Just Family History

The Just family roots have been traced back to about 1772 when Michael Just was born in Markgroeningen or Mariendorf, Germany. Michael married Maria Zigenhagel who was born around 1782 in either Stuttgardt, Germany or Luska, Poland.Although both locations have been mentioned in St. Petersburg, Russia death records, it seems more likely that she was born in Stuttgardt. Michael Just and his wife had four children, Rosina (b. ca. 1806), Christoph (b. ca. 1817), Michael (b. ca. 1819), and Andreas (b. ca. 1824). Sometime, perhaps in the early 1830's, Michael and Maria immigrated to southern Russia and settled in the Glückstal district. It seems likely that they lived in the village of Glückstal, which is in Moldova. Michael died in there on December 18, 1835 at the age of 63. Maria also died in Glückstal on November 10, 1841 at 59 years. Two of their sons, Christoph and Michael, were married there in 1837 but records indicate that they moved to Kassel because most of their children were born there. Kassel, which lies across the border in the Ukraine, is about 15 miles to the southeast of Glückstal. The source of this information comes from the web site of the St. Petersburg Records Database for Glueckstal Colonies.

Glückstal was founded in 1809 when the German colonists at Grigoriopol (about 106 families) traded homes with the inhabitants of the village of Glinoi. Glinoi, which was about 30 miles northwest of Tiraspol and 7 miles from the Dniester river was then renamed Glückstal or "Valley of Good Fortune". By 1848 it had grown to about 231 resident families living in 215 homes. Kassel was established in 1810 by Evangelical Lutherans from various areas of Germany, France and Poland. It was situated in the Kumurovka valley of the Dniester River, an agricultural area about 20 miles north of Tiraspol (approx. 75 miles from Odessa and the Black Sea). Besides crops of wheat, rye, barley, corn, potatoes, and melons, the area was known for its wine grapes. Village histories written in 1848 about Glückstal and Kassel describe their founding and provide some interesting information about their agriculture, enterprises, and living conditions at that time. Photos and additional information about the Glückstal colonies, as well as their inhabitants, can be found by linking to the various Germans from Russia resources.

Christoph Just married Elisabetha Maier on November 23, 1837 in Glückstal. Twelve children were born to this couple. They included Christoph (b. May 19, 1838), Johann (b. March 30, 1840), Catharina (b. March 19, 1842), Friedrich (b. January 04, 1845), Magdalena (b. November 10, 1845), Rosina (b. January 26, 1848), Margaretha (b. April 07, 1850 ), Simon ( b. November 07, 1851), Elisabetha (b. December 27, 1853), Margaretha (b. December 04, 1855), Christina (b. April 20, 1857), and Carolina (b. May 30, 1861). Since there were two girls named Margaretha, it is assumed the first one died before 1855.

Christoph, the oldest son, married Barbara Frey on November 11, 1858 in Kassel and they had nine children, all born in Kassel except for Andreas who was born in Chutor Annowka.It is possible, though not certain, that there was a 10th child named Christian. The children and their birth dates are: Johann (August 26, 1859), Christoph C. (September 16, 1860), George (February 23, 1863), Philipp (April 08, 1866), Andreas (October 22, 1868), Katharina (August 07, 1872), Christina (October 19, 1874), Friedrich (February 25, 1877), and Jacob (February 22, 1880). Johann and Christina died as infants in Kassel. Andreas also died in Russia but the date and place are unknown. Andreas appears in a family photo taken about 1890 so he obviously survived into his early twenties. Much of the information about the descendants of the surviving siblings was published in 1978 by Luella Bitz and Carol Halverson in their book titled, "Just Heritage 1838-1978".

Christoph apparently was the only one of his siblings to immigrate to the United States. All the others remained in Russia. His brother, Johann, married Carolina Boerkirchert on November 17, 1863 in Kassel and they had six children, Johann, Jacob, Friederich, Christina, Eva and another Christina. His sister, Magdalena, married Conrad Lippert on November 28, 1867 in Glückstal. Little is known about his other siblings except that Friedrich, Elisabetha, Margaretha II and Christina, all died in Kassel as infants or under 2 years of age and Carolina died about a month before her 14th birthday.

The first members of Christoph and Barbara's family to immigrate to the United States were their two oldest sons, Christoph C. and Georg. They left Russia in the fall of 1884 at the ages of 24 and 21. Georg arrived in New York on September 27 aboard the SS Elbe. Christoph C., his wife Elisabeth, and and their infant son, Karl, arrived in New York three weeks later on October 18 aboard the SS Werra. It is not known why they didn't travel together. Bitz and Halverson, in their book, relate an account from family lore that Georg paid a kind Jewish fellow to help them across the border. Since Georg was single and the legal age for military duty, he may well have been leaving the country to avoid conscription into the Russian army.

