The Josefstal Church of 1870

When Josefstal was found in 1852, the villages originally built a “prayer house”. Eventually, since Josefstal was part of the Catholic Parish of Marienfeld, they would alternate Sunday Mass. This document, dated August 23, 1870, was a formal request and resolution of the villagers to build a larger Church. They write: So it is certainly…

Bauer Family?

Naturally families have many old photographs that they have no idea who and what they are. This photographs was owned by Adam & Katie Kern of Fort Dodge, Iowa.  Not sure who it was, I just made a simple copy at the time. A little fancy for Josefstal, I am assuming it was taken in…

Friedrich & Katharina Dieser

Fred & Katie Dieser, both born in Josefstal, will settle in the Aurora, Illinois area of the USA. Fred’s nickname in Russia was “Dieser Fritz”. Fred was born November 5, 1895 to Johann Georg Dieser and Katarina Hoffmann. His baptism record, shown above, states that his Godparents were Friedrich Dieser and his wife Susanna. The…

Josef Rohwein of Pueblo San José, Argentina

Josef Rohwein was born in Josefstal on December 14, 1885. His parents were Michael Adam Rohwein and Anna Stang. Josef will acquire a Russian passport sometime around December of 1904 or January of 1905. He will board a ship in Bremen and travel to South America sometime in 1905. Josef will eventually settle in the…

Kristof Weigel in 1904

Here is an amazing photograph courtesy of Laurie Valentin, of Kristof Weigel and two of his army buddies. Kristof is standing. Because of military draft records, we know that Kristof was drafted into the Russian Army around 1904. He would probably serve about 2 years. Kristof was born in Josefstal February 14, 1883, to Kaspar…

Leonardt – Zink

This is a photograph of Josef Leonardt and Anna Margareta Zink. Anna Margareta died approximately 1923 in Marienfeld, not far from Josefstal. We have no data on when Josef was born, but he died in the USSR around 1941. They were the parents of Julia Leonardt, born Feb 10, 1885…who will marry Kristof Weigel on…

George Heinrich Family from Josefstal to Aurora, Illinois

Catherine Heinrich was born in Topeka, Kansas on 8 September 1911.  Her parents were Georg Heinrich, born 13 Feb 1881 in Josefstal, and Barbara Schmidt, born 18 June 1882 also in Josefstal. George will bring his family from Josefstal to the USA in October of 1908.  They will live in the US for a number…

Marriage record of Phillip Werbach & Maria Tris in Rozhdestvenska, Kuban.

This is a fascinating document produced by the Catholic Church in Rozhdestvenska in the Kuban area of Russia, documenting the marriage of former Josefstal villager Phillip Werbach, son of Georg Werbach and Barbara Kess, to Maria Tris, daughter of Anton Tris and Anna Maria Hok, on 12 Nov 1908. The document was included in the…

1877 Passport Application from Josefstal

Research in Russia can be amazing….you never know what little tidbits and gems you will stumble across. Some years ago I was alerted to a copy of a document from 1877 suggesting that my great-great grandfather, Johannes Gerk, had applied for a Russian passport. I’ve finally been able to get scans of the official application,…

The Simon Family of Josefstal

This is one of those photographs that people have, but don’t realize they have.  Some background. It belonged to the Adam Kern family of Fort Dodge, Iowa. Adam’s Father was Kaspar Kern, and his Mom was Elisabetha Simon Kern. With the photograph, they also had a Russian passport.  The passport has the following names on…

Josef Schaeffer: 1897 – 1929, Maria Haberkorn: 1900 – 1989

This is a photograph, courtesy of Peter Schaeffer, of Josef Schaeffer, born 5 June 1897 in Josestal (parents Josef Schaeffer & Margareta Rohwein) , his wife, Maria Haberkorn, born 1900 in Josefstal (parents Kristof Haberkorn & Anna Margareta – ) and their child. The photograph was probably taken in Josefstal in 1927 or 1928, as…

Friedrich Schaeffer: 1836-1907

This is a photo given to me by Father Bernie Schaeffer and Ed Kies, all related to the Schaeffer family that settled in Aurora Illinois.  It is a photo of Friedrich Schaeffer, born 4 March 1836 in Kamenka, moved to Josefstal with his family in 1852, and then died in Josefstal 12 September 1907. Families…

Josefstal Military Draft Records: 1880 – 1919

This is a collection of military draft records for the Volga German village of Josefstal. Interesting is how the family “number” assigned to each man is linked to the original census of 1858.  As well as the listing it sometimes provides of other males in the family. I hope this will be found useful.

