22 February 2021

Gnadental, Bessarabia

Plat map of Gnadental, Bessarabia circa 1920 published in 1930.

The following translated excerpts came from and article entitled “Die Gemeinde Gnadental” by Friedrich Rüb, which appeared in the 1930 edition of Deutscher Volkskalender für Bessarabien. 

“The founding of the community of Gnadental coincides with the end of immigration of German colonists in Russia, namely in the period when official advertisements for emigrants in Germany to move to Russia had stopped ten years earlier. The settlers were, therefore, uninvited, free emigrants to whom the Russian government did not give any support, neither for the journey, nor for the first establishment. Gnadental is the 21st German community in Bessarabia.”

Map showing the land plot that would become Gnadental, Bessarabia. Date is unknown, but it was likely before 1830 given the other colonies noted on the map.

“The settlement took place in the years 1830-1833 on land which had been made available to Provost Lindl in 1822. From a petition from the Sarata school board 29 April 1829, the Welfare committee approved the establishment of the colony as per letter dated 14 May1829 [document] No. 716.... At the time of settlement, the land was leased...to some Moldovans, who used it as pasture for their sheep...”

During the first years, Gnadental was officially named “Sarata No. 2”. 

“In the second year of the settlement (1831), cholera prevailed in Gnadental as in the whole area, which demanded many victims. The merciful averting of this evil gave reason to name this colony ‘Gnadental’ [Mercy Valley]. This name was presented to the municipality through the Sarata Territorial Office for the Welfare Committee for confirmation, which was done, and granted dated August 1832 [document] No. 1043.”

An 1872 Austrian military map showing Gnadental with its former name. 

“In the spring of 1830 the settlement was started with 10 families, to which, in the same year another 12 families were added. These 22 families were joined by another 12 families in 1831, so that towards the end of that year, the colony had 34 families with a total of 168 souls. Two families ceded their farms soon after their arrival. In 1832, another 37 families settled, and in 1833, the last 11 families arrived. The settlement of the colony was completed in 1833 with 80 families and a total of 455 souls. The settlers of Gnadental did travel as an organized group. They came from 40 villages in Württemberg, mostly did not know each other before settlement, and came to Gnadental over the course of four years.”

Church exterior (left) and interior (right). Built in 1880.

The first church services were held in a private house. In 1833, the first prayer house was built on the square where the church stands today. The original church was replaced in 1880 by master builder Klaus Lorenz, a German citizen from Odessa, for 25,000 rubles. 

Top: The old school house built in 1847. Bottom: The new school house built in 1862.

“At the same time as the colony was founded, school life also began. Since there was no school house, school was held in a farmhouse. The settlers created the school they were used to from Germany and which corresponded to their religious attitude. It was a distinctly religious school. In 1833, the third year of the settlement, a special school class was built under one roof with the prayer house, in which school was held until 1846. The first 17 years, the teachers were local landlords. A turn for the better came in 1846, when an expertly trained teacher in the person of Johann Jakob Koch was employed, and the first school building was erected.... Until 1861 all pupils from the age of 8-15 were were accommodated in one classroom....the more talented pupils were not sufficiently engaged....but attendance was compulsory until confirmation.”

Street view in Gnadental. Western half of main street, circa 1930.

Today Gnadental is called Dolynivka, Odes'ka, Ukraine.


16 February 2021

1890 Map of German Land Ownership in the Kherson Governorate

Map legend with translation.

The last set of maps I shared was a collection of Lutheran maps from 1855. This is another period map that some may find useful in illustrating family histories. This is from 1890 with updates apparently made in 1942. By this point, many German colonists in this area had already begun emigrating from Russia to North and South America. 

I found this map while going through the last film of the German Captured Documents Collection, Reports from Ethnic German Communities in Ukraine 1940-44 on FamilySearch a few weeks ago. I've been stitching together all of the maps from that collection when I need a break from other research work.  

This map is titled the Schematic map of German land ownership in Kherson Governorate in 1890, and it was found on the last film, #8878483. On the map, the source is listed as “L. Padalka, Landbesitz der ehm. deutschen Kolonisten im Gouvernment Cherson 1891, edited by Karl Stumpp, 1943.” Stumpp was in this area between 1942 and 1943 while he was working for Reichsministerium für die Besetzten Ostgebiete (Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories). At this point in this project, I thought I had seen all of Stumpp’s maps, but this is the first time I've seen this particular map. And Ive not found a reference to it elsewhere as of this writing. 

