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INTIMATELY connected with the history of the German-Russians, who settled in Ellis County, Kansas, in 1876, is the story of some German families, mostly from the former Kingdom of Hanover, Germany, which had been annexed to Prussia by the iron policy of the Mighty Bismark.
These German families, not finding their status as "Muss-Preussen" to their liking, came to the United States, settling temporarily, principally in Ohio and Kentucky.
In the fall of 1876, Herman Robben, one of their number, then a young man, came to Kansas, and having heard of a German Catholic settlement in Ellis County, made his way there. He rode from Junction City, Kansas, to Victoria, Kansas, on horseback. He was the first man married in the new settlement. He was soon followed by his brothers, William and family, and George, a single man, Herman Shippers and Henry Tholen, whose home had been in Lancaster, Ohio.
In March, 1878, two brothers, Herman and Ulrich Behrens, came from Junction City, Ohio.
The families of John Baumrucker and Adam Wagner had already been established on Big Creek, in the southeastern portion of Ellis County, when the German-Russian settlements were formed; they joined the congregation at Victoria, as did all the Germans who settled in the eastern part of the country.
Clemens Griese, an Olbenburger, found his way from Covington, Kentucky, to Victoria, in 1878. A further arrival in that year was Herman Schulte and family, who came from McCunesville, Ohio.
Later arrivals at various dates were William Funke, Gerard Wellbrook, Herman Tholen, all of Covington, Ky., Theodore Munk of Lima, Ohio, and William Schrant of Decatur, Illinois.
Mathew Robben, brother of Herman Robben, came in 1880, the Huser family from Covington, Ky., and the family of Henry Von Lintel from Ohio. William Heyl, a Pennsylvanian, came from Herman, Pa., in 1882.
These German families settled on land lying mostly between Walker and Victoria. They became affiliated with St. Fidelis Parish, Herzog, which had been organized by the German-Russians in 1876.
Their language was the "Plattdeutsch," which is not easily understood by the rest of the Germans. In manners, habits and customs, they differed greatly from the German-Russians, hence, although associated together in the same church, there was very little social intercourse between them. Inter-marriages for many years were thus prevented. This, however, has all changed now. It was inevitable that the smaller number would become merged in the larger. All distinctions, especially among the younger generation, have disappeared; marriages between them are of common occurrence, even the language of the more numerous element has been adopted by the Germans, who now use the dialect of the German-Russians almost exclusively.
The German people were thrifty and great workers; they were accustomed to diversified farming from the home land; they paid attention to the dairy industry. Hence, the financial depression, which swept the country in 1893 to 1897, found them in somewhat better circumstances than their German-Russian neighbors, who had staked their all on wheat farming alone. The two classes of people at this time have practically become one.
Transcribed from The Golden Jubilee of German-Russian Settlements of Ellis and Rush Counties, Kansas, August 31, September 1 and 2, 1926
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