Below, you will find the story of how our family found its way from Germany to Volga-Russia and then to America. It is quite lengthy with a great deal of information but is very rewarding to read. If you are only interested in reading about the Brungardt/Linenberger families, skip down to the "Joseph Linenberger Leads the Way" link and then additional information may be found about our families in each town's section.
By the beginning of the 15th century there was no controlling central government in Germany, and it had disintegrated into 350 warring states.
In the two hundred years, from the early 1500's to the mid 1700's, before our forbears left Germany, the peasantry suffered intolerably under the militarism of Prussian kings and the domination of religious dictation. The requirements for obedience to the monarchs led to revolts of the peasantry, (1522 & 1524) demanding many reforms of their masters. However, these revolts, lacking leadership, failed and resulted in wholesale executions. One hundred thousand peasants died as a result, and the survivors returned to harsher servility than before.1
During this era, the system of serfdom was imposed. The pitiful plight of the serf was that he was bound to the land, and he was subject to the jurisdiction of an over-lord by virtue of his birth. The over-lord claimed the right of life or death over the serf. A peasant was not born into subjugation, but was a tenant of a parcel of land to be worked. As times became more difficult for the over-lord, the peasant suffered by paying greater and greater amounts of tithing and taxes. As a result, great despair spread among the peasantry.
The Reformation of the 16th Century, begun by Martin Luther in Germany (1517), was a religious movement in origin. It was leveled at the religious and moral shortcomings of certain sections of the clergy of the Holy Roman Empire. However, the reformation was much influenced by political and economic factors. The sale of indulgences to gain salvation, rendered large sums of tithing which contributed to the wealth of the clergy.2 There was a growing reaction of princes and jurists against the materialism of the papacy and the growing wealth of the clergy in Germany.
The German nobles adopted the new ideas of the Lutheran doctrine that enabled them to appropriate Church property, challenging the authority of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, thus challenging the right of ownership of land. The acquisition of land and church was synonymous. If the German noble was of Lutheran persuasion, it was then decreed that all of his subjects were Lutheran. Therefore, all of the tithe made by the subjects would be paid to the noble. In addition, churches and cathedrals that were formerly Catholic were confiscated, and became the property of the Nobles. All former Holy Roman church property, and all of the subjects, were gained as property of the Nobility, thus increasing their wealth and power.
In retrospect, the Princes and Bishops of the Holy Roman Empire were the recipient of moneys allocated to the church. The testament of the wealth of the Bishops in the Holy Roman church is still in evidence today in the magnificent (and pretentious) cathedrals constructed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Although these cathedrals are a magnificent demonstration of mans creativity, they were constructed at tremendous expense, suffering, and deplorable infringement of human rights upon the subjects, the common peasant and serf.
Because of the "gluttonous thirst" for land and power, the stage was set for the tragedies that became the greatest calamity for Germany in the seventeenth century, The Thirty Years War!
Upon Luther's death (1546), his followers were condemned by the council of Trent and defeated in the Schmalkaldic War, but the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 recognized the legal existence of Lutheranism in Germany.3 The conflicts that followed, merged into the Thirty Years War.
The Thirty Years War, 1618-1648
The Religious conflicts between the Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, and various other Protestant creeds, plus the intervention and aggression of foreign countries (France, Sweden) that prevailed within Germany (1618-1648), completed the devastation of Germany. Estimates of population loss are recorded as high as 50%. Fields were barren, starvation and pestilence ran rampant. The result was a loose confederation of petty principalities.4
After the Thirty Years War, and with Germany in a state of chaos in the 17th and 18th centuries, the kings of France sent waves of troops into Germany in an attempt to seize control of all of Europe west of the Rhine. The destruction by the French Army was particularly savage. In the year 1689, they "laid waste", the castle of Heidelberg, and the cities of Mannheim, Worms, and Speyer. The French demanded thalers and conscripted the village men into their army, taking mainly from the areas of the Palatinate, Hessen and Baden-Württemburg. In 1800-1810, German territories (Alsace-Lorraine) were ceded to France and men were conscripted into the French army. The Holy Roman Empire sent troops in the defense of Catholicism in the Empire. Many clashes resulted with more death and destruction.
The Swedes came from the North with the intent to gain land. They sacked and plundered the villages, demanded thalers and conscripted men for their military:
Religious and political constrictions were such that, each territorial ruler from the Electors down to the Imperial Knights had the power to dictate whether their subject's religion was to be Catholic or Lutheran, (Calvinism and all other faiths were forbidden). The religion of the governed should be the same as that of the territorial ruler. Subjects who so desired were allowed (required) to emigrate.6 Hessen, was Lutheran by decree since the Landgraviate of Hessen, "Philip the Magnanimous", was a patron of Luther.
By the mid 1600, the shrinking population of the warring country resulted in a reduced peasantry. The reduced working force, caused diminishing agricultural profits. The control over the peasantry became more distressing. Landlords bestowed increasing pressures upon their remaining subjects. Their rights, independence, standard of living, and even their right of survival was controlled by their masters. The Monarchs demanded increased labor output to satisfy their appetite for luxury.
Hessen was severely affected during the Seven Years War (1756-1763), the cities of Kassel and Marburg were captured and regained five times in battles between the French and North Hessian troops. Württemberg suffered greatly under the French rule along with all other territories under "French protection". "Villages were sacked and burned, fields and crops destroyed and industries were paralyzed. At one time, thirty thousand Russian troops marched through the Rhine provinces and were quartered among the inhabitants. The Russian armies, who were Cossacks, outdid the French in their wasting, killing and burning everything in their path".7
Escape the Calamity
The conditions in Germany at the end of the Seven Years war were catastrophic. The stupidity, greed, extravagance and vanity of the German Princes imposed tremendous taxes on the peasantry. They did not seem to comprehend their foolishness as they, in their small poverty-stricken principality, lived the life style of a monarch of a powerful empire. They built extravagant palaces of the kind kings and queens were housed. The Princes collected fine art, filling their galleries with famous paintings while their half-starved subjects were forced to leave their homes, to migrate to far off lands in the wilds of Eastern Europe and the Americas . The life of splendor and extravagances was only maintained by enormous taxes imposed upon the peasantry. Whenever money from taxes was not sufficient to support the pomp of a baroque court, subjects could be sold to a foreign power.8
During the American Revolution, nearly 30,000 Germans, primarily from Hessen-Kassel were brought to America to fight for the British army. The Landgrave of Hessen, Frederick II, received large sums of money to place soldiers into foreign powers. 17,000 Hessian soldiers fought in America (1775-83) under the English flag.9
The Seven Years War left a legacy of grim depression. The land was battle torn and farm acres lay waste. Dwellings were devestated, and families were suffering from hunger and disease. Thus, the seeds of unrest were planted, resulting in a mass migration of the suffering humanity to escape the calamity. These are the conditions upon which Czarina Catherine's manifesto appeared.
In 1762, Catherine the Great, of German birth, ascended the throne of the Czars as empress of all of the Russians. A highly ambitious and competent ruler, she prepared to realize her ambition to make her reign the outstanding period of Russian history. She followed the immigration example established by Frederick the Great, and she continued the work begun by Peter the Great, to colonize Russia with settlers from Western Europe. She issued a "manifest" on December 4, 1762 that sought to bring foreign colonists to settle in the vast semi-arid districts of her domain. This invitation was met with practically no response. Unrelenting, she issued a "second manifest" on July 22, 1763. This second document set forth the conditions, rights, and privileges under which settlers could enter her empire. Foreigners that formed colonies in the unsettled districts of Russia were guaranteed free exercise of religion, the right to build churches, bell towers and schools. They were allowed to have priests and teachers, but no monasteries. Further, all such colonists should be free of taxes and levies and land service for thirty years. For an indefinite period, they were exempt from military duty.
Catherine's immigration policy was not the only one being offered in Europe at that time. Monarchs of Hungary, Austria, and Prussia with audacious offers were presented throughout Europe, competing with one another for prospective immigrants to bolster their labor forces that had been so severely depleted from the many wars. It was the success of Catherine the Great's offer that has gained the most historical recognition.
To present this manifest, Catherine sent as ambassadors, Captain J. G. Von Kotzer, helped by Messrs. Florentine and Psanu, all by German birth, to induce as many as possible of their countryman to emigrate to Russia. They in turn employed agents. An intensive campaign was conducted which included the offering of free transportation, and money to maintain them on the road. Also, the enrolling agents were practically of one stripe and noted to be unreliable and of disreputable character. The tactics of these agents were as vicious as their employers would allow. They were encouraged by their ambassador, that "in order to entice colonists, the agents must use every sort of seduction". As a result, many inducements were promised that were not contained in the manifest.
The new country was pictured as a veritable paradise where life of ease and plenty would be the reward of all that took advantage of the golden opportunity. In Germany, with the population weary and war-torn, farm land lay in waste, disease, hunger and futility gnawed at their very soul. The invitation from Catherine the Great to settle the Russian steppes seemed like an invitation to paradise. Captain Von Kotzer and his agents were so successful that from 1763 to 1767 they persuaded some eight thousand families (about 25,000 persons) to emigrate from Hessen, Saxony, Alsace, Baden, Würtemberg, Baveria, Tyrol, Switzerland and the Palatinate. Their success can largely be attributed to the chaotic affairs in Germany following the Seven Years War that had just ended.
Some parts of Germany opposed the immigration to Russia. The brother to Catherine II was a German prince and ruler of the principality of Anhalt-Zerbst where Roßlau is located. He allowed the emigrants to assemble at Roßlau, however, he issued the following decree:
" ....You are to see to it, wherever German emigrants assemble at Roßlau, that no people from our principality are persuaded to leave the country . . . "10
February 9, 1770, the following order was issued by Hessian officials.
