Diede genealogical web site

Table of contents

About this web site

Diede genealogy

First edition (1979) book



Margie and Dave

Web site technical details

Margie Zimmerman Jackson on the Diede genealogy

I got my first look at Velva Diede Walden's \emph{History and Descendants of Gottlieb Diede} in 1980 after my parents had been to North Dakota to a family reunion. I am the Great-granddaughter of Margaretha Diede Zimmerman. As I looked through Velva's book, I felt an instant kinship with these people. I had heard very little of my father's Germans from Russia. My Grandfather Zimmerman talked very little about the "old country", saying that he had no good memories of life in Russia. My Grandmother Zimmerman, Julia Ganthner Zimmerman, died when I was in the second grade, so I knew almost nothing about her people either except that they also had come from Russia, but were Germans.

This book of Velva's started a twenty some year search to find names and information about these wonderful, brave, hardy people who had so many times left their families, homelands, and friends and gone to a foreign country to start over. The more I have read of the hardships and heartaches they endured the more I love and admire them, and the more I am proud to be a descendant of such as they were! Our heritage is unlike any other, and we, their descendants are also unlike any other group of people. I am so thankful that my Grandparents and Great-grandparents were prompted by our Heavenly Father to come to this wonderful United States. It must have been a very fearful journey across the ocean, then halfway across this huge country to a place they hoped and prayed would be a permanent home for their posterity. Aren't we all glad they took that chance!!

Over the years I have gone about my research sporadically. I was raising my family, then working, but always with my ancestors near at hand in my heart. When I was forced to quit working because of health problems in 1998, I found that for the first time I had the time to do more research. Now I had the time for genealogy, but now my health dictates how much time I spend on my favorite hobby.

In 1998 I started a haphazard attempt at updating the information I had put into my computer from Velva's book and my own research. In about 1999 or so, I wrote to Velva - then living in Coos Bay, Oregon - and asked her if anyone else in the family was working on the Diede family genealogy, in particular, in updating her information. She wrote back that she was delighted that I was interested in this project and that she had received a letter from another woman who was interested in the Diede family and was also wondering if anyone was updating her book. That person was Amy Schaur-Nelson who was living in Bismarck. Velva included her address and I wrote her explaining what I was doing. She was gracious enough to send me information to update her family. She also sent a copy of her Great-great grandfather Michael Will's naturalization papers. His wife was Regina Diede.

In July 2002 I was able to take my father, Victor Zimmerman to Bismarck, North Dakota to attend a Zimmerman-Heinle-Roth family reunion. I was able to meet Amy as well as other family members that I hadn't met before or hadn't seen for many years. I was also able, while in Bismarck, to go to the Germans From Russia Heritage Society (GFRHS) and became a member. The work they are doing there is monumental! I purchased a copy of the Peterstal 1858 Census and also the Church Book as well as the Johannestal 1858 Census, my Grandfather Zimmerman's village. GFRHS is continuing to translate records of the Germans in Russia and what a blessing that is to those of us who are interested in the genealogy of our special ancestors. I'm not one of those fortunate ones who can read (or speak) German, so what they are doing is especially important to me.

I have had many wonderful experiences while working on this project, spent many more hours than I can possibly count, and loved every minute of it. I have grown to feel that I know each of these people, have cried with them as I entered child after child who died in Russia and well as those who died here in the States. I have wept as I wondered what happened to those who didn't leave Russia. I have always wondered why they didn't leave when the others did. Were they unable to raise enough money to make the journey, did they think they would be safe there, or did they plan to go back to Germany? These and many other questions have kept me awake many nights as I pondered their fate. More and more information is coming out of Russia (Ukraine) now, and most of what we find is not a pleasant picture. I fail to understand how these people, farmers, tradesmen, and all religious, warranted being shot, or shipped off to Siberia to work camps. I weep as I think of those who fled to Germany during the War, only to die along the way, or were captured and sent to Siberia. I weep as I read stories of their plight as the Russians came into their villages, confiscated all their food, leaving them to freeze to death or starve to death. I weep as I know that those who lived through those perilous days were shipped to work camps in Siberia to be worked to death, starve to death, or freeze to death. Only the very hardy survived those times. I wonder what happened to those who survived. My most fervent prayer is that some day I may find out what happened to them, and their posterity. I know that a few got back to Germany, but many I am sure are still in Ukraine, or Russia, or some other place that we know not.

On 9 May 2002, Velva's son, David Walden wrote me a letter introducing himself and wondering where I was in the process of updating his mother's book. He also offered his help, thinking that he might be able to assist in putting everything into an electronic form. After many letters back and forth we have finally come to a point that we are ready to start putting information out on a Web site that David has the expertise to do. I will be in debt to him forever for this as I don't have the knowledge to do this. It also enables me to continue with my research while he does the technical work on the web site. It is a partnership that only our Heavenly Father could have known would work. Thank you David!

I am still struggling, searching, sifting through information, always hoping to find that little bit of information that I don't have: a birth date, death date, marriage date, or where these events took place. The Internet is making research much easier and years faster, but still time consuming, and some days are very frustrating.

I am hoping that those of you out there who are a part of this large extended family of Gottlieb Diede will look at the information on our Web site and help us to get all information up to date and correct. I know there were mistakes in Velva's original book. David was good enough to send me Velva's updated pages, and I have included those corrections and updates to my data base. However, I am still missing many, many names and other information.

I would like to see this work in progress grow as each of us contributes the information that we have gathered. I would like to have naturalization papers gathered and available to all who are interested in them, as well as homesteading papers, marriage certificates, death certificates, birth certificates, etc. I would also like to have short stories of each family included in our data base. Each person has an interesting life. And, maybe one day someone with more youth and energy than I have will be prompted to organize another family reunion. Wouldn't it be fun to gather and get to know each other!

May God bless each and every one of you!

Margie Zimmerman Jackson
Hamilton, MT
16 September 2002

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[Updated October 22, 2005]