Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon

Names: 
Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon
History: 

The first Volga Germans, about seventeen families, arrived in Portland in 1881 after spending several years on the Kansas plains. Members of this vanguard included Conrad Appel, Phillip Fuchs, George Green, Henry Repp, and several Kleweno, Ochs, and Scheuermann families. They had first immigrated to Rush and Barton Counties in Kansas between 1875 and 1878. Most were from the colonies of Neu-Yagodnaya-Polyana, Schöntal, and Schönfeld, which were daughter colonies of Yagodnaya-Polyana and neighboring Pobochnaya. The group obtained special emigrant fares through the Union Pacific Railroad and Oregon Steam Navigation Company to travel to Portland where they had heard good farmland was available.      

According to Richard Scheuerman in his book Palouse Country: A Land and Its People, the Volga Germans were disappointed to discover in Oregon that the best lands had already been taken and that the ground was available was unfit for cultivation. The frustrated immigrants turned to work at a local lumber mill and for the railroad, which was then grading the huge Albina fill in present Portland. In the spring of 1881, these Volga Germans learned that the railroad officials were offering to sell 150,000 acres of “the finest agricultural lands in the northwest,” east of the Cascades, which would be accessible by rail in 1882. When approached by the Volga Germans, the railroad officials saw their opportunity to implement their new plans for colonization of the Palouse country in Washington. Several representatives traveled to eastern Washington to inspect the available lands. They returned favorably impressed with the land’s fertility. The hilly topography reminded them of the Bergseite along the Volga.       

Railroad magnate Henry Villard chose a retired brigadier general, Thomas R. Tannatt, who had commanded Union forces, to be the general agent of his new company, the Oregon Improvement Company, which was headquartered in Portland. Tannatt was the one who later arranged for colonization of the Palouse by the Volga Germans and other immigrants. These Volga German families that briefly settled in Portland were instrumental in the colonization and development of the Palouse country near the towns of Endicott, St. John, Dusty, and Colfax.      

George Rath, in his book Emigration from Germany through Poland and Russia to the U.S.A., states that the oldest settlement of Evangelical Volga Germans in Oregon was in Portland. In 1882, colonists from Norka, who had at first settled in Iowa and Nebraska, came by train to San Francisco. These immigrants worked for the Union Pacific Railroad and were either brought to or terminated their employment in San Francisco. From there they sailed by ship to Portland where they were employed as day laborers in factories. In 1888-1890, after some years in which there were no new arrivals, Portland received another influx of Volga German colonists originally from Balzer and Frank. However, the majority of Portland's Volga German immigrants arrived between 1890-1905. Colonists Norka comprise the bulk of around 500 families in the existing settlement. They populated an entire ward in northeast Portland and were organized in a number or religious congregations. In 1892, a group of colonists from Catholic colonies along the Volga arrived in Portland from Topeka, Kansas.

Volga German Congregations: 

Ebenezer German Congregational Church
First German Baptist Church
Free Evangelical Brethren Church
German Evangelical Brethren Congregational Church
Mennonite Brethren Church
St. Agatha Catholic Church
St. Mary's / Immaculate Heart Catholic Church
St. Paul's Evangelical and Reformed Church
Second German Congregational Church
Trinity Lutheran Church
Zion Congregational Church

Volga German Families: 

The following Volga German families are known to have lived in Portland:

