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Version 9 as at 23 August 2008
Origin of the Bessarabian families: Bessarabia



Below I have written where the immigrants of the different Bessarabian villages came from. The selection took place against the background of the origin of the Böttcher family. Immigration lists are available on other pages.

From the existing sources it becomes apparent that the immigrants arrived at their assigned territory in several treks. Some of the families could not be housed so they were allocated to nearby villages. Furthermore it took time to build all farmyards. Tarutino for example was founded in 1814 but the last farmyard was occupied in 1816. This must be considered when analysing the immigration lists. These facts explain the following: In the immigration list of Kulm Christoph Böttcher and Johann Banko are mentioned. Descendants of both lived in Kulm. However Christoph Böttcher died in Leipzig and probably lived at his son’s farmyard. Franz Banko settled in Tarutino and he was probably the son of Johann Banko from Kulm because Johann and his wife died in Tarutino; most likely they were living at Franz’s farmyard. For Kulm it is known that some settlers also moved onward to other newly founded villages. The abandoned farmyards were taken over by newcomers. One of these newcomers was e.g. the Guse family from Wittenberg. Unfortunatelly we do not know for the Paris settlers where most of the families came from. But here we have another example which illustrates how important it is to combine different data. For example we find in the immigration list of Katzbach (foundet in 1821) Johann Kison who came 1816 from Himmelspring in Prussia. As you can read in the chapter about Paris the Kison family also dwelled there and probably are descendands of Hugenots. Paris was founded in 1816. Therefore we can assume that Johann went to Katzbach from Paris and other members of the family stayed in Paris.

To identify the point of origin it can also be helpful to have a look at the godfathers. As already explained for the warsaw colonists the families preferred to move on together and to build up a new community with people they knew. Against this background to not only look at the villages where the immigrants came from but also at the year of foundation of the Bessarabian settlements. Tarutino, Borodino and Krasna were founded in 1814; Kulm, Leipzig, Malojaroslawetz I (Wittenberg) and Klöstitz in 1815; Beresina in 1816. These villages together formed one district. The district capital was Wittenberg. Because Wittenberg was situated at the district’s border half of the people moved away from Wittenberg and founded the new district capital Malojaroslawetz II (Alt Posttal) in 1823.

Map of Bessarabia

Map of Bessarabia: Geographical Position of the mother colonies.

Looking at Krasna we have to keep in mind that it was not always completely catholic. Primarily, many lutheran families lived Primarily in Krasna but by and by they moved to other colonies, e.g. to Katzbach. In Tarutino some catholic families settled primarily but apart from the Bogner family they migrated to other villages.

According to Tom Stangl all Bessarabian colonists first went to Odessa.(3) Because the Bessarabian villages had not been prepared for occupation, many families had to remain in Moldovan villages on both sides of the Dnestr River, until 1815 or 1816. Hence we find German children in Bessarabia who were born in "Moldau" in 1814-1816. He has found records which indicate that some of these villages were south of Tiraspol, on the East bank of the Dnestr River, not far from Odessa. In his opinion, ALL of the early Bessarabian colonists from "Poland" first went to Odessa City. From there they were sent to live in Moldovan villages on the Dnestr River until their villages were ready for them. Later arrivals may have gone directly to Bessarabia, but he doubts it - he thinks they also were required to go to Odessa City before being assigned to a colony.

In this context it is necessary to deal with the New Russia Guardianship Office in order to better understand the circumstance: (7), (8)

The Saratov Guardianship Office of Foreign and Rural Settlers was founded in 1797 in order to improve the support of the settlers. This support was poor before; the rights that had been promised to the settlers were not respected. Moreover the Saratov colonies obtained self-government and were excluded from the Russian civil governance. This approach was also chosen in 1799 when the New Russia Guardianship Office was foundet to take care of the management of all foreign colonies in New Russia. The settlement of the Odessa area began in 1803 and an office was established in Odessa. The Bessarabian colonies founded during the first Bessarabian settlement period between 1814 and 1817 in the Malojaroslawetz (Wittenberg) and Klöstitz district are among the colonies managed by the New Russia Guardianship Office between 1800 and 1818. In 1817 the New Russia Guardianship Office supervised 84 colonies (16967 people) and the office in Odessa additional 44 colonies (15 499 people). In addition also many foreign settlers had to be taken care of that arived the Russian provinces in 1817.

