Above: Tillie and
Asaph Ehrlich Wedding Picture
historical texts “Ehrlich, The Follett Connection and The Laubhan Connection was extracted from a booklet
published by Maurice Ehrlich in 1991 entitled Ehrlich Heritage
Reunion. Many thanks
to Maurice for use of his material.) Submitted by
Otilla Laubhan and Asaph Ehrlich were courting in Follett in
1923 and the subject came up:
What is your dad’s name, and when was he born?
“His name is
George” said Asaph, “and he was born in
Tillie said, “My
dad’s name was George and he was also born in
in 1850 .”
Asaph replied, “My mother is still living in
and she will be anxious to meet you. Her name is Katherine
Tillie remarked, “That’s some coincidence cause I had an
Uncle George Ehrlich who was married to my Aunt Katherine
Elizabeth. How are you
“Well”, answered Asaph, “I’m not sure, but when we lived in
Oklahoma in 1904, I
remember my folks visiting your folks to see the new baby. Even though I was only six,
I remember it well. My
dad was married twice, and I have a half-brother 18 years older than
responded, "My father was married twice, and I have a half-brother
18 years older than me also,”
(Of course you all know it’s Grandpa Asaph and Grandma
Tillie!) The events are true, and they provide the starting place
for our story.
There are two stories that are interesting that I will
attempt to tell. The
first involves the migration of the John George Ehrlich family from
in 1898 to
to Oklahoma in 1900,
in 1907 and the second story is about the Laubhan
John George Ehrlich died in
in 1927. He was my
grandfather. I never
knew him of course because I wasn’t born until 1932. Nevertheless, his story is
interesting as it was related to me by two of his Russian-born
children, my Dad Asaph, and my Aunt Theresa Ehrlich
The large group picture you see in this genealogy was taken
in the Spring of 1914.
Grandfather George had gone back to
to visit his mother who was dying, and to persuade his brothers and
sisters to get out of
Russia. The relatives needed only to
make arrangements and sell property and they would come. They waited too late as war
in 1914. Their doom was
sealed. There is a good
part to this story though.
Three of George’s nieces would make the trip back with him to
and of course they would be spared the fate of those left
The Early Story
The picture only provides the backdrop for the story. The real story began in
in about 1730.
was in chaos from internal and external wars, (The 30 Years
War). Germans were
invited to settle in
by invitation of Catherine the Great, a German born Czarina. Hundreds of thousands
did so, including the families of yours truly. You have to understand that
it was no picnic those first 70 years or so, but by the early
1800’s, the Germans in
were doing pretty well.
They were allowed to own their own land, run their own
schools, churches, and live apart from the Russians, many of whom
worked for the Nobility for subsistence only. The Russians were, in fact,
serfs or slaves of the land.
Of course they resented the landowners and the benefits they
enjoyed. One benefit
which is a large part of the story was the privilege of being exempt
from military service.
However, this ruling had later been changed to allow the
first born male to serve, if there was another male born later. Here is where our
story gets interesting.
John George Ehrlich had visited the
in 1866 when he made the trip with his mother to see her immediate
family in Kansas. John George was sixteen, and
the experience of that trip would come in handy for his later
John George married
Mary Gross about 1879 in
and had three children.
Their names were Rosala, Constantine, and Amelia.
born in 1883, and subject to conscription if another male child was
born. So far he was
safe. John George had
spent six years in the Russian Army, from 1873 to 1879, and his
experience made him vow that no child of his would ever have to
endure being a despised German in a Russian army. His wife died very
unexpectedly at the age of 32, and he married Katherine Elizabeth
Wunder in 1893.
Through this marriage he had two daughters, Theresa in 1894,
and Mary in 1896.
now 14 getting closer to the automatic draft age of 16. The year is 1898 and another baby is
expected in the Fall.
If it’s a boy, it’s goodbye
for Kansas, and plans
are already underway.
Of course, you are way ahead of me at this point, IT’S A
BOY! His name is Asaph,
another Bible name as was the only logical names for children born
to Baptist lay preachers such as John George Ehrlich. Now the family consists of
six children: Rosala,
Con, Amelia (born to Mary Gross), Theresa, Mary, and Asaph born to
The Trip to
You can hear grandfather say, “Pack your knapsacks kids,
cause we’re going to
America. We leave via boat from
Saratov before the ports
are all frozen shut.
Hope we make it!”
But, as luck would have it, they didn’t. They missed the boat. Here’s
part of a long story.
They took an English freighter to
and waited two weeks for another boat - not to
- an unexpected change of plans. When they arrived in Quebec
(not understanding a word of French) they traveled by train to
Winnipeg, Manitoba and from there planned to head out to Kansas and
their new home. But
there was another hitch - The U.S. border was closed to immigrants
due to a typhoid epidemic.
