Rauchert Family - Historical Background

The Move from Poland to Russian Volhynia

Hundreds of thousands of Germans have lived in the vast Russian regions for hundreds of years. The largest concentrations were in the Volga River Region, the Black Sea region, Bessarabia, and Volhynia. Smaller settlements existed in the Baltic area near St. Petersburg and the Caucasus. Later, many of these same Germans were exiled to the east and thus have connections to Kazakhstan and Siberia.

Most of these Germans were LUTHERAN and MENNONITE. Other religions represented included JEWS, ROMAN CATHOLICS, BAPTISTS, REFORMED, and MORAVIAN. They had origins in many different German states. Some came from other east European countries like Poland and Hungary.

In VOLHYNIA, early German settlement was sporadic. One of the first colonies was at Koretz in 1783. A few Mennonite agricultural villages were established prior to 1793 but most of them moved on to the Black Sea region within a few decades. The first permanent settlement came in 1816 but significant migration into Volhynia did not occur until the 1830s. The migration to Volhynia occurred under vastly different circumstances than that to other parts of the Russian empire. Polish landlords who had retained land after the Russian occupation were looking for qualified farmers to develop and farm their land. No special privileges were extended to these immigrants except for that which could be provided by the local nobility. It was the shortage of land in their old homes that drove most of the Germans into this region. By 1860, there were only about 5000 in 35 small villages. Then, with the abolition of serfdom in 1861 and the failed Polish Insurrection of 1863, Germans began to flood into this area. By 1871, there were over 28,000 and by the turn of the century, over 200,000 lived in Volhynia. Most of them had come from Poland with a minority from Wuerttemberg, Pomerania, East Prussia, Silesia, and Galicia.

Volhynia Map showing JITOMIR (ZHITOMIR/SHITOMIR) source

Many Germans left Poland for Volhynia for their personal safety and because the Nobles of Volhynia were selling land to German farmers (in Poland it was often only leased). The reason the land became available was that the Russian Czar had freed the Ukrainian serfs in 1861 and the serfs left the land. However, since the land was too expensive for the serfs to buy, the result was lost income to the Nobles. By selling and leasing land to the German farmers, the Nobles profited and many new German villages were developed.

Russian politics changed dramatically over these 100 years and it wasn't long before the Germans starting losing the freedoms and privileges extended to them. The Mennonites were first to leave in large numbers. They were being forced to provide military service to the Russians so in the 1870s, thousands of them moved on to both North and South America.  In the 1890's and the first decade of the 1900's, Russia was a country seething with discontent and impatience for meaningful land reforms. During this period, the Russian Duma (Parliament) had continually changed land laws, which were aimed at confiscating land owned by German-Russians, especially in the province of Volhynia.

The Raucherts lived in a village/colony called Wolwachowka (alternate spellings Wolwachuwka/Wolvachufka/Wolwarkuwka/Wolabrechowka).
The Wolwachowka page

Maria's Brother August was Born in Walwachowka.

Surname Given Name Birth Day and Month Birth Year Event Place Father Mother Film or Item Page Number Register Remarks
Schlese August 22-Dec 1872 Wolwachuwka Johann Rapsch, Ernestine 1895621/1 301 141
From the Odessa Digital Library: St. Petersburg Lutheran Evangelical archives

Rauchert "Birth Certificate" Translation
The Province of British Columbia

To wit:-

I, Oscar Domke, do solemnly declare that the following is the full Translation of a document purporting to be a birth certificate of John Rauchert, of 12 mile south, Revelstoke, BC.

To Ferdinand Rauchert and his wife Maria (nee Schlese) are born children.

  1. Olga 4th May, 1900 year.
  2. Karolina, 1st April 1902 year.
  3. John, 25th March, 1904 year.

8th day of July, 1905. E. Feniger, Village of Wolvachufka

I have known John Rauchert for three years and believe him to be the party named in the aforementioned document.

And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing it to be true, and knowing that it is of the same force and effect as if made under oath and by virtue of the "Canada Evidence Act"

Declared before me at Revelstoke this 12th day of August, 1947.
BR Reynolds, A Commissioner for taking Affidavits for the Province of British Columbia

Note: The birth dates above have to be adjusted forward by 13 days in order to convert them from Julian Calendar dates to Gergorian Calendar dates which Russia did not adopt until January 31, 1918.

Additional Sources of Information

PEREPIS 1897 (1897 census) source
The 1897 census was the only universal census in tsarist Russia. It was conducted on January 28, in the middle of winter because this was the time when the population was least mobile. The census tabulated information on name, age, sex, relationship, social class, occupation, religion, native tongue, literacy, birthplace, military status, and disabilities. A copy was made locally and both copies were forwarded to the provincial census commission. One copy was kept by that commission and the other sent to the Central Census Bureau in St. Petersburg. The name lists of that copy have been thrown away but the statistical sheets have been kept. The local copy has survived in some regional archives. For example, the 1897 census for Ekaterinoslav is in Dnepropetrovsk.

