21 December 2018

Stille Nacht

For this Christmas season, the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations has compiled a collection of Kirchen und Weihnachtslieder – Churches and Christmas carols.  
The churches once stood in former German colonies across the Imperial Russian Empire. They are paired with traditional German Christmas hymns still sung today. The sources for the photos are indicated on each, and while most do not have dates, the majority are from the early 20th century, all prior to WWII when most of the churches were defaced or completely destroyed by the Soviets. Many of the hymns became popular in the 19th century and found their way from Germany to our German ancestors living in Russia. Descendants of Germans from Russia still sing them today.

Wherever your ancestors may have lived, from Volhynia to the Black Sea, from St. Petersburg to the Volga, from the Caucasus to Siberia, long ago they gathered in these churches and sang these songs on Christmas. When you look at these images and perhaps play this music, maybe, just maybe, you'll hear their voices.  

Fröhliche Weihnachten!  


26 November 2018

Current Event in the Context of Ancestral Villages

Often I search the maps on this site when I'm reading articles about Germans from Russia history to give me an idea of where the events took place, where the mentioned villages were, how close they were to each other, etc. The whole point of the maps on the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations is to bring current context to historical locations, specifically our German ancestral villages in Russia.

This past weekend (25 November 2018), I was using the maps to look at a current event – Russia's attacks of Ukrainian ships at the Kerch Straight between the Black Sea and Sea of Azov.

There have been several graphics from news organizations in the past 24 hours showing where the attacks occurred, but I thought some context in terms of where our Germans from Russia ancestors lived....and where some of our relatives still live...might be helpful.

And overview of the area of the conflict. Source: Map4News. Graphic by Jiachaun Wu, NBC News.

This is the same area as shown in the NBC News graphic with German ancestral villages in what was Imperial Russia at the time most were founded, but today span across (left to right) Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. 

This is a close up showing the Kerch Straight, the Sea of Azov and the city of Mariupol.

Keep in mind that you can search the map for any place, whether or not it's a historical German village, using the magnifying glass icon in top right corner of the legend on the left of the screen. At the bottom of the items listed, you'll see other suggestions such as "Move map to" or "From Google." It will drop a pin on the map, perhaps amongst our ancestral villages.

This is a good example of why the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations project is a living document and why it's not just published and put on a shelf.

Things can change in a weekend.


06 November 2018

Death of Catherine the Great

Painting of Catherine the Great by Fedor Rokotov (1763, Tretyakov gallery). Source WikiCommons.

Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst
Born: Slettin, Pomerania, 21 April (2 May) 1729
Died: Saint Petersburg, Russia, 6 (17) November 1796
Reigned: 1762-1796

Empress Catherine II died on this day, 6 November 1796 (17 November according to the Gregorian calendar), of a stroke in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  She was 67 years old.  Without her rising to the position she held for 34 years and her famous manifesto issued in 1763, there would be no Germans from Russia.  She brought Russia "from the mindset of the Middle ages into the modern world of the 18th century" and was the last ruling Tsarina of the Imperial Russian Empire. 

The grand opening of the monument honoring Catherine the Great in Odessa, Russia in 1900.  Source: WikiCommons.

The moument honoring Catherine the Great in Odessa, Ukraine as it stands today.
Photo by Dennis Bender, May 2017.


16 October 2018

Max Kade Institute Friends Newsletter

The fall 2017 of the Max Kade Institute Friends Newsletter featuring the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations project is now online on their website as a back issue.  You can download the full issue for free here.


15 October 2018

"They make you think big thoughts..."

Every map tells a story.

The New York Times published a special section this past weekend in both their print and online editions that show an interactive map of almost every building in the United States. Every black speck on it is a building.

A map of every building in the United States.

It reminded me of Karl Stumpp's Map of the Russian-German Settlements in the USA and Mexico.  Every triangle, circle and square is a town where Germans from Russia settled in the U.S. between 1874 and 1920.

