The AHSGR German Origins Project


For questions, corrections, additional information, or reports on your successful research please contact Dick Kraus, project coordinator and editor, at dickkraus1@yahoo.com.  The GO Project can only get better with your help!  Thank you very much. rak

The master GO file is maintained offsite by the editor.  Periodically this website is updated to match the contents of that master file.  The last such update was January 2014.

For best results: 

1.        First look up the family name or village in which you are interested. 

2.        Read the legend at the top of each alpha sequence page.

3.        Be alert for alternative spellings. 

4.        Look up every word in bold you find in any entry  – those are cross-references that usually will hold additional valuable information.  Good hunting!

Today, many people whose German ancestors settled in Russia are seeking their roots back in Germany.  Some have been successful.  Others are frustrated or need help.  This project is being done with the cooperation of the AHSGR Village Coordinators and will assemble in one place, to the extent possible, all known information regarding the origins of the men and women who settled in German villages in Russia.

Our index will grow over time.  It indexes four types of names:

  1. The family name of a researcher who has confirmed a German origin location;

  2. The family name of a German family which settled in Russia for which there is at least a hint of the place of its German origin;

  3. Village names of German villages in Russia;

  4. German state and locality names, at about the time settlers left for Russia.

  5. Within each category different spellings will be cross-referenced.

The entry of a researcher name will carefully indicate which localities that researcher has successfully confirmed origins for which families.  A confirmed locality is one in which the record of birth of a German settler in Russia has been found.  Other types of evidence which have been uncovered will be noted as well.

The entry for a family would indicate all that is known about its German origin and on which Russian village First Settlers’ List it appears.  First Settlers’ information will be taken from published sources.

The entry for a Russian village will indicate which families are said by its First Settlers’ List to have come from what German origins.

An entry for a German locality will indicate all Ger-Rus families (showing their Russian village) said or confirmed to have come from that locality.

Check out the name(s) in which you are interested by clicking on the appropriate alphabetical section to the right of this page:  Each section runs from the letter or letters indicated up to the words which begin with the letter or letters of the next section.

If you have origin confirmation information and would like to share it with us, please do so through the Village Coordinator of the Russian village involved. If there is no Village Coordinator listed on the AHSGR site, please send your information to Dick Kraus at dickkraus1@yahoo.com.  Please do share!  What follow will be a few stellar Origins Success Stories:

Success Story #1:  Harold Wiest corresponded with Dr. Joseph Height who found Russian documents indicating that his ancestor Franz Wiest came from Erlenbach (also see Stumpp, p.486).  Harold used LDS microfische of church records for places in the Erlenbach area ... many hours of reading old German script to no avail.  He started telephoning Wiests listed in Southern California telephone books.  One of these told him about a relative, Brian Barr Wiest who had written a book about the family.  He purchased it but could find no mention of his branch in the book.  Finally in the microfische he found his ancestor's birth, 30 December 1772 in Erlenbach.  But could find nothing earlier regarding the family in those records.  Brickwall!  Then he began e-mailing with five other Wiests who were looking for ancestors.  He found he was related to four of the five!  Between them they soon found the parents and grandparents of the man born in 1772 in Erlenbach.  With those names he was able to find the grandfather and the grandfather's ancestry in the Wiest book he had purchased so much earlier!  The grandfather of the grandfather had migrated from Switzerland (Kuettingen in the center of the Aargau, 23 miles SE of Basel) to the Palatinate in 1657, settling in Steinweiler (1 mile W of Erlenbach).  The five then hired a professional genealogist in Switzerland who so far has traced the family line back to 1598!  Harold wrote a book on them: Rohrbach Wiests: From Kuettigen to the Rheinpfalz to South Russia.

