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, Johannes Dieser, was an allusive historical character. The family had birth dates for him and did not seem to fit, and no document survived the years they spent in the GULAG.

I even entertained the thought that perhaps he was adopted, and we would never close that file! Given the difficulty it is trying to get archival materials from Russia already, I just chalked it up to an unfinished piece of historical research.

Well, I am amazed. After 30 years of looking, associates in the archives found the missing piece of history.

Dieser Johannes 29.01.1874The Birth/Baptism record for my great-grandfather, Johannes Dieser. Born 29 January, 1874, and Baptized the next day…son of Valentin Dieser and Anna Margareta Belendir. He was born in Josefstal, which was part of the Catholic Parish of Marienfeld.

But that was not all. Here is a copy of the marriage record for my great-grandparents: Johannes Dieser and Marie Eva Heit.

Dieser-HeitThis is a full page from the marriage book for Marienfeld, weddings all taking place on November 8th, 1894.

It lists 3 weddings that day, (there could be more on another page). Of course it lists the parents of the Bride and Groom, Valentin Dieser and Anna Maria Bellendir for Johannes, and Adam Heit and Anna Margareta Gette for Bride Marie Eva.

Johannes will die in the spring of 1933, in the Caucasus, due to complications in surgery…in a weakened condition due to the Great Famine of the 1930’s. Marie Eva, my great-grandmother, will starve to death in the summer of 1933, in her village of Josefstal.

The next question I had was about my grandmother’s grandfather, Valentin Dieser.

In my interviews with her, my grandmother told me the story of how her father was so upset about losing his Dad at a young age. So upset, that one day he wanted to do to the cemetery to “dig” up his Dad…just so he could see him again…or be lose to his remains. My grandmother thought that her father was 2 when his father (Valentin Dieser) died. She also thought she remembered that her Mom was 10 or 11 when her father (Adam Heit) died.

So…I was given the death record for Valentin. It states that Valentin Dieser died on 12 October 1885 in Josefstal at the age of 55.

Dieser 12.10.1885My great-grandfather, Johannes Dieser, would have been 11 years old.

So…in my quest to prove my grandmother’s stories, I discovered that she was partially right…she just got the parents mixed up.

These are the “puzzles” I love to do….trying to find the missing pieces…


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jennifer Beard says:

    Thank you so much for your blog!!! I’m just finally starting to trace my German Russian ancestors. My paternal grandmother’s maiden name is Schuh and her grandfather Martin Luther Schuh was born in Josefstal in 1866. So…howdy neighbor! 😉 They left in 1886-7, and ended up in South Dakota and then Oregon, but that’s all I know so far, so thank you for posting these resources. I’m digging in!

    1. Admin says:

      Many thanks for the note. There were a number of villages in Russia by the name of Josefstal….this blog deals with the one located near the Volga River in Russia. I would suggest you contact the Germans from Russia Heritage Society, at and they will be able to point you in the right direction for materials! Good luck!!

      1. Norma Miles says:

        Could I get the contact info for the person who wrote this. My dads last name is Dieser and was born in Josefstal along the Volga river

      2. Admin says:

        Sure…write to Ted Gerk at

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