Sunday, August 3, 2008

Guten Morgen! FINAL EDITION Sunday, August 3, 2008

CASPER, WYOMING – The Ballroom was chock full last night (8/2) for the final banquet of the 2008 International Convention of Germans from Russia in Casper, Wyoming. Nearly 800 persons attended the weeklong joint gathering of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR) and the Germans from Russia Heritage Society (GRHS). The week was replete with workshops, sing-a-longs, international speakers and Kuchen breaks! Ed Hoak of Long Grove, Illinois, a Past-President of AHSGR, presided over the banquet festivities.

Lewis R. Marquardt and Dona Reeves-Marquardt of Austin, Texas gave the special message, Our German-Russian Communities: A Common Heritage, An Uncommon History. Lew and Dona are both Life Members of both societies. Theirs was a wonderful concluding message for this first joint session of these two German-Russian societies. Editor’s Note: As expressed by Lew and Dona, let us not allow this to be our last joint convention! The Parkway did a wonderful job, and the food was outstanding – but what really made this a remarkable convention was “unser Leute,” kindred souls from two organizations, coming together to Celebrate Our Common Heritage, the theme of the convention. We depart with new friendships and many memorable experiences!

Directors and Officers for both societies and their foundations were recognized, and the AHSGR Distinguished Service Award recipients, Mayo Flegel and the late Raymond Pfau, were honored. It was also an opportunity for Convention Co-Chairs Al Feist of Hebron, North Dakota, and Patti Sellenrick of Sheridan, Wyoming, to identify those many folks who worked on the Planning Committee for the convention.


The banquet concluded with the Passing of the Lantern. For AHSGR, it passed from Casper, Wyoming, to Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, where the 2009 convention will take place. For GRHS, the lantern passed from Casper to Rapid City, South Dakota, site of the next GRHS annual convention.

About 200 persons attended the Non-Denominational Worship Service in the Ballroom Sunday morning. The service was led by Rev. Mr. Don Stewart of Casper. Corinne Koehler and Del Beck were Music Leaders.

A reminder that many random photographs of convention actitives are posted at a gallery we've named Casper Memories. That gallery will remain available indefinitely, and we encourage your "Comment," if you can identify a photo or wish to make a correction or comment. All photographs are being made available to AHSGR and GRHS headquarters. This convention web site will also remain active indefinitely, although there will be no new postings, except for any necessary corrections. Many thanks.

-- Larry Miller, Editor

Gott mit euch, bis wir uns wiedersh’n!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Guten Morgen! Today is Saturday, August 2, 2008

CASPER, WYOMING -- It’s straight to work this morning at the Germans from Russia convention. Seven workshops begin at 8:30 (see the list below), but then we get down to “business.” The GRHS Annual Business meeting moves into the Ballroom at 9:45. At 10:45, the AHSGR Board of Directors meets in Adrienne’s, the GRHS Board gathers in Champagne, and the IFAHSGR Board of Trustees convenes in the Senate Room. All three Boards are scheduled to conduct elections.

"Anything but boring!" That’s how Dr. Mila Koretnikov characterized her family’s life in Germany over the past 18 months. As the luncheon speaker Friday (8/1) at the International Convention of Germans from Russia in Casper, the relatively young Dr. Koretnikov told the story of her family leaving Russia for a new life in Germany. One-Way Ticket from Russia to Germany: Aussiedlers in the Beginning of the 21st Century recounted how, by 1998, nearly all of her known relatives – more than 300 – had gone from Russia to Germany. She shared the experiences of transitioning through “Friedland” in Lower Saxony to finally settling in Anstatt. The heavy migration of Aussiedlers has plummeted in the last few years, from nearly 100,000 a year at the start of the millennium to fewer than 6,000 in 2007. Because they are perceived as “different” -- language dialects and media perceptions about immigrants – it remains difficult for Aussiedlers. Of her family’s experience in Germany, she says, “…after 15 years, we still don’t feel at home.”

