02 August 2022

Conference Presentations 2022

I had a great time presenting “Time Travel Using Historical Maps” at the 52nd Annual American Historical Society for Germans from Russia International Convention last week. I joined other Zoom presenters from Argentina, Germany and the United Kingdom in the virtual lineup of the program. 

Next up, I will be giving a longer (90 minutes), more in-depth version of the same material at the GR Wall Breaker Conference (September 9-11th on Zoom). The schedule is not locked down yet, but these are all the presentations/topics scheduled at the moment: 

    • Genealogy in Ukraine: Discover Online Resources
    • International German Genealogy Partnership
    • By the Sweat of Their Brows” Researching to Discover the Work by Which Your Ancestors Made Their Daily Bread
    • Stumpp and Search: Demonstration of how to use the fantastic Dr. Karl Stumpp Book and advanced search techniques for Google
    • Cadastral Maps and their Ancillary Records
    • Researching Your Russian-German Genealogy in Russian Archives 
    • Time Travel Using Historical Maps
    • How to Make Nockerl with Bacon in Scrambled Eggs 
    • Warrants & Patents & Deeds, Oh My!
    • Historic Newspapers: Our Story Has Always Been Told
    • Using Google Drive for Genealogy
    • Developing a Sixth Census: Finding more in “the Census” than meets the eye
    • EWZ! Diving Into Researching Using EWZ Records
    • Going from the EWZ into family
    • Unique Finds
    • Changing Churches
    • Moravian Faith 101+ Archives
    • Black Sea German Research updates
I will also be presenting at some AHSGR/GRHS combined chapter meetings in the fall. 

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22 July 2022

First Colonies Established After the 1763 Manifesto

Today is the anniversary of the issuance of Catherine the Great’s Manifesto of 1763, where she invited foreigners to settle in her empire. It was the origin story of German settlement in Russia.

While the majority of the colonies were established along the Volga river in the Astrakhan Province (later Saratov Province), there were other groups and solo colonies established at the same time. Five Mother colonies were founded near St. Petersburg, and these would spawn daughter colonies in both the St. Petersburg and Novgorod provinces.  Six Belowesch colonies were founded in Chernigov Province. There were a few daughter colonies in the same area, but some of the Belowesch daughter colonies were established in Ekaterinoslav Province. Riebensdorf was an isolated colony in Voronezh Province, between the Belowesch and Volga enclaves. At least 14 daughter colonies were established not near Riebensdorf but in the Don Cossack Host, the North Caucasus, and in Siberia. Sarepta was another isolated colony south of the Volga colonies but also on the Volga River near Tsaritsyn (later Stalingrad and now Volgograd).

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21 June 2022

City of Kherson Through Time

1910 Map of the City of Kherson.

On 18 June 1778 (uncertain if this was the Julian or Gregorian date), a decree was issued by Catherine the Great founding the city and fortress of Kherson (Ukrainian: Херсо́н, German: Cherson) on the Dnieper River. It was to be the central command of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet.

German colonists immigrating to Russia in the early 1800s who were not farmers had the option settling in cities:

“For the initial founding of colonies in Cherson, Ekaterinoslav, and Taurida Gubernias to select locations mostly near ports in order that the settlers can be located with a particular means to get their products out....Artisans and craftsmen of all types are to be settled in the cities, wherever each one wishes. But in the first instance the present arrivals [February 1804] from Germany will be based in Odessa because Collegial Councilor Kontenius has been permitted to get this process started....” 

German colonists in Russian cities were a minority population. In 1897, with a population of 59, 076, just .7% of the population of the city of Kherson spoke the German language. 

There was a Catholic parish in Kherson with a stone church. In 1904, there were 1,209 souls, and according to Joseph Schnurr, most were Poles. 

Like with most cities in the former Russian Empire, it is difficult at a glance to say exactly when German colonists may have lived there. Kherson is a city, a former district, and a former province. Like Odessa, Kherson shows up in in family trees and EWZ records without any indication if it was the city proper, the district, or the greater province. 

