Herr Kanzler’s Kinder – The Family of George H. Kanzler


When I was growing up I remember visiting my grandparent’s home in Ritzville, Washington.  My grandparents were Pete & Lydia Koch. My mother, Catherine,  was born in Ritzville, grew up, and graduated from high school there.  My mother’s oldest sister also lived with my grandparents.  Her name was Henrietta.  Henrietta had contracted polio when she was 7 years old and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.  Also living in my grandparents’ home was Freddie Koch.  Freddie was my grandfather’s older brother.  He never married.

During these visits, I remember hearing stories about my great-grandparents.  This was especially true after a meal around the large table in an even larger country kitchen.  My mother loved her grandparents and had spent a great deal of time with them while she was growing up.  Her grandparents were often the topic of conversation.  Much of the conversation was in German, for my mother’s side of the family was of German descent.  My great-grandfather, George H. Kanzler, had been born not in Germany, but Russia, as was his wife, Maria Catherine.  George and Maria were the parents of my grandmother, Lydia.  As a young boy, I only half-listened and understood even less.  It was just something that did not make any sense to me.  If you were German, why were you born in Russia?  This was also true of my grandfather.  He was born in the same German village, Kolb, Russia, as his father-in-law.

In later years I began to wonder about how I could resolve their being German and yet were born in Russia.  One day I asked my grandfather how this could be possible, for I had not remembered anyone ever mentioning exactly why or how this came to be.  What I heard was a real eye-opener.  It seems as if everyone wanted to say something and tried very hard to be the first one to do so.  I was told about how Catherine The Great had invited German residents to come to Russia to live and farm.  This happened about 1767, they thought. Certain incentives appealed to the Germans.  One of which was freedom from serving in the Russian military.  My great-grandfather was close to draft age when this privilege was taken away in 1874.  If my great-grandfather was to leave Russia before he turned 21, he would not be required to serve in the Russian Army.  Events and circumstances soon led the family to leave Russia, and make a new home in the United States.  This happened in 1876 and started the family on a long and difficult journey.  This journey finally ended in Ritzville, Washington Territory, in 1883.

This is the story of George Henry Kanzler, his family, his children, and his grandchildren.  A story about how they lived, where they worked and played,  where they worshipped, and a glimpse of their everyday life. This is a story I want my children and grandchildren to know and love as much as I do.

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Herr Kanzler’s Kinder – The Family of George H. Kanzler

This work deals with the life of the author’s great grandfather, George Kanzler, who was included with the first group of people to leave the small Russian village of Kolb and relocate in the United States. The story starts in Kolb, Russia with George and his family who were wheat farmers of German descent. After suffering religious persecution, dwindling tillable land and with George facing mandatory military service in the Russian Army, the family joins other families leaving Kolb looking for a better life in America. The family first settled in Nebraska, but were not satisfied. After several moves in Nebraska, the Kanzler family and other Volga German families are forced once again to move still further west. The journey would start by railroad taking the party to Utah with the remainder of the trip by covered wagon to the new settlement of Ritzville, Washington Territory.

Families included on the wagon train include:

  • Kanzler
  • Thiel
  • Oestreich
  • Rosenoff
  • Miller
  • Kiehn
  • Schafer
  • Dewald
  • Bauer
  • Wolsborn
  • Michel
  • Schoessler
  • Amen
  • Kembel
  • Bastron
  • Wagner

This work provides many details of the wagon train journey for the families listed above, and in particular, the Kanzler family. Once George Kanzler arrived in Ritzville, he farmed, served as a politician and also became a successful business man. In the following years, Ritzville and Adams County would become home to many other Volga German families. Today, many of these same Volga German surnames still can be found in and around Ritzville.

Readers will discover interesting information on:

  • Kanzler Bros. Wood Yard
  • Ritzville Trading
  • Kanzler family history
  • George Kanzler
  • Volga Germans
  • Kolb, Russia
  • Ritzville, Washington history
  • Bickelton, Washington history
  • Volga German wagon train of 1882
  • Adams County Fair
  • Pioneer Picnic
  • Ritzville Round-Up
  • Ritzville Wheat Carnival
  • Rosenoff Church

250 pages with bibliography, index and 332 photos and other illustrations.

Additional information


Hardcover, Softcover