23 August 2018

Personal Migration and Resettlement


My ride to Arizona next month.
Image courtesy of the Sheboygan County Historical Research Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

The time has come for me to pack the maps, load the wagon, hitch up the camels and head out to my new colony in a place called Arizona.

True to my German from Russia migratory roots, this will be my 12th move. I'm trading in my palmettos for saguaros and moving back to the U.S. desert southwest after 18½ years on the east coast (Northern Virginia & South Carolina).  I'm looking forward to open space, ample access to green chile and drying out.

Although I've been keeping the social media stream (Twitter and Facebook – please follow one or both if you're into this kind of thing) for this project flowing, I haven't been posting much new over the summer, either on the maps or in story form on the blog. Been busy and otherwise distracted with planning a cross-country move.  

Expect things to get back to normal as we head into the fall, after migration and resettlement is complete. 


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22 July 2018

It All Started 255 Years Ago

To paraphrase Søren Kierkegaard, "We live forward but understand backward."


Today, 22 July 2018, is the 255th anniversary of the issuance of Catherine the Great's Manifesto of 1763 inviting foreigners to colonize her Russian Empire.  Whether or not you, as descendants of the Germans who helped settle Russia, believe it was a remarkable offer or a bum deal, you cannot deny the impact this one document had on the continuance of your family, the role your ancestors played in history, and how their decisions then brought you to now. 

A year ago (original post), I wrote about and posted the text of the manifesto. I offer it again today so that we may all just take a moment out of our "forward" to understand our "backward."



By the Grace of God!

We, Catherine the second, Empress and Autocrat of all the Russians at Moscow, Kiev, Vladimir, Novgorod, Czarina of Kasan, Czarina of Astrachan, Czarina of Siberia, Lady of Pleskow and Grand Duchess of Smolensko, Duchess of Esthonia and Livland, Carelia, Twer, Yugoria, Permia, Viatka and Bulgaria and others; Lady and Grand Duchess of Novgorod in the Netherland of Chernigov, Resan, Rostov, Yaroslav, Beloosena, Udoria, Obdoria, Condinia, and Ruler of the entire North region and Lady of the Yurish, of the Carhlinian and Grusinian czars and the Cabardinian land, of the Cherkessian and Gorisian princes and the lady of the manor and sovereign of many others. As We are sufficiently aware of the vast extent of the lands within Our Empire, We perceive, among other things, that a considerable number of regions are still uncultivated which could easily and advantageously be made available for productive use of population and settlement. Most of the lands hold hidden in their depth an inexhaustible wealth of all kinds of precious ores and metals, and because they are well-provided with forests, rivers and lakes, and located close to the sea for purpose of trade, they are also most convenient for the development and growth of many kinds of manufacturing, plants, and various installations. This induced Us to issue the manifesto which was published last Dec. 4, 1762, for the benefit of all Our loyal subjects. However, inasmuch as We made only a summary announcement of Our pleasure to the foreigners who would like to settle in Our Empire, we now issue for a better understanding of Our intention the following decree which We hereby solemnly establish and order to be carried out to the Full.

