Friday, August 6, 2010

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.


  1. Anna,
    Wow! What a great job you are doing with this blog. You make me feel like an on-site participant with your detail and pictures.

    You might want to consider putting another post on Facebook reminding about the Blog. I almost missed it.

    Gwen Schock Cowherd

  2. Your blog is great! Wish I could have been there, maybe next year.