Allied Families

The following allied families are in our direct Boettcher ancestry: Schramm, Allmer, Schorzmann (Schortzmann), Sperr, Laitenberger, Seuffer, Theurer, Schwenk, Ringle, Ade, Ebinger, Fandrich (Wandry), Hoffmann, Ehrmann, Strieb, Haug (Hauck), Schmidt, Knoertzer, Strueber, Boschitzky (Boschatzke), Boepple, Fritz, Mueller-Bader, Suess, Feuerbacher, Anhorn, Lutz, Schaupp, Frey, Graf, Benz, von Ohlhausen (von Olnhausen), Gruen, Mueller

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Essay on Johannes Sperr of Rielingshausen, Württemberg, Germany

Below is an essay written by Alexandra "Lexi" Bettcher on our ancestor Johannes Sperr. Alexandra won the Runner-up Award for the Middle School Division of the 2008 Germans from Russia Heritage Society Essay Contest.

A Man Possessed With Wanderlust

At the age of eleven, Johannes Sperr began the adventure of a lifetime that would take him across many regions of the world. Johannes was my great, great, great, great grandfather, but I'll call him Grandpa John.

Grandpa John was born on March 8, 1821 in Rielingshausen, Wurttemberg, Germany.
In the year 1832, his father Phillipp decided to take advantage of the opportunity to have free land, offered by the Czar of Russia. So John, along with his parents, Phillipp and Margaretha, his older sister, Maria Katharina, his younger brother, Gottlieb and his two younger sisters, Anna Magdelena and Christina, began their trek to South RussiaWhile their destination was Bessarabia, they stopped in the city of Odessa where John's mother Margaretha died. The family was then assigned to one of the newest colonies, Friedenstal, Bessarabia, founded in 1833. John's father remarried in 1834 and three more sisters and one brother were added to his family.

Because of the lack of land in Friedenstal, the family once again decided to relocate, this time across the Danube River to the province of Dobrudscha in the country of Turkey. The year was 1842, and John was 21 years old. At this early age, he was already a subject of three different countries. The family finally settled in the small village of Atmagea. In 1845, Grandpa John married Louisa Fandrich, whose family had also come from Bessaarabia. She was born in 1827 in the village of Brienne.

After the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-78, Dobrudscha came under Romanian Rule. At age 57, Grandpa John was subject of a fourth country. John and Louisa had three daughters. On of the daughters, Maria Elisabeth, married a newcomer to the area, Samuel Bettcher. Samuel was born in 1857 in Paris, Bessarabia and moved to Atmagea
in 1875 with his family to avoid the conscription into the Russian army. In 1898, John,
who was then widowed, immigrated to the United States with his daughter and son-in-law, Samuel Bettcher and their children. They traveled by train to Hamburg, Germany,
then sailed to New York City on the S.S. Furst Bismark.

From New York City they took the train to North Dakota. At age 77, Grandpa John filed a homestead claim in what is today Rosenfeld Township, Sheridan County. He was now subject of his fifth country. After living there only twelve years, wanderlust
again set in. Samuel Bettcher, Grandpa John's son-in-law, traveled to both Havana,
Cuba and Montana to evaluate land opportunities. After careful consideration,
opportunities appeared best in Canada. In 1910, Grandpa John relocated to Golden Prairie, Saskatchewan, Canada with his family. At age 89, he once again filed a homestead claim and naturalization intent, making him a subject of his sixth country.

