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.
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.
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.
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.
Photograph of Henry and Katherine Miller's children circa 1925 courtesy of Chris Kauhi.
RECENT ADDITIONS AND NEWS
The home of Katie and Margaret Derr on 7th Street near Beech in 1903. Photograph courtesy of Donna Palmer Wakefield.
Please contact Svetlana Kaiser if you have information about this photo. Svetlana believes that these people are the relatives of her father's step-mother, Anna Kaiser. Anna Kaiser was born in Norka in 1911 to John and Magdalena Kaiser.
Please contact the webmaster if you can you identify anyone in the photo above which was likely taken in Portland in the 1920s. The photograph may be connected to a Brill family from Norka. Photograph courtesy of Nedra Brill.
Can you help identify this Derr family from Portland?
Listen as Jerry Schleining remembers the old Volga German neighborhood (139 MB MP3 file format)