". . . It has been rumored that various subjects have been induced to sell their property in order to emigrate from the country. This action, however, since it was taken without having obtained our gracious permission, is ill-advised, injurious, and punishable. . . . Emissaries who try by means of persuasion and delusory promises to induce subjects to emigrate shall be carefully watched by local mayors, and upon discovery, regardless of by whom they may have been sent, they shall immediately be placed under arrest and delivered to the prison here. "11
Despite these prohibitions, the immigration could not be stopped for, "if the peasants could not acquire legal permission to leave, many a would-be emigrant simply slipped away into the night", and more than a few did so to escape from the French military. Many conscripted soldiers also took the opportunity to escape from being shipped off to fight foreign wars. History records that in the period from 1763-1769, about 25,000 to 27,000 souls emigrated from all parts of Germany, but especially from the Rhineland and Hessen.12
These emigrants established mother colonies on the Lower Volga in Russia. There were 10 near Petersburg, 6 in Chernigov, and 104 in the Volga territory. Four of these on the Volga were attacked and destroyed by the Kirghiz tribesman. Of the remaining 100 colonies, 55 were on the meadowside (wiesenseite) and 45 were on the hillyside (bergseite), 32 were Catholic, 68 were Evangelical.13
Everything below this point was transcribed from The Golden Jubilee of German-Russian Settlements of Ellis and Rush Counties, Kansas, August 31, September 1 and 2, 1926.
As soon as navigation opened in the spring the journey down the Volga continued till the ships docked at Saratov on the Lower Volga, the district set aside for the emigrants. This was a large expanse of land lying on both sides of the River. The district west of the River was known as the mountain side (Bergseite), and east of the River as the meadow side (Wiesenseite). The former was in the government of Saratov, and the latter in the government of Samara.
In all, about 104 colonies, 45 on the mountain side, and 59 on the meadow side, were founded. The homes of the settlers now in Ellis County were: Katharinestadt (popularly called Baronsk, because founded in 1765 by Baron de Beauregard), Boregard (founded 1766), Obermonjour (founded 1766.), Zug (Gattung, founded 1767), Luzern (Roemler, founded 1767), Schoenchen (Paninskoje, founded 1767), Solothurn (Wittmann, founded 1767), all lying on the east bank of the Volga, north of Saratov; Rohleder (Raskaty, founded 1766), Graf (Krutogorowka, founded 1764), Herzog (Susly, founded 1764), Mariental (Pfannenstiel or Tonkoschurowka, founded 1766), Louis (Otrogowka, founded 1766), lying north and south of the great Karamann, which flows from the south into the Volga west of Katharinenstadt; Liebenthal (founded 1859 from the other colonies), south of the Great Karamann; Neuobermonjour (founded 1859), 10 verst south of Liebenthal, Marienburg (founded 1860), 68 verst northeast of Liebenthal. All these colonies were on the meadow side. On the mountain side lay Kamenka (founded 1766), 110 verst southwest of Saratov, Pfeifer (Gniluska, founded 1766), 7 verst southwest of Kamenka, Rothamel (Pamnatnaja, founded 1767), about 25 verst northwest of Kamenka, Semenowka (founded 1766) 15 verst southwest of Pfeifer.
Since this is not the place to treat at length of the gradual rise and development of the Russian Settlements, let it suffice to say that from the very landing in Kronstadt the colonists were sadly disillusioned. To begin with, practically half of the immigrants were artisans, having no knowledge of farming. These had been induced to leave their native lands by promises of plenty of opportunities to practice their various trades in the cities and towns of Russia. Once arrived in the Land of the Czars, however, all without exception were transported to the Lower Volga. This, the vaunted paradise of the commissaries, proved to be a vast expanse of wild, semi-arid steppe land which, as it then appeared, must have discouraged every one of the colonists. Moreover, the buildings which the government had promised to erect were nowhere to be seen, and the allowances of money advanced by Her Majesty proved sadly insufficient. To make matters worse, the colonists had arrived too late in the season to do any planting, with the inevitable result that the winter which soon overtook them, proved a time of dire need and bitter suffering in which death reaped a rich harvest.
With the advent of spring, however, the outlook became somewhat brighter. The land proved to be rich and well adapted for wheat raising. Nothing daunted by their sad plight, the colonists, both farmers and artisans, made a bold attempt to wrest a living from the stubborn soil.
Energy, industry and thrift, the national characteristics of the German people, were not wanting in the settlers on the Volga, and these, together with the fruitfulness of the soil, gradually overcame all difficulties. But before the colonists arrived at a stage of comparative prosperity, they had to pass through terrible hardships and sufferings. Thus, for the first ten years their crops were total failures, and to ward off starvation, they were forced to apply to the government for food; they had to fight for their lives in the murderous raids of the savage Kirghiz hordes which periodically swept through the colonies with fire and sword, wiping out four of them completely, and retarding the development of many others; their members were thinned by disease and death which claimed many a victim in the early years. Added to all this there was the evergrowing irritation caused by almost continuous bickering between the colonists and the government concerning the repayment of the money advanced, the amount of subsidies, taxation, and a number of similar matters. In short, so fraught with disappointment, worry and suffering were those early years that one is compelled to admire the optimism and tenacity of purpose which enabled the colonists to go steadily forward in spite of their grievous trials.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, we find the colonists enjoying a measure of peace, prosperity, and happiness undreamed of in the early years of their sojourn in the realm of the Czars. But it was not to last.
The privileges enjoyed by the settlers, especially their exemption from military service, together with their ever-increasing prosperity and their aloofness from the native population, aroused the resentment and jealousy of the Russians. The Empress Catherine, the friend and protectress of the strangers, was now dead, and in her stead, men generally unfriendly to everything German, ruled the land. All this gave rise to numerous curtailments, growing in importance as the years passed, of favors enjoyed by the colonists. Unfortunately, too, the settlers themselves helped along this unfriendly policy by indiscreetly signing documents inimical to their liberty. Things finally came to such a pass that the government passed the military law of Jan. 13, 1874, which subjected all the colonists to military service. This proved too much for the long-suffering settlers, and was the immediate cause of the immigrations which followed.
In June, 1871, an edict had limited the period of exemption from military service to ten years, leaving the colonists the right to emigrate within that time without forfeiture of property. This was not generally known for some time, but when it was finally brought to the attention of the people it led to a meeting of some three thousand colonists at Herzog, in the spring of 1874, to discuss the question of immigration.
Though at first sight it may appear unpatriotic on the part of the colonists to resent the military law of 1874, the question takes on a new light when we call to mind that they were solemnly promised exemption from such service as an inducement to settle in Russia. Moreover, when we consider the length of service (six years), the religious discrimination which prevented any but orthodox Russians from rising to the rank of an officer, the poor treatment accorded the soldiers, and the fact that during the whole of their stay in the army, Catholics were unable to fulfill even their Easter duty, we can readily understand why the colonists should resist such an enactment.
The meeting at Herzog in the spring of 1874 resulted in the election of five delegates, who at the expense of their respective communities, were to visit America, to look for places suitable for settlement. The delegates chosen were: Balthasar Brungardt (Herzog), Peter Leiker (Obermonjour), Jacob Ritter (Luzern), Peter Stoecklein (Zug), and Anton Wassinger (Schoenchen). Mr. Brungardt declining, his place was taken by Nicholas Schamne (Graf).
The delegates soon convened in Obermonjour whence they proceeded to Hamburg by way of Katharinenstadt, Saratov, Warsaw and Berlin. At Hamburg they were aided by a Mr. Weinberg, who persuaded them to proceed directly to the United States. Arrived in Castle Garden, New York, they were befriended by a Mr. Joseph Koelble. While in New York they stayed with a Mr. Schneider for two days before going to Sutton, Clay County, Nebraska, traveling by way of Buffalo, Chicago, Omaha and Lincoln. At Sutton, they remained one day, examining the land. In all, their sojourn in America lasted ten days. Messrs. Leiker, Stoecklein and Wasinger took about one pound of soil, some prairie grass, bluestem (?) grass, and some paper money, and all took some literature descriptive of the land back to Russia. On their return to Russia they reported favorably of the land they had visited, and subsequently four of the five emigrated.
Toward the end of December, 1874, two other delegates, Joseph Exner of Obermonjour and Jacob Bissing of Katharinenstadt, were sent on a like mission. They came to Topeka and proceeded over the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad to Larned, in Pawnee County. They spent about a week in Kansas, and returning home, reported unfavorably of the new country, thus deterring quite a number from emigrating.
Anton Kaeberlein of Pfeifer and several others accompanied the five delegates mentioned above as far as New York. Here they separated, the former going to Arkansas. On his return to Russia, Mr. Kaeberlein reported that the land pleased him but not the custom of living on farms instead of in villages. This report induced several families to emigrate to Arkansas in 1874.
In November and December of 1874 the Russian government drafted the first soldiers from the colonies. This act precipitated matters. The movement in favor of immigration now became general.
On October 22, 1875, the families of Justus Bissing, Friedrich Karlin, Peter Karlin, Jacob Karlin, and Friedrich Koerner left Katharinenstadt for America. At Saratov they were joined by Jacob Lang, Joseph Stremel, Michael Meder, and Mathias Urban of Kamenka, and Christopher Stegmann of Pfeifer. They left Saratov on October 23, and arrived in Berlin four days later.
Under the leadership of Nicholas Schamne, one of the delgates who had visited America in 1874, a second group of emigrants left the colonies on October 24. This group was made up of families from various settlements. From Herzog came Andrew Billinger, Alois Dreiling, Anton Dreiling, Nicholas Dreiling, Nicholas Dreiling, John Goetz, John Kreutzer, Michael Rome, John Sander, Michael Storm, John Van der Dunkt, Ignatius Vonfeld, and Ignatius Weigel. From Boregard came Jacob Arnholt. From Liebenthal came Joseph Fraun and Franz Weber, Jacob Beil, Peter Beil, Martin Goetz, Jacob Hermann, John Hermann, Peter Hermann, Adam Kreutzer, John Kreutzer, John Lechleiter, Michael Lechleiter, John Schaefer, John Peter Schaefer, Peter Schaefer, and Joseph Schoenberger. From Obermonjour were John Geist, John Jacob Geist and William Geist; from Marienthal Anton Hermann. From Neu-Obermonjour were Henry Bieker, John Bieker, John Joseph Bieker, Nicholas Bieker, Frank Waldschmidt, Philip Wolf and John Zimmermann. From Louis came Peter Quint. From Marienburg came Paul Dinges and from Graf, John Bollig.
