:358-9)

Johannestal had an Evangelical Lutheran and a Baptist Church. There were no Catholics. The Jews that lived there met in a private home and had their own school. (10)

The Lutheran Church was the only one that had a bell. Therefore the bell was utilized for all deaths of any religion. If an infant died, the bell rang four times, a child three times, and adult two times. (10)

The main municipal building was the court house. To inform the populace about impending meetings, one man walked through the village and would ring a bell and announce a meeting for the men. Women were not invited. (10)

There was also a community school which accommodated two hundred students. (4:359) For these children there were usually three teachers. In the morning all lessons were taught in German. The afternoon was spoken in Russian. (10)

A steam powered flour mill, two wind-powered flour mills, a blacksmith owned by Karl’s step father Peter Mehrer, three general stores, and a wine tavern were in the village. (10, 4:3359, 6:32)

The dancehall was behind the vineyard. First there were the vineyards, then the trees to protect the vineyards, and then the dance hall. It had a hard padded dirt floor. In the middle of the dance floor was a two foot deep hole. It was used by the men who could do the “ku sa chok” dance the best. This involved dancing in and out of the hole. Christian Gossele was the champion in the village. Lidia and her little sister and brothers liked to sneak down to the dance hall and watch their big brother dance. The music was generally played on a fiddle and an accordion. (10)

The Gossele home was one story with a foyer, kitchen, living room and a bedroom. Both the kitchen and living room were long and narrow. Christian slept in the barn. The girls spent the night in the living room in one big bed. In the bedroom there was a bed for Jakob and Regina and a youth bed to accommodate Lidia. She was the youngest, as the ones who were born after her, died of diphtheria. (10)

In Johannestal the homes, barns and fences were of stone. The roofs were tile. (10)

The living room had a table and chairs, as well as the bed. They had a rocking chair. A summer kitchen away from the house and was utilized in the hot weather. (10)

Jakob and Regina ate in their bedroom along with Lidia because she was the youngest. They had a small table in the room. The other girls and Christian ate with the hired men and girl in the kitchen. It was the custom for all Berman families to eat in this manner. (10)

Jansweli was the name the Russians called the village. (10) After 1941 the village was probably called Ivanovka. (6:29)


Worms was located in the Zerigul valley, northwest of Rohrbach about four miles. The first few families arrived in the autumn of 1809 and lived in huts of stamped earth. Our ancestors Phillip Fehr and his family were not in the early group however. They did not arrive until ten years later. (3:29, 4:74, 5:260)

The government apportioned 13,357 acres to the colony. The settlers received an advance loan of about 350 rubles (4:74) or 125 rubles (3:30, 4:215) per family, to pay for the dwelling, which was partly made of stone, and partly of rammed earth, the livestock, farm equipment and seed grain. (3:30, 4:74)

“The immigrants had left their old homes with money, clothing, and a considerable quantity of cloth, but they lost a great deal of this on their long and difficult journey. Since they did not know Russian money and the rate exchange, they were frequently cheated by Jewish money-changers and traders and many of them deprived of all they owned. A few colonists, however, did mange to bring in some property, estimated to have been worth altogether about 50,000 rubles.” (3:30) According to another source the assets were only 30,000 rubles. (474)

There ere many difficulties the first few years of the settlement. “By the year 1848, nine dwelling houses and a barn with livestock had been consumed by flames. In 1823 to 1828 locusts did heavy damage to the crops. In the severe winter of 1824 much livestock starved and many colonists went to Poland to earn their livelihood.” (3:30) In 1814 and 1815 many were seriously ill, but few died. (4:215) In 1841 many people died of fever, possibly meningitis. Large scale livestock epidemics occurred in 1825 and 1827. In 1815 a hailstorm destroyed the entire crop. One third was lost in ten years. There was a complete crop failure in 1833; very little harvested in 1834, and only average crops in 1835 and 1836. (3:30, 4:215)

