16 December 2017

And to All a Good Night

Last night, a bunch of rambunctious elves showed up at my house in South Carolina driving a new, dark blue, Jeep Grand Cherokee with temporary Virginia plates.  They said they were here to set up Christmas trees in all of our ancestral villages.

I protested – I did! – but they bribed me with tin of pfeffernüsse, a brick of marble halvah, and a thermos of coffee. They said they'd do all the work, and they promised to take down all the decorations after the holidays and clean up so that you can get back to serious research.

It seemed like a fair trade.

How could I say no?

Looking around nervously to see if any of the neighbors were watching, I said, “Show me the cookies,” and when they did, I said, “Okay, you can come in.”

The pfeffers.

I put all their MAC addresses into my router’s whitelist. After giving them my Wi-Fi SSID and password, the elves quickly went to work. Some scurried about, chasing the cat (she thought they were well-dressed squirrels and chased them back), while others sat quietly around the dining room table looking Google Maps up and drinking coffee. It looked like a miniature Starbucks.  More than once, they giggled uncontrollably at where some of the trees ended up.

“No changing the coordinates,” I yelled from the living room, powdered sugar spraying from my mouth festively on the coffee table before me. They collectively sighed, “Awwwww!”


But, to their credit, they were especially careful with placing trees where villages no longer existed. It seemed important that those places – those special places – got special attention and were not forgotten.  They all gathered in the dining room to make sure it was just right and nodded in agreement before moving on.

Somewhere near Sari-Bash in Crimea, they asked me to ask you, dear readers, to take a screenshot of the tree in your village and share it in email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. They want to see their Christmas trees in the places where your ancestors lived.  They don't care if it’s in a village or a city, on a house or on a road, in a field or underwater (you know what I'm talking about, Neu-Kolonie).

I nodded, and said, “Uh-huh, sure thing, yep. I'll ask,” while taking a bite of a hunk of halvah and sip of strong coffee and letting them melt together.

The halvah.

Hours passed. And by the time the elves finished their work, logged off, packed up their laptops in their Jeep, I was drifting head-long into a sugar coma. They wiped my sticky fingers, dusted the powdered sugar off my face and rinsed the thermos in the kitchen sink.

I heard them say in unison, “Frohe Weihnachten”

And then one said, “Hey, wake her up and ask her how to get to Edisto Beach from here!”

Merry Christmas from the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations Project!
Merry Christmas from the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations Project
(and a bunch of elves!)


15 December 2017

Map Refresh: Final for 2017

For the final map update for 2017, we have updates to the data in Galizien and Central Asia. For Galizien, there are several updates and additions to parishes, one coordinate adjustment (Rosenberg, Lemburg district) and one colony noted now as being a known Mennonite colony (Wiszenka).  For Central Asia, there are seven new locations added: Aschgabad, Buchara, Kozelkov, Krestowo, Neu-Ak-Metschet, Saratowa I, Saratowa II.

Three new maps for the Central Asian colonies, the Siberian colonies and combined into the Asiatic Russian Colonies have been created. 

So, the following maps have been updated:

Siberian Colonies (new map)

Total colonies mapped in the project thus far is 3,973.  That's a good 3,000 more than I ever expected.  Little did I know. But I know a lot more now. 

Hope you find your village!  If not, drop me a note at grsl1763@gmail.com with any details you have about the location and when your ancestors were there.  


Germans from Russia Settlement Locations as of December 2017


04 December 2017

Mennonite Colonies Map from Mennonitische Geschichte und Ahnenforschung

There is a new Google My Map of Mennonite colonies on the site Mennonitische Geschichte und Ahnenforschung.  If you've done any research on German Mennonite colonies in Russia, you probably already know this site well.

The new map is the work of Andreas Tissen and Viktor Petkau.  Their approach was to create a map of all the locations that German Mennonites lived in Russia.  It includes villages founded by Mennonites (majority population), other villages Mennonites lived at one point (minority population), chutors (guts) and forestry land.  Interestingly, the site states that young Mennonite men chose to live and work in forests as an alternative to doing time in the military, and some of these forests are on this map.

