German-Russian  Bessarabian Colony of Borodino and Periojany  [Beriojan] Chutor Genealogy List. Remmick-Hubert Web Site:  Page T List - Tetz Family

Last Updated:  10 June 2004

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T  TETZ Family

T / Christina Tetz

Christina's daughter, Flossie wrote:  "Picture of Christina Tetz..." "...taken of Mom at 16 just after she came to the USA and had earned her first money.  So proud of her."

Christina is the 5th child of Friedericka, nee Hess,  and Johann Tetz:

Friedericka, nee Hess, Tetz,  Mauch

Johann Tetz b. 27 Mar 1853 Borodino d. 18 March 1893 Borodino, son of Karl Tetz and Katharina Wagnerm.  on 23 Jan. 1875 Kloestitz to Friederika Hess b. 18 March 1856 Borodino d. 21 Nov 1935 [in home of her son Christian Tetz], dau. of Jakob Hess and Dorothea Haberer,  m. (1) , m. (2)  Arthur Mauch  , S-3. Children: 12 known See

Letter dated 21 Jan 1982 from Flossie, nee Gourlay, Libra:

"I noticed in the 1980 "Clues" for American Historical Society for Germans from Russia that you are gathering data for Borodino, Bess.

My mother was born there, emigrating in 1898 at the age of 16 to Ritzville, Wash., with the family of her guardian. .....

Her name was Christina Tetz daughter of Johann and Friedericka (Hess) Tetz.  Her father was I understand in charge of the village horse herd and at the age of 40 a horse stepped on or kicked his chest.  He died several months later when she was 10.  From that time she and the other children had guardians.  It was with the family of her Mother's sister that she came to the U.S. in late 1898 through Antwerp to New York.  Her Aunts husband, Andreas Janke, was the guardian who brought her here. Others of her family were pushed westward to Germany during the war and reside there now.   Except for one sister, Emilie (Tetz) Lehman (Ludwig) who emigrated to Alberta, Canada.  Emilie died in 1981 but her children and theirs are still in Alberta.  My mother died in Colville, Wash. in 1965.

I can give more particulars and some of her early memories if it is desired, plus a more complete genealogy...."


Letter date 2 March 1982

"...also included will be her baptismal certificate and the letter from her guardian on the disposal of her inheritance...."

"The other person, Regina Hein of Edmonton, I just learned about last year.  She is the daughter of Samuel Hess....

Evelope with letter sent from Jakob Sigloch , who was living in Borodino / Bess. S. Russia to his niece Friedericka Hess in Ritzwill, WA, USA

The following was written by Jakob Sigloch to Friedericka Hess and is dated 30 Nov 1903 from Borodino:

"Best wishes to you Christina Tetz from you Uncle Jakob Sigloch and Auntie Margaretha Sigloch and our children.  We are all well.  We hope that our letter we receive to you in good health too.  I got the right now and the money out of the Orphan Safe.  You quarter of the inheritance is 74 ruble, 83 kopec.  And I wish you luck with your inheritance.

And please wrote again to us.  Especially when you get the money.  And let us know how things are going with you.

Let us know if you are married or if you are still single.  Write also how far away from your Uncle Andreas Janke.  Best wishes once more from your Uncle Jakob Sigloch.

The money I send to Odessa [Russia] with Alexander Hoffman.  And here I received this cheque.  But how they are going to figure it there with this cheque I don't know.  You go to the bank and there you will get it in American money.

Please answer back, your Uncle Jakob Sigloch."

Flossie writes more about this:

"My mother received her inheritance from her Father's estate when she was 21 years old.  The Russian-German colonies had an Orphan's Bank.  Money belonging to Orphans was deposited there.  It was used to make loans to farmers, etc. thus drawing interest.  Her Uncle Sigloch was undoubtedly one of the guardians appointed for her at her Father's death.  Another guardian was Andreas Janke (husband of her Mother's sister, Justina (or) Susanne (?) (Hess) Janke, and with whose family my Mother emigrated to this country).

It is also my recollection that my Mother returned her inheritance to be divided among the other heirs.  She felt it would be so little after conversion to American money and that the others needed it more.

Translation of the letter was by Hilda Regner, my cousin in Didsburgy, Alberta. ..."

