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First Ships

The first Volga ancestors started coming to America in 1874. Here you will find a list of many (nearly 40) of the first ships that carried our Volga German ancestors. This information was gathered from members of the German Volga mail list. The list may not be complete but represents most of the early ships.

Thank you to the all who contributed to this list of first Volga Ships to America; Pauline Brungardt Dudek (PBD), Dennis Zitterkopf (DZ), Ruth Schultz (RS), Rosemary Larson, Dick Kraus, Virginia Less (VL), Dorothy Fulton, and Gene Jenkins.

It appears that these ships were a hybrid type of ship, a sailing ship with masts, and a steamship with a funnel (smokestack). Many ship photograph and a brief description can be found at Palmer List of Merchant Vessels. Another source of high quality photos of ship (suitable for framing) can be found at Kinship Prints. An comprehensive site about immigrations ships can be found at The Ship Lists.

The immigrants on this list that landed in New York came through Castle Garden, NY not Ellis Island. Engravings and photos of Castle Garden can bee seen here. Roger Toefer has compiled his own list of early ships on his Fischer web site.

It is interesting to note that many of the immigrants really did not much control over where they going to settle or actually being "stolen."-PBD


SS SCHILLER arrived NY 15 July 1874 - carried 14 "scouts" from the Volga villages of Balzer, Dietel, Graf, Kolb, Luzern, Messer, Norka, Obermonjou, Pfeifer, Schoenchen, and Zug [Journal 1(3)].
SS ??? in 1874 - brought Volga-D who went to Arkansas [Journal 1(1)].
SS ??? before Sept. 1874 - brought Heinrich Nazarenus [from Norka?] who helped start the Ebenfeld Mennonite Brethrern Church in Hillsboro in September 1874 [Journal 1(1)].
SS ???? before Sept/Oct 1874 - brought Jacob Eitel [from Volga] who became a member of the Gradenau Mennonite Brethren Church in Sept/Oct 1874 [Journal 1(1)].


SS ??? in early 1875 - brought Philp Beltz from Kutter who in 1875 joined the Ebenfeld M-B Church [Journal 1(1).
The SS CITY of RICHMOND, arrived in New York, June 21, 1875, with the route from Liverpool to New York. Editorial note: Passengers on this ship were pietistic Volga German Protestants.* Colonies are not given. Surnames are 2 Ambrecht, Hart, 2 Pelz/Beltz, Wigand, Schmid, 2 Hanhardt, Sill, Koch, Hoda, Fink, and Betz (from New Messer-personal knowledge). *The _Herald of Truth_ for July 1875 says, "On the 21st of June, 14 families....arrived from Russia. . These all paid their own passages. Eight of them went to Kansas to meet others of their church, which had preceded them last year. The six remaining families went to Holmes County, Ohio. . . The families that went to Ohio, not finding employment there, as they say, came to Elkhart, Indiana, the 29th where they yet are." Quoted in Clarence Hubert's _Brothers in Deed to Brothers in Need_,p. 284. There were 12 Gruns / Gruens in the party: Adam Gru(e)n with his wife and 7 children; and apparently a 2nd son, Georg Heinrich with his wife and 1 infant.

SS CITY of RICHMOND,arrived NY 21 June 1875 - 16 pietistic [Brotherhood?] Volga German Protestant families including at least 2 from Kutter (my knowledge), and according to Pauline Dudek, 1 from Neu-Messer [Journal 1(3)].
City of Brussels The SS City of Brussels that arrived in New York from Liverpool on 28 June 1875. This was the ship that carried the Schreiber family to which that first baby was born. They went first to Bluffton, Ohio, for a short time before going to Nebraska, and then on to Oregon. They were from Norka. There were several other Norka families with them including the Muellers. Their story has been told in the Norka Newsletter.