The scope of this map is slightly different than that of the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations, but they started with our coordinates and added and corrected (corrections and additions coming to our maps coming soon, and we thank them for this!), and came up with something that I know will be very interesting and useful for those whose focus is researching German Mennonite colonies in Russia.

Please check out the link below for a full description of their project.  Use Google Translate or the Chrome web browser to translate from German if needed.

Mennonite Places in Russia in Google My Maps

Mennonite Places in Russia map from Mennonitische Geschichte und Ahnenforschung Chortitza 


22 November 2017

Map Refresh: Siberia

The German colonies in Siberia have been refreshed on the main map and include 117 new colonies bringing the total in that area to 294.

Dennis said that this was by far one of the most challenging maps he's worked on.  During a second pass, he found another 25 villages. You'll see as you go through and look at the data that the sources often didn't agree on the location, and on top of that, the names of the places didn't always show up on Google Maps.  I think he did a splendid job given what he had to work with and deserves a big round of applause for this one.

Germans from Russia Settlement Locations map as of November 2017. Note that Germany is on the extreme left, and the easternmost colony founded by Germans from Russia is on the extreme right.  


20 November 2017

Malcoci, Dobrudscha

Malcoci was originally called Malkotsch.  It was the first Catholic German colony in Dobrudscha, founded in 1843.

German migrants from Russia came through Tulcea, where some families stayed.  But 20-25 families went on southeast 5.5 miles (8.8 km) to found Malcoci.  According to Paul Traeger's Die Deutschen in der Dobrudscha (published in 1922 and translated in 2017 by Allen E. Konrad), the route to their new home was not a straightforward one.  

According to Traeger, land was becoming scarce in Kherson where the Kutschurgan and Beresan colonies were, so residents from 10 different villages including Josephsthal, Mannheim, Elsaß, Landau and Katharinenthal, among others, left Kherson and went through Bessarabia to the city of Focșani.  From there they went to and area called Wallachia, a historical and geographical area in modern-day northern Romania, and then on to the city of Călărași.  In this area, they lived in a village called Dschuroi (unable to find this location) for a year and a half.  They moved again and arrived in Dobrudscha by way of Galatz (Galați), which was just north of the colony of Jakobsonsthal.  

The path Germans from Russia took from their colonies in Kutschurgan and Beresan to Dobrudscha.  

The German origins of these settlers trace back to Alsace, Baden and the Palatinate.  The first church register was set up on 1 November 1847, and the first list of residents was recorded.  Interestingly, the French form of names were used: Georges instead of Georg, Charles Louis instead of Karl Ludwig, etc.  I've only seen the English translations of the Russian censuses for the colonies they came from in Russia from the Germans from Russia Heritage Society. The French versions of names were not used in those translated documents.  What was recorded in the originals, I do not know.  Interesting that they chose to use the French name form in their new colony in the Ottoman Empire, perhaps different than what they used in their former home in the Russian Empire.  

The Catholic church was built sometime between 1882 and 1890.  The ruins still stand today along with a memorial stone commemorating those first settlers. 

Drawing of the school and Catholic church in Malcoci circa 1922.
Source: Die Deutschen in der Dobrudscha, courtesy of Black Sea German Research.

Catholic church in Malcoci. Date unknown.
Copyright ©Cristian Mititelu.  Source: Descopera Delta Dunarii

Plat map of Malcoci (Malkotsch), courtesy of the Black Sea German Research plat map collection.  
Source: Heimatbuch der Dobrudscha-Deutschen 1840-1940

Malcoci, Romania today.

Learn More
Die Deutschen in der Dobrudscha, Paul Traeger.  See English translation courtesy of BSGR.

Monday Morning: My Desk

Lot on my desk this morning. 