Although this map only covers the Cherson area, it is interesting because it outlines the areas that were initially allotted to the German colonists by the Crown and additional land that had been purchased. Many of the German daughter colonies are shown as settlements among the native population, and probably colonies of other ethnicities as Germans were not the only group invited to settle in Russia. 

Also of interest are the names of the places. The enclaves of this area are fairly well-represented based on what is known from other sources. There are several settlements that had the same name—not unusual at all. But there are many I've never heard of before, are not on Stumpps other maps, and that do not show up in the German-Russian Handbook. Below is an alphabetical list so that Google can index them.

Akerman, Alexanderhilf, Alexandrija, Alexandrowka, Alexandrowka, Alexandrowka, Alexandrowka, Alexandrowka, Alexfeld, Alt Danzig, Ananjew, Andrijaschewka, Annental, Antonowka, Antonowka, Antonowka, Baden, Balta, Bendery, Beresnegowataja, Bergdorf, Berislaw, Biziljewka, Blumenfeld, Blumenfeld, Blumenort, Bogdanowka, Boska, Brinowka, Cherson, Danilowka, Deutsche Güter, Deutsche Güter, Deutsche Güter, Deutsches Gut, Deutsches Gut, Dodonowka, Dubossary, Eigendorf, Eigenfeld, Eigenfeld, Elsass, Felsenburg, Felsenburg, Franzfeld, Freudental, Friedenfeld, Friedental, Fürstental, Gawrlowka, Georgiental, Glückstal, Golowlewka, Grossulowo, Grus Kaja, Güldendorf, Gut Ambarow, Gut Ambarow, Gut Hofmann, Gut Linke, Gut Nam, Gut Udatschnyj, Güter Dauenhauer, Güter Guhl, Güter v. Domauer u. Schart, Halbstadt, Helenowka, Hoffnungsburg, Hoffnungstal, Hoffnungstal, Jelisawetgrad, Jelisawetpol, Jeremejewka, Jewgeniewka, Jewstafjewka, Johannestal, Johannestal, Josefstal, Josefstal, Jsbaschewka, Jshitzkaja, Jsmailowka, Jwanowka, Kandel, Karlsfeld, Karlsruhe, Kassel, Katerinental, Katerinental, Kellerhausen, Kerstinowka, Klein Bergdorf, Klein Liebental, Klein Neudorf, Kleinendorf, Kleinfeld, Kleinfeld, Klosterdorf, Kopeikina, Krementschug, Kriwoj-Rog, Kronau, Landau, Landau, Lichetenfeld, Ljubomichailowka, Lustdorf, Malaja Jschetschelewka, Mannheim, Mariental, Mesendewka, Milaljubowka, Mülhausendorf, München, Nadeschdowka, Nasarow Jar, Neu Berlin, Neu Danzig, Neu Freudental, Neu Glückstal, Neu Kronental, Neu Lustdorf, Neu Odessa, Neu Schönsee, Neuburg, Neudorf, Neufeld, Neuheim, Neusatz, New Beresina, Nikolaidorf, Nikolajewka, Nowakowka, Nowo Ukrainka, Nowobiziljewka, Nowomannilowka, Nowomirgorod, Noworushino, Odessa, Olgina, Olwiopol, Otradnajadolina, Otrodowka, Otschakow, Owidiopol, Petersfeld, Peterstal, Petratjewka, Petrowerowka, Petrowka, Platonowka, Podmogilnaja, Pondik, Prijut, Protopopowka, Rastadt, Reimarowka, Rohrbach, Rosenfeld, Sacharowka, Sakretarowka, Sawitschewka, Schlangendorf, Schöntal, Selz, Skarbnaja, Sofijewka, Sofronowka, Sokolowka, Solnzewka, Speier, Steinbach, Steinberg, Steingut, Stepkowka, Strassburg, Stschasliwka, Sulz, Taschlyk, Tiege, Tiraspol, Trudoljubowka, Viktorowka, Wassiljewka, Waterloo, Werchnjednjeprowsk, Weselyj Kut, Worms, Wosnjassensk, Zybulewka

# # #

09 February 2021

"Welcome to the Big Apple...in eastern Ukraine"

Scrolling through my Twitter feed last night, I saw these words: “Welcome to the Big Apple...in eastern Ukraine.” 

