Contact was made recently with Rüdiger Swetlitschkin in Germany who, like us, is a descendant of George Martin Filbert and Anna Catharina Margaretha Gerhardt. It is his family's history that Anna Catharina Margaretha Gerhardt was a descendant of the Lutheran theologian and hymn writer Paul Gerhardt who lived in the 1600s...which makes us also descendants of this worthy and famous man (see Paul Gerhardt ). There is more information on Rüdiger Swetlitschkin and his connection to the family in the European Cousins page.
Filbert generation #1 begins with August I and Amalia (Mollie) Filbert. August
I was born in Alt-Schilling (Russian name, Sosnovka) on the west bank of the
Volga just a few miles south of Saratov. Mollie was born Amalia Legler in the
village of Bauer, located some 25 miles southwest of Alt-Schilling (13 miles west
of Moor). Church records in Russia indicated they moved to Neu-Schilling
sometime in the 1860s. It is probable that August II was born in
Neu-Schilling. Records found in Russia did disclose that more children
were born to August I and Amalia. It would appear they had at least six
children, including two Lydias (generally indicating that the first, born 6
July 1876, did not survive to adulthood) and an Anna Amalia (who is likely to
have died before the family left for America). We are not certain of the route
taken out of Russia (north through St. Petersburg or south through Odessa). However, we do know that August I, Mollie, Alexander,
Pauline (Lena) and Lydia (born 1895), along with the rest of the family, first
arrived in the Americas on the east coast of Mexico (probably at Tampico or,
possibly, Veracruz). Mexico was apparently selected as a destination because:
there was a significant Volga German community (or communities) already in
Mexico, and this may have included a brother of August I or an uncle of his
wife, Mollie. There are still known to exist a number of Filberts in
A visit to the Mormon Church Library records in Salt Lake City was made in 1993. A search of the library database for Filbert records in Russia then suggested the Schilling Filberts were originally from the Lorraine area of France (Mouacourt, Meurthe-Et-Moselle). More recent searches have found our German home to have been Neustadt and Gronau-Bensheim in the Hessen province. Our direct ancestor that moved to the Volga, Johann Philip Filbert, actually lived in what is now the Lorraine Province of France, moved to Denmark with his family, before moving to the Volga with four brothers and, possibly, there mother. To the left is a photo of Great-grandfather August Filbert I and below - Great-grandmother Amalia (Legler) Filbert.
There was a concentration of Filberts in this area in the 1700s
A check of the Filbert surname (including variations in spelling) finds it approximately equally common in both Germany and France. The location of Mouacourt, just east of Nancy, in the Lorraine Province of France is highlighted on the map insert above. In Germany, the name appears to be most frequently found in the SE (including present-day Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wurttenberg areas, near the French Lorraine Province), the area from which the Volga Germans most commonly emigrated. Death records in the Mormon Church’s on-line library finds a high concentration of Filbert deaths during the 1700s just east and south of Frankfurt am Main. Our direct ancestor Johann Peter Filbert was born in Gronau-Benshim (the small village south of Frankfurt am Main and Darmstadt), Hesse in 1708. Previous to Gronau-Benshim, our Filberts were found in Neustadt, about 18 miles further northeast. Neustadt was a support center for the Breuberg Castle. Our Filbert ancestors there were bakers, tilers, blacksmiths and, in Gronau-Benshim, vinkypers or wine producers. Closs Filbert or Vilbert has been the earliest confirmed Filbert ancestor, born in Neustadt in 1530.
Those early Filberts were Hessens..a separate principality since Germany was yet to be a country to be made up of multiple principalities. Another Kansas Filbert group was found to have immigrated though Galveston, Texas and on to Kansas just after 1900—but from Germany.
Filbert Family Chart
This graphic below summarizes our knowledge of the direct Filbert line. The family chart prepared by Dr. Igor Pleve contains on the order of 750 individuals, including descendants of all the original Schilling Filberts - at least those that he could find relatively easily. Actually, it includes only full information on the descendants of the male Filberts, as is currently still the practice in Russia. For the female descendants, we were lucky to get the name of the husband - with no record of children except where the female married another Filbert (cousins married more frequently then you would expect - but not in our direct line). Volga-German records generally extend into the 1930s, by which time the Communist regime had shut down the churches, which had maintained the Volga-German family records. A family genealogical chart is available from John Filbert. You can be provided with an electronic version of the full Filbert-Pinnecker genealogical chart in a neutral GEDCOM file format.