16 November 2017

Tulcea, Dobrudscha

Between 1842-1846, the first group of German migrants from Bessarabia settled in Tulcea, Dobrudscha.  At the time, it was a part of Turkey, a subject of the Ottoman Empire.  During this time, Germans from Russia would've had to renounce their allegiance to the Tsar of Russia and pledge their allegiance to the His Majesty the Sultan in order to live in Tulcea. Other requirements to become a colonist in Turkey included providing proof that they had not been accused of any crime or bad behavior in their previous country and were "respectable men and can pursue agriculture and crafts of all kinds."  Of course, the government reserved the right to remove any colonist who was guilty of a crime or bad behavior.  The English translation of the full list of articles of Colonization Regulations of Turkey is available here.
Drawing of the school and Catholic church in Tulcea.
Source: Die Deutschen in der Dobrudscha, courtesy of Black Sea German Research.

The first to arrive in Tulcea were a closed group of Catholic Swabians.  Tulcea's population at that point was about 6,000.  There was a larger group of Germans on their way to settle the first Catholic colony in nearby  Malkotsch, but the smaller group decided to remain in Tulcea.  Catholics made up the majority of Germans in Tulcea.  By 1856, there were 100 German families living in Tulcea, and in 1872, the church and school were built.  By then, the population of Tulcea had swelled to 39,000 people.  The economic growth of the city had attracted migrants from all over, including Turks, Taters, Romanians, Russians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Jews, Armenians and Germans.

All of the Germans lived together on one long, broad street called German Street.  The street still exists today.  It's called Strada Mircea Vodă.

Drawing of German Street in Tulcea.
Source: Die Deutschen in der Dobrudscha, courtesy Black Sea German Research.

A view of German Street, now called Strada Mircea Vodă, from street view on Google Earth.

Tulcea circa late 1890s. Source: Wikipedia (note original source listed on Wikipedia is no longer available)

Tulcea, Romania today. 

Learn More
Die Deutschen in der Dobrudscha, Paul Traeger.  See English translation courtesy of BSGR.
Black Sea Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World –  Tulcea
Germans from Russia Settlement Locations – Dobrudscha Colonies Map

09 November 2017

Sulina, Dobrudscha

The lighthouse in Sulina. 
Photo by Anatole Magrin circa 1905,
from his Album de la Dobrudgea.
Some accounts have Germans beginning settlement in the village of Sulina in Dobrudscha in 1849.  But according to Paul Traeger's Die Deutschen in der Dobrudscha, it wasn't until the 1870s that a small German community of six families moved into Sulina.  It increased in numbers as the city prospered as a trading post.  

Situated on the Sulina branch of the Danube River whose waters emptied into the Black Sea, the port was a desirable location.  A lighthouse was built in the the 18th century by the Ottomans to communicate with Istanbul, and it still stands today.  But the history of the inlet goes back to the 14th century when it was a place inhabited by sailors, pirates and fishermen. 

The Crimean War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1856). Part of the treaty declared that there would be Black Sea neutrality and freedom of navigation on the Danube.  It established the Danube European Committee (C.E.D.), which was tasked to make infrastructure improvements to the mouth of the Danube river to make it navigable by larger ships to benefit all.  Below is a map in French dated October 1857 with the work already completed and that which was being proposed.

Map of mouth of the Sulina (Soulina) River, October 1857.  Source: Ziarul Lumina

The Ottoman Empire declared Sulina a free port in in 1870.  The Russo-Ottoman war of 1877-1878 followed, and the city was put under Russian control but then was annexed back to Romania along with the rest of Dobrudscha.

Sulina became an ethnically and religiously diverse international port city, and this is reflected eternally in the most obvious of places: its cemetery.

