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Kuhn Family Journey to the Homeland: Germany and Ukraine

Wald Glatt, Kathryn. "Kuhn Family Journey to the Homeland: Germany and Ukraine." Emmons County Record, 12 June 2003, 8.


Eight Kuhn family members were privileged to join Michael M. Miller on the Journey to the Homeland: Germany and Ukraine North Dakota State University Libraries tour May 2002.

Theresa (Meier) Eissinger whose family roots lead back to Napoleon, her parents John and Rose (Kuhn) Meier were born in Russia. The father, John Meier, immigrated to the United States in 1907 from Odessa at the age of 21. The maternal Kuhn family lived in Rosental, (Crimea) South Russia; having immigrated from Germany to Russia in 1809. Here they were farmers and also raised horses. The entire Kuhn family, 16 members, left South Russia and came to the United States in 1911; settling in the Napoleon area to begin a new life. Many family members still reside there today.

Kuhn family members include: Ann (Meier) Bauer of Grand Forks, Joyce Essinger of Bloomington, Minn.; Theresa (Meier) Eissinger of Napoleon, Yvonne Eissinger of Edina, Minn., Dena (Marquart) Graham of Belvidere, Ill., Alice (Meier) Lippert of Burke, Va., Janice (Marquart) Spotts of Portland, Ore., and Bernadine (Lang) Kuhn of Owatonna, Minn. Theresa is the mother of Joyce and Yvonne Eissinger.

This Kuhn family had the wonderful experience of visiting their homeland in Rosenthal where their mother was born and Odessa the birthplace of their father.

Theresa (Meier) Eissinger was born in Napoleon, attended a one-room school house for the first eight years of school and graduated from Napoleon High School. Her parents were farmers all their lives. "I remember the hard times during the depression," says Theresa,"so I am really looking forward to visiting my ancestral villages of Rosental and Odessa. My mother often spoke of the hope to return to Rosenthal but she was never able to do that." Theresa was a special guest speaker at the Strasburg Chapter of Germans from Russia Heritage Society meeting held on March 9, 2003. Theresa related her experience and heart-warming feelings she had when setting foot in the home villages from where her beloved ancestors came.

On May 27, the Journey to the Homeland Tour Group arrived in Odessa from Vienna via Austrian Airlines. Some of the sights visited in Odessa were: The Opera House where they saw the Children's Ballet, the wedding hall, the Catholic Church of the Assumption, the market place and the city hall. May 28 took them to the Crimea to visit former German villages near Simperofol. Here in the Crimean Valley the Kuhn family toured the Village of Rosental (meaning valley of roses); commenting that they have never seen such an array of gorgeous flowers in this life time. The group spent time in the former Catholic Church, today an Orthodox Church, the present day school visiting classes including the school Theresia's mother attended while growing up in Rosenthal. They attended a school recital held in the former parsonage where music classes are also held.

Of special interest was the present day cemetery. The Mayor of Rosenthal guided us throughout the village and showed how work had been done repairing some of the German gravestones in the last two years. They could still identify some of the names with photos taken and did not expect to see this many German marked gravestones. The Kuhn family came upon an orchard of scrumptious fruits and the site of their grandparents Gottlieb and Maria Kuhn's house.

This former German Catholic village of Rosenthal today located near Simperofol, in the Ukraine, near the Black Sea is blessed with a perfect climate year round with rich fertile land in the midst of the Crimean Valley coming off the Crimean Mountains.

Families grow large gardens here. The dramatic sights and life conditions today being basically the same as during the time Theresa's mother and grandparents experienced so many years ago. Families are very poor even to this day.

While in Yalta, the Kuhn family toured the Palace of Lavidia where the Yalta Agreement was signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin after World War II. The group also toured the Palace garden, Yalta Park and waded in the Black Sea.

The Journey to the Homeland Tour members who stayed in Odessa traveled to the Bessarabian, Beresan and Glueckstal villages. The group traveled to the Village of Landau, Beresan District to bring gifts to the orphanage, and also visited Josephstal, a Kuhn family ancestral village.

Their continued journey took them from Odessa to Vienna and Stuttgart, Germany for a 3-day stay in Stuttgart where the surrounding sights were viewed from the top of the TV station. The evening of June 6 was spent with a visit to the Haus der Heimat Baden-Wuerttemberg in Stuttgart with a concert and reception of the Homeland Choir of Stuttgart. This choir visited North Dakota in July 1997 for a concert tour. Oh yes, how well I remember their two-day visit to Strasburg. What a wonderful people that I still communicate with today after being the host couple during their stay with us.

A stop at Rothenburg, Germany, and a visit to St. Jacob Church, the City Hall and the Criminal Museum were most interesting. The city of Rothenburg exhibits its history of days' gone by; the preservation of its origin more so than the modern fling of today's world.

In Alsace, France, their tour led the group to the Catholic Church in Selz, St. Michaels Church in Souf-flenheim, the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church in Sassenheim, all in France.

Ann (Meier) Bauer writes, "I well remember the many stories my parents told of the Old Country and now I am looking forward to this tour so I can actually see what my parents spoke of".

Michael M. Miller, NDSU Libraries, made all the arrangements and was the tour guide; along with Bob Dambach of Prairie Public Television. Michael recorded all the heart warming events with photos while Bob kept his television camera on hand to document the Kuhn family ancestral villages including some interviews later back home in the Napoleon area focusing on their lives in America.

Hats off! Theresa Eissinger for a most interesting talk and visit with us, also her display of numerous photos and souvenir items she had purchased.

These memories shall always linger in the minds of the Kuhn family, the sad, the beauty and also the humorous occasions that are part of an experience such as this will forever remain with you.

Thank you for sharing, Theresa.

Reprinted with permission of the Emmons County Record.

Former Catholic church in Rosental.
German built house in Rosental.
Woman fetching water from well for her large garden.
Kuhn family members presenting American flag to school children at Rosental.
Kuhn family members standing in cemetery.
German Rosental Cemetery with gravestones restored by local Ukrainians.
Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
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Director: Michael M. Miller
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