27 May 2020

On the Virtual Road

Since there will be no road trip this year, I've been spending my pandemic quarantine virtually traveling to Germans from Russia settlements across the United States. All previous schedules out the door. I've been going where the days take me. 

So I've been “on the road” almost every day since late March, starting with the states I personally have been the most curious about, those outside German-Russian Country proper. 

And, to be honest, I'm saving some states for certain months so I can reminisce a little about my last trips there. I'm looking forward to Montana during huckleberry season, California for the grape harvest, South Dakota for hollyhock dolls, Wisconsin just before the first snow. I did Colorado in late May (lilacs in the Rockies). It was nice to revisit places and learn about new ones. I learned what a beet dump was, and the final map shows some interesting settlement patterns. There were a few stumpers that were reported in the survey – a ghost town, a railroad stop, and a few rural post offices lost to time. Those sent me to the Bureau of Land Management to look up land records, but I did find what I was looking for. The railroad stop was one between Fort Collins and Loveland. Today, the location of the school of the same name is a music store in Fort Collins. 

Isn't geographical history fun? Something was always something else before, but the ground below is still the same. And it has stories.  

 I'm curious about Texas, so I'm going there next. 

The beta data on the map was removed at the end of April, and here's what's been completed so far. If your state is not there yet, I assure you it will be. 
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.
You can browse the map or search for any word on it by clicking on the magnifying glass icon to the right of the map title in the legend. For example, search for the word "Volga" or "Bessarabia" to get a list of where Germans from those larger areas lived. Search for ancestral colony names (Plotzk, Kolb, Waterloo, Cogealac, Bergdorf, etc.). To search for colony groups/enclaves/districts, put the name in parenthesis to differentiate it from colonies by the same name – (Glückstal), (Hoffnungstal), (Liebental), (Beresan), (Vistula), etc. I'll do a video about all of this at some point, but this will get you started.

For now, enjoy what's there. Every few days, I post new places to the map. You can see a list of what's new here.

Germans from Russia Settlement Locations in America as of May 26, 2020.