The first Filberts in Schilling had not been farmers in Germany. Information Kathy (Kleweno) Slack obtained suggested our Filberts may have been involved in the textile trade and records indicate our first Filbert to move to Bentheim-Gronau was in the business of wine production.. This helps explain why Johann Peter Filbert and his wife, Anna Maria (Stock) were born in Gronau (west of Bensheim), Hesse, Germany, relocated to the Lorraine province in what is now France, where some of their 12 children were reported to have been born and then on to Thoring, Denmark, where records show Johann Peter died in 1761. Johann Peter's forebears are, to the extent we could obtain information, also included in the graphic below. Five Filbert brothers then left Denmark to be among the earliest Schilling settlers. These brothers were: Johann Nicolaus, Johann Georg, Johann Conrad, Johann Philipp (our direct ancestor), and Johann Peter, in order of age. We now have birth records showing them all to have been born to Johann Peter Filbert and Anna Maria (Stock). From an AHSGR website we find: Johann Peter Filbert was born on 27 September 1708 in Gronau in Hesse. He was married in Gronau on 25 August 1733 to Anna Maria (born 8 November 1716). Early on they immigrated to what is now the Lorraine area of France and then on to Denmark (Schleswig-Holstein) where he died on 21 May 1761 in the colony of Thoring. She is reported to have left Denmark (probably to the Volga) but had children remaining in Denmark who survived...and are probably the ancestors of at least some of the Filberts found in Denmark to this time.
We now also know Johann Peter's ancestry back to year 1530. He traces back to a Closs Filbert (spelled Filbert, Philbert, or Vilbert, depending on source) who was born in the 1530 timeframe in Neustadt, Erbach, Hessen, Germany. That community is just east of our Gronau which is just east of Bensheim, and is about 47 K (29 miles) south of Frankfurt am Main. He had a son by the name ov Wilhelm Filbert (spelled Filbert, Philbert or Viilbert) about 1560. It was he who one record showed having married a wife with the given name of "Margrethe" in 1616 (Wilhelm would have been about 56) with whom they had a son named Hans Filbert (spelled Filbert, Philbert or Vilbert) in 1617.
While yet in Mexico, Alexander (August II's brother) and Katherine's daughter Amelia (Mollie) was born (24 May 1900). Naturalization records show August I, Mollie, and youngest daughter, Lydia, arrived in the USA at El Paso via the Mexican Central Railway on 15 July 1900. Ed Filbert reported that the rest of the August I family also passed through El Paso at this time. All, except Pauline (Lena) and her husband, Alexander Ries, first located in Georgia, where Alexander and Katherine's daughter Bertha was born on 25 May 1902. Later that year, this part of the family (all but August II and his family) was in St. Louis, Missouri, where Alexander and Katherine's oldest child, Victoria (born in Russia in 1898) died. On the right is a picture, which must have been taken in the last half of 1902, of August I holding both baby Bertha and her older sister Victoria. It is believed (but evidence is lacking) that the Rieses traveled directly from El Paso to Kansas, locating in the Wakeeney area.
We also know that a number of Filberts survived the Soviet genocide and were still in Russia and its former states. We recently located one of our Filbert family groups in Novokuznetsk, Siberia. Still larger numbers of our distant relatives have made their way back to Germany.
The picture to the right would have been taken around 1909 when Pauline was a baby. The children in the back would have been Mary, Bertha, and Anna. Those in the front would have been John (on August II's lap), Carl, Jake and Pauline (held by Elisabeth).
For those who wish to know more about the Filbert ancestral villages, use the link at the top-right of this page to find information on the various Schilling villages.
We still find a number of Filberts in Gronau to this day. A current check found about a dozen Filbert family members listed in the Gronau phone directory...and there are only about 1,300 people in the village.
During the summer of 2014, my wife and I travelled through the area along the Main River from which the earliest Filberts were known to live back in the 1500s. The area is at the lower end of beautiful hill country. At Miltenburg, a significant city on the River Main, about 9 miles south of our ancestral Neustadt, we saw a jewelry store with the name "Filbert". It was founded by Filberts back in 1928 and continues in this and other area locations to serve this part of Germany.
The Village of Gronau, below
- August Filbert I was a city clerk in Schilling. He suffered (at least in the USA) from excessive drink. While his naturalization papers report his USA occupation as "farmer,” he apparently never took to farming and continued to operate more as an interpreter and communications intermediary between Volga Germans in the USA and those remaining in Russia.
- Elisabeth did not learn how to cook while living in her parents’ home. Instead, she learned from her mother-in-law, Mollie (Legler) Filbert. August I and Mollie lived with August II and Elisabeth after they moved to Kansas, and Mollie helped Elisabeth with cooking, house chores and caring for Elisabeth's children, as well as her own. Elisabeth and Mollie took in laundry while living in Russell County to help pay the rent and buy food.
- Upon moving to Ness County, August II resolved to deal with his father’s drinking and idleness. He found a tiny old stone house near their Ness County farm. August II was able to get water piped to it and moved his parents and youngest sister, Lydia, in. Apparently, the August I family was very cramped in these tight quarters.
- Pauline remembered going with her father to take food to August I and Mollie. The situation was very frightening to her. She said the house was filthy. She hung onto her father’s trousers, hiding behind his leg all the time they were in the little house. Mollie ended up bedfast for 7 years following her disabling stroke—during which time their children continued support to them.
- It was Mollie's uncle who had come to America, reporting back that it was a land of milk and honey—money flowing freely. He encouraged the rest to leave Russia for the USA.