  1. We permit all foreigners to come into Our Empire, in order to settle in all the gouvernements, just as each one may desire.
  2. After arrival, such foreigners can report for this purpose not only to the Guardianship Chancellery established for foreigners in Our residence, but also, if more convenient, to the governor or commanding officer in one of the border-towns of the Empire.
  3. Since those foreigners who would like to settle in Russia will also include some who do not have sufficient means to pay the required travel costs, they can report to our ministers in foreign courts, who will not only transport them to Russia at Our expense, but also provide them with travel money.
  4. As soon as these foreigners arrive in Our residence and report at the Guardianship Chancellery or in a border-town, they shall be required to state their true decision, whether their real desire is to be enrolled in the guild of merchants or artisans, and become citizens, and in what city; or if they wish to settle on free, productive land in colonies and rural areas, to take up agriculture or some other useful occupation. Without delay, these people will be assigned to their destination, according to their own wishes and desires. From the following register* it can be seen in which regions of Our Empire free and suitable lands are still available. However, besides those listed, there are many more regions and all kinds of land where We will likewise permit people to settle, just as each one chooses for his best advantage.  * The register lists the areas where the immigrants can be settled.
  5. Upon arrival in Our Empire, each foreigner who intends to become a settler and has reported to the Guardianship Chancellery or in other border-towns of Our Empire and, as already prescribed in 4, has declared his decision, must take the oath of allegiance in accordance with his religious rite.
  6. In order that the foreigners who desire to settle in Our Empire may realize the extent of Our benevolence to their benefit and advantage, this is Our will – :
    1. We grant to all foreigners coming into Our Empire the free and unrestricted practice of their religion according to the precepts and usage of their Church. To those, however, who intend to settle not in cities but in colonies and villages on uninhabited lands we grant the freedom to build churches and belltowers, and to maintain the necessary number of priests and church servants, but not the construction of monasteries. On the other hand, everyone is hereby warned not to persuade or induce any of the Christian co-religionists living in Russia to accept or even assent to his faith or join his religious community, under pain of incurring the severest punishment of Our laws. This prohibition does not apply to the various nationalities on the borders of Our Empire who are attached to the Mahometan faith. We permit and allow everyone to win them over and make them subject to the Christian religion in a decent way.
    2. None of the foreigners who have come to settle in Russia shall be required to pay the slightest taxes to Our treasury, nor be forced to render regular or extraordinary services, nor to billet troops. Indeed, everybody shall be exempt from all taxes and tribute in the following manner: those who have been settled as colonists with their families in hitherto uninhabited regions will enjoy 30 years of exemption; those who have established themselves, at their own expense, in cities as merchants and tradesmen in Our Residence St. Petersburg or in the neighboring cities of Livland, Esthonia, Ingermanland, Carelia and Finland, as well as in the Residential city of Moscow, shall enjoy 5 years of tax-exemption. Moreover, each one who comes to Russia, not just for a short while but to establish permanent domicile, shall be granted free living quarters for half a year.
    3. All foreigners who settle in Russia either to engage in agriculture and some trade, or to undertake to build factories and plants will be offered a helping hand and the necessary loans required for the construction of factories useful for the future, especially of such as have not yet been built in Russia.
    4. For the building of dwellings, the purchase of livestock needed for the farmstead, the necessary equipment, materials, and tools for agriculture and industry, each settler will receive the necessary money from Our treasury in the form of an advance loan without any interest. The capital sum has to be repaid only after ten years, in equal annual installments in the following three years.
    5. We leave to the discretion of the established colonies and village the internal constitution and jurisdiction, in such a way that the persons placed in authority by Us will not interfere with the internal affairs and institutions. In other respects the colonists will be liable to Our civil laws. However, in the event that the people would wish to have a special guardian or even an officer with a detachment of disciplined soldiers for the sake of security and defense, this wish would also be granted.
    6. To every foreigner who wants to settle in Russia We grant complete duty-free import of his property, no matter what it is, provided, however, that such property is for personal use and need, and not intended for sale. However, any family that also brings in unneeded goods for sale will be granted free import on goods valued up to 300 rubles, provided that the family remains in Russia for at least 10 years. Failing which, it will be required, upon its departure, to pay the duty both on the incoming and outgoing goods.
    7. The foreigners who have settled in Russia shall not be drafted against their will into the military or the civil service during their entire stay here. Only after the lapse of the years of tax-exemption can they be required to provide labor service for the country. Whoever wishes to enter military service will receive, besides his regular pay, a gratuity of 30 rubles at the time he enrolls in the regiment.
    8. As soon as the foreigners have reported to the Guardianship Chancellery or to our border towns and declared their decision to travel to the interior of the Empire and establish domicile there, they will forthwith receive food rations and free transportation to their destination.
    9. Those among the foreigners in Russia who establish factories, plants, or firms, and produce goods never before manufactured in Russia, will be permitted to sell and export freely for ten years, without paying export duty or excise tax.
    10. Foreign capitalists who build factories, plants, and concerns in Russia at their own expense are permitted to purchase serfs and peasants needed for the operation of the factories.
    11. We also permit all foreigners who have settled in colonies or villages to establish market days and annual market fairs as they see fit, without having to pay any dues or taxes to Our treasury.
  7. All the afore-mentioned privileges shall be enjoyed not only by those who  have come into our country to settle there, but also their children and descendants, even though these are born in Russia, with the provision that their years of exemption will be reckoned from the day their forebears arrived in Russia.
  8. After the lapse of the stipulated years of exemption, all the foreigners who have settled in Russia are required to pay the ordinary moderate contributions and, like our other subjects, provide labor-service for their country. Finally, in the event that any foreigner who has settled in Our Empire and has become subject to Our authority should desire to leave the country, We shall grant him the liberty to do so, provided, however, that he is obligated to remit to Our treasury a portion of the assets he has gained in this country; that is, those who have been here from one to five years will pay one-fifth, while those who have been here for five or more years will pay one-tenth. Thereafter each one will be permitted to depart unhindered anywhere he pleases to go.
  9. If any foreigner desiring to settle in Russia wishes for certain reasons to secure other privileges or conditions besides those already stated, he can apply in writing or in person to our Guardianship Chancellery, which will report the petition to Us. After examining the circumstances, We shall not hesitate to resolve the matter in such a way that the petitioner's confidence in Our love of justice will not be disappointed.

Given at the Court of Peter, July 22, 1763 in the Second Year of Our Reign.

The original was signed by Her Imperial Supreme Majesty's own hand in
the following manner:

Printed by the Senate, July 25,1763

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15 July 2018

15 July 1804: Lindenau, Molotschna Founded

Location of Lindenau on Karl Stumpp's "Map of German Settlements
 in the Zaporozhye Region," AHSGR map #21.
When Tsar Alexander II issued his manifesto inviting foreigners to settle in the Black Sea area of Russia, in late February 1804, Mennonites were among the first groups to take him up on the offer.  Skilled farmers settled the Chortitza and Molotschna colonies.

On this day, 15 July 1804, just five months after South Russia was opened for settlement, the Molotschna colony of Lindenau was founded about 13 kilometers southwest of Halbstadt. The 11 founding families of this Mother colony were from West Prussia. The primary occupation in the colony was agriculture, but by just before the Russian Revolution, about half the population were craftsmen.



Plat map of Lindenau from 1941. See the text below.  Source: http://chort.square7.ch/FB/D0680p.html

Text on the plat map:
"This plan was drawn by H.J. Neudorf according to a sketch made by P. Kroeker of Vancouver, B.C.  Lindenau was one of the first villages that was established in 1804 on the left bank of the Molotschnaja River. The residents of this village prospered. They had their own church, their own schools, had a Four Mill, a store and other businesses. The first World War, the Revolution of 1917, the Typhoid epidemic and famine brought severe complications and adverse conditions to the Mennonites. The villagers lost their religious, educational, and economic freedom that they had previously enjoyed. Because of these circumstances some decided to leave Russia and emigrated to Canada in the 1920's. The remaining villagers were evacuated in 1943 and resettled in Germany. Thereafter Lindenau ceased to exist as a mennonite settlement."

