Visit to the Nikolajew Region, Ukraine, September, 1998

By Raphael "Ralph" Hoff, Fargo, North Dakota

Leaving the United States on September 16th, 1998, on my long journey for a visit to the Ukraine for seven days, I spent most of my time in the Nikolajew region seeing the city of Nikolajew and the villages of Felsenburg, Christina, Speyer, Landau and Katharinental; plus, of course, Odessa where I had spent my nights.

My primary villages were Felsenburg and Christina, which are located about 129 kilometers north of Nikolajew; Felsenburg is north of Christina by 8 kilometers.

My mother left Felsenburg in 1910, at the age of 6, with her parents, one sister and two brothers; and my father left in 1919 at the age of 20. I had spent about four hours in Felsenburg finding the homes where my grandparents resided with their children, what a joy this was and of course many tears, also seeing the church building and cemetery. The church is now being used as a sun flower oil processing plant.

In Christina, I wanted to see the church where my ancestors attended until Felsenburg had built their own church, I did find the site where it had stood at one time, I was told by one of the villagers that it was torn down and the materials were taken to another village to be used for other buildings, at this village I did visit the cemetery and found some gravesites with some stones still in position, one stone I could make out as Rosa Loran, born March 14th, 1874, and died January 9th, 1906 (if anyone knows or is an ancestor of her, please get in contact with me.)

After spending one day in Odessa, I ventured to the villages of Speyer, Landau and Katharinental; at Speyer, I went to the church (this was on a Sunday) and a service was being conducted at this time and I took in the later part of this, visiting with the priest who was Russian-Orthodox and meeting his wife and two children.

The next stop was at Landau where my ancestors had first settled coming from Germany. Here I met a German lady, Rosa Reimer, after a long visit with some German cake and cool drink she became my guide for about three hours taking me to the church, school, hospital, club and the cemetery where I did find three grave stones, one of these was in real bad shape but could make out the year, 1848, and the other two were Katherine Stein and Peter Stein, which are ancestors of Vera Berger Hoff from Rapid City, SD.

I did make a village plan with homes and listed some of the German settlers at Felsenburg also the location of the church, school, and cemetery.

I wish that anyone that has any more information or is an ancestor from Felsenburg or Christina, to get in contact with me.

Raphael "Ralph" Hoff
1610 17th Street South
Fargo, ND 58103
Tel: 701-239-0185

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