House in Josefstal

This photograph, taken around 1939, shows one of the homes belonging to a Gerk family in Josefstal. How about you?  Do you have any photographs of buildings or people in Josefstal?  Please share them.  Send them to:   tedgerk@yahoo.com

Deaths and the cemetery in Josefstal

We only have official death records for Josefstal from 1907 – 1916…a total of 341 burials.  These were reports to the county government, so they include the name, age, parents names, family number and date of death.  No cause of death is recorded, those would be found in the Church records as recorded. Here are…

Remembering a good friend: Alexander-Josef Dreser: 1957 – 2015

Life as a family historian can be lonely. You spend hours and hours over years, with little to show….but when you find something it’s big.  You want to tell someone. My Dad was always interested…and it was great showing what I found and who I found. But I was to be blessed with a cousin…

Famine along the Volga: 1922 in Josefstal

This excerpt from a February 1922 letter by the Volga Relief Society, documents that 350 children in Josefstal were being fed in a special kitchen set up to help residents who were starving. 350 children! This famine relief was supplied by people all over North America, Germany and Argentina.

Johann Adam Rohwein family of Josefstal to Germany

Johann “Adam” Rohwein was born in Josefstal on 17 January 1878. He married Elisabetha Burghardt on 3 November 1892, also in Josefstal. They would have 8 children, Martha, born 5 June 1894; Barbara, born 10 February 1896; Nikolaus, born 1 July 1900 (died 12 August 1916); Anna, born 1900; Katarina born 17 January 1907; Magdalena…

The Bellingtier (Bellendir) Family to the USA

George Bellendir was born in Josefstal on July 16, 1908 (OS).  He emigrated to the USA aboard the SS Noordam, arriving at Ellis Island from Rotterdam, on August 24, 1914 – along with his brother Alois (Albert), age 2, and mother, Elisabetha, age 23. His father, Georg Bellendir, emigrated to the USA aboard the SS…

Emigration to Brazil & Argentina: January/February 1909

In a previous post about emigration from Josefstal to South America, I documented some of the names from the SS Coblenz, and the departure from Bremen in Germany in January of 1909.  This ship arrived in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, February 13, 1909. As far as we can tell, most of these emigrants would find…

Christof Holzmann and Family of Pueblo San José, Buenos Aires, Argentina

I have collected some of the documents dealing with the Christof Holzmann family of Pueblo San Jose, Buenos Aires, Argentina. This family traveled from Russia to Argentina sometime in the early 1900’s. While not complete, here is a collection of documents from Russia and Argentina dealing with this family. Hopefully the family will have old…

Georg Stremel

Georg Stremel was born in Josefstal on 3 February 1899 (OS), to Johannes Stremel and Anna Marie Arnold. Georg married Katherine Burgart on 12 Feb 1918, also in Josefstal. This photograph, courtesy of the Stremel family, would seem to show Georg’s mother, Anna Marie Arnold Stremel. Georg’s father died in 1912. Also on the photograph…

UPDATED!! Pueblo San José Argentina: Alexander Holzmann

This post from May, 2013 has been UPDATED! From time to time, I come across further documentation about folks who left Josefstal, and then traveled to South America.  This is such a case. This obituary card, courtesy of Norma Holzmann, documents the death of Alejandro Holzmann, born in 1893 in Josefstal. Rightly or wrongly, my…

The Valentin Dieser Family of Josefstal

Historical research is funny. You go through dry times, and then, all of a sudden, a flood comes. It was like that this year with some ongoing research I had been doing on our family. One specific set of records alluded me. These dealt with the father of my grandmother, Elisabeth Dieser Gerk. Her Dad,…