- When August II and Elisabeth built their house in Bazine, August II purchased the house just to the west of them and moved August I and Lydia into it (Mollie had died earlier). This was the house where Mr. and Mrs. Foos (parents of Herb, Mollie, and Eva Schauman) lived after August I’s death. The Foos and Filbert families had first become acquainted in Russell County.
- Aunt Dorothy also recalled to Kathy going to this house. August I always sat in the same rocking chair, with junk piled high around him. Dorothy said, "Aunt Lydia just didn't have housekeeping as one of the priorities in life.” Aunt Dorothy went on to say, she could always remember the house being so dark that she just didn't want to go past the front door. Often she would wait on the porch while her father went in. She also restated that he was lazy and a heavy drinker (likely because he couldn't otherwise cope with the changes in his life). When he died, Lydia left Bazine and went to the Denver, Colorado area where she worked for a family as a housekeeper. The woman of the house was apparently ill. Rumor had it that she was a bit more than just an ordinary housekeeper for the husband—Lydia ended up marrying the man, after he divorced his wife.
As for August II and Elisabeth, they lived productive lives. After about 4-years in Russell County, they moved to Ness County, locating on a farm 7-miles northwest of Bazine. The farming operation benefited from their diligence and self-denial, together with assistance of their children. They purchased additional land, often as a way to assist a son’s start in farming. The land purchases extended west to Lane County. They also acquired ownership of Bazine’s John Deere dealership and maintenance facilities. August III would subsequently own and manage this portion of the business, while it was still viable, after August II’s retirement.
August II was also active in Bazine's German Methodist Church, which he led the founding of around 1907. He and Elisabeth were active members and he was licensed as a "Local Preacher".
In 1926, August II and Elisabeth moved to Bazine. Their new home was, by the standards of the time, very “upscale” – a 1-½ story stucco affair with a beautiful, covered front porch. After Elisabeth’s death in 1944, the home was acquired by the Klewenos but August II continued staying there when in Bazine until his death in 1847. After Elisabeth’s death, when not in Bazine, August II made his home with his daughter, Mary, in the Denver, Colorado area. By that time, Mary was widowed. Her sons, Edward and Clifford had the best memories of August II in his last years.
Alexander Filbert I lived northwest of Bazine, Kansas—a short distance from where we grew up. (Emil Ries lived there in 1986.) Uncle Alex passed away at an early age. He was born in 1879, passing on in 1908, leaving his wife Katherine with four small children: Mollie, Bertha, Alex and Victor.
Pauline, (nicknamed Lena) was the youngest of the children. She married Alexander Ries, who was a twin brother to Henry Ries. Their home was northeast of Wakeeney, Kansas. Lena eventually lived in Lakewood, Colorado. During her declining years she lived with her invalid daughter Hulda. Pauline had ten children: Alexander Jr., Pauline, Elizabeth, Edward, Hulda, Marie, Victor, Earnest, William and Martha..
More information comes from the first Schilling village census, taken in 1774 or 1775. Female Filbert family members included in the 1774 Schilling family lists were: Anna Margarita (Korber) married to Johann Philip, Anna Elisabeth (Kurtz) married to Johann Georg, Anna Barbara (Heirter) married to Johann Nicolaus and their daughter, Anna Maria, born in 1765. The census noted that Johann Nicolaus was an obese, lazy man. He died in 1798. His first wife, Anna Barbara, had preceded him in death and he had remarried, this time to Anna Magdalena Schilling. After his death, Anna Magdalena married Peter Filbert. Johann Nicolaus's daughter, Anna Maria, was living in the Peter Filbert household at the time of the 1798 census. We found it a common practice for families to look after widows through re-marriage within the family.
Also, by the time of the 1774 census, Georg Conrad Filbert had already relocated his family to Beideck Colony. In subsequent years, the family again relocated to Stahl Colony, just across the Volga from Schilling.
Given the fact that Schilling was settled in 1764 and most of its residents arrived that year or very soon thereafter, One document reported the Filberts as among the initial settlers. If the family did arrive in Schilling with most other residents, as seemed to be the convention, then most of the brothers would have been quite young when they arrived, with Peter being only 9 years old in 1864.
Some German Family Hometowns
Pauline (Filbert) Kleweno wrote of her Filbert grandparents:
August Filbert Sr. married Mollie Legler and they had four children: August II, Lydia, Alexander and Pauline (known as Lena). August Filbert II, my father, built a three room house just north of the home Dad had built for our family in the town of Bazine, Kansas. August and Lydia moved into this three room house, after the death of Grandmother. The family farm was sold to Coney Schneider, now (1986) the home of Russell and Ann Schneider. Aunt Lydia cared for grandpa Filbert until his death.
From Pauline, hrough daughter Kathy, we also understand the following:
Year 1539 saw the Protestant Revolution hit Gronau. It had a Jesuit Catholic Priest from 1519-1539 who became their evangelical pastor from 1539-1559.
While the main activity around Gronau was farming, the town also had a reputation as an artisan community that included a number of weavers. A family legend was that our Filberts were in the textile business and this would seem to fit.
During the time our Filberts left Gronau, it was suffering from raids and resulting starvation problems.