Friday, August 6, 2010

It’s already Saturday! Our time this week has flown past too quickly. Research, bookstore and library visits, SOAR, tours and workshops have kept us busy during the convention. If you haven’t already purchased your quilt raffle ticket or bid on the silent auction items, make that a priority this morning.

Dutch Hop Symposium
Session I: Dutch Hop: The Leap from the Old World to the New
Dr. Timothy J. Kloberdanz

Dutch hop music is close to the heart and soul of Germans from Russia and one of the great symbols of the German Russian culture.
Where did the Dutch Hop begin? Thousands of Germans from Russian participate in this tradition however not all share this art form. The Dutch Hop represents a leap from some Volga German villages to cities of the central plains states to the Rocky Mountains.

Rosalinda Kloberdanz and Timothy J. Kloberdanz

The Dutch Hop was practiced at a vast array of celebrations from weddings to anniversaries yet:
· It has nothing to do with Dutch culture
· It is not a hop. Dutch hoppers don’t hop, they stroll but with oomph.
· It does share spontaneity since there are no written arrangements, no prepared steps.
· And some of these customs were picked up from the Ukrainians.
Some of the Traditions include:
· Wedding march on dance floor
· Special honor dances for parents
· Special dance for wedding cooks includes breaking a dish on the floor
· Theft and ransom of bride’s shoe
· Women dress like men, men dress like women
· Carrying the bride and groom in chairs around the dance floor
How did the term Dutch Hop get started? Adolph Lesser claimed the term originated as a cover term. Before World War II these events were called German dances. Anti German sentiments caused the transition to the term Dutch hop yet he does not know who originally coined the phrase.
Today the ten thousand mile leap of the Dutch Hop continues to thrive with the next generation as new musicians learn the music and perform with us today.
Dutch Hop Symposium
Session II: Dutch Hop: Polka with Attitude! A Conversation with Musicians
Gwen K. Meister

The River Boys Dutch Hop Band members are:
· Robert Schmer, accordion and band leader
· Steve Deines, bass and vocals
· Jerry Hergenreder, trombone and vocals
· Joe Herman, hammered dulcimer
Each member shared how they got involved with Dutch Hop music. Most of them were born into the Dutch Hop tradition, and one was already on the dance floor when his mother was pregnant with him.
The band performs regularly at wedding and dances. They enjoy being at conventions like this to share the music with those who may not be familiar with the sounds of the dulcimer, accordion, bass, and trombone. One of their most memorable shows was performing at the Kennedy Arts Center and the Folk Art Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. yet every show evokes specific and vivid memories for the musicians.
The River Boys: Steve Deines, Joe Herman, Robert Schmer and Jerry Hergenreder

It’s interesting to note that the Dutch hop musicians do not refer to sheet music to play. They have picked up the songs by ear and play without reading music and this makes the music fun for them. The band works together to go with the flow and they enjoy the crowd as much as the crowd enjoys them. If the band gets distracted by the dancers and forget where they are in the song, they will always find their way back to it. Most of the musicians learned to play by on to job training.

Dutch hop bands don’t play concerts per se. It’s the dancing that makes the music and the songs more adaptable. If the dancers are enjoying it, the band will play the long version or play the song again. If the mood shifts, they will play a shorter version.

While the musicians carry on the Dutch Hop tradition, the number of dancers was dwindled. The band hopes for more dancers to help carry on the interaction which is critical to the success of this music.

Dutch Hop Symposium
Session III: Dutch Hop: Dance with a Bounce! A Conversation with Dancers
Georgia Wier and Anne Hatch, Facilitators

Dancers Dorothy Richard, Stan Schilling, Al Kukus, Marol (Klein) Goodwin, Lila Ellard, Wally Schmidt, Tim and Mary Trostel and Gene Wilkens shared their stories of how Dutch Hop has been and remains a part of their lives. From two day weddings to dancing on their parents’ shoulders to learning the dance only recently, these dancers clearly showed their joy when it comes to the Dutch Hop. The dance is not choreographed and since there are no costumes or uniforms, this tradition is truly by and for the people.

Food Demonstration-German Sausage
Paul Loos at Immanuel Lutheran Church
Photos Courtesy of Donald Riemer

It’s All Earth and Sky is the sixth documentary in the Prairie Public’s series about the legacy of the German from Russia.

This collaborative effort was written by Dona Reeves-Marquardt and Lewis R. Marquardt, produced by Bob Dambach, and edited by Ryan Sailer. Executive producers were Bob Dambach and Michael M. Miller.
Major funding produced by Arthur E. and Cleora (Reutscher) Flegel, North Dakota State University Libraries’ German from Russia Heritage Collection and the members of Prairie Public.

