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Catharine, Kansas

Founded April 8, 1878

Catharine is a small community of approximately 89 to 90 residents located in North Central Ellis County.  The town was established on April 8, 1876, but a group of German immigrants who had moved from Katharinenstadt, Russia.  These early settlers of Ellis County were part of the same group of Germans who had lived along the Volga River in Russia from 1764 to 1875.  They left their homes in Germany after the end of the Seven Years War in Europe.  After a century of prosperity and building their lives and communities along the Volga, they learned that many promises made in 1763 by Catherine the Great, where being removed by the reigning Czar of Russia.  The Germans found out about land that was available in the United States and set out to make a new homeland for themselves.

Their journey from Katharinenstadt, Russia took them through Saratov, to Berlin, Bremen and then they sailed to Baltimore. They arrived in Topeka, Kansas on November 28, 1875 where they spent the winter and worked.  The first of March they arrived in Hays and for about a month they went back and forth by horse back or buggy from Hays to build their new town site and homes.  This original group of settlers was made up of approximately 7 families and in July, September, and November 1876 additional families arrived in Catharine.

Soon after their homes were built they made provisions for a site suitable for Mass services.  They did not have a priest yet, so Jacob Schmidt, popularly known as "Der Schulmeister" (the schoolmaster), conducted the service outdoors around a cross that was erected at the new town site.  Mr. Schmidt was also the leader and director of the choir and performed all the services that were required for teaching and holding services in the early days of Catharine. 

In the early days of the town, a system of living arrangements the immigrants brought with them from Russia required two homes - one on the farm and a house in town.  Their town house was used on Sundays and during the winter.  The farm offered a place to rest  and eat during the farming season.  This system gradually changed with better transportation and the impracticability of maintaining two homes.

The town and the church are spelled differently because the town was named for Catharine the Great and the church was named for Saint Catherine.

Those early founders of Catharine were:

  • Justus Bissing
    Katharina Margaretha Guenther Bissing

  • Friederich Karlin
    Maria Beilman Karlin

  • Jakob Karlin
    Anna Meier Karlin

  • Peter Karlin
    Anna Staab Karlin

  • Friederich Koerner

  • Sophia Guenther Koerner


On June 24, 1876 a second group left Katharinenstadt, Russia for Ellis County, arriving in Hays on July 26 and moving to Catharine the day following.  This party consisted of the following families:

  • Johannes and Agnes Karlin
         Friederich, Alexander, Andreas


  • Karl and Margaretha Koerner
         Athanasius, Johannes

  • Anna Katharina Meis (widow)
         Karl, Appolonia, Peter, Alexander, Johannes, Dorothea

  • Friederich and Agnes Meis

  • Andreas and Emilia Schmidt

  • Jacob and Anna Maria Schmidt
         Mathilda, Paulina, Cornelius

  • Johannes and Katharina Schmidt
         Eugenius, Aloysius

  • Peter and Katharina Schmidt
         Anna, ALexander, Friederich

  • Agnes Schueler (widow)
         Alexander, Johannes

  • Anna Maria Schuetz (widow)
         Dorothea, Emilia, Katharina, Caecilia, Johannes, Jakob

  • Heinrich & Agnes Staab
         Karl, Alexander, Jakob

  • Karl and Margaretha Staab
         Alexander, Margaretha, Alexander, Maria Anna

  • August and Dorothea Walter
         Maria Mathilda, Anna

  • Frederich and Christina Walter
         Friederich, Lavin, Peter, Anna, Maria, Adelheid

  • Jacob and Agnes Walter
         Justus, adopted boy John Lattagan. 

A third group settled in Catharine on September 26, 1876.  They were:

  • Jakob and Anna Staab

  • Johann Jakob and Anna Maria Staab
    Franz, Ambrose, Cornelius, Rosa

  • Sophia Faller (sister of Mrs. Staab)

  • Johannes and Elizabeth Staab
    Bertha, Sophia

  • Peter and Agnes Staab
    Aloysius, Peter, Anna

  • Raymond and Maria Staab

  • Peter and Agnes Ubert
    Caecilia, Amalia, Dorothea, Paulina

 The last group to reach Ellis County in 1876 arrived in Hays on November 1.  Among its membership were the following Volga-Germans who settled in Catharine:

  • Johannes & Margaretha (Fischer) Giebler

  • Karl and Elizabetha Karlin
    Alexander, Karl, Sophia, and Maria nee Fischer

  • Andreas & Anna Meier
    Paulina, Jakob, Katharina, Alexander

  • Jakob and Anna Meier
    Sophia, Dorothea, Maria, Emelia

  • Leonard & Margaretha Mittelmeier
    Alexander, Edward, Anna

  • Heinrich and Anna Maria Paul
    Anna Maria, Jakob

  • Michael and Anna Maria Peters
    Katharina, Michael

On August 6, 1877 two more families of Unsere Leute settled in Catharine.  They were:

  • Joseph and Barbara (Seib) Giebler (from Obermunjou, Russia)
    Joseph (brother to Johannes Giebler who arrived in 1876)

  • Friederich and Katharina Weilert

The following additional families arrived in Catharine from the Volga on July 20, 1878:

  • Peter and Dorothea Leikam
    Leonard, Karl, Elizabetha, Aloysius, Anna

  • Anna Mittelmeier

  • Ottilia Mittelmeier

  • Jakob and Margaretha Mueller

  • Jakob and Ottilia Mueller, Jr.

  • Michael and Anna Maria Weilert
    Ottilia, Karl, Elizabetha, Melchior, Anna, Margaretha

Later arrivals on November 25, 1878 included:

  • Dorothea Beilman

  • Jakob abd Katharina Dorzweiler

  • Maria Rupp

  • Heinrich and Anna Wolf
    Melchior, Karl, Anna Katharina

Arrived on October 30, 1888

  • Heinrich Karlin

  • Jakob Leikam

Arrived in 1892:

  • Philip Meis

  • Karl A. Staab

  • Anton Kinderknecht (from the colony of Mariental, Russia)

Arrived in 1898

  • Peter Anthony (from the colony of Boregard, Russia)


The Founding Families of Catharine
Resarch Material Available and Where to Obtain Them
Other Research Material

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