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In November and December of 1874 the Russian government drafted the first soldiers from the colonies. This act precipitated matters. The movement in favor of emigration now became general.
On October 22, 1875, the families of Justus Bissing, Friedrich Karlin, Peter Karlin, Jacob Karlin, and Friedrich Koerner left Katharinenstadt for America. At Saratov they were joined by Jacob Lang, Joseph Stremel, Michael Meder, and Mathias Urban of Kamenka, and Christopher Stegmann of Pfeifer. They left Saratov on October 23, and arrived in Berlin four days later.
Under the leadership of Nicholas Schamne, one of the delgates who had visited America in 1874, a second group of emigrants left the colonies on October 24. This group was made up of families from various settlements. From Herzog came Andrew Billinger, Alois Dreiling, Anton Dreiling, Nicholas Dreiling, Nicholas Dreiling, John Goetz, John Kreutzer, Michael Rome, John Sander, Michael Storm, John Van der Dunkt, Ignatius Vonfeld, and Ignatius Weigel. From Boregard came Jacob Arnholt. From Liebenthal came Joseph Fraun and Franz Weber, Jacob Beil, Peter Beil, Martin Goetz, Jacob Hermann, John Hermann, Peter Hermann, Adam Kreutzer, John Kreutzer, John Lechleiter, Michael Lechleiter, John Schaefer, John Peter Schaefer, Peter Schaefer, and Joseph Schoenberger. From Obermonjour were John Geist, John Jacob Geist and William Geist; from Marienthal Anton Hermann. From Neu-Obermonjour were Henry Bieker, John Bieker, John Joseph Bieker, Nicholas Bieker, Frank Waldschmidt, Philip Wolf and John Zimmermann. From Louis came Peter Quint. From Marienburg came Paul Dinges and from Graf, John Bollig.
This second party traveled to Bremen by way of Tambow, Koslow, Grjasi, Orel, Smolensk, Witebsk, Wershbolow, Eydtkuhnen and Berlin. At Bremen they were fortunate to meet the first who had been compelled to wait four days on a ship. On November 2, 1875, all took passage on the steamship "Ohio" of the North-German Lloyd. On Nov. 23, after a rough voyage of twenty-one days, they landed at Baltimore.
In Baltimore, according to one version, Mr. Schamne entered into an agreement with C.B. Schmidt of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. In his company they went to Topeka, where they arrived on Nov. 28. For a few days they all lived together, but later they rented houses in North Topeka, the men meanwhile seeking employment on the railroads, farms and so forth.
Under the direction of Mr. C.B. Schmidt they made their first trip in search of land, going as far west as Great Bend in Barton and Larned in Pawnee Counties. The high price of land, five dollars per acre, and the want of locations adapted to the establishment of colonies, prevented them from settling in this district.
Several other trips for suitable land proving equally fruitless, the newcomers decided to return to Russia. But about this time they met Mr. A. Roedelheimer, an agent of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, who spoke to them of some desirable land his railroad company had to offer. Later he made three trips with the men, going as far west as Hays and Ellis. The first land he showed them was near Hog Back, and was so disappointing that they once more decided to return home. Mr. Roedelheimer then showed them land near the present sight of Catherine, and some along the Smoky Hill River, and finally that on which Victoria now stands. This land was cheap ($2.00 to $2.50 per acre), and well adapted for forming colonies, and the newcomers decided to settle on it.
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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