This is a partial translation of the article entitled "The Maritime Cemetery in Sulina," which was published in the Ziarul Lumina on 31 August 2014:

One of the monuments in the cemetery in Sulina. 
Source:  Ziarul Lumina 
One of the most impressive cemeteries in Romania is in Sulina. Some call it "international," others "maritime," "multi-ethnic," "multi-cultural" or "Cemetery of the European Commission of the Danube."  
It is unique in that within its boundaries are buried citizens of 21 nationalities belonging to Christian, Muslim and Jewish religions.  Some funerary monuments are true works of art, and the stories of some of the buried are disturbing.  Above all, the Sulina cemetery speaks of the fact that we are all equal in the face of death.  
Professor Valentin Lavric from the Liceul Teoretic Jean Bart [Jean Bart Theoretical High School] in Sulina was the cemetery tour guide.  "The first people who were buried here were [European] commission members," he said.  "Initially, there was a separate Russian cemetery on the left bank of the Danube and another one on the right bank, abandoned due to the embankment work on the river. The new cemetery was established around the Eurpean Commission of the Danube." 
The article goes on to say that the cemetery is really multiple cemeteries in sections: a cemetery for Protestants with both English and German sections; a Catholic cemetery with Italian, Maltese, Serbo-Croatian, Montenegrin burials; a Russian Orthodox section in which Romanians, Russians and Greeks are buried; a Muslim cemetery; and a Jewish cemetery. 
"There are no boundaries between them," Lavric said.  "The Commission treated each community's burials equally, thus a universal concord was born between the ethnic and religious groups here."

The Maritime Cemetery (Cimitirul maritim) in Sulina, 2014.  Source:  Ziarul Lumina 

Location of Sulina, Romania today. The view from Google Earth, image dated 9 August 2014. 

Learn More:
Black Sea German Research
Die Deutschen in der Dobrudscha, Paul Traeger.  See Black Sea German Research for translation.
Die Dobrudscha
Germans from Russia Settlement LocationsDobrudscha Colonies Map
"The Maritime Cemetery in Sulina,"  Ziarul Lumina31 August 2014.
Wikipedia – Sulina (English), Dobrudscha (German)


08 November 2017

Chutor Ishitskoye, Hoffnungstal, Odessa

Note: This post and the screenshots below have become a piece of history.  The current name is no longer Kirovo.  Google Maps has updated place names per the articles of the Law of Ukraine № 317-VIII "On the condemnation of the communist and national socialist (Nazi) regimes, and prohibition of propaganda of their symbols."  It's current name is now Vyshneve.
9 January 2018 -SSP

Little is ever written about the chutors, or farmsteads, the smallest of German dorfs in Russia.  Maybe because there is so little documented about them.  There were chutors recorded and likely even more that were never officially part of the Russian government record. They were generally isolated summer farms with few buildings and often only populated, if you can call it that, during the growing season.  But some actually grew into colonies.

Chutor Ishitskoyetoday known as Kirovo, Odes'ka' Oblast, Ukraine.
Chutor Izshitskoye (also Itschietzki or Ishitskoye) was one of those.  Situated in the center of the Hoffnungstal colonies, Chutor Izshitskoye was a Lutheran colony and part of the Hoffnungstal parish. Not much else is documented about it other than it had a population of 80 souls in 1904.

The colony did not appear on a Stumpp map. Perhaps it never made it into the official register of colonies, but it was in the list of Hoffnungstal chutors listed on the Germans from Russia Historical Society website and was located by its historical name.

Today Chutor Izshitskoye still stands and is called Kirovo in Odessa Oblast, although the name Izhitskoye is still unofficially attached to the location according to the Geographic Names Database (GeoNames) from the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Recently, I ran across a document in the Roesch Family Germans from Russia Collection at the Northern State University Library & Special Collections in Aberdeen, South Dakota  that related to Chutor Izshitskoye.  The colony was still populated by Germans in 1922, and it was impacted by the Russian famine of 1921-22.  The famine was a result of many things coming together at once: drought, the collapse of the Tsarist rule, civil war post-Russian-Revolution and mass requisition of grain so there was not enough for food or for seed, Overall, there less agriculture production and failed harvests.

Map of the Famine Area of Soviet Russia in 1921 from Russian Information and Review magazine,
October 1921, v. 1, no. 1, pg. 3.  Source: WikiCommons. 

