31 January 2017

Map Refresh: Galizien, Bessarabia, German Settlements by Year Founded

We have five map refreshes again this week, including Galizien and Bessarabia. And again, much of it is editing, additional sources and plat map links, along with another 12 new colonies in Bessarabia. Almost done with the mapping of Bessarabia. The plat map postings for that area will start up again later this week.

Also updated is the German Settlements by Year Founded. It now includes Galizien, of which 77% of the villages have documented founding dates. The years used are when German immigrants arrived. Some of the villages may have been there for some time before the Germans showed up.

Interestingly enough, some of Galician names sounded so familiar to me. I looked them up, and they were villages on Martin Schilling's (my 4x great-grandfather) passport entry as published in Karl Stumpp's The Emigration from Germany to Russia in the Years 1763 to 1862.  If your German emigrant ancestors have one of these listings in the Stumpp book, you may be able to find the villages that were on the route to their final destination in Russia.

As always, you can get to all of our maps either from the menu on the right hand side of this page or from our Maps and Data page.

Bessarabian Colonies - 12 new colonies and source additions to many existing colonies
Galizien Colonies - Much careful editing and more links to plat maps and sources (thanks to GGD for doing an amazing job with this area!)
Black Sea Colonies  - Includes updates from the Bessarabian map
Germans from Russia Settlements Map (all villages) - Includes Bessarabian and Galizien updates
German Settlements by Year Founded - Includes Galizien villages now


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24 January 2017

Map Refresh

We have five map refreshes today. Much of it is editing, additional sources and plat map links, but we also have 11 new colonies in Bessarabia. Bessarabia was one of the very early areas mapped out, so it lacks sources at the moment. We're fixing that while going through the Stumpp map and adding any colonies that were overlooked.

As always, you can get to all of our maps either from the menu on the right hand side of this page or from our Maps and Data page.

Bessarabian Colonies - 11 new colonies and source additions to many existing colonies
Galizien Colonies - Much careful editing and more links to plat maps (thanks to GGD for doing this!)
Volhynia Colonies - New sources for some of the colonies bordering Galizien
Black Sea Colonies  - Includes updates from the Bessarabian map
Germans from Russia Settlements Map (all villages) - includes Bessarabian, Galizien and Volhynia updates

Total village count: 3,077


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17 January 2017

A New Map and a New Milestone: Galizien

This morning we released the first iteration of the Galizien colonies map.  This is a historical geographic area in east central Europe which now straddles southeastern Poland and western Ukraine. It was formed as a result of the first partition of Poland in 1772 when it became a part of the Austrian Empire. Within the first 30 years, at least 100 ethnic German colonies had been established in the area.  We've currently located 396 colonies and are collaborating with the Galizien German Descendants to ensure all the colony information is documented.  This is also the first area where we have made links available to village plat maps. Expect more to come not only in this area but in the others as well.

And very quietly, without any fanfare, last Friday afternoon, we crossed the 3,000 villages found mark, bringing the total locates to 3,068 villages. Last January about at this time, the list consisted of 93 villages and no Google maps.  Not bad for a year's work.

Enjoy the new map and look for updates and additions to it in the coming weeks.  Also check out the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations Map which has all the colonies located thus far. Make sure you use the search function (magnifying glass on top upper left side) to help you find what you're looking for.

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15 January 2017

Franzfeld, Liebental District, Odessa

Franzfeld was one of the ten Mother colonies in the Liebental District founded in 1804. Its Russian name at the time was Michailowka.

In 1905, there were 924 residents of Franzfeld with 130 houses.  The majority of 5,696 acres of land comprising the colony was used for plowland, with 1,045 acres used as pasture for the colony's 400 horses and 732 head of cattle.

On 19 April 1849, work began on the new Catholic church for the growing community.  It was completed on 13 May 1851 and dedicated to the Archangel St. Michael.  Because there was no regular priest, the parishioners submitted a petition to become an independent parish, which was granted 3 March 1853.  Their first priest  arrived 25 May 1853, and the church was consecrated 1 October 1861.

