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Village Coordinators of the Month
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Village Coordinators of the Month

Every month we feature two Village Coordinators, to recognize the work they do for AHSGR and give members an opportunity to become more familiar with their Village Coordinators.

                                      July 2017

Doris Evans

Frank

Doris is co-Village Coordinator for Frank, with Maggie Hein. She got interested in family history about 20 years ago when her father sought her help in finding all his living cousins.

 

“The hunt was then on and I have been chasing ‘bones’ and documentation ever since,” she said.

 

Doris works with all sorts of materials and documentation. The list for the villages of Frank and Kolb alone includes more than 1,100 sources.

 

“Our most recent line of attack has been our ancestors in Germany, or where our ancestors started, prior to their moving to Russia.”

 

Doris enjoys sharing her research with others and them, in turn, sharing theirs with her, “ultimately leaving a path for researchers in the future.

 

“If you think that because your surname is Eckhardt, you aren't related to, say, the Heins and the other surnames that come out of Frank, you would be mistaken,” she said. “These small villages in Russia give us a glimpse of how interrelated our heritage is. The phrase ‘If you don't know where you're from, how do you know where you're going’ comes to mind.”

 

She encourages other AHSGR members to consider becoming VCs themselves.

“Embrace the job with a joy of being able to find the truth of your existence and the ease which the past 20 years have made in our communicating with our journey into the past.  By that I mean the Internet and social media. It's the biggest puzzle out there, and welcome to the search of putting a few of the pieces into place.”

 

Ray Heinle

 

Johannestal/Lauwe

Ray was born in 1945 in Sanger, Calif., a German-from-Russia community at the time. They also spilled out into the nearby community of Fresno. He grew up hearing names such as Seibert, Scheidt, Schmidtgall, Metzger, Metzler and Schmidt and assumed there were just German names – not GRs.

“I assumed when I was younger that everyone over the age of 40 spoke German and those over 60 had to speak English with a thick German accent.  It did not seem strange to me that even the bakery shop in town sold the German-Russian Beerocks,” he recalls.

The Lutheran Church  had two services, one German and one English.  “When my family gathered -- my mom, dad, Grandpa and Grandma Heinle, Uncle Ed and Aunt Elsie -- German was frequently spoken.  My mother did not often join in those conversations. I don’t think that she understood the Swäbish dialect that was spoken there.

“Each dinner started with a prayer:  ‘Komm Herr Jesu….’ And ended with ‘besheret hast.’  The Jesu part I got, but I assumed that the last had something to do with carrots,” Ray said.

He remembers his grandfather speaking of life in Russland, which he came to realize meant Russia, but he it wasn’t until he started studying family history in the 1990s that he came to understand the GR story.

“ I was rummaging the internet and found an index to the archives of the St. Petersburg Consistory of the Lutheran Church.  These indexes were done by Dale Wahl and his team from records that had been recently released by the authorities in the remnants of the Soviet Union.  There was the birth of my grandfather and great-grandfather, in black-and-white!,” Ray recalled.

At Dale’s urging, he became a GRHS VC for the village of Johannestal near the Black Sea, soon after becoming VC for the same village with AHSGR.  Some years later, he became VC for the village of Lauwe.

For the village of Johannestal, Ray has the Stumpp book, the 1857 census, and the St. Pete records from 1833 through 1905.  He also has a large database of Johannestal residents and their descendants compiled for the Zimmerman-Roth-Heinle family reunion in 2001.  Ray also has a webpage on the GRHS server,
http://www.grhs.org/korners/heinle/johannestal.html.

“For Lauwe, I believe I have every census that either AHSGR or CVGS has published.  Recently I added the 1886 Family List, which has been very helpful.  I also have a copy of Pleve’s Kuhlberg lists and a few other publications. There is also a web page for Lauwe:  
http://www.grhs.org/korners/heinle/lauwe/lauwe.html

“There is a lot of joy in actually being able to help someone find their family ... Through my translation efforts I learned that many of the ‘kids’ that I grew up with were fellow GRs from the same villages as my grandparents and the I may have been related to some of them.”

