| Siblings of all Ages Take in Munjor Celebration
Gasper-O'Brien, Diane. "Siblings of all Ages Take in Munjor Celebration." Hays Daily News, 27 July 2001.
Volga-German Homecoming: 125th Jubilee Celebration
MUNJOR There was a pair of brothers from Argentina who came
to learn more about their ancestors.
There were brothers from out of state who came back to their native
town to visit relatives.
And there were 6-month-old twins who came because their mom, who
went to grade school in Munjor, brought them along with her.
No matter what the transportation - by plane, car or stroller -
siblings of all ages and everyone else who attended Thursday´s
Volga-German celebration in Munjor seemed to find something that
Thursday was the fifth day of the six-day celebration commemorating
the 125th anniversary of the Volga-Germans settling communities
in Ellis and Rush counties. The sixth and final celebration was
set for today in Victoria.
Frank Jacobs, president of the Topeka Chapter of the American Historical
Society of Germans from Russia, met brothers Nestor and Fernando
Beier from Argentina over the Internet.
The brothers´ grandparents were some of the Volga-Germans
who came to Kansas from Russia in the early 1900s but wound up in
South America when they couldn´t find work in the United States.
The Beiers learned about the Volga-German lineage in Ellis County
through the historical society Web site, and Jacobs - a native of
Ellis County invited them to America for this week´s
While Fernando Beier understands little English, he indicated through
an interpreter that he was enjoying the experience.
"It is so beautiful here," Fernando Beier said in his
native Spanish, with a big smile on his face.
Herman Dinges brought his polka band from Denver to play at all
six of the celebrations, and on Thursday, his older brother, 84-year-old
Richard Dinges from Portland, Ore., helped out on the saxophone.
The Dinges brothers grew up in Munjor, and after Herman played
at the area´s Volga-German centennial celebration in 1976,
some of his cousins asked him back for the 125th event, too.
"We´re happy to be here," said Herman Dinges, whose
musical performances throughout the week were all volunteer.
"And we hope we can make it at the next 25th anniversary,"
he said with a laugh, adding that he would be 97 years old in 2026.
"I´m sure going to try."
The music was soothing enough to put 6-month-old Julia Werth to
sleep as her twin brother, Dylan, kicked and cooed patiently beside
her in their double stroller.
"At least it´s not so hot today," said their mother,
Julie (Richmeier) Werth, who attended school in Munjor through sixth
grade and was married to Darin Werth in Munjor´s St. Francis
of Assisi Catholic Church.
While the first celebrations this week endured through in the suffocating
heat, Mother Nature was much kinder to those attending Munjor´s
An early-morning thunderstorm made for higher humidity, but a slight
breeze and shade and temperatures in the high 80s provided a pleasant
atmosphere for people to sit around and reminisce.
Norbert Haas from Olathe and a native of Ellis County talked about
how his descendants were among the first families who moved from
Munjor to incorporate a new town site 7 miles to the southwest at
"Munjor had a hundred and some families and was getting pretty
crowded, so several families started their own town," explained
Haas, who grew up in Antonino. "Antonino will celebrate its
100-year anniversary in 2004. I'm looking forward to that, too."
"I was here the day this church burned," said Gene Rohr
from Hays, who grew up in Munjor.
He spoke of the devastating fire of 1932 that gutted the church,
the central point of the lives of the Munjor community. But he also
remembered how the community pulled together to rebuild the church.
While the church and a close-knit community were vital to the first
settlers, it also is important to young people of today.
Kolleen Leiker, 23, has lived in Munjor all of her life.
Her marriage to Aaron Dome on Aug. 4 will be at the church, where
she was baptized, made her first communion and was confirmed. And
Leiker and Dome plan to make their first home in Munjor.
"We both wanted to live in a small community, and we were
able to buy my grandmother´s house here," explained Leiker,
the daughter of Herman and Rosie Leiker of Munjor. "I had always
hoped I could stay here, and my grandmother´s house had a
lot of memories attached to it. So this worked out great.
Reprinted with permission of The
Hays Daily News.