It was an article in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty about the town of Novhorodske in Ukraine voting soon to restore its name back to its original name: New York. According to the article, it was changed in 1951 due to Cold War tensions with the United States.

I immediately thought, I know where New York is. That was a German Mennonite colony.

This morning, I looked it up on my map, and, indeed, it was a Mennonite daughter colony. The land was purchased by the Chortitza colony. 

AHSGR map #24Map of the German settlements in the Stalino region (former East part of the governorate of Jekaterinoslav and West part of the Don region), including the German villages in the eastern part of the Kharkov region

From the German-Russian Handbook (pp.564-565).
New-York, Don, Donets’k, Dzerzhinsk, Shelesnaya. The village was located on the Torez River and a steep mountain slope. #C 4. Founded in 1889. Mennonite; parish: New-York, also Mennonite Brethren; parish: Nikola(y)evka. A small number were part of the Nikola(y)evka Brethren community. A junior high school was founded in 1905, and a secondary school for girls (Progymnasium) in 1912. School for those unable to pay tuition, steam and rolling mills (Unger and Dyck, the owner and founder(s)), agricultural machinery factory (Niebuhr), brickyard (Unger), bookstore (Hamm); according to another source: cooperative and/or cooperative store, school with grades one to seven (as of 1926.) The mother colony of Khortitza bought the estate for people without land. Acreage: 3,138 dessi. Population: 426 in 1911; 926 in 1913; 926 in 1914; 926 in 1918; 953 in 1926. Also see York, New-.
Ignatyevo Colony from the Mennonite Historical Atlas, pg 31.

According to William Schroeder and Helmut T. Heubert’s Mennonite Historical Atlas, New York was a part of the Ignatyevo Colony.

New York was founded in 1889, one of the first six villages of the Ignatyevo Colony. It was situated along the banks of the Krivoy Torets River, close to the town of Zheleznaya. The name “New York” was in response to a request by the wife of Count Ignatieff (from whom the land was purchased), who, being an American, was likely pining for some reminder of her homeland. 

Besides the usual agriculture, industry soon developed in New York, especially because of the proximity of the Khar'kov-Mariupol' railroad. A number of factories were built, among them that of the J.G. Niebuhr company, which manufactured a wide range of farm implements. There were a number of steam mills, brickyards, stores and even a windmill. By 1913, [the] total population reached 926.

There were two elementary schools in New York. In 1905 a secondary school (Zentralschule) was founded. The first teachers were Heinrich Funk and Gerhard Froese. A girls’ school opened its doors in 1907, the principal sponsor being J.J. Thiessen, the leading teacher, Viktoria Klein.

The New York Mennonite Church was organized in 1892, the first elder being Abraham Unruh. By 1905, including affiliates in Borissovo, Grigoryevka and the Azov Forestry Camp, the congregation numbered 2,275, although local baptized membership was only 600. There were undoubtedly Mennonite Brethren living in New York, but their house of worship was in Nikolayevka. 

New York suffered the same fate in later years as the rest of the Ignatyevo Colony...including difficulties...during the revolutionary period, a particularly heavy raid by Makhno [Nestor Ivanovych Makhno, Ukrainian anarchist revolutionary and the commander of an independent anarchist army in Ukraine from 1917–21] coming in February, 1919. There appeared to be some economic recovery in the 1920s, but in 1942, the entire population of the colony was evacuated by the Soviets before the German armies reached the area...

Plat map of New York from the Mennonite Historical Atlas, pg. 32

If the vote passes, I look forward to changing the name back its original and restoring a little bit of German history. 


01 February 2021

1855 Maps of German Lutherans in Russia

Recently, I ran across a German atlas of Lutherans in Russia, Atlas der Evangelisch - Lutherischen Gemeinen in Russland. It contained five maps that showed the consistories (administrative body of the church) of each area including some of the German colonies—not just the Lutheran colonies, but also colonies of Catholics, Mennonites, and other other denominations of Protestantism practiced among the German colonists in Russia at the time. 

