Wednesday, May 6, 2020

History Repeats Itself

Yesterday I was on Facebook looking at the Volga German page.  One of the members had posted an interesting story about his grandfather, who was a victim of the 1918 Pandemic. As I looked at the comments I realized how many of us with that ancestry had similar experiences in our family history.  Some of the followers told about losing both grandparents.

This is a picture of my grandmother, Katharina Elisabeth Klamm Burghardt, born in Warenburg, Russia. The family was living in the Denver area at the time of her death in October of 1918. Her death was a result of the pandemic. It was during the second wave, between September and November of that year.  It proved to be highly fatal in the United States, with  195,000 deaths in October alone. My father was only two years old, and she left behind her husband and ten children.  As I've followed my family's story through the years, it is apparent how much that changed the world for them and their descendants.  That's just one family out of the millions of deaths.

The pandemic we are now experiencing has made me desire collecting the stories of my family.  I'd be happy to post any stories you'd like to share as well.  If you'd like to submit, please, send them to me.

Russian Empire Genealogy Research — Camille Andrus

How do I write an effective research query?
Genealogy is really just detective work. Clues lead to more information. When asking a research question, please include as much of the following information as possible:
  • Full name of the ancestor (FamilySearch ID number [example: L7J4-V81])
  • birth date, even if approximate, and place [as much as is known]
  • residence(s) in the US or other country of immigration
  • any details you have on parents, spouse, children, and where they lived
  • known emigration and naturalization details
  • religion
  • anything else that might be helpful, like a known name change
  • which records you have already searched and the results

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

How Are You Spending Your Time?

Life has changed so much over the past two months.  Of course we have plenty to do, but it seems to me there is ample time without the spring sports and school extra curricular activities.  Churches and other venues closed... so, what are you doing to be productive?  I have done SO MUCH research!  I am pouring over my Pleve Charts, Censuses, Church Records, family documents, keeping in touch with distant family.  I'm appreciating the time I never seem to find in other circumstances.  I decided to share my latest project, and I'm pretty proud of it. This is a huge chart that I purchased at Roots Tech.  It shows seven generations of our family, starting with our children.  Let's make the most of this strange situation we find ourselves experiencing. 

April Chapter Meeting

Changing times required adaptation, but it was a successful meeting of our Utah Intermountain Chapter of AHSGR.  Annette Adams gave a wonderful presentation to help us use the resources at Family Search. Even those who have used the different features benefited from the overview and reminder.  We are so lucky to have these great resources to use from home.  Thanks to Annette Adams, Cory Heizenrader, and our chapter leaders and their skills which made this possible. Not to mention, it was fun to see your faces and hear your voices.  What an awesome group of people!

Annenfeld, Elisathabethpol, Sud-Kaukauis

As the Village Coordinator for Annenfeld I am asking for your assistance with this Caucasus village and others; please share your finds, your family movement, immigration, any data.  My goal is to gather and share this challenging research project.

I set up a database and am entering information as it is received. 
I recently aquired a few records which were originally housed at the Stuttgart, Germany Archives.

I have located a few new sources of information which deal with the history of this village; often with the mention of movement from the Volga. Annenfeld was a farmstead founded by Volga German colonists before 1889.  Looking for a list of these resettles and more specific information.

Annenfeld is located in the Gandsha district, in the South Caucasus of Russia. Latitude and Longitude is 40.8294, 46.0167; founded in the year 1818.

Annenfeld was a mother colony of Protestant faith. 

The current Russian names are Shamkir, Samkir, Azerbaijan.

Wikipedia: Samkir is a city in and the capital of Shamkir District in western Azerbaijan, located in the northern foothills of the Lesser Caucasus, on the coast of the Chagirchay River on Tbilisi-Yevlakh highway, about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from Dollar railway station.

In 1817-1818, a colony of Germans resettled from Wurttemberg, was established on the site of Shamkir under the name Annenfeld. In 1915 Assyrians from Turkey and Iran were resettled at this site.

