Wilhelm "Columbus" Hieb
Dakota Datebook, North Dakota Public Radio, August
People who grew up in the German Russian regions of the state likely
least one person who either moved to Lodi, California, or who had
there. This was the result of a quest by Wilhelm Adam Hieb, who
became known as
Columbus for encouraging others to join him there.
Hieb (heeb) was born in Neudorf, Russia in 1852 and came here with
wife, Catharina, on the S.S. Hermann in 1874. They settled in Hutchinson
County, Dakota Territory, near what is now Menno, South Dakota.
during their tenth year together.
After two decades on the prairie, Wilhelm missed the more temperate
south Russian, so he decided to find a place more similar to where
he grew up.
In 1895, he and two friends, Gottlieb Hieb (no relation) and Jacob
headed for California and toured the state by train.
Wilhelm liked Los Angeles and its orange groves, but he wanted
to grow grapes.
They headed north and finally found the perfect place: Lodi. Hieb
went back to
Dakota, sold his land, and became the first German Russian to move
With him were his second wife, Charlotta, and their eight children.
Hiebs youngest child, Pauline Walters, told the story to the Lodi
News-Sentinel. Her father bought 30 acres a mile south of Lodi and
of it into Zinfandel and Mission grapes. The rest he put into pasture
cows to keep them afloat until the grapes were mature enough to
It wasnt until a few years later that others began to join them.
when other Dakotans began arriving, theyd always stay with the Hiebs.
did have a hotel and a restaurant, she says, but this wasnt for
Dakotans. People came and went from our house, and this went on
Sometimes families would stay with us for two or three weeks until
find a place.
It was about this time that Wilhelm became known as Columbus, as
more and more of his former neighbors to migrate to Lodi. Even his
addressed to Columbus Hieb. He would meet Dakotans at the train
depot and drive
the men around until they found what they needed. Land was inexpensive
$25-35 an acre and the sandy soil was ideal.
Some people farmed, others worked in wineries or canneries. Nearly
prospered, and the migration increased. Back in Dakota, it became
a sort of
joke among German Russians to ensure their childrens survival they
three words in English: Papa, Mama and Lodi.
Polly remembered a day in the early 1900s when an entire train
car of Dakotans
arrived. This time there were so many, their home wasnt large enough
accommodate everybody. Her brother was sent on horseback to tell
migrants to come and get some of them. Meanwhile, she helped her
food for everybody. It didnt matter how many came, she said, we
food. We learned how to manage on the spur of the moment.
Columbus Hieb's vineyard was one of the first commercial wineries
in the Lodi
region. After his grapes started producing, he shipped his wine
barrels to Hosmer, SD, where it was marketed. The initiator of the
connection died on this date in 1929. He was 77.
Source: Hieb-Vogt, Bev (great-granddaughter). http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~davison/hiebgenfourcont.htm
Columbus Hieb Began Migration to Lodi.
Lodi News-Sentinel. 10 Jan 1975. Reprinted in Heritage Review Sep
1983: Vol 13
No 3: 20-21. Bismarck: Germans from Russia Heritage Society
Vossler, Ron (documentary script). Heaven Is Our Homeland: the
New Russia and North America. Glckstal Colonies Research Association,
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