Germans From Russia Descendants Visit Homeland

"Germans From Russia Descendants Visit Homeland." Napoleon Homestead, 11 June 2008.

Visiting the Neu Glueckstal cemetery, where relatives are believed to be buried, were (left to right) Esther (Mertz) Opp, Napoleon, ND;  Julie (Opp) Burgum, Casselton, ND; JoAnne (Mertz) Gauper, Fargo, ND; Karen (Boschee) Horge, Grand Forks, ND; Lori (Gauper) Kishel, Lithia, FL; Pam (Opp) Galagher, Thompson, ND; and Allean (Mertz) Boschee, Crookston, MN. Although most cemeteries in the region were destroyed following the Russian Revolution, numerous tombstones can still be found strewn among the overgrown lilac bushes.

Descendants of Germans from Russia who immigrated to the Napoleon area during the late 1800s and early 1900s recently visited ancestral villages in the Black Sea area of Russia and the Ukraine. The twenty-four member tour group from the United States and Canada was led by Michael Miller, Director & Bibliographer of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at North Dakota State University, Fargo. Ancestors of the group had migrated from the villages to various parts of the U.S. and Canada.

Villages visited by the group included Glueckstal, New Glueckstal, Bergdorf, Neudorf and Kassel. Fourteen members of the group spent an evening with host families in the Glueckstal district. Although nearly all village residents are now Russian, the group was warmly welcomed.

John and Christine (Reuer) Mertz, along with their young sons, Reinhold and John, came to America in 1906, homesteading on a farm southeast of Dawson, North Dakota. Three daughters and four granddaughters of the late Reinhold and Frieda (Wanner) Mertz were among those making the ten-day journey.

Printed with permission of the Napoleon Homestead

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