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March 29 @ 5:30 pm
|Presenter: Wayne Bonner |
Although virtually all members of AHSGR have heard the story of Catharine the Great and her manifesto of 1763 inviting settlement in Russia, not everyone is aware of the population movements that occurred prior to that epic migration. Numerous Germans, primarily from the present German states of Baden-Wurttemberg and the Palatine (Pfalz), relocated to Brandenburg beginning in the 1740’s where Frederick the Great was building his new capital of Berlin and required skilled laborers. Still others, estimated to have been at least 5,000, answered the invitation of Frederick V of Denmark beginning in 1759 to settle unimproved land in the regions of Jutland and the Duchy of Schleswig
The Danish settlement movement has been studied for some time, but most of the works were written in German or Danish and not generally available to researchers in North America. However, in 2012 Drs. Alexander, Jacob and Mary Eichhorn produced a volume that will stand for years as the principal investigation of the Danish “experience”. Wayne’s presentation will not delve so much into the history of this settlement, but instead will discuss the specific parish records that the Eichhorn research alludes to.
The parish records of Denmark, which at the tine included much of present-day Schleswig, were researched for clues to events associated with the German “Colonists” as they were designated. During this period, children were born, marriages were performed, and colonists died. By examining virtually all the currently accessible parish records of Jutland and Schleswig for the time span between 1759 and 1766, Mike Meisinger, Herb Femling and Wayne, have been able to identify some 500 entries that can be tied to specific German-Russian settlers. Not only has this project identified these records and therefore added to the growing list of origins for many Volga settlers, but also provided important clues to some of their origins in Germany.
In this presentation, Wayne will discuss specific examples of some of the findings. Although our effort emphasizes examples of records associated with Balzer and Moor settlers, additional parish records were identified of settlers to thirty-two other German-Russian colonies. Prior to the 2021 virtual AHSGR convention, a full copy of these records was sent to sent to AHSGR village coordinator group. It is now posted on the new web site in the village records.