In Touch with Prairie Living
By Michael M. Miller
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo
I write this June column from Stuttgart, Germany while traveling with the 18th Journey to the Homeland Tour group. We had a wonderful experience in Odessa, Ukraine, visiting the former Bessarabian and Black Sea German villages, Stuttgart, Germany and Alsace, France.
I look forward to attending the 125th Quasquicentennial at Eureka, S.D. The GRHC will have displays at the Krein Agency Building on Thursday, July 5 from 3-7 p.m.; Friday, July 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, July 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Assisting me will be Ron Scherbeinski, St. Louis Park, Minn., Eureka native and 2003 Journey to the Homeland tour member; Harold Ehrman, Pacific Palisades, Calif., Eureka native and 1996 tour member; and Thomas & Janice (Huber) Stangl, Ashburn, Va., natives of Bowdle, S.D. and tour members of 1998 and 2002. Janice (Huber) Stangl is compiler of the new hardcover book, “Collectivization in the Soviet Union: German Letters to America, 1927-1932.” published by the Glueckstal Colonies Research Association (www.glueckstal.net). The book is available from the GRHC.
Beginning in 1888, the tide of immigration coming to Dakota Territory especially by train to Eureka was amazing. In the book, “Eureka: 1887-1937,” appears: “Special trains from twenty to thirty cars of immigrants movables were a common occurrence. Many extra passenger coaches were needed to transport the immigration coming direct from Russia and Germany. The effect of their immigration was more pronounced, when, in later years, they proved themselves so instrumental in gaining for Eureka the reputation of being the greatest inland wheat market in the world.”
“The statistics for the year 1892 show the following remarkable receipts and shipments of grain: Number of cars of grain shipped from Eureka in 1892 was 3,300 cars 30 miles in length, or 165 trains of 20 cars each. Thirty-five warehouses and elevators were in active operation. Total receipts of grain for year ending December 31, 1892, was 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 bushels. Many ox teams were pressed into service, some coming a distance of from 60 to 70 miles from as far west as the river and as far north as Linton, Kulm, Streeter and Lehr, in what is now North Dakota.”
My Miller (Müller) grandparents immigrated from Krasna, Bessarabia, in 1893. My Baumgartner grandparents immigrated from Strassburg, Kutschurgan District, South Russia, in 1889, traveling from New York City to Eureka by train, then north to new settlements at Krasna and Strasburg, in south central North Dakota, located about 50 miles from Eureka.
At the GRHS Convention, July 18-22 at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck, premieres the seventh documentary in the award-winning Germans from Russia Series – “At Home in Russia, at Home on the Prairie.” The researchers and scriptwriters are Lewis and Dona Reeves-Marquardt of Austin, Texas, longtime colleagues. They also completed the script for the 2010 documentary, “It’s All Earth and Sky.”
This new documentary tells the story of the Kutschurganers. The life they led in South Russia and their life after journeying to the prairies of North America. The stories are told by the descendants of these pioneers: Msgr. Joseph Senger, Christina Gross Jundt, Helen Feist Krumm, Adam Giesinger, Fr. Thomas Welk, Theresa Kuntz Bachmeier, Barbara Schneider Risling, Ron Volk, Colleen Zeiler, Debra Marquart, Mary Ebach and Clara Ebach. The new DVD is available from the GRHC.
The featured speaker at the Germans from Russia Heritage Society International Convention (July 18-22, Ramkota Hotel, Bismarck) will be Dr. Ute Schmidt of Berlin, Germany, author of the book, “Bessarabia: German Colonists on the Black Sea,” translated from German to English by James T. Gessele. At the convention, Schmidt will autograph the hardcover book published by the GRHC in 2011. For further information, visit www.grhs.org.
While in North Dakota, I will travel with Ute Schmidt to south central North Dakota to visit German-Russian communities. We will also visit at my hometown of Strasburg, N.D., the Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church, the Little German House and the Ludwig & Christina (Schwahn) Welk Homestead.
For further information about the Friends of the GRHC, the 19th Journey to the Homeland Tour to Odessa, Ukraine and Stuttgart, Germany (May 16-26, 2013), and donations to the GRHC (such as family histories), contact Michael M. Miller, The Libraries, NDSU Dept. #2080, PO Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050 (Telephone: 701-231-8416; Email: Michael.Miller@ndsu.edu; the GRHC website: www.ndsu.edu/grhc).
June 2012 column for North Dakota and South Dakota newspapers.