A search of Kherson/Cherson as a birth place in the Black Sea German Research database indicates that the children of German colonists were born in Kherson/Cherson (city? district? province?) between 1808 and 1943. This happens to correspond with the early years after the Black Sea area was made available to foreigners for settlement (1804) and also the later years of when EWZ records were taken (1939–early 1945) for those ethnic Germans who were resettled back to Germany.

Sources and Further Reading:

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18 June 2022

Christina Through Time

In search of locating the earliest map of the Beresan Catholic daughter colony Christina (today Novosafronivka, Mykolaiv Oblast, Ukraine) by its coordinates, I noticed something: the name “Christina” did not appear on maps until the 1940s.

Reportedly founded in 1874-75 or 1878-79 (German Captured Documents) or 1891 (Mertens and Ortslexikon), the oldest appearance of the village by its name Sofronowka that I found initially was on an 1860 map.

A quick search of the Black Sea German Research database confirms people were born in Christina in between 1860 and 1943, not only in pedigrees but also in EWZ records. Earliest death in the same database was 1875. Another search for Sofronowka shows even more between roughly the same years, most of which called the place Nowo-Sofronowka. 

I began to look for Sofronowka/Christina on older maps and found it on ones from 1805 and 1796, before Germans were settling in the Black Sea area. Certainly before there were any daughter colonies. 

I searched the Ukrainian language version of Wikipedia for its current name, Новосафронівка. It said the village was established in 1796, matching the publication date of the oldest map, and the sign on the way into town

Further into the German Captured Documents is a page about the history of Sofronowka:


     Some of the German inhabitants come from the Rhine Palatinate and Alsace. Some of the old landlords emigrated to Germany, Serbia and Bulgaria in 1918. S[ofronowka] used to be a rich village; the least landlord in the village owned 15 ha [hectares, ~37 acres] of land, the second least 25 ha [61.78 acres]. The richest landlord, Jakob Loron, had 300 ha [741.32 acres]. The village had to endure several waves of persecution because of its wealth. In 1918, the villagers often left their belongings in a bundle and fled. At the bridge of Vossnessensk, some Germans were murdered in a cruel way by the Bolsheviks (sawing off hands, cutting out eyes etc.). Some Germans had stayed behind to protect the goods of the fled landlords. They took care of the cattle, etc. Franz Reisenau and Alexander Schüler from S[ofronowka], about 30-32 years old, were shot as spies by the Reds while protecting the estate. At the mill in S[ofronowka] a Hertner and others from Felsenburg who had been taken to S[ofronowka] were shot. 

     The second persecution started in 1930. A number of ethnic Germans were forcibly resettled to Arkhangelsk. The third wave of persecution began in 1937. A number of ethnic Germans were arrested and sent away. It is not known where they were sent. This was the worst year.

     In 1941 some men were arrested and taken to Nikolaev. It is said that they were shot there by the NKVD. 

     It was founded in 1874-75 by immigrant landlords from Karlsruhe. The land was bought by the widow of a nobleman with the first name Christina. The newly founded village was originally called Neu-Sofronowka. (After the nearby Ukrainian colony of Old Sofronovka). However, a few years later a German pastor changed the name of the village, and it was called “Christina” after the widow of the nobleman. This name has been preserved in the folklore until today. The later change of the name by the Soviets to New Sofronovka did not change it.

     In 1906-07, a beautiful Gothic church was built for the Catholic community. It is said that it was the most beautiful one in the whole region. The building costs were 15000 rubles, which were raised by the community. Today the church is destroyed, but it is still possible to see from the ruins and from the whole complex that the church, situated on a dominant hill in the village, was extraordinarily magnificent. In the village there was a family who had their estates (chutors) outside and lived in the village. One of them was called Tomas Anton and he had an estate of about 1000 hectares [2471 acres].

     In the village still lives an old teacher named Johann Bär, 69 years old, who knows a little about the history of the village.

     The village today makes a desolate impression because a large number of the farms have been destroyed. The ruins still stand above all. The valley, crossed by the Elanez River, is now a wasteland. In the past there were orchards everywhere. Today the village is inhabited by 48 German families, 15 of which are of mixed marriages. There are also 11 Ukrainian families living in the village. The inhabitants are well aware of their Germanness, but they are extremely poor. The most necessary repairs have been made to the houses, and some of them have been painted and repaired. However, due to the fact that the old dilapidated place and farm buildings are still standing, the village has a desolate appearance. The planned resettlement of the inhabitants to Dobroje is postponed until the morning. There is a German school in the village, run by 2 teachers and attended by about 30 students. The mayor is Rochus Müller.