The document I found is a Russian Food Remittance form filed with the American Relief Administration (ARA) requesting food be sent to a family living in Chutor Izshitskoye in 1922.  Formerly called the United States Food Administration, the ARA was an American relief organization that provided supplies to war-torn European countries and later extending its operations to Russia in 1922 to help deal with the famine.  It ceased operations in Russia in 1923 once it found out that Russia was again exporting grain.  The American Experience documentary "The Great Famine" is a good overview of the impact of the famine and America's relief efforts in Soviet Russia.

The cost to the immigrant-American family sending the relief package was ten dollars. This was about $139 in today's U.S. dollars, no small sum back then.  Dated 7 September 1922, Fred Roesch of Hosmer, South Dakota paid ten dollars to have a food supplies delivered from the ARA to Mr. and Mrs. Christian F. Weiss of St. Zebrikowa, Chutor Ischietski, Tiraspol, Odessa. The Roesch family, according to a short history written by Roesch himself (also a part of the digital collection), indicated that they immigrated from Glückstal in September 1898 and lived near Roscoe, South Dakota. 

Russian Food Remittance form.
Copyright ©Beulah Williams Library Archives & Special Collections

The receipt for the order indicates that one package of food was received.  The stamp on the receipt indicates what was in the package: 98 pounds of flour, 25 pounds of grits (corn), 9 pounds of sugar and an indecipherable quantity of milk.

Receipt of food package from the American Relief Administration in Russia. 
Copyright ©Beulah Williams Library Archives & Special Collections

There wasn't anything else in the collection to indicate what happened to the Christian Weiss family, or how they were connected to the Roesch family.  But they lived in Chutor Izshitskoye in 1922, and were helped by family or friends in America at a time when they needed it most.  These scraps of paper saved for all these years serve as proof.

Learn More:


07 November 2017

The Bolshevik Revolution – The Beginning of the End

Source: Washington Post, November 3, 2017,  "Century-old photos capture drama of 1917 Russian Revolution."

On this day, 7 November 1917 (Julian calendar date 25 October), the Bolshevik Revolution (also known as the October Revolution, or Red October) occurred in Petrograd (Saint Petersburg), Russia. At the time, there were more than 60 German colonies in the area of Petrograd.  It was the second of a pair of revolts comprising the Russian Revolution that resulted in the end of the Imperial Russian Empire, the creation of Soviet Russia and the rise of Communism in Russia.

The Russian Revolution didn't mark the sudden end of new colony settlement by Germans, but it did slow things down as the revolution was "the beginning of the end" for Germans from Russia, as Ken Volgele states in his forthcoming GRHS Heritage Review article.  Daughter colonies and chutors continued to be established between 1919 up until at least 1934 in areas including Bessarabia (a part of Romania between 1918-1940), Kutschurgan, Glückstal, Beresan, Liebental and North Caucasus among others scattered across the areas of Kherson, Taurida, Yekaterinoslav and the Don.  During the "intrawar" period, the names of the republics or "countries" to which the colonies (new and old) belonged changed often as each area declared autonomy and then were eventually collected into the Soviet Union.

For those of us who had ancestors who left Russia prior to 1917 and immigrated to the United States, the news of what happened in Russia came to them over the newswires and were published in local newspapers in the days and weeks after the October Revolution.   The 24-hour news cycle and the dissemination of information through social media we have today was non-existent. Radio wasn't even widely available then.  But just like today, the rush to get the story out often included errors and disinformation, purposefully or not.  Today we make quick judgments on the validity of information given the source, while our ancestors had a lot of time between editions of newspapers to process what little information they were getting.

A sampling of the headlines and articles our ancestors in the U.S. may have seen are below in chronological order from states with Germans from Russia populations.  One of these, the Jamestown Weekly Alert, would've been read by my own grandparents.  At the very end, I've included the article that ran today, 7 November 2017, in this morning's Washington Post, 100 years later.

Maybe in another 50 or 100 years, one our Germans from Russia descendants will use this blog post to illustrate yet another anniversary of our complicated history.

