Johann Fredrich Schwab emigrated to Canada from Wulka, Volhynia, Russia, in 1902. They arrived aboard the ship, the SS Parisian, at Halifax on March 22, 1902 from Liverpool and Londonderry. They first settled in Manitoba, before moving to the Rhein area of Saskatchewan in 1906. Other members of the family arrived a few years later and some settled in Manitoba.
John Jacob Herman was the first Herman family member to arrive in Canada. The family arrived in Canada on November 18, 1911 aboard the vessel S.S. Montreal at Montreal, Quebec, Canada. There port of departure wa Antwerp, Belgium. The family consisted of Johan, Katarina, Emilie, Jacob, Elizabeth and Bertha. Their destination was listed as Winnipeg, Manitoba and what appears to read "his brother - foreman". Their final destination would be Rhein, Saskatchewan. His occupation in Russia is shown as a dairy farmer. Note that the spellings of the first names were Anglicized after their arrival.
HISTORY OF THE GERMAN MIGRATION TO CANADA
Katherine the Second of Russia, of German descent, ruled as Czar of Russia during the years 1762-1796. During the second year of her reign she had the thought of calling on foreign colonists to inhabit the large southern portion of her great domain to cultivate the land. She issued a Manifesto on July 22, 1763, and invited people of other lands to immigrate to Russia.
The Seven Years War had just ended in Germany. This war had taken 800,000 soldiers and lives. The end of the war brought peace but there was considerable hardship and suffering. Thus against their own wishes many people thought of leaving the country. Many went to Poland, Austria, and America and thousands looked to new hope in the land near the Volga River in Russia. Thousands of Germans from Hessen, Sachsen Pfalz, Westfalen, Swaben, Wurttemberg, Baaerern, Preusen, Schlesien, and Bader came from all walks of life - farmers, tailors, barbers, hand workers, officers, students, carpenters, and those of nobility.
As a result of this Manifesto, 104 German colonies were founded between the years 1764 - 1768, along the Volga River in the area Saratov and Samara. It was the hope of the Russian government that these new colonists would bring higher culture to the land, especially the German farmers and technicians with their modern methods.
Many things were promised these new colonists, such as freedom of religion, no military service, eighty acres of land per family, their own government, school, and churches. They were to be free but under the Russian law. They were promised a free trip from their homeland to their new home, no taxes for ten years and loan of 500 rubles interest free. They had their rights as citizens and freedom to build their own villages and police courts. The youngest son in the family would receive the inheritance, so that the older brothers would take up a trade. The youngest son was also to take care of the parents and unmarried sisters until death.
The gathering points were; Risslau, Gegensburg and Freiburrg -- they were all shipped to Moscow and Petersburg, from where they went south to Saratov which at that time had about 10,000 inhabitants. Saratov was designated as the capital of immigration. Here the colonists received money and other help, and were taken by wagon to their designated places on the land near the Volga. By 1768, some 104 colonies were organized, 59 east and 45 west, some 29,000 souls.
Many troubles faced them in this new and uncultured world - a wilderness to say the least. Many government orders given at Petersburg were not carried out at Saratov. Crop failures, sickness, scarcity of food and often hunger besieged them, so that many perished. But as the years went on, they became more accustomed to this new land. The conditions improved, water mills built in almost every village. Spinning and tanning mills of various descriptions were established so that this once barren wilderness became a land of promise and hope. Wheat, barley, rye, vegetables and fine gardens became the order of the day.
The years 1797 - 1845 were the prosperous years and it was during this time that many new colonists arrived. Sixty-one new colonies were established, 44 Evangelical Lutherans, the remainder Catholics.
Dobrinka was their supply center. It was also a train depot and about 8 miles from Hussenbach. Holstein was founded in 1765. Population in 1772 was 202, and by 1912 it was 2549, decreasing in 1926 to 1301. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Russia influenced daily life. Pastors and teachers supervised the study of German. The 1897 census showed that 76% of the people were Lutheran, 78% of the Russians were illiterate yet all the people of the German village could read and write.
A century after the first Germans had settled in the Volga region, Russia passed legislation that revoked many of the privileges promised to them by Catherine the Great. The sentiment in Russia became decidedly anti-German. Russia first made changes to the German local government. Then in 1874, a new military law decreed that all male Russian subjects, when they reached the age of 20, were eligible to serve in the military for 6 years. For the German colonists, this law represented a breach of faith. The Volga German men also had to join in the military and fought in the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878. Many of these men died in the war. In the 1880s Russia began a subtle attack on German schools and other German institutions. When Russia was reducing the privileges granted to the Germans, several nations in the Americas were attempting to attract settlers by offering inducements reminiscent of those of Catherine the Great.
Soon after the military service bill became law, both Protestant and Catholic Volga Germans gathered and chose delegations to journey across the Atlantic to examine settlement conditions in the United States. Volga Germans started arriving in the USA in the mid 1870s. Early destinations were in the heartland of the country around Kansas and later spread west to Washington, Oregon and California and East to Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.
Volga Germans started arriving in Canada in the 1890s, later than other nationalities. Volga Germans settled in 3 provinces in Canada: Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In their new homes overseas, the Volga Germans initially continued their pattern of introverted closed German communities. The people of individual villages tended to travel together and settle together in their new homeland. It was not uncommon to find hundreds of Volga Germans from one village in one location in the new world. First they primarily settled among people of their own village, then among other Volga Germans, next among other Germans.
There was considerable movement of these Volga Germans between the settlements in Western Canada and the United States, particularly Nebraska and Colorado. In the late 1800's and early 1900's, operators of the large sugar beet plantations in Colorado provided incentives and housing to these farmers. Many of the Canadian Volga German farmers would travel to Colorado to work on these farms during spring planting and then fall harvesting.