19 Kirsch Children: Julia Kirsch

Happy June, everybody! Memorial Day long weekend here in the USA was spent researching and writing my History of Martha project. I realized that this blog has been a useful way for me to organize book sections and get feedback. Everything will eventually make its way into my Kirsch family book, which I hope to finish next year. The following section is tentatively titled “Julia Kirsch: Journey from Ludwischin-Scheppel, Volhynia, to Winnipeg, Canada, 1890-1943” in the book, but will be the Julia Kirsch series entry for 19 Kirsch Children for the purposes of this blog. Because this blog is the rough draft of my project, I welcome any corrections or additions. I am also hoping that someone has a photo of Julia and August Rempel.

I would also like to apologize for the horrendous citations throughout this blog. I keep reformatting them as I go in order to find a style that works for me. I recently decided to add in source repositories or archives, but have to go back and track them all down.

19 Kirsch Children: Julia Kirsch

Julia Kirsch was born Julianna Kirsch on August 25, 1865, in Florentynow, Lodzkie, Poland, the third child and first daughter of Samuel Kirsch and his first wife, Karolina Wurfel.[1] Julia was confirmed in the Lutheran church (Rozyszcze parish, Volhynia) in 1881, though the absence of parents’ names in the record means the connection cannot be verified.[2]

“[Julianna Kirsch birth record, 1865]” from Akta stanu cywilnego Filiału Ewangelicko-Augsburskiego w Dziepółci, accessed 16 Mar 2021 through Geneteka

The Kirsch family’s migration to Canada began earlier than Winnipeg’s population boom, which began over a decade later in 1902. Winnipeg grew steadily by 1000-3000 people each year (except for a significant population increase after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1881) from 1871 to 1901.[3] The majority of Russian Germans immigrated to Canada after 1900, after the homesteads of the United States were all snatched up.[4] Minister of the Interior Clifford Sifton’s immigration policy of 1896 and the heyday of Canada’s “Last Best West” campaign spurred more immigration, the ideal immigrant, in Sifton’s words, being the “stalwart peasant in a sheep-skin coat, born on the soil, whose forefathers have been farmers for ten generations, with a stout wife and a half-dozen children.”[5]

Example of “Last Best West” campaign poster, 1907; courtesy of Canada. Department of the Interior, Library and Archives Canada

Julia was the first Kirsch family member to immigrate to Canada. She and her husband, August Rempel, married three years with two young children (Adolf and August), sold their belongings and left their community of Ludwischin-Scheppel in early October of 1890, their decision likely driven by religious persecution. While the majority of Russian Germans were Lutheran, the Rempel family, like many other families in their community, was Baptist.

According to Volhynian Baptist historian Donald Miller, Scheppel was a Baptist station in Rozyzscze parish. While Rozyzscze city was home to the largest Baptist church in the parish (established in 1884), there were several (mission) “stations” established, including Scheppel, where people from various communities congregated to worship. Some of these stations became self-supporting churches.[6] Other names for Scheppel are Scheple, Schepek, Schöpel, Schlepe, Szepel, and Schelpe.[7] Baptist activity began in Rozyzscze parish (Rozyzscze city being approximately twenty-two kilometers south of Scheppel) in 1874, when seven new converts were baptized and, shortly after, a chapel was built. In April of 1889, after a period of evangelical growth (despite the Lutheran majority’s opposition, which was sometimes very violent), the church’s pastor was banished from Volhynia and the people were no longer allowed to gather in the chapel. This prompted many families to emigrate in the pursuit of religious freedom.[8] In 1890, there was an exodus of Baptist families from Ludwischin-Scheppel.

“Often the outdoor baptismal services were disrupted, members were accused of preaching a false doctrine, converts were ridiculed, pastors were threatened and church buildings were destroyed.”

– Donald Miller[9]

According to an 1894 article in The Winnipeg Tribune, the German Baptists “were driven from their homes and from their churches and must seek new homes in this land […] The exodus from Russia began twelve years ago when the persecutions began.”[10] Following the world wars, Baptist church records in Volhynia were destroyed, many churches converted into industrial complexes and used for secular purposes. This is the reason tracing Baptist families in Volhynia during the late nineteenth century is “very difficult if not impossible.”[11]

When Julia and August left Volhynia in 1890, they left in a party of twenty-four people from six families, also Baptists from Ludwischin-Scheppel (more information about these families here). The families likely departed together by wagon and then traveled by train to Berlin, Germany, which connected them to major ports.[12] The journey from Volhynia to Hamburg, their port of departure, probably took a week.[13] The party left Hamburg on October 10 on the ship Hansa.[14] Because it was cheaper to travel across the Atlantic using British lines,[15] the families traveled to Hull, England, and then traveled by train to Liverpool. There they boarded the British steamship, the SS Polynesian, which took them to the Port of Quebec after a stop in Londonderry, Ireland.[16] The ship arrived in Canada on October 27.