The Bakersfield Californian, Bakersfield, California. November 8, 2017. Source: Google Newspaper Archive

Montrose Daily News, Montrose, Colorado. November 9, 1917.  Source: Colorado Historical Newspapers Collection

The Seattle Star, Seattle, Seattle, Washington. November 9, 1917. Source: Chronicling America

Tulsa Daily World (Morning Edition), Tulsa, Oklahoma. November 9, 1917. Source: Chronicling America

Evening Times-Republican, Marshalltown, Iowa. November 13, 1917. Source: Chronicling America

The Saturday News, Watertown, South Dakota. November 15, 1917.  Source: Chronicling America

Jamestown Weekly Alert, Jamestown, North Dakota.  November 15, 1917. Source: Chronicling America

St. Paul Tidende, St. Paul, Minnesota.  November 16, 1917. Source: Chronicling America

El Paso Herald, El Paso, Texas.  November 17, 1917.  Source: Chronicling America

The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.  November 7, 2017. Source: The Washington Post

Learn More:
"100th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution: Beginning of the End for the German Russians," Ken Vogele. Heritage ReviewGermans from Russia Heritage Society,  December 2017, Vol. 47, No. 4)
Wikipedia: Communism in Russia
Wikipedia: February Revolution
Wikipedia: October Revolution


19 October 2017

Moving East: German Colonies in Siberia and Central Asia

I recall someone recently describing Siberia as not a "place" that Germans moved to but rather a "direction" in which they moved.  And that direction was east. The map of the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations has elongated significantly with these additional 183 colonies.

The first draft of the German colonies located in Siberia (white pins) and Central Asia (black pins) has been published on the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations map.  The separate colony maps will be released at the end of the location effort for these areas.  We're roughly half way done.

Locations are going slow on this map. Some of the measurements are spot on while others are simply not.  Because many of the villages don't exist any longer, it takes a while to find them based on nearby known villages, historical names and satellite imagery.  Some can't be found.  I'll have a report of those that couldn't be found in the coming weeks.

The colonies found so far were settled between 1882 and 1918, with one outlier in 1927 in far east Russia.  It was more of a resettlement effort by Germans from other colonies in Russia and not by Germans from Germany.  Existing Mother and daughter colonies were getting overpopulated.  The agrarian land reforms put in place by Pyotr Stolypin in 1901 allowed resettlement benefits and for greater access to land, and the Trans-Siberian Railroad made it easier to get there.  Both western Siberia and Russian Turkestan had settlements during this time, although German settlements in Turkestan seem to have stopped around 1903.

Many followers of this project have been waiting for Siberia to find out where their families were deported to in September 1941, but the maps we're working on now does not include those.  That will be another map.

Volga and Black Sea colonists both took part in this resettlement.  In the notes, we indicate which groups settled a village. If there is no indication, that means that it is a village that Karl Stumpp was uncertain about.  He gave an approximate location, which we duplicated, but he had no information about the colonists' origin or religious confession.  Again, at the end of this location effort, I'll have a report on which colonies were settled by which groups.

One final note, the current names of some of the villages this deep into Russia do not appear on Google Maps.  They have been verified and do show up on other maps, but not Google Maps.  You can't even successfully search for the name.  I believe it has to do with the sources that are used for names, so it could change in the future as Google's sources change.  There's a note next to each one that is affected by this unexplained feature.

And this, folks, is why the coordinates are so valuable!  

Make sure you record the coordinates in your research and family trees in addition to the names.


Thank you.  :)


11 October 2017

Toto, I have the feeling we're not in Glückstal anymore.

When I was at the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia's convention in August, someone asked me, "How far east are you going to go?"  My answer was, "As far as the maps will take us."

We play no favorites on this project.  Long ago, Dennis and I both got what we needed for our own personal family research, and since then, it's been all about helping others find their ancestral villages by following one map at a time, one colony at a time.

And the maps, it turns out, are taking us to the Far East.  There is an insert on one that shows clusters of Mennonite colonies established around 1927 in the Amur-Ussrui region in far east Russia bordering northeast China.