Story of Christina Tetz (Neff) (Gourlay)

by her daughter,

Flossie Libra

Christina Tetz was born November 25, 1882 in Borodino, Bessarrabia (then Russia), to Johann Tetz and Friederika Hess.  Johann descended from the Johann Tetz of Lichtenbergin, Mecklenburg-Stralitz, the first generation to Bessarrabia under invitation of Czar Alexander I.  Friederika Hess descended from Adam Hess of Eich in Pfalz, also, the first generation to Bessarabia.  Thus my mother was the 4th generation to live in Borodino.

She was baptized and later confirmed in the local Lutheran Church, the latter just before migrating to the U.S. at age 16.  At age 10 her father died and according to custom the mother no longer had rights to the children.  They were given guardians.  It was with the family of one, Andreas Janke, that she came to the U.S. . He was the husband of her mother's sister, Justina (or Susanna??) Hess.  Another guardian, Jakob Sigloch, sent her inheritance, referring to himself as Uncle and his wife Mar[g]aretha, (could he have been to another of mother's sisters??).  The other guardian I do not know but was told there was no relation.

Life after her father died was very hard.  She often told of being sent across the Black Sea to live, to the Crimea (perhaps to another relative??).  There, besides being very homesick, she was worked harder than ever before.  Among other things, recalled being hitched to a rake in the fields, and after harvest turning the fanning mill almost until she dropped until 3 p.m.., and then getting up early to start work again.  During harvest, the work was was done in the fields most of the night if there was moonlight to see... Meals were brought out and in the dark many grasshoppers got into the soup. They joked about getting meat, " [because of the grasshoppers in the soup]. "--However, she returned home before the year was up as they were afraid she would die of homesickness, finally not being able to eat at all.  She said she returned with the same small bag of candy given her on leaving, but all moldy.  On coming up the walk her mother met her at the door to say, "What are you doing here?"  He was another mouth to feed and times had been very hard on the mother, as a widow.

Both her daughters, my mother and Aunt, spoke of their mother as a 'hard' woman.  I'm sure they felt so with justification.  Others spoke of it as 'survival in hard life'.  After her husband died she," [the mother],  "was a very poor and although her four oldest children were sons and wold enough to help in the fields, the land was no longer hers, income from it was being put aside by the guardians for the children who would inherit at age 21.  Friederika was to remarry, sometimes the only solution for widows.  Her second husband Arthur Mauch, had three children of his own and they were to have two more, Berta and Olga, becoming my mother's half-sisters.  Arthur Mauch was reported to either Russian or part Russian thus adding to criticism of Friederika.  The German colonists just did not mix.  Friederika was a natural mother to thirteen children, ste-mother to three.  After her second husband died she spent her last years in her son Christian Tetz's home in Mariewka.  When asked to look after the children was said she had had enough, she would rather look after a crazy goose.

However, Friedericka was considered the village equivalent of a doctor.  She was called to set bones, tend the sick and even lance wounds.  At age six months, my mother had a growth on her neck  Her mother lanced it and then could only feed her by dropping liquid on her tongue, usually whiskey.  To see if she was alive, a mirror was put in font of her mouth to catch any steam from her breath.  She survived not only this but cholera at a later age.  With this Friedericka was so sick almost nothing was recalled, but awakened on day, alone, but feeling better and very hungry.  So weak she half crawlde to the cellar and down the steps, finding only moldy bread and wine which she managed to take to the top of the cellar where she sat in the warm sun to eat.  Nothing had ever tasted so good!.

My mother was the fifth child and oldest girl; Johann, Andreas, Jakob and Christian being older; Katherine, karl and Emilie younger.  Another girl, Eva, died at age 10, and Samuel, born after his father's death died as an infant.  Katherine was to die at 19 from burns.  She worked at the home of the Minister named Peters (in a neighboring village, I think??).  After dinner while cleaning up she got on a stool to put a plate on a shelf, fell, knocked over the lamp setting herself afire.  The two youngest children were given to their father's brother, Friederick Tetz, who was childless and had asked for them before their father's death.  Thus Emilie grew up in the village of Mariewka, through returning to Borodino after marrying her first cousin, Gottfried Tetz, son of her father's brother Konrad Tetz.  Her brother Karl would not stay but return to eventually live with another Uncle.  I think in Borodino (?).

Being the oldest girl meant my mother cared for the younger ones, saying she she could not remember a time when she did not have an infant tied to her hip as she did dishes or herded geese, etc.. (When all hands were needed in the fields babies w4ere wrapped an left in the house to be tended again at meal time if they could not be taken to the fields...).  But for most of her early years, Christina cared for the smaller children.  On awakening in the morning her foot would automatically go out to rock the cradle beside her bed.  She never forgot one morning when groggly she set the cradle to rock and her mother said quietly it didn't matter anymore.  It was then she noticed her grandmother also sitting nearby.  The infant had died in the night.

