Migration to Brazil, or 19 Kirsch Children: Gottlieb Kirsch

Welcome to the second “episode” of this series. I have been researching Martha’s siblings for NaNoWriMo (24,022 words!) and I hope to find the more elusive records that hopefully reveal the life trajectories of those who remained in Volhynia or migrated elsewhere. I am also hoping to one day breathe more life into these profiles with details beyond the dates and facts. If you have and are willing to contribute more information or corrections, you can leave a comment here or email me at sarika.l.kelm@gmail.com.

19 Kirsch Children: Gottlieb Kirsch

Gottlieb Kirsch was born January 9, 1863, in Florentynow, Lodzkie, Poland, the second child of Samuel Kirsch and Karolina Wurfel. When he was three or four years old, he traveled with his parents and brother and sister, Christian and Julianna (Julia), to Konstantynow, Lutsk, Volhynia. When he was around thirteen, the family moved to Ludwischin (or Ludwischin-Scheppel as it was sometimes called, Scheppel being just north of Ludwischin). He was confirmed in Scheppel in 1882, and the date of birth recorded in the confirmation record is January 12, 1963.[1]

[“Bogumil Kirsch birth record, 1863”], Akta stanu cywilnego Filiału Ewangelicko-Augsburskiego w Dziepółci, accessed through Geneteka on 17 Oct 2020. 

According to notes in the Florentynow population book, translated from Russian by мария Голик, Gottlieb was conscripted into the Russian Army in 1884. There is no additional known information about Gottlieb’s life in Volhynia after 1884. The population book includes an added entry for “Anna Wisniewska,” daughter of Ernest Gotlz and Anna Keitsch, born in Lodzkie in 1852. The entry states that she is “dependent on her husband Bogumil,” though it is unclear which Bogumil or Gottlieb this entry refers to.  

Seven of Gottlieb’s brothers and sisters immigrated to Canada between 1890 and 1913. I wondered if Gottlieb migrated elsewhere or if he was one of the thousands of Volhynian Germans deported east in 1915 (more about this in a future post). I found a Gottlieb Kirsch who died in Jaraguá do Sul, Santa Catarina, Brazil in 1952. The following death record has similarities to our Gottlieb.

“[Gottlieb Kirsch death record, 1952]” from Brazil, Santa Catarina, Civil Registration, 1850-1999, accessed 24 Nov 2020 through FamilySearch

I was able to partially translate the scan:

On March 29, 1952, in the city of Jaraguá do Sul, Santa Catarina state, attested by Manoel Luiz da Silva [son-in-law of Gottlieb Kirsch], Brazilian public official and resident of this city, record signed by Doctor Waldemiro Mazurechen, resident of this city, the cause of death being natural causes due to old age, on March 28 of the current year, 4:30 at his residence at Abdon Batista Street, which is in this city, Gottlieb Kirsch, white male, profession of farmer, born in Russia and living in this city at Abdon Batista Street, 90 years old, legitimate son of farmers Samuel Kirsch and Augusta Kirsch, German, both deceased.

Burial was at cemetery in this city. Born January 8, 1862. Married to Ida Maida in Blumenau. Leaving [six] children: Adelia Kirsch de Silva, 40 years old; Gustavo Kirsch, 38 years old; Olga Kirsch, also 38 years old; Elsa Kirsch Knuth, 37 years old; Elisabeta Kirsch, 34 years old; and Paulo Kirsch, 30 years old, all born in this state.

The birth year in the record is almost exactly a year before our Gottlieb’s birth year, which is consistently 1863 in all three records we have for him (birth, confirmation, population book). The day in the record is January 8 whereas, in the the aforementioned records, the day is either January 9 or 12. Keep in mind that the accuracy of the informants’ information often depended on how well they knew the deceased. Presuming that this is our Gottlieb Kirsch, the record is correct in that he is from Russia and that his parents were German farmers. While his father is correctly listed as Samuel Kirsch, his mother is listed as Augusta Kirsch and not Karolina. Auguste Reiter was his stepmother, so perhaps this is not incorrect after all.

