Jack Milner and his wife Clara, July 24, 2011.
Back in December 1996, my wife's interest in genealogy emphasized the fact that I didn't know anything about my Altwasser grandparents, not even their first names. How could this happen? Surely everybody knows about their grandparents..............or don't they?
Early in 1997 I managed to make contact with my Uncle, Alan Juno, the husband of my Aunt Agnes. Unfortunately, Aunt Agnes had passed away the previous year so I missed seeing her again. However, she had been interested in family history and collected a lot of data on her mother's side (Grams) as well as considerable information on the Altwassers. I was able to copy all of this information and was the recipient of the book "Yellow Grass Our Prairie Community" as well as a copy of "A Century of Doms History in Western Canada". It took me several years to untangle the various branches and sort out the generations of continuously recycled names.
Uncle Alan also told me that Art and Herb Domes were doing an Altwasser book. That's why I contacted Art. However, Art wasn't writing an Altwasser history book. He thought Karl Lenz in Saskatoon was producing the book and he provided me with Karl's address. What a bonanza! Karl and I share the same great great grandfather and he had researched the Altwassers back to 1775 in Poland. This information he willingly shared with me and later published in his own book ["A Journey of Discovery", (2005), Karl A. Lenz]. So now I had information about my ancestors in Europe, but Karl wasn't doing an exclusive Altwasser book either. The Yellow Grass branch of the tree had written a lot about their family history, but precious little had been written about great grandfather Gottlieb's family. Something had to be done so I started researching these family members and writing their stories.
The quest had begun.
This is how I fit into the Altwasser family tree. My great grandfather was Gottlieb Altwasser, his oldest son Michael was my grandfather and Michael's oldest daughter Olga was my mother. The first exciting document I found was the 1907 passenger list of the SS Victorian showing the names of my grandfather Michael Altwasser and his family, their country of origin and their destination in Canada.
Why were they going to Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan..........?
It soon become evident that Yellow Grass was the residence and perhaps the first destination in Canada for many of "der Auswanderer" Altwassers. Volhynian history eventually revealed why Russia was their country of origin.
In September 2008, Wolfgang Köllner made contact with a direct descendant of Karl Julius Altwasser. Karl Julius did not migrate to Volhynia like his brothers, but had stayed behind in central Poland. At the onset of WW II, families in Poland had to provide proof of their German ethnicity to the Hitler administration in order to qualify for immigration and naturalization. Werner Altwasser generously made available copies of documents obtained in 1940 by his father Johann Altwasser. Kantor J. Bojanowski had extracted the information from the parish church register in Dombie (Dabie) to provide the required documention. Determining how to fit Karl Julius into the family history with his three brothers presented a challenge, but in January 2011 the story became an integral part of Destination: Yellow Grass.
"Why Did They Leave?" is a summary of my research into Volhynian history and was written over the past ten years or so as I found information I thought relevant to Destination: Yellow Grass. This section is designed to help myself and others understand the circumstances of our ancestors in Volhynia and the wonderful choice they made for their descendants when they left for a new and better life.
Substantial pieces of information were added during 2011. These can be reviewed by checking through the numerous entries for 2011 on the What's New. page. Destination: Yellow Grass continues to evolve with the resurgent interest in genealogy and the wonderful technology of the internet.
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