Augustine Centennial Celebration

by Juanita and Frank Augustine (Ellis, KS)

On August 3-4, 2002, the Augustine family celebrated the centennial of the immigration of Michael Augustine and his wife, Anna Adelsberger, to the United States. The event, held at the WaKeeney Fair Grounds in WaKeeney, KS, witnessed a reunion of 367 people from the United States, Canada and Germany.

In 1902 Michael and Anna Augustine, with their five minor children, Ambros, Theresa (Weber), Ignatz, John Michael and Mary, ventured forth from their south Bukovinian village of Fürstenthal to seek their fortune in the New World. Much to the family’s distress, Mary died en route and was later interred in New York. Other children later born to this couple in the United States include Jacob, Johanna (Gnad), Joseph, Rudolph, Florence (Flax), Barbara (Burns) Cameron, and Michael Jr.

The plans for a family reunion began as early as October 2001, with the selection of one member descended from each of the immigrant couple’s children to serve on an organizing committee. Those who so diligently gave of their time to make the endeavor a success were Clarence, Denis, Frank and Gilbert Augustine, Ralph Burns Jr., Katie Eberle, Adolph Flax, and Johanna Gnad.

The committee met for a total of seven sessions at which time they fixed the date and place of the event, the social activities, and the menu. Opting for some favorite Bukovinian dishes such as Galuschki (stuffed cabbage), Kuchen (cake) and “Schokle” (a pastry the children called “snowballs” because they were covered with powered sugar), the committee sought to preserve some of the Old World flavor. Bonnie Windholz, hired to prepare the meals including a Saturday evening dinner and a Sunday morning breakfast followed by a noon barbecue, did a suburb job in fulfilling culinary expectations.

In recognition of the Kansas State flower and its staple food, the tables were decorated with sunflowers and stalks of wheat arranged in vases in the red, white and blue national colors. Thanks to the creativity of DeeDee Heronemus, each person received an embroidered canvas map of the United States with “AUGUSTINE 1902-2002” attached to his/her nametag.

The committee designated certain individuals as honored guests, among them: (1) Barbara (Burns) Cameron, the only surviving child of the patriarch, Michael Augustine; (2) Christina Augustine, wife of Michael Jr., whose hospitalization precluded her attendance; and (3) Jean (Boyce) Augustine of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the widow of Joseph’s youngest son, Jack. (Joseph, the patriarch of the Canadian Augustines, was Michael’s brother.) Each honored guest received a red, white and blue corsage.

Displays consisting of pictures, posters, genealogies, and photo albums were abundantly available. But among the most spectacular was the six-generational genealogy spanning 200 years provided by Michael Augustin. Michael’s great-grandfather, Josef Augustin, was a second cousin to the 1902 American immigrant, Michael. Both shared a common descent from Johann Augustin (1779-1839), who in 1802 emigrated from the Bohemian Forest to Bukovina. Taking this broader perspective, the Kansas reunion may well be viewed as a celebration of the “bicentennial” of Johann’s immigration to Bukovina.

Just prior to the Augustine reunion in Kansas, Michael had attended the annual FEEFHS convention in Regina, Saskatchewan, where he presented a paper on the Augustin family entitled, “German-Bohemians in Bukovina.” His wife, Bärbel and children Anja, Eva and Fabian from Leonberg, Germany joined Michael in Kansas where families from both sides of the Atlantic were able to share information and make new acquaintances. In addition, our German relatives presented us with a greeting card, which many signed and all appreciated.

The roster included twenty-three guests from Canada, descendants of the immigrant Michael’s brother Joseph. Also in attendance were members of collateral branches of the Augustine family including Becky Hageman (Wichita, KS), Steve Parke (Pueblo, CO), and Werner Zoglauer (Naperville, IL). Although not an Augustine scion, Oren Windholz, President of the Bukovina Society, stopped in to pay his respects and say “hello.”

On Saturday afternoon Father Don Pfannenstiel celebrated mass at which a choir performed and sang the liturgy accompanied by a guitarist. Our sincere thanks to Father Pfannenstiel and the choir for this uplifting experience. Religious services were followed by the evening meal, served to 357 people and by music provided by the Dorzweiler Band.

Coffee, tea, Schokle and Kuchen were available early Sunday morning. About 260 guests stayed on for the barbecue at noon after which the guests said their good-byes. The centennial celebration of the arrival in America of our forebears, Michael and Anna Augustine, concluded with tearful farewells but high expectations of continued contact and enduring friendships. The committee wishes to thank all who participated in making this affair such a memorable occasion.