Neumann Family History

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      David David Neumann and Katharina Goosen were married in Halbstadt, Molotschna, on November 15, 1838, where he also died in 1855. They had four children; Dietrich David Neumann was born in 1852; he and Katharina Bergen were married in Konenuisfeld, Molotschna, in 1879.  They had 12 children, of which Heinrich Dietrich Neumann (my grandfather), was the fourth, and the oldest son. Between Halbstadt and Rosenwald, Dietrich David Neumann spent some years in both Sparrau and in the village of Kamischovoje, Orenburg. When he arrived in Orenburg is not clear, but it is known that Molotschna Mennonites began establishing 8 villages here in 1895, south and east of the Chortitza settlers. The only indication we have is that his second oldest was baptized in Orenburg in 1902. Dietrich David Neumann was a teacher in Sparrau and in Orenburg; he was physically handicapped due to poliomyelitis, which may explain his choice of occupation, which paid a modest remuneration. His oldest son, Heinrich Dietrich, worked as an indentured labourer for other farmers.

     The initial years were most difficult – long winters, frequent thefts by surrounding people, poor soil and frequent crop failures. Many Orenburgers joined others from Ukraine, in 1907-08, to establish new settlements in Siberia. In 1906, Heinrich Neumann and another man by the name of Hiebert initiated a meeting to consider the offer of free land in the newly-established Barnaul Settlement in Siberia. This group of landless Orenburg residents sent delegates to join representatives from other colonies to secure land, which  was northeast of Slavgorod. They secured free land, reduced railroad fares, start-up loans, and exemption from taxes! The initial settlement of 36 villages grew to 58 by 1925. The initial villages had 20-30 farmsteads, with about 40-50 hectares per farm. Agriculture was the economic backbone of the colony, but industry soon developed as well.    

     In 1908, Dietrich David Neumann moved his family eastward, to the Barnaul Colony in Siberia. Heinrich Dietrich Neumann (1885-1955) was baptized in Orenburg in 1908, and married the next year in Siberia, to Sara Wiebe (1890 - 1958), whose family too, had moved to the Barnaul Colony the previous year, from the Chortitza Colony. Heinrich and Sara Neumann spent the initial years of married life living in Slavgorod. Dietrich D. Neumann family lived in the village of Gruenfeld, approximately 35 miles from Slavgorod, in the Barnaul Colony in Siberia.

     Heinrich Dietrich Neumann was conscripted into the Forest Service during WW I, and his family lived with Sara's parents, in Gruenfeld. After the war, Heinrich bought a farm in nearby Rosenwald (named by his father), where he and his family lived until their emigration in 1926.

     Although the colony was not directly affected by the Revolution, the following Civil War did have an impact. Initial hopes of an independent Siberia were short-lived, as the Red armies prevailed over the White armies. A self-sufficient colony suddenly fell victim to famine and dependent on American Mennonite Relief. The reality of the New Order to come awakened the urge for many to leave, however no more than 200 actually got to Canada or Mexico in the 1920s. In 1926, the Neumann family emigrated to Canada; they were one of the last, if not the last, families to safely exit this colony before Stalin slammed the door shut, thereby preventing others from following. In fact, they were the only family from their village that successfully joined that 1926 group of emigrants.

     The Neumanns settled first in Bredenbury, Saskatchewan, and after one year, move to Gerald, Saskatchewan, from where they soon moved to Gem, Alberta, in 1932. In 1946, they moved to Greendale, British Columbia, their last stop on a life's journey of hard work, challenges, and a rich family life. I was a very young boy at the time of their passing and therefore, did not become well-acquainted with either grandparent.


  heinrich and sara neumann

Heinrich Dietrich and Sara (Wiebe) Neumann

                  Map: Neumanns in Molotschna Colony
                  Map: Neumanns in Orenburg Colony
                  Map: Neumanns in Barnaul Settlement, Siberia

The Neumann family was very fortunate to have exited Russia at that time. It was only through a number of unrelated incidents and decisions, referred to as the "Three Miracles", that they were able to leave Rosenwald in 1926, when no one else from their village managed to do so.

Here is an excerpt from "Canadians Through Miracles":

                Three Miracles and a Humble Beginning