Through laws of the colony, colonists were encouraged to “good moral behavior”. “The wasteful feasting to celebrate baptisms, weddings, and church festivals was gradually eliminated and the colonists taught to be thrifty.” (3:30)

Excellent years for farmers were 1818, 1825, 1829, 1837, and 1843. The previous information contradicts the date on 1825. (3:30) Until 1842 they carried on sheep-raising. This had to be abandoned due to insufficient grazing land. (4:216)

In 1830 they built a beautiful school and a spacious prayer-house. Both were constructed of stone. (3:30) The prayer hall was the Reformed Church and there was a Evangelical-Lutheran. Two separate elementary schools with 180 children and two teachers existed. A third school was the Institute for the Deaf-mute. Two qualified teachers taught thirty-two class hours a week for the twenty-six deaf children. (4:357)

The inhabitants of the community were primarily farmers, but “five were wain wrights, five tailors, two shoemakers, and a cooper. The town also had a steam powered flour mill, three wind-driven mills, eight cement factories, three general stores and a hostelry.” (4:357)

Of the original 13,357 acres, 7,660 were used a plow land, 5,287 as pasture, 308 as house lots, 119 as vegetable gardens, 11 as vineyards, 41 as woodlands, 38 as stone quarries, and 1,116 as roads. (4:357)

The name Worms was given to the settlement by the chief mayor of the liebental district, Franz Brittner. (3:29) Before 1941 the Russian name for it was Wernoye (4:357) or Verhoye. After 1941 the name was changed to Vinogradnoye. (6:30)

The peak year of population was 1894 when 2,838 people lived in Worms. By 1903 in census had decreased to 1697. It gradually increased to 2,153 in 1943, before the Communist purges. (4:356)

Gottlieb and Mary Elizabeth Müller were farmers in Johannestal which is the German spelling for the village. Jansweli is the Russian one. They had fine singing voices. She was called Marellis and was known for being very frugal. She died some time before Gottieb, as he went to live with his daughter Regina and her family after the death of his wife. Christian born July 19, 1869, Karl and Regina born 1862, were their children. (10)

Jacob Fehr (c.1850 – January, 1894), was born in Worms, Ukraine and died there at age forty-four, of throat cancer. He was tall with blondish hair and a farmer by trade. His four brothers were George, Henry, Adam, and John. It was thought he might have had a sister named Elizabeth. (9) The Baptist Church was the one the family attended. His eight children included: Jakob Junior 1876-1960; Elizabeth, January 5, 1879 – January, 1961; Peter, March 9, 1882 – May 12, 1967; Christine, Henry, Carl, October 28, 1887 to April 2, 1974; Katharine, 1890, and Adam, 1893. (8)

Regina Müller (pronounced with a hard “g” sound) was born in Johannestal in 1861. In Missoula, Montana she died of stomach and intestine cancer, on September 12, 1927, at the age of sixty-six. Her hair was reddish with blue eyes. Regina was of average height. Christian born December 15, 1881; Sophie, born May 21, 1883; Amelia, born 1887 – 1933; Lidia, Richard, Jacob, Annie, and Martha were her children. All those children who were living at the time accompanied their parents to America. Jacob Junior, Richard, and Annie died in the Ukraine of diphtheria within on week of each other. This was sometime before the family moved to America. (10)

Martha was born in Hebron, North Dakota. Amelia married Henry Vitz and at the age of forty-six died of dropsy in Hebron, October 12, 1933. Christian died in Canada of sugar diabetes. Sophie was killed in an auto accident in Dear Lodge, Montana on March 1950. (10)

Jakob Cossele was born in Johannestal on March 20, 1891. His parents both were married previously. His mother Anna Müller was wed to a man named Zimmerman. One daughter was born from that marriage. (12, 15) Some time after the death of Mr. Zimmerman, she married Heinrich Gossele, who was a widower with one son, named Christian. Together they had Jakob, Gottlieb, Karl, and one sister. Gottlieb was a brick maker in Nikolaev. (10, 15)

