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Above:  Tillie and Asaph Ehrlich Wedding Picture


Ehrlich History

The Follett Connection

Where it began

by Maurice Ehrlich



(The following 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 L.J.


            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 Russia in 1850.”

             Tillie said, “My dad’s name was George and he was also born in Russia in 1850 .”

            Asaph replied, “My mother is still living in Canada, and she will be anxious to meet you.  Her name is Katherine Elizabeth”,

            Tillie remarked, “That’s some coincidence cause I had an Uncle George Ehrlich who was married to my Aunt Katherine Elizabeth.  How are you related?”

            “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 me,”

             Tillie 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 Russia in 1898 to Canada, to Oklahoma in 1900, back to Canada in 1907 and the second story is about the Laubhan connection.


John George Ehrlich


            John George Ehrlich died in Canada 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 Laubhan.


            The large group picture you see in this genealogy was taken in Russia in the Spring of 1914.  Grandfather George had gone back to Russia 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 came to Russia 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 Canada, and of course they would be spared the fate of those left behind.


The Early Story


            The picture only provides the backdrop for the story.  The real story began in Germany in about 1730.  Germany was in chaos from internal and external wars, (The 30 Years War).  Germans were invited to settle in Russia 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 Russia 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 USA 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 trips.


Asaph is Born


            John George married  Mary Gross about 1879 in Russia and had three children.  Their names were Rosala, Constantine, and Amelia.  Constantine was 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.  Constantine was 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 Russia 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 Katherine Wunder.


The Trip to America


            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 England, and waited two weeks for another boat - not to America but to Canada - 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 waited.


            In the meantime, Canada 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. 


On to Kansas and Oklahoma


            Finally, on to the US,  and Kansas - but not for long.  They  were there just one year and during this time Ezra was born.  The second Oklahoma land rush was on.  Hello Shattuck, Oklahoma, (rather, Goodwin, Oklahoma, 7 miles south of Shattuck.)


            Here would be home - sand hills, sagebrush, heat and all.  It wasn’t much like the Ukraine or Canada, 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.

Back to Canada


            It’s 1907.  The family left “the desolation” and moved back to the homesteads in cool Canada.  There were sad goodbyes to the relatives who stayed behind and who were not so fortunate.  Meanwhile, back in Canada in 1908 another boy is born.  His name is Johnny.  Grandfather is now 58 years old.  He has sired children by two wives in Russia, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Canada.  Let’s be sure to mention that he has filed for land in two countries and founded the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Shattuck, Oklahoma. His wanderlust would lead him back to Russia to visit in 1914 which is where the pictorial focuses on his large family.  The two nieces he brought to Canada 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, Lydia, married Frank Matlack.  Lydia Matlack was our Sabbath School teacher.  She was so sweet and kind.  Aunt Martha was too,  but she was also the world’s best cook! 


Growing up in Canada


            My dad, Asaph, grew up in Canada 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 “Turkey 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 Sand 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 1904.


Living in Follett, Texas


            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 Canada 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 likewise.


            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 off!)







            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 Germany to Ukraine, Russia 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 Russia 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 hers!


            Lehigh, Kansas was fast becoming home to lots of Germans from Russia, 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 further.


            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 . . . Follett, 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 name?


            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 bring.


            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 cousins)


            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 week.


            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 Panhandle.  Perhaps 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 in Yorkton, 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 away.)



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