“Being a VC is having greater exposure to all things GR.  Being a VC gets me active and helps to give me the incentive to try to keep up with new information as it becomes available.”

                                     June 2017

Nicholas and Barbara Bretz 

Rothammel/Seewald/Koehler 

When in elementary school, Nick told his teacher that he was German but his teacher informed him that he was Russian because all of his grandparents had emigrated from Russia. He was unable to communicate with his grandparents because he couldn’t speak German and they spoke little English, so he always wondered which was correct. It wasn’t until 1993, after taking an early retirement, that he was able to attend an AHSGR convention where he joined the organization and found his answer.

At a subsequent convention when the 1798 Russian census was presented, Nick volunteered to help index the files for AHSGR. He then contacted Ted Gerk who at the time was the VC for Koehler and asked him if he could also become a VC. Since Ted’s ancestors had left Koehler for Josefstal, he suggested Nick become the Koehler VC and Ted become the Josefstal VC. Ted was instrumental in securing and translating the 1834, 1850 and 1857 Koehler census which were made into booklets and sold. He later secured and translated a number of Koehler church birth records, sporadic between the years 1871-1892.

When Dr. Igor Pleve began researching Russian records and started producing surname charts, researchers began ordering the charts. They weren’t forthcoming so some researchers found that Pleve would construct a file from census records for a particular surname and a few were ordered. At that time Bernice Williams was the Rothammel VC and unable to continue so she suggested Nick & Barb take over for her and also become the Seewald VC. Researchers began to donate their census data to the “village” and made them available to others with a suggestion of a donation. Thus, the Rothammel/Seewald and Koehler informal funds were formed. Ted Gerk was able to secure the 1834 and 1857 Rothammel and Seewald census records which were translated by Brent Mai. Booklets were made and sold adding the money to the fund. There was enough money in the fund to purchase and translate Rothammel/Seewald church records including birth, marriage and death from about 1846-1913. The original Russian copies have all been donated to AHSGR so it is possible to have headquarters make a copy of a particular record. Nick and Barb are also working towards donating the translated records to AHSGR.

When Nick was President of AHSGR, he and Barb traveled to Russia to visit the Russian archives. Although they couldn’t read Russian, they did see the voluminous number of records held in the archives. After waiting six years, researchers began receiving charts from Dr. Pleve and most donated a copy to the “village”. The data from the charts along with data from the Kuhlberg List, First Settlers list, the 1798, 1834, 1850 and 1857 Russian census records and Russian church records as well as US census and church records including information shared by researchers are all contained in the data base for the villages. Copies of a list made in 1916 of men not showing up for the various Russian drafts have also been secured and translated. Some contain an entire household, or just the family that left, or only the individual. If one is lucky, they should be able to help you take their lines back to the original settler in Russia in about 1767. If a researcher purchases a copy of any census booklet, Nick and Barb will also send them an ahnentafel chart containing their ancestors for which they have a record.

While Barb’s heritage is not German/Russia, her father’s Kettenring/Catron line came from the Pfalz area as did Nick’s Bretz line. The interaction with other VC has been helpful because there is was so much intermarriage between villages. They have learned much about the G/R heritage and find it rewarding to help researchers with their family history. It’s like a big puzzle waiting to be solved!

 

Mabel Kiessling

Polish Volhynia

Mabel Kiessling has been Village Coordinator for Polish Volhynia since October 2008 and became the Village Coordinator for Volhynia when Coordinator Leona Janke passed away in 2015.  She said, “I have always been interested in family history and began recording family stories when I was a teenager.  But I never knew much about my paternal grandmother.

 

  At a local seminar she learned about the Germans from Russia and discovered her grandmother belonged to this group of people.  When Leona approached her to be a Village Coordinator with her so she could concentrate on translating material, she was happy to accept.