Plat map of Franzfeld
Source: Paradise on the Steppe, p. 262

Location of Franzfeld



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Neuburg, Liebental District, Odessa

Neuburg was a mother colony founded in 1804.  After being a colony with no name for a while, it was named after the Bavarian town of Neuburg. The village was situated between Mariental to the north and Alexanderhilf to the south.

Plat map of Neuburg
Source: Erinnerungen an die deutschen Kolonien des Großliebentaler Rayons bei Odessa
Map courtesy of the Black Sea German Research website plat map collection
The Baraboi River ran through the colony, making it picturesque and offering very fertile soil consisting of a layer of black humus and saltpeter and a bottom layer of lime and clay. The land was good for growing grains and grasses as well as for gardens and trees. Acacia, elm, mulberry, ash and willow trees did well. Fruit trees, including apple, plum and apricot grew slower and were in decline in the village report of 1848 due to drought, infestation of caterpillars and of neglect.

Plat map of Neuburg
Source: Homesteaders on the Steppe, p. 341

Year     Population
1816      315
1859      827
1881      806
1890      877
1903      835
1907      840
1915      782
1926      871
1943    1110

Location of Neuburg



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14 January 2017

Helenental, Liebental, Odessa

Plat map of Helenental
Source: Homesteaders on the Steppe, p. 317
Helenental was a daughter colony of Peterstal in the Liebental district (sometimes referred to as Grossliebental).  Colonists began settling in the spring of 1838.  The original families came from Peterstal (18), Großliebental (1), Freudental (2), Worms (1), Güldendorf (1) and Bergdorf (2). By June of 1848, the population was 161.

There was no monetary or other support given to the colonists in Helenetal from the Russian government. All support of this colony came from Peterstal.

Location of Helenental



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Großliebental, Liebental District, Odessa

Großliebental was a Protestant Mother colony founded in 1803.  The 78 families that made up the original colonists came to Großliebental from Hungary but were originally from Alsace, Baden, Prussia, Rhine Bavaria, Saxony and Württemberg.

The colony was located on the river Akershi, was was fed by springs and emptied one mile south into the Black Sea.

By 1914, there were 167 farmers, but there wasn't enough land for all those who wanted to farm. Many made a living by sharecropping or truck farming (the practice of growing crops on a large scale for the purpose of transporting them to distant markets) or were craftsmen or tradesmen.

There were several wagon factories, blacksmiths, carpenters, a bakery, flour mills, a brick and tile factory and three wine and vodka taverns.

Below are two slightly different plat maps of Großliebental.  Locate the church (Kirche) and the school (Schule) in the center on each.

Plat map of Großliebental
Source: Erinnerungen an die deutschen Kolonien des Großliebentaler Rayons bei Odessa
Map courtesy of the Black Sea German Research plat map collection
This map also appears in Homesteaders on the Steppe, p. 332-333

Plat map of Großliebental
Source: Heimatbuch der Deutschen aus Russland, 1956
Map courtesy of the Black Sea German Research plat map collection

Location of Großliebental



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13 January 2017

Plat Maps and Surnames

Many of the plat maps that I've been posting for villages over the last couple months have surnames listed on some of the plots. Because there have been several questions about specific surnames found on the village maps, I felt that I needed to address the issue.

Plat maps show the plot of land for a proposed settlement. They might include what portions of the land was good for agriculture and what portion was good for farmsteads and how the farmsteads may be laid out.  Village maps that were created later that included street names, locations of churches, cemeteries, wells, orchards and farmsteads often included the surnames of the village's residents. This information was drawn from the memories of those who lived there and left on their own accord, or were forced to leave in the evacuations of ethnic German villages in Russia during World War II.

Either way, the information on these maps is almost entirely drawn from memory.

The surnames and their locations on the plat map, although they seem like a great find, should be considered no more than a snapshot in time of what and who was a part of the village and not as absolute fact. As far as I'm aware, there is no documentation backing up the accuracy of the surnames listed or the location of the homes within the villages on most of the plat maps. The names found on the maps should serve as a piece of information in your research that requires further validation with sources that are specific to surname research.

