30 November 2016

Major Milestone: 2,509 Villages Found

We have hit another major milestone in our project of locating all German settlements in Russia: 2,509 villages located and plotted on Google maps.  With approximately 3,000 known ethnic German settlements in Russia, we seem to be closing in on that number.

This week we've refreshed every map and are releasing five new maps with villages found in Karl Stumpp's "Map of the German Settlements in the Nikolaev Oblast."  Two of the new maps contain scattered settlements across the Taurida and Kherson Governorates that clearly weren't a part of any other well known colony group.  We hesitated using those names for the groups, but Stumpp referred to "scattered settlements," and so we followed suit.  For now.  This is still a work in progress.   

Since we've hit such a big number of villages, if you're not using the search function already, you should be.  Look for the magnifying glass icon on the left side in the legend.  Every single word in the data we present is indexed, which should help you quickly find what you're looking for. 

Germans from Russia Settlement Locations Map (full map)  
Germans from Russia Settlements Map (all villages)   2,509 villages

Three Major Areas of German Settlement in Russia
Black Sea Region  1,178 villages
Volga Region   329 villages
Volhynia Region   1,002 villages

Colony Group Maps 
Beresan Colonies  103 villages
Bessarabian Colonies  189 villages
Caucasus Colonies   170 villages
Chortitza Colonies   125 villages
Crimean Colonies  115 villages
Dobrudscha Colonies   44 villages
Early Black Sea Colonies  4 villages
Glückstal Colonies    44 villages
Hoffnungstal Colonies    56 villages
Kherson Colonies    41 villages
Kronau Colonies   13 villages
Kutschurgan Colonies   60 villages
Liebental Colonies     40 villages
Molotschna Colonies    87 villages
Prischib Colonies     45 villages
Schwedengebiet Colonies     7 villages
Taurien Colonies    18 villages
Volga Colonies    329  villages
Volhynia Colonies   1,002 villages
Zagradovka Colonies   17 villages


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23 November 2016

Alt-Montal, Prichib

Alt-Montal was a Mother colony founded in 1805 in the Prischib area of the Taurida Governorate. The Prischib colonies were established in response to the increasing number of German immigrants arriving in the Black Sea area at Ekaterinoslave instead of Odessa. 

Initially in Alt-Montal, there were  50 families: 30 from Brandenburg, Mecklenburg and Prussian Poland, and 20 from Alsace and Baden.  

Plat Map of Alt-Montal, Prichib
Source: Heimatbuch der Deutschen aus Russland 1961 (Homeland Book of the Germans from Russia)
Map courtesy of Black Sea German Research plat map collection
1805   132 people
1848   357
1858   424
1859   424
1864   408
1905   175
1911   199
1914   215
1915   215
1918   215
1919   424
1926   535

Location of Alt-Montal, Prischib

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22 November 2016

Walter, Volga

Founded on 25 August 1767, Walter was one of the original 104 Volga Mother colonies and one of the oldest German settlements in Russia.  It is located on the Medveditsa river.

Plat map of Walter
Map courtesy of Center for Volga German Studies at Concordia University

Location of Walter, Volga



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Alexanderfeld, Liebental

Alexanderfeld was a daughter colony founded in 1866 by families from other Liebental colonies. One source indicates there were two religions conscriptions among the villagers, Protestant and Catholic, although the plat map that exists for it, drawn in 1942, only shows one church, in all likelihood Catholic. The map also shows a drawing of the church and churchyard. 

Plat map of Alexanderfeld
Source: Paradise on the Steppe, Joseph S. Height
Map courtesy of Black Sea German Research plat map collection

On the lower right of the map, it shows a farmyard drawing of one of the residents.

Hof des Peter Kiefer 1920 (Courtyard of Peter Kiefer 1920)
1. Front door
2. Kitchen
3. Front house
4. Back yard
5. Room/chamber
6. Horse stable
7. Head for the carriage
8. Cow shed 
9. Summer kitchen
10. Cellar
11. Wagon shop
12. Pig pen

Location of Alexanderfeld, Liebental



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21 November 2016

Eichendorf, Bessarabia

Eichendorf plat map. Source: Eichendorf in Bessarabia. Map courtesy of Black Sea German Research plat map collection

Eichendorf was a daughter colony in Bessarabia founded in 1908 and located west of the Mother colonies.

