HENRY DIEL'S REPORT
When Luther started the Reformation in the 1500's he set off a powder keg. All of Europe was under the dominance of the pope of Rome or the Pope of Greece. This was the start of a mass immigration for religious freedom. This Reformation spread all over Europe. It came to the point in 1618 to trigger off a religious war in Germany that lasted 30 years.
Germany was loosely knit, each province had its own princes that ruled. Not until about 1870 was Germany unified into one Germany. Before they were Prussians, Hessians, Saxons and Swabians (to name a few). They spoke different dialects. Swabia was in the southern part, they spoke Swabish. Around Berlin they spoke what is known as "High German".
Allover Europe was unrest as the princes or nobles controlled the land and exploited the peasants. They also forced military service, so started mass immigrating to America and other lands.
In the 1700's Katherine, a German princess, was betrothed to a prince from the House of Romanov in Russia. She was a Lutheran. Russia was under the dominance of the Greek Orthodox Catholic Church. So she had to renounce her Lutheran faith and embrace the Catholic faith. She soon seized power and put her husband under house arrest where he shortly thereafter died.
There were vast areas not inhabited. So Katherine made an agreement with the princes of Germany to allow Germans to emigrate to settle on these. She also got Polish, Norwegians, and others, but she preferred Germans as they were more industrious. So from 1760 to 1770 there was a large migration.
She promised the people free land, money for their trip, to build houses, help them get started, thirty years to repay the money loaned, thirty years of no taxes, their own self-government in village affairs, their own schools, no military service, no need to house soldiers. The Russians had to do the last two.
At this time England was trying to get people to settle in America. Austria, Norway, and other countries were trying to replace their people who had emigrated. So finally Germany closed its borders.
The area Katherine the Great set up was in the Province of Saratov on the Volga River. They settled 133 miles on each side of the river. She planned each village so it was not more than 35 miles in circumferance and to house about 1,000 families. They were to be located so there would be no wasteland between. Later she opened the Province of Samara.
Now when the first immigrants came, they had been promised there would be houses waiting for them. It was winter. The Russians didn't start building till the next spring. The Germans had to sleep in their wagons, in caves, or make dugouts to live in. The Tartars resented the invasion of their grazing lands, so they raided the villages and destroyed some of them. The immigrants saw a vast wilderness with very little timber.
Katherine planned to settle people of like religion in village. Catholics had their own villages, also Lutheran Reformed. The Lutherans and Reformed began to merge. Each village was laid out with enough land for 1,000 families. Each had a "Vorsteher" (leader), secretary
to keep track of records and taxes, a "Schulmeister" to instruct the children in reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion. He also had a book of sermons which he read in church services when the pastor was not there. The pastor had a number of villages in his parish, so would only be in a given church every month or two.
Every house had a complete wall around the place which included the dwelling, a summer kitchen, a dug cellar, a barn that housed horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and a granary. The wall of one house joined the neighbor wall. So it was a continuous wall down the street. These walls of the houses were made of adobe brick which was white-washed every year. Everybody had a willow broom with which they swept their yards, also the street in front.
Now here was the setup. Each family was promised 30 dessiatine of land (about 160-180 acres) tax free. But each colony was to form a district from 30 to 35 versts long. One sixth of the land was to be managed by the district. Also one sixth was to be set aside for the artisans of each colony (tailors, cobblers, blacksmiths, carpenters) and was to be managed by the colony. But the colonists did not follow this, crowding too close together for protection and companionship. No allowance was made for expansion, so in 1797 a revision was made giving each family 20 dessiatine (rather than 30).
By 1801-03 all the land of every individual became the property of the colony so there could be no more expansion. The people applied to the government for more land. A tract was set aside in the Samaran province of 250,000 dessiatine.
Up to 1866 sixty-seven colonies were founded. This old area is where Grandfather settled. He was born in Schwab along the Volga River in the Saratov province on the Bergseite. The land in the Saratov area is hilly. On the Wiesenseite it is plains. The soil on the Bergseite is better than on the Wiesenseite. The Samaran area is steppe (plains) with no trees except along streams. Seelman was the closest big city. It was a sawmill town on the Volga River south of Saratov.
