Joanne Campbell, President   

  Frank Santos, Editor


      (559) 229-828   info@ahsgrfr-centralcal.org

Website- ahsgrfr-centralcal.com

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On Saturday, January 27, 2024, we held our annual meeting at the Terraces at the San Joaquin Gardens with fifty-one members and family in attendance.

President Joanne Campbell gave a year in review report, Interim Treasurer Jim Deis gave a financial report, Frank Santos and Sharon Bowie gave a report on our preservation work and renewed affiliation with FamilySearch. Jim Deis also announced on a new initiative to remember those of our community who have served their country.

Erin Deis (Jim’s daughter) gave an excellent presentation opening with photos of the grand old architecture of the 1914 period in Fresno, and the prejudice faced by people of German descent during the war years. She then moved on to relating the story of what Germans in Russia went through from about 1900 forward to include revolts, revolution, and war. She wove personal family stories into an overview of the suffering of those who suffered through World War I. A particularly moving element of her presentation was a rendition of a 1915 poem written by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae and recited by Leonard Cohen titled “In Flanders Fields.” Please take the time to look it up and listen to it yourself. Each person in attendance was given a lapel pin “Lest we forget” calling on us to remember those who sacrificed all.

The 2024 CCC-AHSGR officers installed were: President Joanne Campbell, First Vice-President Jim Deis, Secretary Sharon Robinson, Treasurer Jim Deis (interim), Membership Chairman Marilyn Mc Donald, Librarian Tami Andersen, Publicity Chairman Alisa Rodriguez, Folklore/Museum Chairman Frank Santos, Newsletter Editor/Publisher Jim Lehman, Boutique Chairman Connie Coberly.

Photos taken at the meeting on several pages. 


ANNIVERSARIES – 1 Charles & Barbara Cate, Gerald & Charleen Bier, 5 David & Rebecca Keast, 13 Kelly & Tammy Morrison, 14 John & Catherine Kreutzer, Jacob & Karen Leisle, 20 Scott & Jayne Kramer, 26 Steven & Katherine Diebert, 29 David & Donna Flaherty

BIRTHDAYS – 5 Melinda Ryan, 3 Bill Clark, 7 Betty Ashley, 8 Richard Ransom, 10 Dennis Schroeder, Rebecca Keast, 12 James Horn, 13 Joan Zoldoske, 14 Beverly Burres, Jim Deis, Sandra Campos, 15 Alisa Rodriguez, Dale Deis, 20 Danae Zoldoske, 21 Don Mitchell, 23 Christine Bier, 15 Mary Walter, 26 Joe DeBillis, Betty Boos, 27 Janet Tennent, 28 Jim Duffield


PASSINGS – Margaret D. Seib - Margaret was born on November 30, 1923, in Fresno, California to Daniel Berg and Christina (Steitz) Berg. She went to her heavenly home 23 days after her 100th birthday on December 23, 2023.

Her grandparents were among the first group of Volga German immigrants to arrive in Fresno in 1887, and her father, Daniel Berg, was the first Volga German baby born in Fresno—part of Fresno history that she took great pride in sharing with her family. 


Margaret grew up on “F” Street in Fresno’s Germantown neighborhood. She served her country during           World War II as a real-life “Rosie the Riveter” working at Mare Island in Vallejo and for Rohr Aircraft in Fresno. After the war ended, she met John Seib. They married six months later on April 27, 1946. Margaret and John settled in Fresno, where they raised their three children: Virginia, Janice, and Jeffrey. They tragically lost their daughter Ginny at age 12. John passed in 1992.

She is survived by her daughter Jan Heffington (Steve), son Jeff Seib, and four grandchildren: Tracy Heffington, Lisa Heffington, Connor Seib (Jessica), and Madison Seib. She is also survived by sisters-in-law Charlotte Berg and Margaret Berg. The Seib family was featured in our July 2023 issue.


DONATIONS - Marilyn Johnson. Diana Bell in memory of Larry Stump and Richard Durpinhaus 

Veterans 2024: A Video Display

Honor and Celebrate the Military Service of Germans from Russia

The purpose of the display will be to honor the veterans and their contributions to the United States military and to educate the public about the history of Germans from Russia in the United States. The project aims to identify and honor veterans who served in the United States military, beginning with the earliest settlers to the U.S.A. and continuing to today. 

An ad hoc committee will conduct the Veterans 2024 project through a questionnaire published in the organization's newsletter, electronic newsletter, and website (www.aghgrfr-centralcal.com).