But there was also good memories, too, and the happiness day of her life she claimed to be confirmation day.  The Bishop came from Kloestitz, she had a new dress, there was a feast and she did not have to do any work.  After the service the Bishop took the confirmation group for a walk into the fields.  Christina remember being so elated as almost to float " being very near to Heaven".

She always remembered her father with great affection.  When alive he had always protected her she said, and on returning from a trip to Odessa had once brought her a sting of amber beads, supposed to have come from the Black Sea.  She never took them off all her life except to repair and clean.   We buried her with string still on but there were only a few of the original beads among them.

Her father was Haertashuts or herder of the cattle herd, although I also understood he worked with horses.  His early death at age 40 was caused by getting either kicked in the chest by a horse or stepped on after being thrown, thus causing the consumption to which he succumbed several months later without leaving his bed.  My mother was so afraid of death she could not pass the door of the room in which he died without running and she was also desolated.  I believe this was one of the reasons she was sent to the Crimea to get her out of the house where she was so miserable.  Her sister Emilie whom was only three at the time remembered fondly playing around her father's bed.

These stories of death told by the older people were partly responsible for this fear.  They told stories of ghosts and werewolves and of people being inadvertinely buried alive and pulling their hair out int their graves.  I also remember my sheer horror when many years later my mother spoke of these stories.  I just did not want to hear them.

Their village was arranged as most of their time, with the fields laid out in strips.  Houses were in town.  Her parents raised hay and flax and grain, grapes, sheep and poultry and other stock.  The grain for the stock and for flour, the flax for spinning, also vegetables for food.  But their cash crop was champagne.  Grape growing was the most important with the champagne made from white grapes. It was sealed in kegs and left undisturbed for a specified period.  The red wines were consumed in the household as beverage, and, also hot on their cereal (cornmeal mush) on coming back from church Sunday mornings.  I suspect the red wines were not fermented as much, being used more quickly.  Though she often spoke of being almost overcome by the fumes on stepping into the cellar.  Then men in from the fields, going first to the cellar to quench their thirst.  It was drunk with their meals as well.  That they also used milk is indicated by their love of 'sweet' clabbored milk eaten with sugar if available.  It was offered to guests on hot day and I can still see my mother enjoying it.

Their daily fare was simple-- bread, cheeses, cooked cereals, potatoes, soups and stews.  For feast days geese were killed, a sheep or pig or steer.. though these were often included in the daily fare, particularly mutton.  Special sweets were also made for holidays.  I remember the pumpkin tarts my mother baked for nostalgia sake, along with her regular American pumpkin pies.  Wild rabbits and partridges were gotten for Christmas as wall as the usual smoked geese and roast lamb.

Cheese was made with their own rennet.  When a calf was to be butchered it was given three liters of milk to drink.  After the butchering the rennet bag was taken out with the curdled milk which was dried and then used for the cheese.  Yeast for bread was made from fermented wine and sweet corn flour was mixed with dried in the sun.  The only foods bought were coffee, tea, sugar, salt and sometimes fish.  Herb teas from rose hips or other plants gathered wild was also used as were Jerusalem artichokes growing wild and known as wild potatoes.

It was a breach of hospitablity not to offer food to visitors.  In the evenings and on Sundays and holidays neighbors stopped to talk or the women to work together on needlework.  However, my Aunt spoke sometimes of sitting with the light out so no one would think she was home if she was too tired after a summer day in the fields to fix food for visitors.

Wool was spun from their own sheep's wood and knitted or woven into garments.  Linden thread was spun after the flax was soaked and beaten to separate the fibers.  The coarse was used for grain sacks and the finger for underwear or shirts, etc. .   Spinning and weaving was mostly done in the evenings or winter months.  Ashes were used to make soap for washing.  Sometimes the very poor had only one set of garments, being washed and put back on ... Candles were dipped from tallow.  Fabrics were dyed from the juice of crushed plants and set with urine.

Houses were heated with peat or corn cobs and dried cow manure unless they had a village woodlot. The houses were built of bricks made of stamp straw and wet clay type soil, then were whitewashed inside and out each years.  The huge clay ovens were clay had made to hold many large loaves of brea.  (They never ate their bread until the next day feeling the fresh yeast gasses were unhealthy.  If not enough old brea on hand it was borrowed from a neighbor and the favor returned later).  The oven was a special memory of my mother's, sleeping on it in winter since it held the heat for a long time.  But in the summer a separate kitchen, called a summer kitchen, was used to keep the heat away from the house as well as the flies.  Besides the oven was in the ard itself.  Shutters were closed on the main house in summer to keep it cool and clean.