Jakob had blue eyes, brown hair, average height, and was a farmer. For five years he served in the Russian army and was stationed away from Johannestal. While fulfilling his military obligation, Jakob participated in a “blind war”, which Americans call “war Maneuvers, or practice. While “fighting”, it rained. The soldiers had to do some running. Jakob developed a hernia which started to grow the size of a large egg. He was taken to Odessa, where the doctor said no operation was possible, because a vein went through the “growth”. Since this occurred near the end of Jakob’s military service, he came home. Though the growth did not subside, he did not have any more difficulty with it for twenty years. (10)

After his military service, Jakob married Regina Müller. On their farm was grown corn, wheat, barley, oats as well as wine grapes and, other fruits.

He had a fine sense of humor and a practical joker. Sometimes when Regina was seated working she would carefully untie her apron strings and tie them to her chair. When she tried to get up, the chair came too! (10)

Jakob loved children. He would tease and play with them. Among the younger set, he was very popular. (10)

When Lidia was about ten years old, her father started having pain with the growth. Regina was very concerned, as Jakob was very ill.

There were many gypsies in Johannestal that begged often for flour or coffee. Ordinarily they did not wish cooked food, nor ask for money. They would ask to perform some task around the farm. The gypsies offered to churn butter, chop wood, or some other chore. A gypsy woman came to the Gossele home to beg, seeking coffee. She spoke in broken Russian. (10)

Regina asked to be left alone as her husband was very ill and dying. The gypsy wanted to see him. So finally Regina agreed, as she was desperate for any help. (10)

The gypsy asked for a kind of grain, probably barley or wheat. She put oil in the frying pan, browned the “barley” and then put the hot grain in between two rags. The substance was then ground with a rolling pin until it was a fine powder. Lidia watched her do this. Then the powder was thrown into boiling water. It was like thin soup broth. The stranger asked Jakob to drink it. The gypsy predicted Jakob would sleep for twenty-four hours, and asked the family to leave the room. Jakob did sleep a full day and night. The woman instructed Regina to allow Jakob to eat anything he desired when he awoke. Before the gypsy left, she predicted that if they sold everything and cross the ocean to America, they would find happiness. (10)

Regina’s brother Christian Müller had been asking them to come. He lived in North Dakota.

Then Regina asked the gypsy to look at Sophia’s withered leg. It was probably polio. The woman advised the family to take Sophia to Odessa and to the Black Sea. If there was someone with whom the daughter could reside, Sophia would need to be under treatment for three months. Sophia required baths twice a day for twenty minutes each in the Black Sea. (10)

Regina had relatives near the Sea with whom Sophia could stay; the Jakatowich family. They were very wealthy. (10, 12)

After World War I Regina, Sophia, and Lydia sent food to the same Jakatowich family who had lost nearly everything in their escape from Russia. The family had moved to Nurenberg, Germany. (10)

Sophia’s leg healed. In fact her leg was normal after the treatment.

The pain abated in Jakob’s growth. He resumed his normal activities and continued to farm, even before his daughter had returned from Odessa.

After the three months cure for Sophie, she came home and married Jakob Fehr. Sophie’s dress was made of lace and ribbon that was very wide. A Jewish seamstress made it by hand. (10)

Then the Russian Japanese war broke out. When Jakob Fehr received his draft notice, two weeks were allowed to have everything in order. He decided to flee. A Jewish friend of Jakob Gossele devised a plan to help Jakob F. The two Jakobs and the Jew traveled by train to the Russian border, about one and a half day trip. (10)

There were six guards at the border scrutinizing men in particular. They were seeking draft evaders.