 


“It would be one way for me to learn more about my grandmother's background,” said Mabel, who also served on the AHSGR Board of Directors and learned about the organization of the Society.

 

“When Heritage Hall was developed I gathered as much material as I could find to put into the binder that goes with the display so that other Volhynian researchers would have something to start from,” she said. The binder includes maps, list of resources at the AHSGR library, websites, indexes, published historical information, and a list of surnames and villages that other members are researching.

 

“I have a similar binder of my own and a collection of books and maps,” she said.

 

As Mabel has served at Village Coordinator, the names and locations of villages have become quite familiar to her.

 

“Over the years I have attended conventions and seminars to network with other Village Coordinators and researchers to gain knowledge and information. It is a pleasure for me to help a beginning researcher get started on their family history.  Using village name information found on original documents is a good place to begin. After that a search can be done with the surname.”

 

“In the process of my work as a Coordinator,” she said, “I have been able to encourage others to become Coordinators. “To be involved is the best way to become proficient in your own family history.”

 

 

                                      May 2017

Beth Davenport

Jost/Enders

Beth Davenport became Village Coordinator for Jost, her mother’s ancestral village, in 2005 and VC for Enders, her father’s ancestral village, several years later.

 

“Through the years, I've known only my recent family history.  I was hopeful that becoming the VC for these villages would help me fill in the gaps and tell me more about these people and where they came from,” she said.

 

Beth encouraged people researching their own families to start with what they know and expand from there, keeping an open mind. “Beginning with Jost, I've been able to extend my family roots into Kukkus, Kutter, Warenburg, Straub, Laub and Moor.  That's when Pleve books, census lists, immigration lists and maps became essential.  I've found that as I learn more, I have more questions.  It's fascinating.”

 

She encouraged people to interview family members and write down anything they recall. “Any small hint can become a gold mine many years later.  For example, when I was a child my paternal aunt mentioned a ‘cousin Charlotte.’  It was a search for Charlotte Mueller that first led me to Enders.” 

 

Being a Village Coordinator has many advantages. The connection to other VCs opens one up to a wealth of knowledge. She enjoys it when people contact her via email and Facebook to trace their families.

 

 

Having a direct connection to other coordinators is a value all its own.  The cumulative wealth of knowledge among them is beyond compare and they're always willing to share.  

 

Descendants contact her via email and Facebook to help trace families.  “I've connected to known and unknown family throughout the U.S. and Canada.  Most exciting is to hear from distant cousins in Germany and in Russia. To be able to point to a great-great grandparent on their family tree and recognize the same ancestor as your own is beyond cool,” she said.

 

Erwin Ulmer



Rohrbach, Berezan, Odessa, Kherson

Worms, Berezan, Odessa, Kherson

Waterloo, Berezan, Odessa

 

Erwin Ulmer of Lincoln has been a genealogist since 1972. He prides himself on doing it “the old-fashioned way.”

“AHSGR has a vast amount of resources,” he said. Erwin would appreciate hearing from past, present and future members by mail or phone: 1731 S. 15th, Apt. B-4, Lincoln, NE 68502-2409; 402-477-5388.

Erwin has been a village coordinator for about 25 years. He uses records from courthouses, newspapers, churches and other sources.

He got interested in being a village coordinator after doing research on his family. His four family books are: Denkendorf’s Jakob and Eva Steimer Kriechbaum, Sheiererman Clan from Sutton, George Philipp Hust-Elizabeth Woehl Kinship and Leaves of the Ulmer Tree of Sutton from Rohrbach.

Original records can be inaccurate or recorded incorrectly, so Erwin encourages researchers to be cautious.

April 2017

Arthur Flegel

 

Alexanderfeld, Eigenfeld, Friedrichsfeld, Kronental, Lillienfeld, Marienbrunn, Markosowka, Rosenfeld, all of North Caucasus/

Kulm, Leipzig and Tarutino, Akkerman, all of Bessarabia

 

Arthur Flegel is Village Coordinator for the preceding villages in Bessarabia and the North Caucasus regions. (See above)

 

In addition to serving as a Village Coordinator, Mr. Flegel is a former President of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, and is currently a Trustee of the International Foundation of the American Historical Society for Germans from Russia. He has been a member of AHSGR since 1969.