A map of every (?) German-Russian town in the US between 1874 and 1920.
Partial "Map of the Russian-German Settlements in the USA and Mexico" by Karl Stumpp.  Click to view the full version. 

Without plotting out every town in the U.S. (maybe a new map soon?), just looking at the two reveals that our ancestors who came to America went where no one else wanted to go.  They, for the most part, settled where there was nothing else. And they started to build...and 140+ years later, we've made black specks on the map.

The online version of the New York Times' map came across my newsfeed Saturday morning, and being that it was a rainy day in southern Arizona, I spent some time playing with it.  I searched for places I'd lived, where my grandparents lived, and where my great-grandparents had homesteaded. I noticed where the towns ended was not the end of the buildings. The data had picked up the farms – houses, barns, etc.

Map nerd that I am, as I zoomed in, I couldn't help but think how much the images looked like the plat maps of our ancestral villages that we cherish so much when we find them – boxes indicating that someone remembered that something was here. Someone lived here.  Someone went to church here.  Someone was buried here.

Below are a few towns in the U.S. that were settled by and, in many cases, are still home to descendants of Germans from Russia.

Eureka, South Dakota was a major hub of Germans from Russia in the Dakotas. Most who settled in and around Eureka were Protestants from the Black Sea area of Russia. 

Gotebo, Oklahoma was home to Mennonite Germans from Russia.
Liebenthal, Kansas was home to Catholic Volga Germans from Russia. 

Pfeifer, Kansas' sister village in Russia was also named Pfeiffer, a Catholic village in the Volga region. 

Reedley, California was home to Mennonite Germans from Russia.

German settlers in Rifle, Colorado were Protestants from the Volga area of Russia.

Scottsbluff, Nebraska was home to Volga Germans of both the Catholic and Protestant faiths. 

German settlers in Sedgwick, Colorado were Protestants from the Volga area of Russia. 

Strasburg, North Dakota's sister village in Russia was Strassburg, Kutschurgan, Odessa. It became home to Catholics from that Black Sea village. 

Wishek, North Dakota was home to many Protestant Black Sea Germans from Russia. 

Zurich, Montana was home to Protestant German settlers from the Black Sea area of Russia

The authors of the New York Times article went on to write about how at one time in the not so distant past, every car's glove box contained folded road maps. Each map took you only so far when you'd have to pick up another map to continue your trip. The maps helped us trace our connection to other places.

It's probably not surprising to you that I have a box filled with old road maps that serve as reminders of nearly every road trip I ever took from the time I got my driver's license in 1983.

The article continues:
"Fewer of us use maps like that today. We gaze at our phones, pinching and stretching an image but seeing the world through a little rectangular window.  
"The phone's guidance is better, but the view is not. We're less likely to know what we are driving past. 
"'We lose what's fascinating about a place by not having this bigger picture,' said Susan Crawford, a professor at Harvard Law School whose work involves cities and and technology, who looked at the images at our request. 'They make you think big thoughts...'"

Big thoughts.
Current map of German from Russia Settlement Locations

Learn More:

  • Map of the Russian-German Settlements in the USA and Mexico. This is one of Karl Stumpp's lesser known maps indicating towns in the United States and Mexico that were settled by Germans from Russia. It contains special maps of those states that had dense populations of Germans from Russia: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Northern Colorado and Northern Oklahoma.
  • Germans from Russia in Campbell, Nebraska History. This recounts one of the early Volga groups who, after learning about Alexander II's decision to revoke the German colonists' rights granted to them by Catherine the Great and Alexander I, went to the United States in search of new land. After a short time in Wisconsin, the Burlington Railroad took them to Nebraska.
  • "The Migration of Russian-Germans to Kansas," by Norman E. Saul. Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains, Spring 1974 (Vol. 4, No. 1), pp. 38-62. Kansas was well advertised as a place for immigrants to settle. The state of Kansas had already established the Kansas Immigration Society by 1871, and with the blessing of the society, the railroads launched a major advertising campaign to draw immigrants to the area, including free transportation by rail once they arrived. Contingents of Volga Germans investigated moving to Kansas as early as 1874. This article does into the symbiotic relationship between Kansas and the Germans from Russia.

