01 October 2011

Emma and Paul Tober

My great grandmother was a tough lady. I never had the pleasure, but memories run strong in my father's generation.

The Kitzman Homestead, Alberta, Canada
Emma Kitzman was born in the Volhynia region of Russia on 16 October 1891 (happy early birthday!). On the 22 of March, 1911, she married Paul Tober, in Canada, and they immigrated to the United States in November of 1916 through the Canadian/Montana border, coming across in Sweetwater, Montana. They had two children, Leo G Tober (born 7 March 1912 in either Edmonton or Strathcona, Alberta, Canada) and Elsie H Tober (my grandmother). Elsie was born six years later on 13 June 1918 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Paul had a homestead in New Sarepta, Alberta in 1903, and he was one of the founding members of the New Sarepta Moravian Church. He was listed at this time as a citizen of Canada, however, he was also born in Zhitomir, Volhynia, Russia.  He later became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Both are found in the 1920 Census in Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington, but divorced on 20 Feb 1929. From our families oral history, the marriage was not a happy one, and Emma was remembered as mistreated. The family has always had the impression that Paul deserted Emma with the kids, and ran off to a new life. He was not talked about very much when Elsie was still alive, as she regarded him very negatively.

In 1930, Emma was listed as a server in a cafeteria in Sumner, Pierce County, Washington, and in 1937 married her second husband, Ludwig Hiller.  "Grandpa Hiller" was born in Russia on 11 October 1884. Both Emma and Ludwig passed away and are buried in Tacmoa, Pierce County, Washington. Oral history again brings us tidbits of information, and one of the family remembers that Ludwig thought Hitler was an "ok" guy, because he brought Germany out of a depression prior to WWII and he never believe that the holocaust existed.  Emma never allowed her children to speak German, and always enforced the English language in the home, even though she spoke little of it herself. Emma, Paul and Ludwig were all "Germans from Russia", part of a historic religious freedom migration, dating back to the 1400's. Many family members of the Moravian faith stayed in Alberta, and their descendants live there today.  Some of the original homesteads still exist, mostly considered historical ruins.

New Sarepta, Alberta, Canada Moravian Church