Bukovina Immigration to North America
and a brief history of the Bukovina Society of the Americas
prepared for the Bukowinafest - Brasil
Irmgard Hein Ellingson
Posted on the
World-Wide Web by the
Society of the Americas,
with permission of Irmgard Hein Ellingson on 20, April 2002
Portuguese Text 3 goes here This article in Portuguese
It is my pleasure to greet you across the miles, liebe
Landsleute! I have been involved in Bukovina research since 1980, when my
husband became the pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Ellis, Kansas, and
since then have had the opportunity to meet Bukovina descendants in the United
States, Canada, and Germany. Meeting you and sharing these wonderful days with
you would have been a great privilege for me. Perhaps one day, God willing, I
shall be able to do so!
Bukovina was the easternmost crown colony in the Austrian empire following
its annexation in 1775. This rural area of 10,422 square kilometers on the
outer eastern curve of the Carpathian mountains was sparsely populated by
about sixty thousand poor peasants and shepherds. Soon it became multinational
as Poles, Ukrainians, Romanians, Jews, Germans, Serbs, Croatians, Slovaks,
Hungarians, Armenians and others came there in response to the Hapsburg policy
of religious toleration and the colonization programs of Maria Theresa and her
son Joseph II. Within about ten years, the region’s population had more than
doubled. By 1880, or within a century, it had multiplied tenfold. The region’s
1880 census data reported that twelve percent of the total population was
Jewish with the remainder being Ukrainian (42%), Romanian (33%), German (19%),
and Polish (3%), with smaller numbers of Hungarians, Slovaks, and others.
These percentages remained fairly consistent through 1910.
Bukovina’s economy remained agricultural with much of the land
owned and administered by the state’s Religion Fund. Lands were divided and
re-divided between heirs so that it became impossible to support a family upon
a farm even with the supplemental income gained through a trade such as
shoemaking, barrel-making, or blacksmithing. This fact, and the related rapid
growth in population, contributed to the emigration from Bukovina beginning in
At that time, travel agents recruited German immigrants to the
Americas by publishing ads in Bukovina newspapers and distributing flyers in
the cities and villages. A 1913 survey found in the Czernowitz archives
reported that 33,369 citizens had legally left the country between about 1880
and 1913. Almost 90% cited North America as their destination. Dr. Kurt Rein
has estimated that another 10,000-12,000 might have emigrated illegally to
avoid military service. Therefore the total number of Bukovina emigrants may
have been about 40,000, or approximately 4-5% of the population. Many of these
were Jews and Germans and comparatively few were Romanian and Hungarian
according to Dr. Rein, who further notes that 40% of the German emigrants were
Bohemian, 25% “ Swabian,” 10% Zipser, and 25% from various other backgrounds.
Emigrants traveled first by rail for several days to Bremen,
Hamburg, or other European ports, then by ship for about two weeks to U.S.
ports of entry such as New York City, Baltimore, Galveston, and New Orleans,
or the Canadian city of Quebec. From these ports, they journeyed again by
train for several days to reach a center of Bukovina immigration. These
included Ellis County in the State of Kansas, the Edenwold area in the
Assiniboia district near Regina (now the Province of Saskatchewan, Canada),
Yuma in the State of Colorado, Lewis County in the State of Washington, as
well as Chicago and New York City. Smaller groups connected by their Baptist
faith settled near Pocatello in the States of Idaho and west of Waco in the
State of Texas.
II. Ellis County, Kansas/USA
What comes into your mind when you hear the word “Kansas”? Some
of you may picture endless wheat fields and others might visualize steppe-like
grasslands. The Bukovina Germans settled in northwestern Ellis County which
does not fit these stereotypes. North of the city of Ellis, the prairie leads
to the Arien Hills, as unspoiled and natural as when William G. Cutler
described them in his 1883 History of the State of Kansas. Further
north near the Rooks County line, high bluffs overlook the Saline River.
These are two regions in which the Bukovina immigrants settled beginning in
the summer of 1886. They had probably not heard that Cutler had written, “...
[Ellis] is surrounded by a rough, broken country, altogether unsuited for
agricultural pursuits, so that its country trade is very limited.”
Why Ellis? Cutler wrote that it was the end of the third
division of the Kansas Pacific Railway, whose roundhouse and machine shops
employed many men. It merged with the Union Pacific, which continued to
advertise and sell its land to Bukovina emigrants at the turn of the century.
Although several families arrived when government land for homesteading was
still available, many purchased adjacent lands at low cost from the railroad
and thereby established a rural community extending west into Trego County and
north into Rooks County.
