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Tips & Tricks to Tracking Your German Russia Ancestors...Tip # 9 LEAVE A TRAIL

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Every journey comes to an end.  And, we have finally reached our last Tip for Tracking our German Russian Ancestors. While is it last, it clearly is not least, as you can follow all of previous tips and tricks, but if you pass on number nine, your accomplishments could be for nought. It's critical to Leave a Trail.

I originally gave the "Tips & Tricks" presentation at the Gilbert Regional Library on January 12, 2019.  Posting each tip and trick on my blog is one of the ways I like to leave a trail.



Yet, there are as many ways of Leaving A Trail as there are of doing genealogical research.  And, that's what makes it so fun because you can choose the way you want to Leave a Trail.  Here are just a few options:


Write your Memoir or write a a memoir for a family memberGather family recipes and publish CookbooksWrite a Family History BookUse Oral or written Storytelling to share your historyWrite articles for publication in the AHSGR Journal or GRHS Heritage ReviewCreate…

Tips & Tricks to Tracking Your German Russia Ancestors...Tip # 8 TRAVEL HAS ITS OWN UNIQUE REWARDS..Continued

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Travel is so powerful, it requires at least three posts to try to cover the bare basics. Last update I promised details on the second trip to Argentina. My quest to find relatives included connecting with Black Sea Germans from Russia. My second travel group was a small one made up of Tim Geiger, Carmen Gill and Lori Gill. We explored Buenos Aires, La Pampa and Mendoza during the visit.  I connected with Lutheran Germans from Russia in Buenos Aires and attended a lecture byProf. Dr. René Krüger and learned more about how my Lutheran relatives lives in Argentina. (By the way, if you have not already registered for the 50th International Convention of AHSGR Our Golden Jubilee, you need to do so today.  My Argentine friends, Germán  Sack and Fabian Schlutheis, will be there).

We were welcomed to La Pampa by Elio Krank and Roxana Appelhanz, a couple who met at the Congreso I attended during the first visit!  We also saw the Gareis house in La Pampa, and created more connections along the w…

Tips & Tricks to Tracking Your German Russia Ancestors...Tip # 8 TRAVEL HAS ITS OWN UNIQUE REWARDS..Continued

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Travel and family history go hand in hand. And, it's the connection with others that brings our research to life.  That said, travel may or may be on your bucket list and preconceived notions about countries can cause one to pause.  As I mentioned in Tip # 5 Community Counts...

If I hadn't attended an Arizona Sun Chapter meeting in 2005...I would have never met Judy GareisIf I hadn't met Judy, I would not have been sitting next to her at the AHSGR Convention in Hays, Kansas in 2007 listening to Isabel KesslerAnd then Judy wouldn't have turned to me and said, "We need to go to Argentina!"To which I replied, "I'm not going to Argentina!"


Well, only a few short months later, there I was, seat beat buckled soaring my way on American Airlines to Argentina. It was not a quick decision, however Judy was passionate about the journey. She knew she had Gareis relatives there because her grandfather corresponded with relatives there.  With her magical ways o…

Tips & Tricks to Tracking Your German Russia Ancestors...Tip # 8 TRAVEL HAS ITS OWN UNIQUE REWARDS

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Germans from Russia have moved to every continent on the planet. North America, South America, Germany, and Australia are just a few of the places, and many stayed in Russia. Connecting with our relatives is a big, yet rewarding, step for those of us on the genealogical road to adventure.

If you choose to travel to learn more about your ancestors and your family, you can go it alone or go in groups. And, language skills help immensely, so the value of Tip # 7 goes beyond researching documents.

One of the best books to help you prepare for travel is Carolyn Schott's Visiting Your Ancestral Town.

Whether you are trying to go to your village in Russia, or connect with your German Origins in Europe, this book will help you efficiently plan and prepare yourself for what lies ahead.

Since preparation for travel is critical, and can be a great deal of fun, be sure to consider some of these highlights:

Remember to KEEP CALM AND LEARN THE HISTORYComplete as much genealogical research as pos…

Tips & Tricks To Tracking Your German Russian Ancestors...Tip # 7 LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE...ANY LANGUAGE

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Learn a new language...sunds a bit daunting, doesn't it? I think I can read your mind…you think you are too old to learn a new language…but hear me out...there are a lot of reasons why this tip is crucial to tracking your German Russian ancestors.






Many of the original records of your ancestors are written in a number of languages. And there will be times when you want to check the original records to verify your history. Some original records will be in German and Russian, and when you add in South America, it can be a handy took to know Spanish, too.  Descendants of Germans from Russia relocated to countries around the world so any language skills are helpful.
Learning a new language doesn't happen overnight. And there are ways you can begin to learn by using tools to help you recognize key words found in records.   Learning occurs over time and here are a few tools to help you ease into learning.


–German English Genealogical Dictionary by Ernest Thode –German English Visual Biling…

Tips & Tricks to Tracking Your German Russia Ancestors...TRICKS!!!

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Let's digress for a moment from the tips andtalk about some tricks in German Russian genealogy which can confuse and confound the best of us.
Days, Dates and Calendars offer a unique challenge when looking at Russian records.  Here is an example that caused me concern for a few days. My grandfather, Fred Herzog, was born on July 4, 1882. His death certificate confirms this date. And,  my mother shared her memories of celebrating his birthday on the 4th of July, the same day the United States commemorates its independence with parades, picnics and fireworks.  The two events were tied together for her.




So when I received a Russian document showing his birth date as June 22, 1882, I thought I had information on the wrong Fred Herzog.