The questionnaire will collect information about the veterans' names, branches of service, dates of service (Mandatory), service location, rank, awards and decorations, and photographs or documents related to military service (Optional). 

We aim to unveil the video display and publication by the chapter planned for Veteran's Day 2024.

The chapter will conduct the project in compliance with all legal, moral, and ethical standards for data collection and privacy protection.

If you wish to be part of the ad hoc team that creates this homage to our veterans, call or text Jim Deis at 559.907.8771 or email at jim.deis1@gmail.com.



Remembering George Steinhauer: A Fresno Native Who Died in the Battle of Anzio

Shared by Susan K. Hendricks

My uncle was George Steinhauer. He was born in Fresno, CA, in 1919. He spent part of his high school years in Santa Barbara with his family. You can read his story in the biography of his mother, Amelia "Millie" Dunn Steinhauer, for his funeral book. It was with a sad heart that I read about the Battle of Anzio. This was a surprise attack by the Allies on January 22, 1944. At first, we were winning -- but soon we were slammed by the Nazis -- Germany & Italy. My uncle was killed nine days later, on January 31, 1944. More than 4,400 American soldiers were killed! It was a long battle, and the Allies finally turned it around -- winning and leading to winning in Rome on June 5, 1944.The beginning of the end! D day was the next day. 


George Steinhauer-1943

My dad was there in Rome. However, George's family did not know he was missing until March 15, 1944. It wasn't until 1949 that the body was found in a cemetery there and brought back for burial in the Liberty    Cemetery, Fresno, CA, on November 19, 1949. A letter was sent to the family --- at first from President Roosevelt and later from President Truman. 


They say Grandma Steinhauer was so proud to be the first of their family to be born in the USA! She belonged to the Golden West's Gold Star Mothers & Native Daughters. 

I honor my uncle, George Steinhauer, for his bravery and sacrifice! 

Thank you to Susan K. Hendricks for sharing this article. This article is a sample of what might be possible for YOU to do for the Veterans 2024: Honor and Celebrate the Military Service of Germans from Russia project.


We don’t expect everyone to have as much detail and information as Susan was able to produce. However, the name, armed service, and dates served are a great start and the minimum needed to produce the final project next fall.

George Steinhauer-1943

Letter from

President Harry Truman

Letter from

President Franklin Roosevelt

Purple Heart awarded posthumously to Private George Steinhauer in 1945



Germans from Russia Library and Museum

3233, E. WEST AVENUE, FRESNO, CA 93705.

A Non-Fiction book found in our Library. A review by Frank Santos

Memories of Kazakhstan – A Report of the Life Experiences of a German Woman in Russia –

 by Berta Bachmann

Mrs. Bachman shares her life experience as a German Russian born in Ukraine whose family was separated by the communists under Stalin during the war years. Guided by the strength of her mother, it tells how she and her younger brother endured the forced labor camps when exiled to Kazakhstan. She reveals that even in the worst of circumstances she maintained a strong will and deep faith, and later marries a highly devoted pastor.

Even after the war ended, they were not free to move away from the camps as she recalls “on March 20, 1972, we left Moscow and thereby the land which had been home for us and our ancestors for almost two hundred years, indeed a beloved and happy home until the revolution of 1917.

Translated and Published by the AHSGR, Lincoln Nebraska 1983


Why must our chapter activity pursue a preservation program focusing on our local area? Because we are the only ones who can capture the history of our ancestors, i.e. our families, who first arrived in Fresno from Russia beginning in 1887. The national AHSGR has done a tremendous job in facilitating research and documentation of our people who traveled from the German states to Russia and leaving Russia for various locations around the world. They have printed an overview of the arrival of GR immigrants in our area which can be read in their publication Work Papers #14 printed in April 1974. It is doubtful that they will ever be able to compile a narrative of the experience of those original Fresno settlers and their descendants, simply because the scope of their main effort is so broad. Therefore, if the history of our local founding immigrant families and succeeding generations is to ever be documented it will be up to us to do it.

Look at it from the perspective of future generations of descendants trying to do their ancestral research. You don’t magically jump back and start your research in the German states of the early to mid-1700’s or even in Russia. As we know from creating family trees, we start with ourselves and work backwards to our parents and then our grandparents, and then great grandparents, etc. By doing this, we travel from our local communities to our immigrant communities, then we jump back to Russia. Once in a Russian village, we again trace our family lines back to the German states.

