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. 

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