On September 30, 1912, Grandpa John died at the age of 91. He is buried in the Rosenfeld Cemetery, near Golden Prairie, Saskatchewan. Grandpa John was a very brave and adventuresome man. He loved life and experienced it fully in his 91 years. By the time I was eleven years old, the age Grandpa John began his adventure, I had already lived in 5 homes. The Wanderlust lives on.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

History of Paris, Bessarabia - oldest known village of our Boettchers

History of Paris, Bessarabia - compiled in 1848 by town leaders
Paris, Bessarabia - 1940

“In the year 1816 immigrants settled on the north side of the steppe river Kugelnick in Bessarabia. The settlers were descendants of Prussian emigrants, living in Poland near Warsaw and Kalish. Called by decree of His Imperial majesty Alexander the Mild, 141 families settled here, after having been quartered for two years on the Dniester river with the Moldavians. The immigrants had no leaders on the journey, only documents which permitted them to receive lodging and travel money on the bin. Although they received some travel money, the long journey reduced most of the settlers to want and poverty. When they arrived at their destination President Mueller of the Tarutino Office showed them the places they were to inhabit. They found nothing there except some lumber which was in very bad condition because of the long exposure to rain and heat. Since the immigrants found no houses at the colony, they were forced to build tent-like huts which they covered with grass and reeds in which they lived until fall. By winter some had built small houses of clay, others built mud huts in which they survived until 1818. Gradually decent houses replaced those pitiful huts, to which in later years were added sheds and barns, so that by now each settler owns a respectable farmstead. As support for the construction of their buildings each settler received ten rubles. For the clearing/cultivation of the steppes each family received a wagon, a plow, a spade and a hoe and also other tools like scythe, sickle, ax, hammer etc. The soil is very hard, therefore the cultivation work did not proceed as quickly as the settlers anticipated, considering that 6-8 oxen were needed to pull a mow. Yet each family, when they took over a farmstead, received only two oxen and a cow. If two families shared one farmstead, they did not get additional animals. So the farmers were forced to yoke their oxen together. Although the new soil was fertile they were unable to reap the full benefit from it, because they did not have the means (except for a few) to buy enough seed. For the first few years the settlers did not have to pay any crown debts (taxes?) and could have easily worked themselves out of their pitiful condition had they immediately planted vineyards and orchards. But since grapevines and young fruit trees were not readily available, they again forfeited some of the benefits. The greatest profits were reaped by those land owners who had already been there when the settlers arrived and remained there several more years, because they had considerable herds of livestock which, of course, the new arrivals did not have. In general the soil in this colony is parched and full of Alkali. It does not hold moisture well and is unfavorable for the growth of plants especially grain in times of drought. The best-suited species of trees for this type of soil are: acacias, elm trees. apple, pear and cherry trees. There are no forests here, for the recently planted woodlands cannot be called that. On several occasions the area has been searched for rocks, but so far no quarries have been discovered. For that reason the colonists have to buy and transport the rock they need from neighboring colonies. At the time of settlement the colony was named Alecksuesswerth, which was soon changed to Paris by the Minister of the Interior. This was to commemorate a turn for the better brought on through the decisive battle of Leipzig, after which even Paris was conquered in 1814 and the oppressive hardships, under which most of Europe was languishing, were lifted. In regards to the locality of this colony, it can be described as being 53 miles from the county seat Ackermann and 80 miles from the government city Kishinev (w) It is situated on the north side in the valley of the Kugelnick river which meanders down from Moldavia, winding in many bends, sometimes closer, sometimes farther, past the colony. Opposite the river is a rather steep hillside which rises right behind the orchards and has been planted with grapevines. Following the ridge of hills from north to south, the colony is laid out in two rows and consists of 121 homes which (with few exceptions) are built in simple fashion In the westerly row stands the chapel, much like a church, built by the congregation with their own funds. To the side and back is the mayor's office and behind that, somewhat to the side, the village storehouse. Across the street from this is the newly erected schoolhouse which, because of its beauty and size, catches the eyes of strangers In 1831 cholera was brought to Russia from Persia through the Caucasus. It reached South Russia with its horrors, including this colony and several other Bessarabian colonies, and in this colony claimed the lives of 49 souls. The first earthquake, which occurred in the fall of 1825 (1828 according to other village records) just before midnight, was felt so strongly in this colony that the sleeping population awoke, jumped out of bed and ran out of their houses. The second earthquake, in 1830 was less noticeable. But the third earthquake, in 1838, exceeded the other two in magnitude. Because of the strong tremors of the earth, people walking looked like staggering drunks. It cannot be said that there is prosperity in the colony, for many setbacks were hard to overcome. For instance, if the colonists concentrated on raising livestock, diseases often frustrated their plans; as they pursued grain farming, frequent droughts and also locust plagues resulted in poor harvests and dashed their fondest hopes. Yes, some farmers, who had used large quantities for seed, even had to buy bread for their families. Despite all of this, the prosperity of the people has been raised in the last few years, through the grace and blessing of God, as well as greater diligence and better cultivation of fields and gardens, and is visible in many a comfortable home. Colony Paris, 6 May 1848 Mayor: Dallmann Councilman: Joerke (?) Schimke Church/School teacher: Dieno (Author)"