Another day at the shops! We’re talking workshops – 21 of them today – and there truly is something for everyone. For the early birds (8:30 a.m.) here’s the lineup:

Kherson Taurien & Ekaterinoslav Region-Adrienne’s
Looking at the Land of Your Ancestor-American
Documents on the Famine of 1921-1922 in the Volga-Ballroom A
From Steppe to Steppe: Black Sea to Volga German Kansas-Ballroom B
Grossliebental Area Research-Ballroom C
Archive Research in the Lower Volga Region-Tiffany
The German Brotherhood-Wyoming


This afternoon, the first round of workshops begins at 2 o’clock with:
Germans to Prussia, Poland to Russia-Adrienne’s
History of a Colony-How to Restore a Family History
-American
Understanding Russia in the 21st Century #1-Ballroom A
Germans from Russia and North Platte Valley Ag-
Ballroom B
The Long Trek-
Ballroom C
From Steppe to Steppe-Tiffany
Lost in Russia-
Wyoming

The final workshop sessions of the convention start at 3:30 p.m. with:
Hungary to Russia-Adrienne’s
Our German Russian Relatives in South America-American
Understanding Russia in the 21st Century #2-Ballroom A
Northern Volga Protestant Villages-Ballroom B
The Long Trek-Ballroom C
The Development of the G-R Settlements in North Caucasus-Gourmet
Southern Protestant Villages of Kanton Kamenka-Wyoming

Appetites were whetted yesterday by a mid-afternoon Kuchen Break, and now some of “unser Leute” are going to figure out how to become full-fledged purveyors of tasty Kuchen! They are those lucky souls who pre-registered for the 2:00 p.m. Cultural Cooking Class at the Mills Senior Center. Del Paulson of Pierre, South Dakota, along with Diane White and Nancy Borrell of Lincoln, Nebraska will be joining forces to share tips on making great Black Sea and/or Volga Kuchen. Not to despair for the many of us who didn’t sign up for the class – we can still partake of some tasty Kuchen at 3 o’clock this afternoon between workshop sessions!

Erin Deis and Gwen Schock Cowherd treated the audience to readings of their AHSGR award-winning stories yesterday morning during the Folklore Symposium of the International Convention of Germans from Russia. Gwen’s Second Place entry “The Pendulum Still Swings” mesmerized the audience with an ancestral tale from the northern plains – German-Russian families swinging like a pendulum between their Old World heritage and modern day society. First Place was won by Erin Deis of California. Her “Leaving One Home in Search of Another” lovingly recounts her grandmother’s trek from Saratov, Russia, to Fresno, California. That's Erin on the right, receiving her award yesterday. Then the GRHS spotlight shone on winners of the Youth Essay Contest, which lured entries from nine states and overseas. Alyssa Miller’s essay about her immigrant grandparents took First Place in the University division; Ryan Hoff was runner-up. The Senior High Scholarship Award went to Rebecca Anhorn, while Sarah Mettler, who was runner-up, read her essay for the audience. Thanks to Dick and Vera Hoff for providing this complete list of winners for the GRHS Youth Essay Contest. Check out award photos within the gallery at Casper Memories.

Professor Inna Stryukova returns to the speaker’s platform for the Lunch Buffet at 11:30 this morning (8/2) to give A Ukrainian’s Perspective of the USA. A linguist by training, Professor Stryukova is no stranger to either AHSGR or GRHS, having spoken before both organizations several times. Inna has traveled widely in the former Soviet Union, the countries of Western Europe, Canada, and many states in the USA. It’s a pleasure for members of our societies to renew friendships and welcome Inna to our 2008 convention. Her home is in Nikolaev, Ukraine, and she is well suited to deliver this incisive look at the United States of America.

Dr. Tim Janzen of Happy Valley, Oregon, has been a busy man during the convention. His family has accompanied Janzen to the convention, and he’s already presented two workshops on Mennonite genealogy and genetic genealogy; he partners with Debbie Bieck at 8:30 this morning to present the (KET) Kherson Taurien and Ekaterinoslav Region workshop. But he also plans to spend lots of time near his hallway display board dealing with genetic genealogy, specifically to collect DNA samples as part of a project sponsored by the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundations. It’s the only lab that offers DNA testing for free. Curious? Stop by and visit with Dr. Tim Janzen at his display near the Lobby end of Heritage Hall.