Success Story #2: Dr. Ruth Schultz first found her GGGG Grandparents Jacob and Anna Maria Weitzel on an early Pleve chart that she purchased from Doug Weitzel. (Later Ruth commissioned an update of the Weitzel chart to 1905.) Then she found them in Karl Stumpp's book on page 163 as being from Calbach. She searched the Calbach church records which are combined with the Buedingen records and found them to be the parents of two babies baptized in Calbach, Buedingen Kreis, which then was in Isenburg-Buedingen County.  Not finding their marriage record in the Calbach records she ultimately found that they had two children together in Calbach and one in Boehnstadt prior to their marriage in Boehnstadt; and they returned to Calbach prior to leaving for Russia.  Early on they were prevented from marriage because he was Lutheran and she was Reformed – but after 3 children and their agreement to do penance, they were allowed to marry. Then Ruth found the couple on Brent Mai's Transport List as immigrants # 15 & 16 traveling with Christoph and Gertruta Weitzel, immigrants # 17 & 18. The marriage of Christoph and Gertruta is listed in the Buedingen ML (as published by Mai&Marquardt) on 24 May 1766. Christoph is listed as being from Boehnstadt, which is just west of Calbach, then in the Isenburg-Waechtersbach County, later taken over by Hessen-Darmstadt, now part of the Friedberg Kreis, Hessen.  It was then that Ruth decided to check the Boenstadt records. Also on 24 May 1766, Johann Wilhelm Stoerckel and Maria Catharina Juenger were married, both listed in the Buedingen ML as being from Boehnstadt.  They too are found in the Norka First Settlers' List. With the help of a professional researcher in Salt Lake City, Ruth obtained the marriage and baptismal records of Jacob and Anna Maria and learned that her maiden name was Feuerstein. With that information and assistance, Ruth has been able to push her research back to a Weitzell ancestor born about 1630 in Boehnstadt. Unfortunately, her trail ends there because all earlier records were destroyed in the Thirty Years War.  Ruth then ordered microfilm FHL #1195346 (which they refer to as Boenstadt (Kr. Friedberg, and as Germany, Hessen, Boenstadt) and began further research on her Weitzel and Feuersteinfamilies, happily finding the Stoerckel first settler, also in Boehnstadt, in the process. In addition, while doing this she came across the Wigand (Weigandt) family who also went to Norka. Anna Maria's brother, Johann Georg Feuerstein, was married in Buedingen 12 June 1766 to Agnesa (Anna Elisabeth) Loch and they are listed as immigrants #506 & 507 on the Transport List translated and edited by Brent Mai. Traveling with them were Johann Georg and Anna Maria Feuerstein's parents and younger siblings.  The parents and a younger brother died enroute. A younger sister, Anna Barbara, may have married Georg Just (Jost?) of Norka.

While tracing the Weitzel and Feuerstein families in Boehnstadt, Ruth found the records of other Norka first settlers: Stoerckel was baptized there in March 1744 and his Juenger wife was born and baptized there in October 1744, while Wigand was baptized there in March 1725 with a Stoerckel as godfather.  In this process, Ruth proved that the other Weitzell first settler in Norka did not come from Boehnstadt, so Dr. Pleve was correct in saying that the two Weitzel families in Norka were not closely related.

18jan14

rak

On the source of the Origins information in the Volga First Settlers’ Lists.

So far we have no complete emigration file on any settler from the 1765-67 settlement period.  But we are fortunate in having (thanks to David F. Schmidt for finding it in and securing copies from Russian archives back in the 1990’s and to Rick Rye for translating the material, and to AHSGR for printing it) a very full file on several families who arrived in Russia from three different countries in and near the Imperial City of Gelnhausen in 1773. 

We do not know if the processing in 1765-67 was was exactly the same as that which was done in 1773, but we do know, from their written intentions, that the officials in 1773 intended to do things as closely as possible to the way they had been done in the earlier period.  So if it was similar, then the processing in 1765-67 would have been something very like the following.

Central to the immigration materials was a  Passport good for a trip from its home country to Russia for each emigrant family.. This Passport was surrendered to police and ministry officials upon arrival in Kronstadt.  This passport testified to the good citizenship and good health of the emigrant household, especially to that of the household head, and sometimes gave their ancestry back a generation or two.  This would be by way of further attesting to their being responsible members of their community.  The passport would detail the locality from which they were leaving, being clear about what country in which the locality was located.  If they had earlier moved, their earlier moves might be covered in some detail.  An official would sign in the name of the ruler or top official of the country involved (sometimes the ruler himself would sign), attesting to the fact that the family wanted to make this trip, was willing to pay for it, had sold its home possessions, had paid off all its debts and was hereby granted freedom from bondage by the sovereign (to be revoked should they return!), while asking all people along the way to be helpful to these travelers – it would be indicated that the sovereign in future would be glad to reciprocate such care for the subjects of any helpful jurisdiction.  There was sometimes a request to allow the family to pass through border frontiers, duty-free.

