Rosemary Luckett

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Rosemary Schell Luckett. My grandparents immigrated from Volga German territory, south central Russia to USA in 1911. Barbara Steinbach Schell b. 1887 Schuck, Russia. Adam Schell b.1810 Seewald, Russia. Back story to their immigration: Volga Germans came to Russia from Germany at request of Catherine the Great beginning 1767 and expanded over time to more than 100 villages with surrounding farms. From the dry lands of the steppes colonists created, along with farmers in Ukraine, Russia’s breadbasket. So why did so many eventually leave Russia for Germany, United States and South America at the cusp of the 20th century? --periodic severe drought, --acute land shortage, --loss of time-honored colonist language and religious privileges, --revocation of military draft exemption, --growing mood of anti-German-ism, --impending war (WWI)/Bolshevik Revolution. Relatives who stayed behind suffered from: --famine in 1920-24, --collectivized communist farms 1927-30, --exile by Stalin of 400,000 German-speakers (my relatives) to Siberian. Kazakhstan, Altai work camps--death as cannon fodder during WWII, --theft and dismantling of Volga German homes and farms. Sichel und Hammer/Armut und Jammer (sickle and hammer/ poverty and sorrow). What happened to my grandparents during their migration to USA? They traveled 1900 miles to Bremen, Germany and boarded seagoing freighters. Barbara or the baby was sick and unable to travel, so Adam boarded the SS Frankfort alone on Sept. 21 traveling 5000 miles before arriving in Galveston, Texas October 14, 1911. From there, traveled to Colorado where relatives had already settled. Barbara and baby Mary boarded the SS Main at Bremen on Oct.12 and sailed for three weeks across the Atlantic to Baltimore harbor. Seasickness prevailed. Travelers were considered freight. No passenger amenities like decks with chairs or actual sleeping rooms. Barbara was afraid of having her daughter stolen during the Atlantic crossing. Sausage and bread sustained these Kolbasniki on the trip. It’s been said: “Where Hessians and Hollanders do not thrive, no one else can keep alive.” By the time they reached the United States, Volga Germans were practiced at staying alive in unbearable places under intolerable conditions. Their “new” life has hard too. --My grandparents were migrant workers until they settled in Rupert, Idaho, -- There Adam died leaving Barbara, who spoke no English, to provide for five children, --She persisted with the help of family and community, marrying an alcoholic widower two years later, --Barbara had 11 children and lived to see them all grown and self-sufficient, --My father was bullied and beat up on account of his accent. He dropped out of school to work for other farmers to earn money for the family. It was a rough childhood characterized by shortages of food. Like the rest of his family he went through poverty and sorrow. But, unlike those remaining in Russia, he eventually thrived on a farm of his own and had a family to enjoy. Each succeeding generation now lives productively in this, our diverse democracy.