Translated by Roswita Niessner Edited by Ralph and Evelyn Ruff Coordinated with GRHS Village Research Clearing House Coordinated with AHSGR/GRHS Translation Committee Chairman

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Boettcher Y-DNA Research Project - Background & Initail Results - Part III

Chart 4 contains the initial test results.  As you can see, the known blood relatives match perfectly, while the descendents of the other two villages show differences. The Kulm descendant is different on 11 of the 13 markers (with 16 mutations) and the Waterloo descendant is different on 4 markers (with 4 mutations). With only 13 markers, at most 2 mutations could still mean a possible relative. When extended for 43 markers, the Paris descendants still matched perfectly, while the Kulm descendant matched only on 16 of 43 markers and the Watleroo descendant matched on 24. The participants are for sure not blood relatives.

CHART 4. Initial Y-DNA Test Results

At this point, we begin to conclude no relationship exists between the Paris, Kulm and Waterloo Boettcher families. However, in order for more certainty, more samples from known relatives would be required to push back in time the most recent common ancestor of these other lines. Non-paternity events (e.g. illegitimacy) appear in 5% of cases, and can confuse results if only one person is tested from each family. In short, we need more participants to be more certain of our results. Also, there are Boettcher families in several other Bessarabian colonies (Tarutino, Arzis, Beresina, and Kloestitz) that could be related.

German Colonies near the Black Sea

The Germans were welcomed to the Russian Empire during and after the Napoleonic Wars. Many settled at various locations around the west and northern coasts of the Black Sea.  These people are labeled "Black Sea Germans",  in German "Schwarzmeerdeutsche".

Our Family settled in three primary areas: 
  1. Beresan Colonies, north of Odessa
  2. Bessarabia, southwest of Odessa
  3. Dobruja, south of the Danube Delta 
1.  The Beresan Colonies were founded around 1809-10

2.  Bessarabia was colonized beginning in 1814

3.  The Dobruja area was first settled in 1842

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Boettcher Y-DNA Research Project - Background & Initial Results - Part II

Next, we solicitated several known descendants of other Boettcher families from the villages of Kulm, Bessarabia and Worms/Waterloo, Beresan. We explained the test and how it would help all of use with our research regarding our ancestral roots. See Charts 2 and 3 for these descendencies.

CHART 2.  Boettcher of Kulm & Leipzig, Bessarabia

CHART 3. Boettcher of Waterloo & Worms, Beresan, Odessa

continued in Part III

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Boettcher Y-DNA Research Project - Background & Initial Results - Part I

Y-DNA (or Paternal Line) research is probably the most commonly used method for genetic genealogy. This method helps in proving relationships between males with the same paternal line (usually linked by same surname). This research is best used in combination with genealogical records where possible, but may also help prove or disprove relationships in the absence of records.

