About Us


The Glückstal Colonies Research Association (GCRA) was founded in January 1986 by Margaret Freeman and Carolyn Wheeler, aided by consultation with Art Flegel and Gwen Pritzkau. The initial mailing went out in July of 1986. The first newsletter was published in the fall of 1987.


The purpose of the Glückstal Colony Research Association is two-fold. The first goal is to coordinate the efforts of individuals researching descendants of the Glückstal colonies. The second goal is to locate, gather, organize, and access all sources pertaining to researching descendants of the Glückstal, Neudorf, Bergdorf, Kassel, and their daughter colonies.

Steering Committee

Duane Stabler, Committee Chair

Allyn Brosz

Lynn Fauth

Barbara Geiger Horn

James Klein

Robert Russell

Thomas A. Stangl

With assistance from Connie Dahlke (Membership), Peter Schmidt (Treasurer), and Sandy Schilling Payne (Webmaster).


GCRA had its beginnings in 1987 when Margaret Freeman and Carolyn Wheeler sent out an exploratory letter asking people to join a new group for Germans from Russia, to be called the Glückstal Colonies Research Association. Designed for those who had ancestry in the Glückstal Colonies of South Russia, Margaret and Carolyn had consulted with Gwen Pritzkau and Arthur Flegel, who felt that the idea had possibilities. Margaret and Carolyn were convinced that the idea was a good one. The initial mailing offered a listing of the inhabitants of the Glückstal group of colonies, and included the pedigrees of Carolyn and Margaret, as far as they had been able to be researched. The offer of membership would include two newsletters annually, and a listing of the inhabitants of the Glückstal District (extracted from the Emigration List in Stumpp), for a $10 annual fee.

Carolyn and Margaret had each gone as far as possible with their personal family research. Margaret had self-published a computer-generated Aman Family History in 1984, which included chapters on the Hoffmann and Lehr families, among whom there had been much intermarriage. In addition, while Margaret served six years on the board of AHSGR, she was co-chair and chair of the genealogy committee. From that viewpoint, she recognized that the real work in putting families together was going to be done on the village level. After all, we knew that our families had lived in the same communities in Russia, and then traveled together to North America.

The hope was that by communicating, we would find someone with information on our ancestors, or pictures of our families that we did not have. Most of those interested had done a family history and were up against a brick wall for more information. It would just be a big job to get the communication going.

Carolyn Wheeler was adamant that we set goals and objectives, and share them with our members. As written in the early issues, in order to realize the purpose of the Glückstal Colonies Research Association, the following goals and objectives were articulated:

  1. Publish a newsletter.

  2. Publish queries in the newsletter.

  3. Establish a surname exchange to put families in touch with each other.

  4. Arrange for exchange of information.

  5. Publish a membership roster.

  6. List all published sources related to Glückstal inhabitants and descendants.

  7. Seek out and publish pertinent unpublished resources.

  8. Locate and access early Dakota parish records.

  9. Locate and access pertinent cemetery records.

  10. Locate and access declarations of Intent for U.S. Citizenship.

  11. Locate and list all German and English language Dakota newspapers in Germans from Russia areas.

  12. Extract newspapers for all information on Glückstal colonists.

From the beginning, the aim was to be an association with input from our members. The goal was not a top-down organization, but rather one in which members would work jointly, sharing information, in order to learn more about our ancestors.

...continue reading about the history of GCRA here.

Page last updated 5 March 2022