03 August 2017

On This Day, 3 August 1767

Another very busy day back on this day in 1767, when eight Volga colonies were founded: Bettinger, Cäsarsfeld, Ernestinedof, Kind, Phillipsfeld, Schöchen, Susannental and Wittman. Of these, Bettinger, Schöchen and Wittman were moved to their present locations in 1770 due to the land on the original locations being unsuitable for farming.

All eight colonies were founded by Baron Canneau de Beauregard, who had arrangement with Catherine the Great to act as her director of settlement.  The terms of the agreement included a promise that he would he would recruit and settle 4,000 colonists in return for a loan to cover transportation costs along with three percent of the settlement area for his own business. In addition, he was to receive an interest-free loan of 350 rubles for the settlement of each 100 colonist families.  He was only able to recruit 2,000 colonists, mostly from the settlement efforts of 7 June and 3 August 1767, after which Catherine, disappointed in his performance, terminated his contract.  Several villages were named for Canneau de Beauregard and his family, and here we see a few:  Ernestinendorf (Beckersdorf) and Philippsfeld after his children and Susannental named for his wife. Historian Jacob Dietz reports that the colony of Cäsarsfeld was also named after Beauregard's commissar, Cesar.

The only other time Beauregard undertook such a large settlement effort was on 7 June 1767, when five colonies were settled in the Volga, although at that time, there were more than double the number of colonists.

Population in 1767
*Some sources list 82
**Settlers spent the winter in other colonies and moved to Kind in 1768.

The location of Betting, Wittmann, Schönchen, Susannental, Kind, Phillipsfeld and Bekerdorf (Ernestinedorf)
 on Karte der deutschen Siedlungen im Wolgagebiet (Map of the German settlements in the Volga Region, AHSGR map #6)

Location of the colony Caesarsfeld Tardieu's map,
Carte des colonies Allemandes étables sur le Volga dans le territoire de Saratov

Present location of the colony Bettinger,
now known as Vorotaevka, Saratov, Russia

Location of the defunct colony Cäsarsfeld. 

Location of the colony Ernestinedorf (Bekersdorf),
now known as Berezovka, Saratov, Russia.

Location of the colony Kind, now
known as Baskatovka, Saratov, Russia 

Location of the colony Susannental, now known as
Sosnovka, a rural municipality of Podlesnoye, Saratov,
 Russia (formerly known as the
German colony Unterwalden).

Location of the colony Wittman,
now known as Zolotovka, Saratov, Russia.

Location of the colony Phillipsfeld, now known
 as Filippovka, Saratov, Russia. 
Location of defunct village Schöchen.

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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