Weisenmuller and Friedenberg were on the Jeruslan River which joined with the Torgun River, then emptied into the Volga at Dobrinka. This was a rich area with many streams and springs.
But this new area was the haven of escaped prisoners, bands of robbers, also the "Zigeuner" which were nomads living in tents or dugouts. They had herds of camels, horses, cattle and sheep. They preferred horse meat and milk to eat. They preyed on the colonists. Also in this area were wild beasts; bears, lynx, wolves.
Each family had its own tract of land and more could be leased. The rest was divided into grazing land, land set aside for cutting hay. This land was owned jointly by the colony and divided by lot for cutting grass for the winter feed. They also had a small tract set aside for gardens close to the river so people could carry water for their gardens. This was also divided by lot. The colony hired herders to gather all the cattle and sheep every morning to take them out to graze and to bring them back every night. It was the responsibility of the boys to herd the horses. As many horses were used in the day farming, the boys had to night herd them at times.
The doctor was paid by the state and made circuit runs. So often there was no doctor handy. Each colony had one or more midwife to take care of child births. Some men acquired the art of bone setting. They called themselves "Knochenartz" (bone doctor). Each colony had its own town council which decided all disputes. They had a town crier who went through the streets crying the news. When they wanted a town meeting, he cried out the news. Only men went to the meeting. If you didn't show up without a good excuse, you were fined ten kopec (5 cents).
Each village had a "Lafka" (trading post) and a church in which school was held. There was a community granary into which it was required to pour one tenth of each family's grain crops.
This was later doled out to families in need and for seed the next spring. This had to be repaid the following crop year plus the one tenth required. Because only German was spoken by most of the colonists, communications with the crown were poor.
When the Samaran area was opened up the people were promised first 16 dessiatine per family, then 8, then only 3. This 3 was for each male child born. In 1900 no more free land. Many of the holdings of families were so far from the village that the farmer camped on his place during planting and harvesting. Some built small shelters, others used tents, some just slept under their wagons. The division between plots of ground was just a plow furrow. They didn't irrigate, so there were several months between sowing and reaping which was devoted to cutting feed.
It was the obligation of women and children to provide fuel for winter. There was very little wood. The main fuel was cow chips and manure cut into blocks and dried. They followed the herd every day to pick up chips and bring them home. They also used some tightly twisted straw, also Russian thistle.
Each house had a big adobe oven with a brick floor on which was done the baking. For heat there were two big iron kettles built in. There was a flue to carry off the smoke. You could cook on top too, but most was done on the coals inside the oven.
The winters were severe. So that people wouldn't lose their way over the plains, the roads were marked with willows. Also each village had bells which were rung when the storms were bad if travelers were out on the road. Due to robbers or packs of wolves people traveled in groups. The bells were rung for different purposes. One was rung morning, noon, and night. A bell was rung for fire or when people were to gather. Most villages had three bells which were rung at times.
In preparing for winter the women went out and gathered wild berries and canned them or made jellies, especially wonderberries which didn't need any sugar. They made gallons of watermelon syrup which also didn't need sugar. They canned or dried pears, peaches, plums, apricots, cherries and apples. They dried fish which were plentiful in the rivers. They also smoked or put them in brine. They made a lot of sauerkraut, dill pickles, sour watermelons and apples. Also every house had crockpots in which the milk was poured. They skimmed off the cream for butter or just to mix with watermelon syrup to dunk bread in or to pour over foods. They killed beef, hogs, sheep, and hung the meat on rafters when it was cold. They smoked some of it.
In warm weather they fried the meat and sausage and put it into crockpots and poured lard over it till it was covered. It seems the lard kept it from spoiling no matter how hot it got. From the clabbered milk they make all kinds of cheese. The urn was always brewing. The women went out and dug "Suesholz" roots and dried them for tea. They used real tea also. The coffee was roasted grain and chicory.
