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Volga Germans
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Homesteading in Ellis County

Volga Germans

The Volga-German story begins in Germany. The Seven Years War had brought disaster and poverty to many Germans. Catherine the Great was now Czarina, empress of all Russia. Catherine felt that people would abandon their country and help settle the wild uninhabited areas in Russia to escape the aftermath of the Seven Years War. She issued a manifesto offering travel costs, religious freedom, 30 years of tax exemption, and most of all, freedom from military service forever. Tired and war weary, approximately 25,000 Germans set sail for Russia seeking peace, freedom and prosperity.

Nearly 200 German villages and towns were established in Russia, and the people prospered. In 1873, only 100 years after moving to Russia, the promised freedoms were threatened. A new law now required the induction of German sons into the Russian army. This law alarmed the German people, and other problems soon developed.

In 1874, scouts were sent to America. The first Volga-German settlers arrived in Ellis County in the spring of 1876. They brought with them to America, their customs, traditions, heritage and faith. The following communities were established in Ellis County by these settlers: Antonino, Catherine, Emmeram, Herzog, Munjor, Pfeifer, and Schoenchen.



Information from the Ellis County Historical Society


Hours and Contacts

Monday,April 21 Forsyth will close at 10 pm because of no electricity

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

For current month(s) and detailed information, please select desired month under announcements (below).

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

   502 South Campus Drive
   Hays, KS 67601-4099