Grain was stores in the loft over the house.  It was reached by a ladder from the storage room (or an outside window) that was located between the house part and the barn.  My mother, to show how strong she was, proudly spoke of picking up grain sacks over her shoulder and running up the ladder to the loft.  She could also pick up a tub of wash water to empty.  But these feats were to cost her dearly in later life with many ailment related to overwork.

School was attended only the three months in winter before her father died and none after.  Attaining only the 1st grade in russia she was to study on her own in this country, " [U.S.A.]. "to learn to read, write and do arithmetic.  Almost a hundred pupils attended the village school making it almost impossible to maintain order.  The language used was Russian which she did not understand before going to school.  Her memory of school consisted of only one sentence in Russian which the teacher used when switching the students.

She recalled overhearing the Jewish children in their quarter being taught to bargain with customers.  Their teacher said, "Gentile say so much, you say so much---".  Merchandising was done by the Jewish people since they could not own land and they lived separately in the villages.  But is is not to say the German people not not bargain, they loved to, and my mother had the habit all her life when shopping.

On Christmas Eva an old woman dressed in black and carrying a switch came to the door with a soldier.  She poured candy and nuts on the floor switching the children hands grabbing for the candy so they would not get more than their share.  It was supposedly a gift from the Czar.

Weddings and baptisms were scheduled for the visiting Minister's regular rounds, or they drove in wagons to Kloestitz to the nearest Bishop.  The Minister was brought in a carriage but all others went to the church in an open wagon with seats put in one behind the others.  It was painted green.  Though my Aunt remembered being driven to Kloestitz for her second wedding in "feather wagon'.  The driver sat in front and there was a covered seat behind for the passengers.  For the wedding beast neighbors would bring their own benches or chairs and also add to the food.

My mother, Christina, migrated to the United States in later 1898, arriving with her Uncles's family in the town of Ritzwill, Washington where his cousin lived.  On arrival the Cousin went to the cellar for a box of apples.  Set on the floor of the living room and it quickly disappeared as they had nothing to eat on the train from New York.  They had traveled by train from Odessa, Russia to Antwerp, Belgium to the ship.  On the Antwerp dock one of the bundles her mother had given her fro her dowry was taken from under her as they sat on them to protect them.  She did bring a huge father pillow and one of the striped coarse blankets children were carried in by the mother, by winding around the baby and themselves in such a way their hands were free.  I was to see a picture of a mother and baby in one of the museums in Stuttgart, West German in 1979, realizing at least what it was used for.  Years in a cedar chest had dispelled it but when a child I was sure I could smell the urine with which the odor had been set in the yarns.

Soon after arrival, Christina went to work as a maid.  The 'strong' German girls just off the boast were in demand.  Often they were sept only for house cleaning and then let go.  As soon as she learned English and to cook she did better and finally her cooking enabled her to pick and choose her places," [of work]. "She also had a good fortune in some kind of employers who helped her with her lessons, through it was not easy even them.

I recalled one story of," [mother], "working for an elderly couple and being sent out to pick gooseberries which have thorns.  Later in the day the man came out to tell her to quit and get supper.  She misunderstood the word quit, thinking he had said, "quick".  She tried to work faster but he said again to quit and so she tried desperately to hurry, her fingers by now bleeding from the thorns.  Finally he came out and said his wife wanted her to quit and get supper.  Then she understood!

In the beginning her Uncle came each payday to collect her wages until he was paid back for her passage, even once when in bed with pneumonia from having the soles out of her shoes in winter. After that she lost rack of this family as  she had begun to establish her own life and to enjoy it as a young girl should  Years later I was to locate the Uncles family.  His daughter told how kind her father was and how he had cared for her mother in her last illness.  It seemed they were speaking of two different people.  His daughter spoke of how hard it was for him to keep food for his family and to establish her farm west of Ritzille.  He was later to lose it and to move eventually to California.  This, too, would account for the lack of contact.

In time, Christina became wholly American, forgetting even a great deal of her German language.  She learned to keep house and cook American, to wash and iron all the fine clothes and lace of the family, and on her own purchases books and studied to become literate in her new home.  She joined the Rebecka Lodge in Sprague, Washingston, having many good times when getting a few days off from work.  She often spoke of the Crab creek picnics, what good times they had on the Community picnics and how friendly the people.  Her Lodge sisters also cared for her in two serious illnesses, one diphtheria, and the other when a growth was removed from her thigh and the would having to be seared out each time it was dressed thus keeping her from working for several months.

