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Welcome to The Volga Germans in Portland website. This site is a resource for learning about the history, heritage and settlement of this ethnic group that settled in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Miller Children

Photograph of Henry and Katherine Miller's children circa 1925 courtesy of Chris Kauhi.

Migrating from the Germanic areas of Western Europe in the 1760's, these colonists settled along the Volga River near the city of Saratov and established colonies on the vast unsettled steppes of Russia. 

The colonists built stable communities, established farms, churches, schools and businesses in their new homeland in Russia.

In the later part of the 19th century, these ethnic Germans looked to find new opportunities, escape political repression and preserve their way of life. Many Germans living in Russia's lower Volga River region came to the United States and Canada during this time period - settling first in the Midwestern regions. By the early 1880s these pioneers were moving west and many came to call Portland their new home.

Katie Derr home on NE 7th and Beech in 1903

The home of Katie and Margaret Derr on 7th Street near Beech in 1903. Photograph courtesy of Donna Palmer Wakefield.

The Volga Germans became an integral part of the diverse fabric of this community. This site is dedicated to those families, their ancestors, and the descendants who carry on their memory. I hope that you will explore the culture, history and heritage of the Volga Germans in Portland and become active in its preservation.

Volga German Tavern owned by Mr. Hergert

Henry E. Hergert, a Volga German from Brunnental, Russia, owned two saloons in NE Portland from the early 1900's to about 1912. One of the establishments was on the corner of Union & Russell (shown above) and the other was located at Goldsmith (now Larrabee) & Russell near the Albina rail yard. Photograph courtesy of Carol Gass (nee Hergert) and Teresa Gass.


John and Elizabeth Weber family

Biography of Ann Sophia (Markgraf) Langmann, née Horn

Volga Germans workes in Portland

Please contact the webmaster if you can you help identify the two men in this photo? According to Sherrie Irwin, the man on the right may possibly be Edward Weiss.

Photograph of the Dora and John Conrad Schwabenland Family

Photograph of Anna Elisabeth and John Miller

1935 Rotary Bread Softball team

Photograph of the St. Paul's Evangelical and Reformed Church Confirmation Class of March 23, 1913.

Other Volga German Settlements in Oregon

Georg and Magdalena Schnell Family

Schnell Automotive and Supply

Profile of John C. Sinner, owner of the Fremont Market

1922 St. Paul's Evangelical and Reformed Church Confirmation Class Photograph

Rev. J.C. Bitter, pastor at St. Paul's Evangelical and Reformed Church

Can you help identify these people who are possibly associated with the Leichner, Spady, Sauer or Treuber Families?

Unidentified Citizenship Class

1927 Zion Church Confirmation Class

The 1933 confirmation class of the German Evangelical Congregational Brethren Church

The Gartner family by Ron Folck

Article on the former St. Paul's Church in The Oregonian (13 Jan 2013)

Lyon's Farm by Melvin (Mel) Cook

Zion Congregational Church Confirmation Class of 1935

Ebenezer German Congregational Church Confirmation Class of 1922

Extra…Extra…Read All About It! by Melvin (Mel) Cook

Irving Park's Volga German Connections by Steve Schreiber

Story of Ludwig and Katherine Miller

Story of Conrad and Katherine Bauer

A Gas Pump Jockey at N.E. 7th and Fremont by Melvin (Mel) Cook

Sunday School Picnics by Melvin (Mel) Cook

A new story about Watkins Drugstore by Melvin (Mel) Cook

A profile of professional wrestler Kurt von Poppenheim by Melvin (Mel) Cook

A new story about Cold Storage by Melvin (Mel) Cook

Listen as Jerry Schleining shares stories about the old Volga German neighborhood in NE Portland (139 MB MP3 file format)