Sources and Further Reading:

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09 June 2022

Yandex's Disappearing Borders

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, I have periodically looked at Yandex Maps (Russia’s version of Google Maps) to see if there have been any name or region changes, particularly the Russian-declared “people’s republics” in the Donbas. Surprisingly, as war experts and cartographers rushed to keep up with daily maps of the tactical borders of the war, there were no immediate changes on Yandex. 

However, this morning, I saw that Jake Cordell of Reuters and other news outlets reported that Yandex Maps has removed the international borders. Yandex Maps has seemingly removed national borders. All of them.

This was noticed around 4 June, the say after the founder and CEO of Yandex, Arkady Volozh, was sanctioned by the EU and subsequently resigned. 

Today, Yandex put out a statement saying that its main scenario/service to its users was to help find organizations, places, public transport, and auto routes. Where their main service/scenario is not used will become physical and geographical. “The emphasis will be on natural objects, not on the borders of states.” It goes on to say, “Our task is to display the world around us. Therefore, mountains, rivers, polar circles lines and other data typical of this type of maps will appear on the map. Changes will appear gradually.”

I located a screenshot of what the map looked like before and the same map today. Ignore the pins on the map, but note the lack of borders. 

Source: Google Images search for “screenshot of yandex maps”.

Source: Vue Yandex Maps Examples on CodeSandbox.

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06 June 2022

Alt-Arcis (Artsyz) Through Time

I love finding old maps with the names German colonies on them. It’s like finding a baby picture you never knew was taken. You might think that every map of the Russian Empire has our German colonies on them, but the fact is they don’t. Germans were one of many ethnicities that colonized the Russian Empire, and our settlements in Russia did not always make it onto maps. 

Later this summer, I’ll be presenting “Time Travel Using Historical Maps” at the AHSGR Convention in July and at the GR Wall Breaker Conference in September. In preparation, I’ve been gathering up examples and will share some of them leading up to the beginning of convention season. 

First up, the Bessarabian colony of Artsyz, which is today in Odessa Oblast, Ukraine.

Founded and settled in 1816, Arzis (Alt-Arcis/Arcis/Arciz/Artsyz/Arssis) was originally called “No. 14.”  In 1819, according to a document from the Odessa State Archive (Fond 6, Inventory 1, File 1245), the 15 colonies in Bessarabia at that time underwent some name changes. No. 14 was named “Ivanovsky” by the Bessarabia Department of Foreign Settlers and the name “Arzis” by “the highest order.” On this document there is a Post-It (more recent research, obviously) that says, “#14 was named Johanneshort before being named Ivanovsky.” Johannes being the German version of Ivan, that makes sense. 

While I was really hoping to find a map that showed Artsyz as Ivanovsky or Johanneshort, I didn’t. The earliest I found was published 1832 from data collected in the years prior. Remember, back then it took many years to survey the land, gather data, draw maps, and have them published and distributed. The exception to this are military maps drawn during an active campaign. Those are often updated from previous campaigns.

During its existence, Artsyz has been historically a part of the Imperial Russian Empire (1816-1917), the Moldavian Democratic Republic (1917-1918), the Kingdom of Romania (1819-1940), the Soviet Union (1940-1941), the Kingdom of Romania again (1941-1944), the Soviet Union again (1944-1991), and Ukraine (1991-present). 

The image below shows just a few maps (and a couple early satellite photos) where Artsyz was named. They were drawn/published by Russia, Germany, Austria, Romania, and the United States. Most of the images below are linked to their live historical maps. Click on one and see where it takes you in time.  
To view a static version of this image, click here

Image Map

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03 March 2022

German Settlements in Ukraine

Between 1766 and 1918, at least 2,876 known German settlements were established within
the borders of Ukraine today. Most were established after 1804.