The first Bukovina emigrants in Ellis Township, a subdivision
of Ellis County, were Lutherans who settled there in 1886. Johann Huber, the
leader of this group, had been born in Unter-Wikow and married Klara Zachmann
in Illischestie in 1871. He, his wife and children were accompanied by two
Illischestie brothers, Philipp and Jakob Ast, their wives, Henriette König and
Regina Sobolka, and small children. Subsequent immigration brought Ast,
Zachmann, Huber, and König siblings as well as other relatives to Ellis
In the same year, 1886, the Catholic Franz Erbert from
Buchenhain (Poiana-Mikuli) scouted the prospects in Ellis County. He returned
in 1887 with his wife Rosalia Reitmeyer and their children. Accompanying them
were Franz Flachs and his wife Franziska Augustin, Joseph Tauscher and his
wife Theresa Bena, and their children.
Eileen Langley has noted that almost all of the 50 families who
came from Illischestie, Fratautz, and Tereblestie to Ellis were Lutherans, and
that 36 families who came from Fürstenthal and Poiana-Mikuli were Catholic (see
her page iii).
This has been assessed by the naturalization record and census research of
Drs. Forsythe and Schneller, who documented 30 Bukovina German families in
Ellis county in 1895, 81 in 1905, 110 in 1915 and 140 in 1920. There were also
18 Bukovina German families in Trego County and three in Rooks County.
My research with the Lutheran community produced the following
Bukovina family names: Armbrüster (now Armbrister or Armbruster), Ast (Aust),
Deutscher, Fries, Huber, Irion, Janz, Keller, Kelsch, Kerth, Knieling, König
(now Koenig or King), Mai, Massier, Reich, Rumpel, Sauer, Schäfer (Schaefer,
Schönthaler (Schoenthaler or Schonthaler), Tomasheck, Wendling, Werb,
Zachmann, and Zerfass. The Catholic immigrants Joseph Bozowicki, Johann
Kuppetz, and Peter Tomasheck were either married to Bukovina Lutheran women
before immigration, or married them in Kansas, and chose to be part of the
The Lutherans were not able to organize their own congregation
until 1897, when they purchased three acres of land located six miles north
and a mile east of Ellis for the site of St. John Lutheran Church and later a
parsonage and Christian education school. Ten years later, a second
congregation, Christ Lutheran in the city of Ellis, was officially formed. A
few families later joined a Baptist church in Ellis or became involved with
the Seventh-Day Adventist faith. For the most part, however, these families
tended to remain in the faith of their ancestors and stayed on the farm land
homesteaded by their immigrant ancestors. When I lived among them in the early
1980s, I noted that they had a deeply ingrained Stolz, a German word
meaning pride and independence, as well as a certain emotional reserve
balanced by friendly hospitality. Perhaps their most significant contribution
to their communities is their tenacious determination. Although others moved
on, many Illischestie immigrants and their descendants chose to endure heat,
drought, grasshopper plagues and financial hardship to remain upon the Kansas
On page 49 of his book Bohemian Germans in Kansas, Oren
Windholz lists these Bukovina Catholic family names: Aschenbrenner, Augustine,
Baumgardtner, Beer, Erbert, Flax, Fuerch, Gaschler, Geschwentner, Gnad, Hoedel,
Honas, Kisslinger, Kappel, Kohlrus, Koslowski, Kubbitz (Kuppetz?), Kucharek,
Laundauer, Lang, Nemeczek, Neuberger, Rach, Rankel, Reitmayer, Schneller,
Schuster, Seibel, Seidel, Tauscher, and Weber. Additional family names of
immigrant wives were Fuchs, Muehlbauer, Haas, Stadler, Bena, Schindelar, Hackl,
Eigner, Straub, Adelsberger, and Beuer.
These Bohemian Catholics acquired farm land closer to town than
did the Lutherans so within a few years of immigration, they were working at
trades or operating businesses in Ellis and were also participating in local
politics. Their earliest arrivals coincided with the construction of St.
Mary’s Catholic Church in Ellis which began in 1888. From the start,
therefore, they worshiped with other Catholics, including Irish and Czech
immigrants and Germans from the Volga River district of Russia. The first
church was replaced about twenty years later with a beautiful, magnificent
structure of Fort Hays chalk, or limestone, found in this part of the county.
To obtain the stone for construction, top soil was removed from thick layers
of rock which was then perforated by hand augers. Wedges were inserted into
the holes and then tapped with a hammer until the rock sprang apart. This
stone was then taken to the building site. This was a great effort without
modern hoists or power tools since each stone weighed between 50 and 100 pounds.
Although both groups spoke the same language and shared a place
of origin, their interaction in Kansas was limited. Oren Windholz notes that
both Catholics and Lutherans discouraged socializing and intermarriages, but
that it did occur just as it had in Bukovina.
The immigrant Richard Hoffman, born in Illischestie in 1901, told Oren that
his mother, Luise Zehaczek Hoffmann, was the daughter of the Catholic Wenzel
Zehaczek and his Lutheran wife Katharina Zachmann, who raised their sons as
Catholics and their daughters as Lutherans.
