I was born in Alexandria, Virginia USA. At the age of 5, our family moved to the Heidelberg, Germany area where I lived until 1985. I met my wife while living in Germany. She was born and raised in the Heidelberg area.
My parents were Albert J Dazet of New Orleans Louisiana, USA and Phyllis A Dietrich of Hurdsfield, North Dakota, USA. Growing up in Germany, Mom told me her family were Germans living near Odessa, South Russia (today, Ukraine). She didn’t know where in Germany they came from. She thought she had heard that they were from Prussia. I always wondered about this as a child and had the desire to visit the towns or villages were they lived some day. But first I had to find the names of those towns and villages.
It was not until I retired some six years ago that I started my genealogy journey! My first step was to visit the Family History Library here in Salt Lake City. I met a very knowledgeable assistant there who got me pointed in the right direction. I had already learned a little about the Dietrich family from some of my cousins who had done research and knew that the Dietrich family lived in the Village of Neuburg, near Odessa. The assistant suggested that I look into becoming a member of one of the Germans from Russia Heritage Societies, so I became a member of the GRHS of Bismarck North Dakota. I learned that the village church books for the Lutheran villages near Odessa had
been archived in St. Petersburg, Russia and at some point filmed and copies were available at the Family History Library. The archives spanned the years 1833 to about 1885. I found the death records in those films for many of my ancestors which gave their place of birth. I learned that my great great grandfather Jakob Dietrich was born in Kischker, Hungary and his wife Katharina Elisabetha Schneider was born in Tscherwenka, Hungary. Also, my great grandmother, Christina Schmidt’s family lived in Neu-Werbass.
This revelation was my introduction to the Donauschwaben and the beginning of my Donauschwaben research. And via a lot of help from the Werbass village coordinator, Jakob Götz I learned that the Schmidt family came from Thalfang, Hunsrück, Rheinland-Pfalz. One village down and two to go.