Facts History People Activities Recreation Landmarks
Location Glossary Government Resources Teacher Credits  

Many German-Russians came to the USA to start a new life.
In the late 1800's, Russia was in a severe drought (little or no rain) which brought famine (lack of food). The German-Russians began to immigrate (move to) to the US about the same time that Greeley was founded. They knew how to work the fields to grow potatoes so many came to be field workers.

They were hired to dig the first big irrigation ditches in the area.
They dug the ditch from the Poudre to near Windsor in late 1800's.

When the sugar beet factories came, they began to work the beet fields.
The whole family would work in the fields thinning and topping the beets. Many of the families saved enough money to rent their own farms.

They lived in a neighborhood together.
They lived together near the factory. This is where Jefferson High School is located. The workers kept much of their native culture. They spoke German in their churches, homes and school. Some of the children went to Lincoln School. Lincoln School only spoke English. They enjoyed a big May Day celebration at Sunrise Park. They had a King and Queen with music, dancing, and a Maypole.

They lived in shanties or rented rooms. You can see an example of a German-Russian Shanty at Centennial Village. Later they bought homes in the Sunrise Park neighborhood.

When World War l started, fewer German-Russians were used in the fields.
The farmers began to hire more Hispanic field workers. The German-Russians also had to stop using their language in their school and churches because of threats by some people because we were fighting the Germans in the war.

During World War II, the German-Russians were watched to be sure they were loyal.
It became harder for them to hold onto any of their culture because we were fighting Germany. If they were practicing their culture, they were seen as being loyal to the German side.

The hard work and thriftiness of many of the beet workers helped many of them become land owners.
Many of the sugar beet growers today are descendants (relatives) of the immigrant beet workers from 60 years ago.

We still see the German-Russian influence today.
Each October, Greeley celebrates Octoberfest along with the German-Russian people.
We also enjoy many German foods such as: krautburgers, bratwurst and some German breads.

German Russian Beet Workers
German Russian Beet Workers (Photo courtesy Greeley, Colorado Municipal Museum).
german shanty
German shanty at Centennial Village
Learn more about the importance of agriculture in Greeley.  
Updated June 28, 2013 7:06 PM


Back to Top Facts History People Activities Recreation Landmarks
©Sara L. Brooks Location Glossary Government Resources Teacher Credits