Because of the declining agricultural economy, an unstable oil
industry, and increasingly low water levels, the population of Ellis County
has been falling in recent years. The people have been, and are continuing, to
move to Wichita and Kansas City, to Denver and Colorado Springs, as well as to
Phoenix and Los Angeles. But you can wander along the country roads north of
Ellis and still see the crumbling stone houses and farm buildings abandoned by
the Bukovina pioneers, and you can still see their descendants farming the
land and working in their community.
You may learn more about the Bukovina settlements in Kansas by
reading my book The Illischestie Germans in Kansas: A 200-Year History of
the Lutheran Swabians and Oren Windholz’s book Bohemian Germans in
Kansas: A Catholic Community from Bukovina.
III. Saskatchewan Province/Canada
The northern American plains are awesome spaces with tall
waving grasses, wild flowers, aspen (poplar) groves, and creatures large and
small. In spite of a short, dry growing season, this land produced wheat
yields of forty to fifty bushels per acre in the 1880s, which thrilled the
newly-arrived Germans from the Dobruja area on the Black Sea. Among them was
Phillip Butz, who had been born in Fratautz, Bukovina, and as adult, joined
the Baptist religious movement and emigrated to the Dobruja in the late
His 1889 letters to his brother and to his Lutheran Mang brothers-in-law in
Satulmare resulted in the emigration of a core group of Mang, Galenzoski,
Reichel, and Sauer families from Satulmare and the Kornelson family from
Butz and the Dobrudja emigrants lived in a settlement which
they named Neu-Tulscha (also spelled Neu-Tulcea or New Tulscha), first settled
in 1885. According to various accounts, the name was changed when the Reverend
H. Schmieder, a Lutheran missionary, came to the district in 1889. He told
Phillip Mang, Sr., that it reminded him of the Garden of Eden. Mang was
perhaps thinking about the many aspen groves when he said that it looked more
like woods than a garden and thereby introduced the name “Edenwald. ”This name
was sent to Ottawa, the Canadian capital, for registration, but a clerical
error substituted an “o” for the “a,” and the spelling has remained Edenwold.
The Edenwold cited in early records was a huge area
encompassing hundreds of square miles in Canada’s North West Territories,
which was then all the lands west of Manitoba. At this time in Austria,
pamphlets were being circulated that described the opportunities in Canada,
where men who were ages eighteen and older could obtain 160 acres of land as a
free homestead after paying a ten-dollar fee. The immigrants flooded to
Canada, only to find upon arrival that they would have to first clear the land
before they could plant anything. They established their claims, then built
sod homes using mud-plastered poles for the walls and sod-covered poles for
Family letters from earlier immigrants and these pamphlets
convinced others to follow the core group to Canada. The 1890 arrivals cited
in the Edenwold community history Where Aspens Whisper include Mang,
Miller, Kohlruss, Brodt, Flaman, and Schmidt families from Satulmare;
Karschmarski, Presser, Leibel, Miller, Koch, and Ritter families from Badeutz;
Ast and Rumpel families from Illischestie; and a Huber family from Fratautz;
“Frank, Adam and son” from Itzkani, Karst and Agopsowicz families from St.
Onufry, and a Koch family from Arbore.
The book’s list of 1891-1892 arrivals includes the Mang, Leib,
Weber, Sauer, Miller, Kohlruss, Tobias, Jaeckel, Schmidt (Satulmare),
Zurowski, Stoudt, Galenzoski, Frombach, Schmidt, Lanz, Silzer, Goettel, Hamann,
Walter, Wagner, Uhl, and Grandel families. A further examination of the book
Where Aspens Whisper indicates that in the years before World War I,
the following families arrived in the Edenwold area: Baker, Brandt (from
Satulmare), Brucker (Radautz), Fuchs, Gattinger (Satulmare), Groeb (Arbore),
Hollerbaum, Kramer (Radautz), Kurtz (Alt-Fratautz), Lindenbach (Hliboka), Manz
(Arbore), Missikewicz (Arbore), Nargang (Alt-Fratautz), Radmacher, Reichel (Hadikfalva),
Renner, Sager (Petroutz), Schmahl (Czernowitz), Schmidt (Arbore), Tomashefski
(Arbore), Triffo, Wirth (Satulmare), and Wolf (Satulmare).
1892 marked the beginning of some dry years and an 1894 crop
failure prompted many to leave for the Dakotas, Kansas, and Texas. Men who
remained in Canada cut cordwood to haul to Regina to trade for supplies, and
worked on government-sponsored road construction crews to earn money.
Immigration stopped until 1899-1900 when a new wave began.
The history of St. John’s Lutheran Church, founded in 1890, and
its daughter congregation St. Paul’s, founded in 1913, is presented in the
book St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church 1890-1900, edited by Dr.