From page 671 of the 2010 edition of Ulrich Mertens' German-Russian Handbook: A Reference for Russian Germand and German Russian History and Culture with Place Name Listings of Former German Settlement Areas
"Shumanovka, Amur, Blagoveshchensk. Approximately 70 km south of Blagoveshchensk on the Chinese border. Possibly founded in 1927/1928. Mennonite. On 15 December 1930 or possibly 1929, all villagers fled to China and via Charbin to Paraguay, where they founded the colony of Fernheim."
There is also a colony called Shumanovka near Slavgorod area of the former Akmolinsk Oblast, current day Altayskiy Kray, on this same map founded in 1911 by Black Sea Germans, possibly from the North Caucasus or Molotschna areas. Given our ancestors' penchant for naming new colonies after old colonies, it's probable there is a colonist connection between the two Shumanovkas. 

Germanic States --> Black Sea --> Siberia --> Far East Russia --> China --> Paraguay

Didn't I tell you Siberia was going to be an interesting area?

I'll try to get a first draft of the Google map posted this weekend.


03 October 2017

In Progress: Map of German Settlements in Siberia and Central Asia

There are two maps with what we estimate to be about 400 colonies on them.  Dennis has got 96 so far and pointed out that Stumpp marked some of them with an estimated location as the colonies were long gone by the time Stumpp mapped them.  Those are marked differently on the map than the others.  Religions and the origin of the colonists who settled them (Black Sea or Volga) are indicated on the map.  Stay tuned! This is going to be an interesting area.

Karte der deutschen Siedlungen bzw. Siedlungsgebiete im asiatischen Teil der Sowjetunion: Nord-(Siberien) u. Mittelasien 
Map of German settlements and settlements in the Asian part of the Soviet Union: North (Siberia) Central Asia

Karte der deutschen Siedlungen in den Gebieten Omsk, Slawgorod (Kulunda- Steppe), Zelinograd (Atmolinsk)
Map of German settlements in the areas of Omsk, Slavgorod (Kulunda-Steppe), Zelinograd (Atmolinsk)


29 September 2017

Valley of Good Fortune: Glückstal, Odessa, Russia

When Russian Tsar Alexander I issued his manifesto of 20 February 1804, German families wasted no time immigrating to Süd Rußland, South Russia.

Location of Glückstal on Karl Stumpp's
Karte der deutschen Siedlungenim Gebiet Odessa, AHSGR map #2
The first Glückstal colonists – three German families – arrived between 1804 and 1805, just after Russian Tsar Alexander I published his Manifesto opening up the Black Sea for colonization by experienced farmers.  They were settled into the Armenian village of Grigoripol on the Dnister River. In 1805, another 67 families from Württemberg and settled in Grigoripol, too.  In 1806, another nine more families from Warsaw settled there, and in 1807, another 24 German families from Hungary arrived.

The district of Glückstal wasn't officially established until 1808, and the Glückstal colony, a Lutheran colony, wasn't founded until the spring of 1809, when 106 families were resettled from Grigoripol to the Moldavian village of Glinnoi due to conflicts with the Armenians in the village.  And additional 19 families arrived that same year.

View of Glückstal from one of the Neuer Haus- und Landwirtschaftskalender für deutsche Ansiedler im südlichen Russland und Kalender at the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen in Stuttgart. Photo courtesy of Gerhard Walter's photo gallery.

Upon resettlement, the story goes, Councilor von Rosenkampf, the president of the Colonists' Welfare Committee Association exclaimed, "Das ist euer Glück!"  This is your fortune!  They renamed the colony Glückstal – the Valley of Good Fortune.

The colonists in Glückstal were experienced farmers and craftsmen, per the requirements for immigration of Alexander's manifesto.  In 1825, the list of craftsmen included the following: 5 millers, 4 cobblers, 4 tailors, 4 blacksmiths, 1 weaver, 1 baker, 2 oil pressers, 2 coopers, 2 masons, 1 shepherd, 2 cabinet makers, 1 butcher, 1 harness maker, 1 glove maker, 1 locksmith and 1 doctor.

