- Alice: Embrace the Yester Years
by Alice Katherine (Schuetzle) Kanewischer
Edited by Jeannette Zollner published by the author, Calgary,
Alberta, Canada, 1996, 385 pages, softcover.
The Germans from Russia community has been favored with this outstanding
new book, I - Alice: Embrace the Yester Years by Alice Kanewischer
of Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. Alice presents a wonderful autobiography
sharing the story of her family and the Germans from Russia in Alberta
and on the western Canadian prairies -- their hard work ethic, their
love for the land and to succeed, their strong beliefs, their struggles
in the 1930's, and their pioneer homesteading spirit which transcends
throughout the book.
Jeannette Zollner, who edited the book, writes, "As an autobiography,
it has not only served to heal the author, but offers an example
of how an understanding of the background leads to forgiveness and
a greater understanding of self...Best of all, the novel serves
as a model and a stimulus. Each family has its own story to tell...No
amount of money given as inheritance can be as precious and enduring
as the giving of your family history. These are the heirlooms that
bond us to our past, and give richness to the future generations."
I - Alice: Embrace the Yester Years is a book that merits
our gratitude and thanks to the author for documenting so well her
story of life. Thank you Alice Kanewischer for presenting this fine
book for our Germans from Russia people.
--- Michael M. Miller, Germans from Russia Bibliographer, Germans
from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries,
Alice Kanewischer writes in the Prologue to I - Alice: Embrace
the Yester Years:
I - Alice: Embrace the Yester Years has truly been a labor
of love by me for my extended family. This autobiography has been
founded on family pride and gratitude for the strong family ties
that have surrounded us with love and destined our past and future...
"If someone in our past generation had taken the time to write
a diary, we would know the true spirit and dreams they had. By documenting
their lives, we permit our future generations to become aware of
the struggles that came with the taming of the virgin sod. May the
reader visualize and discover how much courage and unfailing determination
it required to live out this almost impossible dream. Their preparation
for this new country was limited to a few hand tools - almost all
their earthly possessions could be stored in one large trunk. These
same pioneers in their time of need and discouragement never begged
for any earthly gain from the government, their only request was
to be allowed to worship in freedom in the faith of their choice,
and to become individual land owners.
"Great Grandpa (to me), Jacob Croissant, must have had a hidden
desire to be remembered in the years to come. Can you imagine him
sitting by his small homemade wooden table? His only source of light
was a wax candle, as he so carefully dipped his only pen into the
small inkwell, and very neatly wrote into the only book he had --
The German Bible. With deep thoughts he wrote, I - Jacob....
"If I were to be granted the impossible, I'd love to have our
elders return to the area they homesteaded so they could see the
many trees that have been planted, the dams, roads, the beautiful
farm homes that have been built, and see the huge machinery that
is now being used..."
From the Medicine Hat News, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Part family history, part autobiography and part historical novel,
I - Alice: Embrace the Yester Years is a collection of stories
many older Medicine Hat residents will be able to relate to.
And it's a book younger readers can learn from. I - Alice
documents the life of author Alice Kanewischer's forefathers, who
came to Canada via the United States, after leaving Russia in the
Many of us who do our family research on the Black Sea people
start with our people first coming to the United States before the
Dakota Territory was broken into states in 1889. We follow some
of their first migrations within the U.S. trying to find the right
homestead, and then see at about the turn of the century -- several
of our families not only moved to the North but all the way to Canada.
With these earlier peoples, we often direct our labor of love
researching our ancestors and their families more towards gaining
documented information regarding their births, marriages and deaths.
We are very happy along these trails if we can find a few scraps
of oral tradition.
So when we get ready to do "our book," we end up with lots of
life event data and a scattering of oral traditions.
Well, with Alice Kanewischer's families coming a generation later
than many of ours, she has been able to gather great amounts of
the family oral traditions from people who were there. So with this
great work of hers you will find a book that many of our parents
could have put together for us if they had only taken time to do
The sharing Alice has been able to do with this wonderful book
of hers is something all of us should find time to enjoy. Her grandchildren
have already had the benefit of Alice showing them around the area
their ancestors settled and now they have the book with a treasure
chest of family history to pass to their descendants.
The inspiration Alice's book holds for the rest of us to assimilate
is something you cannot appreciate until you examine this lady's
remarkable undertaking and its extraordinary results as reflected
in I - Alice: Embrace the Yester Years.
Highlights of the story
Jacob Croissant Sr., born ca 1830, and Anna Maria Führmann, born
ca 1828, were parents of Jacob Jr., born October, 1851 in Rohrbach
of the Beresan District in the Odessa area.
Jacob Croissant Jr. married Susanne Schoretlin in 1870. In about
1909, Jacob Jr. left Russia with his wife, his only daughter (widowed)
and her son, his two bachelor sons, and his oldest son and his family.
They first went to the Menno-Freeman, SD area for two years then
moved on to Hilda in Alberta, Canada. This was to be the area the
family settled. The first 3 chapters of this book sets the stage
for the telling of the rest of the story after their arrival in
the Hilda area. The book is a 400-page item with a total of 28 chapters.
Each chapter is its own little story.
If you enjoy reading of the German Russian settlers' lives, or
if you are planning on doing your own book one of these days, or
have a special interest in the Rohrbach families, or just enjoy
good reading, you have to spend some time with this book. Once you
pick it up and spend a little time with it, you will finish reading
Reprinted with permission from the Medicine Hat News,
Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.
of the book by Carol Just Halverson
of the book by Virginia Byfield