Home > Exhibits & Events > Fort Collins 2016
Celebrating 250 Years of
Volga German Heritage

23 July 2016
Fort Collins, Colorado

Concordia University Bell Tower on the Campus Green
      To celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the first German colonies along the Volga River in Russia, the Center for Volga German Studies at Concordia University is hosting a seminar series on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado! This event is being co-hosted by the Archives & Special Collections Department of the Colorado State University Libraries.
      These seminars will feature the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the colonies of Dönhof and Messer.
      The Deines family whose original immigrant family settled in Dönhof will also be holding a Family Reunion during this event.
      The public is invited to attend.

Early Registration: $50 per person if you register before July 1.
Regular Registration: $65 per person for registration received after July 1 or at the door.
      [Early & Regular Registration include all programs, evening banquet, & dance.]

Dance Only: $10 per person (in advance or at the door).

To register & pay by credit/debit card, use the online form.

If you prefer to pay by check, print the Registration Form, and mail it along with your check (instructions are on the form). To qualify for the Early Registration rate, payment must be received by July 1.

If you have questions, please call Tanya at 503.493.6369.

[Note: There is no discount for partial attendance of this event. Notice of cancellation before 1 July 2016 will receive a full refund; after 1 July 2016 will receive no refund.]


CSU Lory Student Center
Lory Student Center
Registration and all sessions will be at the newly renovated Lory Student Center on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado (Campus Map).
      Physical address for GPS:
            599 South Drive
            Fort Collins, CO 80521

Parking: Lot 425 is the closest to the Lory Student Center (Parking Map).
Parking is free on the weekend.


      Dr. Brent Mai, Director of the Center for Volga German Studies at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, has spoken world-wide on many topics related to Volga German history and culture. Dr. Mai, whose father's side is Volga German, grew up in Western Kansas, graduated from Bethany College in Lindsborg, and continued graduate studies at George Washington University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Vanderbilt University.
Brent Mai
Brent Mai
      Terry Batt is a historian of Volga German music. He has done extensive research on both folk and religious music of the Volga Germans and has amassed an outstanding collection of samples of Volga German music. He not only collects Volga German music, but he plays and sings it as well. Terry grew up in Russell County, Kansas, and currently lives in Denver, Colorado.
Terry Batt
Terry Batt
      Linda Meyer earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in history at Colorado State University (CSU), and currently serves as archivist for the Agricultural and Natural Resources Archive (ANRA) at the CSU Libraries. In this role, she works to collect, preserve, and provide access to historical materials related to the agrarian heritage of the state. Included within the ANRA collections are documents, publications, and photographs related to the agricultural experiences of Volga Germans in northern Colorado.
Linda Meyer
Linda Meyer


Kenneth Rock, Professor Emeritus of History at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado is a Kansas native who received his B.A. from the University of Kansas and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University. His research and teaching interests have focused on the Habsburg Empire, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Germans from Russia immigration experience. He participated in the CSU Germans from Russia in Colorado Study Project in the 1970s and 80s, where he conducted oral history interviews now housed in the CSU Archives. Since 2006 he has been associated with the CSU International Center for German-Russian Studies, where he served as chair of the Center’s Academic Advisory Committee.