About ten years later Philipp and his family joined his brothers in America. Philipp had married Karolina Martel in Kassel on February 21, 1889 and two of their children were born there before they emigrated, Eva (b. January 27, 1891) and Katharine (April 09, 1893). Immigration records at Ellis Island indicate that the family arrived in New York aboard the SS Spree on April 12, 1894. Accompanying them were Philipp's 21-year-old sister, Katharina, and 14-year-old brother, Jacob.It is curious that Jacob would have left his parents at age 14 to travel to America while his 17-year-old brother, Friedrich remained behind.One explanation, I suppose, may have been that Friedrich was needed at home to help his parents. In any case Christoph, Barbara and Friedrich left Russia and followed the rest of the family one year later. Passenger manifests at Ellis Island indicate that they sailed from Bremen aboard the SS Havel and arrived in New York on April 4, 1895.

When Christoph and Barbara reached North Dakota, they lived in a sod house near their son, Christoph C.who was farming on a homestead he claimed on December 7, 1885. The quarter section of land was located about 12 miles north of the present town of Zeeland, ND. On the same day, Georg filed a homestead claim on 160 acres two miles from his brother. Both Christoph C. and Georg became naturalized citizens on May 31, 1892. All of the families initially settled in McIntosh County, North Dakota, but in 1902 Friedrich and Jacob filed homestead claims in McLean County. On April 29, 1903, their father, Christoph, at the age of 65, became a citizen of the United States. He died nine years later on April 12, 1912. Barbara, who was born August 23, 1837 in Kassel, died two years after her husband on July 13, 1914. They both are buried at St. Andrews Lutheran Church cemetery 13 miles northeast of Zeeland, ND.

The St. Andrews Lutheran Church is located on the NW 1/4 of section 1, Township 130, Range 73 in McIntosh County. The original church was built in 1892 by fifteen pioneer families including Christoph constructed of sandstone taken from a site 12 miles to the northwest.The church was named to the National Register of Historic Places on July 12, 1990. More information about the church and its founding members can be found in the 100th anniversary book entitled, "St. Andrews Lutheran Church 1893-1993" [a text file of this book can be found in the German-Russian Genealogical Library of the Odessa3.org website].

Georg Just, my great grandfather, married Kristina Rudolf, the daughter of Ludwig and Katharina (Schnabel) Rudolf, on March 28, 1887. Kristina was born December 25, 1868 in Kassel and came to America with her parents in October 1884. Georg and Kristina had nine children. Lydia (b. January 14, 1888); Friedrich (b. January 07, 1890); Katherine (b. February 26, 1891), George (b. March 08, 1892), Christina (b. September 23, 1893); Jacob (b. January 06, 1895); August (b. April 20, 1896), Lydia (b. September 23, 1898), and Jacob (b. March 17, 1899). In November 1897, the Just family was devastated by the deaths of four of their children, Jacob, George, Lydia and Christina, within a two-week period presumably by an influenza epidemic. Then at the end of April and early May 1899, Georg not only lost another son, also named Jacob, but his wife too who was only 31 years old.

With four young children to raise, Georg soon found and married his second wife, Mary (Schnabel) Reich, in October 1899. Mary (b. April 26, 1878) was a widow with one son, Jacob Reich, born October 26, 1898. This turned out to be a very prolific union with 14 children. Their first child, Theobald "Deabold" was born on August 31, 1900 and was followed by Mathilde (b. July 30, 1901), Emma (b. August 30, 1902), Elizabeth (b. February 26, 1904), Magdalene (b. February 20, 1905), Adam (b. May 17, 1906), Wilhelm (b. June 18, 1907), Beada (b. June 04, 1908), Theresa (b. August 20, 1909), Edwin (b. January 21, 1911), Esther (b. March 30, 1912), Heinrich (b. August 1, 1913), Rosina (b. private), and Rebecca (b. June 14, 1917). A family photo was taken sometime in the mid 1920's.

Georg, or George as he was known in America, was nearly 74 years old when he died on January 19, 1937. His wife, Mary, lived until May 26, 1949. George and both wives are buried in the St. Andrews Lutheran Church cemetery, rural Zeeland, ND.

Katherine, the oldest surviving daughter, married John Meidinger on January 21, 1913 in the St. Andrews Lutheran Church. More about this family, my maternal grandparents, can be found on the Meidinger family page.

© - Gene Maas

rev. 16 May 2004



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