Northern Colorado Chapter
Northern Colorado Chapter Officers
Northern Colorado does not have a Chapter membership form because we do not require chapter dues. We have been fortunate to maintain our finances to the point of not requiring dues. Anyone who is a member of AHSGR International is welcome in our chapter. To become a member of AHSGR International, please go to the membership page.
Meetings and Calendar of Events
6:00 p.m. start
Dinner Meetings are held at the Aims College Corporate Education Center at 5590 11th Street, Greeley, Colorado.
Board Meetings and Hosts for 2012
Deadline for Submission to the Newsletters
Historic Preservation Ė the Story of the Fritzler Fanning Mill
On September 4, 2002, Ron Greenwald brought Paul Fritzler to the Larry Bohlenderís CIC office to visit about a project Ron was concerned about. As Paul related the history of this piece of equipment his father had built, Ron and Larry realized they were listening to history that should be preserved and Connie Kevorkian joined them to record the conversation. We believe it is an important piece of the entrepreneurial history that survived from the Volga region to Weld County. Here is the interview with longtime AHSGR member Paul Fritzler. Paulís parents grew up in "the old country" as neighbors, following in the footsteps of several generations of wheat farmers in the Village of Grimm, Russia. His father, Fred Fritzler, was one of the first members of the family to immigrate to America and, over the years, he shared many memories with Paul.
Fred was born into a large family in this farming community in 1883, a large family of eleven brothers and several sisters. At that time the formula for land distribution to the families was called the mir system. The German colonists called it the Dusch method since the land assignments were based on the ducha, the Russian word for "soul." Therefore the settlers called mir land Seelenland Ė "soul land". (The Russians were alleged to have said women had no souls, hence were not entitled to land shares under the mir. From the Volga Germans by Koch page 70) Thus about every 10 years all the land assigned to the village was redistributed only to males, regardless of age or physical fitness. It is worth noting these plots of land were not necessarily adjoining and some times were not in close proximity for the family. The families lived in the village and went to the fields every day during the growing season.
There was an area outside the village where a large, smooth, hard surface called a "threshing floor" was located. At harvest time, the farmers would tie the wheat in bundles, haul it in and stack it around the threshing floor. The ripe wheat was laid on the floor and horses pulling threshing stones would be driven over the wheat knocking the grains from the heads. They would then rake off the straw and run the grain and chaff through the fanning mills.
The fanning mills were machines that blew the chaff away from the grain, allowing the clean grain to tumble out the backside of the machine where it was shoveled into bags. This was normally a three (3) man operation, requiring one man to shovel the grain into the machine, a second man to turn the crank to keep the fans going, and a third man to shovel the grain into bags. The machine contained shakers and different size screens were used depending on the type of grain.
The climate in Grimm was similar to the northern United States, along the Canadian border. The farmers planted fall wheat in September and in the winter, they turned their energies to building fanning mills or other cottage industries. Several families in Grimm were involved in building fanning mills that were sold all over Russia. Luckily, the Village of Grimm was home to Schaefferís Foundry that made the metal parts they needed for these fanning mills. The round part of the machine was made of tin, held in place by strips of wood and containing iron sprockets. Years later a pulley could be added to the machine with an electric motor, but that was not a luxury enjoyed by the farmers at that time.
The work of building the fanning mills was often divided between families. Fredís family made the wooden part of the mill. His neighbor two houses away made the various screens used the separate out the seeds of various sizes from the chaff. They would stretch wires across wooden frames to create the different sizes of screens for the various holes in the fanning mills. In the spring, the fanning mills were taken to Saratov, a seaport on the Volga River about sixty (60) miles away from the village to be sold all over Russia. These machines were always painted a distinctive shade of orange and many years later when similar machines were discovered throughout Europe, it was interesting to find they were always that same color.
Fred and Catherine were married in December 1904 and left the Village of Grimm in March 1907, arriving in Windsor, Colorado in May 1907. They farmed in the northern Colorado area all their life. Paul said his Dad never did retire as he was always ready and willing to help Paul with any farm worked help he needed. In the winter of 1939, Fred decided to try to recreate one of the fanning mills from his youth. He remembered the measurements clearly, but they came from a time when Russia didnít use metric or United States units of measure. The conversion of these measurements was a real challenge for him, but he persevered and he was successful. He spent three years carefully building the fanning mill by hand. He finished it in 1941 when he was 59 years old. He described the little gears he needed and Ted Stark, a Windsor blacksmith forged them for him. With the modern equipment available by this time, the threshing machine and combine, there was not an actual need for the fanning mill at this time, but a few neighbors borrowed it to use just to see how it worked.
Fred Fritzler passed away in 1961 and his wife died in 1972. Paul and his sister Louise (Fritzler) Meyer were both born on the farm in Windsor. Paul has spent his whole life on the Windsor farm.
