A man in our town (who has a number of the same Facebook "friends" as I have) posted this picture as his profile, and as soon as I saw it I asked permission to share it here. He was very happy to let me post it along with the family's names and story. Thank you, Ted!
Please click on the photo to see it in better detail.
Back, left to right: Margareta (Stremel) Gerk, unknown man, Jakob Gerk, Maria Gerk, Paul Gerk
Front, left to right: Michael Kisser, Piada Kisser, Anna (Gerk) Kisser with unnamed baby, Anna Margareta (Rohwein) Gerk, Johannes (John) Gerk, Kristina (Rausch) Gerk with unnamed baby
Jacob, Maria, Paul, Anna, and at least two others who aren't in the photo are the children of Anna Margareta. I am waiting to hear whether Johannes/John is a child or grandchild, though with his hand on Kristina's lap and not Anna Margareta's, I presume he is a grandchild. Margareta, Kristina, and Michael are daughters-in-law and son-in-law. Anna Margareta's husband, Ted's great-grandfather, is not in the photo as he refused to be in any photos.
The photo was taken 1915-17 in Russia, just before the Russian revolution, in the Volga German village of Josefstal. Ted's grandfather, Paul at back right, was 15. Paul and his sister-in-law, Margareta Gerk, were the only ones in the picture to make it out of Russia. Paul escaped in 1924. Margareta was married to his brother Michael Gerk (not in photo). They also both came to Canada, with Michael Gerk dying on the way of typhoid. Margareta settled in Saskatchewan and died around 1930 or so. Michael Kisser was taken by the KGB in the 1930's and was probably shot. The rest of the family were all put into labour camps in Siberia in 1941. Some perished in the labour camps, and some survived.
This photo was sent to Ted's grandfather Paul after he had escaped to Canada.
The little boy in front, John Gerk, came from Russia to Canada to visit family members in 1989. Perhaps he'd been waiting all that time for the Berlin wall and its associated Iron Curtain to come down. I can imagine he was overjoyed this had finally happened and immediately jumped at the chance!