The Lower Volga Villages

Bauers and Krafts

Anna Bauer Mollenkamp writes in a letter of 31 May 1994. Her father, Conrad Bauer wasborn 4 Aug 1891 in Shcherbakovka. According to the Kraft Family History (cited earlier) hewas married to Katherine Kraft on 16 Aug 1914 and they had 11 children: Jake, Godfrey,Raymond, Fred, Lenora, John, David, Verda, Anna, Charles, and Curtis. Anna was born 30 Jan1933 and married Gene Mollenkamp of Arnold, KS. She has a picture of her grandfather. Katherine Kraft Bauer died 11 May 1971. She was the daughter of Frederick Kraft and hissecond wife, Anna Elizabeth Zweatsig. Frederick was the third child of Jacob and SophyllisWeiss Kraft, and was born 26 Dec 1859 in Shcherbakovka, Russia. He was in the Russian Armyfor one and a half years and learned how to set bones. His first wife was Catherine ElizabethBauer who was not related to the Frederick Bauer family that lived near the Krafts. (pp. 21-22)

Frederick and Anna Elizabeth Kraft had five children, Katherine being born 9 July.(There is some question about the year) They left Russia in 1906 landing in New York wherethey stayed for three days before going to Winnipeg, Canada, arriving in March and staying untilJuly. They went to Barton County, Kansas where Fred's brother, Jacob, was living.(pp. 21-22)

Anna Mollenkamp describes some of the things her father told her about life in Russia. Conrad Bauer's father was Frederick. His father was a young boy when he came with hisparents and settled in Russia. Frederick's father, Hanliener, was educated in the GermanSchool.

Their houses were built of either wood or adobe made of yellow clay and racks, usingframes as are used for cement houses. The roofs were of shingles. Houses usually had two orthree rooms, the main room being about 30 feet long and 20 feet wide. It served as living anddining room and bedroom, with two or three beds along one wall. The kitchen was small. Thethird room was usually for the elderly parents of the husband or wife. Each place had a summerhouse and a cellar. The summer house was a few feet from the main house. It had a smallfireplace, and in the summer, the food was cooked and eaten there, keeping the big house cleanand cool.

A nearby spring covered by a building which had troughs from one end to the other, waswhere the livestock drank. Clothes were washed at home and brought to the spring for athorough rinsing.

In the big attic of the house were stored grain, flour, syrup made from watermelons,meat, lard, dried fruit, dried beans and peas. Saurkraut was made in 50 gallon barrels. Ciderwas made from apples. Blue plums were put down in sugar and let ferment, and the juice wasserved at mealtime, instead of tea or coffee. The plums were served separately. There werestrawberries in season.

Wheat and rye were taken to the mill which was run by water power. There it wasground into flour to be made into bread. It was baked in large outside ovens made of brick. The ovens would hold six big loaves of bread, being six feet long and four feet wide.

Sheep were raised for their wool which was spun and knit by the women into socks,caps, mittens and other garments for the entire family.

The Bauer family lived just south of the Church in Shcherbakovka which had apopulation of about 3,800 at that time. Southeast of the village was the Valdeck Forest, and onthe northwest was the Barech Volt. Bears inhabited this area until one day they unaccountablydisappeared. Wolves sometimes came down to the village for food. Just before Conrad Bauerleft the Dorf for America, a big wolf was killed that had come down to try to get a colt.

Conrad told of the times in his boyhood when he had only one suit of clothes and went tobed while his mother washed them.

The Volga River was a half mile wide in the winter, and much wider in the spring andsummer. It took six men to pull a boat up the river to where it could be crossed. Then theywould put the boat in the water, and they would be on their way. The Russians used men to pullthe boat up the mile or so to where they put it in the water. But the German people used horses. They put the horse and wagon on the boat. It would hold two wagons and four horses and four tosix men. It cost 10 cents a head to cross. Conrad Bauer went across the Volga twice in thesummer time, and on a sled twice in the winter.

He worked on the other side of the river on a farm, and every Christmas he would comehome. He worked with camels and horses in Blumenfeld, named after the beautiful fields offlowers. The camels were used to plow the fields. When you said "chuck", the camel would liedown so you could get on his back and when you said "hatch" the camel would get up and go towork. They were contrary animals and might spit in your eye if given a chance. Conrad Bauerworked in Blumenfeld for two years, and at Morgantau, six miles away.

Because his father Fredrick did not want his youngest son, Conrad, to go into the militaryservice, he thought he should go to America. So in 1912, Conrad sold his 65 acres andpurchased his ticket. He sailed from Bremen, Germany on the Mistler Shipline, docking inGalveston, TX after a 19 day voyage. He went with the family of Charlotte Niedens toHoisington, KS, on 15 May 1912.

Conrad could not speak English, but he taught himself to read and write the Englishlanguage.

Return to Shcherbakovka