This second party traveled to Bremen by way of Tambow, Koslow, Grjasi, Orel, Smolensk, Witebsk, Wershbolow, Eydtkuhnen and Berlin. At Bremen they were fortunate to meet the first who had been compelled to wait four days on a ship. On November 2, 1875, all took passage on the steamship "Ohio" of the North-German Lloyd. On Nov. 23, after a rough voyage of twenty-one days, they landed at Baltimore.
In Baltimore, according to one version, Mr. Schamne entered into an agreement with C.B. Schmidt of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. In his company they went to Topeka, where they arrived on Nov. 28. For a few days they all lived together, but later they rented houses in North Topeka, the men meanwhile seeking employment on the railroads, farms and so forth.
Under the direction of Mr. C.B. Schmidt they made their first trip in search of land, going as far west as Great Bend in Barton and Larned in Pawnee Counties. The high price of land, five dollars per acre, and the want of locations adapted to the establishment of colonies, prevented them from settling in this district.
Several other trips for suitable land proving equally fruitless, the newcomers decided to return to Russia. But about this time they met Mr. A. Roedelheimer, an agent of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, who spoke to them of some desirable land his railroad company had to offer. Later he made three trips with the men, going as far west as Hays and Ellis. The first land he showed them was near Hog Back, and was so disappointing that they once more decided to return home. Mr. Roedelheimer then showed them land near the present sight of Catherine, and some along the Smoky Hill River, and finally that on which Victoria now stands. This land was cheap ($2.00 to $2.50 per acre), and well adapted for forming colonies, and the newcomers decided to settle on it.
On February 21, 1876, fourteen of the families mentioned above arrived at Hays. The day following they moved to the present site of Liebenthal, section 21, township 16, range 18 west, in Rush County.
On March 1, 1876, the five families from Katharinenstadt (Bissing, the three Karlins, and Koerner), arrived at Hays, where they remained one month and seven days. Each morning they drove to their homesteads, where Catherine now stands, and worked at constructing their homes. Their building operations completed, they moved into their new dwellings on the eighth of April, 1876.
Representatives of the Herzog contingent of immigrants had originally chosen land near Hog Back. This choice, however, did not satisfy the men who later inspected it, and they in turn chose section 1, township 14 south, range 17 west as the site of their colony.
On April 8, 1876, twenty-three families came to Victoria and erected their first dwellings on the east bank of the Victoria Creek, a little west of the present town.
Influenced, no doubt, by the glowing accounts of the colonists in America, a large group of settlers from the western side of the Volga left Saratov on June 23, 1876. Only three settlements, Pfeifer, Kamenka and Semenowka, were represented in this contingent. The names of the families coming from Pfeifer were: Andrew Desch, George Etzel, Anton Holzmeister, Gottlieb Jacobs, Mathew Jacobs, Michael Jacobs, Joseph Jacobs, George Schmidt, John Schmidt, Joseph Schmidt, Jacob Schoenfield, John Breit, Valentine Schoenfeld, Peter Breit, and George Dome. From Kamenka came the families of John Meder, John Schlieter, and Matthias Vogel. From Semenowka were George Seitz and Casper Seitz.
The following day, June 24, the following left Katharinenstadt: John Karlin, Karl Koerner, Frederic Meis, Mrs. Meis, Andrew Schmidt, Jacob Schmidt, John Schmidt, Peter Schmidt, Mrs. Schueler, Mrs. A. Schuetz, Henry Staab, Karl Staab, August Walter, Frederic Walter, Jacob Walter and Jacob Welz.
On June 25 they overtook the first group and continued on together as far as Orel. Here the latter party left in advance of the former, but they met again at Eydtkuhnen. George Schmidt and John Meder here joined the group from Katharinenstadt and went with them to New York by way of Hamburg. They reached Hays on July 26, and Catherine the day following. The other party sailed from Bremen, and arrived at Topeka on July 23. From here most of them went to Hays on August 20 (or 23), and to Pfeifer the next day.
The largest single expedition to leave Russia for America comprised 108 families, and statred[sic] from Saratov on July 8. This party had some difficulty in obtaining passports, but after paying the government eighteen rubles per person and bestowing some gifts on the governor, all were permitted to depart.
At Duenaburg, they were joined by a large party of Mennonites, and traveled together as far as Eydtkuhnen, where they separated. The Mennonites finally settled in Nebraska.
As a result of the poor treatment they received on the North-German Lloyd ships, the colonists in America advised their friends who contemplated immigration to take another route. Because of this, those colonists who later settled in Munjor, Schoenchen, and Liebenthal went to Hamburg and came to America on the Hamburg American Line. The others, to the number of 1,454 souls, arranged for transportation to New York on the North-German Lloyd ship "Mosel," at 38 rubles a head.
When the group aboard the Mosel arrived in New York they received various offers of transportation ranging from $18 to $22 a person. These offers were all refused. Finally an agreement was made to transport them for sixteen rubles per passenger. Besides the Mennonites who went to Nebraska, there were in this group the following, who also came to Kansas: Peter Braun, Peter Andrew Braun, Andrew Brungardt Sr., Balthasar Brungardt, Franz Brungardt Sr., Franz Brungardt, John Peter Brungardt, Peter Brungardt, Peter Brungardt, Alois Dening, Michael Dening, Andrew Dinkel, George Dinkel, John Peter Dinkel, Michael Dreiling Sr., Anton M. Dreiling, Franz M. Dreiling, Michael M. Dreiling, Peter M. Dreiling, John Dreiling, Elizabeth Dreiling, Paulina Dreiling, John Frank, Joseph Kapp, Adam Knoll, Michael Kuhn Sr., John Kuhn Sr., Andrew Kuhn, John Kuhn, Michael Kuhn, Michael Kuhn, Jr., Anton Mermis, Michael Pfeifer Sr., Adam Riedel, Martin Riedel, Michael Riedel, Peter Rome, Ignaz Sander, Frederic Schamber, Andrew Scheck Sr., Andrew Scheck, Michael Schmidtberger, John Vonfeld, John Wasinger, John Windholz, Michael Weigel, John Wittman, Peter Wittmann, Martin Yunker and Peter Yunker. All of these came from Herzog, Russia. There were also John Leiker, Anton Rupp, Caspar Rupp and Jacob Rupp, from Obermonjour, Russia; Joseph Graf Sr., Martin Quint and Michael Quint of Louis, Russia; and Henry Gerber of Graf, Russia. All of these with the exception of Peter Yunker who remained in Topeka till 1877, made their home in Herzog, arriving in Victoria on the third of August, 1876.
In the meantime, the party traveling by way of Hamburg-American Line arrived in New York, and a few days later came to Kansas. Included in the group were the founders of Munjor: Jacob Engel, John Berg, Franz Leiker, Henry Leiker, Jacob Leiker, Joseph Leiker, Joseph Leiker, Konrad Leiker, Michael Leiker, Nicholas Leiker, Peter Leiker from Obermonjour. Russia; John Dechant, John Herl, Henry Miller, Henry Ruder, Stanislaus Ruder, Joseph Schreibvogel, Anton Schumacher, George Schumacher, Henry Schumacher and Catherine Schumacher all of Wittmann, Russia; Nicholas Eberle, Peter Gross, Matthias Rohr, and Peter Rohr of Mariental; Anton Wasinger and Anton Wasinger Jr., of Schoenchen; Anton Schneider and Peter Stoecklein of Gattung; and John Goetz of Herzog. For several days these families remained in Herzog, and then moved to a place on Big Creek, north of the present site of Munjor. After staying here two months they removed to Section 25, in Wheatland Township, where Munjor now stands.
With the founders of Munjor came the following families who settled in Liebenthal: Henry Depperschmidt, Peter Depperschmidt, John Jacob Schoenthaler. Karl Herrglotz, Jacob Monsch, Joseph Monsch, Michael Schmidt, Simon Schoenthaler, Joseph Schuckmann, Frederic Werth, Jacob Werth, John Werth Sr., John Peter Werth, Karl Werth, Louis Werth and Jacob Zimmermann. These arrived at their new home on the eve of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, 1876. In September Adam Bieker, Frank Dreher, John Dreher, Konrad Dreher, Philip Dreher, Frederic Graf, Joseph Rumbach and Joseph Zimmermann came to Liebenthal from Obermonjour.
Rothamel on the Ilawla sent a small quota of emigrants who left Saratov on July 24, 1876. This group was made up of the following: John J. Basgall, his brother Joseph Basgall, Martin M. Appelhans, John J. Basgall, Elizabeth Basgall, her son Joseph Basgall, Martin Appelhans, John Basgall, son of John J. Basgall, and Alois Hartmann. All of these settled in Pfeifer.
On September 26, 1876, Jacob Staab, J. Jacob Staab, John Staab, Peter Staab, Raymond Staab and Peter Ubert of Katharinenstadt, arrived in Catherine.
The last group of emigrants to leave Russia in 1876 came from Obermonjour. They left Saratov on September 18-30, and arrived in New York aboard the "Gellert" of the Hamburg-American Line, about a month later. On November 1, they arrived at Hays. This contingent was made up of the following families who settled in Catherine: Karl Karlin, Leonard Mittelmeier of Katharinenstadt; Jacob Meier, Henry Paul and Michael Peter of Louis; and John Giebler of Obermonjour. The party also included Anton Befort, Konrad Befort, Michael Graf, Christian Hertl, John Klaus, John Krannawitter, Jacob John Leiker, and Jacob Pfannenstiel, all of whom came from Obermonjour, Russia, and made Munjor their home.
On August 6, 1877, the families of Joseph Giebler of Obermonjour, and Friedrich Weilert of Katharinenstadt arrived in Catherine.
