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List of Kansas Counties

AntoninoCatharine | Czech Colony | Ellis | Emmeram | Hartsook/Herzog | Hays | Munjor | Pfeifer | Schoenchen | Turkville | Victoria  | Vincent | Walker | Yocemento

Volga Germans
Fort Hays
Other Colonies


Homesteading in Ellis County


Katharinestadt, Russia, was the largest of the German colonies along the Volga River, and emigrants from that town left on October 22, 1875, and arrived in Baltimore on November 23. They wintered in Topeka, Kansas, and came to Hays on March 1, 1876. They built homes on the land they had selected northeast of Hays, and the town of Catharine was established on April 8. Over the next couple of years, other groups from Katharinestadt settled in Catharine after making the trip from Russia.

Citizens of Catharine were better off then their neighbors in the other villages because of their wealth that came from living in Katharinestadt, which was the market place for the colonies in the Volga. Their homes in Catharine had conveniences that their Volga German counterparts did not have, and their standard of living was higher.

Between 1878-1883, several Moravian Austrians came to the community with their families to begin their new lives in America. Moravia was part of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire. These families were accepted by the Volga-Germans living in the town and became a vital part of the community. Some of their descendants, the Schmeidler and the Polifka families, remain in the area today.

Ellis County - Polifka Farm

Polifka Farm

Ellis County - St. Catherine Catholic Church

St. Catherine Catholic Church

Ellis County - St. Catherine Church

Angels at Entrance to St. Catherine Church

Ellis County - St. Catherine Church Side

St. Catherine Church

Ellis County - St. Catherine Church inside

Sanctuary and Nave of St. Catherine Church

Ellis County - St. Catherine Church choir loft

Choir Loft of St. Catherine Church

Ellis County - St. Catherine Church inside 2

Notice the detailed architecture inside the church

Ellis County - St. Catherine Church inside 3

St. Catherine Church Sanctuary

Ellis County - Catharine School

Catharine Schoolhouse  


Forsyth Library Photo Archives
Color photos taken by Patty Nicholas, archivist

Dreiling, Norbert R. "Official Centennial History of the Volga-German Settlements in Ellis and Rush Counties of Kansas, 1878-1976." Hays, KS: Volga German Centennial Association, 1976.

Dreiling, B. M."Golden jubilee of the German-Russian settlements of Ellis and Rush Counties, Kansas, August 31, September 1 and 2, 1926." Hays, KS: Hays Daily News, 1926.

"At Home in Ellis County, Kansas 1867-1992." Hays, KS: Ellis County Historical Society, 1991.


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Spring Hours:
Sun:             1:00 pm - 2:00 am
Mon-Thurs: 7:30 am - 2:00 am
Friday:         7:30 am - 7:00 pm
Sat:            10:00 am - 5:00 pm

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Phone: 785.628.4434
Fax: 785.628.4096
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Mailing Address:
   Forsyth Library
   600 Park Street
   Hays, KS 67601
Physical Address:

   502 South Campus Drive
   Hays, KS 67601-4099