The Ellis Island Odyssey

This section is part research and part narrative.  Family tradition says that the Raucherts arrived in North America through Ellis Island.  It was with great anticipation that I waited for the Ellis Island records to become available online. However, I was very disappointed to get no exact matches when I searched the records.  After discovering that Ellis Island records quite often contained misspelled names, I started to work through alternative spellings meeting with very little success. Until now.

Noting that you were able to scroll through the text listing of a ship's manifest once you were viewing an individual record, I hit upon a possible strategy to find my family records.  We were certain that they came to North America aboard the Kronprinz Wilhelm sometime during 1905 or 1906 after July, 1905. So, I did a search for a very common name (Miller) then narrowed the search to those Millers that arrived during 1905 or 1906 and finally those that arrived on the Kronprinz Wilhelm after July of 1905 (thankfully there were some).  After selecting one of the remaining records and scrolling through the ship's manifest for August 22, 1905,  I hit upon the record below and had one of those "Roots" moments (I found you, I found you).

Ellis Island Listing source

Of course, I almost immediately found a website that allows you to do searches against the Ellis Island database using any variation of factors in one step.   Also there was a link for finding images of the original microfilmed manifests listed below:

Kronprinz Wilhelm Manifest Listing source

Reduced Manifest Listing

The Ellis Island database misspells Rauchert as Ranchert and the ages of the family members seem a bit off.

Fredinand's Occupation is listed as a Farm Labourer and their Last Residence is listed as Wolwachowka (not Wolabrechowka as misspelled in the Ellis Island database).

Their Final Destination is to stay with Brother-in-Law Rudolf Henke in Fessenden, North Dakota.


The North Dakota Years

Wells County, ND, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Records source

In North Dakota the Raucherts stayed with Rudolf Henke near Fessenden before purchasing their own land.

HENKE RUDOLF 05 149 N 070 W 019 160 251101 - Homestead PA - Patent 4016 03/23/1901

Ward County, ND, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Records source

RAUCHERT FERDINAND 05 151 N 084 W 003 120 272002 - Sales Cash PA - Patent 30116 11/16/1908
RAUCHERT FERDINAND 05 151 N 084 W 003 40.27 272002 - Sales Cash PA - Patent 30116 11/16/1908

Map of Ward County Circa 1895 source
Map of Ward County Today
Map showing Douglas, Garrison and Minot

John Rauchert North Dakota School Picture (Front Right Clutching Pencil Case)

There is a newspaper article published in the Douglas Herald concerning John's excellent school work.

Newspaper Publishing History In North Dakota source

The first newspaper known to have been published in northern Dakota Territory was the Frontier Scout issued at Fort Union on July 7, 1864. Nine years later, The Bismarck Tribune published its trial run on July 6, 1873. This was soon followed by the Fargo Express, The Grand Forks Plaindealer, and The Jamestown Alert. Within a period of ten years one hundred and sixty newspapers were distributed throughout Dakota Territory, and by 1910 over three hundred and forty-four newspapers documented the hopes, dreams, and events of the developing state. The Brinton Newspaper Law of 1919 limited the number of newspapers publishing official notices. As a result, many newspapers were unable to survive on local community advertising. Other factors also entered into the demise of publications, and over two hundred newspapers ceased to circulate within a five year period. Presently, fewer than one hundred newspapers are published in North Dakota. 

State Historical Society of North Dakota Newspaper Holdings source

Douglas herald (Douglas, N.D.)
Douglas, N.D. : [s.n.]. 
Began in 1906; ceased Aug. 10, 1922. 
Published Weekly in English language. 
Other information: Absorbed: Roseglen journal.

Microfilm holdings (roll numbers, inclusive dates, missing issues): 
#01597+ - Dec. 13, 1907- July 21, 1910 
01598++- July 21, 1910- Aug. 17, 1916 (Missing: 1912: Mar.28-Apr.28, May 30-July 4; 1913: June 26-Aug.7, Sept.4-25) 
01599+ - Aug. 17, 1916- Aug. 26, 1920 
01600+ - Aug. 26, 1920- Aug. 10, 1922


Additional Sources of Information

1910 13th census of the United States (microfilm)



Local Histories

(JFR: Here I want to gather the text of various local histories that the Rauchert story appears in)

Here are a couple of citations found in the ALBERTA GENWEB Local History Book Index of Indexes.

RAUCHERT, F.; Freeway West; Wetaskiwin 
RAUCHERT, John; Packhorse to Pavement; Wetaskiwin


German Genealogy Websites