Each village had a grist mill, either wind or water power. Later some had steam. You could get grain ground for a portion of the grain. Most families only had white bread on Sundays. The rest was rye, barley or millet. In wintertime you had to keep livestock in the barn. The feed was straw, chaff mixed with bran, and whatever grass you had on hand.
In 1874 Alexander II passed a universal military draft law. This was a lottery. Before this nobles could buy exemptions or substitute some of their serfs. Each male had to appear and draw a number. If he was chosen he had to serve seven years in the army on active duty, then eight years in the reserves. Many Germans felt they had been betrayed. They saw the difference between the commissioned officers and the enlisted men. They were often flogged for the slightest provocation. This was worse than slavery. Under the new manifesto they lost self government, Russian schools were mandatory. The Russians tried to stop the emigration, but Bismarck of Germany said that in the original agreement the colonists should have ten years freedom to leave or to stay.
About this time the sugar beet industry was perfected in Germany. They saw the areas in America - Nebraska, Dakotas, Wyoming, Colorado, California - were ideal, so they formed companies, bought land, built refineries, and tried to induce the Volga Germans to do the back-breaking work of thinning, hoeing, and topping of the beets. Many left for America with visions of prosperity. They could work the whole family in this enterprise, and later become owners of their own farms. Some prospered, while some were disillusioned and even went back to Russia. Some of the prosperous ones went back to build wooden houses.
In Europe the family unit stayed together as long as possible for economic reasons. Each had a high bed with a curtain around it. It was high enough to push a cradle under it, or they had a cradle suspended over the bed so the mother could reach up and rock the cradle without getting up. The older children all slept together. They had tick mattresses filled with straw. They used feather beds and quilts to cover up. The father retired at age 55 if he had a son or son-in-law to take over. They had benches along the street where the older men gathered to whittle and swap yarns. He also was the baby-sitter for his grandchildren, while the women went about their work.
There was great respect for the older people. The younger ones tipped their caps when they met them. The father turned the rulership over to his oldest son. The younger people took care of their parents in old age. The mother was the ruler in the house as long as she lived. Then the rulership went to her oldest daughter-in-law, unless one of her daughters stayed single. If the family got too big, or couldn't get along, the farmland was divided, also the equipment. The older son got a bigger share then the rest of the sons.
When my nephew was in the army, he was stationed in Germany. He did a little research into the Diel name. He found they came from Mannheim in the province of Swabia, not far from Wittenberg where Luther was born. He found there were doctors, tailors, lawyers, merchants, cobblers, farmers, and even pirates. I assume that great, great, great grandfather was in the first migration. In my research I find most Diels came from Straub on the Bergseite of the Volga in the province of Saratov. Possibly great grandfather was born there. He then migrated south to Schwab on the Bergseite where grandfather was born. Great grandfather married a Creb. Grandfather and one of his brothers migrated to Friedenberg on the Jeruslan River in Samara.
My grandfather's name was Johan Johan Diel. He was born 1830 and died in 1910. He married Susanna Freidenberger, also born in Schwab. She died about 1900. His children were Susanna, Heinrich, Georg (Dad), Jacob, and Jergenrich. Susanna got married and was building on a new home one Sunday when a wall collasped and killed her. People said she shouldn't have been working on Sunday.
Grandpa settled settled along the banks of the Jeruslan River. One year the river came up and flooded the village so they moved it to a new location. Father was the first child born into the new village. It was customary to prefix the sons' names with the fatherís name. So father was named Johan Georg. Johan prefixed his brothersí names, too. Father was born June 8, 1868. He died Nov 3, 1922.
