The Lower Volga Villages

Lydia Maier Trupp

The following biography has been submitted by Marie Krieger. We thank her for sharing it withus.

Lydia Maier, the fourth child of Jacob and Mollie Wolf Maier, was born on 28 March 1911in Tsaritsin, Russia. (Now called Volgograd). Her father was Jacob Maier, b. 28 Aug 1879 inShcherbakovka, and confirmed in the village of 1895 by J. Schneider, minister of theLutheran Church. Jacob died in Fresno, CA, on 17 March 1948. He married Mollie Wolf inTsaritsin on 29 Jan 1906. Mollie was born in Grimm on 11 Feb 1880, and died in Fresno on 28Feb 1956. Lydia's siblings include: Jake Jr. b. 16 Dec 1904 who married Katherine Geringer,Mildred who married Jack Eisner, Marie who married Alex Riffel, Mollie who married JohnGillanders, Alex who married Helen Boson, and John who married Eleanor Schmidt., and JoyRufe.

In order to make a better life for his family, Jacob journeyed to America to establishhimself.He planned to send for his family later, and left them in the care of his brother, Fred Maier, andthe Reverend Bitter. Jacob found work in Flint, Michigan, as a machine repairman andsalesman for the Singer Sewing Co. When Lydia was only nine months old, she arrived with hermother and older siblings on the ship Breslau at the port of Galveston, TX, en route to RockyFord, CO where they were to stay with another of her father's brothers, George Meier and family.

Rocky Ford is in eastern Colorado farming country, where entire families were employedin the sugar beet fields. After the first beet harvest, Jacob, the father, joined his family in a moveto LaJunta, CO. where he purchased a 60 acre farm. Jacob became a citizen of his adoptedcountry.The family all pitched in by working on the farm. When she was young, Lydia wouldbaby sit with younger siblings while her mother worked in the fields. She would also manage thefruit and vegetable stand in front of their house, where excess produce would be sold. Cantaloupes were 5 cents each, tomatoes were a dime a dozen, and a large watermelon went for25 or 35 cents. Free salt and pepper was served to customers who wished to eat a tomato onthe spot. One day Lydia got upset when she didn't get any sales for her tomatoes. When anopen touring car drove by Lydia let fly with a ripe tomato which landed a direct hit on one youngpassengers. The car stopped at once, and Lydia took off. However, her father saw the incident,and caught up with her to deliver a sound spanking .

Five successive years when hail storms struck their crops caused the family to moveagain. this time to Fresno, CA, where Jacob's brother, Fred, had settled. His brother George andhis family stayed in Rocky Ford, where his children still resided in 1986.

In Fresno, the family found work in the packing houses. The family was provided with athree-room cabin about 8 miles from town. This consisted of nothing more than an empty shellto which was added cardboard insulation to protect the inhabitants from the weather. The interiorwalls were whitened with calsomine for a more livable appearance. Knot holes in the floor werecovered with tin can lids, and throw rugs were added. A tent alongside the cabin provided extrasleeping space. Cracks in the cabin were covered to protect the family from the ever presentrodents and insects which were a constant problem around packing houses, as unmarketablefruit was dumped nearby creating unsanitary conditions. This was in the 1920's, long before thedays of environmental protection laws.

The Maiers were a thrifty family who worked and saved so they could buy a home oftheir own. on five acres of land. Here they raised much of their own food, and also sold chickenfryers. The family raised and canned apples and pears, made watermelon syrup, and put upvegetables from the garden for winter use. Lydia's mother made her own laundry soap, as wellas chothes for the children. She bleached flour sacks for petticoats and bloomers for the girls. Mildred, the oldest daughter, crocheted fancy edgings on blouses. Black sateen bloomers andwhite blouses were standard apparel for the girls in physical education classes.

Lydia attended school until the age of sixteen, when she went to work full time to helpout her parents. There was always work in the fruit industry in the summer, and Lydia didhousework at other times. For 18 years, she served as cook for Mr. and Mrs. Billings. After herfather died in 1948, the farm was sold, and a small house was purchased on Lilly Street inFresno for her mother, so she could be near her church and the grocery store. All the otherchildren had married bythen,and Lydia continued to help out her mother.

On 3 Aug 1954, Lydia Maier married Jacob Trupp in Fresno. Jacob was a baker whohad served in the Marine Corps during World War II. The couple's first home was on N. EmeraldStreet near Jacob's place of employment. Later Jacob purchased and developed otherproperties. They were active members of the Brethren Congregational Church. The couplewould later move to Oregon. They enjoyed fishing and hunting trips together, and shared 32years of married life before Jacob's death on 18 Aug 1993.

Lydia's life illustrates the hardships that many of the Volga German immigrants livedthrough before establishing a comfortable living for themselves. But few would doubt that JacobMaier made the right decision in coming to this country

In addition to the foregoing article, Marie Krieger also sent several obituaries includingthe following information on two brothers of Jacob Maier. George P. Maier was born 14 Jul 1888in Russia to Peter and Katherine Margaret Weinbender Maier. . He came to the U.S. on 5March 1912. He was married to Mary Erlich on 19 May 1912 and was a retired farmer. He died10 March 1974 at Rocky Ford, CO and is buried at Hillcrest Cemetery. Pastor Ronald Ash of St. Paul'sLutheran Church officiated. He is survived by his widow and 8 children including Alex , George,Ishmal, Carl, Richard and Jake Maier, Mrs. Martha Wissler, and Mrs. Alma Loeffler, all of RockyFord; 21 grandchhildren, 14 great-grandchildren.

Mary Katharine Erlich Maier died in LaJunta, CO on 4 Sep 1984. She was born 12 Feb1886 in Russia to Jacob Erlich and Marie Blomar Erlich and was married to George P. Maier on13 May 1912. She was a member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church at Animas, CO. She is survivedby 6 sons including Alex, Ishmal, George, Jake and Carl Maier of this area, and Richard Maier ofTwin Falls, ID; and two daughters: Martha Wissler, Swink, CO; and Alma Loeffler of Rocky Ford,CO.; 21 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren and 6 great-great grandchildren. Burial atHillcrest Cemetery in charge of Ustick Funeral Home.

John Fred Mayer (changed spelling because of mail mix ups) was born 13 April 1895 inRussia and died 23 Jan 1960 in Fresno, CA. Funeral services were in charge of Yost & WebbFuneral Home with Elder C. E. Smith officiating. Interment was at Belmont Park Cemetery. Casket bearers were Jack Maier, John Maier, Alex Maier, Kenneth Engelman, Joe Engelman,and John Engelman.

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