 

Arthur and his late wife, Cleora, are the namesakes of the Flegel Library at AHSGR’s headquarters in Lincoln. Art started this amazing collection while researching his roots in Bessarabia and Cleora’s on the Volga. The collection includes old and rare books, many in German and Russian, as well as his research into several regions including Bessarabia, the Black Sea, the Caucasus, and the lower Volga. He traced the migration of Mennonites and Hutterites as well. In all, Art collected a vast treasure trove of information about Germans from Russia including about 40,000 obituaries which were sent to AHSGR headquarters for scanning and recording.

 

Mr. Flegel authored a chronicle that follows more than 300 years of his family’s history.  He traced their journey from the heart of Europe to the formerly Russian region of Bessarabia, into the expanses near the Volga river, onward to the shores of the Caspian Sea in Iran, heading west to the pampas of Argentina and, finally, to the United States.

 

A certified genealogist, Mr. Flegel is the son of German Russian immigrant parents. Having been born in North Dakota in 1917, Art was later was raised in Kansas and Colorado. Now living in Menlo Park, CA. Arthur will celebrate his 100th birthday this year.  What a milestone!!

 

We would like to say a huge thank you for all your endeavors on behalf of AHSGR Mr. Flegel!  You are an amazing person!! 

 

 

Marlene Michel

Yagodnaya Polyana

 

Marlene Michel became Village Coordinator for Yagodnaya Polyana in 2012. As she’s helped others, the experience has enhanced her own genealogy research efforts.

 

She began her research in 1971. “I was always interested because my grandfather was such an interesting fellow, so I started doing his side of the family,” she said.

 

Marlene is also President of the Calgary Chapter of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. She has written four books, including two on the history of St. John Lutheran Church in Calgary that was founded by people from the Yagodnaya region.  Included in this group was her grandfather’s brother.  Another book is a collection of  photos highlighting people born in Yagodnaya.  Her final book is about Germans from Russia living in the Bridgeland/Riverside area.

 

Encouraging people just starting to research their heritage is important to Marlene.  She tells people to cast their nets far and wide. Sometimes connections between people don’t become clear until you dig deeper into the research. When interviewing relatives and others, she urges people to record the conversations. “You might not remember it all, or it might not be meaningful now,” she said.

 

Marlene recalled an interview she conducted when writing her first book; when she went back to the recording several years later, information that hadn’t registered with her earlier now was relevant.

 

Marlene enjoys being a VC.  “Being at the hub, you get so much information,” she said. And it’s rewarding in other ways too.

 

“It’s the ones you’re sitting across from and you give them information they didn’t know and their eyes bug out and they get that sparkle in their eyes and it’s worth it.”

 

 

March 2017

Steven Grau

Nieder-Monjou

Steven Grau has been the Village Coordinator for Nieder-Monjou, along with his brother, Michael, since 2002.

Grau had done some genealogical research about his ancestors from Nieder-Monjou before becoming VC. Another researcher shared a genealogy of his great-great-grandfather which had been prepared by Schulmeister Hummel in 1910 during a return visit of his great-great-grandfather to Nieder-Monjou.

“I was one of the lucky few who could trace lineage in a direct line all the way back to an original colonist of Nieder-Monjou without the aid of any other information from Russia,” Grau said.

“When I first started as Village Coordinator, I had very little information about Nieder-Monjou,” he said. Over time he has accumulated many historical books about the colonies, basically anything that mentions Nieder-Monjou. He has all available census translations for Nieder-Monjou, as well as censuses of some nearby colonies and a couple of daughter colonies. Church records, including transcriptions of church records and church anniversary booklets have been valuable tools. He has collected as many records as possible from churches in central Kansas frequented by Volga Germans and their descendants.