Mother was born Nov. 11, 1872 in Wiesenmuller 8 versts up the river from Friedenberg. She was a Pinnecker. Her father's name was Conrad and her mother was Katarina, born Yekel. Mother died Feb. 23, 1942. Mother's folks were more prosperous than Dad's. They had a Lafka in their house and also an orchard. It was Mother's job to water the fruit trees. She had a yoke over her shoulders with two buckets in which she carried water to the trees. Another sign of prosperity was to own camels. The Pinneckers had camels as well as all other types of farm animals. Her brother Conrad once pushed her off the steps and injured her shoulder. She never could touch her left shoulder with her left hand after that.
When Dad went to draw his lottery ticket for induction into the army, it was held in Wiesenmuller in Mother's dad's store. Dad saw her then. Six years later he proposed marriage. Dad drew a lucky number which exempted him from service. Of Dad's brothers only Jacob had to go. He was a musician so he was in the army band. He also learned the trade of making boots and saddles. After he got out he made all our boots and shoes. Dad would repair them. In the winter everybody wore woolen socks and heavy felt boots. Dad also wove baskets out of willows. Mother knit all our socks, mittens and caps. She had a spinning wheel and a carding machine. She had to sew by hand. She never had a sewing machine till we came to America.
In 1874 Alexander II freed twenty-five million serfs. These along with other nationalities settled in the Samara province along every stream and spring. So along the Jeruslan River where we lived the German villages were on one side and the Russian on the other side. The river flowed deeper on the Russian side. They built an earthen dam and put in water wheels to irrigate tracts of garden. Mother after she was married helped to dig ditches for them for twenty-five kopec a day.
Dad and Mother got married in the winter of 1894. In Russia they hooked three horses abreast to a carriage or sleigh for show. When Dad went to get his bride to bring her to church to get married, he had a man to drive the sleigh. When they marched up the aisle, people said what rosy checks Dad's bride had. What they didn't know was the driver was half drunk. On the way from Wiesenmuller to Friedenberg the bridesmaids were in another sleigh. They decided to race. You couldn't allow the bridesmaids to get to church ahead of the bride. In the ensuing race he dumped Dad and Morn into a snow bank.
Dad and Morn stayed in the Diel family horne six years. Then they decided to split up. In 1900 Dad and Morn built a house at the end of the street. We had a dug well with our neighbor named Maier. The water was hard. Each house had rain barrels to catch rain water. The women preferred river water. When the weather was warm they went to the river to wash. Morn even brought some horne to use. In the summer they bathed in the river, women and children in one place, men and big boys in another place. They were all naked. After Morn was married she lost four children in succession - three boys and one girl. The first boy was the only one of us to get a free grant of 3 dessiatine of land. After that they abolished the practice of land grants to male children.
In the early 1900's Fred Dahmer, who had married Morn's first cousin, immigrated to Agress, Michigan. He was a blacksmith and farmer. He started to farm there. They wrote what wonderful opportunities were in America. Mother's sister, Mary, married her first cousin, Henry Pinnecker. He was brother to Dahmer's wife. He served in the army during the Russian-Japanese War in 1905-06. After the war they settled in Elainendorf along the Armenian border. He got into some kind of trouble where they were seeking to kill him, so he emigrated to America in 1910. He settled in Agress and worked in the beet fields and as a farm hand. They too wrote how you could prosper working in the beet fields and factories. They were paying over a dollar a day where in Russia it was twenty-five kopec.
Father was good in figures. So he was on the board that divided the grasslands and garden plots. After separating from the family, Dad and Jergenrich farmed together their acreage, borrowing some of Uncle
Henry's implements. To start with they mowed grass and grain with a scythe with a cradle. On grain the women and big children followed and tied this into bundles using long straw. This was stacked up to dry. After grain was dry it was spread on a threshing flour and a big roller was run over the grain. This roller was pulled round and round by a horse or an ox. The straw was raked off and piled up. The chaff and grain were separated by pitching it up and letting the wind blow away the chaff. The grain was then sacked up. Later Uncle Henry bought a swather, but the women still had to follow and tie it up. After we left he bought a self-binder. He also bought a gleaning machine to separate the chaff and grain. This also was powered by a horse. They raised enough potatoes and pumpkins for family use.
