Online Exhibits - From Far Away Russia, Part 1
"They looked as forlorn as possible for a strange people in a strange land to appear. They had come from far away Russia."
--Topeka Capital, March 20, 1890
Thousands of people left Russia for Kansas in the 1870s. Actually, these emigrants had closer ties to Germany than to Russia.
Just a century earlier they had left war-torn Germany for Russia's unsettled agricultural provinces. In these isolated lands they clustered in close-knit villages removed from their neighbors, preserving many of their German customs.
As a group the Russian-Germans were highly religious. Many were Mennonites, a Protestant sect. Others were Catholics or Lutherans living along Russia's Volga River; they were known as the Volga Germans.
The two main concentrations of Russian-German settlement in Kansas were:
Mennonites in Marion, Harvey, and McPherson counties (highlighted in blue on Kansas map)
Volga Germans in Ellis, Russell, and Rush counties (highlighted in red).