16 March 2018

Map Refresh: Galizien Religions and Parishes

This map refresh focuses on Galizien, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that is located in east central Europe straddling modern-day southeastern Poland and western Ukraine.  It was a neighbor to Bukovina and also the Russian areas of Volhynia and the northwestern tip of Bessarabia.

Much appreciation goes to Dave Gorz and John Kaminski of the Galizien German Descendants (GGD) for their continued work on this area and for allowing their work to be included in this project. Dave's work on village listings and parishes has been going on for years, with added focus in the last 14 months.  John's work this time around included doing comparisons of data from multiple sources (see the list below), checking spelling and diacritics, and doing some map overlays of the parish and district boundary maps onto Google Earth and the Austrian military maps from on Mapire to visualize and verify what districts were in what parish.

The religion and parish fields were updated and now follow the map standard of noting the religion next to the parish. See the Data page for descriptions of each of the fields.  Also larger towns and cities that were not originally German settlements but did have small percentage of Germans living in them were called out.  The population for the year 1900 is included in the notes for these locations. 

Sources used for this update include the following: 
  • Die deutschen Siedlungen in Galizien (Map of the German Settlements in Galicia), Rudolf Unterschütz, circa 1939.
  • Gemeindelexikon der im Reichsrate vertretenen Königreiche und Länder (Gazetteer of the Crown Lands and Territories Represented in the Imperial Council), XII, Galizien (Galicia). Vienna, 1907.
  • Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia.  Author Brian J. Lenius.  3rd edition, 3rd printing, June 2010.  WorldCat
  • Gesher Galicia town locator
  • Google Earth
  • Historical Maps of the Habsburg Empire, Austrian Third Military Survey (1869-1887). Mapire.
  • Übersicht über deutsche Siedlungen (Kolonien) und Einsiedlungen in ukrainische und polnische Dörfer : sowie Orte mit einer nicht bedeutenden deutschen Minderheit in Galizien von 1782 bis 1939 bzw. 1945 (Overview of German settlements/colonies and settlements in Ukrainian and Polish villages: as well as places with a non-significant German minority in Galicia from 1782 to 1939 and 1945). Author Ernst Hexel. 1977. WorldCat

Maps updated:


05 March 2018

Weather Report for Obermonjou: -9° C

The Weather Channel

Some sources day that on this day, 5 March 1767, the Volga Mother colony of Obermonjou was founded.

The location of Obermanshu on
Karte der deutschen Siedlungen im Wolgagebiet
(Map of the German Settlements in the Volga Region, 
AHSGR map #6)
I'm not suggesting it was impossible that this colony was founded in winter in Russia in 1767. Germans are a hardy lot.  But perhaps it was more likely, as other sources indicate, that it was founded along with five other Mother colonies in the area on 7 June 1767.

Either way, the June colonies, like Obermonjou, were founded with the assistance of recruiter Baron Caneau de Beauregard.  In the first year, there were 82 households with 299 residents, most of whom were from areas in Hessen.

Obermonjou, or Obermanshu, as Stumpp spelled it on his Map of the German Settlements in the Volga Region (AHSGR map #6), was a Roman Catholic colony, but later there were both Catholic and Lutheran colonists, each belonging to their respective parishes in near-by Katharinenstadt. 

It was situated between Orlowskoje (founded 7 June 1767) and Katharinenstadt (founded 26 June 1766).  You can see from the map above, there were eventually lots of neighbors up and down the Volga.

Today, Obermonjou listed in the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's GeoNames database as an "abandoned populated place," with its ancestral name, Obermonzhu, still attached to it after 251 years.

GeoNames database notes "Obermonzhu" as a variant name to the abandoned colony.
Location of the defunct colony of Obermanshu (Obermonjou),
most recently known as Krivovskoye.

Learn More:


01 March 2018

German Settlements by Founding Year

Now that this project has crossed a big milestone in terms of number of colonies mapped and geographical area covered, it's time to take another look at the German settlements by founding year.  I created this map and posted it about it over a year ago.  It was updated last August, so it's time to revisit.

This has always been one of my favorite maps because it uses the data to tell the story through a visualization of the growth of colonies across the Russian Empire and parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  And the story didn't end with the Russian Revolution.  It slowed considerably, but it didn't end.

The map has been updated and sectioned into three groups.  The first two were voluntary settlement or re-settlement.  The third was forced re-settlement – deportation.
  1. Settlements during the time of Imperial Russia from Catherine the Great up to the Russian Revolution (1763-1917).  
  2. Settlements after the Russian Revolution until deportations began (1917 - approximately 1935).  
  3. Deportation location areas.  
Currently there is only one under the third category, an accidental find to be honest, but I'm gathering information about deportation locations.  I'd be happy to hear about any sources that will help me get these places on the map.

This is one of those maps that I find fun to zoom in and wander around in while clicking on pins.  Note that not all of the colonies have founding/settlement dates, so not all are on the map.  After adding another 1000+ colonies over the course of the year, still only 50% of them have settlement dates.

The lightest green pins were the earliest colonies in the empires with later colonies becoming progressively darker green.

