Brigitte Von Budde of NDSU Libraries — assisted by Gerda Fadden — translated these books into German, and they were published as Glückstal Kolonien Geburten und Eheschliessungen, 1833–1900, and Glückstal Kolonien Todesfälle, 1833–1900, in 1998 and 1999, edited by Harold Ehrman, and again published by GRHC.
Dr. Ken Goetz shared his ancestor’s midwifery records from Glückstal and the Dakotas, which were published in the GCRA Newsletter.
Many persons with ancestry in Glückstal participated in and supported the early video of our Black Sea people, Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie, put out by Prairie Public Television. They continued by supporting other Prairie Public videos, produced with cooperation of Michael M. Miller at GRHC.
Some members, like Opal White, sent information they had located about the villages in Germany, where their ancestors had lived before migrating to Russia. Tom Stangl also wrote numerous articles about data found in church records of various German villages.
The connection of the Glückstal Colonies and the Bessarabian Colonies has been clarified over the years with data from Curt Renz, Ed Schultz, Dale Wahl, and Ralph Ruff. Ross Merkel wrote about Glückstal people who appeared in the records of other villages in the Black Sea area.
Over the years, many donated family histories eventually became part of the Glückstal database. Cemetery records were also consulted to add to the database. GCRA purchased Jubilee Books (both newly written, and republished) as they became available. This genealogical content was also incorporated into the database by Herb Tabert.
Many individuals donated village maps of Russia and wrote memories of life in the villages, including Ferdinand Hoffmann, Pauline (Obenauer) Hoffmann, Johann and Anneta Stroh, and Johann Stotz.
GCRA boasts one astronaut, Richard James Hieb, whose ancestral names include: Hieb, Bender, Gross, Martel, Mehlhaff and Ohlauser. With the surname Hieb, he descends from Balthasar Hieb, one of the founders of Neudorf.
Elwood Dietrich shared the official data generated by his relative’s coming to the U.S. under an assumed name, when he used the passport obtained for a young acquaintance who refused to leave Russia. The record had to be corrected so the Dietrich relative could get citizenship and obtain land. The record was corrected on the local and state level, and the passenger list in the National Archives was also corrected.
James Klein added a series of articles on data taken from his 1995 trip to Ukraine, in which he discussed at length the State Archives of the Odessa Region. Tom Stangl began to describe in detail research on multiple family lines, based on findings in the St. Petersburg records. He also sorted out confusion within certain family names and their connections, such as the Maier/Myer/Mayer/Meyer/Meier family names, all of which was published in the newsletter, along with his many other articles.
Just as the arrival of computers with their ease of use gave genealogical research a huge leap forward, another huge leap was the use of email. GCRA members began using electronic communication among themselves in the 1990s and sharing their addresses. Now files are regularly sent and much communication takes place across North America and from continent to continent with this medium.
Penny Raile took on the job of creating, supporting and maintaining a web site for GCRA, available at www.glueckstal.net
Much information is also available at Harold Ehrman’s web site at www.ehrman.net. It is also possible to connect to GCRA through the AHSGR and GRHS websites, as well as the website at GRHC.
Over the years, the work on points of origin begun by Gwen Pritzkau and Carolyn Wheeler, has been added to by Fred Ball, Joy Fisher, Dr. Ken Goetz, Rev. Ross Merkel, Michael Rempfer, Robert Schauer, Tom and Janice Stangl, John Teske, Paul Whitehouse, and others. Initially appearing in the GCRA Newsletter, the Points of Origin was published in abbreviated form in The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America … 2004, and more fully on Disc #1 that accompanies the volume.
In September of 1999, GCRA participated in a one-day program that was part of a Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies Convention in Van Nuys, California. Those sharing their expertise were Harold Ehrman, Joy Fisher, Larry Haas, Barbara Horn, Kay (Kuntz) Igoa, Dianne Ladd, Rev. Ross Merkel, Gwen Pritzkau, and Robert and Margaret Freeman.
In 2000, GCRA sponsored the publication of Marienberg: Schicksal eines Dorfes — Fate of a Village in English and German in one volume, written by Johann Bollinger and Janice (Huber) Stangl. The book contained Mr. Bollinger’s brief history of the village, transcriptions and translations of various letters from people in the Glückstal district to their relatives in North America that had been published in American newspapers, information from the EWZ records, and photos of the village. Harold Ehrman again was editor, and the volume was published by GRHC.
Over the years, translations of purchased documents came from Rev. Ross Merkel, Rev. Horst Gutsche, Karl Hoffmann, Doris Granata, Lloyd Ketterling, Adam Ketterling, Tom and Janice Stangl, Homer Rudolf, Margaret Freeman and in Russian, from Donn Koenig, Boris and Natalie Moser, Adam Ketterling, Rick Rye, Maryna Yelizarov, Serge Yelizarov, and Richard and Natasha Klein.