According to GAMEO (Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online): "During and after the Revolution the village suffered severely. The collectivization was accomplished in 1929. Many of the farmers were sent to Siberia as kulaks. This continued till the outbreak of World War II. In 1941, when the Germans approached, most of the male population was sent to Siberia. The remaining families continued farming in groups of four to five until they were evacuated westward when the Germans retreated in 1943. Some of them reached Canada, but most of them were returned to Russia."




Photo of the school in Lindenau. Source: http://chort.square7.ch/FB/D0680p.html

Photo of the ruins of the school in Lindenau. Source: http://chort.square7.ch/FB/D0680p.html

Lindenau still exists today and is known as Lyubymivka, Zaporiz’ka, Ukraine.

Learn More:


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30 June 2018

Map Refresh: June 2018

The data on all of the maps have been updated. Some of the data is new, some updated and all of the maps have had some structural changes to support some new features coming soon. 

Check out the Maps page for all of the links and descriptions of the maps

Volhynia and Chortitza: Updates and 10 new colonies added to Volhynia and five to Choritiza based on findings in the German Captured Documents collection. In Volhynia, the Korosten area as been done as best as I can at the moment; the Shitomar area is up next.  I'm pleased to have added so many founding years for these colonies, a rarity in Volhynia.

Siberia: 15 colonies added, some are deportation sites and some are Russian cities with significant German populations. 

Ural: 9 colonies south of Orenburg have been added not because anyone asked for them but because I went down a rabbit hole of old satellite imagery that proved very fruitful. It was a fun and very thoughtful distraction. The Ural group has also been added to the Asiatic Russian Colonies on the main map. The grouping in this case is geographical and not by immigrant experience as it is elsewhere in the map. I'm limited to 10 layers (major groups in the legend), so I'm doing my best to make things fit as logically as possible and still have them all on the same map. This frees up a layer for another area/map later this year. 

Early Black Sea: The four colonies have been moved into the Kherson and Yekaterinoslav groups instead of being a a group by themselves. It's still made very clear that these were very early colonies in the Black Sea area, established long before Tsar Alexander I opened up the Black Sea for settlement in 1804.

Astrakhan: For some reason, I forgot to create this map. So that's fixed.

Thanks to John Heisel, Mantvydas Juozapavičius, Steve Schreiber, Terry Wainright and Sergei Sauh for their contributions included in this update. Every little bit helps is greatly appreciated.

Enjoy!


Enlarged and marked up section from Karl Stumpp's Map of the German settlement in the area Alt-Samara,
 Ufa-Davlekanovo, Orenburg, Neu-Samara and Aktyubinsk
. Older satellite imagery was helpful finding some of
these along with their distance and orientation from known, still existing Russian cities. 
Read more about this in the post Pentimento


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10 June 2018

The Founding of the Kutschurgan Colonies


German colonists began arriving in the Kutschurgan valley in the Black Sea area on 10 June of 1808 to the Kutschurgan valley in the Black Sea area. 

On the occasion of the Kutschurgan colonies 100th anniversary, an Russian newspaper in the City of Odessa called the Odessaer Zeitung published a series of articles about each of six Mother colonies: Baden, Elsaß, Kandel, Mannheim, Selz and Straßburg. Written by Konrad Keller, they were reprinted in the German-language American newspaper Der Staats Anzeiger with a forward by by the author.

On the occasion of the 210th anniversary of the founding of the Kutschurgan colonies, they are reprinted again here. The original translated text is courtesy of the Germans from Russia Historical Society and can be found here. It has been edited here for clarity, consistency and style.



* * *

To the Series of Individual Articles on the Six Original Kutschurgan Colonies


Following the celebration of the 100-year anniversary of these colonies, about which we have reported previously, the reader may find it not uninteresting to read about the establishment and settlement history of the six colonies of Selz, Kandel, Baden, Straßburg, Mannheim and Elsaß. Since the topic is rather extensive, we find it necessary to present the article as a series, and we hope thereby to present enjoyment to the readers. So now let us give the word to the author.

Reprinted from the Odessaer Zeitung, September 3, 1908, in Der Staats-Anzeiger.

Konrad Keller’s Introduction

On June 10th, the Kutschurgan colonies celebrated the 100th anniversary of their settlement in South Russia. It is my opinion that these celebrating colonies deserve to become better known to the readers of this newspaper. In that vein, I am going to provide the following brief, historical sketch of these colonies.

Just as the history and geography of South Russia was already known in ancient times, the same goes for the area along the Dnyester and its tributary, the Kutschurgan. Herodot, the father of history, wrote that the Naurians, a Scythian tribe, lived in that region, but which, a generation prior to the campaign by the Persian king Darius, had already left their land “for their own land had been beset by a large number of snakes, and more had arrived from the desert regions to the North, so that, finally, in great fear, they left their homeland and now live among the Budines.” In the area there was a large city called Ophiusa, that is, the one rich with snakes. The Romans, too, were familiar with the region, as demonstrated by a recent discovery of stone tablet in the Russian village of Korotnoye containing writings in Greek and Latin alphabets. The Kutschurgan plays a role even in the life of the brave Swedish King Karl the 12th [Charles XII]. His biographer writes: "In 1709, as Karl the 12th was beaten decisively near Poltova by Peter the Great, he and the left-overs of his troupes fled through South Russia toward Bender, under the protection of the Turkish Sultan, it so happened that in the Kutschurgan night befell him, and he and his loyal generals were forced to stay there overnight. At the time, the area was inhabited by the Nogaians, whose seraski (leader) lived near the upper Tiligul near today’s city of Ananayev."