Jakob G. paid two hundred fifty rubles to the Jew to devise a scheme that could be augmented when Jakob F. arrived at the border. The money was given to an elderly woman. Jake F. drove a wagon and a team of horses with an elderly lady across the border. He appeared to be helping her. In reality she was his decoy. (10)

When Jake F. was safe, Jakob G. and the Jew departed for Johannestal separately, because they could have been in trouble for aiding a draft dodger. They traveled by train back to Odessa, pretending not to know one another during the trip. The Jew had warned Jakob to be sure not to leave the train station with anyone, as there were too many robbers. (10)

A stranger came to the station and initiated a conversation wit Jake. Cordially he suggested that Jakob accompany him to post a letter at the mail box just outside the building. Jake started to follow the man, but about the same time another stranger pulled out his handkerchief and his wallet fell. The first man picked up the wallet and endeavored to convince Jake to accompany him around the corner and inspect the wallet. At that point Jakob remembered what his Jewish friend had warned. Jake ran back into the station. The “friendly” man swore at Jakob! (10)

Three days after their return all of the Gossele farm, furniture, vineyards, and land was sold by their Jewish friend whose occupation was real estate. Land was scarce in the area, so the sale was equitable for the family. (10)

When Jakob and his wife settled in North Dakota, they farmed near Hebron on a forty acre homestead. Wheat, barley, oats, flax, and corn were raised. (10)

Jakob, Regina and their daughter Amelia built a stone home. The family gathered the stones and made the mortar from cow and horse manure, mixed with straw. They never had a sod house, but their daughter Sophie and Jake Fehr did. (10)

According to the death certificate Jakob died of sinus infection. (15) His family indicated that a ruptured tumor and mumps complications were the causes. (10, 12) He died January 29, 1920 and was buried on February 1, 1920, in Hebron. The death certificate spells his name Gaesserli. (15)

Regina Müller (pronounced with a hard “g” sound) was born in Johannestal in 1862. Her hair was reddish with blue eyes. Regina was of average height. In Missoula, Montana Regina died of stomach and intestinal cancer on September 12, 1927, at the age of sixty-five. (10, 16)

Christian born December 15, 1881; Sophie born May 21, 1883; Amelia born 1889; Lidia August 4, 1893; Richard, Jakob, Annie, and Martha were her children. Jakob Junior, Richard, and Annie died in the Ukraine of diphtheria within on week of each other. This was sometime before the family moved to America. All those children who were living at the time accompanied their parents to America. (10)

Martha was born in Hebron, North Dakota. She married Otto Warneth and resides in Lolo, Montana. Amelia married Henry Vitz. She died in Hebron, October 12, 1933 of dropsy. Christian died in Canada of sugar diabetes. Sophie was killed in an auto accident in Lolo, Montana, March, 1960. (10)

Jakob Fehr (c. 1850 – January, 1894) was born in Worms, Ukraine and died there at age forty-four, of throat cancer. He was tall with blondish hair and a farmer by trade. George, Henry, Adam and John were his brothers. The Evangelical Baptist Church was the one the family attended. His eight children included: Jakob Junior 1876-1960; Elizabeth, January 5, 1879-January, 1961; Peter, March 1882-May 12, 1967; Christine, Henry, Karl, October 28, 1887-April 2, 1974; Katharine1890, and Adam 1893. (8, 9)

Adam and Salma Bickel were born in the Ukraine and were farmers. The name Salma has been in the family for generations. One of the early German settlers in the Ukraine was named Salma. She was born March 20, 1800. This earlier Salma was born on Germany and immigrated to Russia when she was a girl. This was either Salma Bickel’s aunt or mother probably. (14) Christin Bickel (c. 1852 –c. 1944) was born in Worms, Ukraine also. She had three brothers Henry, Jakob, Adam and two sisters Barbara and Elizabeth Mary (Hauck). (14, 8)

She remarried after Jakob died. Her new husband was Peter Mehrer. His family was one of the original in the village of Johannestal. Christina and Jakob moved to Johannestal, where he was a blacksmith. In addition to their fifteen children brought into the marriage, two girls were born to them. They were Alvina and Magedaline. (8, 10)

Henry, Alvina, Magedaline (Schatz) and Christine (Zimmerman) remained in the Ukraine with their mother and stepfather/father. The other Fehr Children migrated to America. Alvina was the only one to be short lived. She died at a young age and had never married. (8)

