24 September 2021

I made a few changes on the map.

Over the course of the past several months, I’ve been removing the dust bunnies from the corners of the map. While doing this, I decided to entirely reorganize the map. You know when you start cleaning a drawer or a closet, and it leads to something else, and before you know it, you've rearranged the furniture, replaced the carpet, and have just dipped a roller into a tray of paint when another member of your household appears in the doorway and quietly asks, "Are you coming to bed anytime soon?"

This was like that. 

You may ask, "Why did you do this? I liked it the way it was."

The answer is pretty simple: I mapped myself into a corner, and the only way out was to rearrange the furniture. 

While the answer is simple, the thought behind it is a little more complex. 

In the early days of the map back in 2016, colors were used to show each group of well-known colonies per the research of Karl Stumpp, Joseph S. Height, Adam Giesinger and the like. The Black Sea area had a lot of colors (too many) because there were a lot of different documented groups of colonies. Other areas didn't have many. And aside from the largest and best known Mennonite groups, all the smaller Mennonite colonies all over Russia were not called out as settlement groups, or only vaguely referenced as such. This was an oversight I wanted to fix. But how could I do this without making the map look like Walt Disney threw up on it?

Part of the underlying problem was that I was following too closely the format of the researchers I mentioned who came before me. In fairness, genealogy organizations do the same thing. We all do the same thing by focusing on the Volga German story, the Black Sea German story, the Germans in Eastern European story, the Mennonite story, or some smaller subset of those stories. What do I do with German settlements or Russian towns with German residents that didn’t fit into those stories or enclaves and were nowhere near the Black Sea or the Volga?  

There had to be another way to look at this and to present it so that it made sense historically, geographically and genealogically. 

Georeferenced maps are all the rage now. I wish they were available this widely in 2016. Using them is like traveling back in time. I've been using a number of these maps to locate or confirm places. For years I've collected atlases of Russia. They're absolutely useless for locating German settlements, but the imagery on them is beautiful and ripe with symbolism. These, too, are now georeferenced, and I was using them to figure out historical districts. Stumpp recorded oblasts, districts and regions on his maps and village histories as they were in 1942, at the very end of Germans in Russia story. I'm more interested in what they were at the beginning. Does it matter what they were at the beginning? Probably not. I'm just curious. Like the internet meme: How it started. How it's going. 

While looking at the districts and adding German enclave and Mennonite colony names, I noticed that the boundaries of the provinces didn't align with what was in my data. My data was off in terms of "how it started." I needed to correct that. So I took apart the Black Sea area starting with Bessarabia and worked my way east to the Don, shifting locations into borders of their historical provinces instead of what Stumpp, et al. had published. In the end, there were a considerable number of changes. I wondered what South Russia would look like by historical Russian province instead of by German-Russian enclave. After seeing it, there was no going back.

Administrative/Geographic Regions

The map is now divided into geographic regions roughly by administrative regions from 1914. With the fall of the empire a few years away, and seemed like a good time period to use before everything changed. Generations of Germans had lived in Russia by then. No one was immigrating there any longer, and the mass emigration to the Americas winding down and about to come to an abrupt end. European Russia represents the majority of the map because of heavy German settlement there. Asiatic Russia all remains in one group. Deportation locations are in a separate grouping with no administrative region or province delineation. They will eventually be all over the map. 


The names of the provinces on the map are from the early 1800s. It didn't make sense to use earlier atlases since the Black Sea settlements weren't there yet, and a lot of the provinces in that area were created because of that settlement. In later years, some were combined or split. In the data for each colony, every attempt is made to accurately reflect what it was at the time of founding. Also, in the sources, a link to a province map or maps will be added. 

Enclaves, Colonies, Russian towns/cities/non-German settlements

German colonies were grouped in enclaves defined as "a distinct territorial, cultural or social unit enclosed within or as if within a foreign territory." Examples are the Kutschurgan, Beresan, Prischib and Mariupol enclaves. The Volga Germans were also an enclave, although I don't recall seeing them referred to as such. 

Mennonites were also in enclaves, but the terminology is a little different. They had settlements in named colonies,  For example, Lindenau, Lysanderhöh, Valuyevka were Mennonite settlements in the Am Trakt Colony (uppercase "C") right in the middle of the Volga enclave of colonies (lowercase "c"). Mennonites who lived in mixed colonies (i.e. not purely Mennonite but Mennonite and some other religious confession) were not a part of named Mennonite colonies. Named Mennonite colonies are well documented and sourced. 