For a variety of photographs from the 2008 International Convention of Germans from Russia, take a look at our Casper Memories gallery. Today is the Final Edition of the printed Casper Morgen Zeitung. Expect a few more posts to the web version. We intend to keep the blogsite up indefinitely; however, there will be no new postings except to correct any errors. Thanks. -- Larry Miller, Editor.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Guten Morgen! Today is Friday, August 1, 2008
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A BIG WELCOME Governor Dave Freudenthal, who grew up in nearby Thermopolis, Wyoming, took time out from his busy schedule to give us a personable and witty welcome yesterday, while reflecting upon his own German heritage. (Okay, he’s not German-Russian, but we think he’s worthy of being an Honorary G-R!) Kenyne Schlager, the Vice-President of the City Council welcomed us to Casper. It was a nice touch for the “official” opening of the convention.

IT’S AUGUST 1st Much of this morning will be for recognizing the achievements of young people. It’s part of the Folklore Symposium: Storytelling, Youth Essays, and Music as the 2008 International Convention of Germans from Russia begins its fifth day of activities in Casper. The symposium gets underway at 8:30 in the Ballrooms of the Parkway Plaza Hotel. AHSGR’s Ken Koehler of Arvada, Colorado will preside over the Storytelling event, while Del Beck of Rapid City, South Dakota will be the point person for the GRHS Youth Essay Contest. It’ll be a chance to acknowledge the achievements of young and old alike in preserving our German-Russian heritage through the written and spoken word. There’ll be music, too, as Cyndi Lesser-Babish of Greeley, Colorado – accompanied by John Stehle of Denver – pays tribute to her famous accordionist father, Adolph Lesser.

VASCHKAU Dr. Nina Vaschkau of Volgograd State University in Russia was the speaker for the Foundation Luncheon yesterday. Her talk, Deportation of Russian Germans in 1941, provided a grim reminder of the ruthlessness of the Russian government and the despair of the German deportees. Those who criticized the deportations were considered anti-Soviet; and Germans who dared oppose it were subject to 20 years of hard labor. Even those persons who hid Germans could go to prison for five years. As late as 1955, after Stalin died, German-Russians were still given no compensation for the confiscation of their property when deported.

WORKSHOPS Professor Inna Stryukova of Kikolaev, Ukraine made the trek to Casper – among other things – to lead a workshop entitled “Looking at the Land of Your Ancestors” yesterday. There was standing room only in the Tiffany Room. It’ll be repeated tomorrow morning (8/2) at 8:30 in the American Room. Stryukova’s presentation was one of 14 workshops available yesterday to the more than 700 people at the convention.

"NOT STRANGERS” North Dakota State University professor Tim Kloberdanz had a timely reminder for Black Sea, Volga region, and other German-Russians: we have more in common than you might think. After a demonstration of differences in language and some customs, Kloberdanz, with the assistance of his wife, Rosalinda Kloberdanz, and her mother, Maria Appelhans, shared the touching story of Rosalinda’s 100-year-old grandmother and her experience as an immigrant. Kloberdanz said that the grandmother visited the United States and spoke at a very early AHSGR convention. No matter where ours roots may be – Black Sea, Volga, or elsewhere – we German-Russians have more in common that we have that sets us apart. And that would seem to be true whether we live in Canada, Germany, Argentina or the United States. Heritage evening concluded with informal village visits and socializing.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Are we having fun yet?

She might have been Mammy Yokum, but she was really one of the Crimson Dames from the Red Hat Society Kitchen Band. They performed last night (7/30) for the International Convention of Germans from Russia at the Parkway Plaza Hotel in Casper, Wyoming, during the Welcome Night Western Buffet.

