Maas/ Moss Family Information

[Most used resource:  “The Maas/ Moss and Related Families” history book, by Edna Pringle Moss.]
[Source:  brief survey of German Catholic Colonies of Bessarabia/ Moldova Region; excerpted from essay of Rev. James Moss, grandson of Elias Moss.]

Elias Moss (born in 1886 in Emmental, Bessarabia, South Russia) married Deophilia Mueller Maas (born in Karmurat, Dobrudscha, Romania).  Parents of Elias Moss were Johannes Maas (born 1857) and Marianna Arnold (born 1860), both born in German-Catholic Colony of Krasna, Bessarabia:  the only ethnic German Catholic Colony in Bessarabia in 1814-1816.

Emmental, a German Catholic daughter colony was founded in 1884-1886, southeast of Kishinev/ Kishinew, large Moldovan city on the Dniester River.  Both Krasna and Emmental parishes were within Catholic Tiraspol Diocese, established 1848 through 1918.

The colony of Krasna, Akkermann district, Bessarabia, was founded in 1815 by German Catholics from Poland.  Ninety families were settled in “Elisbeta” (Krasna) in 1815, and forty-three more families joined them in 1816.  One hundred fourteen Catholic families formed a fully-Catholic village in 1925, when nineteen Evangelical-Lutheran families moved to newly-established Katzbach.  As early as 1814, “Elisabeta” had a Catholic church and cemetery.  Baptismal records indicate children were baptized by a Polish priest, Lukas Paschkowski, who arrived with the Krasna Colony founders.

The Koblenz Exodus files listed Georg Maas (born 5 July 1810-died 8 July 1849) with his wife Anna Christina Gansky (born 1811-died 18 December 1878) were among families in “Elisabeta” in 1815.  Other related surnames were:  Arnold, Blotski, Gedak, Gross, Hartmann, Kahl, Kopp, Kuss, Mueller, Nagel, Soehn, Steiert, Ternes, Winter, and Ziebart.  “Elisabeta” was renamed by colonists as “Constantinschutz” in spring of 1825, when Evangelical-Lutheran families left.  However, Russian officials rename their colony as “Krasna” in September 1825.

In 1884/ 1886, Catholic German families from Krasna founded their daughter colony of Emmental in the city parish of Bender, near Kishinev/ Kishinew.

The Mueller/ Kopp family history includes the colony of Marienthal, Liebental am Baraboi district, settled in 1804-1809 in Charson Province, immediately west of capital city of Odessa.  Founding colonists arrived from Alsace, Grand Duchy of Baden, Kingdom of Wuerttemberg and Switzerland.  The first eleven families arrived in March of 1804 to construct reed huts.  In 1805, forty-five families joined them, also housed in reed huts.  The winter of 1805-1806 caused a heavy death toll with “fever” and “dysentery.”  The summer of 1806 saw more graves dug than new houses constructed.  By 1809, all sixty property plots were (surveyed and platted by Duke Richelieu,) were fully occupied.  Maas family had relatives in 1816 census list of founding settlers:  Jacob Mueller (born 1779) with his wife Margaretha (born 1770); Anton Kopp [moved from Mariental to Rastadt] (born 1775, from Bellheim, Rhine-Palatinate) with his wife Elizabeth (born 1770) and child Franz in 1908; Konrad Kopp, and Anton Bauer.

Anton Kopp moved from Mariental Colony to the colony of Rastadt, Ananyev district, Cherson Province.  The 1811 census lists Bonifaz Mueller (born 1785) from Rhinzabern, Rhine-Palatinate, with his wife Katherina (born 1786) and child Margaretha (born 1810); Anton Kopp (born 1775) from Bellheim, Rhine-Blatinate, with his wife Elisabeth (born 1770) and child Franz (born 1808); Jacob Kopp (born 1772) from Queichheim, Rhine-Palatinate, with his wife Elizabeth (born 1777) and children Anton (1805), Johann (1807), Jacob Jr. (1810), Margaretha (1803), and Apolonia (1809).

Anton Maas leased land at Karamurat, Dobrudscha.  Anton’s household census listed Anton Maas with wife and five children.  One hundred thirty-four ethnic German families lived in Karamurat colony.  In fall of 1916, Romania declared war against Germany, so Romanian police confiscated property of ethnic German colonists:  cattle, swine, wagons, grain, poultry and food.  Colonists suffered repeated raids with Russian Cossacks, Bulgarian Army, and German Occupational Army.  Two hundred seventy-two colonists were arrested and exiled to Moldova, where many hostage/ prisoners died.

The Maas family lineage originated from the Rhine-Pfalz:  their facial features and skin coloring were typical of German-French border region.  The Maas family immigrated to the Polish villages of Oschokowin and Schitonitz in 1813 for one year, [again warring armies destroyed their field-crops].  In 1814, the Mathias Maas family trekked southeasterly to district Modovan Steppes in Bessarabia’s “Koegilnik-tal” (Koegilnik valley) to found Krasna Colony.  Loading their few belongings on hand carts and wagons, these colonists were led as caravan expedition by Mathias Mueller, traveling day and night, many on foot, to reach the Russian boarder.  [Source:  Dr. J.A. Malinowsky book, report of Krasna’s Mayor, Mathias Mueller, dated 8 May 1848.]

When they arrived in the Koegilnik Valley [in Akkermann district of “Budschak”], the colonists established their colony of “Elisabeta,” which changed in spring 1825 to “Konstantin Schutz,” Evangelical-Lutheran colonists left to found nearby Katzbach.  In September 1825, Russian officials renamed their colony as “Krasna.”

Originally one hundred fourteen Catholic families and nineteen Evangelical-Lutheran families founded Krasna Colony.  Each founding family received 162 acres of land, as specified by the Czar’s Manifest.  Land became scarce, as only the youngest son could inherit the parental estate.  After September 1879 and before 1882, thirty-six young Krasna families (including Johannes Maas and his wife Marianna Arnold) left Krasna in search of leased farmland to settle, traveling east to create a small village Marienfeld, officially named “Schalier.”  Their oldest son Rochus Maas was born in Krasna in September 1879, but their second son Polykarpus “Karpus” Maas was born in Marienfeld in 1882.

The Johannes Maas family lived in earthen gumbo-clay huts, but poor soiled nixed any promise of agricultural prosperity.  Also, robber bandits were their predators in both fields and homes.  Thus, the site of Marienfeld colony was abandoned, with ten families returning to Krasna:  while twenty-five families (including Johannes Maas and Marianna Arnold Haas) moved two and half days travel further north to found Emmental Village in 1884-1886.  They built two rows of gumbo-clay huts, near a Romanian “shepherder’s well.”  Fertile soil promised future prosperity.  Their lease-agreement with landowner Prince Alexander Krupenski (of St. Petersburg city) named this new colony as “Emmental” to honor his deceased daughter Emmentina.  The same year (1885-1886), seven additional families settled in Emmental from mother colony of Krasna.

Johannes Maas became first mayor (burgermeister) of Emmental in 1908.  His son Polykorpus “Kappus” Maas was one of three directors for the village’s oil-press mill.  This oil-press mill had been owned by Johannes Maas and inherited by youngest son Xavier Maas.  [Source:  Thaddeus Maas, Germany].

During 1870’s, Krasna Colony was suffering from scarce farmland.  Russian law dictated that only a youngest son could inherit this parent’s estate/ property.  Older siblings needed to find available land, which was scarce.

In February 1876, four young farmers from Krasna Colony searched for ample land south of the Danube delta in Turkish-ruled Dobrudscha:  Karl Mueller (son of Christian), August Soehn, Sebastin Kreis, and Karl Ternes, with approval granted by the ethnic Greek “Pascha”/ Ruler of Tulcea.  In May 1876, thirty families left Krasna Colony:  seven families settled in Karamurat; ten families in Tasaul/ Tasa-ul; and others dispersed in surrounding Tartar villages, later abandoned to be resettled with ethnic Romanians.  [Source:  East German Fate by the Black Sea, by Dr. Johannes Florian Mueller.]

During the next year in 1877, the Russian army invaded the Dobrudscha, while Turks and their Paschas fled south.  To avoid contact with the Russian military, the Catholic German colonists fled to Malcoci in the Danube delta swamps, taking refuge in abandoned huts of Tartars and Tscherkessian to wait out the regional warfare.  Many deaths from malaria caused hardships especially to very old and very young at Malcoci and Tulcea.  When this war ended in 1878, most ethnic German colonist returned to Karamurat, again temporarily living in abandoned houses of the Tartars. The Turks were defeated by Russian and Romanian armies in December 1877.  By 1880, over fifty Catholic German families settled in Karamurat:  Anton Arnold, Christina Karl Mueller, Georg Mueller, Johannes Mueller, Josef Mueller, Ludwig Mueller, Pandel Mueller, Thomas Mueller, Anton Ternes, Georg Ternes, and Karl Ternes.  [Source:  East German Fate by the Black Seat, by Dr. Johannes Florian Mueller.]

Karl Mueller moved his family to Karamurat circa 1889-1890.  His son Mathias Mueller, born 1867 in Krasna, lived in Karamurat when he married Klara Ternes circa 1890.  Their three oldest children:  Joseph Mueller, born 1891; Deophilia Mueller, born 1893, and Deonelda Mueller, born 1896, were born at Karamurat, Dobrudscha.  Karl Mueller with his wife Klara Ternes and family again relocated to Bessarabia, as their six younger children were born in Emmental.  Their youngest son Rochus was born 1910 in Emmental.  In 1913, Mathias Mueller and his wife Klara Ternes immigrated their entire family to Western Canada, except their daughter Deophilia Mueller (Mrs. Elias Maas/ Moss).

In 1922, Elias Maas and his wife Deophilia with nine children immigrated to the homestead of Deophilia’s parents (Mathia Mueller and Klara Ternes) near Estevan, Saskatchewan.  Elias Maas had served military conscription into the Czar’s Army during World War I, even though he was married with family of small children.  (According to Maas granddaughters, Rose Moss Landeis and Margaret Miller Frank,) Elias was still a member of the Russian Army, when Bessarabia (with Krasna and Emmental) became a Romanian province in 1920.

Joseph Maas (Elias’s oldest son), born 1915, remembers train travel to Budapest and crossing a “big Lake” [North Sea] to Hull, England.  The Elias Maas family boarded a steamship S.S. Cameronia II to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Liverpool, England.  The S.S. Cameronia II carried 1,100 third-class passengers and traveled at speed of sixteen nautical knots per hour. 

Elias Maas family arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 1 April 1922.  Halifax customs anglicized the Germanic surname of Maas to Moss.  From Nova Scotia, the Elias “Moss”/ Maas family traveled by train to Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada, where Deophilia’s parents Mathias Mueller/ Klara Ternes were farming.

Due to Canadian customs register, family surnames have varied spellings within same Maas family:  Moss/ Maas.  Müller is varied as:  Mueller, Miller and Miiler.

Elias Moss began as farm laborer and rented farmland near rural town of Landau (Saskatchewan), before purchasing his own land.  In spite the challenges of hardships and deprivations which these Canadian Prairie immigrants suffered, they were more fortunate to prosper, compared to family relatives unable to leave or chose to remain in South Russia and Romania to suffer famines and wars through 1945.

Descendants of both brothers, Karl Maas and Johannes Maas, immigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada.  Karl Maas’s children settled in Fox Valley.  Elias Maas (Moss), son of Johannes, settled in Bienfait, Kingsford, and Landau area near Estevan.

Renting a farm near Estevan, Elias Moss and his wife Deophilia made a down payment on their own land, purchased in 1928.  When preparing to move possessions to their new farm, their farmhouse burned.  Elias was able to buy and move another house onto the property.  However, many family photos, keepsakes and personal effects were lost.

During winter of 1930, Elias Moss became ill and died 6 February 1930:  Just two days after his son Robert’s eighth birthday.  Deophilia Mueller Moss was widowed at age of thirty-seven years with six children:  Joe 15, Mary 12, Robert 8, John 5, Clara 3, and Rose 10 months.
Their heavily-mortgaged farm was sold at auction.  After outstanding debts were paid, Deophilia’s lack of finances forced the Moss siblings to split up for six months to a year.  Young Joe labored at neighboring farms of Uncle Joe Schell, Uncle Joseph Mueller and Joe Owens.

Mary was household maid at home of one of Deophilia’s brothers.  Rose and Clara stayed with their mother.  Robert and John were fostered as farm laborers by Deophilia’s brothers and sisters.  Deophilia would rotate monthly for time with each child.

Six months later, when Deophilia received a small widow’s pension from the Canadian government, the Moss family moved into a small house of their own in the town of Estevan, Saskatchewan.

In 1935, widow Deophilia Moss married Raphael (Ralph) Miiler, a local German farmer with a motherless family of his own.  Deophilia moved to his farmstead near Lampman, along with her children Robert, John, Clara, and Rose, together with step-children Margaret Miiler and Mathew Miiler.  When Deophilia and Ralph Miiler returned in 1945, they moved their residence into Estevan, with children Irene, Rose, Margaret, and Mathew.

Deophilia Mueller Maas/ Moss Miiler died 30 May 1949.  During her sixty-seven years, she suffered much loss:  two infants, her Russian homeland, twice losing personal home and house possessions, plus her first husband Elias Maas/ Moss, who was father of her six older children.  As did her ancestors, Deophilia endured life’s challenges; so did her children toward economic prosperity and beloved music-making.
In retrospect, Johannes Maas and wife Marianna Arnold (1850’s) with Karl Mueller and wife Marianna Ternes Mueller (1850’s) would be astonished to view economic security and prosperity of their descendents, while Elias Maas/ Moss and wife Deophilia Mueller (early 1900’s) would be proud of their children’s achievements in western Canada.

Robert’s brother, Joseph Bernard Moss, son of Elias Maas/ Moss, was born in Emmenthal, Akkermann district, Bessarabia South Russia on 5 September 1914.  At age of seven, when his family immigrated to Canada, he remembers aspects of village life in Emmenthal, plus reasons to prompt decisions to leave South Russia.

His memory recalls when Russian soldiers demanded his father Elias to leave his farmwork (his family’s sole support):  to haul wood for the Russian government.  When Elias’s response was not immediate, their impatient cruelty struck him with rifle butts to sprawl to the ground.  This incident was a common re-occurrence of Bolshevik treatment toward ethnic Germans.

Elias Maas and wife Deophilia Mueller Maas (with three children Joseph, Mary 5 years, and Rochus 1 month), left their homeland for new promise in North America in March 1922:  with only money from selling their possessions, plus what few possessions they could carry.  Joe remembers his mother hiding money, by sewing coins into their clothes.
They reunited family with Joe’s grandparents, Mathias Mueller and Klara Ternes Mueller in Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada.  For two years, they lived with Deophilia’s sister and brother-in-law, Bernard “Ben” Jale and wife Deonelda Mueller Jale, while father Elias Moss was farm laborer to area farmers.  By 1929, Elias Moss had financial savings to make a down payment on their own farm, but disaster struck again when Elias died in 1930.

Since Elias Moss’s new farm property was heavily mortgaged, the entire farmstead and farm fields were sold at auction.  Widow Deophilia and her children were forced to split-up for six months, due to financial straits.  Fifteen-year Joe worked for his room-and-board as a farm laborer for his uncle Joe Schell and Uncle Joseph Mueller, plus neighbor Joe Owens.  By 1935, Joe started clerking at Max Mandel’s general merchandise store.  Soon promoted as manager of grocery department, Joe’s starting wage was $12.00 per month.

In 1932, Joe Moss married Mary Helen Meckler, daughter of Linus Meckler and Klementine Emter Meckler.  With four young children, Joe was enlisted in the Canadian Army (1942-1945).  In 1945, Joe returned to Estevan to continue employment at M. Mandel and Company.  In 1947, Joe recognized financial independence as a goal.  Joe opened Moss’ Groceteria on Estevan’s Main Street, upon borrowed money and faith credit from well-known suppliers.

The 1922 Romanian passport of Elias Maas and wife Deophilia Mueller lists family:  Elias, age 36; Deophilia, age 28; Josef, age 7; Marianna, age 4; and Rochus (Robert), age 1 month.

Maas family passport of Elias Maas [photo].

Maas/ Moss family passport-donor and family historian is Edna Pringle Moss (second wife and widow of Robert Moss/ Rochus Maas, son of Elias.)  Elias’s oldest son Joseph Moss gifted this valued family passport of Elias Maas, when Edna was researching and compiling family history into her book:  “The Maas/ Moss and Related Families.”

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