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The German Russians: Those Who Came to Sutton

By James R. Griess

Service Press, Henderson, Nebraska, 2008, 335 pages, softcover.


The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection is pleased to Provide this important work, The German Russians: Those Who Came to Sutton.

On the back of the cover of the book, this text appears: "The German Russians: Those Who Came to Sutton is the story of a group of German peasant farmers who migrated to Russia in the late 18th and early 19th century. Failing to find there the enduring political and religious freedom which they sought, many subsequently migrated to the United States, Canada and Latin America. Pioneers on two continents, they represent an interesting example of the strength, courage, and determination of the people who built America. While later chapters concentrate on the settlement of German Russians in Sutton, Nebraska, the early part of the book deals with the entire scope of German Russian history. The book describes the motives behind the migration to Russia in the early 19th Century and the economic, political, social and religious institutions which they developed in Russia."

"The book is also the story of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad and its colonizing activities in Nebraska in the years following the Civil War and of the frontier settlement in Sutton, Clay County, Nebraska. Its 300 plus pages are richly illustrated with photographs, charts, and maps, many in color. It serves as a ready reference for those interested inparticular phases of German Russian history. The book should prove interesting reading for anyone interested in the history of the ethnic groups that settled on the Nebraska prairie and the hardships which made such settlement a triumph over nature. The final chapters address the fate of those who remained in Russia after 1872, when the migration to the United States began."

In the Preface, the author writes: "It has been 39 years since I first put pen to paper and wrote the first edition of The German Russians: Those Who Came to Sutton. Much has transpired in the meantime. Trained as a history and biology teacher, I ended my teaching career in 1972 and moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where I have been employed by the Nebraska State Education Association. In 1976, my family moved to Malcolm, Nebraska, where we live on an acreage. On December 31, 2006, I retired. I hope to utilize my retirement pursuing my avocation. American history, and sharing the story of The German Russians: Those Who Came to Sutton, with future generations. If you are one of the individuals who read this book, I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed collecting to make this book a possibility."

The Table of Contents includes: Chapter 1: Christianity Comes to Western Europe; Chapter 2: The Germanies: 1500 AD to 1815 AD; Chapter 3: Russia the Promised Land; Chapter 4: Unsere Leute: Our People; Chapter 5: Life in the German Russian Colonies; Chapter 6: Religious and Political Life in Russia; Chapter 7: A Railroad and a Town; Chapter 8: The Nebraska Prairies; Chapter 9: Life in Sutton; Chapter 10: Sutton's Educational and Religious Life; Chapter 11: Autocracy, World War I, Revolution and the Soviet Union; Chapter 12: World War II and Its Aftermath.

The book includes: List of Illustrations, Maps and Charts; Bibliography of Primary Sources and Secondary Sources; Appendix A: Alphabetical List of German Colonies on the Volga Founded in the Years 1764-1767; Appendix B: List of Mother Colonies in the Odessa District; Appendix C: Johann Heinrich Griess Family. There many photographs and maps throughout this well written book.

About the Author:

James R. Griess (Jim) was born on April 12, 1941 on a farm in southwest York County, Nebraska. He is the oldest son of Ruben A. Griess and Erna M. Griess (Ehly). He has two brothers, Theodore J. and Ruben A. Jr. His sister Joanne is married to Loren Hock. All four sets of his of great grandparents were German Russians who settled in the area of Sutton, Nebraska, in the last quarter of the 19th century, coming from both the Volga and Black Sea regions of Russia.

Jim was baptized and confirmed at Hope Reformed Church, Sutton, and is currently a member of Holy Savior Lutheran Church LCMS, Lincoln, Nebraska. He attended public school in Sutton, Nebraska, and graduated in 1959. He has attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Wyoming, and the University of Nebraska-Kearney where he earned both his BA and MA in Education.

In 1963, he begun his teaching career in Overton, Nebraska. There he taught science and history. In 1966, he joined the staff of Hastings Senior High, Hastings, Nebraska, and taught American History. Then in 1973, he joined the staff of the Nebraska State Education Association. He held a variety of positions. From 1991 to the end of 2006, Jim served as Executive Director of the Association. He retired in 2007 and lives in rural Lancaster County (Malcolm) with his wife Polly (Newman). Jim and Polly have two children Rosalyn LeAnn Beckman (husband John) and Maj. Gabriel James Griess, who is a career officer in the United States Air Force. Jim and Polly have one grandchild, Lucas John Beckman.

Jim has contributed articles to numerous publications. He is a member of the Nebraska State Historical Society, the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Lincoln, the Germans from Russia Heritage Society of North Dakota and the Nebraska State Education Association-Retired.

What Others are saying about the book by James R. Griess:

"Your book just arrived and I am thrilled with it. I only wish I could take a few days off of work and sit and read it from cover to cover. I am just so impressed with it-the covers, the photos, and the content. Thank you for the time and effort that went into this wonderful book." -- Luella Hodson, Osmond, Nebraska.

"The book looks absolutely great, the photos are crisp and nice, the information presented so cleanly. You just did a wonderful job on it." Linda Hein, Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln.

"Congratulations! I just finished reading your book and found it most informative and interesting. I came away with increased knowledge of European & German history in the 18th & 19th century and greater appreciation for difficult life for our ancestors in Russia and those who settled in Nebraska and the Dakotas." Tom Youngworth, Overland, Kansas.

Single beam German Russian well. Courtesy of AHSGR.
Evangleical Lutheran Church in Worms.
The north end of main street, Sutton, Nebraska, circa 1910.
The south end of main street, Sutton, Nebraska, circa 1910.

The German Russians: Those Who Came to Sutton

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Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
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