Look-ups:  If you are curious if your family was among these Germans who resettled from the Volga or Wurttemberg I am willing to look for your names. Perhaps those family members whom you are unable to track are part of this history.

Thanks for the support.

Dee Hert
VC: 30 Caucasus Villages

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Roots Tech

With all of the craziness in the world, here is a bright spot.  I attended Roots Tech for the first time this year.  My cousin from Colorado attended with me.  While there for only one day, it was a great experience. The Intermountain Chapter of AHSGR had an awesome booth with lovely give aways. We were able to slip over to the Family History Library and attend a class there, also do a little research,.  I loved the Find a Relative perk.  Not surprisingly, I only connected with three people on my Germans from Russia line.  One of them I could never locate, but in this picture I'm with my cousin and another relative of mine whom you might recognize from the Intermountain Chapter.  It was so fun!

Katharinenfeld; Southern Caucasus Village

Katharinenfeld was established in 1818 by Swabian German settlers and was known as; Luxemburgand Boinisi. The village was located in the District of Tbilisi in the present country of Georgia as a Mother colony. The Volga German Institute stated the Volga villagers of Fisher relocated to the Caucasus. It is likely that many other villagers from the Volga also took advantage of the newly available land. 

Two great maps for Katharinenfeld are; map 13 from AHSGR and the “Germans from Russia Settlement Locations, hosted by Sandy Schilling Payne (
Latitude/Longitude is listed as 41.4502, 44.5489
My favorite Caucasus gazetteer is, “Atlas of the Ethno-Political History of the Caucasus” by Arthur Tsutsiev.

The vast area of the Caucasus was controlled by numerous tribes and countries, conflict was common as each struggled to maintain control of this resource rich area.  The first stage of Russian colonization of the Caucasus was a period of military absorption of local groups.  Russia instilled their form of government upon the newly acquired lands.   Later German peasants were encouraged to establish villages in the North and South Caucasus areas.

Life for these newly arrived farmers varied from location to location, some fared better than others.
August 27, 1826 hundreds of Kurds, Turks, Persians and Tatars raided Katharinenfeld and murdered a large portion of the population. Surviving villagers rebuilt Katharinenfeld.  Winegrowing was a very successful endeavor and resulted in prosperity.

In 1941 villagers were forcibly deported to Kazakhstan and Siberia. The Wilhelm Biedlingmaier family was able to survive and wrote about their experiences. I recently gained access to, “Das Ahnenbuch Von Katharinenfeld in Georgien, Kaukasus Chronic  Der Familien”  Contact me if you need a look-up.  I was thrilled to see the family name of Stark.

The search continues for any information on this and other villages.  Please share what you have learned. Contact me anytime.

Dee Hert, Village Coordinator

Sunday, December 22, 2019

German Proverbs

If you want to know yourself, offend two or three of your neighbors.

Love your neighbor, but don't pull down the fence.

One foe is too many and a hundred friends are too few.

Real friendship does not freeze in winter.

Presents keep friendships warm.

Better an honest enemy than a false friend.

Merry Christmas

On December 14th our local chapter of AHSGR had our Christmas celebration.  It was fabulous!  For those of us who are far away, there's nothing better than getting together with seldom seen friends.  We share our common heritage and great food.  My favorite was the delicious ham prepared by the Ansleys, who also arranged for the beautiful little church we met in.  As we remember the birth of our Savior, it is also good to remember friends. Thanks to all of you!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Gluckstal Colonies

If your research takes you to the Gluckstal Colonies you will want to check out the link below.

The FHL has some publications and may be purchasing additional in the future.

The team working this project is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when we collaborate on a common cause.

Norka Colony Poll Tax Census 1834

Dee found some interesting information on this at the following website.  Check it out.

