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Kana to Canada: The Journey of a Lifetime

By Ken Dill


This is the story about my grandfather Georg Heinrich (DIEHL) DILL. Georg's ancestors (whom I will describe later) came from Schwab, Volga Russia.

Around 1860, a number of families moved from Schwab to daughter colonies such as Kana, Friedenberg and others .

Among the families who moved to Kana were Johann Friedrich DIEHL, Georg's father (b.1839) and and Katherina Elisabeth KEIL, his mother (b.1844).

The two of them married on Feb 14, 1863. From 1864 to 1868 they had 5 children. There may have been others besides Georg but there are no known records from Kana after 1868. Sadly, two of them died in 1866, possibly due to the Russian cholera epidemic that year.

Georg was born in 1877, and his mother died shortly after childbirth. According to my uncles memoirs, his father died "a couple years after that," although we have no actual record of the date. Georg and his brother Jacob (b.1868) were raised by relatives. Jacob is the only sibling he talked about so it is likely that he and Georg were raised together, and their 2 older sisters lived with other relatives.

Emigration to Canada - 1907

Georg's journey from Volga Russia to Canada was literally the trip of a lifetime. He traveled solo on this arduous journey. We recently discovered two manifest documents that helped us understand his emigration.

Georg was, in fact headed to Oakley Kansas where a friend (or relative) - Jacob EBEL lived. I did some research on how most of the Volga Germans traveled to North America.

“They would first make their way to the Baltic Sea mostly via the Volga River. The port of Libau [now Liepaja, Latvia] was heavily used by Germans emigrating from Russia to America on steamers through the North Sea to England. These folks usually landed on the east coast of England [the Port of Hull] , took a train across to Liverpool, then on to America on transatlantic vessels"

This routing is consistent with the two ship manifest documents I found for Georg. The first shows him on the ship SS Petersburg from Libau to New York, Oct 1907. The ship must have stopped at Hull England, as the next manifest he is on is the SS Tunisian from Liverpool to New York , stopping in Halifax. Both manifests show him as being from Kana, Samara, and his nearest living relative was brother Jakob "Dil", Kana Samara.

The Liverpool manifest shows that Georg was headed to Oakley, Kansas (where most of the Volga Germans were emigrating to at that time) but changed his mind and got off in Halifax. (Notation "Changed Destination to Canada" on the manifest). This was most likely because he ran out of money ("In possession of: $5 ") . The Liverpool manifest also shows him as Georg Dill, possibly due to the language barrier, and that is the name he used in Canada.

We know from my uncle's memoirs that after landing in Halifax he took the train west to Regina Saskatchewan, then headed north (ironically :-) to Southey Sask, and worked on a farm for a year (a requirement for immigration). Exactly one year later he walked the 40 miles back to Regina. He received his Naturalization papers 3 years after emigration, in 1910.

In Jan 1914 he married Amelia BUEHLER (b.1889 near Odessa, in the Black Sea region of Russia). She had emigrated to Canada in 1892 with her parents, Johann (John) BUEHLER (b.1865) and Paulina ZERNICKEL (b.1865) .

Georg and Amelia had 7 children, one of whom died in the flu epidemic of 1918. My father, Edmund, born Dec 1914, was the eldest. Georg and Amelia spent their lives in Regina, until their deaths (Georg in 1940, and Amelia in 1961).


Paternal Ancestry of Georg DILL

Georg's father Johann Friedrich DIEHL was born 13 Aug 1839 in Schwab, Saratov, Russia.

He married Katharina Elisabeth KEIL, Feb 14, 1863 in Kana, Samara, Russia.

He died about 1880 in Kana. (No actual record of the date).


Known children of Friedrich and Katharina: (Kana records only go up to 1868)

1s. Friedrich, 07.Feb.1864 - Died 21.Feb.1866 in Kana

1d. Christina Elisabeth, 18.Jun.1865 in Kana - Died 26.Jul.1866

2d. Katharina Elisabeth, 08.Jul.1866 in Kana

3d. Anna Elisabeth, 28.Aug.1867 in Kana

2s. Jacob Friedrich, 12.Sep.1868 in Kana

(Last son: Georg Heinrich Friedrich, 27.Jun.1877 in Kana)


Georg's Grandparents

Johann Peter DIEHL, b. 1798 in Schwab, Saratov, Russia.

     He married Maria Rosina HOLSTEIN, c.1820

     Johann Peter died 10.Aug.1854, Schwab

Maria Rosina HOLSTEIN b. 1798 in Galka, Saratov, Russia

     Died 08.Jan.1867 in Kana.


Great Grandparents

Weigand DIEHL, b. 1769 in Schwab, Saratov, Russia., d. 1844 in Schwab, Saratov, Russia.

     He married Katharina LADNER, 1797 in Schwab.

Katharina LADNER, b. 1775 in Galka, Saratov, Russia.


Great-Great Grandparents

Anton DIEHL, b. 1729 in Rodenbach, Germany., d. 1827 in Schwab, Saratov, Russia.

     He married Anna Maria (?) c.1766 in Germany.

     Emigrated to Schwab in 1766

Anna Maria (?), b. 1745 in Rodenbach, Germany.


Note:  See Brent Mai's article at


Maternal Ancestry of Georg DILL

Georg's mother Katharina Elisabeth KEIL, born Feb 27, 1844, Schwab

     She married Friedrich DIEHL Feb 14, 1863, Kana, Samara, Russia

     d. About 1877 in Kana. (No actual record of date)


Georg's Grandparents

George Heinrich KEIL, b. 1820 in Schwab, Saratov, Russia.

     He married Christina (?), About 1841 in Schwab.

Christina (?), b. 1820 in Saratov, Russia, d. About 1853 in Saratov, Russia.


Great Grandparents

Johann Dietrich KEIL, b. 1776 in Schwab, Saratov, Russia, d. 1844 in Schwab, Saratov, Russia.

     He married Susanna Maria(?), About 1811 in Schwab.

Susanna Maria(?), b. 1781 in Schwab.


Great-Great Grandparents

Johann Eckhardt KEIL, b. 1755 in Hamburg, Darmstadt, or Alsfeld Germany,

     emigrated 1766 to Schwab, Saratov, Russia

     He married Anna Maria LINDER c. 1774 in Schwab

Anna Maria LINDER, b. c.1756, Germany    d. 1821 in Schwab.


Note: See Brent Mais article at


Final thoughts

I would love to hear from anyone who has DIEHL / DIEL, or KEIL ancestors in Kana, Schwab, Galka, or Friedenberg to compare notes.

You can eMail me at  Ken_dill @ (remove the spaces)



Edmund (top right) is the author, Ken Dill's father.



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