A Genealogy site dedicated to the Rommels From the Praires of (Saskatchewen) Canada
Knowing that our ancestors were Swabian Germans, we believe them to have come from the Southwestern part of Germany from the area known as Baden-Wurtemburg.
Sometime during the 1760s, the Government started taxing the people unfairly and drafting the people into the Military. Religious wars were also a big issue, crops were poor and people could not survive. The Seven Years War had caused great havoc and destruction making people wanting to go.
Catherine the Great a former German Princess issued a Manifesto offering people money, land, shelter and work animals if they would come and settle in Russia. To the people from other countries it sounded like the promised land and could not resist. So it was with our Forefathers. Between 1763 to 1862 more than 100,000 Germans migrated to Russia.
The route to their Russian settlement took them via ship to the Russian port at Kronstadt. From there they were then taken to an area then known as Oranienbaum now known as part of St. Petersburg. Here they would get their necessary immigrant papers so that they could live in Russia.
Now they would travel by boat going up the river to Torshak. If they were traveling in the winter months the river would be frozen over so they would have to stay put until the river thawed. During this waiting period, Russian families were forced to take in these German immigrants until they were able to travel the river when it thawed in the spring. The ways of Russian living and eating was totally different to the Germans and not being able to speak each others language caused a lot of equally unhappy families. Winters were cold and hard. Food was not that plentiful. Many people became sick from hunger and died along the way. If they died while traveling their bodies were buried along the roadsides. If sickness or weather conditions were a factor it would take over a year to get to the Volga Region where our ancestors settled enduring many hardships along the way. The infant mortality rate was very high during these hard times.
Hussenbach (Linevo Ozero) was founded in 1767 as an Evangelical Colony by Officer Bernhard Ludwig von Platten who led 137 families to establish Hussenbach. In 1772 the population was 525. By 1912 it had grown to over 8000. It was described as being a pretty village with a river, bridges, orchards and hay meadows.
Today Hussenbach is one of the most preserved villages in the Volga Region. The population is around 9000 with 2000 still being Germans. It goes under the Russian name today, Linevo Osero.
In the 1798 Census there were several ROMMELS, MEHLINGS , One Johann Adam ZINN who was adopted by Johann PAUL and his wife Maria Elizabeth PROPP. Adam Zinn was 45 years of age then. He could possibly be my grandmothers GG or G Grandfather. Their were 2 sons, Johann Labertus age 21, and Johann Heinrich age 19. The Rommels and Mehlings were too numerous.
Hussenbach is on the Medveditsa River. Many types of fish are found. Trees were sparse and were left to grow. Bricks made from mud, clay and straw were used to build their homes. Limestone was used to whitewash the walls. The floors were the ground. Later on they would use rock. They burned dung chips for heating the living quarters. They had the same birds in nature as we have here in Canada. Rabbits, ground squirrels, foxes and wolves were plentiful.
Agriculture was the chief occupation. They grew wheat, barley, oats, rye, lentils, peas, flax, rapeseed, hemp and potatoes. Tobacco was also grown. Some fruit trees were grown such as apples, cherries and plums.
During the winter the men engaged in such skills as shoemaking, blacksmithing and medal work. The women occupied themselves with the domestic chores and spinning wool for their clothes. During the summer they would also be out in the fields helping with the farming. The same foods were grown their as here. Farming was done with horses pulling plows and wagons. Rakes, sickles and scythes with catchers were used.
Between 1891-1892 a disastrous famine spread through the Volga Region. Half of most colonies suffered from starvation. The American sent tons of grain and food by ships to help the people of Russia. Typhoid fever and cholera was running rapid through the Region and the death rate was high.
The privileges granted by Catherine the Great were being dissolved when Alexander the II issues a decree in 1871. Alexander the III (1881-1894) added to the Anti-German strategy. Germans had to pay new taxes, and were being drafted. German schools were closed and forced to go to Russian schools and speak Russian.
All these experiences was making North America inviting and in 1912, Jacob Rommel and his family came to Canada. They landed in Halifax by ship and traveled by train to Winnipeg. In 1914 His brother Johann George Rommel came to Canada and joined them in Winnipeg. Here they did odd jobs to save enough money to travel to Northern Saskatchewan settling along the way in Rhein and Star City and finally settling in the Spooner District near Nipawin, Sask.