27 June 2017

On This Day, 27 June 1766

Katharinenstadt was founded by Baron Ferdinand de Canneau de Beauregard, a settlement agent hired by Catherine the Great, on 27 June 1766.  Interestingly, the founding families were Protestant (both Lutheran and Reformed) and Roman Catholic.  Later there was also a Russian Orthodox Church.  

The population schedules show the colony grew, beginning with 83 households and 283 colonists in 1766 to 1,306 households in 1910, with 15,370 inhabitants.  

Location of Katharinenstadt on
Karte der deutschen Siedlungen im Wolgagebiet
(Map of the German settlements in the Volga region, AHSGR map #6)

The 1798 enumeration included a description of the colony.  Text courtesy of Wolgadeutsche (History of the Volga Germans). 

May 1798
On behalf of the supervisory authority
Chief judge, court councilor [Hofrat] Popov

       The colony lies on the meadow side of the Volga on the Winterweg, which stretches from the government town of Saratov to the district town of Wolsk.   It is located 1.5 km from the river, 50 km from Saratov and 55 km from Wolsk. The colony consists of 153 households with a total of 779 inhabitants, of which 389 are male and 390 female. The population consists of three confessions: 86 families are Lutheran, 30 Roman Catholic, and 37 families are reformed. Each confession has its own church building. The municipalities of the colonies of Orlovskaya, Obermonjou, Boisroux, Kaneau, Beauregard, Paulskaya, Niedermonjou, Philippsfeld   and Ernestinendorf also belong to the parishionersThe Reformed have their own priest, The Lutherans and Catholics are served by priests invited from other colonies. There is a school building where the children of the local inhabitants are taught by teachers (schoolmasters) in reading, writing and religion.
       The lands of this colony are from one side of the Volga river, the other from the lands of the colony of Obermonjou, from the third and last side of the territories belonging to the colonists of the villages of Boisroux   and Boregard, and the heath of the former   colony Caesars field.   Within these limits, the following countries are assigned to the colony: usable farmland - 2,100 desjatins, brown soils - 1,100 D., 500 D. forest. In addition, it was assigned to Heideland, which is located 20 versts from the colony, at the mouth of the small river Volaman Karaman and the Karaman to the Boisroux colony. These are 110 D. Heuschlag and 140 D. Wald. This makes a total of 3,950 D. However, this area is not being processed by farmers by more than 1,200. Approximately 100 D. Land are taken from the farms, 5 - from roads. The rest of the usable land serves as pasture. This country is not worked, the peasants claim it is not usable: sandy and salty. That is why, in view of the large number of the population, they feel a lack of usable land and cultivate more tobacco instead of grain, which, however, produces less income than if they could grow crops.
       Many colonists still produce large quantities of tobacco and grain for sale. On the Volga there is a good place to visit, and every week merchants come with their trucks and buy their products from the colonists. On Mondays, market days are organized, to which many colonists also come from the mountain side of the Volga. From the surrounding Russian villages many craftsmen sell their products with great profit. The trade here is very favorable, since the goods are easy to transport on the waterways. There are merchants from up to the upper regions of the Volga River. The industrious colonists enjoy   good conditions which are   not granted to other neighbors. They trade trade with rich merchants from Saratov and even from Poland.   There they got permission to set up branches and even build houses. Some produce handicrafts which they exchange favorably in other colonies along the main road for hay, sheep and other articles of use. That is why they live rather well.
       The local inhabitants have nearly 800 desjatins haylofts and 80 desjatins forest, where aspen, ashes and other trees grow. Several previous haystacks were washed away by the high waters of the Volga. There was only sand left. The forests were cut down. So that today a great lack of hibernation and forest reigns. Feed for livestock and firewood must be purchased during the year's markets. To heat the cooking stove mainly peat and marbles are used, which testifies to the colony's poor location. There are almost no ways to fix the shortcomings of farmland in the colony. Therefore, the colonists demand that they be given rights to the nearby Heideland, which was handed over to the Bashkiere in 1797. These countries are about 25 or 30 versts from their place of residence. They could build chutors there and run agriculture with success. Apart from these lands, there is no way to remedy the lack of meadows and forests. Everything else they can buy cheaply, as stated above, during the annual markets.
       The buildings are in good condition, but a bit old. The roads are well secured. In the colony there is a wooden church. A house is built of bricks. Others are built of good   wood. The rest of the buildings are made up of cattle, with cattle and barns. The courtyards are all fenced. Behind every house there is a garden where all sorts of vegetables are cultivated. In the colony there is a large drying-house for tobacco. Many orchards and hives are also found in the colony. There is also a brickyard where red bricks are made, and three windmills. On a river there is a water mill, where the grain of the colonists and also from other villages is ground from the mountain side. The owners of the mill have a good income.
       The farmland, which is near the colony, is divided into three long fields. The next fields are fertilized with cow dung and plowed with plows. The grain is harvested and threshed in the same way, as is also the case in the other colonies. The community grain storage is in order and in a safe place built. According to the file of the Saratov Ministry of Treasury and of the Economic Director, 127 grain value of the grain stored in it since 1793 is wheat   (1 liter value = 210 liters). According to the pickling woods with which the delivery was registered, there have been no further deliveries since nothing has been sown.
       The inhabitants have a sufficient quantity of cattle, which is periodically enlarged. Only chickens are kept by poultry. There is no shortage of self-made products other than flax and hemp. These can, however, be easily and cheaply procured on the markets of the year, when the inhabitants come from the mountain side with their boats across the Volga. There are no fixed   selling prices, they vary according to the prevailing conditions. Last year, rye was used for 2 rubles, wheat - for 3.50, barley for 2,   oat for 1.30, millet for 1.80 ruble, peas for 3 rubles, potatoes for 1 ruble 30 kopecks the value and tobacco for 1 Rubel the Pud sold.
       In the colony there are a total of 82 buildings.

After 1917, the colony became known as Marxstadt, and today it continues to be known as Marx

Location of the Volga colony Katharinenstadt, now known as Marx. 

Learn More: 
Volga Germans - Katharinenstadt
Geschichte der Russlanddeutschen (History of Russian Germans) - Baron Canneau de Beauregard
Volga Germans Germans from Russia - Katharinenstadt
Volga German Institute - Katharinenstadt
Wolgadeutsche (History of the Volga Germans) - Ekaterinenshtadt

2017 marks the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Mother colonies along the Volga River. There are many events throughout the year to commemorate the anniversary, and the Germans from 
Russia Settlement Locations project joins in the celebration of this rich Volga German heritage.  

The German immigrants that came to the Volga region were among first colonists to take up Catherine the Great on her manifesto. They came from Hesse, the Rhineland, the Palatinate and Württemberg.  They are also among the most well researched and documented groups of German colonists in Russia. Thus far, the Volga Mother colonies settled between 1764 and 1767 are the only colonies that have precise dates they were settled.  

For more historical and current events related to Germans from Russia, see our calendar page or link to our public Google calendar.

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