The first street that was cleared for the village was oriented North-South and went through an oak forest, giving the village its name, Eichen Dorf (Oak Village).


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Layout of German Dorfs in Russia

[Note: Original post 21 Nov 2016, revised 22 Nov 2016 to include a description of how the threshing area was used. Thanks to Max J. Webb for sharing this with us.  Also, see a few aerial photos of villages today that look just like the drawings below.] 

German colonies in Russia were laid out differently depending on the landscape, and the structures were built from materials that were abundant in the area.  The colonies in the Volga and Black Sea regions were uniform and approved by Russian officials, and, not surprisingly, very orderly.

The colonies in the Volga region were generally laid out in a checkerboard pattern. They had one main street and several parallel and cross streets.  The houses were mostly built of wood and were one storied.

The Black Sea region had the "street-village" type of layout.  The main house consisted of the living areas along with the barn and toolshed all under one roof with the gabled end of the house facing the street.  They were built of sandstone, limestone or brick with the walls stuccoed and whitewashed.

In the South Caucasus, the landscape was hilly and there was less suitable building space, so the houses were often two stories, with an open veranda halfway around the second level.

With nearby forests in Volhynia, there was plenty of wood, so the houses and fences and were built entirely of wood.

As you've seen in the plat maps so far and in those forthcoming, in the center of the colony stood the church, if there was one, or a school which doubled as a house of worship until a church could be built.  The cemetery was either behind the church or nearby next to a pasture with a road leading to it. Outside the village were orchards, vineyards and pastures depending on what could be grown in the area.

Below is a typical layout of farmyards in the Black Sea region.  

Typical German farmyard and house plan in the Black Sea region.

Each colonist's farmyard was 360 by 120 feet, and it was divided into a front area facing the street and a back area.  In the front area was the house, barn and toolshed, with the entry to the house facing not the street but the side courtyard.  The summer kitchen and granary were a in a separate building across from the main house with a garden and a well, if there was one, in between.  The back area consisted of the pig pens, manure pile, threshing area and straw and hay stacks.  In the rear of the lot was the orchard.

Max J. Webb recalled how his uncle, Henry Miller, described the circular threshing area: 

"It had a pivot point with a log attached at the center, and then an ox would pull the other end of the log around the circle over the cut wheat. The log had a stone attached at both ends so that it tumbled rather than just rolled. The stones were offset 180 degrees to help with the tumble. I don't know how the stones were attached, but it could have been with metal. They did have blacksmiths, so that could have well been the way. Also he described the stones as rather round, which would have helped with the tumbling. Once this was done, they would use flails to complete the separation, and then winnow the mix to separate the grain and the chaff. This conversation was nearly 50 years ago, but I remember how he described it."

Typical farmyard and house plans from Baden, Kutchurgan (on the left in German) and Alsace (on the right in French).

Colonists who came from Alsace to the Black Sea area (Kutchurgan and elsewhere), kept a similar house and yard plan from back in their homeland and even attempted to keep the Fachwerkhaus style of house of timber frame with brick, stone and mortar.  This was difficult to do since none of those materials were available on the steppe.

  • The German-Russians, Karl Stumpp, p. 21-23
  • Homesteaders of the Steppe, Joseph S. Height, p. 234-244
  • Paradise on the Steppe, Joseph S. Height, p. 119-127

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16 November 2016

Annette-Josephine, Volhynia

Annette-Josephine, a Volhynian mother colony (Volhynia-Ukraine), was founded in 1816 by families from Bohsack near Danzig, Galicia and Germany.  Sometimes referred to as two villages, they were only separated by a street.

Plat map of Annette and Josephine
Source: http://rothehistory.blogspot.com/2011/05/year-1816-colonies-of-annette-josephine.html

Location of Annette-Josephine



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15 November 2016

Eben-Ezer, North Caucasus

Eben-Ezer was a colony founded in the North Caucasus in 1904 by former residents of the village Emmaus, about 45 miles (73 km) to the southeast, as the crow flies. The colonists left Emmaus because of attacks from mountain tribes. They were joined in Eben-Ezer and by residents of other Cloeter (Clöter) settlements.

