Historical Details

Amend, Heinrich and Anna Family History

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 11/10/2020


by Mary Amend Engrebretsen

The German-Russian, is in fact, a pure German who moved to the United States from Russia. Their history in Russia goes back to officers, technicians, craftsmen, merchants, and scholars, particularly, to Moscow to help build the city.

Nearly 200 years after Ivan, the Empress Catherine II issued a manifesto inviting rural-agriculture Germans to settle in her adopted land of Russia.   Catherine, born Princess Sophie Aguste Friedrike in the German state of Anhoit'-Zerbst, remembered the hard-working intelligent people of her native land of Germany when she realized the need for increased cultivation of vast areas of untilled lands in Russia.

The manifesto dated July 22, 1763, guaranteed freedom of religion, enforced military service, taxation, and the right to leave Russia whenever they desired.  In addition, each family was granted land, not owner-ship of the land, but the right to use the land forever. Fathers were also allowed a parcel of the land for each son with the youngest son inheriting his father's land rights.

The response to Catherine's invitation was large. Whole villages sometimes emigrated 'en masse'. Frequently an entire family unit such as the Amends, moved to the Black Sea and Volga River areas. They kept close to themselves, retaining their language and customs and marrying only Germans.

For about 100 years the arrangement of special privileges for Germans in Russia was preserved, but a sharp reversal in official policy came in 1871 with the abro­gation of Catherine's manifesto.  From that time on taxes were due, enforced military service was required, records were to be 
kept in the Russian language, and under Alexander III, a Danish Emperor, an anti­ German policy began.

Unrest in the country spread rapidly. Cruel treatment was common.  One story is that Russian soldiers living off the land could ride into a farmstead, order a meal of "turkey oysters" (that delicate round morsel of dark meat nestled on either side of the spine of a turkey) and required the farmer to slaughter enough of his flock to provide a meal of this delicacy. As the soldier rode off, the farmer, with no refrigeration to preserve the remaining parts of the birds, could only watch the winter food supply spoil. With the increased ten­sions a few of the German-Russians left Russia to settle elsewhere and those few were followed by a flood.

They left at first with the consent of the Russians, going to Canada where an 1872 law allowed a homestead of 160 acres for ten dollars, or to America where the Homestead Act of 1862 opened up the Mid­ West to settlement.  As their numbers increased they were sometimes forced to leave Russia in darkness and secrecy.  Sometimes they sold all their possessions, bought passage on a ship, and sailed for the freedom of America.


The Adam and Elizabeth Amend family were  German-Russian. Their son Heinrich Fredrick Amend was born May 14, 1879 at Saratoff, Russia. Alexander II   was in power at this time and Nicholas II was his successor in 1894 bringing with him governmental inefficiency and corruption. Conditions became unbearable  and  according  to the Amend passport papers, which are written in Russian, they left Saratoff for America on June 19, 1893. All of the Amend family 
left Russia at this time except for one daughter who chose to remain behind.

Anna Catherine Giess,  who later became Heinrich Amend's wife in America, was also born in Saratoff, Russia in the same year, 1879. She also left Russia with her family and parents, Adam and Barbara Giess, for the land of hope and freedom.  After almost a month’s ship voyage they landed at a Canadian port where they then took the rail­road to Quebec, Canada arriving July 5, 1893. Through the help of the German-Russian  head­quarters for emigrants located at Lincoln, Nebr. the Amend and  Giess  families  and others took the railroad  to Lincoln, arriving July 8, 1893. These specific dates were reported in Heinrich  Amend's Petition for Naturalization papers. The Amends stayed in Lincoln buying a house and the Giess family slowly moved to Colorado where they took up farming around Greeley.

Heinrich Amend and Anna Giess were married in Lincoln on Jan. 11, 1900. They lived there for eight years working on the railroad. Their first four children were born in Lincoln;  Katy on June 4, 1901, John on Oct. 27, 1903, Henry on Sept. 27,1905, and Maria on Oct. 28, 1907.

On Mar. 30, 1908 Heinrich Amend declared his intentions of becoming a citizen of the United States of America in the District Court, Lancaster County, in the state of Nebraska.  He became a citizen on June 24, 1914 at Lusk, Wyoming.   Anna became a citi­zen later.

