The 1847 Molotschna voter's list also shows her as Widow Fast in Lichtfelde. Here is her line from the tabulation of the votes from Lichtfelde village:
Now here is the mystery - in 1874 when he would have been 86 years old, Gerhard Abraham wrote a letter to his son Jacob, my great-great-grandfather to bid farewell to Jacob as he prepared to leave for America. Here is the first page of the letter:
|Letter, Gerhard Abraham Fast to Jacob Fast, 14 February 1874. Copy held by Viola (Fast) Funk of Corn, Oklahoma. A Fast cousin in Oregon sent a copy to Minnie Fast who sent a copy to David D. Fast.|
I have only one clue - a clue that I discovered in the Alexanderwohl church book. Gerhard Abraham's son Gerhard was baptized at Alexanderwohl on 31 May 1843.
If you read the columns from left to right, the first one is the baptismal candidate's name - Gerhard Fast. Then the year of baptism - 1843. Then the day - 31st - the month of May is omitted here, but it is in the page heading. Then the candidate's father - Gerhard Fast - is listed. Finally, his home village of Lichtfelde is given. Then below that a line of explanatory comments. First, Atest which refers to a letter of good standing given to transfer to another church, which means that Gerhard the son must have transferred to another congregation at some point. Then under the father's name are two comments, gestorben and gekommen, which means "he died" and "he came." Gestorben is even crossed out.
Could this mean that Gerhard Abraham was thought dead for some time in the 1840s but then he returned? This is the only explanation that I can think of that accounts for all the information. Did he leave on a trip to St. Petersburg or back to West Prussia and not return when expected? Was he kidnapped and held against his will for some time? It seems that such an event would have been noted in the Odessa archival files of the colony administration, but I haven't found anything yet. Until I find more information this will remain a tantalizing mystery.