Many German-Russians came to the USA to start a
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
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
World War II, the German-Russians were watched to be sure they were
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.
still see the German-Russian influence today.
Each October, Greeley celebrates Octoberfest along with the German-Russian
also enjoy many German foods such as: krautburgers, bratwurst and some German breads.