This group from the CITY of BRUSSELS must be the group that Hattie Plum Williams writes about in her _The Czar's Germans_, p. 199. It is a very interesting story: Apparently after the Scouts had visited America in 1874. some came away bad impressions and had decided not to leave Russia. However, Mrs. Williams wrote that there other forces at work inspiring faith in the enterprise. In 1875, a small party of Germans from Norka, 7 families and 2 single men had come to the United States and settled in Ohio. . . worked for 2 years at ditch digging and other similar tasks among the farmers of the community. Meanwhile . . . on lookout for land which 2 years later they decided . . . Sutton, Nebraska. This group that Mrs. Williams is telling about seems to fit the passengers on City of Brussels. See the AHSGR JOURNAL, Vol. 2, #1 - Spring 1979. The S.S. CITY of BRUSSELS arrived in New York, June 28, 1875. Route: Liverpool to N.Y.C. Editor's note - No Colony given but these are presumably pietistic Volga German Protestants. They are mentioned on p. 125 of C. Henry Smith's _The Coming of Russian Mennonites_. These people were sent to Bluffton, Ohio but two families, the Friedrich Joergs and Heinrich Truebers, later came to Sutton, Nebr." Work Paper, No. 18, p. 17 (trans. by Arthur E. Flegel). Families include Heinrich Tuch, Heinrich Schrieiber, Johann Mu(e)ller, Heinrich Treiber/Trueber, G. C. Huertke, Johann Jorg/Joerg (Father Johann living with his son Friedrich and family), Heinrich and Peter Hoffman, a 2nd Johann Gorg/Joerg, and Georg Konzen.

Note - The above editor's note says that no colony was given; however Ruth Schultz has been able to show that they were from Norka. Cf. with Mrs. Williams' little nugget. Also I don't believe that they Mennonites according C. Henry Smith. I was hoping to uncover which ship brought the little group that 'dug ditches in Ohio before finding suitable land in Nebraska.'. Rather than going without, the Volga Germans were determined to work. --- PBD
SS KLOPSTOCK arrived NY 7 July 1875 - 1 family from the Volga [Clues 1979(2)].
S.S. MOSEL, arrival date in New York, Aug. 23, 1875. Route: Bremen to New York. 30 families (some of which were just one person) including folk from at least Balzer and Dietel [Journal 1(1)]. Passengers included Heinrich SCHWABAUER, one the Protestant scouts ,and his family; the Engels. The Engels were from Balzer. They lived in Red Oak, Iowa, for a short time before they moved near Friend, Nebraska, where some of their descendants still live. John (Johannes) Engel married my great aunt, Elisabeth Weitzel, who was from Norka, on 13 Jan 1891 in Turkey Creek Precinct, Saline, Nebraska.

More information about the SS Mosel can be found at S. S. Mosel, 1872 North German Lloyd.
SS OHIO sailed from Bremen arriving at Baltimore / New York? Nov 23, 1875. with at least 66 Volga-D families from such villages as Boaro, Graf, Herzog, Kamenka, Katharinenstadt, Liebenthal, Louis, Marienburg, Neu Obermanjou, Obermonjou, Pfeifer, Schoenfeld and Schoental.

AHSGR Journal, Vol. 1, #3-Winter 1978, pp. 70-72. This Journal also contains an article called "The Coming of the First Volga German Catholics to America." The article is rewritten from a diary started Feb. 8, 1887 by Athanasius Karlin. pp. 61 - 69. Editorial Note: this article was translated from the German by Father Paulinius and Sister Amanda in Wurzberg, Germany, 1956-57. Lawrence Weigel, who had received from Sister Fidelis, C.S.A., a daughter of the author, ran excerpts from the diary in the _Ellis County Star_ from Sept. 5 to Oct. 24, 1974. Worthwhile to print this very interesting article telling of Mr. Karlin's trip to America on the "Ohio" and the difficult first years in Kansas...
SS ODER arrived NY 1 Dec 1875 - 1 family from Rosenfeld [Journal 1(3)].
SS CITY OF BERLIN arrived NY 6 Dec 1875 - 19 families (some of which were just one person) including folk from at least Norka and Rothammel [Journal 1(1)].

On December 7, 1875, the S.S. LEIPZIG arrived in Baltimore, MD, with the route being Bremen to Baltimore. It was an extremely small group that included 3 single men-Langhofer, Heinze, and Kraus; 1 single woman-Maria Wagner; and 2 families - Langhofer and Beissel (actually Riffel).

SS LEIPZIG arrived Baltimore 7 Dec 1875 - 6 families (some of which were just one person) including folk from at least Dreispitz, and Alexandertal or Schilling [Journal 1(1)].