You’ll find more photographs at Casper Memories – and we’ll be adding captions and more photos in the days to come!
Guten Morgen! Today is Thursday, July 31, 2008

CASPER, WYOMING -- GOVERNOR APPEARS TODAY It was an Old West welcome last night for more than 700 people registered thus far for the International Convention of Germans from Russia in Casper. More are anticipated today (7/31) as the week-long convention at the Parkway Plaza Hotel moves in to high gear with Opening Ceremonies slated for 8:30 a.m. Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal will greet conventioneers to the Cowboy State.

IS THERE A FIREMAN IN THE HOUSE? At mid-day Wednesday (7/30), what was said to be a “small electrical fire” at the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Center caused a bit of an uproar. Shortly after noon, hotel workers evacuated the hotel after a small fire was detected, triggering alarms throughout the complex. The Casper Fire Department arrived on the scene and spent a good deal of time securing the area, which was confined to a small part of “The Tower” building. The furor delayed check-ins for persons just arriving for the convention. Some weren’t able to get to their rooms until about 4:00 p.m. In the end, despite a hint of remaining smoke, hotel workers opened windows and made up most of the rooms so that by 5:00 p.m., it was hard to tell there had been any disturbance.

V-Cs THANKED Just off Heritage Hall, German-Russian Village Coordinators met yesterday afternoon in the Wyoming Room. Rich Aspenleiter of Spokane, Dennis Zitterkopf of Wichita, and Gayla Gray of Spokane, welcomed V-Cs to the convention. All had a chance to introduce themselves and say a few words about their village or area.

OLD WEST CUISINE OFFERED UP Convention Co-Chairs Patti Sellenrick of Sheridan, Wyoming and Al Feist of Hebron, North Dakota greeted attendees during a Welcome Night Western Buffet with some great hot barbecue sandwiches with corn on the cob and all the tasty trimmings the chuckwagon boss could put together. Many attendees got with the program and were sporting cowboy hats and boots, but there were probably more “city slickers” in the crowd.

EDUCATOR SAYS ‘HOWDY” Dr. Maggie Murdock, Associate Vice-President for Academic Affairs for the University of Wyoming was on hand to extend greetings as well. She acknowledged the enormous contributions that German-Russians have made in Wyoming and across the country. She noted that former Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer – a German-Russian descendant – helped establish a special relationship between the University of Wyoming and Saratov State University in Russia, which continues to this day.

ABOUT THAT FIRE Hotel General Manager Patrick Sweeney made an unexpected appearance before the dinner gathering, noting that any danger from the small electrical fire earlier in the day was quickly curtailed. In fact, the fire was put out before Casper Fire Department units were on the scene. Nonetheless, he outlined the rigorous inspection process that was implemented in order to ensure guest safety. He assured the crowd that everything was now safe.

IT’S “DOGIE” – NOT ‘DOGGY” Western singer Kent Neubert of Casper provided some great after-dinner music featuring songs of the Old West. Accompanied by Jim Halsey, also of Casper, Neubert seemed to capture the attention and appreciation of the entire audience.

LOCAL DRAMA The evening was not without its humor, offered up first by Marvin Nolte as an alcoholic and rowdy “Dr. Benson,” and Carol Chapin as “Ettie Hurt.” Their portrayals of these colorful characters from yesteryear gave the audience a flavor of the early days of Casper and the Old West. They wandered through the audience and told their stories – warts and all -- pulling no punches about their trials and tribulations. It was a bit of western history with a touch of good humor!

WHO WAS THAT LADY IN THE RED HAT? Not to be outdone, the Crimson Dames Red Hat Society Kitchen Band brought the house down with their inventive musical talents, occasionally bawdy humor and lighthearted musical stylings of many great American standard songs. Alas, one of the damsels just wouldn’t stay with the group, straying around the audience and planting lipstick on the foreheads of more than just a few of the gentlemen in the audience.