Heinrich's dream of owning his own land was finally realized when he moved his family by railroad from Lincoln to Keeline, Wyo. where he had bought a homestead of 160 acres five miles southwest of the town. He moved his family from Lincoln on the Chicago North­ western Railroad.   Anna Amend, who could speak little English, and the four small  children were the  first to arrive  at the Keeline depot.  They were met by their new neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Bopp, where they stayed until Heinrich arrived. These arrangements were made by Heinrich on an earlier visit when the homestead was filed.  The family remained at the Carl Bopp place for about three weeks until a one room house could be built on the home­ stead.  The journey from Lincoln took Heinrich several days longer since he came on the immigration car with their household goods and livestock. His late arrival caused much concern for Henry, age 3, who cried those several days thinking he would never see his father again.  April 2, 1908 is of official arrival date of the Amends to Wyoming and they remained for the rest of their lives.

The move from the beautiful green settlement around Lincoln to the barren prairies of the Wyo. homestead was difficult for Anna to adjust to and accept.    She spent many times those first few years behind the one room homestead shack crying to herself. Two more children were born after their move to Wyoming.    Emma was born Jan. 29, 1910 and Fred on Jan. 30, 1912.

The entire first summer was spent turn­ing the tough sod for farming, and building fences and shelter for the livestock. Hein­rich walked to work the first two winters at the coal mine north of Lost Springs for added income. The family's first Christmas was celebrated at the Fred Runser homestead with many neighbors attending. The Heinrich Amends' close neighbors included: Jacob Amend, a brother; Joe Panno; George Amen; Walter Galbraith;  James and Albert Brink, brothers who homesteaded and taught school; the Dielman  family and many others.

On May 10, 1909, a General Land Office Receipt shows an additional application by Heinrich Amend for 160 acres in Section 26 was made at $1.25 per acre plus $10 for filing fees and $6 for the commission.   At this time the one room homestead house was moved one half mile west to this additional homestead. Three rooms were added to the house which still remains at this location today.  A patent for these homestead rights was granted for 320 acres on Jan. 17, 1913 by President Woodrow Wilson. Forty acres were later purchased from James and Leila Brink for $200 in 1942. This final addition brought the total acres of Heinrich Amend's place to 360 acres.

The family sold small grains, corn, potatoes, milk, eggs, and a few cattle in the early boom towns of Keeline and Lost Springs. Turkeys were raised for a short time when they were profitable, but milk was the main income for the farm after the depression. The family also raised a huge garden from which vegetables were canned and sauerkraut and pickles were put into crocks for the winter food supply.    Hay was also put up for the milk cows and work horses for winter.  The neighbors traded work and produce with each other.

Somehow, Heinrich and Anna Amend raised their six children and kept their bills and land taxes paid, even during the depression and drought years when so many of their neighbors were forced to move off their homesteads.  However, land mortgages were made to Luc Jones Bergeson for $500 in 1914; the Federal Land Bank of Omaha for  $1600 in 1917, and the First National Bank of Manville for $2500 in 1921; and some mortgages were made on the cattle and other chattels.  One such mortgage dated 1927 listed all livestock as 9 red milk cows, l heifer, 1 red bull, and 7 work horses all branded   as collateral.  The Federal Land Bank Loan was the last mortgage to be paid 30 years later in 1956.

The first doctor of the rural community was Dr. Christian. Anna Amend was a much needed and loved midwife and nurse. Sickness and epidemics played a large role in the life of these people. The year of 1909 brought scarlet fever and Maria, at the age of 1 1/2 yrs, was the only one of the family to have this dreaded disease and her body peeled from the sickness. "The Black Death" (diphtheria) came in 1916 and 1917.  Somehow the Heinrich Amend family escaped this disease, but the entire family of George had diphtheria. Their small daughter along with many other child­ren died.  After the funeral, Mrs. George Amen walked over the hill and gave the little girl's china bisque head doll to Katy, the oldest girl, who never had a doll. Katy inherited her mother's skill for caring for the sick and soon took over as the family nurse. The terrible flu epidemic came in 1918. Once again the Amend family escaped the sickness without a tragedy, al­though both Henry and Grandfather Adam Amend, who were visiting at the time, had the flu. One book, The People’s Home Library, played a large role in the lives of the Amends. The well-worn pages explained everything from farming, cooking and especially illness, birth and death.