The documentary revolves around interviews of five representative Germans from Russia, who have attained success and stability. They share their insights on becoming American and assimilation.

Everyone enjoyed the presentation as clearly evidenced by the lines in the bookstore to purchase the DVD immediately after the show. The video is ideal to share with our children, grandchildren and as a program for our chapter meetings. The documentary is dedicated to Margaret Aman Freeman.
More photos from the entire convention will be added as time permits over the next week. See you next year in Salt Lake City!
Opening Ceremonies

After the presentation of the flag and the opening prayer of Unser Vater by Reverend Frank Kerkemeyer, Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy welcomed everyone to the “happiest” state in the United States.

Low unemployment rates and low foreclosure rates add up to make Nebraska number one in happiness. Nebraskans come together whether in adversity or merriment to celebrate faith, family and tradition much as we do to honor our ancestry.

Sheehy expressed his thanks for holding the convention in Lincoln and maintaining our headquarters here and wished us the best for our time in Nebraska.
For more information about Rick Sheehy, please visit his website at

AHSGR, Past, Present & Future

Jim Griess, a charter member of AHSGR, traced our beginnings back to the first gathering in Greeley, Colorado. Jim described our wonderful assets at headquarters, our outstanding publications and our well documented history.

Jim explained how the initial settlements in Nebraska were instrumental to the German Russian immigration. The hardships of travel did not deter these immigrants. Despite visiting other states, they ultimately visited Nebraska to buy land near each other. The railroad owned much of the land and a number of immigrants moved on to the Dakotas.

Then, more Germans from Russia arrived in Sutton: Black Sea Germans in 1873, Mennonites in 1874, Volga Germans from Balzer in 1875, from Norka in 1876 and more in 1877. These settlements followed the Burlington Railroad which provided transportation and work.

As Germans from Russia, we still have many stories to tell and our challenge is to get the next generation involved with our organization. Hopefully, with each member’s help we can continue and make the future of AHSGR better than ever.

Jerome Siebert,
AHSGR President, President’s Report

After introductions of the AHSGR board and the Board of Trustees, Jerry welcomed Arthur Flegel who turns 93 years young tomorrow.

Financially, our society is in excellent shape. The foundation’s endowment and membership fees provide the necessary operating funds for us to continue to produce the Journal, newsletter and other services.

Membership is our number one priority. Current members count is at 3256 with 1026 life members. These numbers have stabilized and we can work together to increase our membership base. Our fall campaign is upon us and the flyer with contest information is in your registration packet.

Dues have not increased in years, so there will be an analysis conducted within the coming year. The value of membership which includes:
· the publications, convention, library and genealogical resources.
The quarterly newsletter and Journal
CLUES database which has been organized again and will be published later this year.
New publications continue to be translated and published.
Isabel Kessler of Argentina has also provided us with Argentina’s version of CLUES, that is, names and contracts of people seeking their ancestors and relatives.
Also, collaborators such as Michael Miller and Brent Mai offer valuable relationships with AHSGR.
Colorado State University for German Russian studies offers another opportunity for combined activities as we can work to enhance this program.

With the chapters, members and organization working together, we can achieve our goals.

Jerry acknowledged the tireless work of the AHSGR staff including Diane White, Gail Gingrich, Pam Wurst and Julia Tsymbal.

After the opening ceremony, attendees spread into Heritage Hall, the bookstore and library for research and camaraderie.

It was standing room only in the bookstore as everyone kicked into research mode seeking censuses, books or latest piece of research information they needed.

In the SOAR database area, Dennis Zitterkopf helped a researchers who crowded together to use SOAR online. Brand new as of August 4, the Life Events Database now features:

*Wedding and Engagement Announcements
*Birth Announcements
*Wedding Anniversary Articles
*Family Reunion Articles (many with photographs and multi-generational information)

There are now three thousand plus files in this database and more will be added as the SOAR team receives additional information. For more details, on SOAR be sure to read the yellow sheet in your registration packet for the membership plus subscription option. You can add six to seventeen months and insure you have the SOAR access through 2011.

Karen Penner introduced Peter Kaland who explained how they are using software to extract and index all documents and books in the Lincoln Library. This is in the test phase and should be available for use soon.

