The term "Bukovina-German" refers to German Swabian, Bohemian, and Zipser emigrants who settled in Bukovina, a southeastern region of Austria-Hugary about two hundred years ago. After a century of farming in Bukovina, Swabian Lutherans left from Illischestie and Tereblestie and Catholic Bohemians left from Furstenthal and Buchenhain (Poiana-Mikuli) and to find new land and new opportunities in northwestern Ellis, eastern Trego, and southwestern Rooks counties in western Kansas.

Preparation for the trip to the United States involved a lot of work for the immigrants. New clothing had to be made, food prepared for the journey, much thought and planning were required. The families took trains from their villages to central Germany and then on to ports where they boarded ships for the trans-Atlantic journey. When they arrived in New York or Galveston, they would again board trains that would take them to their new homes in Ellis, Kansas. My 3rd great-grandfather Jakob Ast arrived in 1888, my 2nd great-grandfather Christian Konig arrived in 1892 as part of the early settlers.

I hope with this page to help preserve the heritage and history of these people. This is more than genealogy, what a person is and who they are, is his or her history. It is important to know who the Bukovina-Germans were and where they are today. What were their lives like? What was the reason behind their emigration from Germany to Bukovina? and why some 100 years later did they emigrate again, this time into the United States?

German Roots

Where did these Bukovina-Germans come from and why? To answer this it is important to know a little about the land called Bukovina. Bukovina lies on the outer eastern curve of the Carpathian mountains in southeastern Europe. It's recorded history starts in the 13th century with the disintegration of the Cuman Tartar Empire. The area became an important border of Moldavia around the year 1514. By the year 1775 it had been annexed by Austria and was used as a land bridge linking Transylvania and Galicia. Originally the area was known as "Austrian Moldavia. The name Bukovina can be credited to General Karl Baron von Enzenberg, 2nd military governor of the area. He renamed the land "Bukovina" which is Polish, Buko_v_ina means land of the beech (trees) Buk is beech (tree); -vina is a suffix meaning land of.

Austria's empress, Maria Theresa, then began to recruit german colonists whom she expected to facilitate economic development and to aid in defending the area from any external aggressors. German farmers were invited by her to settle in Bukovina. In 1780 the Patent of Toleration and in 1782 the Patent of Settlement, promised to eligible immigrants benefits such as free transportation, a house with garden, fields and animals. Also, exemption from taxation for the first 10 years of residency, exemption from military service for the eldest son of the family and complete freedom of conscience and religion. Immigrants came from many different parts of Germany. Three regions have been identified, 1) southwestern Germany, which includes the Swabian regions of the Palatinate and Wurttemberg as well as the Rhineland; 2) German Bohemia; 3) the Zips district in upper Hungary, which is now identified as Spis in Slovakia. My ancestors primarily came from Wurttemberg and Rhineland.

After arriving in Bukovina the Germans were directed to "Fratautz", this is were they received directions to the already existing Romanian or Ukrainian communities in which they were to live. The farmers were given about 12 hectares of farm ground, a wooden home with outbuildings, livestock, farm implements, and advances on seed grain. Ten families originally destined for Itzkany were redirected to Illischestie when it was learned that homes were not ready in Itzkany. Ten families, 29 men and 32 women, were joined three weeks later by 2 more families. These twelve families occupied farms that for the next 150 years lined the "Zwolfergasse" or the "Street of the Twelve", forming the nucleus of a closely-knit German community.

I want to thank Irmgard Hein Ellingson for her dedicated effort to detail the lives of these people in her book "The Bukovina German in Kansas: A 200 year history of the Lutheran Swabians". She is also responsible for the translation from the original German of Johann Christian Dressler's book "Illischestie, A rural parish in Bukovina: Primary Source Material for Family History", a true labor of love. Without her dedicated work and talents the history of these people would not have been easily available to share with their descendants. To you Irmgard Hein Ellingson:



I began my researching into my family tree with my mothers family lines, the Bukovina-Germans. I knew nothing of these people but I did have a name to input into a seach engine "Bukovina" This led me to this page: Bukovina Society of the Americas. Please visit their awesome web site and tell them how you found them. They have a page with a list of genealogists researching different family line. I searched for any mention of my families surnames. There I found a gentleman who listed a couple family surnames. I sent him an email and hit the jackpot, it turned out that Mr. John Aust Losee was a distant cousin. He sent me a copy of his database with over 500 years of shared family tree. I started my family tree with a bang.

I hope to post the beginnings (as I know them) of the Armbruster family tree. These simple German farmers left their homelands of Germany to settle in Bukovina.

This page has brought another family line into the tree. Recently I received a post from a member of the Wendling clan. We've just begun to compare notes and will be adding more names to the tree soon.

