Family History

The information published here is a collection from various websites.

Some of this information is based upon research in progress and

and has not necessarily been proven or finalized.

Welcome to our family pages.  We are Jay Funk and Barbra Ballard Funk and these pages are a labor of love for our children and the reset of the family.  These pages are simply an attempt to research and document where our families have come from, plus any other interesting tid-bits.

Questions or Comments or Additions or Corrections?

Please eMail : jay@usfunks.net



Lesser Family

The Volga Germans
The Germans who left their homeland to settle in the Volga valley did so at the invitation of the Russian Tsarina Catherine.  On December 4, 1762, Catherine the Great issued a Manifesto inviting Western Europeans to settle in Russia. However, it was her second Manifesto of July 22, 1763, which offered transportation to Russia, religious and political autonomy, and land that incited many Western Europeans, mostly Germans, to migrate to Russia.  By the end of 1767 German settlers, coming primarily from central Germany, had organized more than one hundred colonies along the Volga River near Saratov. By 1869, the German population in the Volga region would exceed 250,000.                            http://www.ahsgr.org/villages.htm

History of the Village Frank

The colony of Frank was officially founded in 1767. At first the colony did not have a name, only a number, and was called Frank by the colonists. Shortly after this, it received its official Russian name of Med-Weditskoi Krestovoi Bujerak. According to the "Dictionary of Geographical Expressions, the word "buerak" means a ravine, gorge, hollow, or depression. It is a loan word from the Turkic language and in Russian occurs through-out the area of the Privolzhskaia Vozvyshennost (Volga Hills) which the Germans called the "Bergseite".

The village of Frank was called by the Russians, "Medveditskoi Krestovoi Buerak". "Medved" is a bear. "Medveditsa is a she bear, and "krest" a crossing. In addition Frank was located on the left bank of the river. So the Russian interpretation of the name of Frank would by "Bear Crossing Ravine".

Frank was located on the east bank of the Medveditsa River, on the western edge of the Saratov Province of the Lower Volga area. It is primarily an agricultural area, with some oil and gas resources in the area.

The village of Frank was populated by German immigrants at the invitation of Catherine-the-Great of Russia. It is believed that many of the original settlers were from the Hessen area of Germany, in the 1760's.

The official statistics state that 525 people of the Lutheran faith were settled here in 1767. Most of them had left their homelands the previous spring and had spend over a year in getting there. Many traveled by ship from Germany to Oranienbaum (near St. Petersburg) and then by wagons or boats to the steppes of the Volga.

According to tradition, the colonists found little or no preparation had been made for them. and like the settlers in the other Volga colonies, they had to dig into the banks of the river to make crude shelters for themselves. However, after a number of years, the village of Frank became a very prosperous agriculture community.

The picture of the church is that of the third church erected Frank. It was build in 1842 in what was called the :KontorStil (Official Style). It seated 1,114 people but more were often accommodated. The small old wooden church was then rebuilt in the daughter colony of Neu-Frank. The church was the focal point of the colony. From the bell tower, the sexton announced the deaths in the community by means of the church bell, designating by the first peals, whether the deceased by a man, woman, or child, and then tolling out the age. The bells were further used in cases of fire, and blizzards in order to direct wanderers to the village.

In the early years, educational interest was not high. The principal aim of the whole system was to perpetuate the German language and the traditional and religious customs and practices. In subsequent year the educational cause was promoted and higher educational standards realized.

Frank families were large. Like all pioneers, a part of their service was to multiply and replenish the steppes. Despite suffering, sacrifice, and struggle, the population grew.

When in the early seventies of the 19th century the Czar put an end to all privileges and was determined to make of these Germans full-fledged Russians, they sought a land of liberty, and America was the magnet. Emigration began almost at once, some going to South America, a few to Canada, but by far the largest number came to the United States.

Many settled in the State of Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Washington State and California. The immigration period started to decline about 1915.


Original Settlers of Frank FRANK                             http://bouldernet.com/frank/settlers.html
(Russian name: Medweditskij or Medwedizkoi Krestowoj Bujerak), present name is Medweditza, Kanton: Frank, Wolost: Frank. Established May 16, 1767, 115 families, 525 settlers, Lutheran Colony on the Bergseite, near Saratov and Engels, Russia. Listing of names as given by Mr. Carl Eckhardt, Hastings, Nebraska in Die Welt Post, October 19, 1939.
47. Lesser


Henry Lesser 1862 - 1934 & Katherine Schissler 1864 - 1930

Henry Lesser
Birth:           April 7, 1862 in Frank Russia. 
Marriage:    to Katherine Schissler 
Death:         1934
Burial:         Riverside Cemetery
1930 United States Federal Census - Fort Morgan, Morgan, Colorado
  - Henry age 67 - John age 26
  - Immigration: 1903 from Russia
  - Ted & Lottie & Maxine Farmer - Katherine Helzer
  - Address: 830 Main Street,

Katherine Schissler / Shessler
Birth:           October 10, 1864 in Walter Russia
Occupation: Midwife
Death:          1930 in Colorado
Burial:          Riverside Cemetery

The Lesser family fled Russia in 1904, first to Switzerland and then to the United States. 
Henry was a wealthy land owner in the lower Volga area in Russia (??and served in the Russian Parliament according to Grandma Lesser??) 

Henry and Katherine's Children


1. Katherine "Katie" Lesser          
Birth:         Dec 10, 1886 in Frank or Walter Russia
Marriage:  Peter M. Adler, Jr. on May 17, 1906
                  Peter M. Adler, Jr.   born November 13, 1884 in Kolb, Saratow, Russia
                      Father:  Peter Adler born April 1859 in Russia
                      Mother: Mary born Sept 1859 in Russia
                      Immigration: 1893
                      Death:  March 24, 1956 in Loveland, CO
                      1900 United States Federal Census - Hastings, Adams, Nebraska
                      1920 United States Federal Census - Hastings, Adams, Nebraska - Peter Adler, Sr. age 61
Children:   Pauline K. Adler born 1922 in Fort Morgan, Colorado|
                       Marriage:  David Kuntsmann
                       Death:  1994 in Carlsbad, New Mexico
Death:       May 22, 1969 in Loveland, Colorado
1918 World War I Draft Registration - Fort Morgan, Morgan County, Colorado


2. Anna Margaret Lesser
Birth:         December 14, 1888 in Frank Russia. 
Marriage:  Conrad Batt born November 13, 1882 in Russia; died 1941
                      Father:  Conrad Batt born August 1854 in Russia
                      Mother: Mary Batt born Janyary 1856 in Russia
                      Immigration: 1889 Germans from Russia to New York, NY destined for Kansas or Dakotas
                      1900 United States Federal Census - Hastings City, Adams, Nebraska - Conrad age 17
Children:   Melvin L      born ~1912 in Nebraska
                  Rosa A Batt born ~1916 in Nebraska
Death:       February 20, 1967
1910 United States Federal Census - Winters Creek, Scotts Bluff, Nebraska
    - Conrad age 28 - Laborer Beet Field - immigrated 1889 from Russia
    - Annie    age 21 - Laborer Beet Field - immigrated 1902 from Russia
1917 World War I Draft Registration - Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska
1920 United States Federal Census - Castle Rock, Scotts Bluff, Nebraska
    - Conrad age 37 - Farmer - immigrated 1889 from Russia
    - Annie    age 31 - immigrated 1902 from Russia
    - Melvine L age 8 & Rosa A age 4 both born in Nebraska


3. Henry Lesser   Birth: 1890-92 in Frank Russia and died shortly after birth

4. Amalie / Amelia  Lesser born Nov 10, 1894 in Frank Russia

5. Henriette Lesser            born May 19, 1896 in Frank Russia

6. George Lesser
Birth:        July 30, 1900
Death:       September 1982 in Fort Morgan, Morgan, Colorado
According to my Grandma Lesser/Funk, George was a brakeman for the railroad.  Got hurt and was disabled.
1918 World War I Draft Registration - Fort Morgan, Morgan County, Colorado

1918 Farmer - Employer: Henry Lesser - Address: 810 Ensign St, Fort Morgan, Colorado

7. Henry Lesser
Birth:        1903
1930 United States Federal Census - Mead, Weld, Colorado
    - Henry age 27; Lydia age 25; LeRoy age 5; Irene age 1

8. John Adolph Lesser
Birth:           July 20, 1904 in Lapeer Michigan, one month after Henry and Katherine came to the USA .
Occupation: John was a musician and entertainer, playing accordion.
Marriage:     Ella Fanny Sanks on August 16, 1924
1930 United States Federal Census - Fort Morgan, Morgan, Colorado : John age 26 Farm Laborer
Death:          April 11, 1934 in Denver Colorado [Death Certificate]
Burial:          Riverside Cemetery in Denver Colorado 4-14-34 [rootsweb] [Find A Grave]



9. Virginia "Lottie" Lesser
Birth:           October 10, 1905 in Ft. Morgan Colorado                 
Marriage:     Ted Farmer ~1926
                         Birth: ~1905-06 in Kansas
                         Father: Charlies Farmer born ~1862
                         1915 Kansas State Census 0 Lincoln, Crawford, Kansas : Ted age 9
                         1930 Occupation: Cook Restaurant
Children:      Maxine born in December 1926 in Colorado
Death:          November 15, 1987 in Denver, Colorado [Social Security Death Index]

1930 United States Federal Census - Fort Morgan, Morgan, Colorado : Lottie age 24

Greeley Daily Tribune (Greeley, Colorado) October 23, 1930 - Henry Lesser - Fined for Speeding


Hooker Nebraska


John Lesser  1904-1934

John Lesser
Birth:           July 30, 1904 in Lapeer, Lapeer, Michigan
Occupation: John was a musician and entertainer, playing accordion.
Marriage:     Ella Fanny Sanks on August 16, 1924

1930 United States Federal Census - Fort Morgan, Morgan, Colorado : Henry age 67 - John age 26

          April 11, 1934 in Denver Colorado (Death Certificate)
Burial:          Riverside Cemetery in Denver Colorado 4-14-34 (rootsweb) (Find A Grave)


Ella Fanny Sanks
Birth:            April 7, 1908 in Hooker Nebraska -- Ella was one of eight children
Father:         Claude Everett Sanks (born May 5, 1883)
Mother:        Flora Mae Wengard (born Feb 29, 1884 in Atlanta, Harlan Co, NE.
          November 14, 1935 in Deer Lodge, Montana
Marriage #1 John Lesser on August 16, 1924
Marriage #2 Leland Holcomb about 1929


Ella Fanny Sanks



  1. Dorothy Alvina Lesser
    Birth:        April 20, 1925 in Gering, Nebraska
                     Dorothy moved to Montana with parents Ella and Lee at the age of 7.
                     After the death of her mother, she was placed in the state orphans home in Twin Bridges from
                     1935 to 1941.  After 1941, She lived with the Tom and Nellie Wilson family on Indian Creek
    Marriage: #1 Harold Donegan Funk in 1942; Harold died in 1962.
    Marriage: #2 Larry Duncan Preston on April 24, 1981.
    Death:      Dorothy went home to be in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ on Monday, June 25, 2007

    1940 United States Federal Census - Montana State Orphans Home - Dorothy Holcomb age 14

  2. Mildred born about 1927 in Gering, Nebraska
    1940 United States Federal Census - Montana State Orphans Home - Mildred Holcomb age 13

  3. Herrietta born 1929 and died of diabetes when she was about 15.


Adrian Leland "Lee" Holcomb
Birth:             September 23, 1899 in Nebraska
Marriage #1: Ella married Lee about 1929.
Residence:     1959 Leland lived in Deer Lodge, Montana.
                      After coming to Montana, he was employed by the Milwaukee and Norther Pacific Railroad for several years.
Marriage #2: Garnet of Deer Lodge
Death:           Monday, September 14, 1959 in Deer Lodge, Montana
                      Montana Standard (Butte) September 15, 1959 - Leland Holcomb Obiturary

Lee and Ella's Children

1. Leland Adrian Holcomb

2. Donna Jean


Dorothy Alvina Lesser 1925 - 2007

Dorothy Alvina Lesser was born on April 20, 1925 in Gering, Nebraska. 
After Dorothy's mother Ella in 1935, Lee Holcomb was unable to care for Dorothy and her two sisters. 
They were placed in the Montana Children's Center, the state orphan's home in Twin Bridges Montana.
Dorothy Lesser and Harold Donegan Funk were married on May 15, 1942 in Sheridan Montana.

Dorothy Elvina Lesser Funk

July 4 1942

Hawaii 1993

with first Great Grandson

Christopher Funk (1988)


Gering was founded in 1887 at the base of a bluff which is now a National Park called Scotts Bluff National Monument. The city of Scottsbluff was founded across the North Platte River from the bluff in 1900. Separated only by the river, the two cities have since grown together and now form the 7th largest urban area in Nebraska.  It is the county seat of Scotts Bluff County



1930 United States Federal Census
about Dorothy Lesser

Name: Dorathy Lesser
Home in 1930: West Winters Creek, Scotts Bluff, Nebraska
Age: 4
Estimated birth year: abt 1926
Birthplace: Nebraska
Relation to Head of House: Daughter
Father's name: Leland
Mother's name: Ella
Race: White
Household Members:
Name Age
Leland Halcomb 30
Ella Halcomb 22
Dorathy Lesser 4
Mildred Lesser 3
Harrietta Lesser 1
Flora Schaffer  (mother of Leland) 61

1940 United States Federal Census - Montana State Orphans Home - Dorothy Holcomb age 14

Harold Donegan Funk
Birth:            November 15, 1912 (or 1913) at the Moltich Ranch north of Sheridan.
Parents:       Rob & Katie Funk in Sheridan Montana. 
Occupation: Worked as a rancher, welder for the railroad and brand inspector for the State of Montana
Marriage:     Dorothy Lesser on May 15, 1942 in Sheridan
Death:          Killed in a auto accident near Dillon on December 31, 1962

In 1941, at the age of 16, Dorothy moved from the orphans home and lived with the Tom and Nellie Wilson family on Indian Creek in Sheridan Montana.   She worked cooking and cleaning on the Wilson Indian Creek ranch and attended school in Sheridan.  Harold lived on the neighboring ranch and would make a point of finishing feeding cows about the time Dorothy would be walking home from school.  He would pick her up and give her a ride home on the tractor. 

Dorothy Lesser and Harold Donegan Funk were married on May 15, 1942 in Sheridan Montana.

They have three sons and one daughter.


Harold, Dorothy, Jim & John Funk - 1945                  Harold Funk

1. Harold James "Jim" Funk
John Joseph Funk
3. Michael Thomas Funk
4. Diana Lynn Funk

This picture was taken of Gramma Dorothy

at her 80th birthday party in July 2005.












To Be Continued......