Johannes Kaeberlein, Jacob Kissner, Kaspar Kissner, Adam Stegmann, Matthew Stegmann, of Pfeifer, Russia, and John Ingenthron, Anton Stremel, Anton Stremel Jr., John Stremel, Michael Urban, Jacob Urban, Stephen Urban, George Urban, Mrs. Michael Urban, George Urban, and George and Jacob Burkart of Kamenka, Russia, arrived at Pfeifer, Kansas, on November 12, 1977, A few days before Christmas, the following families of Herzog, Russia, arrived at Herzog (Victoria, Kansas); Peter Linenberger, Joseph Schmidtberger and Peter Kuhn.
The year 1878 marked the waning of the immigration to Ellis County. On June 20, Andrew Bahl, Jacob Lang Sr., Peter Roth, Mrs. C. Schaefer, and her son George Schaefer of Kamenka, Russia, arrived in Kansas. All with the exception of the Lang family, which remained in Herzog, went to Pfeifer.
On July 20, the following families came to Catherine front Katharinenstadt: Peter Leikam, Jacob Mueller, Jacob Mueller Jr., and Michael Weilert; on November 25, the following: Dorothea Beilmann, Jacob Dorzweiler, Anna Mittelmeier, and Heinrich Wolf, likewise former residents of Katharinenstadt.
Late in July, or early in August a small party from Obermonjour settled in Munjor. These were the families of Gerard Befort, Anton Dechant, Carl Dechant, Jacob Engel, Peter Klaus, John Pfannenstiel, Konrad Rupp and John Stoecklein. Two weeks later Anton Gabel arrived alone.
The last large group of immigrants to Ellis County left Herzog, Russia, on August 8, 1878, under the leadership of Joseph Linenberger. It was made up of the following families: John Billinger, Anton Dening, Andrew Goetz, Henry Hansen, Peter Kuhn, Joseph Linenberger, John Pfeifer, Michael Vonfeld, Valentine Weigel and John Windholz, from Herzog, and John Ernst, Laurence Herrmann, Adam Ernst, Joseph Gassmann, Andrew Korbe and Peter Pfannenstiel of Mariental. Of these, the four last named, together with Anton Dening, settled in Munjor, and the others in Herzog.
After the departure of this group, immigration from the Volga colonies practically ceased. Though military service was disliked, it was not, as in the case of the Mennonites, a violence to conscience. As the years passed the colonists came to look upon conscription as a matter of course, and in addition, letters relating the hardships met with in the New World had given military service the appearance of a lesser evil.
The Empress Catherine permitted the settlers on the lower Volga to choose their own form of government, only demanding of them that they submit to the prevailing form of civil law. Their choice was a kind of communal government, each colony being ruled by a Mayor (Vorsteher), assisted by two or four Councilmen (Beisitzer) and a Secretary (Schreiber). The legislative body consisted of all the heads of families.
Since 1798, however, several colonies formed a circuit, the highest official of which was called the Obervorsteher. The Obervorstehers in turn were subject to the Comptoir in Saratov. The Comptoir was established March 17, 1766, and was made up of an Oberrichter (Supreme judge) and two Mitglieder (Members), a Secretary, a Bookkeeper, a Translator, two Physicians and a Surveyor, all of whom were subject to the Protective Chancery (Tutel-Kanzlei) in St. Petersburg.
To some extent the immigrants to Ellis County introduced these institutions in their new homes. Thus, from April till the fall of 1876, Herzog had its Vorsteher, Town Crier (Buettel), and Gemeinde versammlung (Legislative Body), and originally, homesteads were sought with a view to distribution by lot as was customary in Russia. But when it was discovered that such a local government body possessed no authority in the United States, it fell into discard, and the settlers submitted their differences to the properly constituted authorities for settlement.
The communal life, however, remained, for when settling in America the first thought of the newcomers was to find land suitable for farming, and in quantities large enough to permit the founding of colonies. Unlike in Russia, these colonies were united by no legal bond. Rather, a degree of rivalry existed between them which only the passing years have mollified. The communistic character of the settlements has served to unite the inhabitants more closely in social life and, especially in the early years, each village resembled one large family. Living as they did, secluded from practically all outside influence, the colonies gradually underwent a rather slow but healthy development, which permitted the settlers to retain the good they inherited, and at the same time adopt the advantages of their new country. On the other hand, this seclusion retarded the development of public spirit with the result that at the present day the villages, with the exception of Victoria, are still under township law. Of late years, however, a marked change has been brought about in this regard, and the future is bright with promise.
When they arrived in Ellis County the immigrants were for the most part very poor, having exhausted all their resources on their long journey. The families who came with any considerable sum of money were the exceptions. If in the course of time they bettered their condition, it is due solely to their industry, economy and perseverance in the face of trying difficulties. In 1876 Ellis County was still practically all a vast unbroken prairie. At Victoria, the newcomers found the present railroad station and one other house, with the ranch of an Englishman set down here and there in the vast territory. Near Munjor there was also a dwelling.
To construct some kind of shelter for themselves on their newly acquired land first demanded the attention of the immigrants. In some instances, the first dwellings were rude board tents, which were replaced, as the season advanced, by sod houses or dugouts. Generally, however, the sod houses were built at once. Only a few of the settlers could enjoy the luxury of a two or three-room frame house in the early days. Later, though, as prosperity increased, houses of stone, which required labor rather than money, and of lumber, which required money, took the place of the dugout throughout the colonies. It may not be out of place here to give a brief description of the early sod house.
The walls were built of sod cut from the prairie. Trees and saplings gathered on the creek banks formed the rafters and supports for the roof which was made of plain boards covered with a layer of dirt several inches thick, firmly packed. The interior of the house usually contained two rooms - a small anteroom containing the fire-place and the cooking utensils, and a larger one which served as living, dining, and bed room. In some cases the larger room had a wooden floor, though more often the bare earth had to serve this purpose.
The larger room contained the stove, which was used for baking and heating. This was of home construction, being built of sunbaked brick made of soil mixed with a goodly portion of straw. The stove was so constructed that almost anything combustible could be used as fuel. Straw, sunflowers and wood were used, and in the absence of these, "mist-holz" had to serve the purpose. This latter fuel was made by letting the accumulated manure of the barnyard heat and decompose to a certain degree, then spreading it out in a circular plot ten to twelve inches thick. After this, a number of horses were made to tramp around in it and thoroughly mix it. The mixing process completed, it was cut into blocks and dried in the sun. This fuel, when properly prepared, produced intense heat and was very well adapted for use in the stoves.
Cooking utensils were few and simple: a tripod, a few iron or copper kettles, and a small assortment of dishes being sufficient for the preparation of the meals, which consisted mostly of one course, except on feast days, when more elaborate meals were prepared.
Like everything else, the furniture of the house was of the simplest: wooden bedsteads, all home-made of plain boards, mattresses filled with straw or hay, tables made of rough lumber, and benches from four to eight feet long, which took the place of chairs.
The interior walls were frequently whitewashed and the entire house kept neat and clean, the women taking a special pride in having an attractive, well-kept home.
The clothing of the early settlers was very plain, most of it being made at home by hand, as they were unacquainted with sewing machines. Coming from a land of long, severe winters, they were prepared to meet similar conditions here. All brought with them heavy fur-lined overcoats, felt boots, and long topped boots, i.e., boots with shafts, into which the trousers were stuck. These latter were worn the year around. Especially peculiar were the large sheepskin coats, woven with the fur on the inside. The upper part to the waist was close-fitting, and the lower part was attached at the waist in folds after the manner of a skirt, causing it to spread below. As headgear, the newcomer wore a cap (carduse), somewhat similar to the cap worn by the American boy today, but which at the time was somewhat of a novelty and attracted quite a bit of attention. The women and girls continued to dress as they did in Russia. They wore neither hats nor bonnets, but were contented with small, black shawls which they frequently embroidered with flower designs in colored silk. On their arrival in America, the men wore their hair Iong, i.e., from the crown to the neck. This custom has gradually disappeared.
Though originally a large percentage of the immigrants who settled on the Volga were artisans, all were compelled by circumstances to devote themselves to agriculture. In addition to cereals, they also cultivated tobacco and raised cattle. Of those who later came to America, practically all were farmers, and as a general rule all remained true to their calling here in Ellis County.
Some few of the settlers brought with them small quantities of seed - spring wheat, tobacco and watermelons. Spring wheat, which was successfully cultivated in Russia, did not thrive well here, and after a few experiments was discarded and only winter wheat sown. In the early days tobacco was extensively cultivated. At present it is still planted but only in small quantities. Watermelons thrive well, and are quite generally cultivated for home use. The cultivation of other vegetables, however, as well as of cattle, is carried on only on a very small scale. Maize and Kafir corn are raised as food for the cattle.
On their first arrival in Ellis County, lack of resources prevented the settlers from doing much farming, and in order to make a living they hired themselves out as laborers. The English colonists, who in 1873 founded Victoria, gave employment to a number, while the majority found work on the railroad. With the money they earned by their labor, they bought land and stock, and as conditions allowed devoted themselves exclusively to the development of their farms, for them the most congenial kind of work.
Owing to their seclusion, the settlers in Russia retained their native tongue, German, and few ever acquired a thorough knowledge of the Russian language. The settlers in Ellis County still speak German, and even today there are but few children in the settlements who cannot speak it. This heritage is still fostered at home, and, to some extent, in the parish schools. The spoken German closely resembles that spoken in the Palatinate and in Bavaria. Some varieties in the language of the different villages still remain, such as, e.g., the pronunciation of e as ä, â, õ í in such words as "Weizen," "Stehen," etc. One peculiarity is that words are still employed in a sense that has grown obsolete, as "bloede." in the sense of timid.
As a class, the people are very conservative, and for a long time clung tenaciously to a number of peculiar customs which only the last few years have tended to root out. In part these customs were connected with the various ecclesiastical festivals. Thus, on Christmas Eve, a lady dressed in white, with a girdle of blue and face veiled, would appear in each house as the herald of the "Christ Kindlein" (Christ Child). The first sign of her approach was the tinkling of a small bell, followed by a knock at the door. Entering she saluted all with the greeting: "Gelobt sei Jesus Christus" (Praised be Jesus Christ). Next calling for the youngest child, she would recite some short prayer as evidence of diligence in this regard, and would then reward it with gifts. The older children were then summoned and not infrequently mildly chastised for various faults committed, after which they too received presents. Finally, a quantity of nuts were thrown into the air and as the children scrambled for them the white-robed herald departed.