It is our job to build the road that our descendants can follow back to Russia and eventually back to the German states. To do this we must capture as much information as possible about generations of our families in our own local area. Who were they, when and where were they born, baptized, married, who were their children, and when did they pass? How did they earn their living, where did they live and worship, where did they go to school? In the broader scope, how was their community founded, where it was located, how did they build their own support systems, how did they eventually become leaders of their larger community? Knowledge of all this is necessary if we truly want to document our common past for generations to come. This is why we must work to preserve the common history of our local area.


Given our arrival in 1887 in the greater Fresno area, many of us are now third or fourth-generation descendants of original settlers. Fewer and fewer of us come from families where both parents are full GRs. Unfortunately, in today’s modern world, children and grandchildren don’t feel a tie to the past, to the extent that when the older generations pass, important records of their lives are often thrown aside to be lost forever. The role our chapter plays in the preservation of our history is that we strive to collect and preserve old documents, records, photos, and memorabilia dated 1887 and after. We must also be mindful that one day we will be just memories to future generations so we must also document and preserve our current records of ourselves.


Have you documented your family history? Do you know where your paternal and maternal lines came from? Do you know when they came to this country and how? Do you know what your grandmother’s maiden name was or what her mother’s maiden name was? Do you have old documents and photos of generations past? Are they properly preserved to help withstand time? Have you made an electronic copy of these? Have you written grandparents and great-grandparents? If you haven’t documented their life story about your memories of your parents' story, how will your children and the following generation know anything about them? Don’t allow your children and grandchildren to say one day, “I wish they would have told me while they were still alive.” Have you considered taking a DNA test, not for yourself but for those who follow? The nature of DNA testing is that the oldest living family member is the best person to test to reveal family lines. 


We are continuing to move forward with our preservation programs. We have our new acquisition of the Cross Church Altar in our building. We have done an initial inventory of the remaining original Cross Church records, and we will be beginning a new inventory of our collection with attached photos of items; we are redesigning our internal preservation storage area to house some of our most cherished documents in a safer environment, we are continuing with our in-house scanning program, and we are rearranging our library (both the scanning collection and our library book collection are being added to a searchable database), as the inventory moves forward we will be recording exactly where each item can be found in our overall collection storage plan. All of this is being done to ensure our history, culture, documents, photos, and artifacts are preserved for our children, grandchildren, and those who follow.


 In 1989, our CCC-AHSGR entered into an agreement with FamilySearch to copy some of our local records and make them publicly available on FamilySearch.org. website. Some of the records copied were our obituary files, county birth, marriage, and death records, Petition for Naturalization records, and more. In 2014, we again entered discussions to have more of our records copied, but we could not move forward due to FamilySearche’s scheduling. We have once again been in contact with FamilySearch and will be moving forward soon, allowing them to come in and photograph more of our records. While we will continue with our in-house scanning project for certain types of material, working with FamilySearch will ensure our greater collection of unique local documents will live on into the future, even in the event a catastrophe strikes our building.



Past Chapter President Larry Metzler recently presented us with an original Jacob Legler ledger book from 1892. This ledger helps piece together the beginnings of the Cross Church and our community. It lists the original members of the church, their villages, and their families. This ledger will be copied and preserved in our Cross Church collection.


For the last several months, our museum has been in a complete state of disarray due to the need to spread the new Cross Church record collection out for an initial inventory. During our recent Schmeckfest we had old issues of the National AHSGR publications of Work Papers, Journals and Clues displayed allowing members to take them home. The remaining issues have been re-boxed. This work has allowed us to put our museum back in order. While we will continue working on various projects, our museum is now open.


Secured in our storage area are two large volumes, once contained in a safe located in the H.P. Steitz and Sons store in Fresno. We understand the vault was considered a secure place where the local GR community could put their important documents. When the business closed, the unclaimed contents of the safe were saved. Sometime after that, the miscellaneous papers were mounted in these volumes. Following is a partial list that shows the diversity of items contained therein: loan for a 1919 Ford pickup, many deeds, real estate and mortgage contracts, building permits, personal loan papers, cemetery plot purchases, Fresno City and County tax records, many life insurance policies, county welfare allotment papers, Declaration of Intent for citizenship, passports, paperwork for the “Steitz Steamship Agency,” Mercantile Safe Burglary Insurance policy, wills, a confirmation certificate for Peter Steitz dated 1875, stock ownership certificate for the General Publishing Company, vaccination certificates, Stock certificate from the California Associated Raisin Company, and membership certificate to the California Raisin Exchange. In addition to the mounted documents, there is also a storage bag containing other documents.