Our own paternal line, the Michael Böttcher family (of Paris, Bessarabia) dead ends with the founding of Paris in 1816 and the church books that only reach back to 1819. All we know of his origin is that he was born in Poland in 1794. Over years of research, we found a number of other Boettcher familes in adjacent villages in Bessarabia (Kulm, Leipzig, Tarutino, Arzis) and also in the Beresan colonies (Worms, Waterloo).  Even though Boettcher is a somewhat common occupational name (meaning cooper, barrel maker) we hypothesized that some of these families may be related. In the absence of church books or other source documents, we had no way of proving or disproving our theory -- until Y-DNA research that is…

While our project is still in its infancy, we are beginning to show that several of these families are not related.
We began by getting samples from our proven family (my father and his 2nd cousin, myself, my son). Indeed, the Y-DNA for these matched perfectly. This allowed us to determine with certainty the Y-DNA code for their most recent common ancestor, my great-great grandfather (Samuel Boettcher). See Chart 1.


continued in Part II

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Obituary of Andreas Boettcher (Andrew Bettcher)

Source: Der Sendbote, June 2, 1909, p. 350 (translated from German)
"BETTCHER - Andreas our Brother was born 22 Nov 1882 in Romania and died on 18 May 1909.  Eleven years earlier he came with his parents to this land.  In the year 1906, through the efforts of Br. Schwendener he was converted to God and Baptized by Br. Benjamin Schlipf on the confession of his faith and was a sincere member and loved the Lord.  In 1905, he married his now grieving wife, Anna Ehrmann, with whom he lived in harmony and the marriage was blessed with two children.  Brother Bettcher felt sick off and on during the spring but no one thought the end was so near.  On May 15th, he was overcome with great pain and the doctor was called and he said it was an inflamed appendix.  He was taken to Minot, North Dakota to the hospital in hope that if he had an operation all would be well but God had other plans and the infection had spread too much so that all efforts were in vain.  Brother Bettcher leaves to mourn his wife, two children, his parents, an old Grandfather, on the Mother's side and a Grandmother from the father's side of the family, two brothers and five sisters who will longingly and sadly miss him.  But he is at home with the Lord whom he accepted in the last hours before his death.  Br. Schlipf from Rosenfeldt and the writer spoke Words of comfort to the mourners and words of warning to the big gathering who had come to bid farewell to the dearly beloved who was deceased."

In August 1992, per A.J.Schulz, Anamoose, North Dakota: I was at Uncle Andrew's grave in 1992 and on the stone it was written: "In that bright immortal shore, we will meet to part no more."' 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Boettcher Families of Kulm and Leipzig, in Bessarabia

A friend and possible cousin, Armin Zimmermann, has published a fantastic site on the Boettcher families of Bessarabia.  He is a descendant of the Kulm and Liepzig village Boettcher families. 

His site can be found here:

Bettcher Surname Genealogical DNA Project

In our genealogical research through source records, we have hit some roadblocks in tracing our Bettcher family back into Germany.  To help faciliate our research, we created a DNA Project for the Bettcher Surname (and spelling variants) to see if we could identify additional relatives and clues. 

If you are interested in participating, please leave a comment with contact information and Andrew Barrett-Bettcher will reach out to you.

There were a number of Boettcher families in the areas our Michael Boettcher lived, so we have tried to reach out to any Boettcher or similar surnames that had settled in the Black Sea German Colonies (Bessarabia, Beresan, Odessa, etc.). 

Our research to date has include Y-DNA from Boettcher descendants of the following Black Sea villages:
  • Bessarabia:  Paris, Kulm
  • Beresan: Waterloo
We are particulary interested in any Boettcher descendants from the following Bessarabian villages:
  •  Leipzig, Tarutino, Arzis and Beresina. 

The following variant Bettcher surnames are of interest to our project:
  • Bettcher, Boettcher, Böttcher
  • Bettger, Boettger, Böttger
  • Bedger, Betker
  • Bettiger, Boettiger, Böttiger
  • Betticher,Boetticher, Bötticher
  • Bettinger, Boettinger, Böttinger
The project was started using the service DNA Heritge.  Here is the Boettcher Y-DNA Project webpage:

Family Tree DNA recently purchased DNA Heritage and will be moving our information to their database.  For more info on the move click here: