14 August 2017

On This Day, 14 August 1764

The Volga colony of Schilling was founded today, 14 August 1764.  Its Russian name given to it in 1768 was Sosnovka (Сосновка), by which it still goes today.  Schilling was a port colony with large commercial cargo and passenger docks. During the famine of 1921, the port of Schilling received shipments of relief supplies distributed to the colonies on the Bergseite. 

The Volga colony of Schilling, courtesy of Wolgadeutsche. Photo by Alexander Baskatov.

Below is a letter published in Die Welt-Post, a German language newspaper read by many Volga German immigrants in the United States and Canada, published between 13 April 1916 to 18 September 1970. The translation is a part of the American Historical Society's village files.

Die Welt-Post, Thursday, September 11, 1924
Headline: Letters from Russia 

The location of Schilling on
Karte der deutschen Siedlungen im Wolgagebiet
(Map of the German settlements in the Volga Region, 
AHSGR map #6)
Schilling, 31 July 

To John Roh, 222 Van Wagoner St., Flint, Michigan 

Dear Children Johannes and Maria: 

On 2 July we received your letter of 11 June and we are happy that you are well. I would have written sooner but I had no money for postage and had to wait and see how the harvest turned out. 

From 3 Desjatinen (8 acres) planted in Rye, I harvested 12 Pud (132 lbs). With Wheat it was still much worse. 

For 3 months there was not a drop of rain. Now almost every day there are passing showers so we have hope for the Sunflowers and Potatoes. As for Fodder, we here in Schilling have no problems because we used our Wheat for it, but in other villages they cry out to heaven in distress over the Fodder shortage. 

 The impending shortages have caused so much fear among the people that markets are overflowing with cattle and prices are very cheap, but produce prices are rising daily. The government has acted quickly to put an end to the panic by sending a representative to the villages and reprimanding them, telling them not to sell their property and to trust the government to provide seed, bread and fodder. Also it was published in the newspapers that the harvest failure was not widespread throughout Russia. In Ukraine and the Caucusus and in many other parts of Russia, farm production is such that Russia will not harvest any less on average than it did last year. 

This is easy to believe because thousands of Pud of Rye have arrived for seeding, and thus the government will also provide for others in need. 

I sold my oxen for 170 Rubel and bought a pair of horses for 180 Rubel. Now I will sell Hay and buy a cow. We are in the midst of harvesting hay. 

Now, I ask of you, send a pair of eyeglasses for the 52 year old. We have not been able to set aside anything for them for we would otherwise lose the Hops and Malt because of the high release tax we must pay. 

Goebel's Feede was here recently on a visit. They are in Baku. 

Your parents-in-law are well. We returned home yesterday from mowing grass on the Wiesenseite where we were together with them. 

The Rubel is once again strong and has more value than the inflationary currency. There are perhaps those people who are going mad counting their old money which now has no worth. 

Location of the Volga colony Schilling, still known by its
Russian name given to it in 1768, Sosnovka.
Our family now consists of 7 souls. All will soon be adults and will have to go to work for Faust. Then life will be easier. We would like to send you some photographs but are not able to afford the best packaging. Send us some money for it. 

We do not know when we will next go to the market (words obscured) children forgotten and do help. 

As for you, Johannes, don't be so lazy and write to us more bits of news. Of Strackbeins one can always hear something of interest. 

 With greetings from us, you parents: 

 J and E. Roh

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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