In 1999, the first announcement was made of plans for a book to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Glückstal Colonies of South Russia. The book came about because of the suggestion of James Klein, and was published in time to be presented at the GRHS Convention in Bismarck in 2004 — 800 pages with another 2000 pages on the two CDs bundled in the back cover. The title is The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America: A Collection of History, Genealogy and Folklore. Homer Rudolf edited the book, Harold Ehrman managed the desktop publishing, and contributors were Allyn Brosz, Barbara (Geiger) Horn, James Klein, Gwen Pritzkau, Penny Raile, Homer Rudolf, Sally Sologuk, Janice (Huber) Stangl, Thomas A. Stangl, and Margaret (Aman) Freeman.
Through the support of many generous donors, GCRA also produced a documentary, Heaven Is Our Homeland, the Glückstalers of New Russia and North America. The western premier was part of the AHSGR Convention in Modesto, CA in 2004, and the midwestern premier was held that same year to a full house preceding the GRHS convention in Bismarck, ND, at the ND Heritage Center. The narrator of the documentary was Allyn Brosz, and the text was written by Homer Rudolf, Janice Stangl, Thomas Stangl, Allyn Brosz, Barbara Horn, and James Klein, based on a narrative of Ron Vossler. Ryan Schumacher did the graphic design, Bob Dambach and Homer Rudolf were executive producers, and the documentary was produced by Roadshow Productions for the Glückstal Colonies Research Association. The documentary has now been shown on Public Television stations across the upper Midwest, on the West Coast and in California, and as far south as Kentucky. It has won three communications industry awards: the “Crystal Award of Excellence”, the top prize in the 2004 “Communicator Awards” (The award is judged on story-telling ability and technical excellence); a 2005 “Silver Telly” (the top prize) in the 27th annual “Telly Award Competition” and a 2006 “Gold Aurora Award” in the “Documentary Historical” category.
GCRA received the Governor’s Award for History in the group category from the State of South Dakota on April 12, 2007. Marvin and Del Paulson of Pierre accepted the award given in recognition of the GCRA contributions to South Dakota history in the territorial and pioneer periods. The plaque of recognition is on display at the Germans from Russia Heritage Society in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Harold Ehrman has developed an interest in Martyrology — the fate of the Germans from Russia who had been arrested by the Soviets in the 1930s, and the disposition of their cases. Many of the cases against those repressed were reopened after glasnost, and revisited with the disposition of forgiveness of the charges. The records have been made public and available to the families of those involved. Harold has posted some information on his website.
Member Joy Fisher took on the job of coordination of the South Dakota Genweb, and Duane Stabler, Harold Ehrman, and Yvonne Haefner agreed to work on a county of that state. Other GCRA members also participate in this ongoing project.
Member Duane Stabler enlisted the help of Selma Lapp and Keenan Stoecker in putting together Researchers Guide to McPherson County, South Dakota, Cemeteries, published by GRHC. It lists cemeteries, township by township, with pictures in color and indexes. GCRA contributed to the financing of this fine book.
In many issues, Allyn Brosz shared his additions to the listings on passenger ship arrivals in the U.S. and Canada.
The translation by Janice Stangl and Michael Rempfer of letters between Ukraine and the Dakotas, that were published in German-language newspapers, have provided documentation of the relief effort from the Dakotas to Ukraine in the 1920s and 1930s.
Many read the German language newspapers and shared the news of our villages in Russia, such as Michael Rempfer, Janice Stangl, and Homer Rudolf.
Victor Goehring attended a court session in Odessa and evaluated it within the framework of his legal training. That too was published in the GCRA Newsletter.
Many members, such as Joyce (Zumbaum) Miller, Phyllis Pearce, Ardella (Strobel) Bennett, and Curt Renz, shared information on their families, found in documents they had privately purchased from the State Archives of the Odessa Region.
Land records were an interest of Allyn Brosz and Herbert Thurn. At various times articles were published in the GCRA Newsletter, and Allyn Brosz shared his expertise on federal land records at conventions.
Over the years prizes were won from AHSGR for stories later published by Sally Sologuk Backman, Anne (Veitenheimer) Pietz, and Mary Beaver.
Proofreading and extracting of data for the newsletters and books have been done by many, including Carolyn Wheeler, and Lynn Fauth, Ph.D.
In 2002, largely at the prodding of Michael M. Miller, GCRA undertook the complicated project of erecting a monument in Glinnoye, the former Glückstal, to honor all of our ancestors who were born, lived and died there. The preparation and arrangements were made by Sergey Yelizarov, and Pavel Pratchuk, that included purchasing and moving the stone, arranging for the inscription, and setting it in place. The monument was dedicated in May of 2002, at a ceremony on the last day of school and attended by all the students and many of the townspeople. The school in Glinnoye prepared a pageant, and officials from schools in Moldova and Transneistria attended and spoke. Brochures, written by Ron Vossler, were available in English and Russian. Attending were Janice & Thomas Stangl, Roger and Elaine Klusman, Tim and Judy Klusman, Dr. Ken and Cathy Vogele, Gwen Pritzkau, Bernadette Kuhn, Harley Roth, Bob and Margaret Freeman, Oskar and Helma (Seefried) Eberle, Michael Miller and Bob Dambach.