What now? John
George went to work in the logging camps until the border opened up
again. They made the
best of it . The
youngsters enrolled in wonderful English speaking schools while the
older folks took jobs and
In the meantime,
was settling it’s frontier also. Land was available for
filing in Saskatchewan
and it was similar to the land in the
Ukraine. There was deep, rich soil
and running water for cattle and household to boot. John George and Constantine
both were eligible to file so they did.
Finally, on to the
Kansas - but not for
long. They were there just one year and
during this time Ezra was born. The second
Oklahoma land rush was
Oklahoma, 7 miles south of
Here would be home - sand hills, sagebrush, heat and
all. It wasn’t much
but it would be home.
Two more children came into the family, Carl in 1903 and
Hilda in 1905. Of
course the two Mary Gross girls would end up marrying
Oklahoma boys, and Con
had married his childhood sweetheart Eva in
Kansas in 1901.
It’s 1907. The
family left “the desolation” and moved back to the homesteads in
Canada. There were sad goodbyes to
the relatives who stayed behind and who were not so fortunate. Meanwhile, back in
in 1908 another boy is born.
His name is Johnny.
Grandfather is now 58 years old. He has sired children by two
Canada. Let’s be sure to mention
that he has filed for land in two countries and founded the
Oklahoma. His wanderlust would
lead him back to
to visit in 1914 which is where the pictorial focuses on his large
family. The two nieces
he brought to
in 1914 at the age of sixteen later became favorite aunts in
Follett. One of them,
Martha, married Jonah Laubhan, (brother of Tillie), and the other,
married Frank Matlack.
Lydia Matlack was our
School teacher. She was so sweet and
kind. Aunt Martha was
too, but she was also
the world’s best cook!
Growing up in
My dad, Asaph, grew up in
as a teenager. He never
had much schooling, but just about everyone who ever knew him said
he was brilliant. I
could never tell, cause I wasn’t old enough to judge. He played
in the Straw” on the violin.
I never could believe that there was a song by that
name. There surely
couldn’t be a song called “The Orange Blossom Special”. Dad worked on the farm. He also worked on the
railroad. I still have
his gold Elgin railroad
watch which Mom gave to me after he died in
South Dakota in
1953. He trapped beaver
on the White
River and came to
Texas in 1923. There he worked for his
sister Theresa’s brother-in-law, Alex Laubhan, in the meat market.
He met and married Otilla Laubhan. He always told her (as she
has told me), that he remembered seeing her in the baby crib when
she was born in Indian territory in
Dad and Mom lived in the same house in Follett for just about
always. He built it for
$1500 and paid for it in four installments of $375 each in a 2 year
period. My brother Gene
was born in
in 1924; my sister Joanna was born in Follett in 1926, as were my
sister Bernie in 1928 and myself ( Maurice) in 1932. L.J. and
Tracy were born in
Shattuck in 1935 and 1943 respectively. (Coincidentally,
when Tracy was born my
brother Gene, who was in the Navy at the time, happened to be home
on leave.) I was very sick with pneumonia and almost died on
Tracy’s birthday. Mom couldn’t accept the fact
that the Lord would give her a new baby and take another child away
at the same time. Dad
said it wouldn’t happen - that I was too tough. I’m glad he was
right - because here I am!
Dad, Mom and Uncle Ezra got into the grocery, meat, and
implement business in the 20’s and 30’s. The depression and the dust
bowl did them in. They
went bust. Uncle Ezra
went to California
never to return to
Texas. Dad borrowed $500 from
Grandmother Mollie Schafer along with a loan from the Federal Land
Bank and bought his brother-in-law Alex’s farm. The same brother-in-law that he worked for in the
meat market in 1923.
World War II came along. The rains came. Life got better.
All of Asaph’s and Tillie’s kids got college
degrees. They were
probably the first Ehrlichs ever to do so, as it doesn’t seem very
probable that these farmers ever dreamed of doing
Jo and Ike were the first to marry, and the kids came
fast. Not so fast that
mom and pop Gillespie couldn’t go back to college and improve their
degrees and become some of Follett’s best ever teachers.
Gene married Dorothy Walker. They had the farm and worked
a publication called The Circle Register. They had good times and some
bad, but the proof is in the pudding. They raised a terrific
family. On Gene’s
death, Dorothy married Vernie Schoenhals who added the crowning
touch to the lives of that family.
Sister Bernie married Bob Anderson, farmed in
New Mexico, B.L.M., and school teaching.
They had four great kids.
L.J., and diversity: teaching, preaching, promoting,
inventing and his 3
girls who excel to say the least.
Tracy married and
had two great kids of his own. Momma Tillie was there
for the college degrees. She was so proud of her grand kids. I can hear her now
telling of the accomplishments of her talented grandchildren.
Of course, I am thankful I married Bobbie Searcy over forty
years ago and we somehow managed to raise two very versatile
children. They have
promised to take care of us when we get old. (Which ain’t far
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be as much documentation
about the early history of the George Laubhan family, but you can be
sure it fairly well parallels the Ehrlich history from 1700 in
in the 1800’s.