Rempel family (top-most entry) in SS Polynesian ship manifest, Canada, Arriving Passengers Lists, 1865-1935, Library and Archives Canada, accessed 29 May 2021 through Ancestry

According to the SS Polynesian ship manifest, the passengers were going “to friends.”[17] The Rempel family had traveled “to join brother,” though no record of a Rempel relative in Canada has been found.[18] August had at least one living brother, Ludwik Rempel, born in 1871, but his whereabouts in 1890 is unknown.[19] When August’s mother, Rose Rempel, died in Springfield, Manitoba, two printings of her obituary in The Winnipeg Tribune have conflicting information; the shorter June obituary indicates she was “survived by two sons” while the longer June 7 obituary mentions only “one son, Augustus of Winnipeg.”[20] After arriving in Quebec, the families boarded the train to Winnipeg. The trip took three days, meaning they would have arrived October 30.[21] In the 1891 Census of Canada, the Rempel family lived in Ward Five, otherwise known as Winnipeg’s North End and “Foreign Quarter”–just north of the Canadian Pacific Railway yards.[22] The family lived with two other German Baptist families: Frederick and Caroline Maahs, and John and Rosaline Bicker (and two-year-old son, Frederick).[23] The three families, eight people in all, lived in a six-bedroom home. The family next door, also predominantly Baptist, were eleven people in two bedrooms, including two people from the party that left Ludwischin-Scheppel: Friedrich (Frederick) and Gotfried (Godfrey) Klem.[24] The North End was notorious for its deplorable living conditions, disease, and overcrowding.[25]

The Rempel family experienced tragedy soon after their arrival in Winnipeg. While their oldest child, Adolf, was with them when they arrived in Quebec on October 27, 1890, he was not with them when the family was enumerated in the 1901 Census of Canada on April 23, 1891.[26] While a record of the death of Adolf Rempel has yet to be found, there is a record of August Rempel, age three, who died March 11, 1891, in Winnipeg (August’s full name was Gustave August Rempel, so perhaps the eldest was August Adolf Rempel).[27] August’s and Julia’s first daughter, Helen “Lena” Margaret Rempel, was born Christmas Eve 1891.[28] Their second daughter, Ada Rempel, was born December 11, 1893.[29] Ada does not appear on the 1901 Census of Canada and no death record has been found, but the headstone for Edith Rempel in Brookside Cemetery contains the following: “Edith, died May 11, 1900, aged 6 years and 5 months, daughter of A. and J. Rempel.”[30]

Map of Winnipeg showing location of Bannatyne Avenue, where the Rempel family lived. The gray lines represent the Canadian Pacific Railway yards, the North End indicated above it; courtesy of Google Maps (captured 31 May 2021)
Advertisement in The Winnipeg Tribune, 17 Sep 1938; courtesy of Newspapers.com

In 1901, the Rempel family were now six and still lived in the North End.[31] Julia’s brother, Christian Kirsch, who immigrated in 1893, and his family lived two houses away.[32] Both August Rempel and Christian worked for the Bridge Department of the Canadian Pacific Railway.[33] In 1906, the Rempel family lived at 509 Alexander Avenue.[34] By 1908, the Rempels lived on Bannatyne Avenue (the address is 814 Bannatyne Avenue in the 1911, 1916, and 1921 Censuses of Canada)[35] and worked as a sewage and watermain contractor, hiring workers to dig sewer lines for the City of Winnipeg. According to family history, the Rempel house was two or three floors and extra rooms were rented out to boarders, most working at the nearby Winnipeg General Hospital (now the Health Sciences Centre). Some of these boarders worked for August’s business, including Julius Kelm, who lived in the basement in the early months of 1908. A 1928 rent advertisement for 814 Bannatyne in the Winnipeg Tribune describes the house as follows: “10-room house, hardwood downstairs, gas water heater, newly dec. throughout, first-class condition, 2 garages.”[36] The location is now a parking garage. Between 1922[37] and 1928, the Rempel family moved to 808 Bannatyne Avenue (August’s and Julius’ son, Frederick, and his wife, Mary, lived at 814 Bannatyne before 1928; the house was placed for rent after Mary’s death in 1927).[38]

