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.
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.
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.
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.
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Please contact the webmaster if you can you help identify the two men in this photo?
Listen as Jerry Schleining shares stories about the old Volga German neighborhood in NE Portland (139 MB MP3 file format)