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24 February 2022

11 February 2022

The Technology Behind the Map

Today was the birthday of the map of Germans from Russia Settlement Locations. It was created in 2016 and had 103 villages on it.

I often think about all the technology behind this project and am both grateful and giddy that so much of it happened in my lifetime. Things started coming together in the 1990s when I was fresh out of college. I have two BAs from New Mexico State University in English and Journalism & Mass Communications. I’ve not used either professionally aside from a brief time employed as a technical writer right out of college. Computers and networking were much more interesting, and even though I worked at a newspaper once, I was in the production department tending to the old mainframe, the new Unix-based digital photo delivery system, encouraging the use of computer pagination over manual paste up, and trying to convince anyone who would listen that online news was the future. They were not ready for the future. But I was. Like most who were in what would become to be known as “Information Technology,” I bounced around at jobs, sucking the marrow out of each one and keeping notes about everything I learned. Back then, there wasn’t a degree that prepared you for real IT jobs. Technology was happening too fast, and it was thrilling to be bobbing up and down in those waves. I did stints at both universities (nurturing environment but underfunded) and commercial companies (plenty of money for tech but no sleep for me). I sailed through the dot-com bubble easier than anyone should have. Always employed, always learning, and always having fun. 

Most of the technology used in this project to locate ancestral colonies, map them, and make them available on the internet wasn’t available to civilians, wasn’t reliable, or didn’t exist in 1994 when I started researching my own family. Without going in too deep, here are just a few: 
  • Aerial & satellite imagery – geboren 1858-1972
  • Global Positioning System – geb. 1973
  • The Internet – geb. 1960s-1980s (.gov and .edu), geb. 1990 (commercial .com)
  • World Wide Web – geb. 1989 (text only), geb. 1993 (graphic web browser)
  • Google – geb. 1998
  • Keyhole Earth – geb. 2001
  • Google Earth – geb. 2004
  • Google Maps – geb. 2005
  • Google My Maps – geb. 2007
  • Georeferencing – geb. ~2008

Aerial & Satellite Imagery

In the mid-1800s, images were taken from hot air balloons. This originated in Paris by French photographer and balloonist Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, known as “Nadar”, in 1858. As soon as photography was available circa 1826, humans had an itch to get a birds-eye view of their surroundings. 

Honoré Daumier, Nadar Elevating Photography to the Height of an Art,
1862, lithograph from 
Souvenirs d’Artistes. National Gallery of Art

Beginning in the early 1900s, images were taken from airplanes. Crop dusters were used at first, but as aeronautics advanced, military planes were outfitted with cameras for reconnaissance missions.

Barnstormer Jersey Ringel with a camera on top of the wing of an airplane in flight. 1921. 

Library of Congress

In 1946, images began to be taken from suborbital flights. This time rockets were outfitted with cameras.

View of Earth from a camera on the rocket V-2 #12, launched October 24, 1946.

White Sands Missile Range/Applied Physics Laboratory. 

Smithsonian Magazine

The first satellite image was a crude image of of a sunlit area in the Central Pacific Ocean with cloud cover. It was taken August 14, 1959.

First satellite image. Wikipedia.

In July of 1972, the U.S. launched the Landsat program to capture satellite imagery of Earth. The program is still running today with the latest satellite, Landsat 9, launched in late 2021. Yesterday (February 10, 2022), Landsat 9 data became publicly available for researchers. Millions of images have been taken and archived and are all viewable through the U.S. Geological Survey Earth Explorer website.

Later that year, “The Blue Marble” was taken from Apollo 17 on December 7, 1972. 

Earth as it was seen from Apollo 17, December 7, 1972.


These are some of the 6,500+ satellites orbiting the Earth right now, roughly 5,000 of which are active. This changes every two weeks or so with each SpaceX launch of its Starlink satellites. 


Why does it matter?
  • Global Positioning System uses satellites for exact positioning.
  • Google Earth and Google Maps use satellite images and GPS.
  • All of the above are needed to visually confirm the location of German colonies that have been destroyed or abandoned. Google Earth (full version) allows one to go back in time through available images.
As you can see, the evidence of this this colony, Sivushka, south of Orenburg, is disappearing with time.