August and Julia Rempel had nine children: Adolf, August, Helen, Edith, Frederick, Hannah, William, Violet, and Walter. They lived in Winnipeg the rest of their lives and were active members of the McDermot Avenue Baptist Church. Julia died in her home on December 8, 1932, at the age of sixty-seven.[39]

Obituary for Julia Rempel in The Winnipeg Tribune, 1937; courtesy of Newspapers.com

Mrs. Julia Rempel, 67, wife of August Rempel, of 808 Bannatyne Ave., died Thursday at the family residence. Mrs. Rempel was an active worker for McDermot Avenue Baptist Church and was a member of the women’s guilds. She was born in Russia but had lived in the city for the last 42 years. Besides her husband she is survived by four sons, August and Walter in Winnipeg and Fred and William in Detroit. There are also three daughters, Mrs. R. H. Smith, Mrs. P. Huget and Mrs. B. Waters in the city, and two brothers, Carl Kirsch in Yorkton, Sask., and Dan Kirsch in Alberta; and two sisters, Mrs. H. Yoekel and Mrs. J. Kelm in Winnipeg and Mrs. A Adler in Saskatchewan. There are also nine grandchildren. The funeral will be held at 2 pm, Monday, from A. B. Gardiner funeral home to the family plot in Elmwood cemetery.[40]

August died February 21, 1943, three years after retiring.[41] According to his obituary in the German Baptist newspaper, Der Sendbote, he became very ill and died after two weeks at the Winnipeg General Hospital: “He bore his suffering with the help of God patiently and attended church and Bible study regularly. About fourteen days before his parting his condition suddenly turned and he had to go to the hospital. There, no doctor could help him and the Lord over life and death decreed otherwise and took him after a few days of heavy suffering into eternity. Even though his passing left a gap on our lives, we rejoice in his well-deserved rest.”[42]

Descendants of August and Julia Rempel

Julianna “Julia” Kirsch (b. 25 Aug 1865 in Florentynow, Lodzkie, Poland; d. 08 Dec 1932 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) m. August Rempel (b. 18 Jul 1866 in Ignacow, Lodzkie, Poland; d. 21 Feb 1943 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)

  1. Adolf Rempel (b. 1887 in Russia; d. 11 Mar 1901 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) – to be confirmed
  2. Gustave August Rempel (b. 13 Aug 1889 in Russia; d. 20 Mar 1976 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) m. Joanna Ida Marks (b. 15 Jul 1891 in Plum Coulee, Manitoba, Canada; d. 27 Aug 1957 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
  3. Helen Margaret Rempel (b. 24 Dec 1891 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) m. Roman August Smith (b. May 1884 in Russia; d. 1960 in Manitoba, Canada)
  4. Edith (Ada) Rempel (b. 11 Dec 1893 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; d. 11 May 1900 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) – to be confirmed
  5. Frederick Rempel (b. 22 Mar 1896 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; d. 30 Oct 1877 in Buffalo, New York, USA) m. Mary Susan Jackson (b. 15 Jul 1896 in Ontario, Canada; d. 14 Dec 1927 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) m. Alice Whitcomb (b. 18 Mar 1906 in New York, USA; d. Mar 1971 in Buffalo, New York, USA)
  6. Hannah Emma Rempel (b. 28 Jan 1899 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) m. Peter Huget (b. Dec 1894 in Plum Coulee, Manitoba, Canada; d. 16 Aug 1945 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)
  7. William Albert Rempel (b. 26 Jul 1901 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; d. 08 Sep 1978 in Palm Beach, Florida, USA) m. Mary Semmler (b. 15 Jul 1900 in Poland; d. 05 Apr 1993 in Palm Beach, Florida, USA)
  8. Violet Elsie Rempel (b. 14 Oct 1903 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) m. Bert William Watters (b. 24 May 1894 in Westbourne, Manitoba, Canada)
  9. Walter Alexander Rempel (b. 14 Oct 1903 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; d. 20 Aug 1983 in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada) m. Edna May Donaghy (b. 17 Jul 1905 in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England; d. 18 Jul 1987 in Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada)

[1] “[Julianna Kirsch birth record, 1860]” from Akta stanu cywilnego Filiału Ewangelicko-Augsburskiego w Dziepółci, accessed 16 Mar 2021 through Geneteka

[2] “[Juliane Kirsch confirmation record, 1881]” from VKP Birth & Confirmation Records, accessed 16 Mar 2021 through Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe

[3] Alan F. J. Artibise, Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth, 1874-1914, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1975, p130