With Dahmer and Pinnecker writing and urging Dad to emigrate, he decided to try it. There was rumblings of war, so Dad said why should my sons have to fight when they have taken away all the privileges they had promised? Uncle Henry wanted to buy our place, but one of Dad's cousins offered him more money,
so Dad sold to him. Uncle Henry was sore and wouldn't even come to say goodbye. Uncle Jergenrich took us by wagon to Seelman about 35 miles. We left Oct. 22 to go to Seelman. Oct. 23 we took a riverboat to Saratov. Oct. 24 we took a train for Liebau on the Baltic Sea. From there we took a ship for Liverpool, England. We arrived there Oct. 28, went through health check, had trouble passing (they suspected glacoma in Dad's eyes). This was a strict check. America didn't want any to enter who were sick. Many were turned back. They finally passed him, but we missed the German ship we were to sail on to Philadelphia, so we had to wait for another ship. The shipping company fed us but we had to sleep on the floor. They had a chimp picking up empty dishes, it scared us kids nearly to death.
On Nov. 4 we entered an English ship, S.S.ARABIC, bound for Boston. Nov. 5 George was born on board shi~. They wanted Dad to name him after the ship, but he didn't. (In 1918 this ship was torpedoed by the Germans and sunk.) We arrived in Boston Nov. 16, went through customs and took a train for Agress, Mich. and arrived there Nov. 17.
Here are some highlights. Grandma died before Grandpa, so he went to Warenburg and brought home a widow he knew to look over the place. Aunt Susanna heard her telling some changes she was going to make. Susanna told the boys. They told their dad you take this woman back where you got her. He did. He became the baby-sitter for some of his grandchildren till he died in 1910. He lacked one month being 80.
The Ziguener (gypsies) often swarmed into a village to pedal their wares, women to tell fortunes. They were very thievish. The women wore many petticoats in which they hid things they stole. They also just begged. They loved children and sometimes enticed them to leave with them. They did not do this for ransom, but just to keep them.
One year there was a severe drought. The wild animals suffered too. It was so bad that wolves at times came right into a village. One winter night Mother's brother was walking to the house when a hungry wolf sprang up and tried to get him by the throat. He was wearing a heavy fur coat. He finally managed to push the wolf off. He went to the house and told about it. They went out and hooked a horse to a sled on which they had put a little hay at the back. They tied a little pig there and drove through the streets. The pig squealed, the wolf heard it and tried to get at it, they shot him.
Some of the people that traveled with us were John Battus and family. He didn't have enough money to pay for his passage. So Dad loaned him some. He was later rejected on health check and had to return, but he sent his family on. They settled in Rifle, Colo. In 1914 he managed to pass health check and joined his family. Also a Roerig family who also went to Rifle. With us also was Fred Schafer who went to Rocky Ford, Colo. Henry Will went to Rocky Ford, then to La Junta, Colo.
When we left Mother's folks gave her some going-away money. For some reason Father didn't have me on the passenger list, and no ticket. I was just five years old and he may have thought I could go free. He had loaned his extra money to John Battus. So Mother had to use her money to pay for my passage. I don't think anyone of us knew about it. One day when I was in my 20's Mother got peeved at me and told me about it. She said I should have left you in Russia.
On board ship we rode second class. First class was mostly Jews. Jacob looked so much like a Jew that he ran around the upper deck with the Jew children and ate with them. He got better food than we did. We ran into a storm ∑on sea. We were all seasick except Jacob.
Due to our delay in Liverpool nobody knew when we were coming. So when we got to Michigan there was nobody to meet us.
Dad walked down town and ran into Mr. Dahmer. He had just delivered a load of beets at the dump. He came to the depot and loaded us into his wagon and took us to Uncle Henry's place. Aunt Mary was in bed, she had had a miscarriage. They were house with a widower and his two sons. So we also Dad found some work on a farm.
