Germans from Russia in the Yakima Valley, Prior to 1940

Compiled by Frieda Eichler Brulotte and Louise Elton Potter

Central Washington Chapter, American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Yakima, Washington, 1990, 219 pages, hardcover.

Originally intended as a Washington State Centennial project for 1989, this researched undertaking was extended to accurately glimpse how Germans from Russia residents established themselves in the Yakima Valley. They labored in sugar beet fields and malting hops yards, pruning and harvesting fruit orchards, propagating tree seedlings in nurseries, and recruited into various factories such as U & I sugar refineries and Ca Pak (later Del Monte) canning of corn, peas, asparagus and fruit.

The authors emphasize their purpose as a documentation for departing Russia in search of more freedom in the New World, where they specifically found this "better way of life" in the Yakima Valley. In an encyclopedic order, these compelling family stories show how they adjusted to the American experience of new opportunities, various hardships and hope for a better life. Through their homes and churches, they preserved their ethnic traditions valuable from their Russian and German cultural memories.

This book captivates with an unvarnished truth of comparative life-journey struggles and successes. While most family listings are Volga German, surprisingly many Bessarabian (almost 25%) and Liebental immigrants are also well-documented. The four chapters are categorized as follows:

Chapter One provides a general history survey of Washington State, and particularly The Yakima Valley;

Chapter two relates founding town histories in the Yakima Valley; chapter three describes the various churches where they worshipped; chapter four (continues after a twenty-six paged preface) lists a 212 page encyclopedia of family surnames, elaborated with biographic sketches and photographs; and the index provides cross-referencing of historic Russian villages and ancestral family surnames.

This book features a "crown jewel" on pages 74-77. A blunt, yet detailed, history in a tripartite essay as recited by members of the John George (Han-Yerg) Kissler Family in "Some Recollections of Life in Russia," high-lighting the Volga German experience in comparative over-lay with later American immigrant experiences.

Book review by Jay Gage, Exhibits Curator, Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo.

John and Caroline Koch Knopp lived in Yakima, Washington. John was born in Frank, Russia, on April 16, 1898. He was the son of Henry and Marie Barbara Willman Knopp. He came to America with his parents in 1903, arriving at Ellis Island, New York. Caroline was born on July 2, 1897 in Kolb, Russia.
Photo of the Schelert family of Yakima, Washington including (front row): Lydia, Mrs. Albertina and Herbert Schelert; (back row): Adolph, Albert and Martha. Albert Schelert farmed in North Dakota and Montana before moving to the Yakima Valley where he farmed northwest of Toppenish, Washington. Albert was born in Volhynia on April 23, 1895. He was the son of Edward and Albertina (Lou) Schelert. He immigrated to the United States in 1909 with his family. In 1924, he married Lydia Fauth in North Dakota. Albert and Lydia Fauth Schelert had fourteen children.

Germans from Russia in the Yakima Valley Prior to 1940

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