As for crops, the colonists grew very little rye and more summer wheat than winter wheat, along with oats, barley, corn and potatoes.  They also had extensive beekeeping operations.  The Russian government strongly advocated planting trees, and although the soil was rich, it was too dry. There were willows and acacia trees, but attempts to grow oak trees to maturity failed.  In the orchards, there were apples, plums, pears, cherries, peaches, apricots, mulberries, and according to the 1848 report, that year there were about 519 acres of vineyards with 465,400 vines.

According to a memoir by Mathilda (Schöll) Dollinger from The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America, A Bicentennial Collection of History, Genealogy & Folklore, the grapes grown in Glückstal were plentiful and so sweet that no additional sugar was needed to ferment them into wine. And often so much wine was made that they ran out of room to store it once the barrels in the cellar were full. The rest was stored in the well.

Martin Schilling (b. 1767) of Steinsfurt, Baden – my 4th great-grandfather – and his family was one of the families that arrived in Glückstal in1809. They left from Frankfurt in March and arrived in Glückstal in July, losing a young son, Phillip, along the way or at least before the first Revisionliste in 1816.

Below are photos of pages from Evangelisch Zeugnis der Wahrheit, known as the "Lutheran preacher's book" or "Lutheran prayerbook" in my family.  Martin Schilling bought this book with him from Germany when he immigrated to Glückstal in 1809. He was 14 years old the year the book was published, 1781, making it possibly a confirmation gift.  It was passed from father to eldest son to eldest son, and so on. His great-grandson, Johann Schilling (my great-grandfather, b. 1872 in Glückstal), brought it to the United States with him when he immigrated in 1898.  From there it went to Jacob Schilling (my grandfather, b. 1901 on the the Schilling homestead near Wishek, North Dakota), then to Cornelius Schilling (my father, b. 1928 on the Schilling farm, nine miles north, 2 miles west of Bowdle, South Dakota).  

At that point, I intercepted the next handoff for the sake of preservation.  

The front page of Evangelisch Zeugnis der Wahrheit published 1781.  Martin Schilling bought this book with him from Steinsfurt, Baden, Germany when he immigrated to Glückstal in 1809.  Photo courtesy of Sandy Schilling Payne.

The inside page of the book has signatures. The name at the top is Friderich Schilling.  It's not certain which Friderich Schilling this was, but it's possible it was Martin Schilling's father (my 5th great-grandfather, b. 1726 in Daudenzell, Baden).  Wilhelm Schilling (b. 1841 in Glückstal) in the center was Johann's father, Martin's grandson.  And the smaller Wilhelm below the date could've been Wilhelm Sr.'s youngest son, also Wilhelm (b. 1883 in Glückstal), practicing his signature. 

The inside page of the book is written "Glückstal 1893."   Signatures of Friderich Schilling, Wilhelm Schilling and another Wilhelm Schilling (probably the elder Wilhelm's youngest son). Photo courtesy of Sandy Schilling Payne.

This cross stitch bookmark was made by Rosina (Keszler) Schilling (my great-grandmother, b. 1873 in Glückstal or Neu-Glückstal) for her husband, Johann Schilling, sometime after they married in November 1895.  It says "Aus Libe Vergiß Mein nicht" – For Love Forget Me Not, signed with her initials, RS.

It was kept tucked in the Lutheran prayerbook for close to 120 years. 

A cross stitch bookmark made by Rosina (Keszler) Schilling.
Photo courtesy of Sandy Schilling Payne.

Location of Glückstal, known today as Hilinaia, Transnistria, Moldova. 

Learn More: 
Black Sea German ResearchHistory of Glückstal
Germans from Russia Settlement LocationsGlückstal Colonies Google map
Glückstal Colonies Research Association
The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America, A Bicentennial Collection of History, Genealogy & Folklore, Glückstal Colonies Research Association, 2004.
Odessa3 – A German-Russian Genealogical Library