Germans also lived in existing villages and cities that were there long before they arrived and generally had a mix of ethnicities and religions. Sometimes these villages were a part of a parish in a German colony. These were not German colonies. Germans did not settle them and don't meet the definition of "enclave," therefore they are not a part of whatever enclave is nearby. They are still on the map, but they're not listed as a part of an enclave. 

Is this splitting hairs? I don't know. Maybe. Seems logical to me. 

I put a matrix together that shows administrative/geographical regions, provinces within those regions, and the enclave/colonies within those provinces. Province maps will be created, the "colony group" name will be replaced with enclave and Mennonite colony name. Those that don't exist yet will be created.  All will be linked to this matrix which will be added to the Maps page on this site. This should be very easy to get to a specific set of colonies. 

Great RussiaEast RussiaSouth Russia
Chernigov ProvinceAstrakhan ProvinceBessarabia Province
— Belowesch enclaveOrenberg ProvinceDobruja Region
— Hutterite Colony— Orenberg ColonyDon Cossacks Host
Kharkov Province— Neu-Samara Colony— Mariupol enclave
Moscow ProvinceSamara ProvinceEkaterinoslav Province
Nizhegorod Province— Alt Samara Colony— Baratov Colony
Novgorod ProvinceSaratov Province— Bergtal Colony
Poltava Province— Arkadak Colony— Borissovo Colony
Pskov Province— Am Trakt Colony— Borozenko Colony
St. Petersburg Province— Volga enclave— Chortitza Colony
Voronezh Province— Hutterite Colony
Asiatic Russia— Ignatyevo Colony
Northwest RussiaCaucasus Province (N Caucasus)— Jakowlewo Colony
Minsk Province— Kuban Colony— Jewish Agricultural enclave
— Olgino Colony— Kronau enclave
Southwest Russia— Terek Colony— Mariupol enclave
Kyiv Province— Suvorovka Colony— Mariupol enclave
Podolia Province— Tempelhof Colony— Markuslandt Colony
Volhynia ProvinceGeorgia (S Caucasus)— Memrick Colony
Central Asia (provinces TBD)— Nepluyevka Colony
Western RussiaSiberia (provinces TBD)— Neu Rosengart Colony
Russian Poland— Barnaul Colony— Schlachtin Colony
— Vistula— Schumanovka Colony— Schönfeld Colony
— Usman Colony— Tcheroglas Colony
— Tas-Kuduk Colony— Yazykovo Colony
— Mosde-Kul ColonyKherson Province
— Tursun-Bay Colony— Beresan enclave
— Savitaya Colony— Glückstal enclave
— Jewish Agricultural enclave
— Kronau enclave
— Kutschurgan enclave
— Liebental enclave
— Schwedengebiet enclave
— Zagradovka Colony
Taurida Province
— Crimea enclave
— Fürstenland Colony
— Hutterite Colony
— Molotschna Colony
— Prischib enclave

Geography & Genealogy

But, but, but...what about the Black Sea area? 

As a historical region that crosses administrative and geographical areas, being mostly in European Russia but also partly in Asiatic Russia, it has a real loosey-goosey definition of its northern and eastern borders. How far from the Black Sea do you need to be to still be a Black Sea German? Regardless, the Black Sea area map will continue to be maintained. It will probably include Dobrudscha, Bessarabia, Kherson, Ekaterinoslav, Don, Taurida, Caucasus, Georgia, and probably Podolia since the settlements mostly border Bessarabia and Kherson and have parish ties to German colonies in those areas. I'm open to suggestions. 

Final Notes

Information: For each region, an information pin will be added. There are a few there now. These contain a brief description of the area and its German settlement history. It also includes a list of German-Russian organizations to contact to help people find their ancestors assuming they found their ancestral colony. 

Tutorial: A new YouTube tutorial will be recorded soon that will be a long overdue replacement of the old one. It will cover what the map is all about, how to use it and what new data is included. 

Bibliography: I'll be replacing the Sources page with a bibliography. It includes all the sources cited on the map as well as materials I used to educate myself on all the subjects needed to create what you see here. I'll link it in the description of the map. At a later date, I'll update the bibliography with an annotated and tagged version.

Austro-Hungarian Empire: I anticipate having to remove the Austrians at some point. There is already a separate map of those villages.

That's enough for now. Go play with the map now.