The winters were severe. The snow fall was so heavy that sometimes the family had to tunnel from the house to the barn to care for the livestock. Grandfather Amend was visiting once during a blizzard and became lost a short distance from the house but the family's pet dog found him and brought him to the house. Regardless of the weather, the Amend children walked a mile and a half to the Prairie View School for class.   In the winter they wrapped papers and burlap sacks around their feet to keep them from freezing and carried their lunch which was packed in a lard pail. Emma was the only child to ever ride a bus, which she did for her last three years of high school at Manville. She went to Keeline for her first year of high school. Emma later taught at the Prairie View School that she attended as a girl.

Most of the families’ social life centered around the Prairie View Church and School where the community had carry-in dinners, box socials, plays,  etc. The 4th of July celebration in Lost Springs was something not to be missed. They attended Lutheran Church services and catechism classes at the Peterson Schoolhouse which was south and east of the Amend place. One of the very old traditions was dropped when all the Amend children learned their Lutheran cate­chism in English rather than the traditional German. language.  An Evangelical Lutheran Church was finally established in Keeline in the creamery building which still remains.

Anna Amend passed away on Apr. 7, 1947 at the age of 68 years and Heinrich Amend passed away on July 30, 1958 at the age of 79 years.  They spent their remaining time on the homestead after their children were raised.

This homestead was sold to their son, Henry Amend of Lost Springs in 1959. They were both buried in the Lusk Cemetery.

Katy's wedding was the first of the Amend children.  At the age of 18, she was married to Marvin V. Skillings of  Manville.   For two years after their marriage, Marvin drove a truck for Frank Kettler and Katy rode with him, camping along the way. Marvin then got a job with Ohio Oil Company at Lance Creek where they lived until after their retirement.   They had no children of their own, but were a very devoted Aunt and Uncle.  Katherine Skillings passed away in January 1965 and Marvin in August of 1970.

John married Marie Hahn and they had two daughters, Darlene and Dorothy.  John worked on the railroad for a few years and then went to work in the oil fields.  He passed away in September 1970 at Cody.

Marie was married to Burnice Cox in 1928. He was starting out as a young farmer in the Keeline community.    He finally gave this up and went to work at Lance Creek for Ohio and Marathon Oil Company. They had one daughter, Lyola, born in 1929. Upon his retirement in May 1966, they moved to Cody, where they still reside.

Emma married Allen C. Gaukel in 1929. His parents were also homesteaders in the Jireh community. Shortly after their marriage they moved to Twin Falls, Ida. where he was employed by the city. They had two children, a daughter, Patricia Ann, born in 1938 and a son, Allen Charles Jr., born in 1941.    They still live in Twin Falls where they have retired.

Fred was the only son to serve in the armed forces. He joined the army in 1943 and served three years. He was never sent overseas and spent most of his time in Florida.  After his discharge Fred and his father lived on the homestead until Heinrich passed away.   He then moved to Newcastle, Wyo. Where he did oil-field work.  He later moved to Cody where he lived until his death in May 1972.

Henry married Gladys M. Sims on May 31, 1930.  Her parents ranched north of Lost Springs on Twenty Mile Creek, and she was a school teacher at the time of their marriage.  They traveled several years doing oil field work. In 1938 they bought a ranch south of Lost Springs. They had three children; a daughter, Mae Ann, born in 1932, a son Marvin A., born in 1941; and another daughter Mary A.,born in 1945. Gladys passed away in May 1963, their son Marvin was killed in a car accident in Calif. on July 18, 1970, and Henry passed away in Dec. 1970.

( Note:  See Henry F. Amend Jr. article)

Images & Attachments

There are no attachments for this record.

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Amend, Heinrich (05/14/1879 - 07/29/1958) View Record
Obituary Amend, Anna (06/09/1879 - 04/07/1947) View Record