In Catherine it was customary for each child to call upon his godparents on Christmas and Faster and offer them the greetings of the season. As a reward for his thoughtfulness he received a quantity of sweets which he carried away in a white cloth.
On New Year's Day the children called upon their relatives and friends and wished them a Happy New Year, always employing the same formula: "Ich wünsche Euch ein glückseliges Neujahr, langes Leben, Gesundheit, Friede und Enigkeit, nach dem Tode die ewige Glückseligkeit." (I wish you a happy New Year, long life, health, peace and unity, and after death eternal happiness.) For this greeting the children were rewarded with sweets.
In Holy Week the Church bells are silent from Holy Thursday till Saturday. During this time it was customary for the altar boys to go through the village with wooden clappers to announce the time of divine service and of the Angelus. After Mass on Holy Saturday, they went from house to house collecting eggs as their reward for services rendered.
A great number of marriage customs prevailed in the colonies, differing considerably in the various villages. Thus, at Schoenchen and several of the other settlements, oral invitations to the wedding were served by two men deputed by the fathers of the bridal couple. These men carried canes to which a ribbon was attached, and walked through the colony inviting the chosen guests, using for this purpose a special formula. At Catherine, however, written invitations were always sent out, and the oral form dispensed with.
The evening before a wedding, known as polterabend (rachet eve), was given over to music, dancing and general merry making. Before going to church on the wedding day the bridal couple knelt on a cloth spread on the floor, facing each other and with hands joined, and received the blessing of their parents and of all the relatives present.
At the dinner which followed the wedding the bridal couple, though seated at table, did not partake of food with the guests, but later on took their meal alone in another room. While at table, the bride was robbed of one shoe, which had to be redeemed with money by the best man. After the festive meal, dancing was begun by the young husband and wife and the marriage witnesses. During the dance presents were pinned to the bride's dress.
The settlers are great card players, frequently coming together on an afternoon or evening to play Durack, Kopfbauer and Solo, all specific Russian games.
In Russia each settler received as his portion an area of land in keeping with the number of male members of his family, females being disregarded. A remnant of this custom is to be found in Ellis County today. Farms are generally divided among the boys of the family, while a present in the manner of a dowry is the usual portion of the girls.
The status of woman is to all purposes that of a "Hausfrau," the home being the sphere of her activity. In the early days she also lent a hand in the harvest fields. The large family is proverbial. among the settlers and from every standpoint their family life is pure, divorce and illegitimates being practically unknown.
The details given above portray but in part the character and activity of the settlers. Various interests, already in the early years, and even more so at present, drew many from the settlements to other towns. The largest contingent is at Hays, whose Catholic congregation has several hundred German-Russian families among its members. A goodly number also moved to Ellis and Walker in Ellis County, and to Gorham in Russell County.
The nuclei of several new settlements have been formed by the erection of churches at Emmeram, Antonino, Hyacinth, Yocemento, Vincent, Severin and a number of other convenient points.
The story of the quiet and unassuming conquest of the one time desert by the German-Russian immigrants is one of the brightest pages of the history of Kansas. Great were the difficulties they had, and still have, to contend with; but they are being met as they come, by the never-failing courage of the settlers.
Though by no means a friend of the Catholic religion, Catherine the Great did not molest the Catholic colonists. Her commissaries had promised prospective settlers that they would always be supplied with ministers of their respective denominations, and this promise was faithfully kept. The people whose history we are writing were all Roman Catholics, and it is certain that even on their journey from Germany to Russia, priests accompanied them. Thus. for example, we read of a Father Corbinian, a Capuchin of Melniza, Bohemia, who in 1767 accompanied a group of emigrants from Kassimow to their new homes on the Volga, ministering to them in all their spiritual needs - baptizing infants, blessing marriages, administering the sacraments and burying the dead.
Once the colonies were founded, the first priests to minister to the spiritual needs of the newcomers were Franciscans and Capuchins. The nationality of these priests is doubtful, but all could speak the German language fluently, and were greatly beloved by the people on account of their deep spirituality and unassuming character. They were sent by the government, and, as seems most likely, came from St. Petersburg, Riga, Rival, Libau and various other cities of the Baltic provinces, where they were probably doing missionary work at the time the Gemans settled in Russia.
The Franciscans and Capuchins were soon followed by Dominicans and Trinitarians, all fervent priests, filled with love of God and zeal for the salvation of souls. Unfortunately for the colonists, these men soon died off, and in their stead the government sent Polish priests, entirely ignorant of the German language and out of sympathy with German customs and manners. Under their inefficient ministration, the colonists lost much of their zeal for religion. Apparently conditions became so bad that the settlers complained to the government, demanding priests who could speak German. As a result of this appeal, ten Jesuits, well versed in German, were sent to the colonies on the Volga, in 1803, and the Polish priests recalled. The Jesuits remained until 1820, when they were banished. Under their guidance the colonies underwent a religious renaissance, the effects of which were to last for years to come. It was during this period that the foundations were laid of that lively faith, touching devotion, and whole-souled adherence to the Catholic Church which even to this day characterizes the people.
For some unexplained reason the Jesuits were forced to leave in the fall of 1820. Once more Polish Regulars, Dominicans, Carmelites, Trinitarians, Vincentians and Lazarists, took charge of the colonists; For some reason or other they ministered to their flocks in a very haphazard manner, and were gradually supplemented and supplanted by secular priests from the various Polish dioceses. After the erection of the diocese of Tiraspol in 1847, German secular clergy gradually replaced their Polish brethren.
When the colonists arrived in Ellis County, there was no Catholic Church on the Kansas Pacific Railroad west of Salina. To offset this want as much as possible, the settlers erected a large wooden cross in each village, about which the entire community gathered for devotions on Sundays and holidays. Usually these devotions consisted in the recital of the prayers for Mass, the rosary, and litanies, together with religious hymns. This custom which, with the exception of Schoenchen, was universal in the colonies, was faithfully maintained until 1879.
The first priest to visit the colonies was Rev. Adolf Wibbert, who said Mass for the newcomers for the first time about April, 1876. At the time, he was stationed at Salina. In March he had paid a visit to Fort Hays, where he said Mass occasionally, and had promised to visit the new settlements on his next trip. From this time, until the advent of Rev. Valentine Sommereisen, he observed the following schedule: On the third Saturday of each month he held divine services in the public school at Ellis; on Sunday, in one of the barracks of Fort Hays; on Monday, at Liebenthal, to which place the inhabitants of Schoenchen and Munjor came; on Tuesday, at Herzog; and on Wednesday, at Catherine. In August, 1876, Rev. Martin Kuhn, then rector of Epiphany Church, Leavenworth, paid the colonies a single visit.
In October, 1876, Rev. Valentine Sommereisen took up his residence at Hays and assumed the spiritual charge of the colonies. These he visited regularly once a month until May, 1878. He was the first priest to visit Pfeifer.
On Jan. 31, 1878, Rt. Rev. Louis M. Fink, O.S.B., of Leavenworth, in whose diocese the colonies then lay, together with Rev. Hyacinth Epp, 0.M. Cap., at that time commissary of the Capuchins, who in 1873 had come to Pittsburgh, Pa., because of the "Kulturkampf" then at its height in Germany, visited Herzog; Bishop Fink had asked the Capuchins to take spiritual charge of the colonies, and - after some hesitation - the number of Capuchins being small - Fr. Hyacinth accepted. May 11, 1878, Rev. Matthew Hau, 0.M. Cap., and Rev. Anastasius Mueller, 0.M. Cap., established themselves at Herzog. Father Matthew died about a month later, and was succeeded by Rev. Joseph Cal. Mayershofer, 0.M. Cap. On Aug. 25, 1883, Bishop Fink entrusted to the Capuchin Fathers the spiritual care of all Catholics in Ellis County north of the Smoky Hill River. Three colonies south of the river, Pfeifer and Schoenchen in Ellis County and Liebenthal in Rush County, were at times in charge of the Capuchins, and at other times under the direction of the secular clergy. Of late years, however, the latter have taken permanent charge.
As remarked above, in the beginning services were held about a large cross erected at a convenient place in the village. With the advent of the priest, a private dwelling was used. Only later were churches of modest dimensions and equipment erected. At Herzog, the first church was a lean-to, built against the south side of Alois Dreiling's dwelling. It measured about 40x24 feet, and could accommodate but part of the congregation. At Munjor the first church was a frame building measuring 41x20 feet; in Schoenchen, the first house of God was likewise built of wood, but was smaller than the Munjor edifice, measuring 30x18x9 feet. These are typical of all the earliest churches in the colonies. Only with the passing of the years and the expenditure of much labor and sacrifice were the magnificent churches built which today are the pride and the joy of the villages.
Humble and lowly though the churches were, the spirit of genuine devotion and true Christianity of a surety dwelt in them. The attendance at divine service on the part of the settlers may be said to be exemplary. Many attend several or all the Masses on Sundays and holidays, as well as the afternoon services, Vespers and Benediction. The services on Candlemas Day (February 2), the feast of St. Blasius (February 3), and during Holy Week, are always well attended. On the feast of St. Mark (April 25), the Rogation days (the three days before feast of the Ascension), and the feast of Corpus Christi, every man, woman and child takes part in the procession which even today makes quite a large circuit when the weather permits. Formerly, however, they were much longer. Thus, for example, in the early days the procession from Catherine, Munjor and Pfeifer terminated at Herzog, a distance of from eight to ten miles, and the Herzog procession wended its way to Munjor. While marching, the people prayed the rosary and litanies, while the choir sang German and Latin hymns in honor of the Holy Eucharist.