Eben-Ezer plat map
Source: 1961 Heimatbuch der Deutschen aus Russland
Map courtesy of Black Sea German Research plat map collection
These Cloeter settlements were founded by followers of Lutheran pastor Samuel Gottfried Christoph Clöter (1823-1896), who was an influential pastor who had preached about the coming end of days since 1865. He purchased land on the Terek River southern Russia to establish a chiliastic separatist settlement. He considered the area "God's chosen land for the millennial kingdom."

Location of Eben-Ezer, North Caucasus



Hoffnungsfeld, North Caucasus

Hoffnungsfeld in the North Caucasus region was a daughter colony founded in 1900 by families from Annenfeld, Crimea, about 480 miles (772 km) away.

Hoffnungsfeld plat map
Source: 1964 Heimatbuch der Deutschen aus Russland
Map courtesy of Black Sea German Research plat map collection

Location of Hoffnungsfeld, North Caucasus



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Elisabethtal, South Caucasus

Elisabethtal was one of the Caucasus Mother colonies, located 20 miles (32 km) southwest of T'bilisi. Founded in 1817 by 65 families from Wurttemberg, it was situated near forests and was known for its viniculture.

Elizabethtal plat map
Source: 1967/68 Heimatbuch der Deutschen aus Russland
Map courtesy of Black Sea German Research plat map collection

Location of Elisabethtal, South Caucasus



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Pilenkofeld, North Causasus

Pilenkofeld is situated far up in the northwest, near the passage to Crimea. It was founded in 1886 on land bought from the Yuri Pilenko, a Russian aristocrat. The founding settlers were from Gnadenburg along with Bessarabian Germans and others from Silesia. 

Kolonie Pilenkofeld plat map
Source: Heimatbuch der Deutschen aus Russland 1961 (Homeland Book of the Germans from Russia)
Map courtesy of Black Sea German Research plat map collection


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14 November 2016

Map Refresh - Completion of the Caucasus Colonies

We have three maps refreshed today with the completion of the Caucasus colonies.  We say completion, but the success rate was 62.3%, far below what is normally found on a map. The area covered on the Stumpp map was very large, and the scale of it on the map didn't lend itself to accuracy. But there are 170 colonies now on the map for the whole Caucasus area, 144 in the north, 26 in the south. If anyone has any specifics about a colony we couldn't find, please let us know. 

As always, you can get to all our maps on the Maps and Data page.

Germans from Russia Settlements Map (all villages) - includes Caucasus additions
Black Sea Colonies - includes Caucasus additions
Caucasus Colonies - 109 new colonies in the North and South Caucasus areas

Total village count: 2,399


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Medicine Hat News

Someone woke up and found himself in the local newspaper this morning...


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11 November 2016

Village Plat Maps

My name is Sandy.  
I'm German, and I love maps. 

[Audience:  Hi Sandy.]

It's no secret. Germans love their maps. And in the spirit of this, we're starting a series of short posts about some of the villages and including their plat maps along with current locations.

Plat maps show actual or proposed features of a village, such as streets, houses, churches, cemeteries, schools, orchards, marketplace, etc. Some include family names on lots as they were remembered by residents of the village at some point in time. Compare what what is found on the plat map with what remains of the village today from aerial photo you'll find on our maps.

Not all villages have plat maps.  But there are several collections of them on the web, and we will begin including links in the village data when you click on a pin, too. If you know of any plat maps out there, please email us the URL and original source if it's not included.

We hope you'll find this nod to the past and the present interesting, insightful, and that it will spur conversation with family members now that the holidays are approaching.

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10 November 2016

We (Never) Don't Forget: Germans from Russia in South America

The much talked about documentary about Germans from Russia who immigrated to Argentina and Brazil.  It is a reminder of the resilient people from which we are descended.

Thanks to Public Prairie Broadcasting for making this available.