October 8, 2002
July 20, 2004

June 28, 2010

Global Positioning System (GPS)

GPS was built in 1973 by the U.S. Department of Defense for military use. It was called “Navigational Satellite Timing and Ranging Global Positioning System” or NAVSTAR GPS. It was a highly accurate navigation system to replace older systems that were affected by distance or the weather. It was for military only through the 1980s. 

A commercial version available in early 1990s in the U.S., but it was not very accurate because of Selective Availability (SA). This was an intentional degradation of public GPS signals so that it was not as accurate as the military version. 

In 2000, U.S. legislation did away with SA, and GPS accuracy for commercial use improved 10-fold overnight. The popularity of handheld GPS receivers increased. GPS is now in vehicle navigation systems, maps on smartphones, etc. The U.S. has 31 GPS satellites in its constellation. The EU’s Galileo has 28.  Russia’s Glonass has 24. China’s Beidou has 50.

Internet: a network of networks.

The Internet

While satellite imagery and GPS were maturing, so was something called “The Internet.” This was a “network of networks” that allowed computers to talk to each other. It was initially used for sharing data among researchers in government and higher education institutions.

In the 1980s into the early 1990s, Internet protocols and applications became more “human” friendly, but everything was still text based. It was also small enough that if you were on it, you sort of knew where everything was. Still, there were early efforts to corral the information and make it easier to use.
  • DNS – Number to name database (The name ahsgr.org is actually Before they moved to their new website last December, it was As a human, you didn't need to learn the new ip address. You kept using the name. The DNS server takes care of the translation from names to numbers for you. 
  • Email – Text-based, no graphics, no notifications, not mobile. 
  • Listserv – Subscription email list for communicating sharing information with groups. This was the beginning of the “drinking from the firehose” era of modern communication. Also, it was when I regularly started telling the librarians I worked with to please stop printing the internet.  
  • Content (No WWW yet, and I don’t remember actually using the term “content” at that point yet) 
    • FTP (used for uploading and downloading files; also a repository of said files)
    • Gopher (menu-based content server) 
    • WAIS (text-based wide area information server)
    • Archie (search engine for FTP sites)
In 1989, HTML (hypertext markup language) was invented. The following year, the internet became commercially available and the first browser arrived on the scene. The Lynx browser followed in 1992; it was still text based. No images.

In 1993, the Mosaic browser came out. It was the first web browser that could display images—verrrrry slowly, but it could do it! The first image I saw rendered was of Charon, Pluto’s moon, from a web server in NMSU’s astronomy department. Mosaic changed everything. This made the internet as a whole more attractive to everyone and commercially viable. It was not just for geeks anymore—pictures sold the internet to the public. Suddenly everything and everyone was going “on the net.” I spent several years around this time not only being a sysadmin but also teaching staff and students how to get onto the internet and how to use it for research. 

And then along came ...

Google.com November 11, 1998. Internet Archive


In 1998, Google, Inc. was founded as an internet search engine company. It was not the first search engine on the scene, but today is currently the world’s most used. 

Meanwhile, in 1991, a company called Keyhole, Inc. was stitching together and georeferencing satellite imagery from Landsat with funding from the CIA. They launched a site called Keyhole Earthviewer, which was a 3D interface to the planet using satellite images, aerial photography, and GIS data. Its target market: the real estate industry, urban planners, and travelers.  

Earthviewer.com. November 30, 2001. Internet Archive.
Google acquired Keyhole in 2004 and renamed Keyhole Earthviewer to Google Earth.

    Google Maps launched in 2005, followed by Google My Maps in 2007. The idea behind MyMaps was to put map making into the hands of anyone so that they could “easily create custom maps with the places that matter to you.” The Germans from Russia Settlement Locations maps are made with Google My Maps. It wasn’t the first MyMap I made, but it is by far the largest and most complex in terms of the amount of data presented.