ADMINISTRATIVE BUSINESS Earlier in the day, the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR) Directors and the International Foundation of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (IFAHSGR) Trustees met for meeting. Foundation President Mayo Flegel of Mankato, Minnesota says a full report of foundation activities will be presented Thursday (7/31) at the Foundation Buffet Luncheon in the Ballroom of the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Casper. Flegel will preside for IFAHSGR, while Ted Becker of Minneapolis will preside for HFGR. The luncheon speaker will be Dr. Nina Vaschkau from Volgograd State University in Russia on Deportation of Russian Germans in 1941 and its Consequences.

CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS BEGIN TODAY More than 40 workshops on a variety of topics begin this afternoon. Among the offerings starting at 2:30:
Northern Volga Catholic Villages
SOAR – What is It and What Data is Available On-line?
Kanton Frank and Northern protestant Villages of Kanton Kamenka
An introduction to Mennonite Genealogy
Shatter Belt: Western Russia and the Easter Austro-Hungarian Empire
Looking at the Land of Your Ancestors
Beresan (BDO ) Area

Another round of workshops begins at 3:45p.m., including:
Crimea – A Black Sea Jewel
Kutschurgan Roundup
Village Coordinators – Strategies and Information
Photo Journey to Russian Archives, Universities, and Villages
Hoffnungstal Odessa Parish
Reading Cyrillic Script
To the Kingdom of Death: A Research Trip to the Former German Villages in the Ukraine

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Guten Morgen! Today is Wednesday, July 30, 2008

CASPER, WYOMING -- At mid-day Wednesday (7/31), what was said to be a small electrical fire at the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Center caused a bit of an uproar.

Shortly after noon, hotel workers evacuated guests from the hotel after a small fire was detected, triggering alarms throughout the complex. The fire department arrived on the scene and spent a good deal of time securing the area, which was confined to a small part of the “Towers” building.

The furor delayed check-ins for persons trying to check in for the International Convention of Germans from Russia – some weren’t able to get to their rooms until about 4:00 p.m.

In the end, despite a hint of remaining smoke, hotel workers re-did most of the rooms and opened windows. By 5:00 p.m., it was hard to tell there had been any disturbance.

Down the corridor, just off Heritage Hall, German-Russian Village Coordinators were meeting in the Wyoming Room at mid-afternoon.

Rich Aspenleiter of Spokane, Dennis Zitterkopf of Wichita, and Gayla Gray of Spokane, welcomed V-Cs to the convention. All had a chance to introduce themselves and say a few words about their village or area.

Things will pick up tomorrow when Governor Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming welcomes conventioneers to his state. That’ll occur during Opening Ceremonies at 8:30 a.m. After that, it’s a full schedule of activities, including the first day of more than 40 workshops.

No official count yet, but the last figure mentioned for attendance was approaching 700 persons.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Guten Morgen! Today is Tuesday, July 29, 2008

CASPER, WYOMING --
Dr. Nina Vaschkau, who chairs Russian History at Volgograd State University in Russia, is a major presenter at the International Convention of Germans from Russia this week in Casper, Wyoming.

The convention opened yesterday (Monday, 7/28) at the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Center. The week-long gathering is a rare joint session of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society (Bismarck, ND) and the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (Lincoln, NE). The convention concludes Sunday, August 3rd. About 680 persons have registered so far.

Dr. Vaschkau, a graduate of Chelyabinsk State University, has been a professor at Volgograd State University since 1985. Her message to the Casper group is entitled Deportation of Russian Germans in 1941 and Its Consequences. Her remarks are scheduled for 11:45 a.m., this Thursday (7/31) during the Foundation Luncheon in the Ballroom of the Parkway Plaza.

Nina Vaschkau earned her Ph. D. in 1984. In 1998, she defended her dissertation – Spiritual Culture of the Volga Germans: Problems of Schools and Education -- for a History doctorate at Saratov State University. In addition to chairing the Russian History program at Volgograd University, she is a member of the Russian-German Board on Modern History and serves as Head of the Center of Studies in German History at Volgograd University. She has authored more than 80 publications, including four monographs, based on materials from archives in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Saratov, Volgograd, Bonn, Freiburg and Stuttgart. Dr. Vaschkau has been doing research in the area of the history of Russian Germans for more than 20 years. She has a daughter, a senior at the Law School of the Russian State Humanities University in Moscow.