Update on the Schoenthaler Clan, This line is sure to grow and grow thanks to the help I have recently gotten from two Schoenthalers. The first letter came from the 2nd great-grandson of Jacob W. Schoenthaler, older brother to my great-grandmother Bertha Schoenthaler. This enterprising young man who is just 16 years old, found my web site on the net and couldn't wait to find out who I was and share our joint family tree!

I received a post from another Schoenthaler family. Cliff and Carol Schoenthaler, Cliff is also a descendant of Jacob W. Schoenthaler, he remembers my family well and said he used to run around with several of my uncles in his younger days. I am looking forward to hearing more from them and updating the tree.

More cousins, I received a letter from Mary Kay Wentling-Mallory, she was surprised and thrilled to see her parents Oscar and Mary Wentling's names on the web. She has been so kind as to update my information and thanks to her several gaps are gone.

This family tree includes many Bukovina-German surnames, such as


Please see my surname pages for details of specific families and lines.

Baker Family Surnames

Irmgard has graciously consented to providing a sneak peek at her up coming book, Illischestie: Chronicle of a Rural Community in Bukovina. This book was was written by Johann Christian Dressler and published as Chronik der Bukowiner Langemeinde Illischestie (Freilassing, Bavaria, West Germany: Pannonia-Verlag, 1960) Upon its release, it was widely acclaimed as the model village history book. Dressler shaped the authoritative picture of ethnic German history in Galicia and Bukovina through his journalistic efforts, which included treatises, short histories essays, and poems. His pre-historical antholgies and finding, and his collection of original documents and records, all neatly organized and catalogued, testify that his life was dedicated to precise research. The book was long out of print in German when Irmgard Hein Ellingson began the translation of the 566-page text.

To read the table of contents and introduction to this book, please jump to this page Illischestie A Rural Community in Bukovina

Irmgard Hein Ellingson is the American-born daughter of Germans displaced from Volhynia at the end of World War II. She received a bachelor's degree in political science and history from Winona (Minnesota) State College in 1974, and a master's degree in ministry from Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, in 1993. Her published works include two books (see above) and numerous shorter works in German- and English-language periodicals. She has addressed conventions of the Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies, the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, the Bukovina Society of the Americas, the Polish Genealogical Society of America, the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society of America, and various state and local organizations. She is a founding member and international director of the Bukovina Society of America, a longtime member of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia and present editorial committee for its Journal, and past U.S. representative for the quarterly publication Wandering Volhynians. Ellingson is a high school German teacher and resides in Ossian, Iowa, with her husband, the Rev. Wayne Ellingson, and their children.

Irmgard Ellingson, currently has two books of Bukovina German history and family material available, they are:

The Bukovina Germans in Kansas: A 200-Year History of the Lutheran Swabians. This book was published in 1987 as Volume 6 in the Ethnic Heritage Studies series issued by Fort Hays (Kansas) State University. The book's author, Irmgard Hein Ellingson, used German- and English-language resources, unpublished materials, photographs, and oral histories to relate the history of the Germans who immigrated to Bukovina in the late eighteenth century, and from there to western Kansas a century later. The five chapters are titled I. Bukovina: Its History and Its German Settlers, II. The Germans in Bukovina, III. 100 Years in Kansas, IV. Lutheran Churches in the Ellis, Kansas, Area, and V. What Happened to Bukovina? Seven appendices, five maps/diagrams, and a bibliography complete the 107-page text. Bukovina was annexed by the Austrian empire in 1775 and became its easternmost independent dukedom. The Kingdom of Romania assumed control of the region in 1918 until 1940, when the Soviet Union occupied the part of Bukovina located north of the Siret [Sereth] River. Today northern Bukovina is under Ukrainian administration and the southern part remains under Romanian control.
Price: $11.00, which includes postage/handling

Available from the author at P.O. Box 101 Grafton, IA 50440-0101 USA

Illischestie, A Rural Parish in Bukovina: Primary Source Material for Family History was compiled by Johann Christian Dressler, who was a teacher in Illischestie, Bukovina, Austria, from 1912 until 1940. Dressler assisted many Illischestie families with their genealogical research and by 1951, had compiled a community genealogy from two dozen church, civil, and private sources. He listed over 535 family names and under each, organized family group lists with birth, baptismal, confirmation, marriage and death records. Unfortunately this massive work was never published. In the 1990s, Irmgard Hein Ellingson translated the text, edited the format, revised the alphabetization/numbering system to include 440 family headings on 515 pages, and added limited information about Bukovina immigrants to the United States, Canada, and South America. No detailed family information from 1951, when Dressler completed his work, to the present was added.

Price $90.00, which includes postage/handling

SALE PRICE: $75.00 for a copy of The Bukovina Germans in Kansas: A 200-Year History of the Lutheran Swabians and a copy of Illischestie, A Rural Parish in Bukovina Available from the author at P.O. Box 101 Grafton, IA 50440-0101 USA

Email her at: lrmgard Ellingson

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