Articles were also written by LaVern Graf on Duc de Richelieu; on WW I Veterans by Michael Rempfer; on perfect attendance and the Gaub families by Cecelia (Kaul) Wolff; Sonderkomando Stumpp by Allyn Brosz; Hope Valley Church of Cheyenne County, Kansas, by Dr. Jacob Sammler; fighting in Kassel in WW II by Ron Vossler; A memorial to WW II soldier, Otto Julius Dockter, and “If Tombstones Could Talk” by Carol Just; Glückstal Descendants who are athletes by Allyn Brosz and Lynn Fauth; and the use of DNA in identifying the remains of Allen Mettler who served in the Korean conflict which led to a proper burial in North Dakota, written by Allyn Brosz.
There were also articles on family searches such as that of Carolyn Wheeler and her search for Rüb origins; Carolyn Schott on her Schott ancestry; Mary-Lynne Harding on her search for Sifferman information and WW II Canadian registrations; Beth Hoveland and Diane Shultz’s story on their common Liedle grandmother; along with Gordon Dobler’s biography of his ancestor, Christan Buechler, founder of Freeman, SD.
GCRA published articles telling of trips to the ancestral villages by Harold Ehrman (Germany) and Dianne Ladd (Ukraine and Moldova) that generated many ideas and much excitement post-glasnost. James Klein’s fact-finding trip in 1995 led to other trips, many of which were reported in the newsletter by: Arnold Fadden, Gerda Fadden, Natalie Hansen, Carol Just, Donna Larson, Diane Lewis, Patricia Lewis, Arlene Lundgren, Bruce Mehlhaff, Elaine Morrison, Penny Raile, Rev. Ted Rath, Darlene Robertson, Donald & Marjolaine Schmitt, Herbert and Mildred Thurn, Cora (Wolff) Tschaekofske, Ron Vossler, Lavern Weber, Charles Weisser, and others.
GCRA has also participated in the SOAR project of AHSGR, Save Our Ancestral Resources. The digitizing of the GCRA holdings is an ongoing activity of the group.
In about 2004, with the assistance of Penny Raile, GCRA developed a brochure that has been useful in making contacts and promoting the group. In 2008, for the Bundestreffen sponsored by the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland, the brochure was translated into German. That has resulted in many contacts and memberships from Germany.
After twenty years of existence, it is time to evaluate whether GCRA has met the goals established in organizing GCRA. Predictably, some goals have been more easily accomplished than others.
GCRA has indeed published a newsletter for all twenty years of its existence, now forty issues. There has been much of interest for all with ancestry in our colonies and actually all with Black Sea ancestry, as well as information on the pioneering years in North America. Today, the computer programs for newsletter production are sophisticated and easier to use for the initiated. For the last 4–5 years, the newsletter, now 64 pages in length annually, spread over two issues, has been produced by a professional, earlier Sally Sologuk, and now Velma Jesser
Queries are published in the newsletter, as they come to us. Of late, that is taken care of one-to-one among the members, or on the GCRA Listserv.
The GCRA surname exchange has enabled our researchers to be in touch with each other, and is a vehicle for exchange of information.
The membership roster is available to all members, and is a benefit of membership in the association.
A listing of all published sources related to Glückstal inhabitants and descendants is in process. There are many published sources today in the public domain, but there is work still needed in obtaining church records from the churches no longer in existence, before they disappear. GCRA will need to continue to publish the unpublished resources, such as early Dakota parish records, and pertinent cemetery records, as well as promoting and joining in cooperative work, such as that done by Roger Ehrich on a site known as Odessa 3.
Many Declarations of Intent for U.S. Citizenship are now on the US Genweb and the various state historical society sites, in addition to the declarations GCRA published in the early years. Much of interest is also now available on the various genealogical sites.
Fortunately many of the German and English language Dakota newspapers in Germans from Russia areas have been identified and in most cases, microfilmed, and are being read for data relating to our colonies. Indexes of the papers have been compiled for both letters and obituaries. Some of these letters and other information have been published in the GCRA Newsletter, in Marienburg: Fate of a Village, on Disc # 1 of our 2004 book, and more are in process.
Our amazing and welcome ability to acquire information from the State Archives of the Odessa Region has added immeasurably to our information about our families and their lives. The purchase of the St. Petersburg Lutheran Archival records by the Family History Library of the Latter Day Saints Church was most helpful. These sources, never imagined as becoming available when GCRA was founded, have been the main impetus behind our book publishing, as GCRA now prepares for our ninth book.
GCRA has published to date:
Glückstal Colonies Marriages. 1995.
Glückstal Colonies Births and Marriages, 1833–1900. 1997.
Glückstal Colonies Deaths, 1833–1900. 1998.
Glückstal Kolonien Geburten und Eheschliessungen, 1833–1900. 1998.
Glückstal Colonies Todesfälle, 1833–1900. 1999.
Glückstal Colony Census, 1858. 1998.
Marienburg: Schicksal eines Dorfes — Fate of a Village. 2000 & 2003
The Glückstalers of New Russia and North America: A Bicentennial Collection of History, Genealogy and Folklore. 2004.
Heaven Is Our Homeland: The Glückstalers of New Russia and North America. An hour-long documentary available in DVD and VHS format.
And now, in 2008, another book has been issued, with thoughts of further publications.