[4] Center for Volga German Studies at Concordia University, “To Canada” from The Volga Germans, 09 Jul 2020 [last updated], accessed 30 May 2021, https://www.volgagermans.org/history/immigration/canada

[5] Clifford Sifton, “The Immigrations Canada Wants” from Maclean’s, 01 April 1922 [published], accessed 30 May 2021, https://archive.macleans.ca/article/1922/4/1/the-immigrants-canada-wants

[6] Donald Miller, In the Midst of Wolves: A History of German Baptists in Volhynia, Russia, 1863-1943, Portland, OR: Multnomah Printing, 2000, p229-242; p291

[7] “[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Lange/Schindler/Gurel/Pries/Pudel Families from Scheple” [message board thread], Feb 2007, accessed 16 Mar 2021 through Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe, https://www.sggee.org/pipermail/ger-poland-volhynia/2007-February/006644.html

[8] “Baptist Records in Volhynia,” accessed 16 Mar 2021 through Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe, https://www.sggee.org/research/parishes/church_parishes/BaptistInVolhynia.html

[9] Donald Miller, “The Suffering and Triumphs of the German Baptists (1863-1943)” from In the Midst of Wolves, undated, accessed 30 May 2021, http://inthemidstofwolves.com/articles/suffering-triumph.pdf

[10] The Winnipeg Tribune, 12 Jul 1894, accessed 27 May 2021 through Newspapers.com

[11] “Baptist Records in Volhynia” from Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe, 27 Nov 2018 [last updated], accessed 16 Mar 2021, https://www.sggee.org/research/parishes/church_parishes/BaptistInVolhynia.html

[12] Janet Wasserman, “The Journey from Eastern Europe to North America in 1900 and 1904,” 2012 [published], accessed 30 May 2021 through JewishGen, https://www.jewishgen.org/bessarabia/files/Emigration/JourneyFromEasternEuropeToNorthAmerica1900-1904.pdf

[13] Ibid.

[14] “Juliane Rempel” in Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934, Staatsarchiv Hamburg [Hamburg State Archives], accessed 30 May 2021 through Ancestry

[15] Wasserman

[16] “Juliana Rempel” in Canada, Arriving Passengers Lists, 1865-1935, Library and Archives Canada, accessed 29 May 2021 through Ancestry

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] “[Ludwik Rempel birth record, 1871]” from “Akta stanu cywilnego Parafii Ewangelicko-Reformowanej w Zelowie (Evangelical Reformed Parish in Zelów Records),” Archiwum Państwowe w Łodzi (Lodz State Archives), accessed 31 May 2021 through Geneteka

[20] The Winnipeg Tribune, 06 Jun 1935 and 07 Jun 1935, accessed 27 May 2021 through Newspapers.com

[21] Victor Gess, Portrait of a Homesteader: An Ancestral Journey Through Poland, Volhynia and Canada, Lafayette, CA: Missouri River Press, 2017, p159

[22] Artibise, p161

[23] 1891 Census of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, accessed 31 May 2021 through Ancestry

[24] Ibid.

[25] Artibise, p225

[26] 1891 Census of Canada

[27] “[August Rempel death information]” in Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency database index, accessed 15 Mar 2021

[28] “[Hellene Magreta Rempel birth information]” in Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency database index, accessed 15 Mar 2021

[29] “[Ada Rempel birth information]” in Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency database index, accessed 15 Mar 2021

[30] “Edith Rempel” in Find a Grave, 17 Sep 2014 [entry added], accessed 31 May 2021, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/136055795/edith-rempel

[31] 1901 Census of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, accessed 31 May through Ancestry

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid.

[34] 1906 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, Library and Archives Canada, accessed 31 May 2021 through Ancestry

[35] 1911 Census of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, accessed 31 May 2021 through FamilySearch [Note: surname spelled Rimpell]; 1916 Census of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, accessed 31 May 2021 through Ancestry; 1921 Census of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, accessed 31 May 2021 through Ancestry

[36] The Winnipeg Tribune, 25 Aug 1928, accessed 31 May 2021 through Newspapers.com

[37] “Augustus Rempel” in Henderson’s Winnipeg Directory, 1922, accessed 31 May 2021 through Ancestry [Note: August is working as a contractor; Violet Rempel (dressmaker) and Walter Rempel (fire department clerk) also live at home in 1922]

[38] “[Obituary for Mary Ann Rempel]” from The Winnipeg Tribune, 14 Dec 1927, accessed 31 May 2021 through Newspapers.com