In October of 1904 she married Fred Neff of Sprague, Washington and moved to a homestead north of Colville in timbered country, quite different from the wheat lands of Ritzville and west of Sprague area that were so like her native Bessarabia.  However, her husband died in six months leaving her to finish 'proving up' alone.  She lived on the homestead in winter and summers was back on her old job of cooking on the Lakin Ranch west of Sprague.  In those days the wheat farms needed many men to handle the large teams needed to pull the plows and combines, etc.. Harvest brought many more.  A cook wagon would then be moved to the fields to be close to the work.

My mother lived to cook and prided herself on the table spread for company or hired hands.  But cook alone for a harvest crew was a huge job.  Her routine went thus: After breakfast before dishes were started the bread would be set and pies made.  Then dishes and making the mid morning lunch which someone cam in for.  After that was peeling vegetables for dinner, finishing the bread to be baked as the pies came out.  Ham might have been baking also before breakfast or chicken roasting, something would have been started at the crack of dawn.  The men came to the cook wagon for diner then there was the cleanup again and cakes to bake for supper and a mid-afternoon lunch, finally supper...was fried potatoes left from dinner, cold cuts of meat left over, pies, cakes, breads and rolls, even jelly she made fresh from the peelings of the apples for her pies that morning.  If she was lucky she might have had time for a nap in mid-afternoon although this occurred seldom.  I remember this routine in our family for the thrashing crews, when mother set up the great table in the big kitchen, and we kids could take the lunches out to the threshing rig--and wash dishes!

On July 3, 1911 my mother married my father, Robert Gourlay, who had a farm near her homestead. There she lived the rest of her life.  She had three children, my brother Samuel Thomas, my sister Blanche and myself.  She and my father worked hard to raise us properly and most of all to give us a good education.  He died in 1956 and Christina died August 1965.  She is buried in Colville, Washington.

My great regret is that I did not take more notes of my mother's stories of her homeland.  It seemed so hard I did not want to think about it and was also unreal until I grew much older.  I was also busy with my own life.  But with this I will have saved what I can.  I can finally pay tribute to her great courage and endurance, not the least leaving all that she knew to journey irrevocably into the unknown.  But especially do I want to preserve the memory of her love of life, something she never lost, willing to join in fun and new adventure, and retrain the warm, softness of a Mother.  Yes, she had her faults --but so do I - or any of us.  She was worthy of tribute, and I pay it gladly."


Letter dated 4 Dec 1983:

"...I did hear from Mrs. Alvina Schwarz of San Francisco who said she received my address through you.  It seems her father's sister (Katharina Ehni) married my mother's brother (Andreas Tetz)...also born in Borodino.  I was delighted to hear from her for had difficulty with his brother's history.  He apparently settled on the other side of the Dniester River ...from the others, thus in Russian territory after the start of the war.  His family wound up in Siberia, with a daughter, Lydia Fischer, getting out and to West Germany in 1965.  Others of Andrea's children still live in Russia in Kasakstan.  She said one of them was getting to come to West Germany soon to visit....."

"I have another connection with another branch of the Tetz family.  This time In Treginr, Sask.," [Canada]. "Shirley Skinner, who picked up my trail from "Clues".  Her great grandfather was a brother of my grandfather Johann Tetz.  That is the same Karl Tetz from whom Pastor Samuel Tetz in Chilliwak, B.C. is descended..."

"The origins of this family should have been Borodino, also, although here we are puzzled for Shirley says her great grandfather Karl Tetz records give his birthplace as Towritsky, Russia, ca. 1852.  That he moved a great deal is shown my places of Residences as given.  They were: Jacobstal/ Bessarabia, Karlsruhe, Crimea, Jegoreijewka, Orenburg and Mendham, Sask. Canada.  But if he was really the son of Karl tetz and Katharina Wagner of Borodino who were married in Klostitz in 18150 [as Pastor Samuel Tetz claims) then there must be an error in his birth record...."

See Alvina, nee Ehni, Schwarz Family Page 

JARH Notes:

Last contact with Flossie was 31 Jan 1991 when she sent me updates of her family and children who's dates I've with held which I always do for those who are still living.

See Jacob Tetz who married Regina Hein, dau. of Ludwig and Christina, nee Schweikert Hein.