In addition to her Thursday luncheon address, Dr. Vaschkau will also present a workshop on how to restore a family historyHistory of a Colony. It will be offered at 2:00 p.m., Friday (8/1) in the Tiffany Room of the Parkway Plaza Hotel. It will be repeated Saturday (8/2) at 2:00 p.m. in the American Room.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Good Morning! Today is Monday, July 28, 2008

CASPER, WYOMING -- The Registration Booth opened today (7/28) at the International Convention of Germans from Russia, and early reports indicate that people have been steadily picking up their packets and seem very excited about the convention getting underway.

Convention Co-Chair Al Feist says approximately 680 folks are now registered for the week-long gathering, which will move in to high gear over the next couple of days.

“AHSGR was very busy throughout the day in various meetings; the AHSGR Library is open with a large variety of books and materials available,” says Feist, who represents the Germans from Russia Heritage Society as convention Co-Chair. His counterpart from the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia is Patti Sellenrick of Sheridan, Wyoming.

While the convention headquarters is the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Center at 123 West E Street in Casper, conventioneers are populating hotels all over the city. Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal will be at the Opening Ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Thursday (7/31) to officially welcome the German-Russians to Wyoming.

AHSGR will continue its Directors and Trustees meetings Tuesday and Wednesday (7/29-30). There’ll also be a group of folks headed for the Casper Family History Center to do some genealogical research both days. It’s a convention activity for which separate registration is required.

Tuesday afternoon (7/29) at 1:30, a bus will depart the Parkway destined for the Historic Becker Farm and Old Tyme Entertainment.

Thanks to Al Feist for providing a bit of an update from Casper!

Convention Countdown

WELCOME TO CASPER and the 2008 International Convention of Germans from Russia at the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Center! The convention Registration and Information Desk is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Computer Room and the AHSGR Library will also be open today. According to the official Schedule of Events, the AHSGR Directors and the IFAHSGR Trustees will be meeting much of the day. Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal will be here to welcome attendees at the Opening Ceremony, 8:30 a.m., Thursday, July 31! The convention runs through Sunday, August 3!

To find information about the convention, we invite you to explore this website. The right-hand column offers a Schedule of Events, an index to workshops and other activities, followed by an index of presenters and other folks involved with this joint convention of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia and the Germans from Russia Heritage Society.


Welcome to Casper!

Schlager belts out Gershwin

Harry Schlager is a third-generation German from Russia who is pursuing his American musical dream From L.A. to Broadway. Along the way, during a stopover in Casper for the International Convention of Germans from Russia, the Californian will belt out some great Gershwin tunes and other songs from the American songbook around the Friday (8/1) Dinner Buffet at the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Center. It’s scheduled for 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

Born in Torrington, Wyoming, to Harry and Lorraine Schlager, Harry Schlager Jr.’s grandparents were from Merkel and Neu Donhof, Russia. His mother’s parents – the Lebsacks -- came from the villages of Hussenbach and Laub, Russia.

After his school years in Torrington, where he was selected for Swing Choir and later the renowned Casper Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps, Harry enrolled at Casper Community College and studied in the studio of Pat Patton, a native of Lingle, Wyoming.

Harry earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Theatre Performance at Arizona State University in Tempe and then headed for southern California. He picked up additional musical training with the American Center for Musical Theatre Workshop and the Carol Weiss Musical Theatre Workshop, among others. He performs extensively in regional theatres and other venues across southern California, where he still lives.

The Ballroom at Parkway Plaza will be filled with the music from George Gershwin, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and other American greats. Schlager’s vocal repertoire will be accompanied keyboard stylings of Paula Flynn of Glenrock,Wyoming.

The International Convention of Germans from Russia is a joint affair between the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the Germans from Russia Heritage Society in Bismarck, North Dakota. The event features more than 40 workshops for the nearly one thousand attendees. The convention opens runs through noon Sunday, August 3rd.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Welcome Night: Wyoming Western Style!