If this is Gottlieb, he immigrated to Santa Catarina before 1911, when his oldest daughter, Adelia (Adele or, as she was later called, Klara), was born in Massaranduba (municipality), Santa Catarina.[2] Because Gottlieb was forty-seven years old in 1911, it is possible this was his second family, though I am still researching the whereabouts of Gottlieb Kirsch and the possibility of this Gottlieb being the same person. Many Russian Germans migrated to southern Brazil in the late 1800s and early 1900s, so it is possible.


[1] “[Gottlieb Kirsch confirmation record, 1882]” from VKP Birth & Confirmation Records, accessed 15 Nov 2020 through Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe

[2] “[Clara Kirsch da Silva death record, 1980]” from Brazil, Santa Catarina, Civil Registration, 1850-1999, accessed 25 Nov 2020 through FamilySearch.

Samuel’s Sisters

This is a continuation of my previous “Residents of Kolonia Florentynow, 1866” post, but about another page in the population book (this section lists Samuel Kirsch’s direct ancestors and descendants). This page (see below) shows Samuel’s mother, Anna Karolina Kubsch, and stepfather, Jan Daniel Semper, living with his three sisters (Samuel had one brother, Gottlieb, who was four years old when he died in 1846) and niece in around 1866 in Florentynow (central Poland). They lived close. I don’t know how the households were enumerated, but Samuel lived at home 15 and his mother and sisters lived at home 14.

“Księga ludności stałej wsi: Gertrudów, Koniecbór, Florentynów, Konradów (Book of the Population of the Villages: Gertrudów, Koniecbór, Florentynów, Konradów)” from Archiwum Państwowe w Piotrkowie Trybunalskim (Piotrkowie Trybunalskim State Archives), accessed through Archiwa Państwowe on 25 Oct 2020.

The page contains the following information:

  1. Jan Daniel Semper (b. 14 Jun 1816 n Wies i Gmina Sm…y… [illegible])
  2. Karolina Semper (born Kubsch, previously Wisniewski) (b. 23 Jan 1817 in Florentynow)
  3. Anna Krystyna Wisniewski or Kirsch (b. 07 Feb 1838 in Belchatow)
  4. Anna Dorota Wisniewski or Kirsch (b. 16 Feb 1840 in Belchatow)
  5. Julianna Wisniewski or Kirsch (b. 30 May 1844 in Florentynow)
  6. Julianna Wisniewski or Kirsch (b. 09 Apr 1865 in Florentynow) [daughter of Anna Krystyna]

Unlike the page with Samuel’s family, each name has been crossed out. As the book was supposed to have been kept between 1866 and 1884, I’m not sure if this means all family members died before 1884. I have recorded three deaths before 1884: Anna Krystyna Kirsch (1866), Jan Daniel Semper (1871), and Anna Karolina Kubsch (1876).

Because many Kirsch family members left Florentynow for Volhynia, Russia, in the late 1860s, I wanted to find out what happened to this particular household.

Jan Daniel Semper and Anna Karolina Kubsch remained in Florentynow as that was where they both died.

Anna Krystyna Kirsch is recorded in the population book as unmarried with a one-year-old daughter, Julianna Kirsch, whose father is “unknown.” Julianna’s birth record (see below) also doesn’t reveal the identity of Julianna’s father.

[“Julianna Kirsch birth record, 1865”], Akta stanu cywilnego Filiału Ewangelicko-Augsburskiego w Dziepółci, accessed through Geneteka on 28 Oct 2020. 

Dorothy Woloszczuk kindly translated this record:

Julianna Kirsch was born in Florentyow on 2nd April 1865 at 11 o’clock in the morning. Mother – Krystyna Kirsch, unmarried, labourer, age 29. Father – unknown. Birth registered and baptized on 2nd April 1865 at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Informant – Bogumil Kirsch, farmer, age 34. Witnesses – Daniel Semper, 48, and Marcin Kirsch, 41, both farmers. Godparents – Bogumil Kirsch and Krystyna Kirsch.