The fanning mill stayed in the barn on the Fritzler farm until the summer of 1996 when Paul decided to send it to the AHSGR Headquarters in Lincoln. He wanted it to be displayed as an authentic piece of German from Russia history. Jim and John Dudley delivered the fanning mill to the headquarters in Lincoln on July 16, 1996. Unfortunately it was discovered recently that the fanning mill was in danger of complete deterioration because it was left outside in the weather where it rusted, the boards warped and the paint faded.
The NCC offered and headquarters agreed to have our chapter bring the fanning mill back to Colorado to rehab it to its original condition. It is currently being rehabilitated by a professional restorer in Fort Collins. The estimate to restore it is $500.00. Any money you would donate is tax deductible. Send your tax-deductible donation to our treasurer Esther Hergenreder or give it to her at our March 8 dinner meeting.
The Fritzler Fanning Mill as it was being delivered to AHSGR Headquarters in Lincoln in 1996.
Mr. Paul Fritzler
If you have historical materials, documents, stories and pictures and would like to preserve them, please contact the Newsletter Editor, Lauren Brantner and they will be considered for publication in the Newsletter and may scanned for the database in Windsor.
Genealogy Research in Northern Colorado
Sydney Heitman Collection at Morgan Library on the Colorado State University Campus in Fort Collins, Colorado is a regional resource.
For published church records for Northern Colorado, consult the Denver Metro Chapterís publication list for individual church records for this region. Some libraries will also have the volumes. Some churches are still active and you may wish to contact them directly.
The Centennial Park Branch of the Weld County Library is located at 2227 23rd Avenue, Greeley, CO 80631. This facility contains the AHSGR historical collection that was formerly in the Lincoln Park Branch at 919 7th Street. It has all of the county library system's genealogy collection and is manned by volunteers from the county genealogical society. Newspaper microfilms within county library system have been relocated to the Centennial Park Branch and are housed in the genealogy section of the library.
Another place to check is the Greeley Museum historical files at 919 17th Street. There are other libraries in smaller towns and cities within the county along with historical and or genealogical societies both in the county and in adjoining counties. Major research sites for Larimer County include the Cities of Loveland and Fort Collins library systems. County seats in the eastern plains counties of eastern Colorado all have a variety of resources from city libraries to small historical societies.
This project was the beginning of SOAR and the first part of the SOAR database was from material scanned for this project. Since then, the arrangement that began with just the Windsor Library has grown to an international project with many contributors within AHSGR and with world wide presence through the Internet.
A bequest from our deceased board member Kelly Dumler has allowed us to purchase equipment and enter into an agreement with the Windsor/Severance Historical Society to digitize all of our archived scrapbooks and records and future paper records, which are on display in the 1909 Town Hall Museum in Windsor. The Windsor/Severance Historical Society agreed to provide the computer hardware, operating software, space and staff necessary to access, print, and store our digital records in a library or museum site where researchers can access it. This very large volunteer project has involved hundreds of volunteer hours as chapter members scan obituaries, wedding announcements, and other secondary genealogical sources from our series of scrapbooks and other historical data which dates back to the beginning of our chapter and includes some older family material donated for preservation in the scrapbooks. At the conclusion of the scanning process, other volunteers cropped the pages scanned into individual articles so each piece can be accessed individually.
The next step involved putting together an "everyname" index of all the material. For example, the "everyname" index would include every name mentioned in an obituary or wedding, not just the names of the primary subject of the article. Researchers will be able to check the index and pull up all the material containing the various spellings of family names they are researching instead of looking through a dozen scrapbooks. First the the images of the text were converted into actual text by using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. Then using software created by Computer Information Concepts (CIC) of Greeley, CO volunteers created an index.
Ron Greenwald-standing, Esther Hergenreder, Betty Hoffner, & Harriett Lehr
The chapter does not hold formal genealogy sessions on a scheduled basis. Special workshops are held as interest dictates.
A smaller secondary project has been partially completed. The Northern Colorado Chapter Membership Chair, Violet Stromberger has maintained our membership records since the beginning of the organization and those items have been scanned and entered into an Access database by Larry Bohlender's technical staff. This database may be used for historical research and for various other purposes.
Our archives have been moved to the old Park School in the Windsor Town Hall complex where we maintain a collection of historical objects, books, and memorabilia. Our Chapter is currently in the process of cataloguing all of these items and working through an agreement with the Town of Windsor. We will also catalogue all of the GR materials that are in the museum collection that do not belong to our organization so that researchers can more easily learn about and access what is there. When the old town hall is completely renovated, we anticipate moving with the museum to that location.
Other cities in Northern Colorado also have library facilities. More will be featured on these later.
Support the AHSGR by giving the gift of membership to someone close to you!!
Don't Throw It Away!!!
The Board of Directors of the Northern Colorado Chapter of the AHSGR urges its membership not to throw away any of the Journals Newsletters, and Clues that are received from our Headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska. After you have used them as much as you like, please give them to a member of the Board of Directors and they will see that they are delivered to the appropriate places for continued useful purposes. We are trying to keep regional libraries' holdings complete to assist patrons who are researching their Germans from Russia roots. (Dr. Solomon Schneider).
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