SS LEIPZIG , arrived from Bremen at the Port of Baltimore 7 Dec. 1875. There were 16 individuals from Russia on board. Surnames were: Langhofer, Heinze, Wagner, Riffel, and Kraus. The Riffels were from Galka and settled first in Marion County, Kansas. And the Kraus was a single guy from either Schilling or Alexandertal who also settled in Marion Co.
The CITY of RICHMOND arrived in New York, Dec. 13, 1875. Route: Liverpool to New York. Passengers were a Heinrich Lero (?); a Freland (?) Krieger unit of 3, and Christian Geis unit-8 persons altogether.[Journal 1(3)] Editor's note - Probably pietistic Volga Germans who settled in Kansas. pbd


SS Salier The S.S. SALIER arrived in New York, Jan. 3, 1876. Route: Bremen to New York. There were only 2 couples: George Gisorich and his wife Cath. Margaret and Peter Kister and his wife Christina; and 1 single man: Joseph Popp. Editor's Note: Presumably pietistic Volga German Protestants. [Journal 1(3)]
SS CITY of MONTREAL arrived NY 6 Jan 1976 - 28 16 pietistic [Brotherhood?] Volga German Protestant families [Journal 2(1)].
The S.S. CITY of RICHMOND, arrived in New York, February 21, 1876. The route was from Liverpool to New York. There were only 10 families aboard this ship. Family names include Chrispense (Krispense), Gross, Hoffman, 2 Weber families, Schuber, (3) Schotthauer, and Schmidt. Webers would be from Balzer. I don't know the colony for the others but an educated guess would be Balzer or Norka.
SS Oder The S.S. ODER, arrived in New York, Jul 8, 1876. The route was Bremen to New York. On p. 202 of Hattie Plum Williams' _The Carz's Germans_, she write the following about this large group, "Eight-five families, mostly from the colony of Norka, but included some from Balzer, gathered at Saratov and journeyed to Bremen from which they sailed for the United States landing at New York, July 7, 1876 (notice the one day difference in date). Other quotations include "Some of them were persuaded to go to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on the ground that there were many Germans there, but they did not stay long, coming to Sutton the following spring." "Another group of thirty families was taken to Kansas free of charge by the Santa Fe Railroad, and while waiting at Atchison, one carload was stolen by the Burlington and Missouri immigration agent and sent to Sutton, Nebraska." "The remainder was taken to the immigration house at Pawnee Rock in Barton County, Kansas. The got in touch with the Burlington and Missouri land agent in Lincoln where they purchased land along the Turkey Creek not far away from Friend." "Another group was was brought to Red Oak, Iowa and many of these settled in Harvard, Nebraska." PBD
GOETHE sailed from Hamburg 20 May 1876. From Obermonjou.
SS City of Berlin 26 June 1876, the CITY of BERLIN to New York via Liverpool, England. Known passengers from Huck (aka Splaunucha) included Jacob and wife Elizabeth (nee Zitterkopf) Frick and children. They originally settled in Marion county, Kansas, near Hillsboro and Durham.

The ship passenger list column "Country to Which They Severally Belong" for persons 611 through 676 has been hand titled "Mennonites". (that is the only page I have) The surnames on that page (Frick, Schneider, Erdman, Michel, Laubach, Denies, Dunklayer(?), Oswald, Henricks, Albrecht and Haber) were possibly just lumped into the category because the persons spoke German (?).-DZ