At the time Christina was planning to join her children in America, but one of the girls was sickly so she stayed in Johannestal. When the Germans were initially occupying parts of Russia, the Communists invaded Johannestal and drove the villagers out. The Russians burned and destroyed the village. The Communists feared the villagers would be sympathetic to Hitler’s cause. Christina died on the force march to Siberia presumably. She was about ninety-one. The exact specifics of her death could only be speculated by her children in America. During World War II correspondence between the Soviet Union and the United States was difficult. Information had to be pieced together. After the Communist retaliation, nothing more was heard from Christina or her children. (8, 9, 10)

Karl Fehr was born October 28, 1887 in Worms, Ukraine. His name was originally spelled with a “K” but was Anglicized when he came to America. (9)

At the age of seven, Karl went to live with an aunt and uncle, Georg and Sweigert Fehr who lived on a farm in Worms. Because Karl’s family was large and his mother had remarried, Karl needed to become more independent. Karl was treated like a member of the family at his uncle’s. Georg treated him like a son. Clothes and food were bestowed upon Karl. Georg often had Karl accompany him on trips to town, and gave him extra attention because “Karl didn’t have a father.” (10)

A Georg Fehr was mayor of Worms from 1894 to 1902. (4:358) Presumably this was Karl’s uncle. (4:358)

Corn, wheat, barley and oats were grown on Georg’s farm. Karl worked on the farm until his departure to America. (9)

Karl had dark hair, blue eyes, about five feet six inches, and was slight built with a small frame. In 1907 at the age of nineteen and half he came to the United States with another uncle Henry Bickel. (9) Sophie and Jake Fehr loaned Karl money to buy passage to America. Later he repaid them. (10)

Because Karl’s brothers Jake and Peter were already in North Dakota, Henry and Karl settled there. His name was spelled Carl in America. When he first arrived, Carl worked as a farm hand for Jakob Fehr. (9)

After that he homesteaded. This land Carl traded to a Jew for four lots in Hebron and money for the machinery to run a creamery. There was a small building on the lots suitable for the creamery. (10) Later a grocery store was added. He owned them for ten years. Carl was not a good businessman however. He gave too much credit, wasn’t friendly, was too abrupt and lacked tact with his customers. (10)

In 1925 Carl sold the store and creamery to his younger brother Adam. Then he and his family moved to Missoula, Montana, where Carl did carpentry work. Six homes were constructed by him there, including the one in which he lived in at the time of his death. (10)

Carl also was employed at Bonner Mill, owned by Anaconda, until his retirement at seventy. His hobby was gardening, particularly raising vegetables. The Baptist Church was where Carl attended. (10, 9) He was an excellent tenor. (7)

At eighty-six he died of bone cancer and heart failure on April 2, 1974. Lidia Gossele was born August 4, 1893 in Johannestal and has blue eyes. She is short and had auburn hair when she was young. Lidia lived on a farm with her family until they immigrated to the Hebron area when she was eleven. (10)

When Lidia started school in the U.S., her last name was Anglicized from Gossele to Goessele to Gessele. Lidia attended grades one to four in North Dakota, in a one room school house. Her teacher was a man. (10)

At the age of sixteen and seventeen, Lidia did laundry for a Lutheran pastor’s wife and for a store owner. This was accomplished by hand, using a washboard and a tub. Lidia earned one dollar for each family’s wash. Her mother always “borrowed” the money immediately, as Jakob G. was unwilling to give Regina money for crocheting and knitting. The “loan” was never repaid to Lidia. Regina promised to purchase clothes for Lidia when “she finished growing.” This never occurred in Regina’s eyes, as the family was always too poor. When Lidia married, she only had two nightgowns. Those she made herself. (10)

Lidia’s best friend came to America a few months after the Gossele family. Lidia Sauders was her name. The Sauders family lived in town (Hebron). Though Lidia G. resided on a farm outside Hebron, she was still able to continue her friendship with Lidia S. until her marriage to Carl. The husbands of the Lidias did not get along. The two men disagreed about cream. Lidia S.’s husband was affronted, so the life time friendship had to end. (10)