11 October 2018

Rastatt and München, Beresan Enclave

München and Rastatt on Karl Stumpp's "Map of the German
Settlements in the Odessa region (west part of the Gouv. Kherson,"
August 1955, AHSGR Map #2. 
Mother colonies Rastatt and München in the Beresan enclave near Odessa were founded on 11 October 1810.  As with many founding dates, sources are not completely in agreement. For these two, some say 1809, and some say spring of 1810. They do, however, seem to agree that they were founded at the same time.

With the Black Sea area newly opened in 1804, the Beresan colonies began to be established between 1809-1819. The two sister colonies were roughly 1 mile (1.6 km) apart. It was common for colonies in a new area to be settled close to each other for support, no doubt a lesson learned from the early Volga colonies that were sometimes alone out on the edge of the Russian Empire and often attacked.

Although a part of the Beresan enclave, they were not located in the Beresan river valley but rather in the Tschitschekleja (Chychykliya) river valley, 10 miles (16 km) to the north. According to one account, the Beresan valley had become overpopulated. The Tschitschekleja river often flooded, leaving standing pools of polluted water in Rastatt and München. This contributed to health problems including a typhoid epidemic in the first years of settlement.

Kolonie München (left) and Kolonie Rastatt (right) on Alexander Ivanovich Mende (Mendt)
"Map of the Tyver province" from 1853. 

Rastatt was a Catholic colony with colonists originating from Baden (14 families from Rastatt, 14 from Waibstadt, eight from Ettlingen, seven from Bretten, three from Meimsheim and one from Bruschal), 44 families from the Palatinate and 22 from Alsace.

By 1913, Rastatt had 338 farmsteads with 3,807 residents along with 21 Russian families, nine Jewish families and two gypsy families in addition to a number of Russian farm hands and maids.

The name was originally spelled R-a-s-t-a-d-t, but both spelling variations were used. Even modern collections will bring up different results depending on the spelling.

Rastatt, the larger sister colony, had been designated a parish from its inception. Its original church was built in 1812 and was in use until 1872 when new church was built at a cost of over 35,000 rubles. It was made of quarried stone, was 140 feet long and 56 feet wide, with two towers which rose to the height of 130 feet.  It served as the parish of two small market towns, Annovka and Kantakuzenka, and the khutors Alexandrovka I, Alexandrovka II, Manov, Neu-Amerika, Ochakov, Savidovka, Skarupka, Svenigorodka, and others in the Ananyev district.  

Catholic church in Rastatt (Rastadt) in 1928. Source: Paradise on the Steppe, Joseph S. Height, p. 318.

The church is gone now, but part of the cemetery remains. The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection's 2004 Journey to the Homeland tour recorded some of the headstones and iron crosses that were still visible.

"Friede seiner Asche"
Large tombstone for Raphael Seelenger, son of Johannes, born 20 August 1887 in Rastadt,
died in Berlin, age 23, on 17 October 1910.  Note that there was a photo on the
 tombstone at one point that has been removed.  Photos on tombstones were customary beginning in the
 early 1900s, and some are still seen in cemeteries across North and South Dakota.

Entrance to the former German cemetery at Rastatt. Photo by Michael M. Miller, 2004.  

"Heir ruht in Gottes Namen"
Wrought iron cross and tombstone for Maria Elisa Stücka.
Photo by Michael M. Miller, 2004.

Plat map of Rastatt as of 1944. Source: Paradise on the Steppe, Joseph S. Height, p. 319.

Today, Rastatt is known as Porichchya, Mykolaiv Oblast, Ukraine. 

