Contributors

The following is a list of contributors responsible the research and content of this site as well as those who offered support and encouragement.


Dennis Bender
Dennis is the chief researcher of the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations project. Without his research contribution of the coordinates for each village, there would be no maps.  

He was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta to Germans from Russia parents from Hilda, Alberta. Retired as a lab technician and safety coordinator for Archer Daniels Midland, in 2008 he began researching his and his wife's family roots in ernest. His wife is also of Germans from Russia decent. He knew full well that someday his children and grandchildren would be interested in knowing their heritage.


Starting his genealogy research online with Find a Grave, Dennis soon realized its unlimited global potential. However, there were limitations surrounding place names that were available in Find a Grave. Seeing no way to enter the place name as it was when his ancestors lived there, he began searching for the locations of those villages to try to find out what names they went by now. Once he found some of them, he created online cemeteries and memorials, enlisting help from the army of volunteers that populate Find a Grave with photos, memorials and biographies.

His search continued to for villages as they were requested of him from others with Germans from Russia heritage who had seen his work and were seeking the locations of their own ancestral villages. In the spring of 2016, his work was published in Heritage Review, the Germans from Russia Heritage Society's journal. The positive response and encouragement he received from that article spurred on his research, which is now cumulated in this site for all to use and share.

Dennis continues to be a very active contributor on Find a Grave.  His profile and contributions can be found here

Dennis' ancestral villages include those in the Bessarabian and Glückstal areas:
  • Tarutino: Michael KRAUSE, Sr. (1814), Michael NEUMANN (1814)
  • Kassel: Martin BENDER (1809), Paul BECKER (1808)
He resides in Medicine Hat, Alberta with his wife Carol.


Mel Bender
Special thanks goes to Mel for the use of his extensive Stumpp map collection.  Without his maps, this project would not be were it is today.

Family history was an interest of his for many years. In the early 1970s, a Hilda, Alberta, community history book sparked the beginning of his hobby. His parents wrote and talked about their German parents who had emigrated from villages in South Russia. A Medicine Hat newspaper article about the publishing of Karl Stumpp’s book resulted in his joining the Germans from Russia Heritage Society (GRHS) and the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR), both of which have been very helpful in his research.

Mel has been the spokesperson for the Hoffnungstal Odessa Parish Regional Interest Group within GRHS for a number of years, and has led a GR Special Interest Group of the Medicine Hat Branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society. By joining GR societies, he has obtained many Societies’ books and maps and met many helpful fellow GR researchers who eagerly and freely shared their knowledge and expertise, whose example he tries to follow.  "It's  great to help with Dennis and Sandy’s project, which follows this sharing principle."

A 2008 Journey to the Homeland Tour organized by Michael Miller gave him the opportunity to visit five Germans from Russia villages connected to his ancestors. After the tour he visited cousins in the Stuttgart area that were found through GRHS newsletters and listservs. It was very gratifying to meet descendants of families pictured in his grandparents’ photo album.

Thankfully, he developed an interest in family history while he was still an elementary school teacher because he was able to meet many relatives with their memories, pictures, and family heirlooms, who are no longer with us.

Mel's ancestral villages include those in the HoffnungstalGlückstal and Liebental areas:
  • Hoffnungstal: BITSCH, LACHENMAIER
  • Grossliebental: ESSLINGER
  • Freidorf: ESSLINGER 
  • Kassel: BENDER
  • Woinitschi - BENDER
He resides in Medicine Hat, Alberta.


Peggy (Krause) Hansen 
My interest in genealogy began, so to speak, at my father’s knee.  He often told stories of his and his parent’s early days on the plains of southern Alberta.  His father, Christian Krause, and his mother, Mathilda Hannemann, grew up in the Bessarabian village of Brienne.  They, like so many others of that generation, had become disenchanted with their prospects in the ancestral village.

They had been corresponding with Mathilda’s sister, Maria Hannemann and her husband Christian Brauer who had immigrated to America in 1904, settling in Spring Valley Township in North Dakota.  In January of 1913, Christian, Mathilda and their infant daughter Irene arrived at Ellis Island.  Finding no suitable land for homesteading in North Dakota or Montana, they moved on to the Hilda area of southern Alberta where they established a homestead.  The early days were difficult but they had many neighbors with similar stories, and with all this support, this became their home.  All their descendants will be forever grateful that they persevered.

Though I must confess that these stories had little interest for me when I was younger.  I became more curious in later life, and after starting to probe all that was available on the internet, I was hooked!

It has been a fascinating journey, learning not only about my direct ancestors, but also about the history of southern Russia and the part our German families played in it.  It led me to research the early history of Europe, the Crimea where my maternal ancestors emigrated in the early 1800s, and indeed, the early history of western Canada and the USA.