On October 27, 1914, she married Carl Fehr. At that time he had the creamery only. They had six children: Bertha Alma (Bette) born July 25, 1915; Elsie Regina born October 9, 1916; Ella Lydia born January 1, 1919; Raymond Emmanuel April 15, 1924; Gertrude Shirley August 29, 1927 and Arnold Carl born October 21, 1932. Ray died in World War II, shortly after Pearl Harbor. All the other children are living. The first four were born in Hebron. The two latter were born in Missoula. (12)

Bette married M.V. Rhoads on June 8, 1936. They have four children: William, Marilyn Bowen, Carlene Mamala, and Beverly Shervheim. Elsie married K.V. Kinonen on August 18, 1938. They have two children: Richard and Kathy Creeden. Ella married Francis P. Chaussee on July 23, 1938. Their two children are Francis LeMmmont (Monty) and Barbara Thomas. Shirley and Elmer Jones have four children: Jeanifer Blackwell, Patricia Llewelyn, Jayne and Casey. Shirley and Elmer were married on August 17, 1948. Arnold has four children by his previous marriage to Mary Johnson. They are Brian, Russell, Sandra, and Karen. He is currently married to Evelyn Oxner. (7, 15)

Lidia was busy as a wife and mother. During the depression she performed domestic work outside the home to help augment Carl’s income. (10)

She attends the Baptist church. Lidia’s hobbies include rug making, flower gardening, and bread making, all of which she is still doing. Among her grand children she is famous for her kuchen!

Ella Lydia Fehr

Ella was born at her home in Hebron, on New Year’s Day, 1919. She was the third of six children.

Before she learned English, Ella spoke German. after the children enrolled in school, Lidia and Carl (her parents) made an effort to speak English in the home to keep continuity with their education. (7)

Carl was a strict disciplinarian. He believed in “all work and no play”. Among Ella’s duties as a child were hoeing and weeding the garden, which was as much as half city block, taking the cow to pasture, picking berries and helping around the house. Ella and her sister Elsie were “humiliated” by performing the work of a horse. They were “hitched” with the harness to the cultivator. (7)

Baseball was her favorite sport as a child. When she was a seventh grader, Ella was invited to play on an eighth grade team as a catcher. (7)

Ella moved to Missoula when she was six. In school spelling was her favorite subject. History Ella disliked. She continued her education until her junior year. At that time Ella needed a tonsillectomy. She had always been anemic and had more recently had sore throats. (7)

Since it was still during the depression (1936), her parents could not afford the operation. Ella had the opportunity to pay for it by working as a nurse’s aide. In that capacity was employed for two years. (7)

With part of her salary, Ella purchased her first guitar, which was concert size. Previously her neighbor’s instrument had to be borrowed.

A Swedish bachelor who lived nearby, taught Ella to play a few chords when she was in junior high school. This interest in the guitar has continued to the present time.

Singing has always been a part of Ella’s life too. As a child she would harmonize with Elsie and Bette for fun at home. At the age of sixteen or seventeen years old, Ella and her cousin Lili Fehr (Jake and Sophie’s daughter) entered a talent contest on a local radio station. They won second place!

Though she never sang in a church choir until adulthood, Ella was a member of the church orchestra at the Northside Assemble of God Church. They had no choir. It was at this church that Ella met Francis. (7)

On July 23, 1938 Ella married Francis P. Chaussee at her parents’ home in Missoula. They resided in that community until 1942, when the family moved to Bremerton.

Their son Monty (Francis LeMont) was born September 12, 1939. Ella was kept busy in Missoula with a large garden, canning fruit and vegetables such as beans, tomatoes, beet, and taking care of a young son.

Barbara Rae was born May 21, 1944 in Bremerton. Ella continued the same type of activities after her daughter was born, primarily keeping them centered on her home and family.

