Litz Family History:
From Russia to Winnipeg

Unknown Kroening Sister & Rudolph Yessie Family


First, the last name Yessie, is one of several this family goes by. Other variants on other documents include Gessie, Geske, Yeske. In all likelihood, the name was correctly pronounced Yessie, and possible originally spelt Jesse.  But who knows for sure, NOT I!

 ***UPDATE*** Rudolph’s first wife was named Euphrosine Kroening

Little is known about the First Mrs Yessie, Hulda Kroening's sister,  not even her name for certain, however according to Kurt Guttman, her first name may have been Mary.  What we do know is that she was married to Rudolph Yessie and they had at least one child,  Ernie (Gerhard). There is contradictory evidence whether Zelma (Selma) was born to Rudolph's first wife the unknown Kraning, or Lydia Radons his 2nd wife. The surviving Yessie family members are of the mind that Zelma was born during the marriage of Lydia Radons and Rudolph, making Gerhardt the only child of my Great Aunt and Rudolph Yessie.


So, having no information on her, I have found the following on Rudolph in my search for his first wife, hoping to stumble on something relevant to her life.


Rudolph Yessie was born 15 September 1882 in  YUSTINOVKA, PODHAJCE (Pidhaytsi), Poland. This town is situated in the heart of historical area known as Galicia (Halychyna in Ukrainian, Galizien in German, Galizia in Italian, Gacsorszag in Hungarian, Galicja in Polish), which was once independent principality and kingdom (until 1375) and later kingdom / province of Galizien under Austrian emperor (1772 - 1918). Pidhaytsi and whole Eastern Galicia are situated in Western UKRAINE. Town's geographical coordinates are 49º16 25º8, 70 km south west from Ternopil  , about 120 km south east from Lviv, 30 km south from Berezhany , 24 km from the Potutory railway station. 181 km from Poland's border (at Krakovets crossing).

Pidhaytsi was part of Poland during 1375 - 1772, 1918 - 1939 and Austria (Austro-Hungary / Austro - Hungarian / Austrian / Habsburg empire) during 1772 - 1918. In 1939 it was taken by Soviet troops and incorporated into Soviet Union (Soviet Ukrainian Nationalist Republic which is independent UKRAINE now, since 1991)..

NAME: PIDHAYTSI (other possible transliterations PIDGAYTSI, PIDHAITSI, PIDGAITSI, PIDHAJCI, PIDHAJZI, PIDGAJCI) is modern Ukrainian name (applied on maps and documents since 1991)
Polish name PODHAJCE (also Podgajce, used mainly during Polish rule - 1375 - 1772, 1918 - 1939 and Austrian rule 1772 - 1918)
German (Austrian) names: PODHAJZE , Podhajze, Podgajze, Podhajtze (used during Austrian rule)
Russian name: PODGAYTSY (also Podgaitsy / Podgajtsy, used during Soviet rule 1944 - 1991)
Name literally means "near the wood" (pid / pod = near / under and hay / haj = wood / forest)
Note also that there are other minor villages and towns with the same name. One in Volynska oblast of Western Ukraine. Others in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.


It was a German (German Roman Catholics) colony village Beckersdorf. 13 kilometers north east from Pidhaytsi. It was renamed by Soviets. Germans were forcefully resettled by Soviet authorities in 1945. It is situated on the hill (398 metes high), on the left bank of river Koropets. Nearby next village is STEPOVE (Stepove is also a new name I think).


Rudolph left from Hamburg, Germany on the 11th of February, 1914 on the SS Burg for Liverpool, England.  He left Liverpool on the 14th of February on the SS Arabic landing in Portland, Maine, USA.  He was in the company of  Gustav Radons, his brother in law, who later settled in Amaranth (again with this Radons family), and then Vernwood, Sask, then Vernon, B.C.








Rudolph’s last name on the manifests was Yeske, and he is on the bottom of the page, where Gustav Radontz is at the top.  Both Rudolph and Gustav indicate they are going to Winnipeg to see my grandfather Robert Litz on Magnus Avenue in Winnipeg, both indicating he is a brother in law. Both in overseas manifests give Reichshof or Reichof, Germany as their last place of residence. There is a Reichsof in what is now Poland and today called Rzeszow, and there is also a Reichshof in Germany about 200 kms s/w or Hamburg, but after looking at other passenger lists for family, it would appear that it is Richthoff, Poland just south of Gdansk and very near Sulmin, which comes into play on the Radons pages as a residence for Theodor Radons' father in law.As Richthoff is mentioned as well as Bremberg in other family members accounts, this would indicate the Richthoff near Sulmin.

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Gerhard and Zelma came to Canada with Lydia on 9 Dec 1920 on the Ship Megantic which sailed from Liverpool on 1 Dec 1920, arriving in Halifax.   EUREKA! Their immigration forms show them going to Lydia's husband at 460 Magnus Ave, Winnipeg. This again would be my grandfathers residence.  They travelled under the name Esse (okay, that's close enough but had eluded me till now).  It shows the children born in Germany, and Lydia also born in Germany.  Notation from immigration that she is a Polish National travelling on Polish passport (but noted that was okay). It also gives the name of a relative from her last place of residence, and that person is an uncle G Radonz in Bromberg, Germany, which today is  Bydgoszcz, Poland. I think this may be Gottlieb Radons who later immigrated to Canada in 1925.


