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The Dworschak & Kister Family Heritage

Updated September 5, 2000

I'm researching John P. Dworschak b. in Austria (1814-74) who married Johanna Hickel (b 1830) in Austria. The vital statistics and ancestry of these people is eagerly sought.
Their son, immigrant John Frederick Dworschak, born Mähren Trebau, Austria (now Trebova, Czech Rep.) 30 Nov 1865. Married Anna Kister (1876-1960) 2 January 1894. He came to America via Baltimore MD, arriving 30 Nov 1887. He lived in Clackamas co. OR the remainder of his life as a farmer. The property is still held by the Dworschak family.

Also seeking information on John Peter Kister & his wife Christine Margaret Becker, who were the parents of Anna Kister (see above). John was born 12 Jun 1854 in Kolb (now Peskovatka), Russia, and died 3 Apr 1893 in Clackamas co. Oregon. Christine was born in the same village, 27 Mar 1855 & died 8 Jan 1905 near Molalla, Clackamas co, Oregon.

It is said John and Christine immigrated to Russia from Germany (date unknown) and settled near Vologda, about 200 miles NE of Moscow. People were very poor and hungry due to crop failures. Other (more plausable) information I have shows John and Christine were born in the village of Kolb which is located in the Volga Region of Russia. The village is located near the Medveditza River. The colony was founded on May 13, 1767, when 88 colonists of the Lutheran faith arrived at the land which had been set aside by the Office of Immigrant Affairs. Those people living in this area were sometimes known as "Volga Germans". The Russian administration gave the community the name of Peskovatka after the small stream along which the colony was located.

Germans started to migrate to Russia because of religious persecution in the 1760's when Catherine the Great was offering religious freedom and tax exemptions in exchange for developing the land. Russian politics changed dramatically over the 100 years that followed and it wasn't long before the Germans starting losing the freedoms and privileges extended to them.

One-third of all Russian-Germans left Russia, many of them settling in Kansas. In 1875, (just after they were married) the family emigrated to the USA arriving in Baltimore, Maryland, and lived on a farm near Topeka, Kansas where the first two children, Anna and Henry were born in a sod house. Perhaps because they found the country and customs strange the family stayed only two years.

Returning to Russia in the late 1870’s (?) they farmed property in Kolb where Katherine and Emma were born. Meanwhile, the Russian government continued it’s oppressions. Thus they apparently decided to give America another try and left in 1883. This time they had to bribe the border guards to get out of the country.

During their second Atlantic crossing in 1883, John, Christine and 4 children left England, were shipwrecked and survived by clinging to the ships masts. The story goes that they took turns sleeping, the awake person(s) watching the sleeper, making sure he/she didn't slip off. They were rescued by another ship three days later and taken back to England for another try! As they passed the site where the first ship sank, the masts could still be seen sticking out of the water. The U.S. port of entry on this trip is unknown, but since Peter was born in Molalla, Oregon and Pauline in Hillsboro, Kansas, the family seems to have moved around a bit before settling in Oregon for good. John had an older brother Henry, who with his own family was likely still living in Kansas when Pauline was born in 1888. The last two children were born in Portland and Molalla.

John was killed by a falling tree ("a widow maker") in 1893. Christine was later remarried to Frederick "Bill" Gortler who after her death in 1905, married her daughter, Pauline "Pearl" and had eight children.

John's parents were: John Peter Kister Sr. & Eva Mitz. John was born in 1820, somewhere in Germany. More information & the ancestry for these people would be much appreciated.

Michael Wayne Burley
28137 SW Navajo Terrace
Wilsonville, OR 97070
United States

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