15 August 2017

On This Day, 15 August 1767

Two Volga Mother colonies were founded on 15 August in 1767: Hockerberg and Norka. 

Hockerberg, also known as Bohn, was founded by Baron Ferdinand de Canneau de Beauregard, a settlement agent hired by Catherine the Great. Sources state that the colonists, who came from Darmstadt, Württemberg and Lorraine, arrived in 1767 and wintered in other colonies before settling Hockerberg. It was originally located near the Malyy Karaman, but in 1770 it was moved to its current location. Hockerberg was a Lutheran colony and had a church constructed of wood in 1858 that could seat 800 worshipers. It appears that few original German building still stand. You can still see the outlines of the old farmsteads of the colony to the southwest of town where the cemetery is. 

Location of Hockerberg, known today
as Alexandrovka, Saratov, Russia.
The location of Hockerberg on
Karte der deutschen Siedlungen im Wolgagebiet
(Map of the German settlements in the Volga Region, 
AHSGR map #6)

Norka was was a Crown Colony, founded by the Russian government.  According to the Norka Russia website (a detailed and impeccably maintained history of the colony):

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

"After more than a year of very difficult travel from their homelands, the colonists arrived in the frontier town of Saratov in early August 1767. During a brief stay in Saratov, each household was provided with rubles, wagons, saddles, horses, cows, timber, and other necessary items. These items were provided in the form of a loan to be repaid to the Russian government after ten years in three equal installments. The government established the Saratov Office for the Guardianship of Foreign Settlers (known as the Kontora) to monitor and assist the colonists as needed.

"From Saratov, the colonists continued under the escort of Russian military officers to the banks of the Norka River. The first transport group arrived at the settlement site on Wednesday, August 15, 1767.* This group comprised the majority of the first settlers including the three original Vorsteher (group elders or leaders): Johann Conrad Weigandt, a stocking maker from Bönstadt, Isenburg, Johann Heinrich Brill a stonemason from Neuenschmidten, and Philipp Peter Roth a farmer from Pfalz. All three of these men arrived together at Oranienbaum aboard the Russian pink "Slon" (the Elephant) on August 9, 1766."

Location of Norka, know today as Nekrasovo, Saratov, Russia.
*Norka's founding date of August 15, 1767 was a Wednesday under the Julian calendar which was used in the Russian Empire during this time period. The date calculation was performed at CalendarHome.com.

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.