Richard Hordern and published for St. John’s centennial. The book’s subtitle
describes its contents: “Translations of the earliest church histories, and
information on the early families of the congregation, translated from the
parish registers of 1890-1927; With records of the work of the early pastors
of the St. John’s congregation in the wider areas of the Districts of
Assiniboia and Saskatchewan (North West Territories) 1890-1905, and later in
the Province of Saskatchewan; and family history information from the St.
John’s parish registers.” Edenwold was in fact the launching pad for German
Lutheran migration and missionary work in the Northwest Territories, according
Other churches provided spiritual care to the immigrant
community, and their separate stories are summarized in Where Aspens
Whisper. The Edenwold Baptist Church, which existed from 1886 until1968,
was served by a pastor with the Bukovina name Armbruster in the mid-1940s. The
Edenwold Seventh-Day Adventist Church, founded in 1900 by Mang and Frombach
families, later included Staudt, Sauer, Nargang, Flaman, Silzer, and Knoblauch
families. It has since been closed. The Edenwold Apostolic Mission, which
existed from 1921 until 1957, was attended by the Galenzoski, Sauer, Wirth,
and Knoblauch families. St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, built 1937, has been
the church for the Zurowski, Koch, Tomashefski, Fuchs, and other families.
For more information about this immigrant community, please
read Where Aspens Whisper by Hannelore Frombach and St. John’s
Evangelical Lutheran Church 1890-1900, edited by Dr. Richard Hordern.
Additional research has been conducted by Richard Carruthers-Zurowski, a
descendant of Bukovina immigrants to Saskatchewan, who contributed two
articles in the book German Emigration from Bukovina to the Americas,
edited by William Keel and Kurt Rein
IV. Yuma, Colorado/USA
Beginning in 1886-1887, German Bohemians left Glitt,
Lichtenberg, Arbore, and Solka, Bukovina, traveling by rail, by ship across
the ocean, then to the end of the railroad line in McCook, Nebraska, which is
north/northwest of Ellis, Kansas. The immigrants were responding the
railroad’s advertisements of packages including cheap farm land, steamship
fare, and free railroad tickets to their destination. The Bohemian settlers
spent the winter in McCook, but then heard that in Yuma, Colorado, 125 miles
further west, the government was giving away land to anyone who would live on
it and develop it. By July 1887, Bukovina immigrants like Andreas Schneller
had already filed a declaration of intention to become a U.S. citizen and had
built a one-floor house measuring 14 by 16 feet on land that he had claimed.
Other immigrants included members of the Landauer, Turner, Trunde, Schatz,
Fuchs, Winkelbauer, Korf, Krenzer, Baehr, Kinkle, Kunzman, Floshing/Wlaschin,
Hackel, Blach/Block, Mathies, Kortus, Hickey, Heinzel, and Straub families .
Yuma is located on the High Plains in a vast, treeless steppe.
At first the Bukovina immigrant community thrived because rains filled the
streams and the grass was lushly green. But the rains ended in a few years so
that the pioneers faced drought and financial ruin by 1894. Some packed their
wagons and headed back east to Sutton, Nebraska, to join relatives. Others
went south to Henrietta, Texas, where they picked cotton with freed black
slaves and their descendants, then returned to Yuma a few years later. Another
contingent joined Bukovina emigrants Franz and Louise Hickey in Dorchester in
north-central Wisconsin but left again in the following spring. Along the way,
an accident forced this group’s wagon train to halt in Mason City, Iowa, where
some remained while the rest continued to Montrose, Iowa, and then southeast
to Olpe, Kansas. A group from Yuma, including some who had returned from
Henrietta, moved to Oregon.
Today Yuma pioneer descendants can still be found in Yuma
although most are scattered in across the United States. Some have been
seeking and recording the stories of their ancestors. For example, Paul
Polansky can tell you about his great-great-grandmother, Theresia Maurer
Schneller, who was born in Seewiesen, Bohemia, in 1823, married Josef
Schneller in Fürstenthal, Bukovina, in 1840, and emigrated to Yuma, Colorado,
in 1892 at the age of sixty-nine years. According to oral histories, she was
blind, ill, and occasionally wandered off into the prairie alone. Her
son-in-law and daughter, Paul and Katharina (Schneller) Landauer left her with
his brother when they moved to Oregon in 1905. No record of her death or
burial has been found, but apparently she was dead by 1907. Paul once
interviewed a Yuma resident who knew the location of Josef’s and Theresia’s
unmarked graves. This man said that some years after their deaths, a highway
construction project necessitated the relocation of the cemetery and showed
him where the unmarked graves are now located.
Theresia’s life took her across the Austro-Hungarian empire,
then across the Atlantic Ocean, and halfway across the United States. As a
girl, she played in the Bohemian Forest; as a young woman, she married and
raised her family in the Carpathian foothills. Her life ended in darkness upon
the vast treeless High Plains. But those who remembered held the keys to
document of her life’s long journey.
