16 December 2017

And to All a Good Night

Last night a bunch of rambunctious elves showed up at my house in South Carolina driving a new dark blue Jeep Grand Cherokee with temporary Virginia plates.  They said they were here to set up Christmas trees in all of our ancestral villages.

I protested – I did! – but they bribed me with tin of pfeffernüsse, a brick of marble halvah and a thermos of coffee and said they'd do all the work. And they promised to take down all the decorations after the holidays and clean up so that you can get back to serious research.

It seemed like a fair trade.

How could I say no?

Looking around nervously to see if any of the neighbors were watching, I said, "Show me the cookies," and when they did, I said, "Okay, you can come in."

The pfeffers.

After giving them my Wi-Fi SSID and password, and after I put all their MAC addresses into my router's whitelist, the elves quickly went to work.  Some scurried about, chasing the cat (she thought they were well-dressed squirrels and chased them back), while others sat quietly around the dining room table looking Google Maps up and drinking coffee, like a miniature Starbucks.  More than once, they giggled uncontrollably at where some of the trees ended up.

"No changing the coordinates," I yelled from the living room, powered sugar spraying from my mouth festively on the coffee table.   They collectively sighed, "Awwwww!"


But, to their credit, they were especially careful with placing trees where villages no longer existed. It seemed important that those places – those special places – got special attention and were not forgotten.  They all gathered in the dining room to make sure it was just right and nodded in agreement before moving on.

Somewhere near Sari-Bash in Crimea, they asked me to ask you, dear readers, to take a screenshot of the tree in your village and share it in email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. They want to see their Christmas trees in the places where your ancestors lived.  They don't care if it's in a village or a city, on a house or on a road, in a field or underwater (you know what I'm talking about, Neu-Kolonie).

I nodded, and said "Uh-huh, sure thing, yep.  I'll ask," while taking a bite of a hunk of halvah and sip of strong coffee and letting them melt together.

The halvah.

Hours passed, and by the time the elves finished their work, logged off, packed up their laptops in their Jeep, I was drifting head-long into a sugar coma.  They wiped my sticky fingers, dusted the powered sugar off my face and rinsed the thermos in the kitchen sink.

I heard them say in unison, "Frohe Weihnachten!"

And then one said,  "Hey, wake her up and ask her how to get to Edisto Beach from here..."

 Merry Christmas from the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations Project!
Merry Christmas from the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations Project
(and a bunch of elves!)


15 December 2017

Map Refresh: Final for 2017

For the final map update for 2017, we have updates to the data in Galizien and Central Asia. For Galizien, there are several updates and additions to parishes, one coordinate adjustment (Rosenberg, Lemburg district) and one colony noted now as being a known Mennonite colony (Wiszenka).  For Central Asia, there are seven new locations added: Aschgabad, Buchara, Kozelkov, Krestowo, Neu-Ak-Metschet, Saratowa I, Saratowa II.

Three new maps for the Central Asian colonies, the Siberian colonies and combined into the Asiatic Russian Colonies have been created. 

So, the following maps have been updated:

Siberian Colonies (new map)

Total colonies mapped in the project thus far is 3,973.  That's a good 3,000 more than I ever expected.  Little did I know. But I know a lot more now. 

Hope you find your village!  If not, drop me a note at grsl1763@gmail.com with any details you have about the location and when your ancestors were there.  


Germans from Russia Settlement Locations as of December 2017


04 December 2017

Mennonite Colonies Map from Mennonitische Geschichte und Ahnenforschung

There is a new Google My Map of Mennonite colonies on the site Mennonitische Geschichte und Ahnenforschung.  If you've done any research on German Mennonite colonies in Russia, you probably already know this site well.

The new map is the work of Andreas Tissen and Viktor Petkau.  Their approach was to create a map of all the locations that German Mennonites lived in Russia.  It includes villages founded by Mennonites (majority population), other villages Mennonites lived at one point (minority population), chutors (guts) and forestry land.  Interestingly, the site states that young Mennonite men chose to live and work in forests as an alternative to doing time in the military, and some of these forests are on this map.

The scope of this map is slightly different than that of the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations, but they started with our coordinates and added and corrected (corrections and additions coming to our maps coming soon, and we thank them for this!), and came up with something that I know will be very interesting and useful for those whose focus is researching German Mennonite colonies in Russia.

Please check out the link below for a full description of their project.  Use Google Translate or the Chrome web browser to translate from German if needed.

Mennonite Places in Russia in Google My Maps

Mennonite Places in Russia map from Mennonitische Geschichte und Ahnenforschung Chortitza 


22 November 2017

Map Refresh: Siberia

The German colonies in Siberia have been refreshed on the main map and include 117 new colonies bringing the total in that area to 294.

Dennis said that this was by far one of the most challenging maps he's worked on.  During a second pass, he found another 25 villages. You'll see as you go through and look at the data that the sources often didn't agree on the location, and on top of that, the names of the places didn't always show up on Google Maps.  I think he did a splendid job given what he had to work with and deserves a big round of applause for this one.

Germans from Russia Settlement Locations map as of November 2017. Note that Germany is on the extreme left, and the easternmost colony founded by Germans from Russia is on the extreme right.  


20 November 2017

Malcoci, Dobrudscha

Malcoci was originally called Malkotsch.  It was the first Catholic German colony in Dobrudscha, founded in 1843.

German migrants from Russia came through Tulcea, where some families stayed.  But 20-25 families went on southeast 5.5 miles (8.8 km) to found Malcoci.  According to Paul Traeger's Die Deutschen in der Dobrudscha (published in 1922 and translated in 2017 by Allen E. Konrad), the route to their new home was not a straightforward one.  

According to Traeger, land was becoming scarce in Kherson where the Kutschurgan and Beresan colonies were, so residents from 10 different villages including Josephsthal, Mannheim, Elsaß, Landau and Katharinenthal, among others, left Kherson and went through Bessarabia to the city of Focșani.  From there they went to and area called Wallachia, a historical and geographical area in modern-day northern Romania, and then on to the city of Călărași.  In this area, they lived in a village called Dschuroi (unable to find this location) for a year and a half.  They moved again and arrived in Dobrudscha by way of Galatz (Galați), which was just north of the colony of Jakobsonsthal.  

The path Germans from Russia took from their colonies in Kutschurgan and Beresan to Dobrudscha.  

The German origins of these settlers trace back to Alsace, Baden and the Palatinate.  The first church register was set up on 1 November 1847, and the first list of residents was recorded.  Interestingly, the French form of names were used: Georges instead of Georg, Charles Louis instead of Karl Ludwig, etc.  I've only seen the English translations of the Russian censuses for the colonies they came from in Russia from the Germans from Russia Heritage Society. The French versions of names were not used in those translated documents.  What was recorded in the originals, I do not know.  Interesting that they chose to use the French name form in their new colony in the Ottoman Empire, perhaps different than what they used in their former home in the Russian Empire.  

The Catholic church was built sometime between 1882 and 1890.  The ruins still stand today along with a memorial stone commemorating those first settlers. 

Drawing of the school and Catholic church in Malcoci circa 1922.
Source: Die Deutschen in der Dobrudscha, courtesy of Black Sea German Research.

Catholic church in Malcoci. Date unknown.
Copyright ©Cristian Mititelu.  Source: Descopera Delta Dunarii

Plat map of Malcoci (Malkotsch), courtesy of the Black Sea German Research plat map collection.  
Source: Heimatbuch der Dobrudscha-Deutschen 1840-1940

Malcoci, Romania today.

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Die Deutschen in der Dobrudscha, Paul Traeger.  See English translation courtesy of BSGR.