And now a few words about the Kutschurgan River, the lifeblood of the German colonies there. The Kutschurgan River begins near the Russian village of Koshiri at the border of the Ananayev County. It flows southward for roughly 100 verst [ca. 65 miles]. The Kutschurgan passes through open plains in a rather deep valley and passes many smaller valleys on both sides, most of them growing small trees and shrubs. The Kutschurgan Valley possesses a layer of good and very fertile black soil. Below the village of Michailovka, the valley broadens and forms several marshy and muddy ponds. In the spring, following winter with much snow, the entire valley is filled with snow melt and often causes flooding. The Kutschurgan ends at the so-called liman of the same name. That liman has a width of 11.5 verst [nearly 8 miles]. It is connected with another tributary, the Turuntchuk, via two river arms. It should be added that the Kutschurgan Liman has not been researched sufficiently. The question, for example, “what fills the liman if, for example, there are two years without rain or snow?” has not been answered by scientists.

And now to the matter at hand [the separate history of the six colonies].

Reprinted from the Odessaer Zeitung, September 17, 1908, in Der Staats-Anzeiger.


The Colony of Baden

Kolonie Baden. Map by Alexander Ivanovich Mende (Mendt), 1853, courtesy of http://boxpis.ru/svg/

The Colony of Baden was established in 1808, but the process of building the houses was not completed until 1809. The Colony was located on the Kutschurgan Liman [estuary] with a portion of the village being located on a side valley, which itself ended up at that very liman. The Colony of Baden is located 60 verst from Odessa [1 verst = 0.67 mile; 60 verst = ca. 40 miles], the main city [district center] of the region. The soil is primarily sandy, containing nitric acid. However, with favorable climate conditions, most grains grow well. There are no stone quarries in the area.

In 1848, the community lands totaled 3,561 dessiatines [1 dessiatine = ca. 2.7 acres; 3,561 dessiatines = just over 9,600 acres], which was divided in the following usage: 
  • 1,356 dessiatines was used for cultivation
  • 1,020 dessiatines was meadow land, 
  • 1,075 dessiatines was used for grazing
  • 110 dessiatines was used for gardens and plantations 
 In 1842, a forest was planted, but by 1848 there were only 120 trees.

The name of “Baden” was given to this settlement because many of the settlers came from the Grand Duchy of Baden.

There were 60 Catholic families who originally settled in Baden. Of these, 40 families were from the Grand Duchy of Baden, 18 families from Elsaß and one family from Austria. The document does not say where the remaining families came from. In all, there were 237 souls of both genders.

With the exception of two families, the 60 families came to Russia as part of three traveling parties, which were separately led by Michael Hoffart, Josef Tschau and Friedrich Lehle.

The land provided to the colonists was assigned by Rosenkampf and the Liebenthaler Supervisor (word used was “Oberschulzen,” a kind of grand mayor), Franz Brittner, and was purchased by the Crown from landowner Sadow or Sador. On the land there, were six small semlyankas (earthen huts), all of which were in a poor state of repair. The financial support to the settlers from the Crown amounted to 13,899 rubles, 67 kopeks silver. The total capital brought by the settlers to Russia from Germany was estimated to be 5,549 rubles.

Baden also had misfortune during the early years. In 1812, there was a plague, but only one person died. Between1824 and 1830, crops were devastated by grasshoppers every year. In 1833 and 1834, the crop failure was so complete that the colonists had to receive assistance from the Crown. Yet, the assistance of our dear God did not remain missing. From the years 1850 to 1870, there were many plentiful harvests, which helped put the settlers on their feet again and gradually brought them solid prosperity.

At the present time, there are 242 households with 1,814 souls of both genders. There is a parish church, a pastorate, its own Volost Office and two schools with four teachers and 213 students. 

Former church at Baden, largely destroyed by fire in 2000. Photo by Michael M. Miller.
GRHC 2001 Journey to the Homeland Tour.  Source: NDSU Repository.

Currently, Baden owns 3,724 3/4 dessiatines of community land. Twenty individuals own a variety of portions of 1,338 dessiatines of purchased land. The community lands are divided as follows: 
  • 115 dessiatines consist of the yards on which houses are built
  • 6 dessiatines are used for livestock business 
  • 35 dessiatines consist of vegetable gardens 
  • 15 dessiatines  are used for fruit tree gardens 
  • 9 dessiatines consist of grape vineyards
  • 3 dessiatines are meadows
  • 3 dessiatines are under water
  • 2 dessiatines are acreage covered with nitric acid
  • 6 dessiatines are used for clay pits
  • 2 dessiatines are used for a garbage pit
  • 54 1/4 dessiatines are roads 
  • 2,600 1/2 dessiatines are under cultivation
  • 861 dessiatines are used as grazing land
  • 340 dessiatines is orphan land and is rented out for 7 rubles per dessiatines
 Grazing land is rented from an owner in Tiraspol for three rubles per head of livestock. For 70 rubles annually, fishing in the Kutschurgan liman is guaranteed [auctioned to highest bidder for a period of years with proceeds going to the community]. In Baden, one can find 21 workshops doing a variety of work. There is a co-op, 10 second-hand stores, and a pub, for which the community has to pay 770 rubles rent.

The community pays the following taxes: 364 rubles, 20 kopeks to the Crown; Auskaufsumme [??] 2,583 rubles, 20 kopeks; basic interest charges amount to 1,818 rubles, 9 kopeks, and the community owes 3,831 rubles, 24 kopeks.