As a Village Coordinator, Grau decided he would actively search for immigrants from Nieder-Monjou and their descendants. He has found immigrants from Nieder-Monjou in Argentina, South Africa, and of course the United States. “But I did not initially realize the time and effort involved.”

“One of the benefits of being a Village Coordinator is that family connections that benefit one's own research can be discovered through the exchange of information with others,” Grau said.

“Though not absolutely necessary, it is helpful for a Village Coordinator to know a little German and to be able to transliterate Fraktur and the old German script for the times that you are able to get church records from the United States, Russia, or Germany,” he said. “Knowing a little Russian (which I do not) would also be a plus.”

 

Karen Sudermann Penner

Molotschna / Chortitza

 Karen Sudermann Penner has been village coordinator since the summer of 2012 for the Molotschna Colonies in the Taurida region in the Ukraine (56-60 colonies/villages) and the Chortitza Colonies in the Ekaterinoslav region of the Ukraine (20 colonies/villages). Both are Mennonite settlements.

 Karen was genealogy chair of AHSGR and sought to become more involved when the VC program became part of the committee’s agenda.

 “Also, I have volumes of information on these areas and have visited both settlements two times,” she said.

 Karen’s library includes family histories, books, maps, census lists as well as books on the general history of the areas. She also has access to two large historical libraries through we she can help people with research: the Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies (CMBS) at Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kan., and the Mennonite Library and Archives (MLA) at Bethel College in North Newton, Kan. She notes there also is a vast amount of Mennonite family histories available online.

 Karen’s husband also is 100 percent GR and she’s found that being a VC – in addition to allowing her to help others – also has helped her learn more about her own family. Several inquiries in the last year involved ties to several of her families, as well as her home church, the first Mennonite Brethren Church in North America – Ebenfeld, Hillsboro, Kan. – which all four of her great-grandparents helped found.

 She recommends others consider the VC role.

 “It is a rewarding way to make people more interested in AHSGR and to promote our wonderful organization,” she said.

 Karen can be reached at kpen@cox.net

 

February 2017

Jorge Bohn

Streckerau / Marienberg / Neu-Kolonie

I am currently Coordinator for Streckerau villages(Штреккерау), Marienberg(Мариенберг)and Neu-Kolonie (Кустарево-Краснорыновка).

Before becoming Coordinator, I studied my ancestral villages for several years: Keller, Neu Kolonie, Kohler, Vollmer, Husaren, Dehler, Streckerau and Marienberg. Thus, in the search for contacts, I opened my first page at https://web.facebook.com/groups/534696460009210/, dedicated to the village from which my direct ancestors set out for the Argentine Republic. On the same page I also published notes, comments, records, photos and others from the village Marienberg, neighbor of Streckerau, where also lived ancestors.

One of the friendships that emerged from maintaining that activity was to get in touch with, and eventually become a friend and counselor of Dodie Rotherham. She was the one suggested to me and asked if I could consider applying for coordinator of Streckerau. So I did, and it was the beginning of this adventure through the corners of our history. This happened about five years ago. Soon after, because the intimate interconnection between both villages, I applied to be coordinator of Marienberg.

And relatively recently, and at the suggestion of the same friend, I applied to be the coordinator of the village Neu-Kolonie (where my first ancestor of German origin died.

Over the years I have collected a huge amount of material (books, censuses, notes, comments, records, photos) that I regularly share on my internet sites, which are several:

Russiangermans Repository: https://web.facebook.com/groups/534696460009210/

Streckerau:  https://web.facebook.com/groups/534696460009210/

Jorge Bohn Notes: https://web.facebook.com/jorgebohnnotes/

And one very dear to my affections, dedicated to the colonies founded by Germans of Russia where I was born:

Pueblo San Jose, Buenos Aires, Argentina: https://web.facebook.com/PuebloSanJose/

Thanks to the courtesy of Ted Gerk, I am co-manager of the Volga Germans Research Community page: https://web.facebook.com/VolgaGermanResearchCommunity/

And I co-administered, at the  invitation of its founder, the Facebook site dedicated to Neu-Kolonie: https://web.facebook.com/groups/394468140720052/  and Russian Germans International group: https://web.facebook.com / Groups / russiangermansinternational/

All this activity has been beneficial, not only for allowing me to be in contact with people from different countries (Argentina, United States, Canada, Germany and Russia), but also to receive from each and every one of them, as well as from other coordinators, valuable information not only useful for my research, but to help many people who communicate from almost all those countries in search of information about their ancestors.

