29 September 2017

Valley of Good Fortune: Glückstal, Odessa, Russia

When Russian Tsar Alexander I issued his manifesto of 20 February 1804, German families wasted no time immigrating to Süd Rußland, South Russia.

Location of Glückstal on Karl Stumpp's
Karte der deutschen Siedlungenim Gebiet Odessa, AHSGR map #2
The first Glückstal colonists – three German families – arrived between 1804 and 1805, just after Russian Tsar Alexander I published his Manifesto opening up the Black Sea for colonization by experienced farmers.  They were settled into the Armenian village of Grigoripol on the Dnister River. In 1805, another 67 families from Württemberg and settled in Grigoripol, too.  In 1806, another nine more families from Warsaw settled there, and in 1807, another 24 German families from Hungary arrived.

The district of Glückstal wasn't officially established until 1808, and the Glückstal colony, a Lutheran colony, wasn't founded until the spring of 1809, when 106 families were resettled from Grigoripol to the Moldavian village of Glinnoi due to conflicts with the Armenians in the village.  And additional 19 families arrived that same year.

View of Glückstal from one of the Neuer Haus- und Landwirtschaftskalender für deutsche Ansiedler im südlichen Russland und Kalender at the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen in Stuttgart. Photo courtesy of Gerhard Walter's photo gallery.

Upon resettlement, the story goes, Councilor von Rosenkampf, the president of the Colonists' Welfare Committee Association exclaimed, "Das ist euer Glück!"  This is your fortune!  They renamed the colony Glückstal – the Valley of Good Fortune.

The colonists in Glückstal were experienced farmers and craftsmen, per the requirements for immigration of Alexander's manifesto.  In 1825, the list of craftsmen included the following: 5 millers, 4 cobblers, 4 tailors, 4 blacksmiths, 1 weaver, 1 baker, 2 oil pressers, 2 coopers, 2 masons, 1 shepherd, 2 cabinet makers, 1 butcher, 1 harness maker, 1 glove maker, 1 locksmith and 1 doctor.

As for crops, the colonists grew very little rye and more summer wheat than winter wheat, along with oats, barley, corn and potatoes.  They also had extensive beekeeping operations.  The Russian government strongly advocated planting trees, and although the soil was rich, it was too dry. There were willows and acacia trees, but attempts to grow oak trees to maturity failed.  In the orchards, there were apples, plums, pears, cherries, peaches, apricots, mulberries, and according to the 1848 report, that year there were about 519 acres of vineyards with 465,400 vines.

According to a memoir by Mathilda (Schöll) Dollinger from The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America, A Bicentennial Collection of History, Genealogy & Folklore, the grapes grown in Glückstal were plentiful and so sweet that no additional sugar was needed to ferment them into wine. And often so much wine was made that they ran out of room to store it once the barrels in the cellar were full. The rest was stored in the well.

Martin Schilling (b. 1767) of Steinsfurt, Baden – my 4th great-grandfather – and his family was one of the families that arrived in Glückstal in1809. They left from Frankfurt in March and arrived in Glückstal in July, losing a young son, Phillip, along the way or at least before the first Revisionliste in 1816.

Below are photos of pages from Evangelisch Zeugnis der Wahrheit, known as the "Lutheran preacher's book" or "Lutheran prayerbook" in my family.  Martin Schilling bought this book with him from Germany when he immigrated to Glückstal in 1809. He was 14 years old the year the book was published, 1781, making it possibly a confirmation gift.  It was passed from father to eldest son to eldest son, and so on. His great-grandson, Johann Schilling (my great-grandfather, b. 1872 in Glückstal), brought it to the United States with him when he immigrated in 1898.  From there it went to Jacob Schilling (my grandfather, b. 1901 on the the Schilling homestead near Wishek, North Dakota), then to Cornelius Schilling (my father, b. 1928 on the Schilling farm, nine miles north, 2 miles west of Bowdle, South Dakota).  

At that point, I intercepted the next handoff for the sake of preservation.  

The front page of Evangelisch Zeugnis der Wahrheit published 1781.  Martin Schilling bought this book with him from Steinsfurt, Baden, Germany when he immigrated to Glückstal in 1809.  Photo courtesy of Sandy Schilling Payne.

The inside page of the book has signatures. The name at the top is Friderich Schilling.  It's not certain which Friderich Schilling this was, but it's possible it was Martin Schilling's father (my 5th great-grandfather, b. 1726 in Daudenzell, Baden).  Wilhelm Schilling (b. 1841 in Glückstal) in the center was Johann's father, Martin's grandson.  And the smaller Wilhelm below the date could've been Wilhelm Sr.'s youngest son, also Wilhelm (b. 1883 in Glückstal), practicing his signature. 

The inside page of the book is written "Glückstal 1893."   Signatures of Friderich Schilling, Wilhelm Schilling and another Wilhelm Schilling (probably the elder Wilhelm's youngest son). Photo courtesy of Sandy Schilling Payne.

This cross stitch bookmark was made by Rosina (Keszler) Schilling (my great-grandmother, b. 1873 in Glückstal or Neu-Glückstal) for her husband, Johann Schilling, sometime after they married in November 1895.  It says "Aus Libe Vergiß Mein nicht" – For Love Forget Me Not, signed with her initials, RS.

It was kept tucked in the Lutheran prayerbook for close to 120 years. 

A cross stitch bookmark made by Rosina (Keszler) Schilling.
Photo courtesy of Sandy Schilling Payne.

Location of Glückstal, known today as Hilinaia, Transnistria, Moldova. 

Learn More: 
Black Sea German ResearchHistory of Glückstal
Germans from Russia Settlement LocationsGlückstal Colonies Google map
Glückstal Colonies Research Association
The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America, A Bicentennial Collection of History, Genealogy & Folklore, Glückstal Colonies Research Association, 2004.
Odessa3 – A German-Russian Genealogical Library