Reprinted from the Odessaer Zeitung, September 24, 1808 in Der Staats-Anzeiger.


The Colony of Elsaß

Kolonie Elsaß. Map by Alexander Ivanovich Mende (Mendt), 1853, courtesy of http://boxpis.ru/svg/

The colony of Elsaß was established in 1808, and in 1809 the settlers began building their houses and the entire settlement. [This is the wording in the document.]

The colony is located in a valley through the steppes, that of the Baraboi River, which has its origin nine verst [ca. six miles] in a northerly direction from the settlement. The river runs through the village and thus divides it in half. The colony is located 50 verst [ca. 33 miles] from the district center, the city of Odessa. The soil consists mostly of black dirt, with a content of nitric acid and, with favorable weather, is quite fertile. There are many stone queries located 1/2 verst [ca. .3 mile] from the colony, and the stones are of good quality. In 1848, the community land consisted of 3561 dessiatines (now there is more land), and it was divided in the following manner: 
  • 1,725 dessiatines was cropland 
  • 800 dessiatines were meadows 
  • 894 dessiatines was used for grazing land 
  • 110 dessiatines were field gardens and home gardens
  • 110 trees 
The name “Elsaß” was given to the colony because most of the residents came from the province of Elsaß. The colony of Elsaß was established by 60 families numbering 138 males and 135 females. Of these families, 36 families, 83 males and 88 females, came from Elsaß. From the Duchy of Baden (District of Rastatt and Bruchsal) came 21 families with 49 males and 42 females. From Prussia/Poland came two families with five males and four females. From Austria there was one family of two individuals. It is not known who led these settlers to Elsaß. The land for the colony was made available through Colonial Inspector von Rosenkampf and the through Mayor Brittner and was owned previously by the landowner Tscherbanka, purchased from him by the Crown. The area where the colony now stands contained two houses in a bad state of repair, covered by reeds. Until August, 1911, the colonists received a daily allowance of 3 kopeks silver from the Crown. Additionally, each family received 101 rubles, 42 6/7 kopeks toward purchase of equipment and supplies for their operation. Funds brought by the Colonists totaled 10,020 rubles silver. The events and misfortunes in Elsaß were similar to those in neighboring colonies. 

View of Elsaß from a pasture. Photo by Michael M. Miller.
GRHC Journey to the Homeland Tour 2010. Source: NDSU Repository

At the present time the colony has properties and 1,952 residents. There is a parish church, a pastor, and two schools with three teachers and 254 students.

The colony of Elsaß owns 3,667 dessiatines of community land, which is divided as follows: 
  • 66 1/2 dessiatines is used for property yards  
  • 390(?) dessiatines is used for livestock operations 
  • 36 dessiatines are used for vegetable gardens 
  • 2 1/2 dessiatines are orchards 
  • 15 dessiatines are vineyards 
  • 15 dessiatines are forest
  • 5 dessiatines are under water
  • 10 dessiatines comprise a rock quarry
  • 13 1/4 dessiatines are used for roads
  • 13 1/10 dessiatines are used for railroads
  • 2,361 dessiatines are used for cropland
  • 220 dessiatines are used for haying 
  • 530 dessiatines is used for livestock grazing 
  • 220 dessiatines is set aside as orphan land, which is rented out for a fee of 10 rubles per dessiatine 
Also, a significant amount of land is rented by the colonists from neighboring estates and landowners, for between 71/2 to 9 rubles per dessiatine.

For hay land, the rental price ranges from 10-16 rubles per dessiatine. The rock quarries are very productive. Up to 50,000 cut rocks are sold annually.

Taxes paid by the community to the Crown totals 358 rubles, 62 kopecks.

Reprinted from the Odessaer Zeitung, September 10, 1908 in Der Staats-Anzeiger.


The Colony of Kandel

Kolonie Kandel. Map by Alexander Ivanovich Mende (Mendt), 1853, courtesy of http://boxpis.ru/svg/

The colony of Kandel was first settled in 1808. It is situated in the Kutschurgan Valley, on the left shore of the Dnjester Liman, located 62 verst [just over 40 miles] from the main district city of Odessa. Kandel is part of the Volost of Selz, which is located only one verst [less than half a mile] from Kandel. The soil near this village is sandy, but a short distance to the east the soil is black and, under good management and favorable weather conditions, it is very fertile. The village was laid out under the supervision of Duke Richelieu, who gave it the name Kandel. 

In 1848, the community land totaled 5,965 dessiatines [just over 16,100 acres], and this land was divided as follows: 
  • 1,745 dessiatines under cultivation
  • 1,345 dessiatines were meadows
  • 2,532 dessiatines used for livestock grazing
  • 215 dessiatines used plantations
  • 126 dessiatines were used for vegetable gardens and orchards

There were 98 Catholic families who founded Kandel. They came from provinces in France and Germany. From France, there were 77 families totaling 306 souls. Of these, there were 20 families with 83 souls from the province of Elsaß (district of Selz); from Kandel, located in the Rheinpfalz, there were six families with 29 souls; from Hagenau, there were 10 families with 38 souls; from Germersheim, there were four families totaling 14 souls; from Bergzapern, there were five families totaling 18 souls; from Billenken (??), there were two families with seven souls; from Buschweiler, there were five families with 11 souls; from Lauderburg, there were 19 families with 72 souls; from Lohr, there was one family with three souls; from Lamaso, there were two families with eight souls; from Pfalz (District of Landstuhl), there were two families with eight souls; from the city of Mannheim, there was one family with four souls. All individuals named thus far came from provinces located within France. In addition to these, there were three families with 11 souls from Austria. From the Würzburg Province [Germany], there were two families with six souls. From Bohemia (Prag), there was one family with five souls. From Bavaria, there was one family with six souls. From Prussia (Berlin), there was one family with five souls, and from the Grand Duchy of Baden (District of Rastadt) there were 16 families with 61 souls. 