In my own research, for example, the Straßburg map seemed like it would be a home run.  My Erck family (originally spelled Erk) arrived in Straßburg in the year it was founded, 1808. My 4x great-grandfather, Ludwig Erck, and family left Russia in 1886 for the United States.  The date on the Straßburg village map is 1940. Fifty-four years had passed between them leaving Russia and the creation of the map, and the Ercks were nowhere to be found on it. Not even one stray Erck on it. They had, understandably, faded from the memory of those who were providing the information.  But from emigration records, church records, census records, voter records, Crown debt records and the letters from the homeland collections, I know the Ercks were there. I may not know their street address, who their neighbors were or how close they lived to the church, but I know they were there.

I still believe plat maps make great illustrations of what our ancestral villages looked like, especially when comparing them to what they look like today.  But seek to validate any surnames you may find on them...or don't find on them...with other sources.

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Neudorf, Tiraspol District, Odessa

When Neudorf, a Mother colony founded in Karamanova valley in 1809, was being surveyed, Councilor Rosenkampf asked those around him for suggestions as to what to name the new village. Someone suggested Neustadt.

"We are not going to build a city, but only a village," Rosenkampf said.  "It shall be called Neudorf."
And so it was.

When colonists arrived Neudorf, there were three khutors (small, isolated farms), three wells and one dessiatine (2.7 acres or 1.1 hectare) of vineyards.

Plat map of Neudorf.
Source: Homesteaders on the Steppe, p. 350-351
Each settler received 51,580 rubles for subsistence, 36,484 rubles for settlement and 3,360 rubles for seed, for a total of 91,424 rubles.  This is about $1,541 US dollars today.

By 1914, there were 100 full farms and even more half and quarter farms. The community owned 1,154 horses, 1,196 cows, 564 colts and calves, 362 sheep and 820 pigs.

Year   Population
1816    591
1858   1685
1881   2760
1890   3388
1903   1956
1907   1951
1915   1755
1926   1891
1943   2401

Location of Neudorf



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08 January 2017

Map Refresh: Volga

We've refreshed the data on the Volga colony map and on the full Germans from Russia Settlement Locations map.  The coordinates for Cäsarsfeld have been corrected, thanks to Mike Grau, and Klein Walter was added, thanks to Maggie Hein.  Both had "feet on the ground" information from their visits to those locations in years past that provided valuable information for obtaining the coordinates.

We've had several others who are following our work contribute information that led to locating villages in other areas, some that were on a Stumpp map and some that weren't. We appreciate any and all information you can provide to further this project along. We may not be able to turn your requests around quickly, but we make sure we give every request the attention it deserves and get back to you when we find it.

Enjoy the updated maps.

Volga colony map
Germans from Russia Settlement Locations map

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07 January 2017

Number 9, Hoffnungstal, Akkerman, Bessarabia

For the first year of its existence, the colony now known as Hoffnungstal in Bessarabia was a colony with no name.  It was simply referred to as Number 9.

Plat map for Number 9, Hoffnungstal, Bessarabia
Source: Odessa State Archives, Fond 6, Inventory 1, File 5644, pp. 171-172
Map courtesy of Black Sea German Research plat map collection

In 1806, 25 families immigrated to Russia, most from Württemberg, and settled on a manor estate owned by a knight who was employed by the king of Prussia.  In 1841, the colonists were driven off the estate. Looking for a new place to live, they went to the nearby colony of Shabo near the Russian city of Akkerman.  Russian officials heard of their displacement and offered the colonists "steppe number 9."

Location of Hoffnungstal, Bessarabia
In 1843, at the request of the colonists, the village was named Hoffnungstal — Hope Valley. The soil was rich, and there was plenty of water as the colony was situated on a small stream in the Karatay valley.  Stones for building could be quarried close by. Russian officials agreed the name was well suited.

By 1847, other colonists from Worms, Glückstal, Bergdorf, Neudorf, Kassel and Alt Hoffnungstal also settled in Hoffnungstal, increasing the number of families to 82 in number.  

