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Central California Chapter Museum

Why would a camel be representative of Germans from Russia?

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Because camels were common and were used as work animals in the lower Volga Valley of Russia.

The Central California Chapter Museum collection includes items from Russia, Germany and early Fresno. Some artifacts, such as camel wool, are over 100 years old. We have many old photos, some with names and many more without.

Spinning  Wheel, Combing Bench, and Yarn Winder with Blanket

Camel wool (hair) was used for making blankets and clothing and adding warmth in quilts. The wool would be combed while sitting on the wooden bench with a wire brush attached.  After combing, the wool would be spun into thread on the spinning wheel. The yarn winder was used to wind yarn into convenient balls for knitting, crocheting,


or weaving.  The yarn was woven into blankets, cloth, and used to make clothing and other items. Since the homes were fairly small in Russia, table looms were probably used most often for weaving.


The combing bench is over 100 years old and brought from Russia by the Conrad Bauer family.  The bench was donated by Henry & Martha Bitter.  The spinning wheel was donated by Gil & Barbara Axt, in memory of Gil's mother, and purchased from Sandy Hurley Risley.

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Camel Wool Blanket

This camel wool lap robe is close to 100 years old and came from the village of Alexandertal, Russia.

Donated by Alexander Stoppel, of Three Rivers, California.

Quilt making was a routine skill of the Germans from Russia, as they found a use for every piece of material. 

The hanging quilt was made in 1980 by the members of the Central California Chapter-AHSGR, depicting the various ancestral villages, occupations and family surnames of our local families.


The quilt on the bed is a corduroy patchwork quilt stuffed with camel wool from the village of Blumenfeld, Russia. This 119 year old quilt arrived at Ellis Island in November 1910, went to Russell, Kansas and then to Alhambra, California, recovered in about 1940. This quilt was in the belongings of Jacob & Katherine Elizabeth (Greb) Schreiner, from Blumenfeld, Samara, Russia. Donated by Freida Schreiner Purvis of Arizona and her sister.  

1880's German Made Spinning Wheel, Hand Carved and Decorated

Donated by Louise Stephens of Redding, CA

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Bridal Gown

The white, hand stiched, gown was worn by the bride, Maria Busick, when she married Frederick Diel in 1898 in the village of Kukkus, Russia. The gown is over one hundred years old. It was donated by Maria's daughter, Mary Diel Thompson.

Hammered Dulcimer


This dulcimer was built by Fred Markus (March 25, 1925). It was rebuilt by Leroy Weber (December 12, 1986). The dulcimer is an instrument used for its wonderful, but rather obscure folk sound. It has the wildness and harmony of the bagpipes. Dulcimer-type Instruments are played in Asia, Central Europe, the Balkans, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.  In the United States, it is sometimes called the mountain or Appalachian dulcimer.

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Cross Church Organ

The original pump organ in the Cross Church, was owned by Rev. Jacob Legler, from Straub, Samara, Russia, and he and his family arrived in Fresno, California on Auguest 10, 1891. He was called to service in the Free Evangelical Lutheran Cross Church, built in 1895.

Felt Boots

These felt ladies boots were made in Russia from sheep's wool. The felt maker would travel from village to village, house to house, to fit and make felt boots for everyone in the family. The men's outdoor work boots had leather heals and soles added to them. The felt boots were warmer and dryer that other types of shoe wear. The ones we have are well worn. These boots were donated by Richard A Markus.

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Typical Plan of Colonist Farmyard in the Village

The home places in the village were fenced in for protection and security. While the people did their farming well outside of the village, their threshing area, fruit trees and home gardens were all enclosed behind walls. Animals were kept in the barn attached to the house during the winter months.

Model made and donated by Johanne Ehly Pekarek.


Brooms of willow branches used for sweeping yards in Russia and in West Fresno.

One made and donated by Adam Meisner of Fresno and the yard broom of split willow was handmade by Andreas Beiden of Dinkel, Russia. Donated by his grandchildren: Ruby (Winter) Nagel and Robert Winter in memory of Beiden & Benzler Families.

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Trunk, Baskets, and Homemade Boxes

These were used to bring items to America from Russia.


The top abacus is Chinese and the other one is Russian.

Donated by siblings, Edward Bischel and Vera Bischel Hills.

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Carpenter's Tools

Many of the men were carpenters by profession and need. We have a set of wood-working Tools from the John Fink family, with hand-made wooden planes made in Russia and a tool Box full of modern-day equipment.

Photos and Maps

Old photos, family genealogies, maps, and other artifacts cover the walls of the museum like these photos above. The hand drawn map of Stahl am Tarlyk
, a Volga village, shows the layout of the village about 1910. 

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