In 2016 I was fortunate to be able to attend the Annual Convention of the AHSGR, where I presented a work, an experience that has not only nurtured and strengthened my work, but also allowed me to share beautiful moments with people I only knew by correspondence or being contacts in the different social networks and lists of communication.

All this leads me to advise anyone who has a sincere love and desire to know more about his ancestral village, as well as acquire the knowledge that allows all of us to cooperate with so many descendants that live throughout our world. And you will have the benefit of having all the help you will receive from the AHSGR staff in your task.

 

Sylvia M. Hertel

Bergdorf / Marienberg / Teplitz (Black Sea)

Sylvia Hertel has been a village coordinator for about a year. Her reasons for volunteering were her love for doing family history, her desire to contribute to the preservation of our culture, to help others find their family history and to find some of her own in the process.

She depends heavily on the GCRA publications: Glueckstal Colonies, Births and Marriages: 1833-1900 and Deaths: 1833-1900 (two books); The Emigration from Germany to Russia in the Years 1763 to 1862, by Karl Stumpp; The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America: A Bicentennial Collection of History, Genealogy and Folklore, also published by the GCRA; Marienberg: Fate of A Village, by Johann Bollinger and Janice Huber Stangl, pub. in 2000 by the GRHC in Fargo, North Dakota, Colony Teplitz, by Herbert Weiss, pub. 1978?, by the GRHS, this book is not copyrighted and is a translation of the German version History of the Colony Teplitz, by T.J. Schmierer; Teplitz, Bessarabia: 1835 and 1850 Censuses (two books), compiled jointly by the GRHS and Heimatmuseum der Deutschen Aus Bessarabia. Along with these, she has the 2015 GCRA data stick, which contains images of the civil records for the four mother colonies in the Glückstal District, which includes Bergdorf, and many records on DVDs for the Bessarabia District. On occasion, she also has consulted town jubilee books from North and South Dakota. 

For the purpose of sorting out surnames and their various spellings, and translation of documents and records in German, she uses the Deutsches Namenlexikon, by Hans Bahlow (1967), by Keysersche Verlagsbuchhandlung GmbH, München, Deutschland, pub. 1972 in Frankfurt a/M, Deutschland; Langenscheidt's Standard Dictionary, of the English and German Languages, by Professor Edmund Klatt, 6th Edition by Dr. Dietrich Roy, (1970), by Langenscheidt KB, Berlin and Munich, printed in Great Britain, second printing in 1974. These books were handed down to her, but she later discovered that they are highly recommended by professional genealogists. Another aid for translation purposes is  http://omniglot.com/. It is a site for languages all over the world that includes examples of both printed and handwritten alphabets.    

The benefits stem from the fact that Sylvia's own family lines come from these villages. Benefits include meeting "new" cousins, adding family to and finding errors in her own lines, but also just enjoying the research aspect of doing genealogy (puzzle solving/detective work). She describes herself as "an incorrigible history addict," so she enjoys learning more about the history of her Black Sea villages and her family who lived there.

To prospective VCs, she says, "If you have the desire, go for it."

Contact Sylvia at sdak.goth1@gmail.com.

 

January 2017

 

Judy Remmick-Hubert

Borodino / Bess

Judy has been a Village Coordinator with AHSGR since the 1980s. She became interested in being a VC because her maternal grandparents were born in Borodino in 1885.