München was also a Catholic colony, but there were three Lutheran families in the colony in 1811 around the time of founding. The original colonists consisted of 37 families from villages in the Palatinate, 15 families from Baden and five families from Alsace

In 1872, München began building its church. In 1890, it became it became a parish. The parish included the surrounding khutors, including Bogdanovka, Domanevka (Domanewka), Dvoryanka, Gardegay, Grisa, Heck, Kapitanovka, Karlevka, Kavkas, Khristoforovka, Klandovo, Kratovka, Lerisk, Lubo-Alexandrova, Novo-Nikolayevka, Novoselevka, Selingra (Sirotskoje or Selinger-Chutor), Slepukha and Volkov

From Joseph S. Height's Paradise of the Steppe

"Built of good quarried stone, the church was 130 feet long and 45 feet wide, with a tower only 56 feet high. It was consecrated by Bishop Zerr on May 27, 1890 and dedicated to St. Nicholas. The first parish priest of München was Father Andreas Keller, a native of Selz, who had been ordained three weeks before."

Catholic church in München, Beresan.  Date unknown. Source: Paradise on the Steppe, Joseph S. Height, p. 321.

Ruins of the Catholic church in München, Beresan (identified as Grodowka today by the photographer). Date unknown. Photo by Florian Rühmann, courtesy of GRHC.   https://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/history_culture/town_county/images/munchen/munchen1.jpg (link no longer active)

München today is sometimes referred to as Gradowka after a khutor by that name (also known as Schart-Khutor) which the German-Russian Handbook notes was founded in 1900 near Rastatt. The name Gradowka doesn't appear on any modern map or database, but it's been recorded as an alternate name for München in this project.

Today München is known as Hradivka, Mykolaiv Oblast, Ukraine.

Learn More:

  • "Founding of the German Settlements in the Odessa District and the Origin of the Immigrants," by Karl Stumpp. Translator, Theodore Charles Wenzlaff. Germans from Russia Heritage Society Heritage Review, Vol. 2, No. 2, April 1981, pp. 20-28.
  • German-Russian Handbook: A Reference Book for Russian German and German Russian History and Culture, by Ulrich Mertens. Translators, Brigitte von Budde and Alex Herzog. Second printing, 2010, pp. 536, 623, 649. 
  • Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
    • München
      • Interview with Sister Reinhardt Hecker, conducted by Michael M. Miller, 8 November 1993, Sisters of St. Benedict, Annunciation Priory, Bismarck, North Dakota.
      • Munich (München, today Gradowka), Beresan District Photographs, by Florian Rühmann.  Bonn, Germany. Date unknown. (Link no longer active. https://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/history_culture/town_county/munchen.html)
      • München/Gradowka – Eine Reise in die eigene Geschichte (Munich/Gradowka - A Journey into Your Own History), by Florian Rühmann.  Bonn, Germany. Date unknown. (Link no longer active. https://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/history_culture/town_county/files/munchen.pdf
    • Rastatt
      • A Brief Visit to My Ancestral Village of Rastadt, Ukraine, October 20, 1999, by Suzanne Ellen (Heiser) Crawford, Fairfax, Virginia. (Link no longer active. https://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/outreach/journey/ellen.html)
      • Memories of Rastadt, Beresan District, Ukraine, by Eugenia Gaertner, March 24, 1998. Wingham, Ontario, Canada. (Link no longer active. https://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/history_culture/history/rastadt.htm)
      • 2004 Journey to the Homeland Tour – Photos of the former Catholic German Cemetery in Rastatt (Link no longer active. https://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/outreach/journey/photographs/journey04/jrny046.html)
  • Paradise on the Steppe: A Cultural History of the Kutschurgan, Beresan, and Liebental Colonists 1904-1972, by Joseph H. Height. Fifth printing, 1989, pp. 75, 77, 83, 85, 317-321.

Updated 10 October 2021


23 August 2018

Personal Migration and Resettlement

My ride to Arizona next month.
Image courtesy of the Sheboygan County Historical Research Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

The time has come for me to pack the maps, load the wagon, hitch up the camels and head out to my new colony in a place called Arizona.