Clearly, these hand-written Passports were extremely important documents.  If a Passport was lost, a family’s trip might end abruptly and their freedom might be lost.  These passports included much information that today would be enormously helpful to genealogical research.  Yet, so far at least, all we have left for the 1765-67 period are the all too brief and too often inaccurate or muddled abstracts contained in the First Settlers Lists and Transportation Lists.  What was the transition from Passport to List?

As mentioned above, the Passports were surrended as one stepped into the first official facility on Russian soil or in Russian waters.  After that, a Passport could be recovered only if an emigrant decided not to go on to the Volga, but to return west.  One of the 1773 group did exactly that.

The Passports were then taken into St. Petersburg for processing by the Police and by the responsible Ministry.  All the Passports and any related papers signed by the emigrants were translated into Russian by police and ministry personnel.  One or both groups would then create a table, called in translation, a Register, for each group of emigrants just arrived.  The blanks in a Register were for items identical to those later used in the First Settlers List: family name, given name, age, religion, occupation and origin.

When a group was formed for transport to Saratov, a Register for that particular group so as to facilitate those who were responsible for the care, feeding and protection of the group.  In 1773 the last thing done by the settlers was to take the oath of loyality to the sovereigns of Russia.  Those oaths were put together with the Passports and filed.  That was the last point at which a Passport could be accessed.  The persons named were now subjects of the Russian Empire and a Passport from another country could not be legally used by them or by any other person or persons.

There is reason to believe that the loyalty oath was one of the first matters handled for colonists in 1765-67, so the actual passports would have disappeared from circulation sooner in the process.

Once in or near Saratov, colonists would be divided up by prospective colony, and a Register created for those going to each colony – these Registers would be the source documents, a year or two later, for the First Settlers Lists.

Each time a table was copied by hand there was opportunity for error and for nonsense syllables to creep in, the moreso the less a given clerk might know about German .  Most vulnerable would have been the names of the countries and localities.  Place names tended to get more and more succinct and scrambled with each newly produced Register created for its specific use.  Surely no clerk handling these Registers was well versed in the political geography of the German-speaking lands.  Few if any Germans were – keeping up with the names and locations of a few thousand, sometimes very small, countries was impossible for any human being.  Sometimes the ruler of one country would act for the ruler of another county (usually a cousin), leaving confusion in his wake.  It is nothing short of a miracle that we can learn as much as we do today from the First Settlers Lists.  It seems to me that the officials involved were trying very hard to do the right thing, while working with conditions that made accuracy extremely difficult.

The result, left to us was well-described by Jacob Dietz in chapter two of his book, History of the Volga German colonies:

“In December 1767, the Saratov Kontora of the Chancery of Oversight of Foreigners produced the first household, name by name census [later usually known as First Settlers’ Lists] of the Volga colonists.  This census was to have established the place of exit abroad for every colonist as well as his occupation.

This task appeared to be beyond the capabilities of the ignorant bureaucrats of the Kontora and its scribes appointed to take the census.  In only a few colonies the place of exit of the colonist is listed exactly as ‘from the Holy Roman Empire’, with an indiction of the state[an independent country], city or town.  [Otherwise,] in most cases, the city or village is given without any indication of the state, or a state without an indication of the colonist’s city or town.  In the best case, one or the other is known, but in such a corrupted form that [even] a person with an irreproachable knowledge of contemporary Germany and its history could only guess as to which state or locale is indicated.  This is completely comprehensible [in those cases when no earlier Register survived] as the Russian scribe, who did not know the German language, interrogated a German who did not know the Russian language, and this German named as his homeland some knightdom, burg, land or margraviate, duchy or archduchy, diocese, abbey, provost or free city, the name of which was accessible neither to the tongue or ear of the scribe….”

Dick Kraus, May 2009

Extended Nov 2009

 

Index

Check out the name(s) in which you are interested by clicking on the appropriate alphabetical section below: 

  

A Ann Ba

Bea

Ber Bid
Bok Bre C
Da Den Do
Ea Em Fa
Fo Ga Gi
Gn Gr Ha
He Hel Hi
Ho I J
Ka Ke Ki
Kn Kr Ku
La Le Li
Ma Me Mi
Na Ni O
Pa Pf Q
Ra Re Ri
Ro Sa Scha
Schm Scho Se
Si Sta Sti
Ta Ti U
V Wa We
Wh Wim X-Y-Z