She says the following of her collection that she uses to help others with their research: "I have just completed 38 booklets that deal with the genealogy of the first colonists of Borodino, and have used all kinds of material including letters from descendants of others who are linked to Borodino."

On the benefits of being a Village Coordinator with AHSGR: "I have gained many friends, and have a better look at history of not just family members but also of Russia."

To someone considering becoming a Village Coordinator: "It takes a lot of time if a person wants to collect all the material of their village. The cost can be as little or as as much a person can afford. There are many of us who can help them get started. Just the gaining of new friendships is worth all your efforts. And the wealth of learning about the general history of German-Russians will open up a person's eyes about ourselves, This includes such things as "Why do we celebrate Christmas with the traditions we do? And why do families have different traditions than they do? Has their family ever hidden a pickle in their Christmas tree or baked gingerbread men because that's what they did when they were kids?"

 

Gary Martens

Dobrinka, Galka, Holstein, Mueller, Neu-Weimar, Wiesenmueller,

Alt-Schilling, Schilling, Neu-Schilling I and Neu-Schilling II

I became as VC for Alt-Schilling in late 1997. I wanted to find out more about the village where my great-grandfather was born. After several years of research, I was able to help others with ancestors from Schilling enabling them find out more about their ancestors. I took over as VC of Schilling when the first VC, Samuel Sinner needed time to do research for his Master’s and Ph.D degrees at the University of Nebraska. Samuel's research led to the publication of the landmark book detailing the genocide of German-Russians in Russia between 1915 and 1949, “Open Wound: The Genocide of German Ethnic Minorities in Russia and the Soviet Union: 1915-1949 and Beyond”.

I became a VC for Dobrinka and Galka about 15 years ago. In 2008 I acquired all available church records for those two villages, and spent several thousand hours translating the records. The acquisition of those records from the Russian Archives was made possible by contributions from over 50 people.

I maintain websites for Schilling: http://www.schillinggr.org/, Dobrinka: http://www.dobrinka.org/, and Galka:  http://www.galkagr.org/.

In 2016 I became the VC for Holstein and Mueller. These villages are part of the Lower Volga Village Project:  http://www.lowervolga.org/. I am the webmaster for that website, and am in the process of building a database for the 10 villages in that project.

I became the VC for Neu-Weimar several years ago. Neu-Weimar was the home of some of my grandmother’s relatives and family from Dobrinka.

I became the VC for Wiesenmueller several years ago, and the interest in that village was the connections to many people in the Lower Volga Village Project. Church records for Wiesenmueller are very limited.

Most people, when they start researching their German-Russian ancestors, don’t know which village they lived in before immigrating. How easily a person can connect to families in Russia first depends on the village, and further research will depend on whether the village was an original village or a daughter colony (village). There are church records for many of the original villages, from 1857 to the 1890’s. For most daughter colonies, the only records are the first settler list when the daughter colony was created, but church records usually are limited to several years after 1900. The most important thing people need to realize is that purchasing records from the Russian Archives is extremely expensive, nothing like researching people living in the US.

If people are interested in learning more about how people lived in Russia, they need to become members of AHSGR, and start acquiring information on the history of the German-Russians. There are many excellent articles in the AHSGR Journal that have been published since the founding of AHSGR in 1968. Copies of the Journals are available from the AHSGR online store. A history of the German-Russians can found in “From Catherine to Khrushchev: The Story of Russia’s Germans” by Adam Giesinger, and several other books. An excellent website about Volga Germans is The Center for Volga German Studies: http://cvgs.cu-portland.edu/index.cfm. There are Facebook pages for some villages, and the content depends on the village.

My biggest benefit in being a VC is being able to help people from the US, Canada, Germany, Russia, Argentina and other countries in researching their German-Russian ancestors. Researching German-Russians can be a monumental and costly undertaking for individuals.

If a person is considering becoming a VC, acquire all the information you can about the village of interest, and genealogy information about people who settled in the village and lived there, and be willing to help people in a timely manner.

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