Next spring Uncle Henry moved to Rocky Ford to work beets for the Sugar Co. Dad contracted to work for a German farmer named Didenbeir. He had rented a farm from the banker. It had a two story house on it which the banker used to live in before he moved to Bay City. We moved into it. His kids left a lot of toys which we enjoyed. It also had rats, and being at the edge of a forest, it had a lot of bedbugs.
We lived close to Lake Huron. One day Jacob and I went fishing. He caught a crab. We took it home, I stuck my finger into his claws, he cut my finger.
We thinned, hoed, and topped beets. Dad didn't like Michigan rain and cold. Uncle Henry kept writing how nice it was in Colo. working for the Sugar Co. Also some people Dad knew from Russia kept writing - George Schafer, George Brick, and Fritz Freidenberger who was Dad's first cousin. So Dad decided to move to Colo. We arrived in Rocky Ford Oct. 25, 1913 and helped complete the beet harvest of George Schafer and Fritz Freidenberger farming in Rocky Ford.
Once again we shared a four room house with Uncle Henry each using two rooms. The next spring Uncle Henry decided he would rather work for a German named Becker so he moved again. Dad contracted to work beets for the Sugar Co. That year the superintendent decided he would rather have Mexican labor for beets so we moved too and started to work for different farmers. The Co. found the Russian Germans could be used more extensively for field work besides working in beets. So we moved back to the Sugar Co. in 1917 where Dad contracted beet work till he died in 1922. In spring he started shoveling ditches as soon as the frost went out of the ground. Then thinning started May 10 and by June he worked by the hour stacking hay.
Fred and Jacob were getting old enough to start working too in the hay and grain fields. Mom and us kids did the hoeing. In Oct. the beet harvest started, then we all worked. It was backbreaking work. There were no child labor laws then, so as soon as you were old enough to learn to leave just one plant in a hill you started to crawl behind an older person who had a long handled hoe and was blocking the beets about 10 to 12 inches apart. In using the whole family this way was the only way you could prepare for winter when there was about four months with no work. Dad spent them cutting wood for fuel.
Few parents were concerned with their childrens' education. As soon as beet thinning started they kept their children out of school. The same in the fall. School started in Sept. In Oct. beet topping started. They would keep them out again saying you can make it up after starting to school again. We used to have a truant officer. He would come and say you have to send these kids to school. We would go a day or two, then stay out till he came around again.
In preparing for winter the parents bought as high as a ton of flour according to what you could afford. Also sacks of sugar which was stored in the corner of some room. They also killed beef and hogs and prepared the meat for winter.
Between 1918 and 1922 we lived close to the river where Jacob and I did a lot of fishing and trapping. In June of 1921 we were caught in that flood that drowned people from Pueblo to Lamar. A lot of livestock was lost. We saw a wave coming about 15 feet high. Jacob, Mollie and Alec ran for it. About a quarter of a mile away was a log over the canal ditch and on the other side was high ground. Fred and I hitched the horse to our wagon to take the family out. We tied the cow in back. By that time we were cut off. There was a draw we would have had to go through where the water got about 12 feet deep. Even if we could have gotten away from the house the water would have trapped us unless we would have left the horse and wagon and crossed the canal on the log. The bridge was a mile away. The neighbor family across the road was caught too. They came to our house. The water got up to 18 inches in the house. the neighbors' house pivoted on its foundation. All that kept it from floating away was the 1,000 pounds of flour in a corner that held it down. We finally got out when the water went down some. It was four days before it was dry enough for cleanup operations.
In the spring of 1922 the Co. rented the land where we lived so we moved to another house where we lived until Dad died in Oct. Then we moved to another place where we lived until 1931.
In 1922 Dad went to a convention in Kansas. He was impressed with the wheat farming just like in Russia. I believe if he had lived we would have moved to Kansas.
In 1918 John Battus finally paid Dad back the money ,he loaned him in Russia. He and Mr. Roerig urged Dad to move to the western slope and work for the Great Western Sugar Co. They said the ground was softer there. The Co. offered to move us. Dad and us working in the beet fields and Dad working in the factory during the beet campaign was the plan. Dad did not believe in working on Sundays, so we didn't go. Later the Roerig family came to Rocky Ford, stayed two years, then moved back to Rifle.
