02 March 2023

Western Siberia: Tomsk Province

German settlements in the Tomsk Province. 

The past two weeks I’ve been working through the former Tomsk Province in Western Siberia, which today spans the oblasts of Tomsk, Kemerovo, Novosibirsk, Altai Krai in Russia and the northern tip of East Kazakhstan and eastern edge of Pavlodar provinces in Kazakhstan. So far, 73 more settlements have been added. 

This part of Siberia, as you’ll recall, is the part where there was voluntary resettlement from other areas in Russia in the early 1900s. It was open for settlement, made easily accessible with the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railroad in 1904, and some Germans thought it was a good way to avoid the mandatory military conscription since it was further east with less oversight in such matters. The early settlements were in the 1890s, but many more came after the railroad was completed. Germans mostly flourished there until the fall of the empire in 1917. 

I want to note that in the Imperial Census of 1897, there were 1,927,679 inhabitants in Tomsk Province. Of those, 1,430 (0.07%) reported themselves as native German speakers. 

The origins of the German re-settlers were diverse. There were many mixed Volga/Black Sea colonies from all the provinces of those two regions. German Mennonites established the Barnaul Colony, which consisted of six settlement areas: Salvgorod, Bas Agatsch, Glyaden, Pashnya, Saratov, and Fünfziger. 

Origins of the re-settlers (reported from various sources, not confirmed):
There was also a Neudorf...because there’s always a Neudorf, right? It wasn’t readily apparent exactly which Neudorf it was. In true German fashion of leaving at least some breadcrumbs, some of the colonies were named after the colonies they left: Kratzke, Dönhof, Mariupol, Landau, Lichtefeld, Kano, Beckerdorf, etc. 

Next up will be the province of Toblosk. 

1914 map of the Tomsk Province from the David Rumsey Map Collection

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