Anna Krystyna died October 2, 1866, in Florentynow, at the age of twenty-eight. Tyler Versluis translated the following record:

[“Krystyna Kirsch death record, 1866”], Akta stanu cywilnego Filiału Ewangelicko-Augsburskiego w Dziepółci, accessed through Geneteka on 28 Oct 2020. 

It happened in Dziepolc on the 3rd of October, 1866, at 7AM: 31 year old Samuel Kirsch and 35 year old Bogumil Kirsch presented themselves, both farmers in Florentynow, and told us that last evening at 2AM in Florentynow, Krystyna Kirsch died, 28 year old unmarried maidservant, daughter of the deceased Krysztof formerly of Florentynow, and Karolina nee Kubsch, currently married to Semper, married couple. After confirming the death of Krystyna Kirsch, this act was presented to the witnesses who have declared they are illiterate [note: or unable to read or write Polish].

I am trying to find out what happened to Anna Krystyna’s little daughter, Julianna. Did the godparents adopt her? Which Bogumil (Gottlieb) Kirsch and Krystyna Kirsch are mentioned in the record?

Anna Dorothea Kirsch married Krystyan Kamchen in nearby Dziepolc (I believe this was where the church was) on July 15, 1866. By the spring of 1867, Anna Dorothea and Krystyan were in Konstantynow, Lutsk, Volhynia. Her brother, Samuel, would also live in the same colony, so perhaps he was there around this time. Anna Dorothea’s first child, a daughter named Julianna, was one year old when she died in February of 1869. She and Krystyan had two other known children: Carl Ludwig (b. 1870) and Anna Louise (b. 1874).

I haven’t found any information yet about the third sister, Julianna Kirsch. Hopefully I will be able to return to this chapter and add more details.

Finding 19 Kirsch Children

My last blog post referred to Martha Kirsch’s eighteen brothers and sisters. A few years ago, my Aunt Phyllis and I thought we would try to find and record all nineteen of Samuel Kirsch’s children; however, it wasn’t until this week that I found two, Friedrich and Olga (born in 1899 and 1905), and wondered if maybe we had finally found all of them.

“[Olga Kirsch birth record].” Retrieved 17 Jun 2020 from FamilySearch. [Note: Samuel Kirsch and Auguste Reiter written in Russian]

Using Geneteka, FamilySearch, Odessa, and SGGEE birth and death records, and then checking surname variants (Kirsch and the Polish version, Wisniewski, for example) and double-checking the names of the parents, the following list was compiled.

Samuel Kirsch (b. 10 Oct 1835 in Florentynow, Lodzkie, Poland; d. aft 1905 in Volhynia, Russia) m. Karolina Wurfel (b. 07 Sep 1835 in Florentynow, Lodzkie, Poland; d. abt 1883 in Volhynia, Russia)

  1. Christian Kirsch (b. 07 Sep 1860 in Florentynow, Lodzkie, Poland)
  2. Gottlieb Kirsch (b. 09 Jan 1863 in Florentynow, Lodzkie, Poland)
  3. Julianna “Julia” Kirsch (b. 25 Aug 1865 in Florentynow, Lodzkie, Poland; d. 08 Dec 1932 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) m. August Rempel (b. Jul 1865 in Petrould, Russia; d. 21 Feb 1943 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)
  4. Ferdinand Albert Kirsch (b. Apr 1868; d. 07 Jul 1868 in Konstantynow, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia)
  5. Christina Kirsch (b. 14 Jul 1869 in Konstantynow, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia)
  6. Eva Kirsch (b. 04 Jun 1872 in Konstantynow, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia; d. 15 May 1874 in Konstantynow, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia)
  7. Daniel Kirsch (b. 22 Aug 1874 in Konstantynow, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia; d. 21 May 1961 in Camrose, Alberta, Canada) m. Wanda Schindler (b. 1882 in Russia; d. 28 Dec 1961 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
  8. Karl Kirsch (b. 27 Mar 1877 in Ludwischin, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia; d. 12 Mar 1950 in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada) m. Olga Dymmel (b. abt 1881 in Russia; d. in Canada)
  9. Martha Kirsch (b. Apr 1881 in Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia; d. 20 Jul 1965 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) m. Julius Kelm (b. 09 Mar 1978 in Hofmanofka, Volhynia, Russia; d. 27 Feb 1959 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)

