16 December 2017

And to All a Good Night

Last night, a bunch of rambunctious elves showed up at my house in South Carolina driving a new, dark blue, Jeep Grand Cherokee with temporary Virginia plates.  They said they were here to set up Christmas trees in all of our ancestral villages.

I protested – I did! – but they bribed me with tin of pfeffernüsse, a brick of marble halvah, and a thermos of coffee. They said they'd do all the work, and they promised to take down all the decorations after the holidays and clean up so that you can get back to serious research.

It seemed like a fair trade.

How could I say no?

Looking around nervously to see if any of the neighbors were watching, I said, “Show me the cookies,” and when they did, I said, “Okay, you can come in.”

The pfeffers.

I put all their MAC addresses into my router’s whitelist. After giving them my Wi-Fi SSID and password, the elves quickly went to work. Some scurried about, chasing the cat (she thought they were well-dressed squirrels and chased them back), while others sat quietly around the dining room table looking Google Maps up and drinking coffee. It looked like a miniature Starbucks.  More than once, they giggled uncontrollably at where some of the trees ended up.

“No changing the coordinates,” I yelled from the living room, powdered sugar spraying from my mouth festively on the coffee table before me. They collectively sighed, “Awwwww!”


But, to their credit, they were especially careful with placing trees where villages no longer existed. It seemed important that those places – those special places – got special attention and were not forgotten.  They all gathered in the dining room to make sure it was just right and nodded in agreement before moving on.

Somewhere near Sari-Bash in Crimea, they asked me to ask you, dear readers, to take a screenshot of the tree in your village and share it in email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. They want to see their Christmas trees in the places where your ancestors lived.  They don't care if it’s in a village or a city, on a house or on a road, in a field or underwater (you know what I'm talking about, Neu-Kolonie).

I nodded, and said, “Uh-huh, sure thing, yep. I'll ask,” while taking a bite of a hunk of halvah and sip of strong coffee and letting them melt together.

The halvah.

Hours passed. And by the time the elves finished their work, logged off, packed up their laptops in their Jeep, I was drifting head-long into a sugar coma. They wiped my sticky fingers, dusted the powdered sugar off my face and rinsed the thermos in the kitchen sink.

I heard them say in unison, “Frohe Weihnachten”

And then one said, “Hey, wake her up and ask her how to get to Edisto Beach from here!”

Merry Christmas from the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations Project!
Merry Christmas from the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations Project
(and a bunch of elves!)


15 December 2017

Map Refresh: Final for 2017

For the final map update for 2017, we have updates to the data in Galizien and Central Asia. For Galizien, there are several updates and additions to parishes, one coordinate adjustment (Rosenberg, Lemburg district) and one colony noted now as being a known Mennonite colony (Wiszenka).  For Central Asia, there are seven new locations added: Aschgabad, Buchara, Kozelkov, Krestowo, Neu-Ak-Metschet, Saratowa I, Saratowa II.

Three new maps for the Central Asian colonies, the Siberian colonies and combined into the Asiatic Russian Colonies have been created. 

So, the following maps have been updated:

Siberian Colonies (new map)

Total colonies mapped in the project thus far is 3,973.  That's a good 3,000 more than I ever expected.  Little did I know. But I know a lot more now. 

Hope you find your village!  If not, drop me a note at grsl1763@gmail.com with any details you have about the location and when your ancestors were there.  


Germans from Russia Settlement Locations as of December 2017


04 December 2017

Mennonite Colonies Map from Mennonitische Geschichte und Ahnenforschung

There is a new Google My Map of Mennonite colonies on the site Mennonitische Geschichte und Ahnenforschung.  If you've done any research on German Mennonite colonies in Russia, you probably already know this site well.

The new map is the work of Andreas Tissen and Viktor Petkau.  Their approach was to create a map of all the locations that German Mennonites lived in Russia.  It includes villages founded by Mennonites (majority population), other villages Mennonites lived at one point (minority population), chutors (guts) and forestry land.  Interestingly, the site states that young Mennonite men chose to live and work in forests as an alternative to doing time in the military, and some of these forests are on this map.

The scope of this map is slightly different than that of the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations, but they started with our coordinates and added and corrected (corrections and additions coming to our maps coming soon, and we thank them for this!), and came up with something that I know will be very interesting and useful for those whose focus is researching German Mennonite colonies in Russia.

Please check out the link below for a full description of their project.  Use Google Translate or the Chrome web browser to translate from German if needed.

Mennonite Places in Russia in Google My Maps

Mennonite Places in Russia map from Mennonitische Geschichte und Ahnenforschung Chortitza