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
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)].
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. 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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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