Albert from Norka
Albrecht from Norka
Alt from Norka
Altergott
Amen from Frank
Arndt from Norka
Aschenbrenner from Norka
Axt
Balzer
Bartell
Bartholome
Bastron from Frank
Bauer from Norka
Becker
Beisel
Bernhardt from Frank
Biehn from Norka
Bloch
Blum / Bloom from Norka
Böckel from Kutter
Borgardt from Schwed
Brauer
Brehm from Norka
Brenner from Norka
Bretthauer from Brunnental
Brill from Norka
Brockman
Brun from Norka
Burbach from Norka
Deines from Norka
Denner from Franzosen
Derr from Norka
Dick from Norka
Dietz
Dillman from Norka
Dinges from Norka
Döring from Norka
Dumler
Ebel from Stephan
Eberle
Eckhardt from Frank
Ehrlich
Eichhorn
Eichler from Dönhof
Eisel from Norka
Elsasser from Galka
Erdmann from Grimm
Feuerstein from Norka
Fink from Norka
Foos
Frank
Fritzler from Grimm
Frueauf from Norka
Fuchs from Norka
Gable
Gallinger from Hildmann
Gareis
Gebhardt
Geist from Kraft
Georg / Jörg from Norka
Gerlach from Norka
Giebelhaus from Norka
Glanz from Norka
Glass from Norka
Gobel from Norka
Gomer
Gorte
Gottlieb
Graf
Grasmick from Balzer
Greb
Grün / Green from Norka
Greenwald from Brunnental
Hagelganz from Kutter
Hahn from Norka
Hamberger from Norka
Hardung / Hartung / Harding
Heinrich from Norka
Helzer from Norka
Herder from Beideck
Hergert from Brunnental
Henkel from Norka
Henrich from Hildmann
Hessler from Norka
Heuser / Heiser from Norka
Hildermann from Holstein
Hochnadel from Schuck
Hohnstein from Norka
Hopp from Frank
Horst from Norka
Huck
Huwa from Volmer
Jacobi from Norka
Jäger / Yeager from Norka
Jost / Yost from Norka
Jungmann
Kaiser / Keiser from Norka
Kammerzell from Frank
Kaufmann from Schilling
Kechter from Walter
Kehler
Keller
Kimmel
Klaus from Norka
Klein from Köhler
Kloberdanz
Knaus from Balzer
Knaus from Moor
Knippel from Norka
Kniss from Norka
Koch from Kolb
Koch from Müller
Koch from Norka
Kohler from Norka
Kreick from Huck
Krieger from Norka
Kromm
Kuhltau / Kilthau from Norka
Kuhn
Langmann from Reinwald
Lebsack from Frank
Legler
Lehl from Norka
Lehr from Norka
Leichner
Leonhard
Lind from Dönhof
Lofink from Norka
Loos from Norka
Lorenz from Näb
Maier from Dreispitz
Markstahler
Maul from Norka
Mehling from Hussenbach
Melcher from Brunnental
Metzler from Dobrinka
Mill
Miller from Norka
Morasch from Yagodnaya-Polyana
Nagel from Norka
Neiver
Neuman from Kutter
Niederhaus
Nolde from Norka
Pauli from Norka
Pfenning from Norka
Popp from Norka
Poppenheim
Reich from Norka
Reifschneider from Norka
Reispich / Reiswig from Norka
Rehn from Kolb
Rekart from Köhler
Reiber
Repp from Norka
Reuscher from Norka
Rieger from Kutter
Ross from Norka
Rothermel from Norka
Ruff
Sauer from Norka
Schäfer from Grimm
Schäfer from Huck
Schäfer from Norka
Schechtel from Schuck
Scheidemann from Norka
Schilling from Norka
Schimpf
Schleicher from Norka
Schleining from Norka
Schlitt from Norka
Schmer from Norka
Schmick
Schneider from Norka
Schnell from Norka
Schossler from Walter
Schreiber from Norka
Schreiner from Kolb
Schultz
Schwab from Hussenbach
Schwan
Schwartz from Norka
Schwindt from Norka
Seder from Norka
Sell from Frank
Sinner from Norka
Sittner from Huck
Spady from Norka
Spieker from Norka
Spreier from Dietel
Stang
Steinfeld from Holstein
Steinmetz from Hoffental
Steinpreis from Reinwald
Sterkel from Norka
Stricker from Rosenberg
Suppes
Traudt from Norka
Trieber from Norka
Uhrich
Vogel
Wacker / Walker from Norka
Wagner from Frank
Wagner from Kraft
Wasemüller from Rosenberg
Weber from Beideck
Weber from Norka
Weckesser from Anton
Weidenkeller from Norka
Weigandt from Norka
Weigel
Weitz from Yagodnaya-Polyana
Weitzel from Norka
Weitzel from Frank
Wiedeman
Wilhelm from Huck
Wilhelm from Kolb
Will from Norka
Wolf from Norka
Wunsch from Galka
Zilch from Norka
Zimmerman

Sources: 

- The Volga Germans in Portland (Steve Schreiber)
- Scheuerman, Richard D. & Clifford E. Trafzer. The Volga Germans: Pioneers of the Northwest. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho Press, 1985.

Resources: 

- Lincoln Park Cemetery (findagrave.com)
- Mount Calvary Cemetery (findagrave.com)
- Multnomah Park Cemetery (findagrave.com)
- Rose City Cemetery (findagrave.com)
- Willamette National Cemetery (findagrave.com)

Albina neighborhood of Portland showing the intersection at N. Vancouver Ave. & N. Russell St. in 1909.
Photo courtesy of Steve Schreiber.

Volga Colonies

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