Kandel German cemetery – just stones left. Photo by Suzanne Haman Wanner.
GRHC 2008 Journey to the Homeland Tour.  Source: NDSU Repository.
The immigrants came to the village in 1808 in various groups. The first party, consisting of eight families, came under the direction of Michael Scherr. The second party consisting of 13 families was led by Jakob Steinhäuser. The leader of the third party, totaling nine families, was Georg Kraft. The fourth party with 10 families was led by Sebastian Zacher. The fifth party, totaling 56 families, was led by Michael Wolf. The leader of the sixth party, totaling eight families, was Michael Kuhn. Thus, 98 families totaling 389 individuals of both genders settled Kandel originally. The area where Kandel is now situated had not been inhabited prior to the formation of the Kandel settlement. 

Assistance and loan money provided to the colony by the Crown totaled 16,015 rubles, 33 kopeks. Funds brought by the colonists from their homeland totaled 10,558 rubles silver. The first church in Kandel was built in 1828. The present church was built in 1892.

At the present time, Kandel has 269 properties with 2,522 residents. There is a parish church, one pastor, and there are two schools with four teachers and 374 children.

According to the most current survey, the community land totals 6,216 ½ dessiatines [nearly 16,800 acres] and is divided up as follows: 
  • 205 1/2 dessiatines are used for lots and buildings
  • 20 1/4 dessiatines  are used for livestock operations
  • 33 dessiatines are used for vegetable gardens
  • 37 dessiatines are used for vineyards
  • 2 dessiatines are covered with reeds
  • 69 1/4 dessiatines are under water
  • 4 1/4 dessiatines are used as a stone quarry
  • 1 1/4 dessiatines as a clay pit
  • 1/2 dessiatine is used as a garbage area
  • 34 dessiatines are used up by roads
  • 4,400 dessiatines are under cultivation
  • 1,308 dessiatines are used for livestock grazing

There are 77 craftsmen doing a variety of work. Stores selling textiles and other goods total 17.
Fees paid by the community: payment to the Crown, 607 rubles, 84 kopeks; Auskaufsumme [??] ?? rubles, 88 kopeks; land tax, 2,838 rubles, 78 kopeks; community debt 2,793 rubles.

Reprinted from the Odessaer Zeitung, October 1, 1908, in Der Staats-Anzeiger.


The Colony of Mannheim

Kolonie Mannheim. Map by Alexander Ivanovich Mende (Mendt), 1853, courtesy of http://boxpis.ru/svg/

The colony of Mannheim was established in April 1809 on the steppes near the Baraboi River, located 40 verst [ca. 27 miles] northwest of the main city of Odessa.

In 1808, people from a variety of localities in Germany gathered for the purpose of immigrating to Russia. From the Duchy of Baden came 26 families. From Elsass, there were 16 families. From Pfalz, there were eight families. Together, this group totaled 50 families, with 105 males and 90 females; they had been divided into three groups for their trip to Russia.

The first group was led by Michael Schneider and Peter Bonhoffner. The second group was led by Ignatz Schatz and Simon Aman. The third group was led by Michael Hentsch and Joseph Vetter. The majority of the emigrants shipped out of Lauingen, traveling on the Danube River as far as Vienna. From Vienna the groups traveled on land through Austria, Mähren[Moravia] and Galica to the Russian boarder town of Radzivilov, where they remained for one month. While at Radzivilov, they were joined by 10 families from Prussian Poland, who had lived there for five years. From Radzivilov, these three groups traveled further to Odessa, and while two groups arrived in September, the third came there in December. By decree of the colonist authorities, the settlers spent the winter in the Liebenthaler [Liebental] colonies, not far from Odessa.

On April 6, 1809, the 60 families of colonists gathered once again, and under the direction of the Liebenthaler Mayor Franz Brittner traveled to the area where they would establish the colony of Mannheim. The land on which the Colony was established was purchased by the Crown from a Captain Petro. The colonists found six stone houses, two of which continued to be occupied by the colonists in 1848. The other four houses were in a very poor state of repair and were eventually torn down.

The Crown provided advance money for food and loans to the colonists, as had also been provided earlier to the Liebenthaler colonists. Funds brought by the colonists from their homeland totaled approximately 2,150 rubles silver.

Lilacs bloom along a wall by a garden gate in Mannheim.  Photo by Michael M. Miller.
GRHC 2007 Journey to the Homeland Tour. Source: NDSU Repository.
The colonists named their new settlement “M. Hilf” (translates to M. Help [possibly “Maria Hilf,” a common old custom of calling on Mary’s help - AH]), which is how it is worded in the document. However, in 1810, by decree of the authorities, the village was renamed Mannheim. The land given to the colony of Mannheim is mostly level, with only a few ponds made by the Baraboi. The soil is made up mostly of good, black dirt containing good levels of nitrogen. The water in most wells has a harsh and bitter aftertaste. In 1826, attempts began to establish vineyards found little success. In 1842, the authorities ordered the planting of a forest, but the document states that “the soil does not appear to be suitable for growing trees.” 