The German Origins Project-What is it? And how is it used?Dick Kraus

The German Origins project is the culmination of a five year effort to help us locate our roots in the Germanic lands. The goal was to provide all pre-Russia origin information in one place.
One of the greatest challenges is the names. Some names have changed much, others not so much. Spellings changed in Russia and the Americas and German spelling was not standardized prior to our ancestors move to
The spelling of names is challenged further by clerks who can hear a different spelling. The Russian ear and alphabet could not easily understand nor write the German sounds. So, we all need to be flexible in regard to family names
The place of origin names can also cause confusion as there are many locations which include the same word. For example, Sachsen, Nassau, Hessen and Pfalz could represent one of several different locations.
To use the German Origins project, you can google the term “German Origins” or go to the home page of The link on the home page is under the quick links header.
Dick recommends the following steps when using the system:
For best results:
1. First look up the family name or village in which you are interested.
2. Read the legend at the top of each alpha sequence page.
3. Be alert for alternative spellings.
4. Look up every word in bold you find in any entry – those are cross-references that usually will hold additional valuable information. Good hunting!
The entry of a researcher name will carefully indicate which localities that researcher has successfully confirmed origins for which families. A confirmed locality is one in which the record of birth of a German settler in Russia has been found. Other types of evidence which has been uncovered will be noted as well. Retrieved from on August 5.
Once you have reviewed the steps, click on the alphabet letter which best represents information for which you are searching. I decided to try it for myself and I chose Thalhaimer, so I clicked on Ta.
My results are as follows:

ThalheimerFN: said by the Mariental FSL to be fromUC Ansbach. Later spelled Dahlheimer (Mai1798:Mt48). A Luebeck ML says this Dollheimer man married a Kaelber woman in 1765 (Mai&Marquardt:19).
One needs to review the legend at the top of each page to help interpret the information. For example, in the listing above FN represents family name and FSL stands for First Settler’s list. Since this information is an index it is essential to review the original documents if you have questions.
Additional information, corrections and questions are welcome to help build this database to help all members locate their German origins.

Successful Research at the Family History Library: The Journey Begins Now!
Bruce Cropper and Patti Sellenrick

Next year our convention will be held in Salt Lake City. Since this city is home to the Family History Library, we have a unique opportunity to tap into their resources during our convention.

The 2011 convention may appear to be far into the future, however the time to plan for your visit is now. Depending on where what information you seek to find, there are some basic steps one should do before conducting research at the Family History Library.

1. Compile as much information as you can from family members now.
2. If you haven’t already, find your village in Russia and locations your family lived in the United States, Canada, or other destinations.
3. Focus on 2 or 3 family lines.
4. Sort your information into a binder or computer database in logical order.
5. Document all of your sources.
6. Get comfortable using a computer, flash drive.
7. To build your information base, visit websites to uncover more family information:

This list alone could keep you busy for the next year. Bruce and Patti encouraged everyone to come prepared to the 42nd International Convention of the American Historical Society of German from Russia July 31-August 7, 2011.

Volga Germans-“Sons of Israel in Egypt?”
Dr. Elena Ananyan, Russia

If you think you have relatives in Argentina…

And would like to investigate, please stop at the registration desk and fill out a form which will be submitted to Isabel Kessler. Isabel will forward the information to her contacts in Argentina.

Qvass or Kvass?

Yesterday’s newsletter shared some recipes for Qvass. Today while venturing in the bookstore, Mechelle Foos shared with me that there are at least two other recipes listed as Kvass or Kvaβ. If you would like additional information on this drink, please check out page 102 of Cookbook for Germans from Russia, by Nelly Däs, available in the bookstore for $20. Also see Sei Unser Gast “Be Our Guest, A collection of German Russian recipes from the members & friend of the North Star Chapter, page 187. $12 for members, $18 for non-members.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tours highlight pre-convention activities

Sutton, Nebraska was the destination and Jim Griess was our host for a full day excursion on Wednesday.

The bus was filled to capacity as we left Embassy Suites and started to watch the DVD Jim had created detailing the history of Sutton. It traced back to Sutton’s beginnings with its founder Luther French who named the city after his former hometown in Massachusetts. The Union Pacific and Burlington Railroads impact on the development of the town and f how Whiskey Row almost made the railroad choose an alternative route is explained. This movie is ideal for sharing at chapter meetings as it also covers how and why the Black Sea and then the Volga Germans headed to Nebraska.

First stop was at the Mennonite Heritage Park in Henderson. The park shares the hardships and trials of the 1874 journey of thirty-five Mennonite families from Holland to Molotschna colony in Russia and then to Henderson.

The Immigrant House is a replica of the house of the long narrow building where immigrants stayed temporarily until they could build their own homes.

District 73 East one room school house was built in 1880 and moved to this site and restored one year ago. Amy Friesen taught in District 73 West which was built later and she was our on-site guide to the school.

Amy Friesen demonstrated the ink well and pen as used originally in the one room school house.