Two years later the family moved to Wenatchec. Most of her activities revolved on the Christian Missionary Alliance Church. Ella was involved in teaching Sunday school and was superintendent for the primary. She helped organize and taught daily vacation bible school. As a member of the choir, Ella was an alto. Involved actively in the missionary program, the Chausee’s frequently had missionaries stay with them. Ella was vice-president of the ladies Missionary Group. (7) Ella was one of the mainstays of the church.

When Monty was young, Ella taught the “Good News Club” for the neighborhood children. It was similar to Pioneer Girls with crafts and other activities. (7)

She took part in a radio program entitled “Voices in the Night”. Ella was a member of a double quartet on the show. (7)

In 1960 Seattle became the Chausses’s home. Ella continued to be very active in the Alliance Church. She helped in the nursery and from 1964 to 1973 worked with the Pioneer Girls. Still involved in choir, Ella is in Ladies Trio, Women’s Quartet, and the Gospelers, which is a Gospel Western group. (7)

KING channel 5 television aired the later group singing to Vietnamese refugees in July, 1976. (7)

Two vacations in Hawaii, a cruise to Alaska, a trip as far south as Mexico, driving in mid Canada, and traveling east to North Dakota have been the areas of Ella’s travels.

Ella is 5’4”, slender and has gray eyes. As a child her hair was blond. As she became older, her hair was reddish. Ella is frugal, conservative, neat and orderly, has a high standard and expects it from other, is sensitive and shown concern for others. She is as expert housekeeper, with her home always ready for company. Ella is attractive and appears much younger than her actual years.

Coral is her favorite color. Knitting is her hobby. Spaghetti is her favorite food. She never tires of it. (7) Ella calls herself “the Noodle Kid”. At restaurants she often orders prime rib or Chinese food unless they have her favorite spaghetti! (7)

Coming to America

The migration of the German colonists commenced soon after they were deprived of privileges held for a hundred years, such as exemption from the draft and new laws which greatly favored the native Ukrainians in the courts. When Alexander II revoked the rights and privileges that had been granted under Catherine and Alexander I, the German-Russians became full of distrust and resentment. “Many colonists also deplored the less of traditional self-government and particularly resented the increasing pressure to Russianize the village schools and to take over their administration. Most of the emigrants left Russia to find in America the promise of “free land for free people.’” (4:323)

Five or six generations of Fehrs, Gosseles, Müllers, and Bickels lived in the Odessa area after the journey from Germany, dating between 1805 and 1819 to the move to America between 1882 and 1909.

In 1882 or 1883 the family initiated the migration to North America. The first to arrive was Elizabeth Bickel Hauck, her husband and on child. She was the sister of Christina. They settled in Mitchell, South Dakota and then New Ulm, North Dakota. This claim did not “proveup” because of Indian harassment. They returned to Mitchell and in 1894 moved to Fessenden, North Dakota. There a claim was “settled”. In 1903 Medina became their home. (14)

Christian Müller also resided in Medina, after he immigrated in 1898. Mueller became the spelling of his name when he came to America. Christian was Regina’s brother.

Christian served in the army before coming to the United States. He and his wife, Katherina Zimmerman, lived in Eureka, South Dakota and later at Wishek, North Dakota. In 1900 they moved three miles northeast o Medina and lived in a sod house. They raised crops, pork, poultry, and beef. Earning a dollar a day, Christian worked on the railroad. In order to purchase flour and sugar, he and Katherina sold eggs. Several years later the Muellers moved six miles north of Medina and built a home which is still there. (2:107)

“Kartherina was a mother, housewife, farmhand and practical nurse, helping with the sick. People came from miles around by sled or wagon, whatever the season, to have a bone set or a baby delivered... (2:107)

Christian and Katherine raised eleven children to adulthood. They had 34 grandchildren, 99 great grandchildren as of 1974. (2:107)

In 1900 Christian Gossele (Gissole) and his family arrived in Scotland, South Dakota on New Year’s Eve of that year. Christian was Jakob Gossele’s half brother. Susan Schaeffer was Christian’s wife. They had six children including three girls and three boys: Esther Coulter, Anna Fiedler, Catherine Hansen, Christian, Karl, and Jakob. (11)

