A Spiess Family History

 HomeA Brief History of Romania | A Brief History of Martin, North Dakota

Descendants of Johann Spiess | Family of Conrad and Anna (Putz) Spiess | Family of  Frederich and Ecaterina (Trollenberg) Spiess

Family of William and  Mayme (Flamme) Spiess | Various Spiess family photos | Miscellaneous Photos

Jakob and Maria (Zimmerman) Spiess - (a mystery no longer!) | Berlin Story | Berlin Photos | Guestbook

Philipina Spiess (the next mystery!) | Martin Area North Dakota Cemeteries

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Standing: Conrad, Walter, William, Joseph, Lydia, Freeda

Sitting: Fred Spiess, Kate (Trollenberg) Spiess

Front: Erna

(Photo about 1917 as Erna was born in 1914)

After the first Spiess family reunion in 1994, I began to compile my ‘family tree’. Little did I know at that time what a fascinating hobby I was beginning! I started asking family members about birth and death dates, and I must thank my aunts Betty Pego and Audrey Spiess for their patience with my many inquiries!

In 1996 I went to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and was amazed by the information contained in this building. The first piece of information I found was the immigration card for Friedrich Spiess, leading to the microfilm containing the original ship manifest from their journey from Romania to Antwerpen Belguim, across the ocean to New York, then on to North Dakota.

Since than, I have been back to Salt Lake several times, I have been to the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, and to the North Dakota History Center in Bismarck. Each trip I make, I find another piece of this fascinating, ongoing, puzzle.

This is by no means a complete family history. It’s main purpose is to share with my family the research I have done to this point. I’m certain there will be revisions in the future!

Jeanne Spiess

Forest Lake, MN




Spiess is clearly a German name, but it is not apparent to me what part of Germany our line originates from. The earliest Spiesses I have found were from Romania, although at the time our ancestors lived there, Romania was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and wasn’t granted independence until 1918.

According to Freeda Spiess McMahon’s bible, Frederich Spiess and Ecaterina (Kate) Trollenberg were married in Tulcea, Dobrudscha, Romania, and my grandfather, Wilhelmus (William) was also born there, as stated in his service records. Fred’s mother, Anna Putz Spiess was born in Bukowina, Austria; now split between Romania, Ukraine and Moldova. So you see, research is difficult because many of the towns and place names are either changed, or no longer exist!

The eighteen and nineteenth centuries saw a lot of Germanic emigration into Eastern Europe. Germans came from three distinct areas: Swabians and Palatines, from what is now Baden-Württemberg and Rheinland-Pfalz, in southwest Germany; German Bohemians, from the Bohemian Forest (Böhmerwald), now in the Czech Republic; and Zipsers, from the Zips mountains, now Spis county, Slovakia. Part of this emigration was to Hungary where the 150-year Turkish occupation was gradually ended around 1700 and the Austrian emperors encouraged settlers of many nationalities to make empty villages productive again. The other part of the German expansion into Russia and outlying areas of Romania was at the end of the 1700s as a result of a general increase in European population.

After its defeat by Prussia in 1867, the Austrian Empire was reorganized as the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary and Translyvania was incorporated into Hungary, against the will of the Romanians, who formed over seventy percent of the population. Until 1918, the history of Transylvania was marked by the Romanian struggle for unification with the Romanian Kingdom. During this period, as a result of ethnic and economic repression, Romanians began to emigrate to the United States and Canada in search of economic opportunity and political liberty.

I have found references to Spiesses in Liebling; a small village that was a part of the former Banat of the Hungarian Empire, but I have not been able to tie these Spiesses with our known ancestors. Since the end of World War I and the resulting border changes, Liebling has been within the nation of Romania. It is located about 20 kilometers south of the Romania city of Temosara.

There are also references to Spiesses in other German settlement areas in Romania; the Bukowina (in the Northeast), Dobrudscha (Romanian Dobrogea), on the Black Sea, and in Bessarabia, the easternmost strip of Romania, part of which is now in Ukraine.

Access to Romanian records remains rather difficult, however I believe (hope!) this is slowly changing.



The village of Casselman, North Dakota was founded in 1896 when the Soo Line Railroad was built through the northeastern part of the county. Only a house occupied by Patrick Walsh marked the townsite when the first settlers made their way into the area. One of these early settlers was our great uncle Philipp Putz, Anna Putz Spiess’ brother. At that time, Casselman was part of McLean County. It was incorporated as a city in 1910 and is the oldest town in what is now Sheridan County.

Due to confusion with mail addressed to Casselton in Cass County, the name was changed to Martin, after William Leslie Martin, a railroad man.

