Ludwig and Christina (Schwahn) Welk Farmstead near Strasburg, North Dakota

State Historic Site, State Historical Society of North Dakota

The Welk Farmstead is open Saturday, 24 May 2018 to Monday, September 3 (Labor Day), 2018, with the following schedule:

Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
10 am to 5 pm

Contact information: Diane Rogness, Historic Sites Manager, State Historical Society of North Dakota, 617 East Boulevard Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58505 - Tel: 701-328-3508 -

Historical information on the Welk family

The story of the Welk family can be traced to Moritz Welk who married Magdalena Arth in 1802 in the village of Wintzenbach, located in Lower Alsace, France. In 1808, Moritz and Magdalena Welk, along with a hundred other German-Catholic families from Alsace, immigrated to southern Russia. They founded the village of Selz in the Kutschurgan district near Odessa and the Black Sea.

Moritz and Magdalena Welk's eldest son, Kasper, married Magdalena Gutenberg in the 1820's. Kasper and Magdalena Welk had a son named Johannes, born in the 1830's and raised in the colony of Selz. Johannes Welk, who became a blacksmith, married Marianna Schweitzer from the colony of Strassburg, Kutschurgan District, Black Sea Region, today near Odessa, Ukraine. They were the grandparents of the famous bandleader, Lawrence Welk.

Significant in the story of the homestead is the third child of Johannes and Marianna Welk. Ludwig Welk was born in Selz, Russia, on August 24, 1864. He married Christina Schwahn, who was born in the colony of Strassburg on March 1, 1870. Besides being a farmer, Ludwig Welk became a blacksmith, like his father.

Ludwig and Christina immigrated to America, as did many other Kutschurgan families, arriving in New York in 1893. They traveled by rail to Eureka, South Dakota, where they acquired a wagon and a team of oxen for their trek northward to Emmons County, North Dakota. Ludwig and Christina lost their first child, Anton, before leaving Russia. When they emigrated in 1893 Christina was carrying their second child, John, born on July 3, 1893. There were eight children in all in the Welk family. Born in the sodhouse still standing on the homestead were Barbara (1895), Anna Mary (1896), Louie (1898). Agatha (1900), Lawrence (1903), Michael (1905), and Eva (1909). Lawrence Welk died on May 17, 1992 in Santa Monica, California.

When Ludwig and Christina (Schwan) Welk retired to Strasburg, the farm was taken over by their youngest son, Michael and his wife Catherine (Hager) Welk. Today the land is farmed by Schwab family members. Evelyn and Edna have granted a 99-year lease of land to Welk Heritage for the restoration of the farmstead begun in 1990 until June 30, 2015. They served on the Board of Directors of Pioneer Heritage, Inc. and as tour guides at the homestead until June 30, 2015.

The Welk Farmstead has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. The ground-breaking for the homestead restoration took place on June 25, 1990. Along with a reunion of the Welk family, the dedication was held June 7, 1992 and was attended by 3,500 people. Guests at the dedication included Lawrence Welk II, accordionist Myron Floren, and champagne music lady Norma Zimmer.

The homestead has been carefully restored to its 1920s condition. The house was made of mud and clay brick, a method of construction used by Ludwig Welk's ancestors 85 years earlier on the steppes of South Russia. Besides the house, other buildings include a summer kitchen, a granary, buggy house, blacksmith shop, outhouse, and barn.

In Lawrence Welk's autobiography, Wunnerful! Wunnerful!, appears the following: "On March 11, 1924, I woke up early in the morning. I was twenty-one years old ... My father and I had a bargain, and we had each kept to the letter the spirit of agreement. He had kept his word and I was free to go. Now it was up to me to prove that my dreams were more than dreams ... I jumped into the buggy and I began the three-mile trip to Strasburg ... Now the fields straight ahead of me, beckoning me toward my future ... Occasionally I would turn around and look back toward the farmhouse. All the rest of the family had returned to their chores, but my mother stood out where she could see me as I drove down the road; and whenever I turned around she would withdraw her hands from beneath her white apron and wave both arms in the air. I waved back, until finally I came to a turn in the road ... and I could see her no more."

It is important in the context of the Welk farmstead to note other sites relating to the Germans from Russia, all within easy driving distance of each other. Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Strasburg and St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hague are beautiful examples of structures consecrated to the Christian Faith of German-Russian homesteaders. Both churches are on the National Register of Historic Places. The John and Magdalena (Baumgartner) Schwab farmhouse, located northwest of Strasburg, has been restored by Schwab family members. Beautiful wrought iron crosses characteristic of German-Russian Black Sea Catholic cemeteries can be found in south central North Dakota near Hague, Strasburg and Zeeland. Also of interest are the historical museums located in Eureka, South Dakota, and in the towns of Linton, Napoleon, and Ashley, North Dakota.

