Ott family - A Letter written before 1918 plus phograph of Alex, Anton, and, Christina Ott

Last Updated: 6 March 2002

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- Stories Through Letters -

Judy's Note:  Having Perelenfein cousins, when I saw this e-mail from Gerald Ott, I asked him if I could place it on my web site. It's an example of how the new and rising middel class Germans and Russians were living before the Russian Revolution in 1918.  Enjoy.

Gerald Ott's Aunt's Story

-Gross Information and Story was sent  by Gerald Ott t

E-mail: 23 Nov. 1998

Daniel Gross/Grosz b. 8 Sep 1846 Kulm/Bess d. 14 Jan 1919, Parkston South Dakota m. 20 Apr. 1867 Kulm/Bess. Justine Dietrich b. About 1850 Paris/Bess.

I got the information from Arthur Flegel. He is a VC for Kulm/Bess. His references: FILM 038906: Fam #51 Kulm Rec; Conf 16/4/1861: Reading 1, Religion 2; per Kulm KIRCHENBOTE OBIT 4/3/1920: b 1/7/1846 vs Kulm Rec 8/9/1846; To Scotland SD 1878 helped org Seimenthal Cong Ch 1883; 1893 to Parkston; d of heart attack; 13 ch surv wife, 5 sons, 4 daughters; 2 brothers, 3 sisters.; add Info R260 Rothery HERITAGE REVIEW 24:4,94, DAK FREIE PRESSE OBIT:I have cc to Art. His e-mail address is:

My Great grandmother Christina Gross/Grosz b. 20 Jul 1841 Waterloo/Od d. 21 Jan 1922 Elgin, North Dakota m. 25 Jan 1861 Johannestal/Od. as the second wife Gottlieb Perelenfein b. 6 May 1825 Pfaffenhoffen / Heilbronn-Wü. Christina Grosz was the daughter of Wilhelm Grosz. I have collected a good deal of information about the Gross families of the Black Sea. The only Wilhelm Grosz that seems to fit the bill is Wilhelm who married Elizabeth Danneman b. 23 Oct 1813 Alexandhilf/Od.

There is a story in our family about a relationship with a well-to-do family in the Crimea. The surname of this family has eluded me to date but one of the candidates is GROSZ or GROSS. The story of my father's sister, Anna, follows (Aunt Anna wrote a history at the request of one of her granddaughters but did not go into detail about her father.):

"My mother was a German and lived in a German settlement near Odessa in Russia. My father was a Russian. He was an orphan and lived in an orphanage when he was a child. Our house was large and had a nice garden with different kinds of fruits and vegetables. My mother was quite strict and expected us to help with the household duties. I learned to sew and do other types of hand work at a very early age. Father was a butcher. He was a very quiet man and he was not as strict as mother was."

The following always fascinated me:

"When I was about 6 years old (1899) I went to live with a wealthy man who was my mother's cousin. I called him Uncle and his wife, Aunt. I was unofficially adopted into his family to be a companion to his only child, a son, who was my age. I was unhappy to be away from my family and I often blamed them in my thoughts for my unhappiness but they meant for me to be happy and have a good life surrounded by wealth.

My Uncle owned an estate in the country. The main crop was wheat and there were many employees on the estate. Soldiers in Russia were paid very little and in the summer they were allowed to find other work and they would come to the estate and help with the harvest. My uncles employed 2 cooks, one for the employees and one for the family. Meals were always formal. We children had to courtsey when we came to the table and leave by the same way. We were never allowed to speak unless we were first spoken to. German was all that was ever spoken in my uncle's house. We children had a governess. She was a young woman who took care of us, saw to our studies and instructed us in manners. She sat between us at the table. Once my young cousin took his salt with his fingers. The salt was placed in small cut-glass dishes in front of each plate. The proper way to take salt was to take the salt with the point of your knife, hold the flat edge over your plate and tap the knife over the food. For taking salt with his fingers, my young cousin had his fingers slapped with the flat side of a knife until his hand was swollen. The governess had not noticed what my cousin had done and so it was uncles who had slapped my cousins fingers. My uncle was a very strict man and often arch and yet I liked him because he was not mean and he tried to be fair. He had a terrible temper and was often sorry for what he had done afterwards. My aunt was different -- she would pull our ears when she was angry and my uncle spoke to her and told her that was wrong....

"Uncle employed many people on the estate. Each morning he wold go out into the yard and tap his boot with his whip and the farm boss would come running to receive his instructions for the day. He was never mean or took advantage of his employees and they respected him. He had a carriage and a team of 4 horses that he drove around the estate. The horses were beautiful palomino stallions and they would prance and toss their heads when my uncle drove them.

"Everything was kept under lock and key. Once when I was about 12 years old and my aunt was not at home, my uncle left his keys with me while he went away. The housekeeper needed something from a closet and she came in and asked me for the key and waited for her to bring it back. She did bring it back but the servants reported me to my uncle and I was punished for not going with the housekeeper to keep an eye on her.

"Sometimes, during the summer, my uncle would go to a resort town in Turkey for a holiday. I remember one summer we all went. We travelled by train to Odessa and from there took a boat across the Black Sea to Constantinople. From Constantinople we children took a boat to the island estate of my uncle's brother. It was a beautiful estate with gardens of flowers, statues around the house and many servants. My uncle and aunt went on alone to the resort town of Jalta where the Czar often went during the summers.

"While we children were on the island we sometimes went by boat to visit another cousin (Aunt) who lived in another town. This aunt raised grapes and made wine. She had many barrels of wine fermenting in her cellar. Once I went down to the cellar and drank some of the wine that was fermenting. I drank so much that I couldn't climb the stairs afterwards. My family often teased me when I told them this story...."

Gerald J. Ott

752 Niantic Dr.

Foster City CA 94404


A photograph of  Alex, Anton, and, Christina Ott.

Ott Fam

Judy's Note: "When a person dies so do his or her memories unless they have told someone else something about themselves by conversation or with the pen ,  if they have, then they gain an immortality with our help, if we pass these stories to others.  In doing so, we help those who live, now, or,  in the future  to know and understand the past.  History is, afterall,  a long thread of short stories about people, places and things."



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