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Village News

from Bill Wiest after his 1995 trip to Russia

·...we had an unusually good trip overall. Especially was the sojourn in Saratov satisfying, since MIR had subcontracted with German House to take care of all village visits, etc. German House did a wonderful job - they had traveled in advance to all villages our group wanted to visit, had identified contact persons in each village. and had arranged for overnight stays with German host families in certain selected villages. It turned out that we stayed overnight in Brunnental rather than Wiesenmuller. In :Brunnental we were met by a group that was described as “all the German people who now live here,” and I got a list of all family names of current Brunnental German families. ...And then the village administration in BrunnentaI put on a lunch for us immediately, and we had a good round of questions and answers. I. ...the people in the city administrator's office in Brunnental expressed the wish to learn more of their history form AHSGR.

They seemed very open to us (though they were not German, they had arranged for us to meet All German families in Brunnental who came to the office) and expressed surprise that we knew so much (“more than we do'') about Brunnental. The maps were absolutely fascinating to them, as well as to the German families we met there.

·Our experience in Wiesenmuller was also very informative.. I asked the librarian about directions in Wiesenmuller; we were very close to the JerusIan River when we met her, and she said the river at Wiesenmuller has a generally east-west orientation with the village being on the north side of the river.

I also asked what 'Lugovskoye' (Russian name of Wiesenmuller) meant, and she thought awhile then said, 'A place where there are meadows.' She claimed to not have known that Wiesenmuller means, in German, 'the place called Muller in the meadow.

We bad the privilege of staying overnight in Brunnental with a German family and we learned a lot about that village and its history. We then drove to Wiesenmuller where we were officially toured through the village. In Wiesenmuller a German man gave us a sack full of beautiful apples and several clusters of grapes from his back yard. ... They seemed like Chardonney or some such, not Concord-like.

The apples were also very tasty. Another highlight of Wiesenmuller is that we were given a a 'research report' on the village and its history by a Saratov University student who prepared it especially for us. One of the things she mentioned was a set of old brick-lined deep cellars recently rediscovered at various places in the village. where the German settlers bad stored food; the cellars are cool and damp in summer and warm enough to not freeze in winter. We then saw two of them and entered one. They seemed to be at least 20 feet deep and to enter it one had to go down by way of a long steep Iadder (or in the case of the one we entered, down brick steps). The cellar was deep enough so that several feet of water was standing at the bottom (from the water table created by the JerusIan River I assume) and one had to walk on a kind of temporary boardwalk set up inside to keep from getting wet.

In Wiesenmuller we also visited a group of older German people who had just finished meeting at their Prayer House one afternoon. As arrived at the Prayer House, the ones remaining came back inside and after some visiting and getting acquainted they agreed to sing fur us. (They were fascinated that Americans whose ancestors used to live here had come back to visit) We requested an old familiar German song, “Gott ist die Liebe,“ so we could also join in the singing. I believe they sang all 9 verses.

·Several people from our [tour] group ran into a wealth of good information at the Archives in Engels (arrangements were made by German House for the archivists to work on our search problems as soon as we arrived) Sadly. I personally didn't get to Engels, since I spent an extra day visiting villages.

Also, sadly, I still did not get to Muller - simply ran cut of time! Wanted to go there because that's where my Buxman ancestors first went when they arrived in 1767, and I assume Muller is a kind of 'mother colony' for Wiesenmuller. Doug Grimes of MIR who was there in June said Muller was very close to the river (west bank) and is in fact sloughing off into the river. He said there was what appeared to be a cemetery right at the river's edge (on a cliff) and that parts of it had already fallen into the river.

In addition to Brunnental and Wiesenmuller, I visited Dinkel, Warenburg, Frank, Grim, and Norka.