Crest of the Bukovina Society of the Americas The Bukovina Society of the Americas
P.O. Box 81, Ellis, KS 67637, USA 
Martha McClelland , President
Bukovina Society Headquarters & Museum, Ellis KS 67637

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Vol.  9, No. 3   -   September 1999

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Board of Directors:

Oren Windholz, President

Mary Agnes Wagner, Vice President

Joe Erbert, Secretary

Bernie Zerfas, Treasurer

Frank Augustine

Ralph Burns

Raymond Haneke

Ralph Honas

Shirley Kroeger

Dennis Massier

Ray Schoenthaler

Darrell Seibel

International Board:

Irmgard Hein Ellingson

Aura Lee Furgason

Larry Jensen

Dr. Ortfried Kotzian

Edward Al Lang

Paul Massier

Van Massirer

Steve Parke

Prof. Dr. Kurt Rein

Werner Zoglauer

P.O. Box 81, Ellis, KS 67637 USA
Editorial response to
P. O. Box 1083
Hays, KS 67601-1083




The board of directors of the Bukovina Society has set the dates for the next meeting for August 10-13, 2000 in Ellis and Hays, Kansas. The results of a survey to the board, international board, and prospective presenters has indicated a high level of interest in Bukovinafest 2000 which will contribute to a quality convention.  Numerous inquiries have been received by the society by mail and email and many people are planning for the year 2000 event.  All members of the society are welcome to give input to the board as plans are made.  Future issues of the newsletter will contain information on this big celebration of Bukovina heritage.


WELCOME to our newest life time member.  Loretta Gnad Mares of Olathe, Kansas whose ancestral interest is Fürstenthal.

The Bukovina community in Canada and the Bukovina Society lost a very loyal and dedicated supporter.  Rev. Frans Nelson died and was buried at his birthplace of Herbert, Saskatchewan.  His last parish of North-Southey was the location of several Bukovina heritage events coordinated by Frans.  One of his last proud accomplishments was to see to the publishing of a cookbook, which featured Bukovina recipes.

The annual business meeting of the Bukovina Society of the Americas was held in accordance with the bylaws on July 22, 1999 in Ellis, Kansas.  The minutes of the prior annual meeting and a financial report were approved as presented.  Election of four members to the board of directors was made to fill expired terms.  Mary Lang-Wagner, Frank Augustine, Dennis Massier and Ralph Burns will fill the three-year terms.  At the board meeting following, the officers were elected again for another year.

Dr. Sophie Welisch, a presenter at our first Bukovina meetings and a frequent speaker, author and contributor to the Bukovina Society has donated a copy of the thesis she presented for the degree of Master of Arts in 1961.  DRANG NACH OSTEN: THE GERMANS IN BUKOVINA was her first incursion into Bukovina history.  We appreciate receiving the comprehensive work.  Sophie has been busy translating numerous other historical and current works for publication in the society newsletter.  Sophie served on the original board of directors of the society when founded over 10 years ago.  Another of Sophie's works is in this newsletter.  Her translation of the work on Jacobeni is in honor of her Zipser ancestors.

Fay Jordaens has sent some beautiful color family crests to the society for display in the new display panels.  She also sent Bukovina publications brought by Erich and Inge Slawski who visited her family from Germany.  Fay is always on the lookout for something to build the society headquarters collections.  Her continued generosity is appreciated.

Thanks to Ernest Pfeifer of Ellis who donated nine Catholic prayer books in the German language that belonged to his mother Martina.  The society has a nice collection of religious publications thanks to such generosity.

Ladis Kristof wrote from Portland State University about the article, History of the Oberländer Family.  He knew a Dr. Oberländer in Bukovina who was the physician for his family. 

Rudy Schmahl wrote to express appreciation for the article about him in the last issue.  It is his fondest wish to visit everyone at Bukovinafest 2000.  He will be 95 that year and can't make a promise yet.

The East European Genealogical Society of Winnipeg is sending us their Journal on an exchange basis with our newsletter.  The Journal is packed with information and persons interested can contact them at PO Box 2537, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3C 4A7. Their website is and email:


By:  Gay (Ryan) Schuster, submitted by Jay Wilpolt

The spring of 1904 was auspicious for Ferdinand (1862-1912) and Klara (1868-1955), the winter of 1903 had been especially hard. Since the new Conscription law passed in Vienna, the capital of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, a decision had to be made.  Since 1894 Ferdinand's two brothers, Joseph with his wife Anna (Augustin) and Frank, with his wife Anna (Poelmann) had immigrated to America (1894 and 1901 respectively) as had other family and friends from Fürstenthal, settling on the high Plains of Western Kansas near Ellis.    