Theresia’s son Andreas Schneller, who was mentioned above, left
Yuma in 1894 and went to Dorchester. When the wagon train halted in Mason City
in 1895, Andreas’s son Edward married a German-Russian immigrant Mathilda
Redler and chose to remain there. But Andreas went on. He joined Bukovina
families in Olpe, Kansas, where his first venture, a rented dairy farm,
failed. His second effort, a chicken farm, ended with disaster when the birds
died of cholera. He moved again, this time to nearby Emporia, where he
attempted to be a door-to-door salesman and where on January 1, 1905, he
An interesting part of the Yuma story is that it appears to
have been the location of the first Bukovina Society over one hundred years
ago. They met on Sundays, usually at a farm home, to share a meal, letters
from back home, and photographs. Photographs taken in Yuma were found in
Bukovina homes in the 1970s when Paul Polansky traveled there. In Solka, he
even met an old man who had been born in Petersburg, Nebraska, and returned to
Bukovina with his parents when he was about eight years old. This man, who was
over ninety years old, still spoke some English and talked about pioneer life
in Nebraska. Local people referred to him as “the American.”
V. Lewis County, Washington/USA
Lewis County, Washington, is located on the Pacific coast in
the southwestern part of the state. It is a scenic area with tillable valley
lands and forested hills which still support a logging industry. The Bukovina
immigrants also found large hop fields and coal mines when they arrived and
the railroad, which had reached Lewis County by then, needed lumberjacks to
fell timber for tracks and miners to dig coal for the locomotives. This
prospering region held offered many opportunities for industrious immigrants.
The Bukovina people in Lewis County had emigrated from southern
Bukovina villages such as Alt-Fratautz, Althutte, Bukschoja, Fürstenthal,
Illischestie, Kaczyka, Kapukodrului, Paltinossa, Schwarzthal, Stroiesti, and
Teodoresti.. They traveled overland to Hamburg, Bremen, or Trieste to board
ship for North American ports of entry including Galveston, which was the
least expensive route and most convenient for those traveling to Kansas to
join relatives there. Others went directly to Lewis County after passing
through the ports of Baltimore, Boston, New York and Philadelphia; some came
to Lewis County from Canada.
The first arrivals from Illischestie settled in western Lewis
County in Lost Valley, which is situated between two small towns called Pe Ell
and Boistfort, beginning in 1887. The group included Jakob and Regina (Sobolka)
Ast, who were among the first immigrants to arrive in Ellis, Kansas, a year
earlier, and Jakob’s sister Elisabetha with her husband Johann Roos, and
Johann’s father, stepmother, and siblings. They were joined within the next
two years by more Ast families as well as Böhmer, Grohs (Gross), Keller,
Knieling, Radmacher, and Schiminesky families. Again, these families were
related in various ways with ties to Illischestie, as seen in the fact that
the Böhmer, Grohs, and Schiminesky wives had all been born in Illischestie.
The spellings of family names were Anglicized. The Ast families adopted the
Aust spelling, for example. Other examples of this are seen in the transition
from Böhmer to Böhmer, Bomer, and Bamer, from Radmacher to Radmaker and Roos
Most Bukovina immigrants operated small farms besides working
in the hop fields, in the logging camps and sawmills, or for the Northern
Pacific Railway. At this time, the Northern Pacific was building a line west
from Chehalis which reached Pe Ell in February 1892. This prompted some Lost
Valley settlers to move into Pe Ell, Boistfort, and other nearby communities
to take advantage of the job opportunities.
An economic decline in 1893 may have been in a factor in
halting Bukovina immigration to the area until about 1900. In time, new
arrivals and some earlier ones settled in Chehalis where a furniture factory,
sawmills and other industries offered jobs. Among these were more Illischestie
people including the Kipper (now Keeper), Roos (Rose), Mock, and Zachmann
Although all Illischestie immigrants were Lutheran, they were
never able to form their own church as did their relatives in Kansas and
Saskatchewan. Many joined St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chehalis,
fifteen miles northeast of Lost Valley, and the pastor traveled to Pe Ell to
conduct church services and give religious instruction in family homes. Other
immigrants became members of St. Paul’s or St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran
Churches in Winlock, which is about fifteen miles southeast of Lost Valley.
Another Chehalis church, Peace Lutheran, was organized in 1914 with Bukovina
immigrants John Mock and Frank Aust as charter members.
Paltinossa, Bukovina, was the home for another Bohemian
Catholic immigrant group in Lewis County. Even before the 1889 Lewis County
Territorial Census, Joseph Pekar (also known as Pakar or Baker) and his
family were reported as living in the Coal Creek area east of Chehalis. They
had left Bukovina in 1887, lived in Kansas for a short time, then moved to
Washington. He encouraged relatives such as the Bealy (Bialy/Bailey), Busek,
Jabhauski (Jay), Kolosh, Kostick, Loy and Sturza families to join him at about
the turn of the century. These were German Bohemian farmers, miners, and
loggers, most of whom attended St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in
Chehalis until 1923 when St. Joseph's Church was built. Their children
attended Holy Rosary Academy and later St. Joseph's School before they went to
Chehalis High School.
