18 July 2017

On This Day, 18 July 1766

Locations of Degott, Schuck and Vollmer on
Karte der deutschen Siedlungen im Wolgagebiet 
(Map of the German settlements in the Volga Region,
AHSGR map #6)
On this day, 18 July 1766, three Volga Mother colonies were founded: Degott, Schuck and Vollmer. All were founded as Roman Catholic colonies by French settlement agent Jean de Boffe, who, along with Antoine Meusnier de Precour and Quentin Benjamin Coulhette d'Hautervive, formed one of the three groups of vyzyvateli that settled foreigners in Russia beginning in 1764.  

Population of Degott, courtesy of
The Center for Volga German Studies.

Degott was founded as a Catholic colony. In the year of founding, it had 12 households with a total of 34 colonists, 15 male and 19 female. The colony stayed relatively small according to population records. As of 1926, it had a school with grades one through four and a cooperative store.

The colony no longer exists.

Location of the defunct Volga colony Degott.

Plat map of Schuck, courtesy of History of the Village of Schuck.
Schuck was settled by 29 families from the Palatinate and Mainz, according to some sources as early as 1764, although most agree that 1766 was the founding year. The colony was named after its first leader, Jakob Schuck, and by decree, it was given the Russian name of Gryaznovatka on 26 February 1768.

The colony had four streets about one kilometer in length laid out northwest to southeast direction. The colonists built dams and created retention ponds to collect snowmelt and rainwater for their livestock. Drinking water was taken from a nearby spring, and although two wells were available closer to some homes, colonists often still went to the spring for their water. 

Location of the defunct colony of Schuck.
The residents of Schuck were deported on 16 September 1941 to villages in Siberia.  Schuck was used as a prison camp between 1942 to 1944. The Soviets closed the church and used it as a granary before dismantling it and using the lumber to build a new sarpinka factory. 

The colony no longer exists.

Plat map of Vollmer, courtesy of AHSGR village files.

Vollmer (Volmer and also Kopenka) was founded with 47 families from Mainz, the Palatinate and Trier on the Bergseite side of the Volga River about 100 versts southwest of Saratov (about 102 kilometers or 84 miles).  Some sources state that settlement began earlier, in 1764.  It was named after the first mayor of the colony, Nikolaus Vollmer. 

According to one undated village history from the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia: 

"The colony has 2,219 desyatina of arable land, (about 6000 acres of land suitable for crops), including 600 acres hay-making lands. Each settling family received about 80-90 acres, but as their ons matured and married the land was sub-divided to give each male land. Eventually the lots became too small to be sustainable....The villagers are employed as: tailors, millers, shoemakers, weavers, producers of printed calico (sarpinka), coopers (barrel makers), carpenters, blacksmiths, wheelwrights and beggars, in addition to their farming....Most sow wheat, followed by rye, oats, barley, millet and sunflowers."

Location of Vollmer, known today as Lugovoye, 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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