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Victor Knell Collection

Family Histories

The Victor Knell Collection was donated to the Germans from Russia Hertitage Collection in April 2002. Victor is a historian who has influenced identication and preservation of dialect-usage and folk traditions. Victor serves as village historian for Brienne and Teplitz, in Bessarabia; serves as editor for the well-informed Red River Chapter newsletter; and serves on editorial-publications projects at the Germans from Russia Heritage Society, Bismarck. The collection has photographs, musical artifacts, textiles, and ephemerals which reflect ethnic pioneer life in Mercer County, North Dakota.

Victor Knell has complied five family histories for Knoll/Knell, Breitling, Oster, and Adolf heritage. The Knoll/Knell family (from ancestral village of Necketailfingen, Wuerttemburg, Germany) were among the religious pietists of “emigration harmonium” to South Russia. They traveled by “ulmer barges” down the Danube River toward the Black Sea. The Oster family were reformed religionists at Lambsborn, Palatinate, Germany. They were tailors who immigrated in 1798 to Tscherwenka village (in Austria-Hungarian Empire, today Yugoslavia) as linen weavers, later moving near Odessa, South Russia. The Adolf family were printers in Berlin, Brandenburg, Germany. From Oderberg, Prussia, they immigrated in 1817 to (the former German village of) Brienne, Bessarabia, where the Adolf family erected and operated a wind-powered flour mill.


The Victor Knell Collection was donated to the German from Russia Heritage Collection in April 2002 by Victor Knell Fargo, ND. Listed below are short histories, ancestral villages, family members and dates of the Knell, Breitling, Oster, and Adolf families. These family histories were written by Victor Knell. They were retyped by Kristi Krebs, September 24, 2002.

Town & County Histories

1. Heinemeyer, C.B. History of Mercer County, North Dakota, 1882 to 1960. Hazen, ND: Hazen Star, 1960. *Institute for Regional Studies F642.M5H45 1960.
2. Heinemeyer, C.B. History of Mercer County, North Dakota: a commemorative of the 50th anniversary of the first white settlers, 1882-1932. Hazen, ND: Hazen Star, 1932. *Institute for Regional Studies F642.M5H45.
3. Peace Lutheran Church, Hazen, North Dakota: September 13, 1959, 1909-1959. Hazen, ND: The Church, 1959. *Institute for Regional Studies BX8076.H48P43 1959.

Knöll, Knoell, Knell Family History:

**Knell, Victor. The Jacob and Pauline Knell Family. Fargo, ND: Knell, 1978. Germans from Russia CS71.K58 1978
** Knell, Victor. Pioneers and their children a Knöll history and genealogy. Fargo, ND: Knell, 1987. Germans from Russia CS71.K58 1987

The family came from Neckertailfingen on the Neckar River south of Stuttgart, Germany. The family was part of a “pietistic” movement whereby they became ‘separatists” who gathered in private homes for church services called “stunden versammlungen” (hourly gatherings) lead by a layman. Some believed that Christ was to return to earth in 1836 at either Jerusalem or on Mt. Ararat.

In 1817 the Knöll family joined an “emigration harmonium” of people wanting to go to Russia. The family was granted permission to migrate to Russia in February of 1817. They gathered at Ulm, Germany to take an “ulmer schachtelen” (ulmer barges) on the Danube River to Russia. It was July when the family reached the island of Stiborg, where they were in a quarantine camp for 24 days. Many people died of typhus, fever and dysentery on the voyage and in the camp. The baby of the family died on the trip.

They settled at Teplitz, Bessarabia. In 1892 the family moved to Friedensfeld for more land. From here in 1902, Johannes and his family left on the S.S. Weimar and made the voyage to Baltimore, Maryland.

In September 1905, Jacob, my grandfather, on board the S.S. Montrose came to the Canadian port of Quebec. He went to Winnipeg and then to St. Paul, MN. From there Jacob went to New Salem, ND. His brother, Johannes, met him there and took him to Mercer County, ND, where he worked for farmers to pay off his passage to the United States.

