Community is defined as a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. It can also be thought of as a feeling of fellowship with others, the result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
The community of Volga Germans that settled in the newly formed city of Albina shared a common history, language, beliefs and traditions. Often misunderstood by outsiders, their neighborhood was known as Little Russia, although they did not think of themselves as Russians. Their identity was rooted as Wolgadeutsch (Volga Germans), one of the many ethnic islands that dotted the Russian Empire. In Albina, they attempted to maintain their strong sense of community that had served them well in Russia. They lived together, built their own churches and established their own businesses. But as with most ethnic groups in America, this separate sense of community eventually gave way to assimilation, driven by a strong desire to be an American.
Historian Emma Schwabenland Haynes describes the early Albina community in her unpublished manuscript titled My Mother's People.
"In the 1890's there was a tremendous difference in the appearance of the residential district around present-day Union Avenue. When grandfather bought his lot, all of the land east of 7th Avenue was still covered with forests; and although the trees had been cut down at the corner of Morris Street, he had to pull out the remaining stumps before he could begin to build his home. For the next ten years it was unnecessary for him to spend a single cent on fuel, because he and his boys could cut down all the trees that they needed in the lots across the street. The logs would then be piled up until they were dry enough to be used."
The map below shows the primary settlement area of the Volga Germans as well as places of significance including churches, businesses, cemeteries and the residences of the early pioneers. Click on the icon in the upper left corner to see different layers of information. Please contact us if you have a suggested place to add to this map.
Last updated October 2, 2018.