Over time, later arrivals came to Mannheim from Germany. In 1848, there were 140 families, with a total of 836 souls of both genders. The colony was also affected by tribulations and fateful events of various kinds. Nonetheless, our dear God always helped the colonists and they soon enjoyed growing prosperity. At the present time, Mannheim claims 208 properties and 1,777 souls of both genders. There is a parish church with a pastor. There are two schools with five teachers and 258 schoolchildren. 

 Mannheim owns 3,705 dessiatines [ca. 10,000 acres] of community land which is divided as follows:
  • 103 dessiatines are used for yards on which people live 
  • 15 dessiatines are used for vineyards
  • 8 dessiatines are forest
  • 2 dessiatines are under water
  • 27 dessiatines are used as a rock quarry
  • 1 dessiatine is used to mine clay
  • 13 dessiatines are used for garbage dumping 
  • 30 dessiatines are taken up by roads
  • 2,251 1/5 dessiatines are under cultivation
  • 169 dessiatines are used for haying
  • 1,061 dessiatines serve as livestock grazing land
Orphan land consists of 300 dessiatines, and the best of this land costs 9 rubles to rent while, lesser land rents for 5 rubles per dessiatine. Other rental land in the area of Kurz and Viehler rents for 10 rubles per dessiatine, and near Schedewer, only half that price, and the owners of the land furnish the required seeds.

In Mannheim one will find two windmills, one oil mill, one co-op, nine second-hand stores, four wine cellars and one pub. Every two weeks a market is held, but it is not well attended. 

 Community obligations include the following: payment to the Crown totals 362 rubles, 29 kopeks; land tax totals, 1,721 rubles, 8 kopeks; and the community owes 5,313 rubles, 25 kopeks.

Reprinted from the Odessaer Zeitung, September 3, 1908, in Der Staats-Anzeiger.

The Colony of Selz

Kolonie Selz. Map by Alexander Ivanovich Mende (Mendt), 1853, courtesy of http://boxpis.ru/svg/

The colony of Selz was established in 1808, and the building of the homes was completed in 1809.
The colony is located in the Kutschurgan Valley where the Kutschurgan River flows into the Djnester Liman [estuary].
The water in the estuary is sweet and is drinkable for people and livestock alike. Selz is located 60 verst [ca. 40 miles] from the district center city of Odessa.

The soil near the village is quite sandy, but as one moves away from the village, the soil turns black and contains nitrate. With favorable weather, the soil is very fertile. Stone quarries exist, but the stones are of low quality.

In 1848, the community owned 5,835 dessiatines [nearly 16,000 acres] and 2,126 faden [note: a unit of length (!)–ca..1.8 meters; it is not clear why it is cited here, or what exactly is 2,126 faden in length - AH] (at the present time, more land is available). The community land was divided up as follows:

  • 1,867 dessiatines for crops 
  • 2,108 dessiatines meadowland
  • 2,108 dessiatines for livestock grazing
  • 170 dessiatines were used for field gardens and home gardens 
  • 2,125 faden [see note above]
In 1842, trees were planted, but by 1848, there were only 631 trees. In 1848, people began planting fruit and shade trees totaling to about 3,444 trees.

The original colonists consisted of 100 families, 205 males and 196 females. The colonists came from various German provinces. From the province of Lower Elsaß, there were 95 families with 196 males and 186 females. From Prussia, there were two families with two males and two females. From Austria, there was one family with one man and one woman. The homeland of the two remaining families is unknown. The settlers arrived in two parties in 1808 under the leadership of Jakob Steinhäuser and Michael Scherr. 

The root cellar at the home of Louisa Riesling, Selz, 22 May 2018.  Photos by Michael M. Miller and Jeremy Kopp. GRHC Journey to the Homeland Tour 2018. Source: Flikr

The land for the settlers was obtained by Duke de Richelieu from three Russian families. There were three earthen structures located on the land which served as a camp for the Russian families. These Russians soon abandoned the huts, leaving the area with no one knowing where they went. The Russian government assisted the families by paying 171 rubles silver per two persons, totaling 20,936 rubles. The money brought to Russia by the German settlers totaled about 3,250 rubles. 

The Kutschurgan District office was located in Selz until 1871 and covered the colonies of Selz, Kandel, Baden, Straßburg, Mannheim and Elsaß. At the present time, Selz houses the Volost Office for only Selz and Kandel. The other colonies have established a separate Volost Office for themselves. Selz also has the oldest parish church in the Kutschurgan District, the parish having been founded in 1811 [perhaps 1841?]. Prior to that time, individuals were served from Josephsthal. The first house of prayer was erected in 1811. In 1821 the first church was built, but by 1830 the building was in need of repair and was remodeled on numerous occasions over the years. In 1901 the current, spacious, beautiful parish church was completed.

The Selz lands, according to the most recent measurements, total 6,270 1/2 dessiatines [nearly 17,000 acres]. The land is divided as follows: 
  • 65 dessiatines are used for yards around homes
  • 42 1/2 dessiatines are used for vegetable gardens 
  • 11 dessiatines are orchards
  • 61 1/2 dessiatines are vineyards 
  • 3 dessiatines are reedy tracts 
  • 141 dessiatines are under water due to the liman, 
  • 3 dessiatines are the clay pits
  • 5 dessiatines are used for the garbage pit
  • 61 3/4 dessiatines are taken up by roads
  • 4,695 3/4 dessiatines are used for crops
  • 1,174 1/2 dessiatines are used for pastures

In addition, Selz has 120 dessiatines belonging to the parish that is leased to local residents at 8 rubles per dessiatine.