[39] “[Obituary for Julia Rempel]” from The Winnipeg Tribune, 08 Dec 1932, accessed 31 May 2021 through Newspapers.com

[40] “[Obituary for Julia Rempel]” from The Winnipeg Tribune, 09 Dec 1932, accessed 31 May 2021 through Newspapers.com

[41] “[Obituary for August Rempel]” from The Winnipeg Tribune, 22 Feb 1943, accessed 31 May 2021 through Newspapers.com

[42] “[Obituary for August Rempel]” from Der Sendbote, 17 Mar 1943, “United States, Obituaries, American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1899-2012” [collection by American Historical Society of Germans from Russia], accessed 30 May 2021 through FamilySearch; translated by Margot Henriksen

Stories from the Past: The Move to Canada (Part 2)

This installment of “Stories from the Past” is a more personal version of the blog post I wrote from records and secondary sources. We can learn so much more from the people themselves.

Stories from the Past: The Move to Canada (Part 2)

Note: The following stories were written by a Kelm family member who was close to Julius and Martha. They were both interviewed and their stories retold revealing insights into their personal lives, marriages, births, and deaths. The stories were transcribed by Phyllis Kelm Reakes with permission to share from the original author.

Canada wanted immigrants and was aggressively advertising for people to come and settle in Canada. The Lutheran and Baptist church had ministers that acted as immigration agents. It  was through the auspices of the Lutheran Church that Julius Kelm and others from Volhynia immigrated to Canada. Martha Kirsch and others from Volhynia came under the auspices of  the Baptist Church. In each case they sold whatever they had to pay their fare to Canada and  arrived with very little. 

Julius and Serafina had one child that died in Russia [unconfirmed]. They came to Canada with the two remaining children, Olga and Gustav. They arrived in Quebec City in May 1904. Julius later would say that he came to Canada with nothing but 10 fingers [note: the ship manifest notes the Kelm family arrived with $5.00]. Julius said that when they arrived in Quebec City everything was in bloom. He and his family we glad to be in  Canada. Those who they were travelling with told them that it was more beautiful in Winnipeg. He wanted to stay in Quebec City but was unable to do so as their designation was Winnipeg. They boarded the train along with the other immigrants they had come with and  traveled to Winnipeg. Julius said that when they arrived in Winnipeg there was snow on the  ground and the weather was very cold.

Journey to Canada

Note: This blog entry will expand as I verify more information.

According to this Canada Passenger Lists, 1881-1922 ship manifest (scroll down to view the relevant section), my great-grandfather, Julius Kelm (recorded here as “Julius Kelin”), made the journey from Volhynia, Russia (present-day Ukraine), to Canada in 1906. Julius; his wife, Serafin[a] (age 22); son, Gustav (age 3); and daughter, Olga (age 2), arrived in Quebec City, Quebec, in May 1906. They arrived by ship, the passenger cargo steamship SS Mount Temple, their final destination Winnipeg, Manitoba. Julius is described as a farm labourer and the family is recorded as German.

Canada Passenger Lists, 1881-1922. Retrieved 12 Jan 2020 from FamilySearch, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2Q38-S1J

One thing that I noticed while writing this blog entry was that all four members of the family have “N.A.T.C. Bonus Allowed” stamped beside their names. According to Library and Archives Canada, NATC stood for the North Atlantic Trading Company, a company contracted to find “suitable immigrants” from 1899 to 1910. I have always wondered why the Kelm family decided to migrate to Manitoba, so this is a good starting point—a future blog post maybe.

Tragedy struck soon after the family arrived in Winnipeg. On May 31, 1906, Julius’ and Serafina’s son, Gustav, died of pneumonia. According to family lore, Julius’ young son fell ill while crossing the Atlantic and died very soon after they arrived in Winnipeg. The following record was found through the Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency, under “Gustav Kahn.” Because his parents are not listed and because of the age discrepancy (he is listed as five years old and not three like in the ship manifest, but the two-year discrepancy also applies to other family members), I cross-checked information to make sure it was the same Gustav. In this record, Gustav’s birthplace is listed as Russia, and the address listed is 677 Ross Street, Winnipeg.

“[Gustav Kahn death record],” Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency. Retrieved 18 Jul 2018.

The address matches what is recorded in the 1906 Canada Northwest Provinces Census, which was recorded June 28. Julius (under “J Calman”), Serafina, Olga, and two boarders (H. Albert and Christian Geaman—possibly German or Herman) are living at 677 Ross Street. Gustav is no longer with them.

“1906 Canada Northwest Provinces Census,” Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 12 Jan 2020 from Ancestry.