The letters from family and friends who had immigrated earlier to the place called Kansas sounded unreal, tales about the many acres farmed, the number of cattle pastured, how cheap the land was, and any number of wonders convinced many to immigrate.  Little was ever written about the cold winters, the howling winds, the awesome storms or the many hardships these immigrants had to face.  To Ferdinand and Klara, Kansas must have sounded like heaven, later they would come to understand the reality of life on the high plains of Kansas.

Conscription into the military was another mitigating factor, the Austrian Empire was at this time requiring its young men to serve at an even younger age, 16.  Ferdinand had served as a young man, it hadn't been a pleasant experience, although it was there that he learned the trade of a shoemaker which would later be of great value to him.  Life in the Austrian Army was hard, dirty and dangerous even without a war and Ferdinand understandably wanted no part of it for his sons.  Frank, their oldest son, would soon reach that age.  To spare their sons they must be removed from this perceived threat.

Thus the conscription combined with the lack of opportunity for their children forced the question of immigration.  The promise of a better life that is the American Dream no doubt left little question where they would go.  America, the place where a family could grow and prosper, a place of unlimited opportunity for all of their children.

Ferdinand and Klara set out for this Golden Promise in faraway Kansas in America, just as their ancestors had left Bavaria at the beginning of the 19th Century for the promise of greater things in a place called Bukovina.  That they would follow their friends and family members to Kansas made the decision easier.  Yes, they were going to a strange new land.  But there was family and friends already there to ease the transition.

So as late winter gave way to the first signs of spring, Ferdinand and Klara sold or gave away what they could not take with them, and as summer came they said tearful goodbye to family and friends, gathered their seven children, and left by oxcart to the rail station at Radautz.  The children were:  Frank, age 14 (1891-1980), Mary, age 11 (1892-1980), Theresia, age 9 (1894-1978), Barbara, age 8 (1896-1971), Stephanie, age 6 (1898-1989), Paul, age 3 (1900-1990), and Jacob, age 5 months (1904-1989).

Their journey would last approximately a month and can be traced by studying the old railroad maps of the era.  A train from Radautz to Vienna, to Munich, to Frankfort and then to Bremen where the family boarded the SS Kaiser Wilhelm June 28th, 1904 bound for New York.  The voyage was hard, especially for Klara confined to a single cabin with the children and a baby to feed and care for.  All their food was brought with them, according to Aunt Fannie (Stephanie) and consisted of bread, sausage, cheese and cabbage.

Few things were provided for passengers in the steerage, coffee and water was available, milk could be purchased but was expensive.  The men would join their families in a common room for their main meal, which they could purchase but bore little resemblance to anything familiar or they could eat what they had brought with them.   Frank, because of his age, was placed with his father placed with the other men in a large below deck dormitory, as was the custom.  The food available on the ship would be foreign to a family used to making their own meals from the garden behind their for home.  Frank was inquisitive as all young people, not restricted to the cabin or common room on the ship or the close quarters provided on Ellis Island.  His language ability allowed him to acquire some of the English he would need in America.

A charming story is told about Frank as the Kaiser Wilhelm entered New York, July 4, 1904.  Witnessing an Independence Day fireworks display, young Frank asked the ships personnel, "Is there a revolution?"  How astonished he must have been to earn that the skyrockets were celebrating the anniversary of America's revolution.

The ship docked at Ellis Island on July 5th and the family began, as many others, the arduous inspection by biased Immigration employees that would allow them to enter America.  The family would be five days on Ellis Island because Barbara had contracted an eye infection on the passage, which in itself could disallow her admission into the country, before being allowed to continue their journey to Kansas. Nearing Chicago on the train, the family was extremely low on food.  Frank, who felt he had learned enough English to get by, was given some coins to find the family something to eat at the next station.  He returned with what appeared to be a sausage,  a loaf of bread and some apples.  Aunt Fannie would recall, "the sausage wasn't what we were used to, it was bologna and bad too, by the time we got off the train the next day in Ellis the whole family was sick."  Aunt Fannie remembered that on arriving in Ellis there was no one to meet them as they got off the train.  Uncle Joe and Uncle Frank lived on farms west of town and hadn't been certain of the family's arrival.  Mrs. John Weber, a cousin of her mother was in town for supplies, bundled the family into her wagon and took them out to the Weber farm where she fed them their first meal in Ellis, potato soup.