Schwarztal and Bukschoja were the homes of the Tauscher family,
who emigrated in 1887. The brothers Frank (Franz), Ambrose, and Wenzel went to
Lewis County. Their brother Joseph and his family went to Ellis County,
Kansas, with the Erberts and in 1890, moved to Washington to join his
brothers. Joseph and family returned to Kansas two years later because they
did not like Washington’s damp climate.
At least one family from Fürstenthal/Fürstental, the Aschenbrenners, was represented in Washington. Joseph Aschenbrenner, a logger
employed in Winlock in 1910, reported to census officials that he had arrived
in the U.S. in 1890. Other Aschenbrenner families from Fürstenthal lived
Thurston County, Washington, and in Ellis County, Kansas.
More information about this immigrant group is available in
“The Bukovina Germans in Lewis County, Washington,” by Mary Lee Rose. It was
published in the Seattle Genealogical Society Bulletin, Volume 44,
Number 4 – Summer 1995, pages 171-177, and is posted on the Bukovina Society
of the Americas web site. Mary Lee also contributed “Bukovina Germans in Lewis
County, Washington” to the book German Emigration from Bukovina to the
VI. Urban Migration: Chicago and New York
Johann Christian Dressler, longtime Illischestie school
teacher, noted that in the one hundred years following the arrival of Germans
in Illischestie, there were 657 instances of immigration involving 1301
persons listed in the Illischestie church books. Of this total, 374 immigrated
to North America and 47 to South America, mostly to Brazil. You might be
interested in the names of the eight families who went to Brazil and the year
in which they immigrated. They are Philipp Hassel (1888), Friedrich Keller
(1888), Johann Roos (1887), Valentin Rumpel (1888), Josef Sauer (immigrated to
Bosnia in 1895, then spent a year in Germany before going to Brazil), Johann
Staudt (1888), Jakob Wendling (1889), and Johann Wendling (1888).
Dressler lists Illischestie immigrants to North America in his
Illischestie village history, Chronik der Bukowiner Landgemeinde
Illischestie, pages 357-361. Naperville, a short distance west of Chicago,
was the home of Duhai and Kelsch immigrants. Chicago itself was cited in
regard to Duhai, Fritz, Hofmann, Irion, Kelsch, Knieling, Mai, Presser,
Wagner, Wendling, and Zachmann families.
It is more challenging to trace immigrants to fast-paced urban
America and yet there is often a way to do so. When I lived in Kansas, two
women came to visit the St. John cemetery. They said that they were sisters
from Naperville, Illinois, and were on a cross-country trip to visit Bukovina
communities. Although I did not ask for their names and addresses, some years
later I traced them by writing to a Lutheran church in Naperville. The pastor
replied with the information that the Bukovina community in Naperville was
centered in St. John United Church of Christ. Next I wrote to the pastor of
that church, who was able to identify the women, Eve Hamann Bauman and
Clementina Hamann Matter. Although Eve had died, Clementina remembered the
trip and me. She introduced me to her surviving sister Wilhelmina Hamann
Steininger, and both kindly welcomed me to the Naperville community in 1990.
Werner Zoglauer, a member of our Bukovina Society international board actively
involved in databasing records, is also part of this community.
The Bukovina people who immigrated to places like Chicago,
Naperville, and New York City before World War I found work in shops,
factories, and businesses, often with German-speaking employers. Many were
unable to pursue the crafts or trades in which they had been trained in
Bukovina and out of necessity, had to learn new skills. Typically these were
unmarried young men and women, or married men who left their wives and
children in Bukovina while they prepared the way for them in the United
States. In her published research, Dr. Sophie Welisch has noted that these
immigrants became bakers, stone masons, machinists, seamen, butchers, and
After World War I ended and Bukovina adjusted to the severities
of life under Romanian sovereignty, a new wave of immigration began to urban
America. These new arrivals found better pay and working conditions than had
their predecessors. Unfortunately this ended in a few years when the Great
Depression produced widespread financial losses, unemployment, and hardship.
A final group of Bukovina immigrants arrived in the years after
World War II. These people had been resettled into German territory in 1940
and ended the war as displaced persons without a homeland. Some held American
citizenship, or had immediate family whom they could join in the United
States. Others entered this country in family groups after the immigration
quota system was liberalized in 1952.
Dr. Sophie Welisch, who is in attendance at this event, can
discuss these immigrants with you in greater detail. You will also be
interested in reading the various carefully-researched, well-written works
which she has published regarding the Bukovina people.
