12 August 2017

On This Day, 12 August 1764

The location of Galka on 
Karte der deutschen Siedlungen im Wolgagebiet 
(Map of the German settlements in the Volga Region, 
AHSGR map #6).
The Lutheran colony of Galka (Ust-Kulalinka, Усть-Кулалинка, Jackdaw, Галка), was founded on this day, 12 August 1764 by the Russian Government on the Lower Volga. It was located at the point where the Galka river enters the Volga river on older maps. The waterways around Galka are significantly different today from what Karl Stumpp recorded on his map of the Volga. The Russian name of the village was Ust-Kulalinka, the name of another body of water which also emptied into the Volga at the bend. 
Originally there were 43 households made up 157 colonists, 74 male, 73 female. They came mostly from Hesse and the areas of the upper Rhine.  About one third of the land was suitable for farming and hay making.  Over time, the families who lived there farmed elsewhere. 

Below is from a document titled "Remembrances of Christian Kerbs, Russell, Kansas of Ust-Kulalinka (Galka) on the Volga in Russia," from the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia village files, dated 18 May 1990.

"The Kerbs family was a little better off financially than some. When the new colony was founded across the Volga to the East, the Kerbs family bought their land there.  They did very little farming at Galka, as they were allotted so little. During the growing seasons, they would go by boat across the river and stay for a month at a time to do their farming. Usually, the crops were left on the east side until the river froze over and then the crops were brought home with large sleds across the ice. Chris said the town of Alt Galka was situated up in a little mountain like valley. The mills were all down in a deep ravine and when the Volga would get to flood stage, the mills would be inundated." 

Dick Krause wrote in his photo essay, My Visit to Galka, 19 May 2001:

"Galka sits on the banks of the Volga, the views of which are simply breathtaking... The Volga is so dominant, it is almost impossible for me to think of the village without thinking immediately of the river."

The view of Galka when first approached.  Photo courtesy of Dick Krause.
See his full photo essay of his visit to to Galka the spring of 2001 here.

A German-built house in Galka. Photo courtesy of Dick Krause.
See his full photo essay of his visit to to Galka the spring of 2001 here.

Detail of a gate next to a German
house in Galka.
Photo courtesy of Dick Krause.

Learn More: 
American Historical Society of Germans from RussiaVillage Files
Center for Volga German Studies – Galka
Lower Volga ProjectGalka
Galka on the Volga2001 photos
Volga German Institute – Galka
WolgadeutschJackdaw (Galka, Ust-Kulalinka)

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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