Adam Schreiber, his wife, children, and younger brother are in that list of being from "Mennonites." However, they were never Mennonites in Russia nor were they Mennonites in the USA. They were from Norka and were of the Reformed faith. His wife was Catharina nee Scheidemann, my great grandmother's sister. They went to Kansas and farmed near La Crosse. For a while they lived and farmed in Texas, but returned to Kansas. Their granddaughter, Abi Weitzel is still living in La Crosse. *** From AHSGR Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 1979 a list of passengers indexed by Emma S. Haynes is printed. On June 26, 1876 the CITY of BERLIN came from Liverpool to New York with "Pietistic Volga German Protestants called Mennonites". My g-grandparents and family are among those listed and never did I hear in the family that they had been involved with the "Brotherhood". They were members of the German Reformed Church in Harvard, Nebraska and in Lincoln when they came there in their retirement years. My g-grandparents names were even spelled incorrectly on the index list and when I received the copy of the Manifest I could see why Emma Haynes was not sure of the spelling. The writing was atrocious! And would not have been recognized if the listing of the family members had not matched with my personal records. Their names were Jost (known as Yost in U.S.), Ludwig, wife Catherine, and 5 children, one of which was my grandmother, (also named) Catherine, age 6. Her brothers (as listed) were: Peter, Hannes, Philip, George. "Hannes" was known as John Yost, the lumberman in Nebraska as having in his lifetime owned several lumberyards. The family first went to Wisconsin, due to the advice of the land agent they met at the ship's docks saying they should go there because there were many German-speaking people already living there. The land was full of rocks (according to the family story) and not conducive to good farming so the next spring (in 1877) they arrived in Sutton, Nebraska along with several other Norka families from Wisconsin. (See story from "The Czar's Germans" by Hattie Plum Williams, pg. 202, and article from AHSGR Work Paper, Dec. 1974, "Earliest Volga Germans in Sutton, Nebraska") - VL
CITY / COUNTY OF CHESTER sailed from Liverpool arriving at NY 10 Jul 1876. From Messer. Lorenz age 19 and Catharina Schreiber age 17 were on this ship which was called the SS CITY of CHESTER (not County). They were brother and sister, not husband and wife as listed on the passenger list. They were from Norka, not Messer. They were cousins of Adam Schreiber who arrived a few days earlier, 26 June 1876, on the City of Berlin listed as being from "Mennonites." Both of these Schreiber families went to Kansas. Their parents and younger siblings arrived on 8 December 1876 on the Frisia. Martin Scheidemann and his family were also on the Frisia. They were all from Norka. Martin Scheidemann was the brother of Adam Schreiber's wife, Catharina.-RS
GELLERT sailed from Hamburg 5 Jul 1876 to NY. From Katherinestadt, Pfeifer, Semenowka
SS MAIN sailed from Bremen arriving at New York 15 Jul 1876. From Katherinstadt, Pfeifer, Koehler, Hildman. Surnames from Pfeifer (Volga): Breit, Desch, Etzel, Holzmeister, 3 Jacob families, Schmidt, 2 Schoenfeld families, Tomm (Dome?). Surnames from Kamenka: Schleiter, Vogel. Ed. Note - Father Laing tells that some of the following people, partly from the colonies of Koehler and Hildman, never left Topeka, Kansas. The George Spahns seems to have been Protestant. Surnames are Steckman, 2 Weichart families, Schwerdt, Degenhardt, Arzer, Leonhardt, Steinbach, 2 Koeber/ Koehler? families, Mu(e)ller, Dechant, Bauer, Etzel, Hoffmeister, Pfeifer, Glamblowsky, Conrad, Gothe / Goethe, Lambrecht, Spahn, Baven, and Haefner.

SUEVIA sailed 19 Jul 1876 from Hamburg to NY: From Schoenchen, Louis, Solothurn, Obermonjou.
SS Hammonia

The SS HAMMONIA sailed 26 Jul 1876 from Hamburg to NY. From Obermounjou and Pfeifer.

MOSEL sailed from Bremen arriving at NY 29 Jul 1876. From Herzog, Katherinestadt, Mariental, Semenowka, Fischer.

My grandfather, John Martin Kaucher, his brother, John Frederick Kaucher with his wife, Catherina Ruppel Kaucher and two sons, Salomon and Alexander, came to America 29 Jul 1876 on the ship Mosel. The 1910 census shows they came from Reinwald, Samara.

More information about the SS Mosel can be at S. S. Mosel, 1872 North German Lloyd.
SS DONAU sailed from Bremen arriving at NY 5 Aug 1876. From Dietel, Kolb, Pfeifer.
SS FRISIA sailed 9 Aug 1876 from Hamburg to NY. From Kratzke and Rothammel.
SS GELLERT sailed 23 Aug 1876 from Hamburg to NY. From Marienthal and Kratzke.
SS LEIPZIG sailed 13 Sep 1876 from Hamburg to NY. From Warenburg, and Katherinestadt. Hr> SS Lessing

In Sept 1876 the ship LESSING arrived in NY with some 20 people from Warenburg. "My Miller" went to Sutton, NE.

SS GELLERT sailed 27 Sep 1876 from Hamburg to NY. From Katherinestadt.
SS POMMERANIA sailed 12 Oct 1876 from Hamburg to NY. From Obermonjou.
SS Neckar

SS NECKAR sailed from Bremen arriving NY 24 Nov 1876. From Balzer.

SS CITY of RICHMOND sailed from Liverpool arriving at NY 30 Oct 1876. Settled in Kansas.
SS CITY fo RICHMOND sailed from Liverpool arriving NY 4 Dec 1876. Settled in Marion County, KS
SS FRISIA sailed 22 Nov 1876 from Hamburg to NY. From Denhoff, Norka
SS DONAU sailed from Bremen arriving 5 Aug 1876. From Dietel, Kolb, Pfeifer.

Ed. Note - in Work Paper No. 3 (Feb 1970), I (ESH) printed an article entitled "The Arrival of Volga Germans in the United States" by an unknown. author. Mrs. Alex Kildau Jr., of Omaha, Nebraska, was able to prove that the author was Andrew Wamboldt, and Mr. Roy Oestreich of Ritzville, WA sent me the following ship's list of these people with whom Andrew Wamboldt had come to the United States. Among the passengers was Mr. Franz Scheibel, one of the original scouts from Kolb. Mr. Wambold thought that he had left Bremen on the KONIGEN LOUISA. instead he came on the S.S. DONAU.

