Tips & Tricks to Track Your German Russian Ancestors

Join me in January as I share my tips & tricks, learned over 40 years of genealogical research, so you can break through brick walls of tracking ancestry of German settlers in the Russian Empire. I will help to demystify the history and offer ideas helpful to anyone tracing European ancestors and descendants around the globe. It’s a great opportunity to meet fellow German from Russia researchers, too!
Where: Gilbert Southeast Regional Library in the Shakespeare Room, 775 N. Greenfield Road, Gilbert, AZ 85234. (At the crossroads of Guadalupe and Greenfield, just west of the Riparian Reserve). When:January 12, 2019 at 10:15 -11:30 a.m.
Register at the Library website ( after 12/17/2018
Hermione grabbed my heart and never let it go. When I saw her photo on the website of the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control in April 2013, she was the right size and breed to be the little girl dog I sought to be Huck’s pal. I visited her, was a bit hesitant to commit, but Ashley provided the “push” I needed to bring Hermione home.
Her pure white fur with brown spots was so soft it comforted me to hug her.  She tugged on her leash during all our walks because she always wanted to be ahead of us.  Now she is leading the way through her transition. She was Huck’s buddy and love.  We miss her so much already, and he looks for her in all the dogs we meet on our walks. Hermie is irreplaceable.

Hermione loved to sleep in our bed and had no qualms about positioning herself, the smallest of us, in the center of the bed forcing us to sleep around her. Somehow, we snuggled together, and we all slept well.
Hermie was fierce and brave and never stopped defending her home and family.  She w…

250 or 251 years? Machts nichts...Happy Anniversary Reinwald!

July 14… just another hot day in Arizona, but what a day for a milestone. In 2016, I thought July 14 was the 250th anniversary of the settling of Reinwald.Since I was traveling at the time, I didn’t have the chance to check my books, so I checked a few websites. I was somewhat disappointed when I checked online records, it indicated that that the village was settled in 1767. So, I postponed my 250th celebration for a year, wrote a short 249th anniversary blog at, and looked forward to 2017.

This year, I knew I was ready for the big milestone. As I prepared for the 250th anniversary and reviewed information again.I grabbed my copy of “Einwanderung in das Wolgagebiet 1764-1767 Band 4” and turned to page 29 to check my dates.And, there it was…Reinwald was settled in 1766. To say the least, I was perplexed.

Checking both sources again, I knew there was one person who could help me solve my dilemma.I reached out to…

Grebel & Gemutlichkeit - Food and Family the German Russian Way

Just wanted to share a quick note about the Volga German Conference that was held in Sheboygan on September 24.  The local Sheboygan television station filmed the event and it is now available online to stream and watch. Click on this link
to connect.  If you don't see the presentations immediately, search for Volga German or Volga German cooking.

I was honored to be part of a panel with Emma Theume and Peter Kaland.  Emma was historian at Trinity Lutheran Church and has a wealth of knowledge of how the Germans from Russia came to Sheboygan.

My Grebel & Gemutlichkeit presentation is also available for streaming.  Many of the attendees recalled their families making this food.  It was such a fun event.  It was very smart of the committee that planned the conference to have it taped so we could share it beyond those who were able to attend.  I hope you enjoy!

Alice Grayson Bartkowski 1922-2016

We think of you every time we see beautiful geraniums the ones that graced your porch We think of you every time we see a giraffe In the blouses you wore, the creatures that adorned your house We think of you every time there is baseball the game that defined your life We think of you every time we see the Mad Hatter         you are our “little Alice” We think of you every time someone is kind and laughs with us we saw it in the twinkle in your eye Rest Assured, we think of you and miss you…always.

Happy 249th Anniversary Reinwald!

Today, July 14, 2016 marks the 249th anniversary of the establishment of my material ancestral village, Reinwald.

As many of you know, "Reinwald was founded on 14 July 1767 by the Government as a Lutheran Colony. By decree dated 26 February 1768, Reinwald received the official Russian name of Staritsa which means Oxbow Lakes." (Retrieved from on July 14, 2016).

Reinwald was settled by 231 individuals. This place would be home to the Herzogs, Reimers, Kerbers and many other of my ancestors.

Today I as I write this update, I sit in the ASHGR Convention Research Room in Concord, California. It may not sound as celebratory as it could be, yet the timing is good.  Many of the AHSGR members will gather here in village meetings later this morning and this afternoon.  So, I will meet with some of the descendants of Reinwald who will re-connect once again.

Below is also a picture of a few.descendants of Reinwald. …

I Do Not Know if Anyone Remembers Katherine Reimer

I do not  know if anyone remembers Katherine Reimer. I have only known about her for a month, but her story has stayed in my heart. Her mystery started years ago and I need to write about a small part of her life.
I had suspicions about Katherine, yet I did not have a clue about her the first time I saw the passenger arrival list of the Astoria, which departed in 1900 from Glasgow on May 28 and arrived at Ellis Island on June 9 of that year.
I discovered the Astoria passenger list in 2004 when I searched for the Reimers entry to the United States at Ellis Island.  Despite the text annotating my maternal great grandfather’s name as Phelep instead of Phillip, I found my great grandmother Anna and my grandmother Sophie listed beneath his name.  Sophie’s two sisters, Marie/Mary and Elizabeth, are also shown.  Philip’s occupation was recorded as a farmer.  Their ages matched my other records, their nationality was German and their last residence was Libau, Russia, one of the major ports of …