It was hard establishing a new life for a growing family.  Three more children were born after settling in Ellis, Clara in 1906, John (1909-1983), and Englebert in 1911.  To make ends meet Ferdinand took work on the Union Pacific Railroad.  Often gone for days, the work on their rented farm fell to Klara and the children.

Aunt Fannie relates Mama was really upset when she saw what Kansas was like.  "There were no trees," she would say.  Life was hard for Mama; the older girls would help with the household chores and the younger children.  But Mama was left to tend the gardens, feed and water the few cattle and milk.  Frank would hire himself to the neighbors for the extra money needed for store bought things.  There was always something she had to do.  The wind was something she could never get used to saying, "This will drive us all crazy."  According to Mama it was never so cold, or so dry, or so windy in Fürstenthal.  "But she'd make the best of it, we were never hungry and always busy with chores to do, but the bulk of the work fell to Mama and was always very proud of the way she was able to manage."

After the rented farm, they were able to purchase a farm 10 miles southeast of Ellis in 1908 with money earned on the railroad and savings.  The farm is still in the family, owned by Michael Schuster, the third generation to live there.  Sundays were a special day for the family.  Even living ten 10 miles out of Ellis, the town still provided their main source of social contact, their church, St. Mary's.  Sunday mass was required and there was much visiting done between the families of the parish after Mass.

During the erection of the present church, the male parishioners used their spare time to assist in building of the new sanctuary.  When the weather was good, their wives could be relied upon to prepare mountains of food which would be laid out under the trees on makeshift tables along Big Creek after Sunday Mass.  After the work was done a country fair atmosphere would prevail.  Uncle Joe would bring his fiddle, and Cousin Frank had a Jews Harp and all that could play an instrument were asked to join in.  There in the shade of edge of Big Creek watching their church reach skyward, the families renewed their Bukovinian German heritage.

In 1912 Ferdinand died.  Frank, 21, became the head of the family.  Even his death did not alter the family's dream.  They stayed on the farm, growing wheat, raising a few cattle, attending St. Mary's, marrying and becoming an integral part of the Ellis community.

The children's marriages were, Frank to Rosie Aschenbrenner, Mary to Joseph Locker, Theresia to Nicholas Kaiser, Barbara to Stephen Nemechek, Stephanie to Louis Locker, Jake to Elma Mickelson, Clara to Mike Zimmerman, John to Margo Dreiling and Engelbert to Iva Withers.  Most of the children of Ferdinand and Klara stayed in the Ellis area, married, baptized their own children and are buried at St. Mary's Cemetery.  Klara Baumgartner Schuster died July 3, 1955, 51 years after arriving at Ellis Island.

B. C. Grigorowicz, "Die Zipsersiedlung Jakobeni," in Bukowina:

Heimat von Gestern, ed. by Erwin Massier, Josef Talsky and B. C. Grigorowicz, translated by Dr. Sophie A. Welisch (Karlsruhe:
Selbstverlag "Arbeitskreis Bukowina Heimatbuch," 1956), pp. 150-157.

             In the southern-most section of Bukovina, about ten kilometers north of the district capital of Dornawatra, lies and quaint mountain village of Jakobeni, encircled by a mighty mountain chain and dense Carpathian forests. If one is arriving by train through the long tunnel or traveling on the scenic Imperial Highway southward over the treacherously winding serpentine roads of the Mesticanesti Pass, the eye first sees the green, treeless valley of the first marches of Jakobeni, where today, in a wooden structure similar to a church, is the sulfur bath: "Puciosu" (= sulfur). Barely a few hundred meters further the street forks and winds along the left bank of the Golden Bistritsa [River] to Dornawatra to the south and through the scenically captivating valley westward to Kirlibaba.

      Here three important transportation routes lie in immediate proximity: first, the above-mentioned Imperial Highway leading to Transylvania; then, the railroad line closely following the incline; and finally, the waterway of the Bistritsa River, serving for the shipment of logs guided along the river by raftsmen.

      In about 1775, when Turkey ceded Bukovina to the Austrians as a link between Transylvania and likewise newly-annexed Galicia [1772], two farm houses stood in a cleared forest area of the Pucios trench. When surnames were later assigned, both of the Romanian families living there got the name Jacoban, from which the community of Jakobeni got its name.