From Dietel (according to Andrew Wambold) surnames are Strecker, Wambold/Wamboldt, Schmidt, Mu(e)ll, Weinmeister, Tillel, and Kindsvater. From Kolb (according to my research. . . pbd) Families of Scheibel, Bauer, Kanzler and Scheuermann, a Mu(e)ller couple; a widow and her son,Catherina Barth and Jacob; 8 single men - 2 Kochs (cousins); Heinrich Rehn, Heinrich (M) Rehn/later changed to Rahn ( cousins); Kembel, Bensel, Reiber/Reuber?, Rust/Rutt. 1 single man from Hussenbach-DeWald. Colony unknown for Allendorf family (not a part of Scheibel's contingent), and three other single men: Go(e)tz/Betz? (from Messer?), Hermann (probably from Hussenbach), and Sauerbrei (colony unknown).

Ed. Note (ESH) - About half of the people from Kolb participated in the trek from Nebraska to Washington in 1882.

I became personally interested in the S.S. DONAU as that was the ship bringing over my late husband's grandfather, Heinrich (H) Rehn to this country. Gfather Rehn was a reporter for _Die Welt-Post_. He pasted all his articles in an old ledger book that my mother-in-law had. One article listed most of his fellow Landsmann and where they were presently resided; so I was determined to research all the passengers who were listed on the "Annahme-Schein," originally belonging to Franz W. Scheibel and currently owned by his great-grandson, Norman Scheibel of Campbell, Franklin County, Nebraska. Passage for the 43 individuals cost 3205.50 Marks. Their story, "Researching the First People Who Came to America from Our Ancestral Village, " is told in the AHSGR Journal, Vol. 1, #2-Fall 1978, pp. 9-15, after presentation of the paper at the 1978 Annual Convention of the AHSGR.

This group of immigrants had been persuaded to go as wood cutters in the forests of Wisconsin... could only stand it 4 days , then went to Chicago. There the Burlington Railroad recruited them as laborers and brought them free of charge. to Hastings, Nebraska. (Source Richard Sallett's book, _Russian German in the the United States_). The contingent did not stay long in Hastings as Sallett goes on to write, "in 1876 colonists from Kolb were the first to homestead at Campbell, Nebraska." Grandfather H. H. Rehn lived at Campbell three different times in his lifetime. Others at Campbell were his cousin, (H.) Michael Rahn, the 2 Henry Kochs, Helfrich Rutt, Valentin Reiber, Conrad Bensel, Joh. Friedrich Kempel, Christoph Betz, the Scheibel family, the Scheuermann family (Frau Scheuermann was a sister of H.H. Rehn), the Kanzler family, the Bauer family, and the Miller couple. As F.W. Scheibel, originally from Alt-Messer, was the schoolmaster at Kolb, he was able to perform pastoral duties in the absence of the pastor (most likely the pastor from Frank). Herr Scheibel became an ordained pastor in Nebraska and he organized the St. Paul's Gemeinde at Wilhelmsruhe, just outside the village of Campbell.

Part of this group took up homesteads in Hitchcock County, NE, near Culbertson, by 1878. Then several years later part of that group going to Hitchcock County went by railroad and the Oregon Trail to the Pacific Northwest in 1882. The Hitchcock County party also included Catherine Barth and her son Frank who were the only ones to remain in Hitchcock County.

Friedrich Horst returned to Russia. Christoph Betz went to Lincoln. Christoph's daughter Martha married George Rutt, who had migrated to the U.S.A. in 1878. George was a nephew of Helfrich Rutt. Later in 1908 Helfrich Rutt and other families from Campbell decided to take out homesteads near Luseland, Saskatchewan, Canada. In 1883 Jacob Scheuermann moved his family to the Sutton, NE area. Valentin Reiber had also gone to Culbertson but he and his wife returned to the Campbell area until a tornado demolished their property in 1903. His family then moved to a farm east of Blue Hill, Webster Co., NE.

Johan George DeWald and a friend (probably Friedrich Hermann) of Hussenbach stayed on in Wisconsin until they learned of farm land in Kansas; so they worked their way to Lawrence, Kansas.

Conrad Bensel later married a sister of one of the Heinrich Kochs and lived at Hastings, NE. The sister and her parents' family came to the United States on the S.S. WIELAND in 1878. -PBD


Of particular significance is the SS WIELAND that carried some 400 Volga Germans in May, 1878.

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