VII. The Bukovina Society of the Americas
The founding of the Bukovina Society of the Americas can be
traced to September 1988, when Paul Polansky, Oren Windholz and I met for the
first time. I had written my book The Bukovina Germans in Kansas: A
200-Year History of the Lutheran Swabians and in the process, had
established communication with Dr. Paula Tiefenthaler and Frau Irma Bornemann
of the Landsmannschaft der Buchenlanddeutschen (Bukowina) e.V. in West
Germany, as well as with Dr. Sophie Welisch in Congers, New York. Paul had
contacted both Oren and me in regard to his own Schneller ancestors and their
relatives, some of whom had emigrated to Kansas. I invited Paul to meet me in
Kansas and arranged for him to speak to Bukovina descendants at a forum held
in the St. Mary’s School in Ellis. After that, the three of us talked about
attending the 40th annual meeting of the Landsmannschaft in Augsburg,
West Germany, and about the possibility of forming a Bukovina German group
based in Ellis.
A notice was published in area newspapers inviting interested
persons to attend a December 11 meeting in Ellis regarding this proposed
Bukovina organization. On December 10, 1988, Oren and I drafted an agenda for
a meeting and later that day, met with a committee including Bernie Zerfas,
Darrell Seibel, Joe Erbert, and Ernie Honas. The next day, December 11, the
Bukovina Society of the Americas was formed at the public meeting.
Oren, his wife Pat, and I traveled to Europe to visit Paul in
May 1989. We attended the meeting of the Landsmannschaft and its
affiliate the Kaindl-Gesellschaft, and became acquainted with the newly
formed Bukowina-Institut and its directors, Dr. Johannes Hampel and Dr.
Ortfried Kotzian. Oren, Paul and I received documents of honor and silver pins
from these organizations and the City of Augsburg in recognition of our
efforts for the Bukovina Society of the Americas.
The society’s first meeting was held in the Ellis High School
auditorium on July 19-22, 1989. Within three years, the society had acquired
museum and headquarters facilities in the former First Congregational Church
in Ellis with the cooperation of the church’s trustees, Jack Nicholson and
Mary Pearson, and the City of Ellis.
The society’s directors have been active on behalf of the
organization. A number of board members and their spouses traveled to Regina,
Saskatchewan, Canada, to meet Bukovina German descendants in Edenwold as well as
the Romanian Canadian Cultural Club. Paul Massier, his wife Dorothy and I went
to Lewis County to attend a Bukovina gathering and while in Washington, I was
the guest of Mary Lee and Gilmore Rose, who shared their family history research
with me. As previously mentioned, I went to Naperville, Illinois, to meet
Bukovina emigrants and their descendants. A memorable event was the society’s
1996 meeting in Waco, Texas, in conjunction with the German Genealogy and
Heritage Conference and coordinated by Van Massirer.
One hundred and fifteen years ago, Bukovina people began to
immigrate to Canada, the United States, and Brazil. The contact between their
descendants and their cousins in Europe has been renewed through the efforts of
the Associação Alemã-Bucovina de Cultural and the Bukovina Society of the
Americas, with the support of the Bukowina-Institut, the
Landsmannschaft der Buchenlanddeutschen (Bukowina) e.V. and the
Kaindl-Gesellschaft. Next year, on July 18-20, 2002, the Bukovina Society
will meet in conjunction with the Federation of East European Family History
Societies in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. We hope to meet some of you,
especially Dr. Celestino, there. These mutually beneficial relationships
continue the tradition of multi-ethnic and multi-confessional heritage which
indeed is Bukovina’s finest, most enduring legacy to us all. Thank you, dear
friends, for your partnership in this wonderful venture!
1. Irmgard Hein Ellingson, teacher,
author, and lecturer, is the daughter of Germans displaced from Ukrainian
Volhynia after World War II. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political
science and history from Winona State College and a master of arts degree in
ministry with a concentration in congregational history from Wartburg
Theological Seminary. She is a founding member and international director
of the Bukovina Society of the Americas (Ellis, Kansas), a current member of
the editorial board for the Journal of the American Historical Society of
Germans from Russia (Lincoln, Nebraska), and former U.S. representative
for the quarterly publication Wandering Volhynians (Vancouver,
British Columbia/Canada). Her publication credits include two books, The
Bukovina Germans in Kansas: A 200-Year History of the Lutheran Swabians
(Hays, Kansas: Fort Hays State University Ethnic Heritage Series, 1987) and
Illischestie, A Rural Parish in Bukovina: Primary Source Material for
Family History, translated from an unpublished manuscript compiled by
Johann Christian Dressler, and shorter works in German, Canadian, and
American periodicals. Irmgard has addressed conventions of the Federation of
East European Family History Societies as well as AHSGR, the Bukovina
Society, Polish Genealogical Society of America, Czechoslovak Genealogical
Society International, and other state/local groups. She has worked in
Czech, German, Austrian, Canadian, and American archives but has especially
enjoyed meeting her relatives from Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland, the Czech
Republic and Germany. Her Berlin Document Center records research
facilitated the 1999 emigration of her aunt and cousins from Russia to
2. Petersen, Carl, et. al.
Handwörterbuch des Grenz- und Auslanddeutschtums (Breslau, Germany:
Ferdinand Hirt, 1933), 616.