Son of H. P. Steitz Sr. 1852-1931 and Catherine Barbara Steitz, geb Nillmeier 1855-1934. H.P. Steitz occupation on a 1905 passport was “Steamer Owner.”

From – Paul E. Vando. 1919. HISTORY OF FRESNO COUNTY Biographical Sketches of “The Leading Men and Women of the County Who have been Identified with its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present.” Vol. II, page 2270.


“A businessman who now presides over large affairs and who has been successful since he cast his lines in Fresno and who is deeply interested in the Growth and development of the county, is H. P. Steitz, Jr., who was born at Skadofksy, Samara, Russia on June 29, 1875, the son of H. P. Steitz, who was a farmer there, who married Catherine Elizabeth Doos, and brought his wife and four children to Fresno in 1891. For some years, he followed a business career and is now a Deputy County Assessor. He is also engaged in the real estate business, and his wife enjoys life with him at their Lilly Avenue home.

H.P. Steitz Jr., is the oldest of the family, and was so well educated at the public and higher schools in his native land that he studied English at Saratof. This quickened his interest in the New World, and he was quite wide-awake when he arrived in Fresno on December 12, 1891. He attended night school for a time and then leased, with his father as a partner, the Dr. Mukes vineyard. Later he worked for wages at viticulture, and next went to Del Rey and set out a vineyard for Mr. Nutting, receiving for his labor the title to twenty acres. He is a stockholder in the California Associated Raisin Company.

 On July 1, 1895, Mr. Steitz was married to Miss Eliza Schwabenland, also a native of Russia. He owns a comfortable residence at 2030 California Avenue as well as other valuable city property; and eight children enjoy with their devoted parents the blessings of an American home. They are Edward, Leo, William, and Ida, all of whom assist the father in the business, and Meda, Albert, Elma, and Allen.

After devoting himself to viticulture for many years, Mr. Steitz, on December 24, 1909, began his mercantile career, opening a general merchandise business on South F Street under the firm name of Kinzel & Steitz. In January 1919, however he sold out his interest to his partner and later built his new store at 2038 California Avenue. He has a floor space of 66 x 100 feet in size, and the firm is known as H.P. Steitz and Sons, his three sons now sharing the partnership.

Mr. Steitz is a member of the Free Cross Lutheran Church of Fresno, in which he has been a trustee. He is a member of the Eagles.”

H. P. Steitz Jr. was also an active community leader and an officer in the Volga Relief Society.

H.P. Steitz Jr. is above the red arrow. The building was on California and Lily. It later became the home of People’s Furniture.

Humorous Sayings of Our Forefathers    

 Compiled and collected by: Marie Christine Roth, Formerly Yeager nee Preis, and G. Raymond Schwabenland

If he doesn’t go, then give him a shovel.

One has the purse, The other has the money.

The shoemaker and the tailor, and the worst clothes.


One of the fiction books in our CCC-AHSGR Library: Review by Connie Coberly.


THE LAND THEY POSSESSED - By Mary Worthy Breneman


This work of fiction is about life on the prairie of the Dakota Territory in the years 1885 through 1894.The main characters in the book aren’t German from Russia, but the story is about the interactions between them and the new immigrants, the Roosians. John Ward, the father of this family comes to Dakota to make his fortune. When he’s doing well, he praises the plains, but when weather and other factors cause failures of crops or people let him down, he moves on. He and his wife disapprove of their daughter’s friendship with a “Roosian” girl. The parents consider the Germans from Russia to be uncivilized and strange, but when the Roosians take on a farm or business they stay and work hard until they succeed. By the end of the book, they own more property and businesses because they hold on and don’t run away from failing, but just work harder.


The part of the book that was scary was the savage weather, both cold and stormy. They prepared for it the best they could, but a tornado could show up with so little warning they lost both crops and people to its fierceness. Another part that was sad and disturbing was the prejudice against this group of immigrants. It was partly because they were so different and didn’t speak English, but also because they succeeded in making their farms profitable when others gave up. The daughter learns to appreciate the German from Russian culture because of her friendship with the German from Russia girl.


The book gives us a good look into what life was like for our ancestors and the hardships they had to endure to thrive in this new land.  


Normal Office Hours – TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY – 11:00 am to 3:00 pm or by appointment.

February -3rd AHSGR Board Meeting 10:00 am to – open noon to 3:00 pm.