    Georeferencing Meets History

    Simply put, georeferencing is applying geographic information to a digital image (aerial photos, satellite image, maps, etc.) so that the image is correctly placed in its real world location. The process (again, very simply) it overlaying a digital image—say a map of the Saratov province—onto a digital map such as Google Maps and then identifying several location points on the image that correspond with the map. The accuracy of the end result depends greatly on the accuracy and scale of the image, which is why many are done as tiles and stitched together as one big map. Hand drawn maps, such as those by Karl Stumpp, are not terribly accurate. Highly detailed military maps, such as those of the Austrian Empire and the Red Army, often produce great georeferenced maps. When all goes well, you can have a historical map or image overlaid on a current map where you can search for locations by today’s name or by GPS coordinates and see it on the historical map. 

    Georeferencing of historical maps seemed to start appearing on the web in early 2010s. There are many digital maps collections that are georeferenced and free to use. What this has brought about is the surfacing of old maps that have not been seen before. Using these maps helps me find lost ancestral colonies and also find my mistakes. Once the coordinates are nailed down, it’s fascinating wandering back in time through maps of a place as far as I can go and then viewing the satellite images available for it in the not so distant past.

    1805—Rastatt (Beresan) before it was Rasatt
    Curious. Will write more about this soon.

    Top is the 1872 map. Bottom 1872 georeferenced map with modern map showing through. 


    This is from a 1941 German map





    End of nostalgia trip. I hope that you have a new appreciation of all the technology it took for this project to be where it is today, what it took for you to be able to gaze nonchalantly at your ancestral colonies and say, “There it is. No biggie.” I am glad it’s no biggie. That means it has become a part of your everyday life. For some, this romp though time and technology of this will be familiar. For others, ancient history...making me also, somehow, ancient. I’m cool with that. No biggie.


    11 January 2022

    Repression Years and Deportation Locations

    If you are beginning researching your family in the repression years, there are two new sources that complement each other nicely. One will give you a solid historical background, and the other provides lists of names, birth dates, originating colonies in South Russia and exile locations in Siberia and Central Asia.

    The first is the new book, The Years of Great Silence: The Deportation, Special Settlement, and Mobilization into the Labor Army of Ethnic Germans in the USSR, 1941–1955, by J. Otto Pohl, a well-known independent scholar and published author of Russian-German academic research. In this volume, he provides a concise history of ethnic Germans from Russia from the beginning and the events leading up to his focus on the peak years of Soviet repression of ethnic Germans—1941-1955. The book will be published on March 22nd, but it is available for pre-order now from Columbia University Press. $42 USD. Shipping costs vary.

    The second source is the MVD File Extractions Concerning Individuals/Families Who Were Relocated During the Repression Years” collection that is a part of the Glückstal Colonies Research Association 2021 (GCRA) Data Drive. This focuses on those who were exiled from the Odessa region (the enclaves of Glückstal/Hoffnungstal, Beresan, Liebental) in the 1940s, during the very peak that Pohl writes about in his book. There is no interpretation of this data at all. It is translated into English but is essentially raw and leaves it to the researcher to find family names and locations within the data. Set aside the fact that name of the research group publishing this includes Glückstal in its name; the fact is that much of what is on this data drive has to do with the neighbors in Kherson province with the exception of the Kutschurgan enclave, which is, for some reason, simply missing. The drive is available now from GCRA. $80 USD for non-members, $55 USD for members. Free shipping in the US. Contact the organization for international orders. 

    I pre-ordered the book and purchased the data drive last November. Of particular interest to me on the drive is the list of resettlement locations, including coordinates—over 800 of them. It will take time to extract the pieces of data I need to add to my maps, but in the end it will add to the deportation story layer on the map. Currently what’s on the map (and still in progress) is from the book Fortjagen muss man sie.” Zeitzeugen und Forscher berichten über die Tragödie der Russlanddeutschen (“You have to chase them away.” Contemporary Witnesses and Researchers Report on the Tragedy of the Russian Germans). You can get a copy of the book (in both Russian and German) as a free PDF from RusDeutsch


    07 January 2022

    As the Bee Flies in Tiraspol District

    1886 Map of the Tiraspol District, Kherson Province

    Just before the holidays, I had a brief email exchange with a food historian who remarked on my grandmother’s recipe for pfeffernüsse that appeared in the last issue of the Glückstal Colonies Research Association Newsletter. Our conversation revolved around the ratio of lard it called for, its possible use for extracting the fat-soluble flavors in the scant amount of star anise and clove in the recipe, and also the inclusion of what I described as “interesting” honey. By interesting, I meant to imply anything that didn’t come out of a plastic bear. Let me explain. 