      These people, and a few other mountaineers living along the Ciotina Stream, could hardly envision that the new masters of the land would soon be building a firm road and then bringing foreigners into the region in order to prospect for minerals in the mountains and wooded ravines. Nonetheless, the Austrian Emperor [Joseph II] placed the virgin forests and with them all properties of the churches and monasteries under the administration of the State. Later foreign men came into the area who began to survey and prospect in the valleys and on the heights. After them followed soldiers and several dozen equally strange people who, at the bottom of the valley at the river, cut down trees and built houses for many men, women and children, clothed entirely differently and speaking a language other than that of the indigenous Moldavians. They also had other implements for their work in the forest and unfamiliar utensils for the preparation of their food. Then they built a church in which people did not worship the same as those attending the little wooden church of the Romanians.

      These were the first German colonists who were called into the land. After the annexation of the province, the Austrian government soon sent a prospecting commission into the region which first discovered manganese in Jakobeni and copper lodes in Pozoritta.

      Since at the same time gold dust was discovered in the sand of the Bistritsa River (hence the name, "Golden Bistritsa"), it was hoped that further upstream veins of gold would be found. In the western provinces of the Monarchy, the expectation of rich gold finds in Bukovina were soon dispelled. The news of a new El Dorado and the premature solicitation of miners for the newly acquired province in the East made it easier for the company established to exploit the minerals to recruit workers. After arrival of the first "gold seekers," further German miners with their families called "Zipser Germans" [= Germans from the Zips (Spis, Szepes) in the Tatra Mountains, today in Slovakia] were permitted to migrate. Their forebears, together with those from the Rhineland who had settled in Transylvania [Transylvania Saxons], had come to the Zips in the twelfth century during the reign of the Hungarian King Getsa. Tradition has it that, weary from their wanderings in the virgin forests south of the High Tatra [Mountains], they halted and settled there, where for several centuries they found work as miners and lumberers and a homeland in a very scenic but untamed district.

      After the above-mentioned mining company--which for the most part consisted of non-specialists--had to close its enterprise in Bukovina, the Styrian Anton Manz von Mariensee, acquired all mining rights in the southern section of the province from the Greek Orthodox Religious Foundation, which owned numerous woodlands. The new entrepreneur brought in an additional forty miners from the Zips and began to exploit the manganese deposits discovered on the "Arnitza."

      By 1802 Jakobeni had two blast furnaces. Further to the west in Kirlibaba silver and crude lead, and copper in Luisental near Pozoritta were mined.

      At first the miners were accommodated in small houses built for them from wood from the forests which at that time had extended to the banks of the river. Eventually ever more small trim houses lined the new street along both shorelines. The colonists first had to pay a small annual lease tax to the "Gutsgebiet" [landed estate] of the Mining Office until the property was deeded over to them.

      In southern Bukovina other Zipser communities also arose, e.g., in Pozoritta and Luisental and Eisenau. By 1820 Manz had taken over various mining enterprises in the province, the exception being the salt mines in Kaczyka. Large profits facilitated further extensive prospecting. The manganese transported by wagon across the Mesticanesti Pass from Jakobeni, first cleaned in water, was ultimately processed in blast furnaces constructed in Eisenau, Bukschoja-Frassin and Stulpikani. In Jakobeni, aside from other industrial facilities, a large administrative building and foundry were constructed in 1823, and much later a hydroelectric plant, all of which soon passed out of the ownership of the old Manz family.

      Anton Manz died unexpectedly in 1823, and his nephew, Vincent, no longer able to finance the extensive enterprises, declared bankruptcy. Based on a court order, all works and installations returned to the principal creditor, the Greek Orthodox Religious Foundation, as owner of the mines. The lack of coal and lignite plus the difficulties of transportation prevalent until the construction of the railroad, and last but not least the poor quality of the ores, which could not compete with those of the West, led the Religious Foundation finally to close the mining installations. The blast furnaces were shut down in 1882 and the various equipment dismantled, thereby reducing the miners and their families in all the villages of southern Bukovina to great need. Fortunately, most could turn to other trades and find sufficient employment as lumberers, saw mill operators and raftsmen to provide for their families in the developing forestry and lumbering industries.