The atlas was published in St. Petersburg by the Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften (Imperial Academy of Sciences) on 7 March 1855. The author was listed as anonymous, and there was a note that said it was allowed to be printed on the condition that a certain number of copies were sent to the Census Committee. 

Im sharing the maps here along with a few comments about things I noticed on the maps that I found interesting. To see the original, georeferenced scan of each map, click on the image. It will take you to the full atlas at the David Rumsey Map Collection


Karte des europäischen Russland 

The map of European Russia shows color-coded boundaries of Lutheran consistorial districts in1855. These colors carry through on the rest of the maps in the atlas. The districts include St. Petersburg, Moskau (Moscow), Kurland (Courland), Livland (Livonia), Ehstland (Estonia), and Oesl (Saaremaa, an Estonian island in the Baltic Sea). The Baltic area is heavily represented here likely because Germans had been living in the Baltic areas long before Catherine the Greats invitation in 1763. The Baltic states became a part of Russia in the early 1700s. The consistories of St. Petersburg and Moscow covered all of the Germans in Russia that followed the immigration stories that began in around 1763. Note on the upper right, there is a list of cities in Siberia along with the distance in versts (1 verst = .66 miles or 1.06 kilometers) to Moscow, their consistory. Also at the very top left, you see a note about a Russian city in North America, Neu-Archangelsk (Sitka, Alaska, USA today). It, too, was a part of the Moscow consistory at the time.


Karte der evangelisch-lutherischen Gemeinen in dem Gouvernement St. Petersburg 

This map show the parish districts around the city of St. Petersburg along with some of the German colonies. Most of the colonies around St. Petersburg were Lutheran. There were three colonies that had both Catholics and Protestants (Frankfurt, Luzk, and Porchowo) in the Jamburg district (V) , but they are not noted on this map. 

1855 map of the Lutheran parishes around the city of St. Petersburg. 


Die Kolonien in den Gouvernements Saratow and Samara 

This map shows the German colonies in the Saratov and Samara Governorates. Given the penciled in colonies, its likely that this atlas was owned at one time by a Volga German, who added what was missing on the map. One of my favorite librarians was named Helen Barber. I met her when I was a freshman in college and later worked with her when I joined the professional library staff at New Mexico State University. She wouldve had a heart attack over these pencil marks. I recall vividly the first time she helped me. Upon seeing a pencil mark in a book, she gasped and snarled, Barbarians! She snatched the nub of a pencil I would years later learn that she kept behind her ear at all times and erased the mark. In this case, the caretakers at the David Rumsey Map Collection embraced the additions as a part of the maps history. 

The map key color codes the Lutheran, Catholic, and Mennonite colonies, and also shows private land and land for sale to the colonists. 

1855 map of the German colonies in the Saratov and Samara Governorates.


Die Kolonien in Bessarabien un in dem Gouvernement Cherson 

This map shows the colonies in Bessarabia and Kherson Governorate is what was known as South Russia. The color-coded key indicates areas where there were Lutheran, Catholic, Separatist (Hoffnungstal), and Bulgarian colonies. I do not know why Bulgarian colonies were noted specifically on this map. Presumably they were Bulgarian Lutherans in Russia instead of German Lutherans in Russia.

German colonies in Bessarabia and Kherson Governorate


Die Kolonien in den Gouvernements Jekaterinoslaw und Taurien 

This map shows the colonies in the Ekaterinoslav and Tauria Governorates is what was known as South Russia. The color-coded key indicates areas where there were Lutheran, Catholic, Bulgarian (again), and Pietists colonies (Neu-Stuttgard, Neu-HoffnungstalNeu-Hoffnung, and Rosenfeld).

German Colonies in the Ekaterinoslav and Tauria Governorates


Overall, this was an interesting atlas. Useful for more than just showing where Lutherans lived in Russia in 1855 (the last five pages of the atlas provides statistics for each area), it would also make for some nice illustrations in family histories where you might want to show proximities of the colonies on a period map rather than on a modern map.