Extended Relationships of the Kulm, Leipzig, Tarutino Communities in Bessarabia, Russia

By Arthur E. Flegel

Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo, North Dakota, 2005, 864 pages, hardcover

Book available at this Germans from Russia Heritage Collection website page: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/general/extended.html

Book review by Edna Boardman, Bismarck, North Dakota (eboard@bis.midco.net)

One can’t help wishing, at first, that Arthur Flegel had chosen a snappier title for this great 857-page book. Also, it weighs in at five pounds, which makes it not something you’d slip into your pocket to read on the plane. But the paper and the printing is all you really pay for when you buy it. Its contents represents some 50 years of conscientious free labor performed by Arthur Flegel, a German from Russia and Certified Genealogist, who lives in California. He has gathered genealogical information on some 6,000 families, 28,000 individuals, for this book.

Flegel, in the introductory material, says he first became interested in his family’s history as a child. He was curious about origins when his German-speaking parents said they had come from Russia. Following his military service in World War II, marriage, the raising of three sons, the composition of two family genealogies, and his success in the furniture sales business, he became interested in the broader German Russian heritage. His wife Cleora hails from Volga German stock; Arthur traces his family to Black Sea Germans.

It was the late 1950s and 1960s and the only information he could find was located in a drawer at Stanford University. Karl Stumpp, he learned, was still alive, and the two men became friends. They were instrumental in bringing out the basic genealogical work aficionados know as “the Stumpp book” (The Emigration from Germany to Russia in the Years 1763 to 1862) and in founding the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. Arthur and Cleora have traveled in German Russian places of origin in Germany, in the colonial areas of Russia, and in the regions of the diaspora in Russian republics. Flegel brings solid credentials to the authorship of an authoritative genealogy.

The early pages of this book contain essays that tell the general history of Bessarabia and then of the three communities of Kulm, Leipzig, and Tarutino. There are maps. Though there is overlap, he treats each of the three villages separately, touching briefly on origins, common names of families who settled in each, the religions and ministers, the building of churches, industry, schools and education, and disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and diseases, some of them epidemic.

Page 29 to the end of the book consists of an alphabetical listing of families, children, and sources in which information about them can be found. The author says that there were problems with dates. For example, both men and women, for various reasons, fudged birth dates, Separatists opposed the recording of vital statistics, and Russia used two calendars at one time or another. Flegel did his best to get it all right, but it is little wonder that errors have crept in.

This is a great source book for persons doing genealogy if their forebears came from Bessarabia. Give it to young people who may be working on essays for contests and school projects.

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