Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Germans from Russia

German-speaking people who began arriving in Globeville in the 1880s came, not from Germany, but from villages along the Volga River in Russia. Their odyssey began some 120 years earlier when they emigrated to Russia to escape the poverty and devastation that followed the Seven Years War (1754—1763). Germans settled the along the Volga in Russia at the invitation of Empress Catherine the Great, who promised free land, and freedom from taxes and military service (privileges not given to Russian citizens). In return, the settlers secured Russia's western frontier and provided the country with grain. 100 years later, Czar Alexander II rescinded those special rights and Germans began to emigrate to America.
There was a substantial community of German Russians in the Globeville area by 1887, with many of them coming from three colonies along the Volga — Norka, Beideck and Doenhoff. Since Germans had been persecuted for their religion while in Russia, they were quick to form their own churches in Globeville, with congregations corresponding to those of their villages in Russia. First German Congregational Church was founded by settlers from Norka, St. Paul's Lutheran Church by people from Beideck and the Friedens Evangelical Lutheran Church by immigrants from Doenhoff. As in the old country, life for German Russians centered around the family, church and work. Leaders in the community were those who were active in the churches, business owners and those who helped others to emigrate.
The Wolf family about 1914: first row, from left,grandfather Peter Wolf, David, father John Wolf Sr., Sarah, Ann Marie, nee Kilthau . Second row, from left, Christine, Katherine, Adam, John, Hulda.
Carl Gerhardt, owner of Gerhardt Mercantile, extended loans to citizens of Globeville and sponsored many events in the community.

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