Breitling Family History:

They came from Boeblingen, Wuerttemberg, Germany.

In 1804 the family settled in Poland, which was the territory of Prussia at the time. After being forced from this land by Napoleon, in 1816 they moved to Beresina, Bessarabia.

In 1889 the family took passage on the S.S. Munchen to the U.S.A. They landed in Baltimore in June 1889. They went to Scotland, S.D. They moved to Burlington, CO. Here they found work as stone cutters in Denver. They moved to Hazen, N.D., where they stayed until 1910. They moved to McCook, NE. In 1918 they came back to North Dakota, where Phillip died in 1919. His wife Caroline went on to wed Jacob Keller, and after he died, John Birkholz. They are both buried at St. Peter’s Church, rural Hazen, N.D.

Oster Family History:

** Knell, Victor. Yesterdays and today: an Oster history. Fargo, ND: Knell, 1989. *Germans from Russia CS71.O85 1989

They came from Hermersberg, Palatinate, Germany. The family left Germany on June 28, 1784 to make their way to the village of Tscherwenka in the Danube River basin. Today the area is part of Yugoslavia.

In 1807 the family moved to Freudental, Odessa, Russia. And in 1816 the Oster sons moved to Brienne, Bessarabia. About 1870 the family moved to the village of Eigenfeld in the North Caucasus, where there was more land.

The family took the S.S. Polynesian to New York on April 14, 1888. They were processed at the Castle Garden processing station. They came to Dakota Territory to settle in Mercer County.

Extract from Unser Tscherwenka (Our Tscherwenka), by Roland Vetter and Hans Keiper, published by J.F. Bofinger Publishing, Tuttlingen, Germany, 1983

Oster, Theobald, A tailor of the Reformed religion, migrated from Hermesberg, Palatine, Germany. He was recorded at Vienna, Austria on June 28, 1894 with his wife and four sons. He was born April 21, 1851 at Kaeshofen, Palatine according to the church book at Lambsborn, Palatine. He died on April 12, 1798 in Tscherwenka (a village of the Austria-Hungarian Empire, was later part of Yugoslavia). His father was Johann Nikolaus Oster, a linen weaver. He was married to Catherina Zimmermann, who was of the Reformed religion. He died on June 13, 1827 at age 75 years and 6 months

Information on only two sons could be found; Jakob, born November 17, 1775 in Hermesberg, Palatinate according to the Horbach Catholic church book. He died August 5, 1826 in Tscherwenka. It is not known who his first wife was. His second wife was Maria Margaretha Stadler or (Stader?). The other son was Johann Adam, born February 7, 1777 in Hermesberg, Palatinate, according to the Horbach Catholic Church records. He died August 20, 1857 in Tscherwenka. He was married in 1796 to Dorothea Neber.

Both of the sons had been baptized at the Horbach Catholic Church. They remained with the Reformed religion however. The church building could have been used by both Catholic and Reformed confessions. The village of Hermesberg belonged to the Reformed Church Parish at Waldfischbach, which was a much greater distance from Hermesberg then Horbach.

Theobald and Heinrich Oster migrated to Freudental, South Russia. They could have been the sons of Theobald.

Translation by Victor Knell, August 2004

Adolf Family History:

**Knell, Victor. Settlers on the steppes and the plains: the story of the Adolf family. Fargo, ND: Knell, 1978. *Germans from Russia CS71.A235 1978
** Knell, Victor. The past and the present: an Adolf history and genealogy. Fargo, ND: Knell, 1991. *Germans from Russia CS71.A235 1991

They came from Berlin and later Odenberg, Prussia, Germany. One of the early Adolfs was a printer in Berlin. In 1817 the family migrated to Brienne, Bessarabia, where he set up a wind powered flour mill.

In 1889 the family took the S.S. Ems to New York on April 23, 1889. They came to Mercer County, N.D. They only stayed five months, when they departed for Newberg, Oregon. On February 23, 1892 Friedrick left his family and came back to North Dakota, where he married a widow with five children. They had 9 children together.

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