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