27 April 2019

April Map Updates

There were several updates during the month of April, kind of all over the map. Below are the details of each area update.

Donauschwaben Batschka 

After the Donauschwaben Batschka colonies were published last month, a good collection of maps surfaced by Paul Langhans. The Deutsche Kolonisation im Osten I, Donau-Länder (German Colonization in the East I, Danube Countries) has become a valuable source to others being used to locate and map the German colonies in this area. This set of maps includes the percentage of Germans in each village on the map. The maps also indicate in which colonies German-language newspapers were published, universities teaching in the German language, and more. 

A second pass at the data for Batschka was done to include information from the map, including noting that three colonies published German language newspapers:  Neu-Palanka, Neusatz and Zombor.  Also, an additional seven locations were added: Bründl, Despot St. Ivan, Duna Pataj, Kalocsa, Peterfeld, Sandor and Topolya.

Part of the Batschka map from Deutsche Kolonisation im Osten I, Donau-Länder. Source: Elke Rehder Collection


When I wrote the post The Donauschwaben: From Germany to Hungary to Russia, I included a passage by Karl Stumpp that gets quoted a lot about the journey some Germans made from the Donauschwaben Batschka and Banat in Hungary to the Black Sea area of Russia. It detailed the journey, and while I noted the modern names and provided links of some of the locations, I did not do so with the village of Luczawa.  Someone asked about it, so I fixed the post and added the alternate name/spelling to the Bukovina village of Suczawa (today Suceava). It's a minor thing, but now internet searches for Luczawa will come back with references to its current location.

Suczawa (Luczawa), Bukovina from Mapire's Habsburg Empire (1869-1887) Third Military Survey Map

Am Trakt 

The 10 Mennonite colonies that make up the Am Trakt settlement have been mixed in with the Volga colonies since the beginning of this project mainly because that's how they were on Karl Stumpp's 1954 map Karte de deutschen Siedlungen im Wolgagebiet.  But other maps of Volga German colonies do not include these colonies. The Am Trakt colonies were established at a later date under different circumstances with an entirely different immigration story than the Volga Germans, although they became a part of the Volga Soviet Socialist Republic in 1924, which may be why Stumpp included them on his map. This project has been very granular in some areas when it comes to defining colony groups, and distinguishing the Mennonite Am Trakt colony group from the Volga German colonies settled by Catherine the Great makes a lot of sense.  The Am Trakt colonies remain on the Volga Region map, but now they also have their own Google map, too.

Detailed Am Trakt Mennonite Settlement map. Source: Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online


The colony of Nikolastal was added to the Kutschurgan colonies. It's located south of Georgental and east of Mannheim. It was inhabited by sons of colonists from Strassburg from at least 1859. It does not appear on Stumpp maps or in the Mertens' German-Russian Handbook. The colony name and ties to Strassburg come from Lillian Bachynski Weigel's Kutschurgan Spousal Project based on the 1852 Kutschurgan Census (2008) and research of the Strassburg Thomas family by Bob Thomas and myself.

Location of Nikolastal in relation to Mannheim and Georgental. Source: Mapire 1872 map of Russia.

Location of Nikolastal in relation to Mannheim and Georgental on Google Maps. Image taken August 25, 2017, CNES/Airbus.


The colony of Messit (Mesit) was added to the Crimean colonies. The source of the name came from Lisa Wallender, who provided a Hochheim parish record from the Germans from Russia Heritage Society. Mertens' German-Russian Handbook stated that it was on a Stumpp map, presumably Die deutschen Siedlungen auf der Halbinsel Krim (German Settlements on the Crimean Peninsula) in section #E2, but I was unable to find it on that map. However, the colony was located by parish (Hochheim was the parish established a few years after Messit) and using an overlay map of Russia from 1872 that is now available on the Mapire website. Oddly enough on the same day, two people researching the same Wallender family, who came from Konstantinograd in Poltava, contacted me. I was able to connect the two cousins, one in the U.S. and one in Germany. They have now joined forces. It was one of those very rewarding days.

Messit on the Mapire 1872 map of Russia. 

And so, the following maps have been updated in April:



08 April 2019

On This Day, 8 April 1876

Plat maps of Herzog and Victoria, Kansas from the Standard Atlas of Ellis County, Kansas.
Map courtesy of the Kansas Memory project,  Kansas Historical Society.

On this day, 8 April 1876, two towns in the state of Kansas in the United States were founded: Herzog and Catherine. 

Settled by Volga Germans from villages in Russia including Katharinenstadt, Kamenka, Kamenka, Herzog, Beauregard, Ober-Monjou, Mariental, Louis, Marienburg, Liebental and Graf, most had arrived in Topeka the previous year. Both in Ellis County, Kansas, Herzog would eventually become a part of nearby town Victoria, and in 1913, they incorporated under the name Victoria. Catherine (population 86) would become known as the German Capital of Kansas.

German colonists who lived in Russia beginning in 1764 had special privileges granted to them through the manifestos of Russian Empress Catherine the Great and Tsar Alexander I, but these were abruptly revoked in 1872 by Alexander II. Almost immediately, Germans from all over Russia sent scouts to North and South America looking for new opportunities. Within two years, Germans from Russia began immigrating to the United States. 

Plat map of Catherine, Kansas from the Standard Atlas of Ellis County, Kansas
Map courtesy of the Kansas Memory project,  Kansas Historical Society.

Map of the German settlements in the state of Kansas.

There are at least 140 towns in Kansas where Germans from Russia settled, some of which are shown on the map above. Most were from the Volga, but there was also a number from Black Sea Mennonite and Protestant colonies as well. Kansas was a jumping off point for many Germans from Russia, who eventually travelled and settled elsewhere in the western United States. 

A new interactive map showing the settlement locations of Germans from Russia in America is underway along with a series of articles that will take readers state-by-state, intertwining history, maps, newspapers, letters and German from Russia culture. 

Learn More: