Germans From Russia In Colorado

Contributed by the City of Greeley Museums

In 1762 the Russian Czarina, Catherine the Great (herself a German) noted two major problems. First, Germany’s people suffered from continuing wars, starvation, high taxes, over crowding, and religious intolerance. And second, Russia’s western region along the Volga River and Black Sea was sparsely populated, leaving those areas vulnerable to invasion. To solve these two problems Catherine invited Germans to settle in Russia. Settlers would have freedom of religion, be able to keep their German language, pay no taxes, be free from military service, receive interest free loans for ten years, and funding would be available to help establish new industries.

Approximately 27,000 Germans settled in 104 colonies along the Volga River. The German States stopped the exodus in 1768 and the invitations from Russia to foreigners were halted in 1819 by the Russian government.

The German settlers farmed their Russian land, and the villages prospered. In 1874 the Czar of Russia, Alexander II, withdrew many of the benefits of their German settlers. Famine was the final unbearable hardship for these people so the Volga Germans were immigrating to South and North America by the thousands.

Between 1870 and 1910 entire communities of these Germans from Russia immigrated to the United States. Most settled in farming regions, especially Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Colorado. Timing was perfect for these immigrants to work in the fields and in the factories of the progressing beet sugar industry. Between 1899 and 1926 Colorado sugar factories were built in; Loveland, Greeley, Eaton, Fort Collins, Longmont, Fort Lupton, Ovid, Johnstown, Windsor, Grand Junction, Sterling, Fort Morgan, and Brush.


Between 1870 and 1910 entire communities of Germans from Russia immigrated to the United States.

Germans Must Attend Galeton Six-Day School

From the Greeley Tribune, January 1, 1917

Germans must attend Galeton six-day school

Galeton, Dec. 21 Galeton school authorities have notified 20 German families of the district that they must stop sending their children to the German parochial school a Eaton and must see that the children attend the six-day public school at Galeton which was recently voted by the school patrons of the district. When the six-day school started here it was found that the parents of German children failed to attend on Saturdays because they attended the German parochial school at Eaton. Monday the directors visited may of the German parents and warned them that they must attend the public school on Saturdays according to law. While making their investigation the school directors state that they found that children were being told in some instances that they must learn the German language at all costs because German would be the commonly spoken language after the war. These alleged statements have been reported to the federal and county authorities and will be closely investigated. G. W. Johnson, Galeton farmer and school director, said Monday night, “We are determined that the compulsory school laws shall be enforced and that any appearance of pro-Germanism in this community shall be stamped out.”

Monday Judge Herbert M. Bader sent out letters to German preachers and teachers thruout Weld county warning them that the parochial schools must be taught in English and must conform to American public school requirements. It is known that the authorities stand ready to make wholesale arrests thruout the county id Federal District Attorney Harry B. Tedrow’s recent instructions on the teaching English in the German schools continues to be ignored.

Germans in Grover, Colorado

Between 1900 and 1916, the changes in homesteading laws brought many settlers into the dry land regions of Weld County, including a group of German settlers who settled in the Grover area. In 1916 these settlers met, organized the Evangelical Lutheran Zion Congregation, U.A.C of Grover, Weld County Colorado, and in the summer of 1917 built a church which also served as a Christian day school. Shortly after the church was constructed, members of the congregation received threats that their new church would be burned if the German language continued to be taught and spoken in school, or during church services. In response, Henry D. Hilllman, Herman Hahn, and Mortiz Hopka printed a notice in the December 27, 1917 edition of the Pawnee Press;


In place of German, an “extended course in civil government” was substituted, this done “to prevent any internal troubles and to create greater unity among our people.” This church is now called the Weld Centennial Church and is located at Centennial Village Museum. You can view it when the village is open, midMay thru mid-October.

Aliens Are Anxious to Become Citizens Now

From Greeley Tribune, February 26, 1917, page 4

Prospects of war with Germany, homestead entries and the fact that citizenship has been made easier thru the many free schools established to teach the rudiments of democratic government, is responsible for an increased number of declarations to become American citizens being received by Clerk of District Court John W. Hunter. Until the last few months, applications for naturalization came one at a time, and it was a rare instance when two applied on the same day. Now it is not unusual for…[four] and as high as six applications to be filed in one day. Saturday during the final examination of the 27 applicants, there were three others who declared their intentions. These were Aug. H. Strate, a German of LaSalle, Oscar Benson, a Swede of Greeley and Henry Brehan, a Russian of Loveland.

No Driving Lessons for Lorenz

A Greeley automobile dealer, Blair Rugh, recalled that Phillip H. Lorenz came to the dealership, took a fat roll of bills from his pocket and purchased a new car. Rugh promised Lorenz a driving lesson before he headed home, but Rugh first had to wait on another customer. Lorenz became impatient, and with no prior driving experience, started his car and roared out of the lot. Alarmed, Rugh jumped into his own car but was unable to catch up with Lorenz’ speeding new car. By the time Rugh caught up to Lorenz he was in his driveway. Lorenz, smiling, got out of his new car and announced to the terrified car dealer, “She go fine all the way, YAH!”