The conduct of the people during the divine services was always very devout. On entering a pew the usual salutation was, "Gelobt sei Jesus Christus" (Praised be Jesus Christ). To the present day one may occassionally see worshippers praying with outstretched arms in honor of the five wounds of the crucified Savior. Whenever a member of the community died, the villages gathered together for the "Todten Wacht," during which the rosary was prayed every hour. At Catherine it was customary on the occasion of a death to ring the church bell at evening. This drew all the people to church, where they prayed a rosary for the repose of the soul of their departed brother. This was repeated each evening till the funeral.
As a general rule, children are brought to church for baptism soon after birth. Formerly only such names were given to them as could be found in duly approved "Legende der Heiligen" (Lives of the Saints). For girls, the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary was the general favorite, though St. Catherine, St. Margaret, St. Ann and St. Rose were frequently chosen as patron saints. For boys, the most common patrons were St. Joseph, St. John, St. Michael, St. Anthony and St. Francis. Quite frequently double names were given, such as Mary-Anna, Anna-Catherine, Anna-Margaret, John-Jacob, John-Joseph, John-George, etc. (In everyday use these were usually contracted into one: Marian, Ammerkret, Hansjakob, Hansjoseph, and Hansjoerg.)
In Russia during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the education of the common people was sadly neglected. Indeed, the colonists on the Lower Volga, together with the native Russian peasantry, were the victims of a deliberate policy on the part of the government to discourage, for political reasons, the education of the masses.
The German immigrants, however, refused to let their children be deprived of an education. Receiving no help from the government, they erected private schools in each of the colonies and attempted, as best they could, to instruct the children. Each village was forced to finance its own school. No money could be raised by taxation, and the people themselves were poor. All these causes worked together to prevent the schools from developing to any noticeable degree. A schoolmaster (Schulmeister), who at the same time was sacristan and choir director, presided over each village school, some of which contained as many as two and three hundred pupils. There was no division into grades, no standard textbooks, and, in fact, no system whatever. Conditions such as these readily account for the fact that numbers of the pioneers in Ellis County can neither read nor write.
After coming to the United States the immigrants attempted to educate their children. Private teachers, who taught in German only, were employed to conduct school in some private dwelling. Thus, at Herzog we find Peter Linenberger, who had studied at the seminary at Saratov, teaching first in the home of John Sander, and later in the home of Alois Dreiling. At Schoenchen, John Dreher taught in his own home, while at Catherine, Jacob Schmidt, who had been a schoolmaster in Katharinenstadt, Russia, instructed the children regularly for years.
These private schools were, however, but temporary makeshifts. The colonists soon learned that schools could be maintained by taxation, school districts were organized, public school teachers employed, and the English language taught.
But it is with the parochial school that the history of the development of education in the colonies is most closely connected, and in these schools was the greatest progress made.
The first parochial school in Ellis County was opened at Victoria in September, 1879, by Sisters Agatha and Aurea of the Congregation of St. Agnes; who had come to Victoria for this purpose on August 29.
Until 1888, the church built by the Hon. Walter Maxwell served the double purpose of church and school. In that year Father Anselm Bayrau, 0.M. Cap., built a large, four-room school which measured 66x30x23 feet. Northeast of the school a convent was built for the Sisters who until this time had lived in an annex built to the church. The present commodious school building, which contains eight large class rooms, was completed in July, 1898, by Father Gabriel Spaeth, 0.C. Cap.
For years the first church in Munjor was used as a school on week days. The present stone schoolhouse was completed in September, 1893. It measures 74x36x37 feet, contains five class rooms, and cost about $3,600.00.
At Catherine the first school was built in 1879. In 1902 the present four-room stone structure was erected. At Pfeifer a large parochial school measuring 65x4O feet, two stories high, was built in 1897-98. Schoenchen and Liebenthal also have parochial schools conducted by Sisters.
The beginnings in the parochial schools were very humble. In the first years the curriculum embraced but reading, writing, arithmetic, religion and singing. Both German and English were employed, the former in the morning and the latter in the afternoon. In addition to the sisters, who taught daily, the pupils received religious instruction at stated-times from the pastor, who likewise conducted periodic examinations.
Due to a number of causes, progress was rather slow in the early days. Many of the older people were not very enthusiastic about education, attendance at school was irregular and intermittent, the children frequently being kept on the farms as long as possible in fall, and removed from school very early in spring; not accustomed to special assessments, the fee of fifty cents per month per child proved to be quite a burden to many parents; at home and on the village street the only language used was German, and as a result, the children made but little headway in English. Though they learned to read and write it, fluency in speech was lacking, a defect which to some extent is noticeable even today.
In the course of time, however, all these hindrances to progress were removed. Indifference and apathy have given way to a genuine eagerness for education, children are sent to school regularly, and the people willingly make many sacrifices to keep up their schools. Every parish school has been standardized, the curriculum extended so as to embrace all the branches required by the laws of the state, and all the Sisters have teachers' certificates. The result of all this is easily seen in the graduates sent out by these schools. In every respect they are equal if not superior to the pupils of the public schools.
Nor has higher education been neglected in the colonies. The first attempt in this field was made by Rev. Lawrence Becker, 0.M. Cap., who in 1893 opened an advanced course for boys at Hays. Owing to poor crops in the immediately succeeding years, however, this course was discontinued on May 14, 1895. The project was revived in 1906 when the Capuchins opened Hays Catholic College.
Of recent years quite a number of children of the colonies are attending various institutions of higher education. The young men attend chiefly: St. Mary's College, St. Mary's, Kas.; St. Benedict's College, Atchison, Kas.; St. Francis Solanus' College, Quincy, Ill.; St. Fidelis College, Herman, Pa.; St. Louis University, St. Louis, Mo., and Creighton University, Omaha, Neb., while the girls usually choose one of the following: Nazareth Academy, Concordia, Kas.; Mt. Carmel Academy, Wichita, Kas.; St. Scholastica's Academy, Atchison, Kas.
Progress in education has been especially pronounced during the past fifteen years. A number of parishes have introduced high schools, and the demand for higher education for boys especially has become so insistent that the Rt. Rev. Bishop Tief has found it necessary to sponsor the erection of a new college. The comprehensive plans for this undertaking, the consummation of educational progress in the colonies, contemplate the erection of a series of buildings costing about $1,000,000.00. The administration building, a magnificent structure of brick and terra cotta, is now under construction.
THE largest and most important of the German-Russian colonies in Ellis County is Herzog, which its founders located in the southeast quarter of Section 1, Township 14, South of Range 17. This was one-half of a mile north of the English colony of Victoria, which, through the instrumentality of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, had been founded a number of years prior to the arrival of the German-Russians. In the course of time, the new settlement absorbed the old, though the name of the latter remained. In 1913 the name of the German-Russian settlement was changed from Herzog to Victoria.
The founders of Herzog were: Andrew Billinger, Alois Dreiling, Anton Dreiling, Nicholaus Dreiling, Leonard Hammerschmidt, Jacob Hammerschmidt, John Goetz, John Kreutzer, Michael Rome, John Sander, Michael Storm, John Van der Dunkt, Ignatius Vonfeld, Ignatius Weigel, Jacob Arnhold, Joseph Braun, Frank Weber, John Geist, Jacob Geist, William Geist, Anton Hermann and Peter Quint. All these left Saratov, Russia, in company with numerous other emigrants, on October 24, 1875, and arrived in Baltimore, Md., on November 23. From Baltimore they traveled west to Topeka, where they stayed throughout the winter. On the eighth day of April, 1876, they came to Victoria and erected their first dwellings on the east bank of Victoria Creek, a little west of the present town.
So favorable did the original settlers find conditions in their new home, that they sent most enthusiastic reports of the land of their adoption to their relatives and friends in Russia. The result was that on August 3, 1876, a group of 286 persons, mostly of Herzog, Russia, arrived. From this time on, until the beginning of the World War, immigration to Herzog never really ceased, though no more large groups arrived in the colony.
Herzog's first inhabitants were all of the peasant class. Agriculture was the one business they thoroughly understood. Taking advantage of the liberal homestead laws, each head of a family secured eighty acres of government land. Those who had the means, bought additional land, at a reasonable price and on easy terms, from the Kansas Pacific Railroad.
The early days in Herzog were much the same as in the other colonies. The people were poor, and at first suffered want in many things. They built their humble sod houses, erected a large cross about which they gathered for services, and tilled what land they could.
Divine services were first held at Herzog in the dwelling of A. Dreiling, but the floor proving unequal to the weight, a frame church was built adjoining the house, the south wall of the dwelling serving as north wall of the church. This structure was about 40x24 feet, and could accommodate but part of the congregation. Hon. Walter C. Maxwell, a Catholic Englishman then living south of Victoria, undertook to build a stone church for the settlers on Section 1, north of the present dwellings. In June, 1877, he had collected $700, the total sum subscribed was $1,500, and the only condition attached was that the settlers haul the necessary stone. In August, 1877, plans and specifications had been completed by Henry Bergsland who also received the contract. This church, which measured 60x30x16 feet, soon proving to be too small, the Kansas Pacific Railroad Company, at the solicitation of Rev. Hyacinth Epp, O.M. Cap., donated ten acres in the northwest quarter of Section 7 for a church and school, June 9, 1879. Rev. A. Schuermann, O.M. Cap., altered the original design of Rev. Jos. C. Mayershofer, O.M. Cap., and superintended the building of the new church, which measured 168x46x35, and had a seating capacity of 600. The cornerstone was laid on June 1, 1880; consecration by Rt. Rev. L. M. Fink took place on October 19, 1884. The cash cost of construction was about $8,000, $1,875 of which Father Anthony Schuermann collected in England and Westphalia on occasion of a visit to Rome in 1884.
The plans for the present church were completed as early as December, 1905, by John T. Comes, of Pittsburgh, Pa. In 1908, these were revised and modified by Jos. Marshall, of Topeka. Building operations began November, 1908, the cornerstone was laid October 4, 1909, by Rt. Rev. J. F. Cunningham, and the structure was completed in 1911. The total length of the building is 220 feet, the breadth 73 feet, in the transept 107 feet. The towers are 141 feet high.