Emigration to South America: January 1909

As I continue to research and compile passenger lists, I was alerted to a list documenting Josefstal residents leaving Bremen, Germany in January of 1909 and arriving in Rio de Janerio on February 13, 1909 aboard the SS Coblenz.  The lists do not list the place or origin, other than Russia.  But the names are…

Josefstal Church Choir 1928

This is a photograph that was given to me by Barbara Schaab.  It is a photo of the Church choir in Josefstal in 1928. The photo was taken at the side door of the Catholic church in Josefstal. My cousin, Alex Dreser, did up a helpful map of who is in the photo. Located front…

The White-Red Train: Experiences of a German-Russian Farmer in 1918

Note: The following article is a translation of an article that appeared in St. Peter’s Bote. The exact citation is unknown, but we are trying to track it down and will post that information here.  In the meantime, it mentions Josefstal and the villages around it. It is also available as a pdf here. The…

Statistical Information on Saratov Province: Volume 11, Kamyshin Area, 1891: Ilavlin Volost

Сборникъ статистическихъ свљдљнiй по Саратовской губернiи. Т. 11 : Камышинский уезд. – Саратов : Тип. Губерн. Земства, 1891. – 504 с. : портр. – Statistical Information on Saratov Province: Volume 11, Kamyshin Area, 1891 Saratov Provincial Zemstva – 504 pages. A series of books that came out in the 1880′s and 1890′s, providing statistical information…

Josefstal Fond at GAVO

What is GAVO and what is the Josefstal Fond? GAVO is the Russian acronym for the Volgograd State Archive in Russia. A Fond is a Russian word for a File series. In this case, Fond 270 is the Josefstal Fond. Originally part of the archives in Engels, the Josefstal Fond was moved to the State…

Destruction of the Josefstal Church

With most of their priests shot by 1937, and all of their Churches forbidden to operate, all that was left for the socialists in the USSR was to tear down the churches. Soviet officials must have asked for permission to tear down the Church in Josefstal, by the content of this document. That it was…

Josefstal Newspapers in Soviet Times: “Stalins Weg”

Josefstal was made part of a large collective farm under Soviet rule.  Collective farms consisted of a number of villages that banded together. Those collective farms often published newspapers filled with Soviet propaganda, and little “real” news. This specific newspaper, was published by the Erlenbach Communist Party committee. Many thanks to Alexander Spack for posting…

Josefstal: Emigration Passports

List of Volga German colonists who received passports for travel abroad to America in the years 1886, 1890-1892, 1900, 1906-1909, 1912 The List is made on the basis of documents on delivery of passports for travel abroad which were kept in the State archive of the Saratov Region (GASO), in Fond Number 1, Office of…

Emigration to South America: October 10, 1908

By far the largest emigration of Josefstal residents took place in October of 1908. Over 200 boarded the SS Würzburg in Bremen, and took the long journey to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Most of these would make their way to Argentina, to such places as Santa Anita, Coronel Suarez and Crespo. The names I just compiled,…

Map of Josefstal by Peter Schaeffer

This map of Josefstal was drawn by former Josefstal resident Peter Schaeffer. It is Peter’s recollections where each family house was in the village.

Josefstal 1858 census

This is a translation of the 1858 census for Josefstal. The importance of this census is that it listed the “Mother” colony for each family that settled in Josefstal in 1852. There were additional settlers who would come in later years, but this is the record for February 1858.

“Life on the Volga”

Kampen, J. “Life on the Volga.” Volk auf dem Weg, March 2010, 43. Translation from the Original German-language text to American English provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado This book, which chronicles the Volga German Colony of Josefstal in the Eisenach Canton, and which appeared in 2029, is a true treasure trove for our ancestor…

Josefstal: 2011

Vladimir Kakorin has done a great job of documenting through photography, scores of Volga German villages. He travels out on a regular basis, taking great photographs of history. His complete archive of photo shoots can be found here. In June of this year he documented the remains of Josefstal. The photographs are wonderful!  On my…

1933: Famine on the Volga

The Famine of the 1930′s was a famine that was constantly denied by the government of the USSR.  While families in the West received letter after letter begging for money because of looming starvation, Soviet Officials denied anything was wrong. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, and with the opening of the archives, slowly…