After looking at copious amounts of documents in German, something hit me square in the forehead…why is my GG Louise Kruse listed as being born in Germany sometimes and other times as being born in Russia. The same thing goes for most of her family, excepting a few siblings who appear to have been born in the USA.
The clue: In the 1910 U.S. Census we see “Russia/Germany” in several fields. After looking at the cluster of DOBs, I started looking at maps and atlases because I couldn’t figure out how Germany and Russia could appear with a “slash”…in other words, what was the relationship between the two countries?
Here’s the deal: during Catherine II’s reign (mid-1800s) she decided to extend an offer to Germans to move to a section of Russia so their lives could be improved and Russians could act as good examples for the German peasants. (hmmmm, no. 1) Somewhere along the line, Russia began to like France better than Germany (more soldiers, armaments, etc.) so in the late 1800s, Russia pretty much abandoned the Germans who they’d previously woo’d. (hmmmmmmm, no. 2) Things deteriorated for the Russian Federation and uprisings and rebellions happened, as they sometimes do, leaving the Germans in a very vulnerable and terrifying position.
The German settlers in Russia essentially preserved their culture and language, which explains why Louise and her family spoke German. The socio-political climate at that time also provides a rationale for immigrating to the U.S.
So are they German? My answer is yes, considering Germany continued to keep records on many of the German settlers in Russia and the fact that the settlers preserved their language and culture.
Overall, I am looking a bit deeper into some of the other areas of my family who have blips of births in seemingly odd countries (e.g., people from France with one birth in Belgium) to sketch out what might have been going on at that time. By learning about the Germans in Russia, I’ve picked up on a different dimension for my inquiries.
Below are references in addition to the various Flipboard magazines I use to curate resources:
General Genealogy Flipboard
German Genealogy Flipboard
There are other Flipboards too, just click on my name within Flipboard.
Colorado State University. The Sidney Heitman Germans from Russia Collection (website).
Cyndi’s List: Germans from Russia (website).
FamilySearch.org. Germans from Russia History (website).
Germans from Russia Heritage Society (website).
Germans from Russia, Northstar Chapter of Minnesota. (2013). Hollyhocks and Grasshoppers: Growing Up German from Russia in America. Mill City Press, Inc.
Laengin, B., and Herzog, N., (2013). The Russian Germans under the Double Eagle and the Soviet Star: Including a Pictorial History of Cities, Landscapes and People. Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo, ND.
Roll, Mitch. The ROLL “Fame” Family. German-Russian Settlement Map (website).