The complete and highly efficient educational system now enjoyed by the children sprang from a very humble beginning. School district No. 7, the Herzog district, was organized probably as early as 1877, but was without a school. The first public school in the colony was the home of Alois Dreiling, where a certain Mr. Rowe taught. Mr. Peter Linnenberger, who had studied in the seminary at Saratov, taught private school, first in the home of John Sander, and later in Alois Dreiling's home.
August 29,1879, Sisters Agatha and Aurea of the Congregation of St. Agnes, of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, came to Herzog and opened a parochial school. The church built by Hon. W. C. Maxwell served the double purpose of church and school, a movable partition dividing off the sanctuary. The school benches were removed each Friday, and stacked up outside by the children, and on Monday morning they were returned. At this period the church had no pews. For a time the Sisters dwelt in Alois Dreiling's home. Later they moved to an annex which had been built to the church in 1878.
In 1888, Rev. Anselm Bayerau, O.M. Cap., built a new school (at present, the Sister's convent), which measured 66x30x23 feet, and contained four large class rooms. At the same time a Sister's house was erected (now the residence of John Schmidtberger). These two new buildings satisfied the needs of the growing community for about ten years. The present school, a commodious, substantial structure, was erected by Rev. Gabriel Spaeth, O.M. Cap., in 1897 and 1898. It contains eight large, well-lighted class rooms, but has neither furnace nor plumbing.
The curriculum was, in the beginning, a very modest one, religion, reading, writing, and arithmetic claiming practically all the attention. As in the other colonies, learning was imparted in both English and German, the mornings being reserved for German, and the afternoons for English. The causes which hampered educational advancement in the other colonies - failure of the children to attend school regularly, the difficulties arising from the bilingual system, and the opposition of the parents - were also met with in Herzog, and were removed only with the passing of the years.
At present, in addition to the grade school attended by four or five hundred pupils, Victoria has a beautiful, modern high school, completed in 1922, and staffed with Sisters of St. Agnes, all qualified teachers. This school, is fully accredited, and its graduates are admitted to any institution of higher learning in the State of Kansas.
The first priest to minister to the inhabitants of Herzog was Rev. Adolf Wibbert, who visited them several times in 1876. In October, 1876, he was accompanied by Rev. Valentine Sommereisen, who watched over this flock until May, 1878, when the Capuchin Fathers took charge of the parish. The following is the complete list of' all the pastors of Herzog:
Herzog has never ceased growing. The few sod houses of 1876 have grown into a good-sized town of about 280 families, numbering about 1,665 souls. In 1913 it became an incorporated city, and within the last decade a complete water and electric system has been installed.
Arnhold, John F.
Hays, the county seat of Ellis County, Kansas, today the pride of the western part of the State; an educational unter, a city of churches and schools and a prosperous law-abiding citizenship, had in the year 1876, the time of the German-Russian settlers, just emerged from the heyday times of the cowboy, the Texas cattlemen and the frontiersmen.
With its incorporation as a municipality, in 1869, the element of law and order became predominant and the frontier tough gradually vanished from the scene.
The necessity to seek work to support his family, while his crops were growing, forced many of the settlers to leave the wife and children on the farm while they found work in the cities. Hays, being nearby, naturally be came the first destination. Thus, gradually a number of them became permanent residents.
In 1876, the Catholic population of Hays consisted of a few scattered families whose spiritual needs were taken care of by priests occasionally coming from Solomon City and Salina.
With the advent of the new element the church membership increased rapidly. Bishop Louis M. Fink of Leavenworth, in whose diocese Hays then lay, appointed Rev. Fr. Valentin Sommereisen, an Alsatian by birth, resident priest. His field embraced not only Hays but also the six newly founded settlements. On the first Sunday in advent, 1876, he organized St. Joseph's parish. Services were held in one of the barracks in Fort Hays on the fourth Sunday of each month. The public school building was also used for that purpose at various times.
In 1878 the Capuchin Fathers of the Pennsylvania Province, at the request of Rt. Rev. Bishop Fink, assumed spiritual charge of all the Catholics in Ellis County, Kansas, residing between the Saline and Smoky Hill rivers. The first Capuchin Fathers to arrive in Ellis County were Rev. Fr. Mathew Hau and Rev. Fr. Anastasius Mueller. The church was administered from Herzog (Victoria) where the first hospice of the Capuchins was located. Rev. Fr. Anastasius held services in the court house and the barracks at the fort.
During his administration Fr. Sommereisen had purchased from Martin Allen lots 1, 3, 5 and 7 in Block 18, for church purposes, and on these lots a frame church building 42 ft. by 22 ft. was erected in 1879.
In 1880 the first sisters of St. Agnes came to Hays. Their first visit seems to have been short as they came for the purpose of assisting the pastor in instructing the "First Communion Class."
On the third day of January, 1881, Ven. Sisters Seraphina and Adriana, C. S. A., came to Hays to take charge of the parochial school. A two-story frame house was built which served as residence for the sisters and schoolhouse.
In 1884 a frame school building was erected. The church building, in the meantime, had become too small, therefore preparations for the building of a new edifice were made.
The erection of this building was commenced in the spring of 1886. On August 15 of that year the cornerstone was laid. The building was completed by Christmas day, 1886. On March 6, 1887, it was dedicated by Rev. Fr. Anastasius, O. M. Cap. The dimensions of the same were 72x32x2l with a sacristy 26x16 two stories high. On September 4, 1887, it was consecrated.
In August, 1893, the residence of the priest at Hays was made a hospice of the Capuchin Fathers, Rev. Fr. Martin, O.M. Cap., becoming the first Superior September 1, 1893.
In October, 1893, Rev. Fr. Lawrence, O.M. Cap., opened an advanced course of study for young boys at Hays, which was attended by twenty boys. Owing to crop failures in the succeeding years, this course was abandoned.
In 1893 the parish had 306 communicants. On January 25, 1897, Rev. Fr. Val Sommereisen, who had lived in retirement on a farm northeast of Hays, for many years, died and was buried in the Catholic cemetery here.
The number of parishioners had in the meantime increased so that the church erected in 1886 was filled to capacity and the necessity for a larger church building became apparent.
Before, however, undertaking this, Rev. Fr. Emmeram, O.M. Cap., pastor at Hays in 1897-99 erected a residence for the priests, a commodious two story building of native magnesia limestone.
On the 19th of June the Rev. Fr. Fidelis Meier, O.M. Cap, a son of the parish, celebrated his first Holy Mass. As this was the first celebration of this nature it attracted wide attention.
In 1899 the parish census showed 113 families.
On August 10. 1899, Rev. Fr. Mark Haas. O.M. Cap., became pastor of St. Joseph's church at Hays, who proceded to have plans and specifications made for a new church building. Joseph Marshal of Topeka, an architect of note, made the plans. The spirit of sacrifice and cooperation displayed by the people of Hays enabled the pastor to complete the building in a comparatively short time. The beginning was made in June, 1901. On Novemher 28 of the same year the cornerstone was laid, and on June 12, 1904, it was dedicated. The membership had by that time increased to 186 families.
The project of an advanced course of study for boys which had been abandoned in the early nineties, was revived and carried out by the Capuchin Fathers. Rev. Fr. Cassian, O.M. Cap, on his arrival in Hays, in August 11, 1906, undertook the erection of a college building large enough to accommodate seventy-five to one hundred students. The cornerstone of the new building was laid June 23, 1907. Great interest in the undertaking was manifested by the Catholic population of Ellis County, who gathered in large numbers at Hays for the event. After some unavoidable delay the building was completed and dedicated September 14, 1908. Rev. Fr. Henry Kluepfel, O.M. Cap., opened the school as its first director the same month. The school provided a commercial course of three years and a classical course of six years. From its opening day, it enjoyed good attendance. Its graduates are numbered by the hundreds and many occupy positions of trust and responsibility in the professional and commercial life of their respective communities.
The growth of St. Joseph's parish in the meanwhile continued. In 1911 the census showed 239 families. The parochial school facilities soon became lamentably inadequate and new quarters, to house the young ones who in ever increasing numbers sought admission, became imperative. Rev. Fr. Paul, O.M. Cap., pastor of Hays, July 12, 1913, commenced the erection of an eight-room two-story brick building. It was completed and opened for school in September, 1914.
In July, 1915, the Hays hospice was raised to the dignity of a guardianate, Rev. Fr. Dominic Schuster, O.M. Cap., becoming the first guardian.
The need of a hospital, located in a place easily accessible to the people of western Kansas had long been felt. In 1915, one of the largest private residences of Hays, which had been used as the Sisters of St. Agnes home for some years, was converted into a hospital. It was some years later replaced by the present St. Anthony's Hospital, a model institution, its equipment and furnishings representing the best. At this writing St. Joseph's parish at Hays has become the largest congregation in the diocese of Concordia. It numbers 500 families of about 2,300 souls; 678 children are enrolled on the parochial school books, while sixty-two young ladies attended the Hays Catholic Girls' High School last year. The question of adequate housing for all these children is an acute one and awaits solution.
The following priests served as pastors at Hays since 1876: Rev. Fr. Sommereisen, 1876-1878; Rev. Fr. Anastasius, O.M. Cap., 1878-1885; Rev. Fr. Martin, O.M. Cap., 9-1-1885, to 12-29-1985; Rev. Fr. Anastasius, 1885-1888: Rev. Fr. Anthony Berger, 1888-1891: Rev. Fr. Martin; Rev. Fr. Emmeram, O.M. Cap., 1897-1899; Rev. Fr. Mark Haas, O.M. Cap., 1899-1903; Rev. Fr. Richard Dei, O.M. Cap., 1903-1906; Rev. Fr. Cassian, O.M. Cap., 1906-1909; Rev. Fr. Charles, 1909-1912; Rev. Fr. Anthony Burghardt, O.M. Cap., 1912-1913; Rev. Fr. Paul, O.M. Cap., 1913-1914; Rev. Fr. Jerome Mueller, O.M. Cap., 1914-1915; Rev. Fr. Dominic Schuster, 1915-1917; Rev. Fr. Anselm Mueller, O.M. Cap., 1917-1919; Rev. Fr. Ignatius Weisbruch, O.M. Cap., 1919-1921; Rev. Fr. Bernardine, O. M. Cap.. 1921-1922, and Rev. Fr. Thomas Petri, O.M. Cap., 1922 to present time.