The purple pins are those established after the Revolutions and roughly divided into before and right as collectivization began to be enforced.


28 February 2018

Two Years and 4037 Colonies Ago

Two years and 4037 colonies ago, the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations project began with a map of 103 colonies.  It's turned into the tool I wish I had decades ago when I started my German-Russian research. 

What does a German do when she (or he) doesn't have a tool she needs?  She builds it.

This is what the map looked like then:

The Germans from Russia Settlement Locations map from 11 February 2016. There were 103 villages.

In January of this year, the 4000th locate was quietly posted, and with this week's map refresh, there are 4037 colonies located.  How many more to go?  I've learned to stop guessing and just go with it until there's nowhere else to go. 

Now the map looks like this:

The Germans from Russia Settlement Locations map as of 28 February 2018. There are 4037 villages.

The two map refreshes this month added colonies in Central Asia and in the far eastern Siberian district of Amur. With the help of smaller-scale maps of both areas by the late Mennonite historian William Schroeder (author of the Mennonite Historical Atlas) and the online map of the Great Mennonite Trek by Walter Ratliff, there are just a few colonies left that are unable to be located in these areas. 

The Amur settlements were particularly difficult because they were all founded between 1927-28, and all were abandoned within a few years.  Because the Stumpp and Schroeder maps are more or less estimates of where the colonies were, instead of relying on measurements for the locations, they were georeferenced using map overlays.

Georeferencing is a method of overlapping old maps with new maps (often aerial or satellite images) using multiple known, still-existing locations as anchors.  The old map is then adjusted to fit over the new one, and the older map can be made transparent to show the newer map beneath and pinpoint places that no longer exist.  Many military maps an other old printed maps are available as overlays on Google Maps or OpenStreetMap and have been very useful in this project.

Hand drawn maps are very difficult to georeference because their scale rarely matches the online map, even with stretching and rotating.  To be as accurate as possible, multiple takes on the georeference were done on the Schroeder map, which had more modern reference points, to line up with Russian cities and borders with China to pinpoint these locations. Direct map overlays were done in Google Earth also, which enabled adjustments to match the terrain as well as cities. 

The example below shows the colony of Osernoye in Amur.  Note the rather large dot on the original map marking the location of the village.  The entire area is scoured for man-made clearings, old roads, the outline of farmsteads, any scars of the past that may mark where the colony was once located.  If none are found, the pin goes in the middle of the giant dot. 

Example of the colony of Osernoye in Amur.  Top: Schroeder map overlay on Google Earth. 
Bottom: Pin marking the defunct colony on the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations map. 

Yurgino (white pin) near the Amur river, bordering China.
Mukhino (circled in yellow) was the district of which Yurgino was a part.
Finally, there was one colony, Yurgino, that was not on a map, but it was referenced in multiple Mennonite colony sources with its district, Mukhino. This was the only colony in Amur that was found based on its historical name.  Amazingly, there is a coordinate reference to it in the Global Gazetteer that points to a place with a population of zero that is within a reasonable proximity to Mukhino.  It's almost like it didn't want to be forgotten.  And now it won't be. 

It pays off to check out every reference.

The following maps have been updated:
Siberian Colonies
Central Asian Colonies
Asiatic Russian Colonies
Germans from Russia Settlement Locations map (the big one)



21 February 2018

2018 Convention Season

It's "save the date" season for German/Russian/Eastern European genealogy conferences and conventions, and time to plan your summer vacations and genealogy road trips around them. 

If I had one wish, and I try to make one wish a day for good measure, I would wish all of these organizations and others like them would have some online presentations as a part of their conferences.  A few webinar sessions would open up the content to both audiences and speakers worldwide who are not otherwise able to attend.  There you go.  My wish for today. 

Here's a round up of the larger events in the order of appearance through the summer. 

Organization: Ukrainian History and Education Center
Event: Nashi Predky Online Workshop
Dates: March 17, 2018
Location: Online!
More Info: https://www.ukrhec.org/nashi-predky-online-workshop-2018
Areas of Focus: Ukrainian Ancestry and History, Greek Catholics in Poland 

Organization: Germans from Russia Heritage Society (GRHS)
Event: GRHS 48th Annual International Convention
Dates: July 18-22, 2018
Location: Pierre, South Dakota, USA

More Info:  http://grhs.org/aboutus/conventions/conventions.html
Areas of Focus: Black Sea Germans from Russia
Event: SGGEE 20th Anniversary Convention Hands-On Genealogy
Dates: July 27-29, 2018
Areas of Focus: German Ancestors from Poland and Volhynia

Organization: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR)
Event: AHSGR 49th Annual Convention
Dates: July 30 - August 2, 2018
Location: Hays, Kansas, USA

More Info: http://www.ahsgr.org
Areas of Focus: Volga Germans from Russia

Organization: Foundation for East European Family History Studies (FEEFHS)
Event: 25th Anniversary 2018 Eastern European Family History Conference
Dates: August 6-10, 2018
Areas of Focus: German, Baltic States, Polish, Kingdom of Hungary, Russian, Germans from Russia, Jewish Research.