Samuel Kirsch m. Auguste Reiter (b. 1863 in Tomaszow, Lodzkie, Poland)

  1. Emilie Kirsch (b. 15 May 1886 in Ludwischin, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia; d. 03 Oct 1890 in Ludwischin, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia)
  2. Adolf Kirsch (b. 09 May 1888 in Ludwischin, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia; d. 27 Nov 1890 in Ludwischin, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia)
  3. Pauline Kirsch (b. 07 Sep 1890 in in Ludwischin, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia; d. 27 Mar 1968 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) m. Johann Yackel (b. 20 May 1891 in Russia; d. 31 Jul 1976 in Canada)
  4. Lydia Kirsch (b. 30 Aug 1892 in Ludwischin, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia; d. 02 Jan 1983 in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada) m. Emanuel Adler (b. 09 Nov 1888 in Volhynia, Russia; d. 14 Apr 1976 in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada)
  5. August Kirsch (b. 22 Dec 1894 in Ludwischin, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia)
  6. Ferdinand Kirsch (b. 08 Jan 1897 in Ludwischin, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia)
  7. Friedrich Kirsch (b. 16 Apr 1899 in Marienovka Usicze, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia)
  8. Adolf Kirsch (b. 06 Dec 1901 in Ludwischin, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia; d. 16 Nov 1902 in Ludwischin, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia)
  9. Olga Kirsch (b. 08 Feb 1905 in Wsewolodowka, Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia)

Samuel Kirsch had nine children with each of his two wives, which is eighteen children. Where is the nineteenth? His second wife, Auguste, had a son from her first marriage to Heinrich Schmidt, Wilhelm Schmidt, born July 7, 1882 in Konstantinow Saturze, Wladimir, Volhynia, Russia. This makes nineteen, but maybe we will never know if we have recorded everybody.

Stories from the Past: Martha Kirsch (Part 3)

My great-grandmother, Martha Kirsch, was born in April 1881 in Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia, to Samuel Kirsch (Wisniewski in Polish) and Karolina Wurfel. As all of the Kirsch children born between 1877 and 1897 were born in Ludwischin (village), Lutsk (district), Volhynia (region), Russia, it is possible Martha was also born there.

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.

Stories from the Past: Martha Kirsch (Part 3)

Martha came from a very poor family of 19 children. She recalls her father, [Samuel], as an old man with a beard, who married three or four times. Martha’s siblings Julia, Carl and Daniel all immigrated to Canada, too.

Martha said that there were so many children that at night her parents had to make a roll call to see that all the children were accounted for and none were missing. One evening one of the children was missing. The parents and the older children started to search for him. They found him sleeping in the outside oven. It was warm in the oven and he had crawled inside and fell asleep there.

The Kirsch farm was situated next to a school but the Kirsch children did not go to school as they were too poor and had to work. Martha’s job was herding cows. She would go outside all day in the field watching the cows and would hear the children singing in the school house when the windows of the school house were open. She sang along with them and soon she knew all the songs. At night she said she would sit on her father’s lap and sing the songs to him. He was amazed and asked her how she had learned the songs. She told him she had heard the children singing in the school house and learned the songs. This made her father very happy. Martha was very intelligent. She had an excellent memory. She never went to school but at age 30 while living in Camper, Manitoba she learned to read and write German from the minister that used to visit. She then taught all her children to read and write in the German language.