True to my German from Russia migratory roots, this will be my 12th move. I'm trading in my palmettos for saguaros and moving back to the U.S. desert southwest after 18½ years on the east coast (Northern Virginia & South Carolina).  I'm looking forward to open space, ample access to green chile and drying out.

Although I've been keeping the social media stream (Twitter and Facebook – please follow one or both if you're into this kind of thing) for this project flowing, I haven't been posting much new over the summer, either on the maps or in story form on the blog. Been busy and otherwise distracted with planning a cross-country move.  

Expect things to get back to normal as we head into the fall, after migration and resettlement is complete. 


22 July 2018

It All Started 255 Years Ago

To paraphrase Søren Kierkegaard, "We live forward but understand backward."

Today, 22 July 2018, is the 255th anniversary of the issuance of Catherine the Great's Manifesto of 1763 inviting foreigners to colonize her Russian Empire.  Whether or not you, as descendants of the Germans who helped settle Russia, believe it was a remarkable offer or a bum deal, you cannot deny the impact this one document had on the continuance of your family, the role your ancestors played in history, and how their decisions then brought you to now. 

A year ago (original post), I wrote about and posted the text of the manifesto. I offer it again today so that we may all just take a moment out of our "forward" to understand our "backward."

By the Grace of God!

We, Catherine the second, Empress and Autocrat of all the Russians at Moscow, Kiev, Vladimir, Novgorod, Czarina of Kasan, Czarina of Astrachan, Czarina of Siberia, Lady of Pleskow and Grand Duchess of Smolensko, Duchess of Esthonia and Livland, Carelia, Twer, Yugoria, Permia, Viatka and Bulgaria and others; Lady and Grand Duchess of Novgorod in the Netherland of Chernigov, Resan, Rostov, Yaroslav, Beloosena, Udoria, Obdoria, Condinia, and Ruler of the entire North region and Lady of the Yurish, of the Carhlinian and Grusinian czars and the Cabardinian land, of the Cherkessian and Gorisian princes and the lady of the manor and sovereign of many others. As We are sufficiently aware of the vast extent of the lands within Our Empire, We perceive, among other things, that a considerable number of regions are still uncultivated which could easily and advantageously be made available for productive use of population and settlement. Most of the lands hold hidden in their depth an inexhaustible wealth of all kinds of precious ores and metals, and because they are well-provided with forests, rivers and lakes, and located close to the sea for purpose of trade, they are also most convenient for the development and growth of many kinds of manufacturing, plants, and various installations. This induced Us to issue the manifesto which was published last Dec. 4, 1762, for the benefit of all Our loyal subjects. However, inasmuch as We made only a summary announcement of Our pleasure to the foreigners who would like to settle in Our Empire, we now issue for a better understanding of Our intention the following decree which We hereby solemnly establish and order to be carried out to the Full.