      In 1880, when the mines of Jakobeni with its foundry were struggling to survive through production of crude iron products such as cast iron machine parts, iron rails, tools and kitchen utensils (pots, pans, etc.) and transporting iron ore to the railroad terminal by wagons, Turkish lumber dealers came into the area and the German firm of Ph. and Ch. Götz & Co. began to open up the huge stands of timber. Foreign specialists and foresters from Italy and the Austrian western provinces came to instruct the Zipsers in the hard work of felling trees and transporting logs.

      The mining industry faced a temporary upswing when the railroad from Hatna-Dornawatra finally reached the area (1903 - 1905) and transporting ore by rail opened a good market for manganese (essential for steel production).

      The outbreak of the First World War in July 1914 disrupted the blossoming life of the mountain community, bringing with it a difficult period. First, a wave of refugees from the north passed through Jakobeni and the villagers bore witness to the great need which had engulfed Bukovina. In late fall of the first year of the war an all-too-early snowfall covered the overcrowded roads of the Prislop and Magura passes to Transylvania. They also bore the brunt of the heroic defense of the heights north of their homeland by speedily organizing formations of local police, Finance Office guards and forestry personnel, which, supported by a poorly equipped local militia, volunteers from among the Bukovina youth and Polish legionaries under the command of Police Chief Fischer and later the Papp Brigade, attempted to halt the first onslaught of the Russian army in Bukovina. Without artillery or machine guns they defended their homeland with untrained Hungarian militia until the arrival of regular troops and finally brought the front to a halt. The battle front with its trenches, fox holes, and barbed wire entanglements so close to the village remained in place for years, attesting to the grinding status of the war.

      All men with the exception of the sick, the old and the young were conscripted [into the army]. Supplying the population with food behind the front posed a problem, and the village was daily threatened with evacuation. Those officials still on the job, i.e., from the Mining Office and Forestry Office--not the railroad or the post office--could with great difficulty carry out their necessary war activities. The Mining Office, despite the proximity to the front, had to carry the ore through tunnels from the "Arnitza," then cast, wash, and send it by rail to the West, for which the army not only released miners but provisioned their families. In like manner the Forest Office could also help its workers by distributing meager rations of food for the people and fodder for the draft animals from army reserves in return for supplies of wood for heating, cooking and rail transport.

      Fortunately the village lay in a dead zone of the Russian artillery, which suited the Austrian defenses stationed there just fine. Only a few bullets strayed into Jakobeni.

      The war ended in the fall of 1918 and with it the great [Austro-Hungarian] empire. One day the first Romanian troops entered the village which for four years had experienced terror and uncertainty. It did not take long before Jakobeni, despite its German majority, no longer had a German mayor. The last mayor of the almost four-fifths German community was Rudolf Brucker, who, however, was not a Zipser but one of the few "Swabians" who had settled here. He surrendered his office and key to the Romanian Gerasim Galbaza and the German community secretary Franz Ast (from Illischestie) turned over his official books to the Romanian teacher Mihali.

      The people in the Zipser community of Jakobeni understood, as did their German brethren in other areas of Bukovina, how always to live in harmony with the Romanian inhabitants, which after the annexation [of Bukovina by Romania], served both parties well. While by 1940 the number of Germans in Jakobeni had risen to about 2900, there were approximately 50 Romanian families of small farmers and laborers in the village. The most well known among them were Bodea, Galbaza, Groza, Jacoban, Maxim, Socaci and Zigscha (the latter called "Lamba").

      The mining families who emigrated from the Zips bearing the German names of Alznauer, Drotziger, Gärtner, Gotsch, Hönig, Klein, Kletsch, Knebel, Knoblauch, Krieger, Meitner, Müller, Seufzer, Stark, Theiss, Wapke, Weisshaupt, Zippenfennig and others, also brought with them some Hungarian and Slavic surnames which increased in number by intermarriage: Astalosch, Bogdan, Brodacz, Gorski, Kaloth, Kolarik, Nikelski, Sokacz, Terschanski, Zaharanski, etc.

      Through centuries'-long cohabitation among foreign peoples the Germans knew how to defend their ethnicity, their customs and their mores as well as their dialect and were everywhere praised as ambitious, stalwart and honest people. Their trim, albeit modest, homes usually in log hut style, seemed to be fastened to the mountainside like sparrows' nests, next to which they usually had a small adjacent stable and a modest garden. Only a few owned more than one cow, since acreage and pasture land were lacking; they had to lease meadowland from the Romanian farmers in neighboring villages or laboriously mow hay from high on the mountainside. However, there were enough cliffs on whose steep slopes and poor soil on which to grow potatoes which, with the exception of cornmeal, constituted their main diet. At heights of 900 meters above sea level, grains will not grow, not even corn for the regional Mam'lige (corn meal mush), which, as a substitute for bread, was not missing from any table.