The Epp barn at Heritage Park was moved here from downtown Henderson because it was the only original barn in the area which had not been remodeled. It contained old Nebraska license plates on the wall which has aptly become a part of its history. The original plate was made of leather with metal digits. During the World War II, when metal was scarce, the plates were miniaturized down to an inch for those years.

The entire tour group in front of the General Store used as the office and Visitors center at Heritage Park

Next, we drove to the Emmanuel Church Country Cemetery to view headstones of German Russian Pioneers.

Leota Griess was happy to share her mother and sister’s recipes with me and, as promised, the recipes are included verbatim in this newsletter.

“Quass” My Recipe

Dissolve 1 pkg. yeast into 1 cup warm water
Add ½ cup sugar and 2 tablespoons salt
Let it sit while you take
1 ½ cup Rye Flour
Stir up with a little hot water
Add ½ cup corn meal. Let cool.
Add yeast mixture. Let sit for 2 ½-3 hrs.
Add ½ loaf Rye bread (toasted)
½ cup malt
½ cup brown syrup
Fill canner with wote (?), Let site overnight.

“Esthers Recipe”

1 ½ cup rye flour
½ cup corn meal
1 ¾ cup boiling water – Cool.
1 pkg. yeast
1 cup warm water
½ cup sugar
2 ¾ tablespoons salt or 3 tablespoons
Let sit 2 ½ hrs.
1 cup malt
½ cup brown syrup
½ loaf rye bread
14 hours in canner, 8 hrs. in jar before setting in refrigerator.

After lunch we started our walking tour of downtown Sutton which included a visit to the Filling Station, views of historic buildings and the Civil War Memorial Park.

Add Image

Sutton Historical Society Museum
After we returned to Lincoln, we enjoyed great cake and the entertainment of the Shim Sham Girls and “Music of the Germanic Lands” by David Marsh.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Welcome to Lincoln, Nebraska...

The squares represent the percentage of Homesteads in these states

According to

This act was signed into law in 1862 by Abraham Lincoln after the secession of southern states, this Act turned over vast amounts of the public domain to private citizens. 270 million acres, or 10% of the area of the United States was claimed and settled under this act.
People interested in Homesteading first had to file their intentions at the nearest Land Office. A brief check for previous ownership claims was made for the plot of land in question, usually described by its survey coordinates. The prospective homesteader paid a filing fee of $10 to claim the land temporarily, as well as a $2 commission to the land agent.

Sharon Lemke listens to information at the Homestead Museum

With application and receipt in hand, the homesteader then returned to the land to begin the process of building a home and farming the land, both requirements for "proving" up at the end of five years. When all requirements had been completed and the homesteader was ready the take legal possession, the homesteader found two neighbors or friends willing to vouch for the truth of his or her statements about the land's improvements and sign the "proof" document

David Eisenhower and Fritz Kiessling at the Homestead Museum

After successful completion of this final form and payment of a $6 fee, the homesteader received the patent for the land, signed with the name of the current President of the United States. This paper was often proudly displayed on a cabin wall and represented the culmination of hard work and determination.

From the first homesteader Daniel Freeman who was a Union Scout in the Civil War to the last homesteader Vietnam Veteran Kenneth Deardorff , the museum covers all aspects of the Homestead Act. The film “Land of Dreams, Homesteading America” details the Homesteaders’ struggles and shares all perspectives including Native American. It was a powerful presentation capped off with a visit to the Palmer-Epard Cabin built in 1867 where twelve people lived in extremely close quarters.

Then we followed a narrow path to the gravesite of Daniel and Agnes Freeman. We all left the site with a better understanding of the struggles and greater respect for everything our ancestors accomplished across the thirty states on which the Homestead Act help to build America.

For more information on this museum visit

The tour stopped at Valentino’s for lunch. No one left the restaurant hungry. And, we all learned the correct pronunciation of the name of the city of Beatrice.

In the afternoon we visited Bedient Pipe Organ Company where designer and project manager Chad W. Johnson showed us the ropes of this organization. This company builds one to two custom pipe organs each year. They specialize in restoration and repair, too. We learned it requires many mechanical techniques and fine precision to master the art and construction of creating these musical instruments.

From Duane who created the pipes to Fred in the wood shop who graciously explained the critical spacing of the holes in the wood and how it connects with the pipes to play the perfect notes, we began to understand why these organs are priceless pieces and can last over six hundred years. For more information visit

Monday, July 12, 2010

Join us for the celebration!

Have you made your reservations yet! The early reservation deadline is past but there is still plenty of time to plan your trip to Lincoln, Nebraska. Stay tuned for more updates to help you plan your visit and to Celebrate! Faith, Family and Tradition.