15 July 2017

On This Day, 15 July 1766 and 1767

On this day, two Volga Mother colonies were founded by LeRoy and Pictet:  Reinhard in 1766 and Seelmann in 1767. 

Location of Reinhardt on
Karte der deutschen Siedlungen im Wolgagebiet
(Map of the German settlements in the Volga Region,
AHSGR map #6)
Reinhard was founded on 15 July 1766 and was given it's official Russian name of Osinovka, which it still goes by today, on 26 February 1768.

A Lutheran colony, it was originally a part of the Rosenheim parish. The parish of Reinhard was founded in 1820 and had 14,527 baptized members as of 1905. At this time the population in Reinhard was 2,038.

By 1926, the colony was a soviet seat and had a cooperative store, an agricultural kolkhoz (collective farm) founded with loans, a school with grades one through four and a traveling library.

Location of the Volga colony Reinhard,
known today as Osinovka, Saratov, Russia

Location of Seelmann on
Karte der deutschen Siedlungen im Wolgagebiet
(Map of the German settlements in the Volga region,
AHSGR map #6)
Seelmann was a Catholic colony founded on 15 July 1767 by colonists from the areas of Mainz, Alsace, and Isenburg in Germany and from Luxembourg.

From "Das Grosse, Schoene Dorf Seelmann-Rownoje an der Wolga," a personal recollection of the colony by Raimund Laikam, translated by Alex Herzog, courtesy of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection

"At the onset of World War I, the village had 14 streets, a population of over 12,000 souls, and more than 3,000 farm estates. By far most of the residents were German Catholics; only two percent were Lutherans and another two percent were Russians.

"The World War, the Civil Wars, and the famine of 1921-1922 made the village smaller by three streets, so that during my time, there were only 11 streets left. From the main street, which divided the village into an upper and a lower village, there was merely one road leading to the Volga River.

"Near Seelmann, the Volga forms a branch of the river that is called Saton; it had two sand islands that were grown over with grazing pasture. During the 1930s, Volga sailors would stop at Seelmann. Subsequently, the Saton became too shallow, causing ships to bypass the stop. Today there is no longer a part of the Volga at Seelmann. The dam at Volgograd caused a small lake to be formed there.

Drawing of the farmstead of Leo Laikam, father of Raimund Laikam, in Seelmann.
Courtesy of GHRC.
"In 1982, when my wife and I visited our home village, we found it to be deserted, in ruins, seedy and dirty - and that only 41 years after our deportation from the beautiful village."

Plat map of Seelmann. Courtesy of GHRC.

Location of the Volga colony Seelmann, known today as Rovnoye, Saratov, Russia.

Learn More: 
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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