Among the earliest settlers to arrive were Philipp Putz, and his sons Fred and Frank, Jacob Rust, Sr. and Sam Gaul. These people arrived from Canada in 1896. The Henry Fiesels, Gottleib Kalks, Michelsons, Baumanns, and the Helms (Fred's Spiess' uncle through marriage) in arrived 1897. Most of the families were large and predominately German.

Christ Heer settled in Martin about this time and opened the first store in 1897. This was a general merchandise store that burned down in 1940. The Moellendorf brothers opened another store in the early 1900’s. An old building moved from Harvey served as the butcher ship. The Fiesels and Nickolauses started a hardware store, selling furniture, stoves, harnesses, kitchenware, guns, and all the necessities needed by early pioneers. Our great grandfather Flamme opened a livery around this same time.

The Putzes were very prominent in Martin, and Philipp, his second wife Caroline, Philipp’s son Fred, and Rosina Putz are among the 18 charter members of the Martin Baptist Church. Philipp is buried in the Martin Baptist Cemetery. Many of their decendents still live in Martin today. I have met one of our Putz cousins, Fay Jordeans, from North Carolina via the internet, and also in person! Faye has been tremendously helpful with the Putz line.

In 1927 about twenty businesses remained in the town, and by 1930, the population again rose to 325. But in later years, many of the businesses closed their doors. Some were destroyed by fire and never were rebuilt. The present population is about 120, and some businesses remain. A combined grocery store and service station, post office, bar, machinery repair service, grain elevator, and BobCats, Inc., a small manufacturing plant located in the building which once was the school. Our Flamme family home was torn down in 1996.

(From Growing with Pride….The Harvey, ND Area 75th anniversary book)


The Migration Path of our Spiesses


From the various sources I have located, here is how the Spiesses migrated:

Jakob Helm, born 1838, Tereblestie, Bukovina, baptized 1869, Cataloui, Romania
  (Germantown Baptist Church records)

Katherina (Spiess) Helm, born 1839, Capon, Galicia, baptized 1869, Cataloui, Romania
  (Germantown Baptist Church records)

Philipina Spiess, born 1844, Stadlon, Galicia*, baptized 1878, Lumcolanha, Romania
   (Germantown Baptist Church records)

Anna (Putz) Spiess, born 1847 Radautz, Bukovina, Austria (now southern Ukraine)
   (ND death certificate)

Frederich Spiess, born 1868, Bukovina, Austria
  (notes from Aunt Betty (Spiess) Pego)

William Spiess, born 1880, Rolalf, Romania
   (naturalization papers)

Emil Spiess, born 1883, Galatz, Romania
   (naturalization papers and death certificate)

Jakob Spiess, born 1890, Tulcea, Romania
   (German resettlement papers and Romanian birth certificate)

William F. Spiess (my grandfather), born 1898, Tulcea, Romania
  (notes from Aunt Betty (Spiess) Pego)

Joseph Spiess, born 1899, Mangalia, Romania
  (notes from Aunt Betty (Spiess) Pego)

William Spiess, last known residence, Galatz, Romania, 1900
  (ship manifest)

Frederich Spiess, last known residence, Galatz, Romania, 1901
  (ship manifest)

Frederich Spiess, residing McLean County, Wiprund, North Dakota, 1902
   (naturalization papers)

Apoleon Trollenberg (Ecaterina's father), last known residence, Tulcea, Romania, 1909
   (naturalization papers)

Anna (Putz) Spiess last known residence, Sulina, Romania, 1910
  (ship manifest)

Frederich Spiess, residing McLean County, Dogden Township, North Dakota, 1910
  (Federal Census)

Frederich Spiess, residing Ramsey County, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1920
  (Federal Census)


1 - Bukovina
2 - Galatz
3 - Tulcea
4 - Mangalia
5 - Sulina


* I found a Stadlo, Galicia that is now Nowy Sącz, Poland. There are records for this town for 1838-1850 at the LDS library. This appears promising.

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 Home |  Spiess Family History | A Brief History of Romania | A Brief History of Martin, North Dakota

Descendants of Johann Spiess | Family of Conrad and Anna (Putz) Spiess | Family of  Frederich and Ecaterina (Trollenberg) Spiess

Family of William and  Mayme (Flamme) Spiess | Various Spiess Family Photos | Miscellaneous Photos

Jakob and Maria (Zimmerman) Spiess - (a mystery no longer!) | Berlin Story | Berlin Photos | Guestbook

Philipina Spiess (the next mystery!) | Martin Area North Dakota Cemeteries

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