It was the last Mother colony to be settled in Bessarabia.



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06 January 2017

Hoffnungstal, Tiraspol District, Odessa Area

The German-Russian Handbook by Ulrich Mertens indicates there are ten German villages in different areas of Russia named Hoffnungstal, not including the Klein-Hoffnungstals and the Neu-Hoffnungstals.

Plat map of Hoffnungstal
Source: Homesteaders on the Steppe, p.362
The name Hoffnungstal translates to "Hope Valley," so you can understand the popularity of the name. Hope literally hangs on a name sometimes.

Hoffnungstal (to be very specific, the one in the Tiraspol District, Hoffnungstal parish, Odessa area, located 47°14'78"N, 30°10'55"E) was a Mother colony founded in 1817 (some sources say 1819) by 280 Separatist emigrants primarily from Württemberg. Although Hoffnungstal was considered a part of the Glückstal colonies in Karl Stumpp's Emigration from German to Russia in the Years 1763 to 1862, it is generally accepted that it is its own enclave with plenty of movement between the Hoffnungstal and Glückstal areas.

Hoffnungstal became its own parish in 1837, with nineteen German villages a part of it. A large stone church was built in 1842 by the community

The town had a volost building for the district's administrative offices.  There was also a post office, an apothecary, a flour mill, an inn (hostel) and a monopolka (government liquor store).  The town also had vineyards and produced good quality wine.

Location of Hoffnungstal

Year   Population
1817     280
1858   1145
1881   1899
1885   2019
1890   2132
1894   2349
1903   2414
1907   2497
1915   2255
1926   1887
1943   2552



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05 January 2017

Landau, Beresan

Landau was a Mother colony in the Beresan area founded in 1809. Before Germans settled, the town was called Dvenadtsaty Krinitsy.  There was a cholera outbreak in 1831, and many died.  However, the village reached its peak development just before the 100th anniversary of its founding.

Plat map of Landau
Source: Paradise on the Steppe, p. 296-297
Map courtesy of  Black Sea German Research plat map collection
In 1909, the population was 2,457 in 510 Catholic families. There were also 10 Jewish families and about 100 Russian farmhands and housemaids.

The town had three wind-driven grist mills, two steam-powered mills, six stores, a wine tavern, a liquor store and an inn.  It was home to several craftsmen and tradesman including three blacksmiths, two cabinet makers, three potters, a butcher, a shoemaker and a tailor.

Every year, Landau had two fairs which brought about 855 rubles of income to the community.

Year    Population
1859   1,968
1881   3,952
1885   4,244
1890   4,656
1894   4,879
1903   2,183
1905   2,048
1907   2,431
1913   2,851
1926   2,653

Location of Landau, Beresan



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01 January 2017

New Map: German Settlements in Russia by Founding Year

Happy New Year!

One of the things that interested me in the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations project was the stories that the maps would tell. The more data collected, the more stories would emerge.  

Our new map organizes colonies by founding year. Not all of the colonies have documented founding years.  In fact, only about 45% of those we've found so far have a year associated with their settlements. And sometimes the colony was founded years before there were actual people inhabiting the colony. The 1,003 colonies in Volhynia have the fewest dates available most likely because how they came to settle in Russia was very different than how those colonies established in the Volga and Black Sea areas did.  They did not come at the invitation of Catherine the Great but were invited by wealthy land owners, which may have meant less official documentation of settlements.  We're still lucky to have a few dates to show how early some of those colonies were settled.

This map does not contain all of the colonies, just those with founding dates.  It can still be searched, but this one I find more entertaining just scrolling around and having a look at the shades of green. The lighter the shade, the earlier the settlement date.

It may not surprise you how many colonies were settled so early in the Volga area, dotting the east bank of the Volga River, but it may surprise you how many colonies were founded after the Russian Revolution and World War I.  The latest year we have thus far is 1934 for the defunct villages of Neu Brienne in Bessarabia, which was occupied by Romania at the time of its founding.

Enjoy the new map and the new year!

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