Chapter Christmas Party

When: Saturday, December 14, 2019

Where:  Springville Community Presbyterian Church
              245 S 200 E; Springville, UT

Ham, provided by Ansley's
Turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy, provided by the Hert's
Drinks: Provided by Ansley's
Tableware: Provided by Ansley's.
Items needed: salads, rolls and butter, fruit, desserts, etc.  

Please reply to all so we know what you are bringing.

Clothing: Come casual in your dirndls and lederhosen.
Entertainment:  Watch for further announcements.
Family:  Everyone welcome, let us know how many. Friends welcome anytime. Grandkids, of course.

Toys-for-Tots:  We are gathering news toys and new books, unwrapped.  Also wrapping paper appreciated.
Food Drive:  On-going, bring non-perishable items.

Thursday, October 17, 2019


AHSGR MAP13, Quadrant J-6, 41 49 N. 44 47 E.

It is imperative that we carefully locate the correct village of interest as there are numerous villages with the same or similar name.  Locate longitude and latitude along with maps.
The Caucasus is located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, also  including the Greater Caucasus mountain range, which has historically been considered a natural barrier between Eastern Europe and Western Asia.  The area contains Mount Elbrus, at 5,642 meters.

The Russian military established the Caucasus Line in 1735 then built numerous forts to protect their newly acquired land from Turkey.  In 1739 a treaty was established between Russia and Turkey.  The Russian government encouraged German peasants to relocate and establish villages in the Caucasus.
Black Sea immigrants also relocated to the Caucasus in the second half of the 19th century.   Need movement records.

The fertile soils of the Caucasus drew numerous families from various locations to the Caucasus.  Volga families relocated as family land was lessened by numerous sons; new farms were essential. Need movement records.

I have a few names of villagers, but am needing additional information to ensure we know as much as possible about these individuals and families. Parish locations would be helpful. Caucasus data is scarce; need census, Presbyterian and Catholic Church records, military and English publications. 
The Family History Library has publications in Russian, need translators.

Please contact me if you have additional information on this village.  
Thanks for the support.

Dee Hert
VC: Alexanderdorf and numerous other villages


This is a reminder that the next chapter gathering is this Saturday, October 19, at  the Presbyterian Church:
245 South 200 East
Springville, Utah

Meeting starts at 9:00, then we clean the yard.  Church members are rewarding us with lunch, and member Annette Adams will give a presentation. Family welcome!

Please bring yard equipment; rakes, shovel, gloves, clippers; we also need branch cutting tools.  Mark your tools so you can readily identify them. 

Please bring: Empty printer cartridges and canned food for the food drive.  

Toys for Tots: New children's toys and books--unwrapped.  They also accept wrapping paper.

Chapter Library: Come see the library, you will be pleased and they do accept donations.

The next meeting will also be at the church, the annual Christmas Party, December 14.

Caucasus Records, Book Report

It is common knowledge that access to Caucasus data is challenging, but every now and then we have a glimmer of hope. One of my life goals is to access records at the Family History Library, at least once a week. 

The book, The German Colonists in Georgia (Elisabethtal-Asureti: 1818-1941), by Ekaterine Udsulaschwili is a treasure; it lists surnames and extensive data on numerous villages.  The book is copyrighted, but I would be willing to do limited look-ups.  Page 53 pictured a sample of a Russian document, a Lutheran church record.  The list of the Germans born in the years 1871-1921 in the Colony Elisabethtal, Province Tbilisi, who belonged to the Holy Lutheran Church Parish, is preserved in the Central Historical Archive of the Republic of Georgia. Archival Holding 458; Inventory -/; Book Number 462; total pages 347.

I am the AHSGR Village Coordinator for the village of Elisabethtal, among 24 other villages. How do I acquire these records?  I consulted with FHL Research Specialist Ellie Vance, and she advised I contact Greg Nelson who is in charge of library acquisitions. I sent a message to Greg Nelson and am awaiting his reply. Watch for updates to this story.

Dee Hert