The Germans from Russia Settlement Locations project was founded in February 2016 by myself and Dennis Bender of Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. It all started with 103 colonies, a map and a promise. 

Dennis had been collecting the locations of his ancestral villages in Russia as a part of his own genealogical research. Our paths had crossed more than once on Find a Grave, and I was an early and often recipient of his list of villages. The Germans from Russia Heritage Society's quarterly journal, Heritage Review, was about to publish his list when I reached out to Dennis and asked I could put his locations on a Google map. 

In the following months, we agreed to continue to locate and map German villages in Russia. It was something that needed to be done, and we thought, well, why not just do it? So we did. We agreed that whatever was collected, it would always be freely available for anyone to use and never sitting on a shelf collecting dust. And I promised him I would keep the project alive no matter what. 

While Dennis has since moved on and started his own site, I'm grateful for his contributions to this project and also grateful that he continues to make his work freely available for anyone to use. He was supported by the following people: his cousin, Mel Bender, who supplied many of the maps early in the project; Peggy (Krause) Hansen, who helped him get started on his genealogical journey; and Elaine (Becker) Morrison, who was his mentor early on with Find a Grave and in this project. 

A very special thanks goes to Dave Gorz, John Kaminski and Murray Gauer from the Galizien German Descendants (GGD) organization. In late 2016, they brought their list of villages in Galicia along with some excellent historical maps and other sources and asked if their area could be included in the project. Dave and John's line editing and validation of each piece of information presented resulted in the Galizien colony group map. Their expertise and the time they put into working on this are greatly appreciated. 

Last, but not least, are all of the people who are following this project and who have reached out through email and on social media. Each of you has contributed pieces of information or had questions that resulted in discoveries and additions to the maps. For every bit of information, large and small, I thank you. And keep it coming. 

Sandy Schilling Payne