In Germany, the Remples were neighbours of the Kirsch family. They felt sorry for Martha and took her in. She worked for them as a domestic and they were very good to her. The Remples decided to come to Canada with their 12-year-old son, August. They asked Martha to come with them and she decided to immigrate with them to Canada.

About this same time Martha fell in love with a young man. They wanted to marry but he had to serve a year in the army first. She said that she could not wait for him as arrangements had been made for her to go to Canada with the Remples. The young man was very heartbroken. He told her that she would never be happy because she did not marry him, a man who truly loved her. Later, Martha learned that this young man had been killed in the army. She often told this story and over the years the words of her young man came back to haunt her. She did not have a happy marriage to Julius Kelm and although she loved her children she often wondered how her life could have been different if she had remained in Volhynia and had married her young soldier.

Mr. and Mrs. Remple, August Remple and Martha went to live at 868 Ballantine [Bannatyne] Avenue, Winnipeg. It is not certain if Martha’s sister, Julia, was already living in Winnipeg or whether she immigrated along with the Remples. Julia And August did not know each other in Germany [note: August and Julia Remple immigrated to Canada in 1890 and appear in the 1891 Census of Canada with August’s eighty-one-year-old father, August Remple]. August Remple and Julia Kirsch eventually married each other. Also living in the house about this time was Martha and Julia’s brothers, Carl and Daniel, who worked for the CPR.

Mr. and Mrs. Remple were already fairly elderly. They had purchased a small farm at Oak Bank, which was not far from Winnipeg. Later, when Mrs. Remple was dying she only wanted Martha to look after her. Martha left her husband, Julius, and children to care for Mrs. Remple who died within a week. The house at 808 Ballantine [Bannatyne] was a large two or three story home that was located close to the General Hospital [Winnipeg General Hospital, now Health Sciences Centre]. August Remple was a sewer contractor and had people working for him digging sewer lines for the City of Winnipeg. The Remples also had rooms rented out to boarders, most of whom worked at the hospital which was located nearby. Martha got a job working in the laundry room of the hospital. She would wash the hospital sheets on washboards and folded the clean laundry. She described herself as being quite happy. She had a real job for the first time in her life and was making her own money. She was quite content and had no interest in getting married.

Stories from the Past: Ludwig Kelm (Part 1)

My apologies for the long absence. I am making it up to you by posting part 1 of a very exciting document recently found in the Kelm Archives: a document containing stories compiled from interviews with my great-grandparents, Julius and Martha Kelm. I will post these in installments, which I will list together later for easy finding. Credit for the meticulous transcription goes to my Aunt Phyllis Kelm Reakes.

The following is about Julius’ father, Ludwig Kelm (born 1838 in Kadzidlowa, Leczyca, Lodzkie, Poland; migrated with his family to Volhynia in the late nineteenth century), who is named Frederick in the original document. I don’t know if the misnomer resulted from a misunderstanding by the interviewer or if Frederick was a middle or preferred name. Nonetheless, I have replaced all instances of Frederick with Ludwig.

Stories from the Past: Ludwig Kelm (Part 1)

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.

There is no known photograph of Ludwig Kelm but by all accounts Julius said he was a very handsome man. He had black, curly hair and a tall, muscular build. Julius said that his grandson, Edward Kelm, looked a lot like him. Although Ludwig was handsome, he had a mean, abrasive manner and he spoke in a loud, gruff voice. He was not well liked and his son, Julius, despised him. Julius remembers that his father, was quite a wealthy landlord by the standards of the day. He had a large farm with grains, cattle, chickens and other farm animals. Mention was made several times that Ludwig had many bees and beehives and these bees produced honey which increased his wealth.