3. For a further discussion, see
Dr. Rein’s comments in German Emigration from Bukovina to the Americas
(Lawrence, Kansas: Max Kade Center for German-American Studies, The
University of Kansas, 1996), 56-57.
4. Cutler’s work is posted online at
See the Ellis County link for more information.
5. Further examinations are contained
in “Adaptation and Contributions of Bukovinians to the New Homeland: The
Bukovina Germans of West-Central Kansas” by James L. Forsythe and Helmut J.
Schmeller, and in “From Mitteleuropa to Middle America: The Migration
and Adaptation of the Bukovina Germans to Kansas” by Normal E. Saul. Both
articles appear in German Emigration from German Emigration from Bukovina
to the Americas.
8. A picture of the church,
physical description, and history are posted online at this address:
9. See his work “Catholic Bohemian Germans in
Kansas” in German Emigration from Bukovina to the Americas, page 80.
12. Butz’s role in the
immigration is discussed by Carruthers-Zurowski in “Between Imperial
Hinterlands,” and by Hannelore Frombach in her Edenwold community history
titled Where Aspens Whisper.
14. Material in this section was synthesized from Paul Polansky’s research,
which he has generously shared with me in the course of our 13-year
friendship. His article “Migration of Bukovina Germans to North America”
appeared in Journal of the American Historical Society of Germans from
Russia, Vol. 11, No. 4, Winter 1988. I included the Theresia Maurer
Schneller story in my article “Bukovina Networking,” published in the
FEEFHS Quarterly (Salt Lake City, Utah) in 2000.
15. The following section is based
upon the published research of Mary Lee Rose of Olympia, Washington, whose
enthusiasm, generosity, and warm hospitality are much appreciated.
statistics are cited in Chronik der Bukowiner Landgemeinde
Illischestie, pages 347, 348, and 361.
Becker, Maria Lang; Jensen, Larry R.; Welisch, Sophie
A. The Bori Story: Genealogies of the German-Bohemian families who in
1835 founded Bori in Bukovina (now in Romania) with History of the Village
and its People.
Dressler, Johann Christian. Chronik der Bukowiner
Langemeinde Illischestie (Freilassing: Pannonia-Verlag, 1960).
Dressler, Johann Christian; Ellingson, Irmgard Hein,
transl. Illischestie, A Rural Parish in Bukovina: Primary Source Material
for Family History (Decorah, Iowa: printed by Anundsen Publishing
Ellingson, Irmgard Hein. The Bukovina Germans in
Kansas: A 200-Year History of the Lutheran Swabians (Hays, Kansas: Fort
Hays State University, 1987).
Ellingson, Irmgard Hein “Bukovina Networking” in
FEEFHS Quarterly 2000 (Salt Lake City).
Frombach, Hannelore. Where Aspens Whisper (Edenwold
Anniversary Committee: 1981).
Hordern, Dr. Richard, ed. St. John’s Evangelical
Lutheran Church 1890-1900 (Edenwold: 1990).
Keel, William, and Rein, Kurt, ed. German Emigration
from Bukovina to the Americas (Lawrence: Max Kade Center for
German-American Studies, The University of Kansas, 1996).
Langley, Eileen E. Buried Ties to the “Old Country”
(Ellis, Kansas: self-published, 1983).
Polansky, Paul J. Speech presented to the
Kaindl-Gesellschaft of the Landsmannschaft der Buchenlanddeutschen
(Bukowina) e.V., (Augsburg: 6 June 1987). Revised and published as
“Migration of Bukovina Germans to North America” in Journal of the
American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Vol. 11, No. 4
(Lincoln, Nebraska: Winter 1988), 27-34.
Rose, Mary Lee. “The Bukovina Germans in Lewis County,
Washington” in Seattle Genealogical Society Bulletin, Volume 44,
Number 4 – Summer 1995, pages 171-177. It is also posted on the Bukovina
Society of the Americas web site.
Welisch, Sophie. A. “Bukovina-German Pioneers in Urban
America.” Journal of the American Historical Society of Germans From
Russia, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Lincoln, Nebraska: spring 1989), pp. 19 - 26. It
is also posted on the Bukovina Society of the Americas web site.
Windholz, Oren. Bohemian Germans in Kansas: A
Catholic Community From Bukovina (Hays, KS: published by the author,
Windholz, Oren. The
Erberts: A German Catholic Family in Austria, from Bohemia, through
Bukovina, to America (self-published, n.d.)
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