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Schwartzbeeren - From the smallest of seeds

“Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches." -Mathew 13:32

I have been doing some internet research on a man named Fredrich. You see, I am trying to figure out when Fredrich Conrad Meier (I see sometimes spelled Conrad-Meier) came to the United States and if he was married to Rosella when he did. He cane from a region near the Volga River and was German. Today, I cut up some bottles and planted some of the most tiny seeds you will every see to try and give them a good start before I plant them outside. I am planting Schwartzbeeren, which is a berry that has been seeded and passed down through my family and just today to me to plant! it is my every day in the summer memories since as far back as I can think! You had to be firm enough to pull the tiny berries from the plant but gentle enough you didn’t squish the insides right out! And I had become a pro at gathering them for my grandmother to make sweet dumpling treats with.

Here is what i know about the berry and my ancestors......

Schwartzbeeren literally translates to ‘blackberries’ in German.  But unless you live in Ellis County, Kansas, I’m pretty sure the blackberry you are thinking of right now is not schwartzbeeren.  You’re thinking of a bumpy dark purple berry that looks similar to a raspberry, right?  That berry is well-known to most Germans also, who call it brombeeren (Boysenberry).   In the latter half of the eighteenth century, Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, but born a German princess, enticed German immigrants to settle the untamed Volga River region with promises of freedom of religion, no taxation for thirty years, and perpetual freedom from military service.  The hard-working Germans who accepted her offer maintained closed communities, retaining their German language and customs.  A century later, long after Catherine had died, the Russian government reneged on Catherine’s promises and began to draft the young men into military service.  Disgruntled, many of the Germans immigrated again, this time to America, where quite a few of them made their way to Ellis County, Kansas.


Catherine Elizabeth Braun was born to Rosella (Rosa) Radelmeier and Fredrich Conrad Meier. She had two older brothers, Francis and Fredrich  who were born in Germany about 40 years before her. Her brothers' had a different mother who died in childbirth to triplet girls! Catherine was born in Wamego, Pottawatomie County, Kansas  on March 04 1882. 

She was the mother of  Katherine ; Barbara ; Bernard ; Peter ; Baltasar ; Aloysius ; Friedoline ; Mariam ; Fridolin ; Andrew ; Anthony ; Mary ; Rose Ann and Cecilia  -- 

Aren't those some names!!! Her eldest, Katherine (which makes me giggle because she decided to name her daughter after her... kind of...??) was born on October 23, 1899 in Victoria, Ellis, Kansas. She married John George Schiffelbein and they had 16 children. One of their children, Julie Anne (Bayer), is my grandmother. 

 My great aunt Agnes Wiegel (My grandma Julie's sister) gave my uncle Douglas Bayer the seeds in the mail when she moved away from her garden and he sent some to me upon request. And so my Schwartzbeeren adventure begins!


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