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Sonderkarte vom Terek-Gebeit

The Stumpp map for the Caucasus colonies included an interesting area labeled Sonderkarte vom Terek-Gebeit, or special map of the Terek region. The Terek region was an oblast of the Russian Empire in northeastern Caucasus that existed between 1860 and 1920.  
Source: Map of the German Settlements in the
North and South Caucasus, by Karl Stumpp 

Between 1900 and 1903, 17 Mennonite colonies were founded in this area close together and were considered a closed German settlement area, according to the German-Russian Handbook.  At least one of the colonies was established by residents of the Molotschna Mother colony Halbstadt.  It's possible that the other villages in this area were settled by sons from other German-Russian Mennonite colonies.   The colonies were both numbered and named.  
  1. Wanderloo
  2. Chartsch
  3. Talma
  4. Konstantinowka
  5. Sulak
  6. Alexandrowka
  7. Marianowka
  8. Rohrbach
  9. Nikolaevka
  10. Müdelburg
  11. Pretoria
  12. Ostheim
  13. Taranowka
  14. Kamyschljak
  15. Kaplan* - Founded in 1901, abandoned by 1913.
  16. Agrarkhan* - Founded in 1901, but original site was never settled.
  17. Aktasch* - Founded 1903, but original site was never settled.
* not on Germans from Russia Settlement Locations map, defunct very early on

Many of the colonies had problems farming due to unfavorable conditions in the area, and most had only a percentage of farms operating at any time, anywhere from a 25-75%.  Colonies 16 and 17 had such adverse conditions that although founded, they were never settled.  

Between 1917-1919 during the Russian Revolution and Russian Civil War, many of these (and other) village residents fled their homes.  They returned between 1921-1923 after the war, only to abandon these villages again in 1925 after Stalin assumed power.  Some immigrated at that point to Western Canada. 

Location of Terek-Gebeit colonies.

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08 November 2016

Map Refresh

With the release of the Caucasus colonies map, we've refreshed the following maps.  As always, you can get to all our maps on the Maps and Data page.

Germans from Russia Settlements Map
 (all villages) - includes Caucasus and Crimean additions

Black Sea Colonies - includes Caucasus and Crimean additions
Caucasus Colonies - 109 new colonies in the North and South Caucasus areas
Crimean Colonies - 1 new colony, Kljutschewoje, the first in the Taurida area along the Dnieper River

Total village count: 2,337



New Map - Caucasus Colonies

We're pleased to release another map of German colonies in Russia.  This time it is of the Caucasus Colonies, all currently situated in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Russia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. 

For those keeping track, the Karl Stumpp source map we used was "Map of the German settlements in the North and South Caucasus." This was not the most accurate of Dr. Stumpp's maps.  It was too large of an area to cover on such a small map.  The scaling of the map simply didn't lend itself well to measurement. It did indicate the general area of a village, but some were 10-20 miles our from where it was placed on the map, and some village locations were reversed. But between the German-Russian Handbook, Google Maps and the Global Gazetteer,  it was possible to confirm the location of 109 German villages in this area, with a find rate of about 63%.

Of the 109 colonies, 83 are in the North Caucasus (north of the 42nd parallel) and 26 colonies are in the South Caucasus area, including the eight Mother colonies established between 1817 and 1820: Alexanderdorf, Elisabethtal, Katharinenfeld, Marienfeld, Petersdorf, Neu Tiflis, Annenfeld and Helenendorf.  There are conflicting sources as to the founding dates, and in cases like that, we always use the earliest year.

There were also ten Russian cities in this region that integrated close to 3,000 German immigrants into their cities, and they are included on the map and commented as such in the notes for each.  

If your looking for a particular Caucasus village that we don't have yet and you have some detailed information about where it is, please let us know.  We'll try find it and put it on our map.   And if anyone is aware of an updated map of villages in this area, we'd be very happy to hear about it. Although it's frustrating having such a low find rate, we do what we can with what we have.


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01 November 2016

Black Sea German Research

I'm pleased to announce that our maps have been added to the Black Sea German Research site. We are honored to be counted among the excellent resources they make available to their researchers.

This website is a repository of all things Black Sea and is dedicated to the memory of Dale Wahl and carrying out his dream of digitizing his extensive German-Russian genealogical collection and making it freely available for researchers.  If you've done any research at all in the Odessa area or on odessa3.org,  then you know his name. The site is maintained by a group of volunteers known as the "Dale Wahl Team."  

If you've never checked out their site, or if it's been a while, it's time to revisit.

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