It took me a few days to remember the Calendar trick.  For a complete explanation of calendar changes, check out Adam Giesinger's article.  For a quick update, here is my take on it. The Julian Calendar was established by Julius Caesar.  Over years, the…

Tips & Tricks to Tracking Your German Russian Ancestors...Tip # 6 WITHOUT GEOGRAPHY, YOU’RE NOWHERE

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Descendant of Germans from Russia are scattered around the world...North and South America, Australia, Europe, Russia and many more locations. And, there are many maps which can help you locate these settlements, and possibly locate your relatives.



Many of the books, organizations and other sources I mentioned in earlier tips have plenty of maps which are excellent resources. The book shown above, Emigration from Germany to Russia in Years, 1763-1862/With Maps by Karl Stumpp contains classic maps to introduce you to the movement of our ancestors.

Mitch Roll's Volga German map, while not drawn to scale, is helpful to see the layout of the villages. Alan Wambaugh's map of the same area adds a frame worth map to your collection. And, be sure to check out the map of Entre Rios, Argentina, just in case you travel there.

I have used all of these maps over the years, and recently there has been a big upgrade in our online map community.  Sandy Schilling Payne, who joined the group wh…

Tips & Tricks to Tracking Your German Russian Ancestors....Tip # 5...Community Counts...continued

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As promised, Tip # 4 continues with examples of how being involved with the German Russian Community helps you make incredible genealogical discoveries.

It was tough for me to choose a few from the many discoveries I attribute to the community.  But here are two of my favorites.

This first story starts in my childhood, during visits with my grandmother who was very proud that her family, the Herrmanns and her husband's family, the Dalhaimers, descended from the original settlers in Mariental.  She also told us that her father-in-law told the story of the History of Mariental, but that my grandfather, who was very proud of his handwriting, wrote this story in a book. When we asked for a copy of the book, she said it was more like a pamphlet and she didn't have a copy.  Perhaps there was a copy somewhere in Russia?  She doubted it, she believed it must have been destroyed. 

At the AHSGR convention in Milwaukee in 2017, Mila Koretnikov was in attendance.  During one of her presentat…

Tips & Tricks to Tracking Your German Russian Ancestors....Tip # 5...Community Counts

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Sometimes the best part of the genealogical journey is the people you meet along the way who share the family history bug.

I would never have learned as much as I do about German Russian history on my own as I did from  all of the great people who I have met. These people challenge my curiosity and help me answer the tough questions.

One of the best ways to find others who share your passion is through the national convention of two  groups I  mentioned earlier: the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia and the Germans from  Russia Heritage Society.

The American Historical Society of Germans from Russia convention will celebrate its Golden Jubilee this July. You will find a sense of community like no other.  The opportunity to attend the convention in Lincoln at the AHSGR headquarters offers ample chances to spend time in the full library and talk with experts who have decades of research experience. Besides attending conventions, becoming a member offers more benefits th…

Tips & Tricks to Tracking Your German Russia Ancestors...Tip # 4 KEEP CALM AND LEARN THE HISTORY

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If you google Germans from Russia, you get over 24,400,000 results (in 0.55 seconds). That's an astronomical number of sites to cover to learn about our unique history.

If I were starting to learn my family's history now, I would read some of the fantastic books that analyze our history in depth.
While all of the sites I mentioned earlier as sources share some of the history of Germans from Russia, I believe that to get an in depth understanding, we need to read books.
These books below will help you learn the history of Russia, and better understand our ancestor's experiences. The books are non fiction and historical fiction, but all are based on facts. When you read, you learn the history, and you realize the impact of the then "current events" on your ancestors. This is what helps you create a portrait of what your ancestors were like and what issues impacted them. These books are:

From Catherine to Krushchev by Adam GiesengerCatherine the Great by Robert K. Ma…

Tips & Tricks to Track Your German Russian Ancestors - Tip # 3 Sources, Sources,Sources..Continued

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I bet you thought I forgot to update these tips!  No, not at all, it has been top of mind for me every day for nearly a month. However  as I mentioned in Tip #2, sometimes life gets in the way of the genealogical journey.  I followed my own advice of using a research log, so I knew exactly where I left off and we are still on Tip # 3!

Sources, sources, sources need to be reviewed as a series of posts, because there is so much information available to us now.  And it's simply easier to absorb all the details in bite size chunks. So without further delay, let's finish Tip # 3 Sources, Sources, Sources!



The Volga German Institute documents the cultural manifestation of the German speaking minortiy that lived along the Volga River from 1764 to 1941.  The links at the top of the site lead you to locations, surnames and biographies.

Under locations, villages are indexed alphabetically and each colonies' site gives you the inhabitants' surnames, and to where the families immig…

Tips & Tricks to Track Your German Russian Ancestors...Tip # 3 Sources, Sources, Sources in Russia...Organizations & Societies

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There are so many excellent sources from Organizations and Socities, it takes more than one post to cover the basics! Let take a look at the Germans from Russia Heritage Society next.


There is a vast amount of research available here.  You will want to explore the database and village groups. Village coordinators are organized by regions and area.  There is an alphabetical listing of Villages and Village Coordinators with who you will want to connect. The areas covered range from Beresan to Crimea to Kurchurga and Caucasus. Drill into all of the links to learn more and be sure to check out the letters which details much of the history of from the 1870s especially in the Dakotas, but including Canada and Argentina, too.


Another valuable all volunteer site is the Black Sea German Research. The Research Repository covers an incredible amount of information if your ancestors from the Black Sea Villages. There are so many links to visit, be sure to reseve at least a day to visit the whole …