Home > Exhibits & Events > Leavenworth, Washington 2016
The Journey Begins for the Founders of Yagodnaya Polyana: A Sesquicentennial Celebration
27-29 April 2016
Best Western Icicle Inn
Leavenworth, Washington
Concordia University Bell Tower on the Campus Green
            To celebrate the Sesquicentennial Anniversary (1766-2016) of "Yagada" Volga German families migration from Germany to Russia, the Center for Volga German Studies at Concordia University is hosting a conference in Leavenworth, Washington! The founding families of the colony of Yagodnaya Polyana, often called more simply "Yagada," left Germany in the late summer of 1766, headed for an unknown future on the steppes of Russia. What a journey! Featured presenter will be Dr. Richard Scheuerman of Seattle Pacific University who, among other things, will host an interview with HRH Tzarina Catherine the Great herself!

      The public is invited to attend.


Early registration: $95 per person (registration received by 1 April 2016)
Regular registration: $125 per person (registration received after 1 April 2016)

Registration includes all programs over the 3 days along with banquets on both Wednesday & Thursday evenings (Thursday lunch is on your own). There is no discount for partial attendance of this event. Notice of cancellation before 1 April 2016 will receive a full refund; after 1 April 2016 will receive no refund.

Registration for this event is capped at 155 and is SOLD OUT.

If you have questions, please call Tanya at 503.493.6369.


Icicle Inn
Icicle Inn - Leavenworth
Registration and all sessions will be in the Enchantment Ball Room on the Ground Floor of the Best Western Plus Icicle Inn in Leavenworth, Washington.

            505 Highway 2
            Leavenworth, WA 98826

Parking: There is free parking on-site.

Hotel Accommodations

Special $109 rate (plus tax) is available at the Best Western Plus Icicle Inn, 505 Highway 2, Leavenworth, WA 98826. To make a reservation, call 1-800-558-2438 and ask for the CNC/AHSGR rate.

Nearby hotels include:

Howard Johnson Express Inn

Der Ritterhof

Fairbridge Inn & Suites

Silent Auction

      There will be a silent auction during this event. Special thanks go to Connie Lust Taylor, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, for coordinating the Silent Auction. All procedes from the silent auction will go to the Center for Volga German Studies document acquisitions fund. The auction will be held from 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27, until 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 28. Items won during the auction may be paid for and picked up beginning at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, following the Harvest Heritage Banquet.

Following is a final schedule of programs:
Wednesday, 27 April 2016
12:00 noon - Registration Opens
Welcome!! Pick up your registration materials beginning at noon. Your name tag will be your ticket to all events, so keep track of it!
Berry Meadow Logo
Yagodnaya Polyana
"Berry Meadow"

1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. - Genealogy Resources for Volga Germans
Presenter: Dr. Brent Mai, Beaverton, Oregon
Dr. Mai will take a look at the resources available to help you research your Volga German ancestors. He will begin with documents that trace the voyage to Russia, the various censuses that are available from 1767 to 1900, and records available for the Volga German parishes in Russia.
Brent Mai
Brent Mai

2:00 p.m. - Silent Auction Begins


2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. - Genealogy Workshop & Welcome Reception
Research Assistants: CVGS volunteers
Along with Dr. Mai, a group of trained volunteers from the Center for Volga German Studies at Concordia University will be available to work with you individually to answer questions about your family's Volga German genealogy. For those not so interested in genealogy, this is a good time to renew acquaintenances and make new friends over a drink of your choice and snacks.

6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. - Break


7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. - An Interview with Catherine the Great
Opening Prayer: Marvin Schnaible, Puyallup, Washington
Presenters: Jean Roth, Seattle, Washington, & Dr. Richard Scheuerman, Richland, Washington
Following a Northwest buffet dinner (baby back ribs, chicken, salmon, hot buttered corn, baked beans, tossed field greens, potato salad, apple slaw, cornbread with honey-butter, & fresh fruit), Dr. Scheuerman will interview Catherine the Great [in English]. Catherine's handlers have assured us that no topic is "off limits" and Dr. Scheuerman is prepared to ask questions about politics, history, her relationship with the Volga Germans, other "relationships," military expansion, economics, and other subjects. This program will prove to be a highlight of the conference!
Catherine the Great
Catherine the Great
Thursday, 28 April 2016

8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. - Welcome and Introduction to the Volga Germans
Presenter: Dr. Brent Mai, Beaverton, Oregon.
Some people know a lot about their Volga German heritage while others know very little. Dr. Mai will begin the conference with an overview of our unique heritage as Volga Germans. That way we will all be on the same page as we begin to delve into the presentations for the rest of the conference.
Brent Mai
Brent Mai
9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. - "Yagaders" : Where Did They Come From?
Presenter: Herb Femling, Vancouver, Washington
Approximately 95% of the Volga Germans can trace their families back to German villages in Hessen and the Palatinate in what is today southwestern Germany. Through years of research, Herb Femling has located the ancestral German villages for many of the Volga Germans who settled in Yagodnaya Polyana. Herb will explain his research and share his findings!
10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. - A Visit to the Origins of our Ancestors
Presenter: Jean Roth, Seattle, Washington
Following on Herb's identification of the ancestral villages of the settlers of Yagodnaya Polyana, Jean Roth visited many of these German villages. She will share photos of the places from which many of the settlers in Yagodnaya Polyana left in 1765.
Jean Roth
Jean Roth

11:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. - Break


11:15 a.m. - Noon - The Journey to Russia
Presenter: Dr. Richard Scheuerman, Richland, Washington
The founding families of Yagodnaya Polyana sailed from the German port city of Lübeck and arrived in the Russian port of Oranienbaum. They came on several different ships, each arriving in Oranienbaum over just a few days. Aboard the galliot "Die Perle" under the command of Skipper Thomson were the families of Rausch, Appel, Konschuh, Scheuermann, Leinweber, Litzenberger, Beutel, Asmus, Dippel, Fischer, Fuchs, Schneidmüller, Stürtz, Keberlein, Reich, and Flach. Aboard the galliot "Citadel" under the command of Midshipman Grigory Bukharin were the families Holstein, Lust, Morasch, and Völker. The Pfaffenroth and Götz families arrived the following day, 14 September 1766; and on the 15th arrived the Hergert and Görlitz families along with more families of Schneidmüller & Völker. What an exciting journey - all destined to settle together, first in Yagodnaya Polyana and 120 years later in other far away places like Colfax & Endicott, Washington, Pine Island, New York, Preston, Maryland, and Calgary, Alberta.
Richard Scheuerman
Richard Scheuermann

Noon p.m. - 2:00 p.m. - Lunch
Lunch is on your own (not included with registration fee). There are dozens of wonderful German restaurants off the central square in Leavenworth. There are also other ethnic restaurants as well. The square is about a 15 minute walk from the Icicle Inn, but there is also plenty of parking on the square if you want to drive.
Leavenworth, Washington
Downtown Leavenworth

2:00 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. - History of Berry Meadow
Presenter: Dr. Brent Mai, Beaverton, Oregon
Yagodnaya Polyana, which in Russian means "berry meadow," was founded on 16 September 1767 by 80 families (269 men, women, & children) from southwest Germany. It grew to be one of the larger Volga German colonies with a population over 9,000. The village still exists today, although its German inhabitants have been gone for almost 75 years. During this session, we'll take an indepth look at what is known about this colony and how it has changed over the past almost 250 years.
Brent Mai
Brent Mai
2:45 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Our Canadian Cousins
Presenter: Marlene Michel, Keoma, Alberta
Many immigrants from Yagodnaya Polyana settled in the Bridgeland/Riverside neighborhoods of Calgary in Alberta. Marlene Michel has recently published a book detailing the history of this settlement and will share what she uncovered during her research about the many churches, people, and homes of our ancestors.
Presenter TBD
Marlene Michel

3:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. - Break


3:45 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. - The Geography of the Volga Germans
Presenter: Dr. Brent Mai, Beaverton, Oregon
The treck of the Volga Germans around the world creates an interesting study in geographic adaptability. We'll take a look at that journey as well as the changing topography of the Volga Region itself.

Brent Mai
Brent Mai

4:45 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. - Culinary Traditions of the Volga Germans
Presenter: Sandra Scheierman Stelter, Vulcan, Alberta
Foodways are one of the strongest attachments we have to the culture of our ancestors. Sandra Scheierman Stelter whose ancestors come from the colony of Yagodnaya Polyana will share her knowledge of Volga German culinary traditions and share some baked samples made from Turkey Red wheat flour!

Sandra Stelter
Sandra Stelter

5:45 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. - Sing-a-long
Presenter: Thomas Tilton, Leavenworth, Washington
Music was an important part of German-Russian culture. Thomas Tilton plays the accordion with the group Alpenfolk. He will lead us in rounds of authentic German and Austrian tunes.

Thomas Tilton
Thomas Tilton

6:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. - Break


7:00 p.m. - Silent Auction Closes


7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. - An Enduring Legacy: Meaning and Relevance among the Germans from Russia in North America
Opening Prayer: The Rev. John Hergert, Holden Village, Washington
Presenters: Dr. Richard Scheuerman, Richland, Washington, and Mike Lust, Republic, Washington
Following a delicious German dinner (Bratwurst, German sausage, Boneless pork loin, sauerkraut, German potato salad, apple slaw, fresh fruit, & rolls), Palouse Country natives and "Berry Meadow" descendants Richard Scheuerman and Mike Lust will share insights regarding "Why do we remember this story? What are its lessons of its trials and triumphs for folks like us in the twenty-first century? How might the next generation benefit from what we are commemorating this year?
Richard Scheuerman
Richard Scheuerman

9:00 p.m. - 9:15 p.m. - Memorial Tribute
Presenters: Dr. Richard Scheuerman, Richland, Washington, assisted by Robert Smick, Spokane, Washington, and Jerine Bafus Grey, Endicott, Washington
A tribute to the original immigrant group to Yagodnaya Polyana whose travels we are commemorating.
Friday, 29 April 2016

8:30 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. - Volga Germans of South America
Presenter: Dr. Brent Mai, Beaverton, Oregon
Volga Germans began immigrating to Argentina & Brazil in 1874, the same time that they began immigrating to North America. During this presentation, Brent will provide a glimpse into the settlements of our cousins in the southern hemisphere.

Brent Mai
Brent Mai

9:15 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. - Büdingen: The Gathering Place
Presenter: Jean Roth, Seattle, Washington.
The were several "gathering points" for the Germans leaving for Russia in the 1760s. Jean Roth will give us a glimpse into the small German village of Büdingen and the important role that it played as one of these gathering points for many families immigrating to the Volga.
Jean Roth
Jean Roth

10:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. - Break


10:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. - 1941 Deportation: The Trek to Siberia
Presenter: Dr. Brent Mai, Beaverton, Oregon.
On 28 August 1941, a government decree abolished the Autonomous Republic of the Volga Germans and banished the German population of the area to Siberia. When our ancestors came to North and South America, many of our relatives remained in Russia and were subject to this deportation decree. What happened to them? Where did they go, and how did they get there?
Brent Mai
Brent Mai
11:15 a.m. - Noon : Council of Northwest Chapters
Convener: Charles Saranto, Touchet, Washington
The Council of Northwest Chapters (CNC) of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR) will hold its semi-annual business meeting.
Charles Saranto
Charles Saranto
Last updated 25 April 2016.