We have to remember that prior to the war, there was technically no Poland, so Germany would have been their "country" of birth, and now that would be Poland.  I think the Richtoff area is going to be the next intense area of research.  I believe that this is where Rudolph's first wife died, prior to his departure, and he married Lydia at that time.


Rudolph and Lydia lived in Beausejour, had 6 more children together in Canada.  He died in 1953, and is buried in Beausejour Cemetery with Lydia who died in 1968.








[1] Ben Kroening and Pat Gessie in Thunder Bay

Gerhard (Ernie) Yessie


Agatha Gessie Tolack

Agatha H. Tolack
of Johnson City

Agatha H. Tolack, of Johnson City, died Saturday evening, September 18, 2004, at the Willow Point Nursing Home. She was predeceased by her husband, John Tolack III; her parents; two brothers, Ernie and Art; and a sister Selma. She is survived by two daughters and sons-in-law, Linda and Raymond Lerche, Endicott, Andrea and Robert Barnes, Baldwinsville, N.Y.; four grandchildren, Tara and Tony Mancinelli, Apalachin, Daniel and Sharon Lerche and family, Virginia Beach, Va., Pam Lerche and family, Charlotte, N.C., Steve Lerche and family, Endicott; and the joy of her last year, beloved great-grandson, Anthony John Mancinelli; three brothers and sisters-in-law, Bernie and Cecile Gessie, Vancouver, British Columbia, Walter and Verna Yessie, Corunna, Ontario, Paul and Pat Gessie, Thunder Bay, Ontario; a sister-in-law, Gladys Gessie, Tyndall, Ontario; also several nieces, nephews and cousins. She was a member of Holy Nativity Lutheran Church, Endicott. Who was she? Wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, homemaker, Christian, poet, family historian, Sunday school teacher, choir member, American by choice, Canadian at heart, loving, funny, kind, smart, crazy about children. Who was she? Everything to us.
Funeral services will be held at Holy Nativity Lutheran Church, 312 East Main Street, Endicott, Thursday at 10 a.m. Deacon Maynard Koplin will officiate. Burial will be in Vestal Hills Memorial Park. The family will receive friends at the J.F. Rice Funeral Home, Inc., 150 Main St., Johnson City, Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. In lieu of flowers, those wishing may make memorial contributions to the Holy Nativity Lutheran Church Memorial Fund, or Mom's House, P.O. Box 178, Endicott, N.Y. 13761, in Agatha H. Tolack's memory.

Walter Yessie

2004-10-28 - WALTER YESSIE of Thompson Gardens Corunna
Peacefully at Bluewater Health Norman St. Palliative Care Sarnia on Thursday, October 28, 2004, Walter Yessie, age 83 years of Thompson Gardens Corunna. Beloved husband of Verna. Dear father of Larry and wife Beverley and Ray and wife Sandy. Loving Grandfather of Kristin, Kara, Steven, Ryan and Tyler; brother of Bernie and Cecelia Gessie of Vancouver, Paul and Pat Gessie of Thunder Bay. Brother-in-law of Don MacDonald (Rita) of Maple Ridge, B.C., Raymond MacDonald (June) of Winnipeg, Clarice Dewar (Cecil) of Ottawa, Muriel Kizuik of Winnipeg and Lorne MacDonald (Ruth) of Mississauga, Mother-in-law Julia McDonald of Selkirk.
Also survived by many nieces and nephews. Predeceased by his parents Rudolph and Lydia Yessie, his sisters Agatha Tolack and Zelma Aker and brother Arthur Yessie. Walter loved entertaining at Seniors Homes with his accordion. He was a past elder of Corunna United Church and has owned and operated Walts Grading in Corunna for many
years. Friends were received at the Knight Funeral Home, 588 St. Clair Parkway Corunna on Sunday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. The funeral service was held at Corunna United Church on Monday at 11:00 with Don Engel officiating. Interment at Froomfield Cemetery. As expressions of sympathy friends who wish may send memorial donations to the Corunna United Church or to Bluewater Health Palliative Care. Knight, 519-862-2845.
Posted on 2004-11-14

Leonard Gessie

Otto Paul Gessie


Gessie, Paul Otto

Monday, March 31, 2008

With much sadness the family announces the passing of Paul Otto Gessie, age 78 years, on March 30th, 2008 after a long battle with cancer at St. Joseph's Hospice. Born in Beausejour, Manitoba, Paul worked for the Ministry of Lands and Forest in Ignace, ON in his younger years and then for C.P. Rail as a car inspector until his retirement in 1994. Paul enjoyed camping and fishing at our family cottage in Ignace. Paul was well known for his booming voice. He studied Opera at the Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He would belt out a song at all his favorite places, shopping at Quality Market or coffee time at Tim Horton's with his friends. Paul loved to go for a run first thing in the morning and a long walk in the evening. He will be sadly missed by his wife Patti, his best friend, his three sons (the 3 D‘s) Dwight, David, and Dean (Julie), four grandchildren Rachel, Seanpaul, Katya, Sacha and other relatives. How my love circles over you always Cremation has taken place in care of Northwest Funeral Alternative Inc. A celebration of Paul's life will take place with family and friends at a later date. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Paul's memory to the Canadian Cancer Society. Online condolences may be made through www.