  1. We permit all foreigners to come into Our Empire, in order to settle in all the gouvernements, just as each one may desire.
  2. After arrival, such foreigners can report for this purpose not only to the Guardianship Chancellery established for foreigners in Our residence, but also, if more convenient, to the governor or commanding officer in one of the border-towns of the Empire.
  3. Since those foreigners who would like to settle in Russia will also include some who do not have sufficient means to pay the required travel costs, they can report to our ministers in foreign courts, who will not only transport them to Russia at Our expense, but also provide them with travel money.
  4. As soon as these foreigners arrive in Our residence and report at the Guardianship Chancellery or in a border-town, they shall be required to state their true decision, whether their real desire is to be enrolled in the guild of merchants or artisans, and become citizens, and in what city; or if they wish to settle on free, productive land in colonies and rural areas, to take up agriculture or some other useful occupation. Without delay, these people will be assigned to their destination, according to their own wishes and desires. From the following register* it can be seen in which regions of Our Empire free and suitable lands are still available. However, besides those listed, there are many more regions and all kinds of land where We will likewise permit people to settle, just as each one chooses for his best advantage.  * The register lists the areas where the immigrants can be settled.
  5. Upon arrival in Our Empire, each foreigner who intends to become a settler and has reported to the Guardianship Chancellery or in other border-towns of Our Empire and, as already prescribed in 4, has declared his decision, must take the oath of allegiance in accordance with his religious rite.
  6. In order that the foreigners who desire to settle in Our Empire may realize the extent of Our benevolence to their benefit and advantage, this is Our will – :
    1. We grant to all foreigners coming into Our Empire the free and unrestricted practice of their religion according to the precepts and usage of their Church. To those, however, who intend to settle not in cities but in colonies and villages on uninhabited lands we grant the freedom to build churches and belltowers, and to maintain the necessary number of priests and church servants, but not the construction of monasteries. On the other hand, everyone is hereby warned not to persuade or induce any of the Christian co-religionists living in Russia to accept or even assent to his faith or join his religious community, under pain of incurring the severest punishment of Our laws. This prohibition does not apply to the various nationalities on the borders of Our Empire who are attached to the Mahometan faith. We permit and allow everyone to win them over and make them subject to the Christian religion in a decent way.
    2. None of the foreigners who have come to settle in Russia shall be required to pay the slightest taxes to Our treasury, nor be forced to render regular or extraordinary services, nor to billet troops. Indeed, everybody shall be exempt from all taxes and tribute in the following manner: those who have been settled as colonists with their families in hitherto uninhabited regions will enjoy 30 years of exemption; those who have established themselves, at their own expense, in cities as merchants and tradesmen in Our Residence St. Petersburg or in the neighboring cities of Livland, Esthonia, Ingermanland, Carelia and Finland, as well as in the Residential city of Moscow, shall enjoy 5 years of tax-exemption. Moreover, each one who comes to Russia, not just for a short while but to establish permanent domicile, shall be granted free living quarters for half a year.
    3. All foreigners who settle in Russia either to engage in agriculture and some trade, or to undertake to build factories and plants will be offered a helping hand and the necessary loans required for the construction of factories useful for the future, especially of such as have not yet been built in Russia.
    4. For the building of dwellings, the purchase of livestock needed for the farmstead, the necessary equipment, materials, and tools for agriculture and industry, each settler will receive the necessary money from Our treasury in the form of an advance loan without any interest. The capital sum has to be repaid only after ten years, in equal annual installments in the following three years.
    5. We leave to the discretion of the established colonies and village the internal constitution and jurisdiction, in such a way that the persons placed in authority by Us will not interfere with the internal affairs and institutions. In other respects the colonists will be liable to Our civil laws. However, in the event that the people would wish to have a special guardian or even an officer with a detachment of disciplined soldiers for the sake of security and defense, this wish would also be granted.
    6. To every foreigner who wants to settle in Russia We grant complete duty-free import of his property, no matter what it is, provided, however, that such property is for personal use and need, and not intended for sale. However, any family that also brings in unneeded goods for sale will be granted free import on goods valued up to 300 rubles, provided that the family remains in Russia for at least 10 years. Failing which, it will be required, upon its departure, to pay the duty both on the incoming and outgoing goods.
    7. The foreigners who have settled in Russia shall not be drafted against their will into the military or the civil service during their entire stay here. Only after the lapse of the years of tax-exemption can they be required to provide labor service for the country. Whoever wishes to enter military service will receive, besides his regular pay, a gratuity of 30 rubles at the time he enrolls in the regiment.
    8. As soon as the foreigners have reported to the Guardianship Chancellery or to our border towns and declared their decision to travel to the interior of the Empire and establish domicile there, they will forthwith receive food rations and free transportation to their destination.
    9. Those among the foreigners in Russia who establish factories, plants, or firms, and produce goods never before manufactured in Russia, will be permitted to sell and export freely for ten years, without paying export duty or excise tax.
    10. Foreign capitalists who build factories, plants, and concerns in Russia at their own expense are permitted to purchase serfs and peasants needed for the operation of the factories.
    11. We also permit all foreigners who have settled in colonies or villages to establish market days and annual market fairs as they see fit, without having to pay any dues or taxes to Our treasury.
  7. All the afore-mentioned privileges shall be enjoyed not only by those who  have come into our country to settle there, but also their children and descendants, even though these are born in Russia, with the provision that their years of exemption will be reckoned from the day their forebears arrived in Russia.
  8. After the lapse of the stipulated years of exemption, all the foreigners who have settled in Russia are required to pay the ordinary moderate contributions and, like our other subjects, provide labor-service for their country. Finally, in the event that any foreigner who has settled in Our Empire and has become subject to Our authority should desire to leave the country, We shall grant him the liberty to do so, provided, however, that he is obligated to remit to Our treasury a portion of the assets he has gained in this country; that is, those who have been here from one to five years will pay one-fifth, while those who have been here for five or more years will pay one-tenth. Thereafter each one will be permitted to depart unhindered anywhere he pleases to go.
  9. If any foreigner desiring to settle in Russia wishes for certain reasons to secure other privileges or conditions besides those already stated, he can apply in writing or in person to our Guardianship Chancellery, which will report the petition to Us. After examining the circumstances, We shall not hesitate to resolve the matter in such a way that the petitioner's confidence in Our love of justice will not be disappointed.

