Sugar Beets Bring Germans from Volga to Panhandle | Local

These settlements developed due to a booming population.

Support local journalism

Your subscription makes our reporting possible.


“Families of eight, 10 or 12 children are perhaps not uncommon, and a man would have two or three wives because of the loss of wives in childbirth.” said Kuxhausen.

At the start of the 20th century, there were hundreds of thousands of Germans in the Volga. It was around this time that there was a strong push to move out of Russia. This was in part due to the looming threat of war.

“The only thing about a totalitarian society is that it keeps excellent records,” Kuxhausen said. “So when they came to your town and said, ‘You have eight boys and we’re going to take the older two to get into the army,’ there was no way out of it … did not matter how old they were or where they were.

When these men returned to their villages, many of them decided to pack up and leave for the United States or other countries.

Russia entered World War I along with the other Triple Entente countries in 1914. Previously, people could emigrate as long as all their debts were paid. But when war broke out and the Bolsheviks staged a coup in October 1917, Russia was locked in. Those who tried to leave were killed.

Most of the families who settled in America did so before war broke out. They traveled through Europe by train, then to England by boat, then across the Atlantic in cramped and crowded passenger ships. Several of these ships are heading for Quebec.

Rachel J. Bradford