Mom Tillie always told this story about the marriage of
George Laubhan and Mollie Ehrlich. First, Mollie Laubhan was
born Mollie Ehrlich in 1870, the oldest girl of six, in a family of
nine. Her father was
John Dietrich Ehrlich, and her mother was Eva Margaret. Her grandparents were Peter
Ehrlich and Mary Katherine Horn Ehrlich, born in
in 1819, and 1821 respectively. It seems that marriages were
sometimes hard to arrange, because there were seemingly more
eligible males than females.
At any rate, there were six available in the John Dietrich
Ehrlich family, and Mollie was the eldest and most eligible. The wife of George Laubhan
had died, and as luck would have it, George who was a traveling man
on the frozen Volga
River had heard of the
six available daughters.
Now this George already had several children, and I’m sorry
to say I don’t know how many.
I believe the oldest was Emmanuel and he was about
twenty. At any rate
George was visiting with John Dietrich about the possibility of
marriage. The girls
were peeking at the man from another room (so I’m told), only to
discover the man had a long beard and old, (around forty!!) Mollie who was only nineteen
said she didn’t care how old he was, he looked good to her and as
far as she was concerned he was
Kansas was fast becoming home to
lots of Germans from
and especially the Ehrlichs.
Mollie’s parents were already corresponding with relatives in
the new country. The
die was cast ! They
were going too. Mollie
exerted quite a bit of influence over George and they too immigrated
en masse including George’s first family. Some of you will be
interested to pursue these families
Time passes, and the Ehrlich families are now concentrating
south of Shattuck,
Oklahoma. We’ll skip the pioneer
stories except to say, there are eight new little Ehrlich Laubhans
being born including two girls: Otilla Malusha, and Mina
Anja. The rest of the
clan had plain names like Alex, Carl, Theodore Roosevelt (T.R.),
Herman, George, and Jonah.
Time was good to the Laubhans, but the boys were taking
wives, and land was needed to give the boys a chance at
farming. Hence west to
Texas . . .
Texas, and a section of land west
of Follett. It seems
nothing was sacred.
They farmed, sold groceries, built buildings, sold cars,
machinery, anything to make a living. They had a fairly good
impact on Follett. If
you are keeping track of time, George Laubhan is no spring chicken to be moving around
anymore. It’s 1922 and
at age 72 George passes away.
The two youngest left at home were girls, Tillie and Minnie,
as they were now called.
Remember now George is leaving behind two families, and as
was the custom, he left too much to his sons, and very little to his
daughters. Ask Aunt
Mina about that! She
was only sixteen at the time, and her sister Otilla was eighteen and
about to forsake her for Asaph. Mina and her mother buy a
cook stove from the catalog on payments. They rent a building from
Bobbie Ann’s grandad, Dr. Markley, and open “The Texas Tea Room”. Needless to say, it did not
become a franchise chain . . . but don’t you like the
Now, you’re beginning to get the picture. I can’t stop here though,
cause Follett is where it all came to rest, for us at least. I guess Follett is
Mount Ararat, but in keeping with the age of
communication, the Ehrlich roots have spread themselves around. We
haven’t moved to new continents, but we have engaged in just as
diverse occupations. It
will be interesting to see what the new generations
Back to Follett:
T.R. married Theresa, and Herman married Mary, and Asaph
married Tillie. There
turned out a whole raft of double cousins. Momma Tillie had nine aunts
and uncles from her mother’s side and six on her father’s side. She had 78 first
cousins*. Her husband
Asaph was not one of them, but he was a distant relative. I counted up and I have
forty first cousins, and would have more if I could count the double
cousins (6) twice.
*(complete computer genealogy reports identify more than 78 first
Alex, T.R., Jonah, Carl, Asaph, and Ezra were all in business
in Follett. T.R. built
six of the existing brick buildings in town. My dad Asaph, was in
business in 2 different buildings for 14 years. Several people still tell me
stories of those days.
One lady told me she needed a pair of shoes so she could wait
tables at the Follett Hotel.
Dad sold her a pair for $5.00, .50 a
The Follett experience was either good or bad. I haven’t been able to
decide. When Mom and
Dad first married, Dad wanted to go to British
Columbia to seek his living. Mom wouldn’t go. She was too concerned with
home and events in
Texas. You might want to blame her
for Texas and the hard
times that followed. Of
course, the depression was nationwide, but the Dust-bowl was pure
hardship creates character.
This certainly has been the thread of character throughout
the history of the Ehrlich-Laubhan Family.
Of all the people I’ve written about in these two
four-generation stories, only two survive. Hulda Ehrlich Law who lives
Saskatchewan and Minnie Laubhan
Riffle Laughlin of Salt Lake City, Utah. You want more? They know it
first hand. (Since this
writing, both Hulda and Minnie have passed