Given at the Court of Peter, July 22, 1763 in the Second Year of Our Reign.

The original was signed by Her Imperial Supreme Majesty's own hand in
the following manner:

Printed by the Senate, July 25,1763


15 July 2018

15 July 1804: Lindenau, Molotschna Founded

Location of Lindenau on Karl Stumpp's "Map of German Settlements
 in the Zaporozhye Region," AHSGR map #21.
When Tsar Alexander II issued his manifesto inviting foreigners to settle in the Black Sea area of Russia, in late February 1804, Mennonites were among the first groups to take him up on the offer.  Skilled farmers settled the Chortitza and Molotschna colonies.

On this day, 15 July 1804, just five months after South Russia was opened for settlement, the Molotschna colony of Lindenau was founded about 13 kilometers southwest of Halbstadt. The 11 founding families of this Mother colony were from West Prussia. The primary occupation in the colony was agriculture, but by just before the Russian Revolution, about half the population were craftsmen.

Plat map of Lindenau from 1941. See the text below.  Source: http://chort.square7.ch/FB/D0680p.html

Text on the plat map:
"This plan was drawn by H.J. Neudorf according to a sketch made by P. Kroeker of Vancouver, B.C.  Lindenau was one of the first villages that was established in 1804 on the left bank of the Molotschnaja River. The residents of this village prospered. They had their own church, their own schools, had a Four Mill, a store and other businesses. The first World War, the Revolution of 1917, the Typhoid epidemic and famine brought severe complications and adverse conditions to the Mennonites. The villagers lost their religious, educational, and economic freedom that they had previously enjoyed. Because of these circumstances some decided to leave Russia and emigrated to Canada in the 1920's. The remaining villagers were evacuated in 1943 and resettled in Germany. Thereafter Lindenau ceased to exist as a mennonite settlement."

According to GAMEO (Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online): "During and after the Revolution the village suffered severely. The collectivization was accomplished in 1929. Many of the farmers were sent to Siberia as kulaks. This continued till the outbreak of World War II. In 1941, when the Germans approached, most of the male population was sent to Siberia. The remaining families continued farming in groups of four to five until they were evacuated westward when the Germans retreated in 1943. Some of them reached Canada, but most of them were returned to Russia."

Photo of the school in Lindenau. Source: http://chort.square7.ch/FB/D0680p.html

Photo of the ruins of the school in Lindenau. Source: http://chort.square7.ch/FB/D0680p.html

Lindenau still exists today and is known as Lyubymivka, Zaporiz’ka, Ukraine.

Learn More: