[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] shepherds and wool

Nancy Gertner nancygertner at mac.com
Thu Jan 12 06:35:59 PST 2006

I think wool is important in all areas with a cold climate.  Or at  
least it was before the invention of synthetic materials that are  
commonly used for cold weather clothing in the 21st Century.

My ancestors that moved from West Prussia (Poland) to South Russia  
and lived near the Black Sea had sheep, according to old 1800s census  
records, and this was a very important part of their economy in the  
early years, before they had good access to ports that exported  
wheat.  Homestead papers of USA also show that homesteaders in  
Minnesota had sheep in numbers that frequently outnumbered cattle,  
horses and other livestock.  My grandmother had sheep, probably from  
1910-1950s, and we had sheep on our farm from the 1950s - 1980 or so,  
herded by my father and sisters.  Several farmers near my farm raise  
sheep in large flocks now, and their importance is probably more for  
the meat than the wool.  Many new immigrants to the USA are  
accustomed to having lamb as a regular staple of their diet.

When I traveled to the Netherlands and Poland last year to see where  
my Mennonite and Lutheran ancestors lived before immigrating to South  
Russia, I saw sheep in both countries.  There was a nice sized flock  
at the museum in Poland that's located at a former Mennonite Farm,  
and I found it interesting that the sheep were mostly black.  I don't  
know if that's historically accurate or not.

So my resume includes shepherd as one of my early careers, and it  
appears that I'm descended from a long line of shepherds.  I can't  
tell you how many  generations, but I'd say it spans over two centuries.

Minnesota Shepherd

On Jan 12, 2006, at 7:56 AM, Jerry Frank wrote:

> Interesting.  It must be an obsolete term.  Neither of my two Pol/Eng
> dictionaries show it, only offering owczarek = sheep dog.
> I've always thought of the cloth making industry in Poland as
> primarily linen from flax but it appears there was also wool from  
> sheep.
> Jerry Frank - Calgary, Alberta
> FranklySpeaking at shaw.ca

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