According to Julius, Ludwig was married several times which was not unusual for these times given the high mortality among women giving birth. There were many children born to the first wife. Not much is known as this wife other than she died giving birth to Julius [Note: Julius was born in 1878 and his mother, Wilhelmina Langner, died in 1880]. Ludwig then remarried a beautiful woman who was much younger than himself. There were no children born to this union and the wife did not live very long. She died suddenly and the cause of death was unknown. Julius said that she was bewitched. The other women were jealous of her beauty so they put a hex on her and this resulted in her premature death. It is not known when the second wife died but Julius certainly remembered her as being his stepmother during his tender years. Ludwig then remarried a third time and there were about seven more children born into this union. Julius recalled this stepmother with much warmth and kindness.

Julius recalls that Ludwig, in addition to being very mean spirited, was very selfish. Julius was the oldest son and did not have to serve in the military. He wanted a dowry to be able to have his own place and get married. Ludwig refused to offer him any kind of help and Julius hated him for that. The stepmother decided to try and help Julius but was afraid of her husband and what he would do. Knowing Julius was planning to marry she began to sell, secretly, some of the cream and milk from the farm to others in the area who used the cream to make cheese. Soon she had saved enough money to buy Julius two shirts and material for a suit and gave these articles to him as a wedding gift. Julius was very grateful to this stepmother for having done this act of kindness for him. Julius did marry a woman named Serafina and settled on some land in the Volhynia area. Julius said that he worked very hard and soon had his own horse and buggy. He decided to hitch the horse to the buggy and drove to his father’s farm with his wife and baby beside him. He said that he went only to show his father that he was able to be successful without his help.

Finding Serafina Kelm

Note: As always, I will update this blog entry with more information and sources as I find it. If you have more information about Serafina, or Seraphine, Kelm, feel free to comment or email me at sarika.l.kelm@gmail.com.

In my previous blog post, I talked about Julius’ and Serafina’s immigrating to Manitoba. Serafina was Julius’ first wife. The first record I have that mentions her is the birth record for her daughter, Olga Kelm, entered in a Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe database. Olga was born in Neudorf, Novograd Volynsk [Volhynia], Russia, on July 12, 1903, making her almost three years old when she arrived in Manitoba in May 1906. In the birth record, Serafina is recorded as “Seraphine Albert,” which makes me wonder if one of the boarders, H. Albert, (a single thirty-year-old Polish man) mentioned as living at 677 Ross Street with the Kelms in the 1906 Census of Canada is a relative.

On June 24, 1906, just two days before the census takers arrived at 677 Ross Street, Serafina gave birth to a baby boy who soon died. Another son, William Kelm, was born the following year, on May 24, 1907. Serafina is recorded as “Josephine Herman” in the Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency genealogy database, but “Josephine” may be a transcription error. Herman is a surname mentioned in the 1906 Census (see previous blog post); a boarder and possible relative, Christian [Herman], was living with the Kelm family in 1906. I would need look at William’s birth record, which I don’t have at the moment, to see if I can glean more information.

“[Unnamed Kelm death record].” Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency. Retrieved 21 Jun 2012. Courtesy of Phyllis Kelm Reakes.

Serafina (recorded as Seraphine Kalm) died February 20, 1910, at the age of twenty-six at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg. Her death record (see below) states that she died of “organic heart failure” and that she had been sick for three months. The Brookside Cemetery Burial Search indicates that she was buried two months later, on April 16, probably because the ground was too frozen. At the time of her death, the Kelms were living at 261 Dorothy Street.1

Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 22 Feb 1910. Retrieved 14 Jan 2020 from Newspapers.com.

“[Seraphine Kelm death record]” Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency. Retrieved 21 Jun 2012. Courtesy of Phyllis Kelm Reakes.

1 Looking at the 1911 Census of Canada (see Census transcriptions at the Manitoba Historical Society website) reveals that 261 Dorothy Street, located next to the Canadian Pacific Railway station, was home to many tenants—at least 41 in 1911⁠—though there are no Kelms living there according to the 1911 Census (and I have been unable to find them elsewhere).