Selz has 298 property lots and 2,637 individuals of both genders. Selz has a beautiful church, a pastor, and one school with four teachers and 246 students.

Every two weeks, Selz hosts a market, and every year a fair is hosted, from both of which the community receives 1,400 rubles. Selz has one doctor, a medical assistant, one pharmacy, a poor house with 40 beds and a post office.

Selz is actually a colony of craftsmen, so it would be useful to build a trade school there. Selz has 100 workshops and industrial enterprises. These include three steam mills, one lemonade factory, one bakery, 28 blacksmith shops, one plumbing establishment, six carpenter shops, four painting firms, two woodworking shops, two barrel makers, 49 cartwrights, one milliner and two tailors. Additionally, there is one co-op and 32 stores and warehouses.

The proceeds for wagons, plows, harrows, fords and other items manufactured by the craftsmen of Selz totals in excess of 10,000 rubles per year. 

Community taxes paid annually are as follows: 613 rubles 14 kopeks to the Crown; Auskaufsumme [??] 3,862 rubles, 20 kopeks; land tax (or land rent), 3,021 rubles, 17 kopeks; community debts, 4,327 rubles, 10 kopeks. 

Reprinted from the Odessaer Zeitung, September 17, 1908, in Der Staats-Anzeiger.


The Colony of Straßburg

Kolonie Straßburg. Map by Alexander Ivanovich Mende (Mendt), 1853, courtesy of http://boxpis.ru/svg/

The majority of the immigrants to settle in Straßburg arrived in June, 1808. They first came to the city of Odessa, and by decree by the authorities, were quartered in the Liebenthal [Liebental] colonies. In the fall of the same year, many of the families were allowed to the site where Straßburg is located today in order to begin building their living quarters. However, winter began in October that year, causing the poor people to experience significant suffering from frost and snow. Additionally, there was a great water shortage because a well had not yet been dug. The water for humans and livestock had to be hauled from two versts [ca. 1.4 miles] away, causing a great inconvenience. 

The Kutschurgan outdoor market near Strassburg. Photo by Michael M. Miller.
GRHC Journey to the Homeland Tour 2006.   Source: NDSU Repository.
The colony of Straßburg is situated in the Kutschurgan Valley, not far from the Dnjester Liman. The community land for the colony is about 15 verst [ca. 10 miles] long and 2 versts [1.4 miles] wide. The soil is mostly sandy and is not suitable for all types of grain, but with favorable weather conditions the area is nonetheless productive, especially for root crops. A stone quarry is located six verst [ca. 4 miles] from the colony. In 1842, a forest and plantation were established, but not adequately cared for, and was thus not successful. The report from 1848 reads, “There is no forest in Straßburg.”  According to the document, the name Straßburg was given to the new colony because two streets run through the village, but in my opinion, this is not a probable explanation. A more likely reason for the naming is in memory of the city of Straßburg in Elsaß, the major city in the province where so many of the emigrants came from. The original settlement consisted of 60 families totaling 146 males and 115 females. One family arrived as late as 1819, so 61 households were finally established. The first 46 families came from the District of Weißenburg, Elsaß . There were 14 families from the Duchy of Würtemberg, near Bruchsal. The last family to arrive came from the city of Weißenburg.

The colonists were given a monetary advance for building their homes and purchasing the first seeds. In addition to a wagons, plows and harrows, each family received 355 rubles. Money brought by the emigrants from Germany totaled 6,461 rubles silver.

The colony was afflicted by a variety of problems, including livestock disease, grasshoppers and famine. The colonists had to endure illnesses of every type. However, our dear God also sent plentiful harvests and soon there was strong prosperity. The first house of prayer in Straßburg was built in 1818. The present parish church was built in 1863. At the present time, Straßburg has 293 households with 2,178 inhabitants and forms its own Volost. Straßburg has a parish church, one pastor, plus two schools with seven teachers and 250 students.

The colony of Straßburg owns 3,669 dessiatines [about 9,900 acres] of community land and 3,004 dessiatines of purchased land. The community land is divided up as follows: 
  • 75 dessiatines are used for property yards
  • 20 dessiatines are used for livestock operations
  • 35 dessiatines are used for vegetable gardens 
  • 50 dessiatines are used for orchards
  • 35 dessiatines are used for a vineyard 
  • 3 dessiatines are used for a meadow
  • 2 dessiatines are used for a stone quarry
  • 5 dessiatines serve for a clay pit, 
  • 2 dessiatines are used for a garbage dump
  • 67 dessiatines are used by roads 
  • 2,442 dessiatines are under cultivation
  • 120 dessiatines are used for haying 
  • 799 dessiatines are used for pasture
The land for orphan children from ten families totals 104 dessiatines and is rented out at 5 rubles per dessiatine. The proceeds go into an orphan fund. Over 1,000 dessiatines are rented at 6 rubles per dessiatine from Russians who do not live here. Straßburg has two steam mills, 15 blacksmith shops, six wagon makers, one barrel maker and four shoe makers. Additionally, there are 10 second-hand stores, one iron business, three wine cellars and one tavern. 

Straßburg pays the following obligations: to the Crown, 358 rubles 75 kopeks; Auskaufsumme [??] ?? rubles, 75 kopeks; land tax, 1,596 rubles, 76 kopeks; community debts, 7,117 rubles, 50 kopeks.

Reprinted from the Odessaer Zeitung in Der Staats-Anzeiger [no publication date given]



Kutschurgan Mother colonies on Karl Stumpp's "Map of the German settlements in the region (oblast) Odessa (west part of the Gouv. Kherson," (AHSGR map #2).



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