Aich, Mrs. John
Ellis is a thriving, modern little city situated on the Union Pacific Railroad at the point where central time changes to mountain time. The Union Pacific Railroad's roundhouse and shops are located here, and help to make it what it is, the second largest city in Ellis County.
In the early days, Ellis was outside the scope of the German-Russian immigrants' influence, as the newcomers confined themselves exclusively to the eastern half of the county.
The first of the immigrants to come to Ellis were a few families who were compelled by necessity to seek work in the yards and in the roundhouse. These stayed but a short time, and then moved away.
Later, however, German-Russian farmers in search of cheaper farms bought up land in the vicinity of the city, where they permanently settled. These were gradually followed by others in such numbers that today there are about 175 families of German-Russian descent in Ellis. The remainder of the population is made up of Austrians with a sprinkling of Irish.
St. Mary's Church at Ellis was organized in 1886. The first church was built by Samuel Lent, on a plot donated by Michael Ryan. At that time the congregation numbered about twenty families.
The frame church, which at present is used as a school, was built in the summer of 1900. From 1905 to 1911 it served as both church and school.
Construction on the present magnificent church was begun in 1909, and the building completed in 1911. It is Romanesque in style, and built of native magnesia lime stone. Tastefully decorated, it is one of the most beautiful churches in the county.
Besides the church, the parish also possesses a modern parsonage and a convent, both built in 1917, the former at a cost of $10,000 and the latter at a cost of $12,000.
The school is conducted by the Sisters of St. Agnes. It was opened in 1905 with a staff of two sisters and an enrollment of 108 pupils. At present, seven sisters teach about 250 pupils.
The following is a list of all the pastors who have labored in Ellis from the founding of the parish until the present day:
Rev. John Fogarty, 1886-1893.
Armbruester, John, John J, Phillip, Martin
Liebenthal, on Big Timber Creek, Rush County, Kansas, is the oldest of the settlements founded by the emigrants from the Lower Volga district of Russia. Its founders included the families of Jacob Herrmann, Peter Herrmann, John Schaefer, Martin Goetz, Peter Beil, Andrew Weber, Adam Kreutzer of Liebenthal, Russia, and Henry Bieker, John Bieker, Frank Waldschmidt, John Joseph Bieker, Nicholas Bieker, William Bieker, Philip Wolf and John Zimmerman of Neu-Obermonjour, Russia.
These families were part of the large band of emigrants which left Saratov, Russia, on October 24, 1875. After spending the greater part of the winter in Topeka, they arrived at Hays on February 21, 1876. The following morning they moved to the present site of Liebenthal, Section 21, Township 16, Range 18 West, in Rush County. A certain Mr. Roedelheimer, a land agent, had directed them to this spot.
Starting to work at once, most of the newcomers had their simple sod houses completed before dark. That same night a blizzard swept over the country, adding additional hardships to the already trying lot of the newcomers, for they nearly lost what little cattle they had brought with them.
A second group of emigrants arrived at Liebenthal on August 14, 1876. They were all from Schoenchen, Russia, and had come to America in company with the founders of Munjor. This party was made up of the following families: Henry Depperschmidt, Peter Depperschmidt, John Jacob Schoenthaler, Karl Herrklotz, Helen Herrklotz, Jacob Munsch, Joseph Munsch, Michael Schmidt, Simon Schoenthaler, Joseph Schuckmann, Frederic Werth, Louis Werth and Jacob Zimmerman. In September they were followed by, a number of families from Neu-Obermonjour: Adam Bieker, Frank Dreher, John Dreher, Konrad Dreher, Philip Dreher, Frederic Graf, Joseph Rumbach and Joseph Zimmermann.
Scarcely had the third band of immigrants settled in Liebenthal, when a disagreement arose among the inhabitants concerning the permanent site of the town. The tract of land in Section 21 on which the village was situated contained but forty acres, and was poorly supplied with water. These causes induced the members of the second group of settlers, those from Schoenchen, Russia, to come to an agreement with the founders to move the colony to the east half of Section 16, which was better supplied with water. A number of families had already built their homes on the new location when John Schaefer, apparently contrary to the agreement, deeded four acres of land in Section 21 to Rt. Rev. Louis Fink, 0.S.B., Bishop of Leavenworth, on which a church was to be erected.
This action split the colony in two. The settlers from Neu-Obermonjour with the exception of the families of Henry Depperschmidt, Peter Depperschmidt and John Jacob Schoenthaler, removed to Ellis County, Section 28, Township 15 South, Range 18 West, and founded the town of Schoenchen. The others remained at Liebenthal and devoted all their energy to building a church on the land donated.
Building operations were begun in 1877 and the edifice was completed in October of the following year. The complete church measured 48x28 feet, with a sacrist of 15x15 feet on the west side, all of native stone. This first church was later used as a school.
In the fall of 1889 a parish house was erected at a cost of about $800.00, and in the year 1897 the first parochial school, measuring 6Ox3O feet, was built. In the fall of the same year the church was enlarged. The corner stone of the present imposing church was laid on Thanksgiving Day, 1902, and the dedication, by Rt. Rev. J. J. Hennessy, took place on May 28, 1905. V. Klutho of St. Louis designed the edifice, and Rev. R. Stollenwerk, the pastor, directed the building operations. The latter, who still watches over the spiritual welfare of the inhabitants, has, during the past twenty-seven years, built up a model parish.
The first priest to hold services was Rev. Adolf Wibbert, who visited the town in 1876. The following year Rev. Valentine Sommereisen said Mass there several times. In 1878 the Capuchin Fathers replaced Father Sommereisen, and remained in charge of the parish until 1884, when Rev. Joseph Hardes, a secular priest, was appointed resident pastor. Since then the secular clergy have labored there uninterruptedly. The following list contains the names of all the priests who have ministered to the spiritual needs of the inhabitants of the oldest German-Russian settlement in Kansas: Rev. Adolf Wibbert, 1876; Rev. Valentine Sommereisen, 1877; Rev. Anastasius Mueller, O.M. Cap., 1878; Rev. James Muench, O.M. Cap., 1881; Rev. Andrew Eisenhut, O.M. Cap., 1883; Rev. Joseph Hardes, 1884; Rev. Ph. Brockard, 1885; Rev. W. Bitter, Nov., 1885; Rev. K. T. Withopf, 1887; Rev. Joseph B. Disselkamp, 1888; Rev. F. J. Hartmann, 1889; Rev. John M. Sklenar, 1891; Rev. A. J. Abel, 1893; Rev. B. Schroeder, 1895; Rev. Rudolf Stollenwerk, 1899.
Here we may note that the entire Liebenthal town site comprising twenty-seven acres in the northwest quarter, and thirteen acres in the northeast quarter of Section 21, was purchased by Jacob Herrmann, John Schaefer and Nicholas Bieker, as representatives of the settlers. These latter received deeds for their individual property from Jacob Herrmann.
1878 - The first church, 28x48 feet, was built on ground donated by John Schaeffer.
1887 - A steeple was built on this church under the administration of Rev. Father Bitter.
1889 - Rev. Fr. Hartman erected the parish house, now the home of Conrad Schaeffer; cashier of the Liebenthal State Bank.
1890 - Reverend Father Hartman built the first parochial school.
1895 - Rev. Fr. Schroeder added a 20x3O addition to this school.
1901 - February 22 Liebenthal celebrated the 25th anniversary of its foundation.
1902 - November 22 the cornerstone of the new large church, 148x5OO, was laid by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Hennesy of Wichita, Kan.
1905 - May 28, Church dedicated by Rt. Rev. Bishop Hennesy.
1910 - A new large stone parish house was erected.
1917 - The present nice school house was built at a cost of approximately $25,000.00.
1917 - The parish house and church destroyed by fire.
1918 - The present parish house rebuilt at a cost of $15,000.00.
1921 - The present church was dedicated by the Rt. Rev. Aug. J. Schwertner, Bishop of Wichita.
Liebenthal had sixty-five families in 1899. The last twenty-six years ninety-three families moved away to western parts of the state, namely to Spearville, Park, Ness City, Marienthal, Hays, Sitka, Wallace and other points.
St. Peter, in Graham County, Kansas, which was formerly known as Hoganville, was founded by German-Russian families of Ellis County in 1894.
The earliest settlers in this district were John Richmeier, John Brungardt, Peter A. Rome, John Ingerthron, John Peter Knoll, Jr., Nikolaus D. Dreiling, Peter Rome, Sr., and Florian Dinkel.
In 1895 these few families built a small frame church which satisfied their needs for almost fifteen years. In 1909-10 the present St. Anthony's Church was built. Mr. Alex Schueler of Catherine was both architect and contractor. The new edifice was dedicated in the fall of 1910.
Peter Rome, one of the founders of the settlement, gave the land on which the church is built, and in his honor the name of the village was changed from Hoganville to St. Peter.
The first school building in St. Peter was erected in 1905, while the present brick school dates from 1917.
In 1904, as soon as a house for them had been built, three Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia came to St. Peter and took charge of the school.
The first pastor of St. Peter was Rev. Fr. H. Vornhold, who was in charge from 1894 till 1902. He was succeeded by Rev. Fr. Charles Weber, who stayed till 1921. Following him came Rev. Anthony Schaefer, who was pastor till June, 1922. From June, 1922, till December 31, 1923, Rev. Fr. Jerome Dies ministered to the people. On the latter date he was succeeded by Rev. Fr. Michael Dreiling, the present pastor.
Appelhans, Joseph, Joseph J., Andrew
Send email to Jerry@MyAncestors.net with additions, corrections, questions, or general comments.