25 July 2017

On This Day, 25 July 1765

The location of Fischer on
Karte der deutschen Siedlungen im Wolgagebiet
(Map of the German settlements in the Volga Region,
AHSGR map #6)
Fischer (Фишер) was founded as a Lutheran colony by the Crown on 25 July 1765, although some sources cite it being settled as early as 1764. It was located on the Wiesenseite side of the Volga and named after an early settler.  An order dated 26 February 1768* declared all German villages should have Russian names.  The Russian name for Fischer was Telyauza (Теляуза), named for the nearby creek.

According to one account, at founding, 2,300 acres were allocated as arable. Unfortunately, 135 acres of hay fields and forest were washed away by the Telyauza creek between 1765 and 1798. In addition, much of the other land was too saline or sandy to farm, and repeated attempts to cultivate the land resulted in failed crops. The final total of usable farm land ended up being only 682 acres.

The current name of Fischer is Krasnaya Polyana, Saratov, Russia; however, that name does not show up on Google Maps. And of you search for the name Krasnaya Polyana in Google Maps, you will be taken to a different Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. One of Google Map's sources for place names is the GEONet Names Server (GNS), which is among the sources we also use for current and historical name validation. The name is recorded as an "unapproved" name. All the evidence it presents, including the historical name of "Fisher", confirms the current name. Regardless, it seems Google Maps doesn't include the name.

Long explanation short: Be sure to include the coordinates wherever you use the name in your research so that you can be sure you always have the correct location. You never know when the name is going to change again.

Location of Fischer, unofficially known today as Krasnaya Polyana, Saratov, Russia

*Regarding renaming the German settlements in Russia, neither the original document nor the text of the 26 February 1768 "decree" survived. It was likely destroyed at some point, but references to it permeate early Volga colony histories, leaving little doubt that it did indeed exist. The details remain lost to history.  It was not on the Russian law books for that period, so it was probably simply a directive out of the Saratov of the Guardianship Office of Foreign Settlers. Renaming of villages was pretty constant through World War II, making a list of all such names particularly valuable to researchers.

Learn More: 
American Historical Society of Germans from Russia - Village Files
Center for Volga German Studies - Fischer
Volga German Institute - Fischer
Wolgadeutsche (History of the Volga Germans) - Fischer

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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