17th Varenicks demonstration class – 10:00 am

Members are welcome to attend our monthly Board meetings.

2024 CalendarThis is a tentative calendar for the year 2024. Dates of events are subject to change. Refer to your monthly Newsletter for up-to-date listings of events.

Just so you know, due to a lack of interest, we will not be open for visitors on Saturdays in 2024, except for those Saturdays when other events are scheduled, or a special appointment has been made.

March - 2nd AHSGR Board Meeting 10:00 am to – open noon to 3:00 pm.

23rd Kuchen demonstration class – 10:00 am

April – 6th AHSGR Board Meeting 10:00 am to – open noon to 3:00 pm.

20th Blina demonstration class 10:00 am

May - 4th AHSGR Board Meeting 10:00 am to – open noon to 3:00 pm.

18th Mother’s Day lunch (more information coming)

June - 1st AHSGR Board Meeting 10:00 am to – open noon to 3:00 pm.

July - 13th AHSGR Board Meeting 10:00 am to – open noon to 3:00 pm.

August - 3rd AHSGR Board Meeting 10:00 am to – open noon to 3:00 pm.

7th – 10th National AHSGR Convention in Oklahoma

September - 7th AHSGR Board Meeting 10:00 am to – open noon to 3:00 pm.

21st Oktoberfest

October - 5th AHSGR Board Meeting 10:00 am to – open noon to 3:00 pm.

19th or 26th Special event

November - 2nd AHSGR Board Meeting 10:00 am to – open noon to 3:00 pm.

December - 7th AHSGR Board Meeting 10:00 am to – open noon to 3:00 pm.

8th – 13th Open House

14th Schmeckfest

You can register for the cooking demonstration classes by calling our office at (559) 229-8287.

PRESIDENTS REPORT February 2024 by Joanne (Ruby) Campbell

Greetings Everyone! Even though it’s winter and it looks like plant life is dormant, in agriculture, this is a time to prepare and nourish the soil for the new season. This seems to be the case at the library as we have gone through some busy times, and it looks a little quiet. We are, however, continuing to make progress in our building and process improvements. With the addition of new shelving in the garage, we are moving closer to seeing a new preservation system. This is necessary to ensure the security of our collections.

The Board Members began the process of reviewing the By-Laws and our Job Descriptions. This is a lengthy process and has generated many discussions at the library as we analyze past, current, and future needs. We hope to come to an agreement this coming year.

Some board members have had to take on additional duties due to vacancies. While positions are being filled on an interim basis, we need members to step forward to fill the positions of treasurer and newsletter editor.

In October, our newsletter editor asked if any of the Board Members would write an article about our culture and our experiences growing up as a first- or second-generation German from Russia. Several of us submitted articles. Jason Summerville from National requested that Connie Coberly’s article be published in the National Newsletter. Congratulations to Connie! Thank you for the fine article! You had such wonderful memories to share!

Our Grant Application for $8,500 was submitted and accepted for review on January 10th by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The N.E.H. will announce the winning proposal in August.  Writing for the grant included a network of emails, Zoom meetings, phone calls, texting, drafting, writing, editing, and connecting with National Endowment for the Humanities staff for guidance. The team was led by Diane Bates with support from Sharon Bowie, Jim Deis, and Tami Anderson. If accepted, we will focus on the following:

 General Preservation Assessment: Engaging qualified consultants to conduct a preservation and space-us assessment, forming the foundation for strategic planning. The Preservation Assessment package we hope to purchase with this grant is focused on environmental conditions. It also includes a one-half day hands-on training for staff with the focus on the results of the assessment. 

Archival Supplies:  Procuring necessary archival storage supplies and environmental monitoring equipment recommended to enhance the protection and longevity of the collections. The supplies requested at the budget have been recommended by the General Preservation Assessment Consultants based on both their discussions with CCC-AHSGR staff and a pre-assessment visit to the museum that took place in October 2023.

At our last Board Meeting it was decided to continue working with FamilySearch, as begun during Dave Foth’s term as president of our chapter. Here at the library, as in any place, we are subject to many incidents which could be hazardous to our collections and waste the efforts of our founders to research and preserve our past. FamilySearch gives researchers, far and wide, who are interested in their Germans from Russia heritage with free access to genealogical information from our greater Fresno area. In accordance with our By-Laws, we are charged to research, preserve, archive, and share our history and heritage.



Sunflower Artist: Shannon Bickford