Coordinator's Report

2010 Annual Report -

During 2010, I established a Facebook page for the Frank-Kolb database. We currently have 225 fans. This has proved to be an excellent way to locate and communicate with Frank and Kolb descendants. The overseas GR community, especially the South American GRs, are very active on Facebook. The members of the group have shared their family photos and photos of their trips to Frank, along with asking and answering research questions. Several people who first contacted me via the Facebook page later joined AHSGR.

In addition to people finding us on Facebook, we receive queries via e-mail from people who find our e-mail addresses on the AHSGR web site. Clarence Kissler maintains a web page for Frank, and Gene Jenkins maintains the Rootsweb Mailing List for Frank, both of which generate queries on a regular basis. I continue to send out letters to new members listed in the AHSGR newsletter who report Frank or Kolb as their ancestral villages.

After my second full year of assisting Doris with Frank VC duties, we have arrived at a division of labor that has worked out quite well. All of the research requests initially come to me. I gather as much information as I can about what the person already knows about their family. I review what we already have in the database. In some cases, someone in their extended family has already submitted data and it is a simple matter of generating the person's ancestors reports. In most cases some work is involved in identifying their ancestors in the database and connecting the various lines of their family. I send all of the information I have gathered to Doris, who reviews my work and enters the new information in the database. Doris is also inputting all of the church and other records as we get them organized and translated.

A review of my e-mail archive for the last year indicates that I have received research requests from 72 Frank and Kolb descendants since my last report. This number does not include other Village Coordinators who have asked me to do Frank lookups for them and does not include all of the people that I ran reports for in person at the 2010 AHSGR convention. Most of the requests come from the United States, though I am receiving more and more requests from Germany, and occasional requests from South America. My limited German language skills have gotten a real workout over the last year.

I sometimes exchange a dozen or more e-mails with someone in the process of answering a query, resulting in roughly a thousand e-mails in my VC files for the last year. Once I identify how the person's family fits into the database, I can usually generate a complete ancestor chart for them, including several generations back into Germany. I have experimented with using the German language version of PAF in order to generate reports for the German language speakers and that has worked out well so far. We have a large collection of surname charts prepared by Dr. Pleve and we now have most of the church records from 1839 through 1910. There are a few uncommon surnames that have not been well researched, but for the most part I am able to eventually solve most people's research questions.

The main source of frustration that I encounter in answering queries is trying to help people whose ancestors were born in daughter colonies. There were a number of colonists who left Frank and nearby villages to go to the North Caucasus in the 1830s and 1840s. There are, to my knowledge, no church or census records that have been located for these North Caucasus towns. In addition, a number of Volga daughter colonies were formed with colonists from Frank and nearby villages. Brent Mai has translated the 1857 census' for Hoffental, Langenfeld, Neu-Yagodnaya, and Neu-Hussenbach, so now we have established which families went to these villages. Unfortunately, there is limited information available for most of these towns after the 1857 census. In most cases, this leaves me with only being able to tell someone that their ancestors likely came from Frank and that I can't make any other definite connections.

Most people are looking for help with genealogy research. I receive a few queries every year from people who are seeking living relatives in the United States. These kinds of queries are difficult because from a privacy standpoint, we don't share any information that we have about living people unless we can get in touch with those people and get permission. I did succeed in making one connection this year between an individual in Argentina and his relatives here in the U.S.

I never cease to be amazed at how forthcoming people are with information. I receive copies of photos, vital records, obituaries, parochial certificates, and entire family charts. We save digital copies of everything so that we have documentation of who provided what information. We also link the images to the database so that we can easily see if we have photos or documents for a particular family. The genealogy database itself, in PAF, currently contains 220,000 individuals who lived in Frank, their ancestors, spouses, and descendants.

Thank you to Dick Kraus for translating a paper by Ella Gieg entitled "Neue Erkenntnisse zur Auswanderung nach Russland 1766". This paper describes the German origins of various families who emigrated to the Volga from the Odenwald region of Germany. In modern Germany, this area is on the border of southern Hesse and northern Baden-Württemberg. The paper included German origin information for a number of Frank families, and has given us quite a lot of information to study and follow up on.

The Ella Gieg paper alerted me to the fact that numerous Frank families appear in the published transport lists (Brent Mai's "Transport of the Volga German Colonists"). I was able to locate about half of the families who settled in Frank on these lists. The Frank families appear primarily on the 4th and 9th transport lists.

Igor Pleve's long awaited Lists of Colonists to Russia in 1766 - Ivan Kuhlberg Reports arrived in our mailboxes a week before the 2010 AHSGR convention. Initially, I was able to find only about half of the Frank families in the book. Eventually, I did start to see a pattern emerge. Almost all of the first 31 families on the FSL arrived on two ships, on May 30 and 31, 1766. Almost all of the next 22 families in the FSL arrived on September 15, 1766. The remaining 64 families are scattered across a number of ships that arrived throughout the summer and fall of 1766, with most of them arriving on September 14, 1766. The interesting thing about the September 14th arrival is that there are 24 families from the same town in Germany - Gersfeld - all on the same ship and primarily going to Frank.

Now that I have the Kuhlberg Lists, the Transport Lists, and the First Settler's Lists together, I am thinking that Frank may have been settled in two stages. The first group would have been the individuals who arrived in Oranienbaum on May 30 and 31 of 1766 and are listed as the first 31 families in the FSL. None of them appear in the published transport lists. The second group would have been the individuals who arrived in Oranienbaum primarily on September 14 and 15 of 1766. Many of these individuals appear on the published transport lists. I suspect that the available transport lists reflect the transports of the colonists who arrived later in 1766. I would be interested to hear if anyone has seen any patterns in their village data that would confirm this.

The Volgograd church records are a work in progress. The long term goal is to have them all translated and indexed. In the short term, I have to page through them to locate a birth or marriage if I am missing information for a query. This can be tedious if I don't have an exact birth or marriage date. The quantity of data is overwhelming. There are more than 3,000 pages of church records. The number of records on each page varies, but my rough guess is that there are more than 40,000 records to be translated, indexed, and eventually made available in some way.

Another interesting item that came to my attention this year is data that appears on the web site of The Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Tyumen Region. The Ministry has started posting a listing of "Special Settlers" who have been "rehabilitated". The list includes not only Germans, but others who were repressed during Soviet times. It is apparently not a comprehensive list, but a list of only those families who have requested that they, or their ancestor, be "rehabilitated". The list now includes the first three letters of the Russian alphabet and part of the fourth. I was alerted to the existence of these lists by one of my cousins who lives in Tyumen. Thank you to Tanya Schell for helping me make this family connection.


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