Jake Fehr Junior traveled to Medina initially, because Christian Müller was there. The latter was Jake’s mother-in-law’s brother. Later Jakob settled in Hebron. The journey from the Ukraine occurred in the fall of 1904, when Jake fled Worms. He had been married for three months and had a pregnant wife when he left the Ukraine. His young wife, Sophie Cosssele, followed later that autumn. They obtained farmland under the provisions of the Homestead Act. (10)

A few months later in 1904, the Gossele family, Christian, his wife Minnie Scherer and their two children, Amelia, Lidia, Sophie, and their two sons, and their daughter accompanied the group. Karl was Regina’s brother. (10)

They traveled by wagon from Johannestal to Odessa spending one might there. Then they journeyed by train to Bremen, Germany which was a two day journey. There the group boarded a ship, The Great Wilhelm or Kaiser Wilhelm that took them to Ellis Island. By train they went Medina. With the exception of Sophie, the family spent the winter with Christian Muller. According to Lidia the trip across the Atlantic took fourteen days. Later the Jake Gossele family settled in Hebron. (10)

In 1909 brought forth Adam Fehr, his two sisters: Katharine (Katie) Fehr, Elizabeth Fehr Serr and her husband Christian. They also moved to Hebron, after arriving by ship in Baltimore, Maryland and traveling by train west. Katie later married Mr. Heinle and had seven children. Adam wed Ida Krein and had five children, the youngest dying early in childhood. He is a retired grocery shore owner in Hebron now. (8, 10)

Peter Fehr immigrated sometime before 1907, but the date is unknown.

He was the brother of Adam, Carl, and Jakob. Peter worked for the railroad in North Dakota for many years. (7) He was married three times. The first was Katie Brunemayer who died, then Magdeline Heinle, whom he divorced. His third wife was Julia Imhoff. (7)

Very few kept in close contact with friends and relatives in Russia. For this reason little is known about those who probably still reside there. Jakob and Carl Fehr did write to their mother, but even that contact was lost during World War II.

None of these people who came to America knew how to speak English. They learned it from people gradually through the next few years. Some Adults enrolled in night school. Children were enrolled in school and learned English. They then taught their elders. Some of the adults like Jakob and Regina Gossele never spoke anything but their native language.


1. Aberle, George P. Msgr. From the Steppes to the Prairies. Dickinson, North Dakota, 1963.
2. “Diamond Jubilee.” Medina, North Dakota. 1975.
3. Giesinger, Adam. “Villages in Which Our Forefathers Lived.” American Historical Society
of Germans from Russia. Winter, 1976, Work paper Number 22, 29-32.
4. Height, Joseph S. Homesteader on the Steppe. Bismarck: North Dakota Historical Society of
Germans from Russia. 1975.
5. Stumpp. Karl. The Emigration from Germany to Russia in the Years 1763-1862. Lincoln:
American Historical Society of German from Russia. no date.
6. Stumpp. Karl Dr. “The New Russian Names of the German Colonies in the Regions of
Odessa.” Translated by Joseph S. Height. Heritage Review. North Dakota Historical Society
of German from Russia. April, 1977, Number 17, 28-30.

Interviews and Letters

7. Ella Chaussee, 13524 Roosevelt Way North, Seattle, Washington 98133
8. Adam Fehr, Hebron, North Dakota, 58638
9. Carl Fehr, deceased
10. Lidia Fehr, 1729 South Eleventh Street West, Missoula, Montana 59801
11. Ruth Fiedler, 24553 Barton Road, Loma Linda, California 92354
12. Shirley Jones, 1028 Sherwood, Missoula, Montana, 59801
13. Elsie Kinonen, 230 Third Street, Kalispell, Montana 59901
14. Louise B. Klingman, 702 Williamette Street, Oregon City, Oregon 97045
15. Office of Statistical Services, State Dept. of Health, Bismarck, North Dakota
16. Bette Rhoads
17. Martha Warneth, Monty Lane, Lolo, Montana

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