Dad was the only one of his family that came to America. Later Jacob heard of a cousin that lived in Kansas. (Jacob lived there too.) Jacob never met the cousin personally so we don't know when he came. After we left Russia Dad's brother prospered to where they built new homes out of lumber. If Dad would have had the money he would have returned to Russia.
After the Revolution they lost everything. Dad used to send them food and clothing drafts. Later they wrote don't send anymore, we don't get them, or they tax us more than they are worth, so he quit.
In 1924 Fred got married and started to work year round for the Co. Jacob got married 1926 and also started to work year round. The next year he moved to Kansas. I once more contracted a certain acreage of beets. George was in high school and wanted to quit. I told him and Emmanuel you stay in school. After school was out they helped Jacob's wife, Pauline, Alec and me thin and hoe. When school started I said go back to school. The next year I started working year round for the Co. as a teamster, tractor driver, and truck driver until 1942 when I started to farm for myself. In 1921 the bank went bankrupt. Dad lost 3,000 dollars. Over the years we got back about half of it.
I took care of the family for eight years after Jacob left. Then I got married Dec. 23, 1934 and stayed with Mother until June 1935. Alec got laid off his job in Kansas and came home so I moved out and he took care of Mother till Feb. 1942 when she died.
George and Emanuel had been on their own when I got married. Then Alec enlisted in the army. Later he went back to the railroad where he worked till retirement. I farmed for myself till 1952. I went to work for the Pueblo Army Depot where I worked 21 years till I retired. I married Marie Grasmick. She died Oct. 7, 1969. Our children were Junior Henry born Aug. 11, 1936; Joyce Marie, Jan. 22, 1940; Donald Lee, July 8, 1941; Delane Emanuel, Oct. 30, 1943; Terry Lynn, May 2, 1953. Of my brothers Jacob died in Aug. 1967. George died Nov. 1980. Mollie married Fred Hoffman. He died Oct. 1980. Fred's wife, Marie Goebel, died in 1979.
It was the providence of God that got my parents to leave Russia when they did. After the Revolution the communists tried to stamp out religion, Jews, Germans, and capitalism. They executed or sent to concentration camps millions. Some escaped or were smuggled out of Russia through Poland into Germany. I spoke to some that escaped and came to America. My wife's uncle and family were some. My father loaned the money to her father to pay for their passage from Germany. My mother's cousin and family were another. They went to Lincoln, Neb., then to Calif. I met them in 1931. (See Lydia's Story). Due to exposure in escaping he and his wife were broken in health. One daughter worked as a governess to help support the family.
I became acquainted with several other people who escaped out of Russia. They had some interesting experiences to relate. I was acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Buxman before they were killed in an auto accident. Here is a story he told us: He and his wife went by boat in the 1920's to visit friends in Wiesenmuller and Friedenberg. They said often those in authority exceeded what was demanded of them. A little power went to their heads. They asked him what he thought of their government. He told them God didn't make any mistakes. She said so you don't think much of our government? He said come to America and I'll tell you what I think. She said you have 48 hours to get out of here. He still had 10 days on his visa, but he got out right away.
After Dad died a wheat farmer from Russell, Kan. came and proposed marriage to Mother. He had lost his wife and still had three children at home. He wanted to take us younger children. He knew Mother from Wiesenmuller, his name was Urich. Fred and Jacob said to Mom we will take care of you. Years later Mom said to me she should have married him, she would have had security. She said where is Fred and Jacob now?
In giving this report I want to clarify one point. The birth dates I gave from Russia are based on the Julian calendar. Most of Europe was under the Julian calender which is about twelve days behind the Gregorian calendar we use. Russia changed to the Gregorian calendar in 1920. I knew how long we traveled, so made the dates of our travel correspond with the calendar used in America at that time.
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