The Welk Farmstead offers for the enjoyment and education of future generations, the story of the Welk family and their homesteading agriculture experience in North Dakota, along with general documentation on the heritage of the Germans from Russia.

The restoration of this farmstead is of interest and value to Americans of every ethnic extraction whose forefathers pioneered and settled the Great Plains of our country. A glimpse into the past cannot fail to engender an understanding and appreciation of those courageous, hard-working people who laid the groundwork for our present-day quality of life. We invite you to step back in time with a visit to the birthplace of Lawrence Welk. The Welk Farmstead, located three miles northwest of Strasburg.

Prairie Legacy German-Russian Country
Carmen Rath-Wald, President
301 Broadway
Napoleon, ND 58561
Tel: 701-754-2504

Prairie Legacy German-Russian Country - the Tri-County Tourism Alliance Emmons, Logan and McIntosh counties (south-central North Dakota) preserves and promotes the heritage and culture of the Germans from Russia on the steppes of North Dakota. Heritage travelers are invited to experience the German-Russian culture of Emmons, Logan and McIntosh counties. For further information, go to - Like the facebook page at

The Lawrence Welk Collection
NDSU Libraries
Dept. 2080, PO Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-231-8877 E-mail:

In 1993, the family of Lawrence Welk selected North Dakota State University to house The Lawrence Welk Collection. This archival repository is dedicated to the preservation and study of Lawrence Welk materials and memorabilia. It contains original musical arrangements, personal items, scrapbooks, oral histories, and artifacts relating to Lawrence Welk and his Musical Family.

North Dakota Horizons published an article authored by Michael M. Miller titled "Polkas, Waltzes, and Champagne Music: Gift of the Lawrence Welk Collection to NDSU", Winter, 1994. The article including photographs can be located here.

If you, or someone you know, have items you are willing to donate, including artifacts, phonograph records, photographs, correspondence, pamphlets or other items of historical interest, please contact NDSU Archives, NDSU Libraries, P.O. Box 6050, Dept 2080, Fargo, ND 58108-6050.

Germans from Russia
Important information and mailing addresses of archives, libraries and societies of the Germans from Russia in the United States

Germans from Russia Heritage Society (GRHS)
1125 West Turnpike Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58501
Tel: 701-227-6167 E-mail:
Hours open: 8 a.m. to 4p.m. - Monday - Friday

GRHS extends membership to all those interested in the heritage of the Germans from Russia. Membership includes a subscription to Heritage Review and access to extensive genealogical records, especially of the Bessarabian, Black Sea and Crimean Germans. The society has a bookstore at its headquarters in Bismarck and members receive a discount on all books purchased. GRHS maintains a library for research and study. An annual convention is held in July with members attending from throughout the United States and Canada.

Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC)
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
NDSU Libraries
PO Box 6050, Dept 2080
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-237-8416 or 701-231-6596
Hours open: 8am to 4:30pm Monday-Friday

Located on the NDSU campus, the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection is one of the major resources relating to Germans from Russia in North America and the world. Its emphasis is on the Bessarabian, Black Sea and Crimean Germans who emigrated to North Dakota.

The GRHC website includes webpages relating to Lawrence Welk and his musical family -

American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR)
631 D St., Lincoln, NE 68502
Tel: 402-474-3363 E-mail:

AHSGR maintains genealogical records, archives, and a library relating to the Germans from Russia including Volga, Black Sea, Bessarabian, Crimean and Mennonite Germans. AHSGR has extensive Volga German records and family history information. For further information and membership write to the society.

Glückstal Colonies Research Association (GCRA)
4544 North River Run, Savage, MN 55378
Tel: 952-447-8654 E-mail:

GCRA is primarily made up of members with ancestors from the Glückstal colonies today located near Odessa, Ukraine and in nearby Moldova. These villages include Bergdorf, Glückstal, Kassel and Neudorf. Its primary goal is to coordinate the genealogical efforts of Glückstal descendants and to provide access to all available resources. Many of the Germans from Russia of these villages settled in south-central North Dakota and north-central South Dakota.

Kutschurgan Regional Interest Group

The Kutschurgan Website is important to the heritage of the Welk family, since it include much information about the former Catholic Black Sea German villages in South Russia (today near Odessa, Ukraine). The Kutschurgan District mother colonies were Baden, Elsass, Kandel, Mannheim, Selz and Strassburg. In the 1880s and 1890s, the Strasburg area and north-central and south-central North Dakota was settled by who immigrated from these Kutschurgan District villages.

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