I have managed to contact some of my third and fourth cousins, and therefore have been able to add more personal information to my family tree in the form of photos and stories. 

It is an ongoing quest and I am deeply indebted to all those researchers and genealogist who generously share their information.  It is so fantastic to receive an email, letter or phone call from someone as interested in family history and history in general as I am.  One learns something new every day, it seems, and so it should be.

Thanks to Dennis for so generously including me in his credits.  My contribution was small but my interest in his and all Germans from Russia research is great.

And thanks goes out to Peggy for giving Dennis is first lesson in genealogy.  Her generosity and patience gave Dennis a good foundation and taught him to always document his sources.

Peggy's ancestral villages include those in the Bessarabian and Crimean areas:
  • Brienne: KRAUSE, MATTHEIS, HANNEMANN
  • Arzis: KRAUSE, GUTKHECHT
  • Tarutino: KRAUSE
  • Alt Elft: QUAST
  • Friedental: BAUER
  • Zürichtal: DEWALD, MURSCHELL
She resides in Medicine Hat, Alberta with her husband Michael.


Elaine (Becker) Morrison
Elaine has been Dennis' mentor since very early on in the Germans from Russia Settlement locations project.

She was born in Hutchinson, Minnesota to Germans from Russia parents and lived in Herreid, South Dakota between the ages of 8 and 14. She will always think of Herreid as "home." Her father, Emil, was born in Kassel, South Russia, and immigrated to Canada in 1913 and then to the United States in 1920. Her mother, Maria Anita Mauch, was born in Goodrich, North Dakota. 

A life member of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society (GRHS), Elaine was also was a member of the very first group to take the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC) Journey to the Homeland Tour in 1996. At the time of her last visit to Kassel, one of the few remaining Germans in that village served an impromptu lunch to her and three other visitors. 

"Because he had lived in Kassel, my father's village, for many years, I asked if he remembered any Beckers. His response was 'I knew all of them.' WOW!"

Elaine’s most recent family history, The Ancestors and Descendants of David Becker 1829-1913 and the History That Shaped Their Lives (2006), was recently added to the GRHC at North Dakota State University. She has penned two other family histories, also available at GRHC: The Johann and Barbara Felchle Mauch Story (1994), and Two Fornfeist Brothers and their Families: Spanning More than 150 Years (1999). The Fornfeists were Elaine's mother-in-law's family. 

Elaine’s ancestral villages include those in the GlückstalBeresan and Bessarabian areas:
  • Kassel: BECKER, HAUCK, EBERHART
  • Worms: MAUCH, BERRETH
  • Teplitz: FELCHLE, WEINGAERTNER
She resides in Boulder, Colorado with her husband Chuck.


Galizien German Descendants 
A very special thanks goes to Dave Gorz, John Kaminski and Murray Gauer from the Galizien German Descendants (GGD) organization. In late 2016, they bought their list of villages in Galicia along with some excellent historical maps and other sources and asked if their area could be included in the project.  Dennis' quick work of the village locations along with Dave and John's line editing and validation of each piece of information presented resulted in the Galizien colony group map. Their expertise and the time they put into working on this area is greatly appreciated. 






Sandy Schilling Payne
Sandy is the map maker, writer, editor, researcher and promoter of the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations site.

Born in Washington state to Germans from Russia parents from South Dakota, Sandy moved several times before the age of five when her family settled in central New Mexico. There in the southwest she grew up and attended New Mexico State University where she earned a BA majoring in both Journalism & Mass Communications and English. Armed with writing, communication and critical thinking skills, she immediately entered the information technology field at the time the Internet was becoming popular, prior to world wide web even existing. She worked as a system and network administrator, subject matter expert and later moved to management. She has worked in the technology departments of universities, start up companies and Fortune 500 companies in industries including primary and higher education, newspaper publishing, wealth management, telecommunications and healthcare.

Sandy has been involved in genealogy research since 1994 when her father asked her to look into the Schilling family tree because his own father wasn't forthcoming with information. The few details she got from him was her great-grandfather's name, the year he immigrated to the United States and the village name. From those pieces, she has documented the family line back through Russia and through Germany to 1614.

Sandy is a member of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, the Germans from Russia Heritage Society, the Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe and a contributor on Find A Grave.

Sandy's ancestral villages include those in the Glückstal and Kutschrugan areas:
  • Glückstal: Martin SCHILLING (1809), Peter KESZLER 
  • Kassel: Theobald MARTEL (1808), Heinrich Valentin WAHL
  • Straßburg: Martin SCHLOSSER (1808) and Franz ERK (1808) 
  • Sulz: Peter THOMAS (1809)
  • Mannheim: Mathias BIEGLER (1808)
She resides near Charleston, South Carolina with her husband Ken.




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