Kenneth Rock
Kenneth Rock
      Following a 30 year career as a teacher and administrator, Valerie Miller has devoted over three years to volunteering at the CVGS. Her paternal and maternal grandparents were born in the Volga region and immigrated to Oregon in the early 1900s. Valerie's ancestors hail from the colonies of Norka, Grimm, Merkel, Kratzke and Shcherbakovka.
Valerie Miller
Valerie Miller
      Mike Meisinger has been researching his German Russian ancestors for more than 40 years. He is vice president of the AHSGR Board of Directors, a member of the AHSGR Genealogy Committee, and village coordinator for the villages of Messer and Neu-Messer. Three of his mother's ancestors were Revolutionary War Soldiers, and through that heritage, he is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. He is a volunteer assistant at the National Archives in Kansas City, helping beginning genealogists get started with their Genealogical Research. His article “Finding Uncle Reavis” was published in the Missouri State Genealogical Association Journal in 2012.
Mike Meisinger
Mike Meisinger
      Gwen Meister served as Folk Arts Coordinator for the Nebraska Arts Council(NAC)from 1991-1994. While there she did numerous oral history interviews of traditional artists across the state and directed programs that highlighted Nebraska’s cultural treasures, including Dutch Hop. She holds an MA in cultural anthropology and an MBA from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She is currently the director of the Nebraska Folklife Network(NFN), a Lincoln non-profit organization that works with the NAC and Humanities Nebraska. The NFN serves as the state’s folk and traditional arts program and concentrates on folk arts in education and other traditional arts and oral history projects.
Gwen Meister
Gwen Meister
      Bob Schmer is band leader and accordionist in the River Boys, a prominent Dutch Hop band with members from both Colorado and Nebraska. Dutch Hop is the traditional social dance music of the Volga Germans and it traveled with them from Germany to Russia and on to the Great Plains region of the U.S. Bob has led Dutch Hop bands for more than 45 years and is a recipient of a 1994 Nebraska Governors Arts Award. The River Boys were featured in the American Folklife Center - Library of Congress Homegrown Concert Series in Washington DC during June 2006. Bob is employed as a sales agronomist in Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Bob Schmer
Bob Schmer
Schedule for Saturday 23 July

8:30 - 9:00 Registration and check-in
9:00 - 9:45 Introduction to Volga Germans and their Heritage
10:00 - 10:45 The Geography of the Volga Germans OR The Musical Heritage of the Volga Germans
11:00 - 11:45 Genealogical Resources for Volga Germans OR The Musical Heritage of the Volga Germans (continued)
11:45 - 1:15 Lunch on you own
1:15 - 2:00 Deines Family History OR The Volga German Deportation of 1941
2:15 - 3:00 Volga German Resources in the CSU Archives OR The History of Messer
3:15 - 4:00 The Volga Germans Today
4:15 - 5:00 Dutch Hop Roots: Music and Traditions in the North Platte Valley
5:00 - 6:00 Break
6:00 - 6:45 Banquet
6:45 - 7:30 The History of Dönhof
7:30 - 10:00 Dutch Hop Dance with "The River Boys" band

      In the evening there will be a banquet followed by a traditional Volga German Dutch Hop Dance led by The River Boys: Steve Deines, Bob Schmer, Jerry Hergenreder, & Joe Herman!!

      The Deines family that originally settled in Dönhof will be holding a family reunion during the event. This reunion will include Deines descendants that settled in Döhnof, Norka, Kratzke, Franzosen, Rosenberg, and Neu-Dönhof.
      If you are interested in holding other reunions for families from Dönhof or Messer, please contact Tanya at 503.493.6369 to discuss the possibilities.

Schedule for Sunday 24 July

9:00 - 1:00 Colorado White Gold Bus Tour

      Tour opportunity newsflash! Cheryl Glanz, of the Colorado Welcome Center, has graciously planned a wonderful bus tour for you from 9am-1pm on Sunday 7/24. The Colorado White Gold Tour will feature Volga German cultural and historical points of interest in the Fort Collins and Windsor area. Stops will include the FC Sugar Beet Factory and neighborhoods, Plummer School, a sugar beet farm, Windsor museum, WWII German POW campsite memorial and the Archives Annex. Park for free at CSU Lory Student Center in Engineering North lot. The bus will depart at 9am from the adjacent Transit Center, shuttle bus bay 4. The ½ day tour is just $25 and includes a German lunch! Space is limited, so please reserve your spot online today. Please let interested family and friends know, as they may join the tour even if they are not registered for the conference.
Hotels near Colorado State University
Hilton Fort Collins
425 W. Prospect Rd.
Telephone: 970.482.2626

Fort Collins Marriott
350 E. Horsetooth Rd.
Telephone: 970.226.5200

Quality Inn & Suites
4001 S. Mason St.
Telephone: 970.282.9047

Best Western University Inn
914 S. College Ave.
Telephone: 970.484.2984

Last updated 18 February 2016.