      While about one-third of the Jakobeni Zipsers and about a dozen Romanian inhabitants of the village earned their livelihood as miners in the "Theresiengrube" (Theresa Mine) of Dornawatra, the remaining villagers worked in forestry or at crafts. If their work place lay in the outlying vicinity, the men returned home in the evening. However, it often entailed many hours of travel to the forest starting on Monday morning either on foot or by wagon and staying at the job site for a week or more; and this was not easy work: cutting, pruning, stripping off the bark, and moving the giants via a timber shoot, or rafting the mighty, often still green fir trees in the high mountains of the Carpathians! Barely out of school, the young boys already accompanied their fathers and brothers "in die Oweit" [at work, dialect]. In the morning long wagons or sleds stood ready to pick up 20 - 30 fully-laden men who, covered with blankets and coats in the winter, sat in two long rows next to their colorful rucksacks and provisions, mainly cornmeal and potatoes and the inevitable "Fidilesch" (wooden container with stopper) with curdled milk. They carefully packed tools such as saws, hatchets, picks and climbing equipment, wood drills and other implements lest they be damaged. Carpenters with their broad-axes, revealed by a "Bassabog" [water level] extending from their rucksacks, accompanied the lumberers. Some, according to the time of year and the weather, wore a Romanian-style lamb's woolen cap instead of a hat and on their feet the more comfortable and warmer Opintschen, the colorful regional footwear.

      The numerous valleys encircling the village with their fir trees received various names in the course of the development of the mining and forestry industries. Thus, for example the above-mentioned march "Puciosu," the tunnel entrance under the Mesticanesti Pass; the steep "Tolovan" with its region called "Klopacz," along which the railroad leads to the valley; the Iron Valley (paraul Ferului) with the manganese mines of the "Arnitza"; and the large Bremsberg, next to the "Liebeshügel" [love hill] across from the railroad station and the village hotel. Further to the south lay "Pietroasa," "Hasch," and "Danadoaja." On one hill stands the beautiful Romanian church at the mouth of the Czotina Brook, and opposite it, the Forestry Office. Most of the houses are on the right riverbank in the long-extending "Oberen und Unteren Fuhrmannsgasse" (Upper and Lower Teamsters' Way) and the so-called "Krotengasse" with the Lutheran church. Then follows the work site with the Mining Office and the plant facilities, the school, the Catholic church, the Jewish temple with a small area for the "business district," the shops, and the post office. Not far from here on the Imperial Highway the attractive German House [German clubhouse] came into view.

      After the war there were a number of intellectuals in town who, during the difficult war years, aided the people with words and deeds. Among them we find the highly-respected old minister Karl Frankendorfer and his wife Klara; then the Orthodox priest Nicolai Mihalcea, who, at the beginning of the war was briefly interned as an "unreliable Romanian"; also the "Father of the Miners," mining engineer Epaminodas Prelici; and last but not least, forest master engineer Arthur Kargl, who was always concerned about [the welfare of] his forestry workers. In the early post-war years it was Father Schott, headmaster Fritz Schneikart and the two mining inspectors Muhm and Knoblauch, who, along with the laudable Rudolf Brucker, aided the suffering villagers.

      In addition to the many people who worked in the forests and mines, there were also a number of craftsmen who were not Zipsers but had come into the area later. Among these was Rudolf Brucker who had a mill in Eisental, while his brother Johann Brucker owned steam-driven saw mill as well as a furniture and carpentry shop. Josef Brucker, a brother of the two, was a cabinet maker and at times managed the German Warehouse; "old Fritz" was a master wheelwright; Levinus Werner, whom the Romanians called "Batranul Mius," was a master locksmith, who was succeeded by his son Johann Werner; on the Klopacz lived old shoemaker master Suchar; next to the German House in the old post office the family of Karl Czutka had a butcher shop with an inn; and a brother of Franz Czutka was a master blacksmith.  Most came from Illischestie.

      Until the [1940] resettlement [of the Bukovina Germans to Germany], the Reiffeisenkasse (bank) was directed by Erwin Brucker, son of Rudolf Brucker, a merchant by trade.

      As in all cities and towns in Bukowina, there were also a number of Jewish families in Jakobeni, who, for the sake of completeness, should be mentioned. Living there at the end of the war and naming them in order beginning from Puciosu we find saloon keeper Jidel Beer Budyk; at the mouth of the brook stood the restaurant called "Tante Riegler"; then the cabinet maker Koppel Brender; the shoemaker Ire Johide Schloss; and stores of the Greif and Liebermann families; the innkeeper Falik König, who had come from Czokanestie; in the Romanian National House sat his brother Hermann König; in the German House until the war, Jakob Scherermann; in the community hotel the leaseholder Moische Twiaschor; then the bearded shopkeeper Herrsch Hochstädt and his neighbor Chaim Liebermann; and finally the prolific Herrsch Merdler opposite the Bruck saw mill, leased from old Moses Goldenzweig.

      The majority of the people of Jakobeni were Lutherans. If a man married a Catholic woman or the reverse, the bridal couple had to sign a declaration before the marriage agreeing to baptize their daughters Catholic. As a result the children as well as the parents of the same family attended two different church services on Sunday. Such compromises were accepted, although they often interfered with harmonious family life.

      A few families were Seven-Day Adventists, called "sambatari" by the Romanians, because they considered Saturday their day of rest.

      The Zipsers, as all rural and mountain people, were not free of superstitions. Evidence the following events during the first summer after the war: in the area of the Carpathians with normally heavy rainfall, one always counted on clear skies at least once a year while harvesting the first or the second crop of hay. In this particular year it rained continuously for four weeks, and in the village there was only one single individual who knew how to stop the undesired rain and even hail. But precisely this man had died! Clandestinely, several villagers hit upon the idea of disinterring the rainmaker from the grave, putting a clove of garlic in his toothless mouth, then replacing the corpse in a prone position, and reburying it without any other than the four of them knowing about it. And look here: the rain stopped in the morning, and people enjoyed almost three full weeks of clear skies! Overwhelmed by their success, the perpetrators spoke of their deed and the story made its rounds. When the local police heard of it, the four were arrested. The court, unwilling to exonerate them, only gave them a reprimand for their desecration of the grave, since in the transition period between Austrian and Romanian jurisprudence law enforcement was a bit lax. . .


For publications about the Zipsers of Bukovina see:

Hadbawnik, Oskar. Die Zipser in der Bukowina: Anfang, Aufbau und Ende ihres buchenländischen Bergbaues in den Nordkarpaten (Munich: Landsmannschaft   der Buchenlanddeutschen, 1984).

Herberth, Willi. Dorna Watra (n.p.: By the author, 1989).

Herberth, Willi Alfred and Michael Leopold Hauser. Jakobeni und Kirlibaba an der Goldenen Bistritz: Die Zipser Siedlungen im Herzen der Nordkarpaten,  2 vols. (n.p.: By the authors, 1988-89).

Stephani, Claus. Volkserzählungen der Zipser in Nordrumänien (Marburg: N.G Elwert Verlag, 1983).     


The former Congregational Church building, home of the Bukovina Society of the Americas, may someday attain a very distinctive designation. The Historic Preservation Office of the Kansas State Historical Society has notified local interests in Ellis that the property has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places art Register of Historic Kansas Places. The building is a multi-use facility benefiting Ellis and area residents through the generous cooperation of the building trustees, the City of Ellis and numerous individuals. The Bukovina Society maintains their headquarters and a museum on the upper floor next to the Congregational Chapel.

The First Congregational Church was organized in Ellis on May 30, 1873, and believed to be the first organized church in the town. The American Home Missionary Society provided a preacher at intervals during 1872 and until 1882, regular services were conducted in the Ellis House (Hotel), in the first school house, and then in a second school house purchased from the city. The cornerstone of the present building was laid August 3rd of 1907.

A square spire (bell tower) on the left side was part of the original structure but removed due to aging wooden trusses along with the bell. The church was closed on May 23, 1971 just two years short of their centennial which was celebrated by many returning members of the congregation. Through the foresight of the trustees who formed the Ellis Arts and Historical Society, the Bukovina Society has a home and Ellis has a landmark building for preservation. The immigrants to Ellis from Bukovina beginning in 1886 were of the Catholic and Lutheran faith. The Bohemian German Catholics joined the congregation of St. Mary's Church in Ellis and the Swabian Lutherans formed St. John's Lutheran Church north of Ellis.


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