    The German colonists who lived in the Glückstal colonies were farmers and also bee keepers. Beekeeping was something they brought with them from Germany. There are historical German beekeeping guides, calendars, newspapers and books in the digital collections of libraries in Germany, including several in Die Bienenbibliothek (bee library) at Regensburg University Library. The colonies of Glückstal and Neudorf were noted as engaging in “extensive” beekeeping operations, likely not only for the honey but also for the wax needed to make candles. The two colonies were only about 4.5 miles (7 km) apart, as the bee flies. The honey produced probably had the terroir of whatever pollen those bees harvested, which I image added to the flavor of whatever it was used to sweeten—including our beloved Christmas pfeffernüsse. What the characteristics of that honey might be could be discovered by researching what grew wild near the Glückstal beehives and what was cultivated that needed pollinators. I was curious.

    Glückstal Mother colonies showing fruit and grape orchards in 1886.
    Crop reports seemed like a good place to start for learning what was cultivated.  

    1810 Crop Report 
    (File 134-1-283, State Archives of the Dnipropetrovsk'k Region)
    The first crop crop report for the Glückstal colonies was dated 1 December 1810, a year or two after settlement. It included the colonies of Glückstal, Bergdorf and Neudorf. Kassel was not included as it had been newly established in 1810. The report recorded the colonists growing the following: winter and summer rye (Wintter Roggen and Sommer Roggen), winter and summer wheat (Wintter Weizen and Sommer Weizen), buckwheat (Buch Weizen), oats (Hafer), barley (Gerste), millet (Hirse), potatoes (Kartoffeln), peas (Erbsen), Turkish beans (Türkeischen Bohnen), beans (Bohnen), lentils (Linse), hemp (Hanf), flax (Flachs), and hay (Heu).

    1811 Crop Report 
    (File 134-1-320, State Archives of the Dnipropetrovsk'k Region)
    The following year, the same crops were reported in the report dated 1 December 1811: winter and summer rye, winter and summer wheat, buckwheat, oats, barley, millet, potatoes, peas, Turkish beans, beans, lentils, hemp, flax, and hay.

    1814 Crop Report 
    (File 134-1-398, State Archives of the Dnipropetrovsk'k Region)
    Although there was a crop report for 1814, no specific crops were named in it. 

    1820 - Spring 1821 Crop Report 
    (File 252-1-314, Odessa Regional Archive)
    In this report dated May 1821, beekeeping (Bienen) appears along with reports of planting trees grown for wood (Holzbäumen) and fruit trees (Obstbäumen), specifically mulberry trees (Maulbeerbäumen) for silk. The specific list of crops has also been pared back to include rye, winter and spring [sic, summer] wheat, barley, oats, lentils, potatoes, and peas. According to the translators’ notes, there were other crops grown, but the pages were illegible.

    1825 Statistical Reports of the Glückstal Colonies
    The 1825 crop report comes from Deutsche Bauernleistung am Schwarzen Meer, Bevölkerung und Wirtschaft 1825 (German Farming Statistics of the Black Sea, Population and Economy 1825). Georg Liebbrandt (1899-1982) discovered a set of statistical documents in the archives in Odessa, had them translated from Russia to German in Berlin, and Hans Rempel organized and published the translations in 1940. I have a used copy of this book on order, as I am curious about the other enclaves around the Black Sea. Reported in the translated excerpts (German to English this time by the Glückstal Colonies Research Association), the following crops were grown: winter rye (Winterroggen), winter wheat (Winterweizen), summer wheat (Sommerweizen), buckwheat (Buchweizen), oats, barley, millet, potatoes, corn (Mais), peas, small beans (Fasol', Kleine Bohnen), lentils, hemp, flax (noted as Lein this time instead of Flachs), and hay. It also enumerated the trees planted: acacia (Akazien), willows (Weiden), poplars (Pappeln), mulberries, apples (Apfel), pears (Birnen), plums (Pflaumen), cherries (Kirschen), peaches (Pfirsiche), apricots (Aprikosen), nuts (Nüsse), and grapevines (Weinreben). 

    I have to note that by 1825, the four Glückstal Mother colonies had collectively 161,471 grape vines planted, with 85,570 in/near Glückstal colony itself. (~250 vines made 1 barrel or 60 gallons of wine)

    All this reminded me of an agricultural map I happened upon last year of the district of Tiraspol from 1886.

    The Tiraspol District was established in1795 in the Russian Empire and went through several re-districting and province changes before it settled in as a district in Kherson Province in 1803. When the German colonists arrived in South Russia, the Glückstal, Kutschurgan, Beresan and Liebental enclaves were all a part of the Tiraspol district until 1825 when the district of Odessa was established. The Glückstal enclave (including the colonies in the Hoffnungstal parish) remained in the Tiraspol district along with some of the Kutschurgan, Beresan and Liebental colonies until 1923. The point of this is that there were no hard lines around the German enclaves that kept them administratively together.

    This map shows what settlements in Tiraspol had significant agriculture in place in terms of gardens, state-run nurseries, fruit orchards and vineyards. It also lists what places would partake in survey of what appears to be increasing the number of grape vines grown by 1895. Among them the German colonies of Neudorf (#9, Нейдорфская), Hoffnungstal (#20, Гофнунгстальская) and Kassel (#22, Кассельская). I'm not sure the results of the study are available online anywhere. 

    Some of the crops and trees mentioned in the crop reports needed pollinators, but not all of them. The trees that the colonists planted caught my eye since I have heard of acacia honey. But the German colonists preferred to plant willow trees over acacia trees maybe because acacias already grew wild? Bees will stay roughly two miles (3.2 km) from their hive, but they will travel up to five miles (8 km). What else grew wild in that range around Glückstal and Neudorf?

    Ultimately, I don’t know what characteristics honey from the Glückstal colonies might have had...and maybe still have...and how it might have flavored pfeffernüsse. I would be an interesting topic to dive into from a number of different directions, not just culinary and agriculture science. If anyone need a writing topic, I'd be more than happy to read whatever you wrote. Until then, I’ll stick with my own advice of using “interesting honey” over what comes in the bear. 

    Above is a lightly marked up version of the map above with some of the German
     colonies noted for orientation. Click on it to see a larger version.

    Sources and Further Reading:

    • Freeman, Margaret and Stangl, Thomas A., trans. 2004. “Glückstal Colonies Crop Report, 1820—Spring 1821.” In The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America: A Bicentennial Collection of History, Genealogy and Folklore, 223–33.
    • Rudolf, Homer, trans. 2004. “Statistical Reports of the Glückstal Colonies from 1825.” In The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America: A Bicentennial Collection of History, Genealogy and Folklore, 235–44.
    • Stangl, Thomas A. trans. 2010. “1810 Crop Report. State Archives of Dnipropetrovsk’k Region. File 134-1-283. Glückstal Colonies Research Association. Glückstal Colonies Research Association 2021 Data Drive.
    • Stangl, Thomas A. trans. 2010. “1811 Crop Report. State Archives of Dnipropetrovsk’k Region. File 134-1-320. Glückstal Colonies Research Association. Glückstal Colonies Research Association 2021 Data Drive.
    • Stangl, Thomas A., and Koenig, Donn, trans. 2013. “1814 Crop Report. Glückstal District. File 134-1-398, State Archives of Dnipropetrovsk’k Region, Dnipropetrovsk’k, Ukraine.” Glückstal Colonies Research Association. Glückstal Colonies Research Association 2021 Data Drive.
    • “Карта Тираспольского уезда с обозначением населенных пунктов и земских дач,  принятых за единицы исследования, и виноградников.” (Map of Tiraspol County with the designation of settlements and zemstvo dachas, taken as survey units, and vineyards.) 1886. Russian Empire. https://bit.ly/tiraspol-district.    
    • “Тираспольський Повіт (Tiraspol Region).” 2021. In Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. https://bit.ly/wiki-tiraspol-district.