Thursday, December 18, 2014

Starvation Faced Fredericksheim

This story was adapted from a letter written by Ed C. Jeager and appeared in the book entitled From the Frontier Days in Leduc and District, which was published by the Leduc Historical Society to commemorate Alberta's 75th anniversary.

As the last forms were being locked up for this book a letter came from Mr. Ed. C. Jaeger telling of pioneer days at Fredericksheim, and that goes back to 1893 when Rev. F. A. Mueller led a group of Russian settlers into that district, first white homesteaders southeast of Leduc. There were the Falkenbergs (two families), Schalins (two families), Bienert, Hammer, Hiller, Boelter (or Belter), Khunert, Klatt, Roth and a few others. The colony faced actual starvation when the federal government and Winnipeg people sent flour, for rabbits then had a disease that made them unfit for food. Rev. Mueller tried valiantly to comfort his lamenting, homesick colony, predicting great things if they only stayed and had faith in God.

A German farmhouse in then Volhynia, Russia; photograph courtesy of
Lucille Effa Fillenberg

So most of the settlers braved the adversities and after many years their faith was more than justified for it's a fine district today. Later immigrants, also from Russia, were terrified at the echoing howls of the coyotes, which they were told were prairie wolves, and two men without families and with pocket money started walking back. They were Muth (Courage in German) and Froelich (Happiness in German) and they finally made it to Winnipeg overland but with shoe soles gone. The remainder of the newcomers stayed with Rev. Mueller and his people, only because they and no money to return to the old land, where they had left good homes. Later on they could laugh at their troubles, as had a Mr. Hiebert from Oregon who came on the same twice weekly train to Leduc and thought it highly amusing that men named Courage and Happiness were wailing louder than the coyotes they were afraid would eat them alive!

Typical southern Alberta pioneer home; photograph courtesy of Norm

It's quite different from the homes they left in the Volhynia region of what was then Russia don't you think?

History of Fredericksheim
Fearless Females: Religion
Fearless Females: Immigration
Being German in Tsarist Russia: Why They Left
Moving Halfway Around the World in 1893

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