Wyoming is the Cowboy State, so it's appropriate that Welcome Night for the 2008 International Convention of Germans from Russia be a "Western" gathering. Nearly one thousand would-be cowboys and cowgirls are gathering this week at the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Casper for workshops, music, business meetings, storytelling, and a wide range of other activities. The historic convention runs through Sunday, August 3.

And while the Welcome Night Western Buffet in the Parkway Ballroom this Wednesday (July 30) will have a decided cowboy motif, most of the week will be focused on "Celebrating Our Common Heritage" -- a German-Russian heritage -- that pre-dates the Old West and that transcends the two societies sponsoring the convention -- the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia and the Germans from Russia Heritage Society.

Convention co-chairs Al Feist of Hebron, North Dakota and Patti Sellenrick of Sheridan, Wyoming, will corral everyone together about 5:30 p.m. to begin the festivities, which include a greeting from Dr. Maggi Murdock, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Wyoming.
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Entertainment will include a bit of music from cowboy singer Kent Neubert, along with the Crimson Dames Red Hat Band, directed by Bev Miller. A bit of humor and drama will be combined to help tell the "Painted Past" of Casper. Angel Capone will deliver the facts, with Carol Chapin protraying Ettie Hurt and Marvin Nolte as Dr. Benson.
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Nick and Barb Bretz of Arvada, Colorado will be in charge of the Wester Theme Prizes.

Celebrating our Common Heritage

The theme of the 2008 International Convention of Germans from Russia this week in Casper, Wyoming (July 28-August 3) is Celebrating our Common Heritage. And to underscore that theme, society officials have tapped two uniquely qualified persons as keynote speakers for the convention banquet on Saturday night (August 2).

Our German-Russian Communities: A Common Heritage, An Uncommon History will be the message delivered by Dona Reeves-Marquardt and Lewis Marquardt of Austin, Texas, when they address the joint convention of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia and the Germans from Russia Heritage Society at the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Center. Members from both societies – perhaps a thousand in all – will be wrapping up a full week of workshops, business meetings, and festive celebrations.

The convention opens Monday, July 28th and runs through Sunday morning, August 3rd. Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal will greet attendees during the official Opening Ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, July 31st.

Dona Reeves-Marquardt holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and is Professor Emerita at Texas State University, San Marcos, where she taught German language and literature for many years. Primarily of Volga-German ancestry, she has published articles on the language, history and culture of Germans from Russia and has translated major works in that area, including Peter Sinner’s Germans in the Land of the Volga and Gottlieb Beratz’ The German Colonies on the Lower Volga with LaVern Rippley and Leona Pfeifer. Dona’s parents immigrated in 1876 from Volga villages to Russell county, Kansas. She was a Fulbright scholar at Johannes Gutenberg Universit├Ąt in Mainz, Germany and has studied and traveled extensively in Germany, most recently with her husband, Lew Marquardt, to her ancestral villages in the Palatinate.

Lewis R. Marquardt was born and raised in North Dakota, the eldest son of a German-Russian father and an Irish mother. He grew up among Black Sea Germans and spent his early years teaching instrumental music in South Dakota, and Interdisciplinary Arts and Humanities at Arizona State University, Tempe. His grandparents immigrated in 1888 from Black-Sea-Kutschurgan villages to Emmons county North Dakota. After the death of his first wife, he married Dona Reeves-Marquardt, a Volga-German, with whom he has traveled extensively in Germany, France, and other European countries, exploring ancestral villages, art museums, Fachwerk, and the phenomenon of foreign culture. He is a charter member of AHSGR.

Dona and Lew are Life Members of both GRHS and AHSGR and have spoken frequently in a dual-lecture format using digital presentations.

As a part of the evening, the directors and officers of the organizations will be introduced, and the new GRHS directors and officers will be installed. AHSGR will also announce its Distinguished Service Award.

Several beautiful items have been contributed to the societies, and drawings for those prizes will also take place.

The evening will conclude with the Passing of the Lantern. Next year, AHSGR will convene in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. GRHS will meet in Rapid City, South Dakota.