Because of the increased number of settlers it was necessary to reorganize the administration. Headed by the newly founded Guardianship Commitee of Foreign Setlers in the South Russia Region the main office was established 1818 in Kherson and the district offices in Ekaterinoslaw 1819 (today Dnipropetrowsk), in Odessa and for Bessarabia in Kishinev, which in 1818 was also made the new capital of Bessarabia, after Russia gained control of Bessarabia in 1812. Before Tighina was capital. The second settlement period of Bessarabia began in 1821 and ended in 1842 with the foundation of Hoffnungstal. The colonization of Bessarabia with German emigrants through the Russian Government ended. Further colonization of Bessarabia took place under control of the existing mother colonies as a private matter. For the second settlement period you have to keep in mind that the new foundation of the villages sometimes was done with settlers from existing colonies in Bessarabia, for example as in the case of Wittenberg when half of the settlers moved to found Alt Posttal.

As described for Paris below it can be helpful to consider the dialect spoken in the Bessarabian villages if you are looking for the place the settlers came from. The Heimatbuch Friedenstal goes into detail: "Our countryman and specialist in German studies Albert Eckert has tried in the summer of 1938 on the basis of the linguistic atlas of the German Reich and the characteristic features of the Bessarabian dialects to classify these dialects and to find their roots in the German language area. Eckert's analysis was limited to the 24 German mother colonies. Eckert has divided the Bessarabian dialects into three big groups: 1. the Low German, which was spoken in the villages Arzis, Neu-Arzis, Paris, Brienne, Leipzig, Kulm and Tarutino, 2. the Central German in the village of Krasna, 3. the Upper German which was spoken in all other villages, except Alt-Elft. Within the Upper German group Eckert has divided the dialects and villages again into three subcategories: 1. villages in which Swabian characteristics dominate clearly (Sarata, Gnadental, Lichtental, Teplitz, Alt-Posttal and Wittenberg), 2. villages in which still Frankish characteristics are present, 3. villages in which the different most outstanding linguistic characteristics assimilated and the common characteristics have been kept as in the villages of Dennewitz, Plotzk, Neu-Elft, Katzbach, Beresina and Friedenstal. Thus also Friedenstal belonged to the Newswabian group. The dialect spoken in Friedenstal has changed very much since the foundation of the village. The first settlers came predominantly from the Kingdom of Prussia. Accordingly the Low German dialect dominated. Until 1842 many of the first settlers had left Friedenstal and people from other Bessarabian villages and from German colonies near Odessa in South Russia took over their homesteads." (10)

[Sources: (1) , (2) ]


The immigrants arrived in Bessarabia in the autumn of 1814 and were accomodated in the nearby moldovanian villages. The first houses were build in spring of 1815. Altogether 124 families consisting of 270 male and 250 female persons arrived in the spring of 1815. Most of them came from the grand duchy of Warsaw and many came from Prussia and other regions of northwestern Germany. Land was only available for 108 families so that the others migrated to other villages or stayed in Kulm as workmen. At first Kulm was named Madar. Sometimes the village was named Paulsberg.

Because some settlers also moved onward to other newly founded villages the abandoned farmyards were taken over by newcomers. One of these newcomers was e.g. the Guse family from Wittenberg.

The village report from 1848 deals with the settler’s origin: "Originally there were 80 families that settled in the colony who came together from Poland, later 28 Württenbergers from other established colonies settled in Culm to bring the total to 108 families. The majority of the settlers were born in Poland and their ancestors had been born in Prussia and had immigrated to Poland. The previous homeland of these ancestors was in the Posen Duchy and others from the districts of Plotzk, Kalish and Warshau. Only one family was from the Brandenburg province in Prussia. Most of the immigrants to the colony of Culm arrived in a trek in 1814 under the leadership of Gottfried Radach, now deceased. They found out that they were on their own on the steppe and found only 3 Moldavian huts. Complete houses were not available and only after 5 months delay were they able to begin building their homes."

The immigration list of Kulm is available on a separate page.

[Sources: (1) ]


In the autumn of 1814 the immigrants arrived and had to take accommodation during the winter in Moldovanian villages. The immigrants had arrived in three trains. It happened often that a train divided and the people settled in different villages, and also in Leipzig some colonists did not arrive in the main train. In the spring of 1815 the settlers arrived in Tarutino and 126 families got their property assigned. In 1843 15 families moved to Leipzig from Worms and Rohrbach near Odessa and according to Stumpp 6 famnilies from Baden. Because only 126 homesteads werte available in Leipzig and at that time a division of the homstead was not allowed other families must have left Leipzig.

At that time Leipzig was the northernmost German village in Bessarabia and was founded as Skinos. After one and a half years it was also called Catharinenruh and in 1817 renamed to Leipzig. (6) (9)

The immigration list of Leipzig is available on a separate page.


The immigration list of Beresina is available on a separate page.


When the settleres arrived in Bessarabia only 50 houses for 100 families had been completed. Like in Borodino and Krasna the remaining families were housed in different moldovanian villages. These were amongst others Galbin, Tschimischlija, Mardar [this is Kulm!], Koperach, Tschugrik, Boragan and Tomai. Building the houses started at the beginning of the summer of 1814. Only the head of a family qualified for land. The last farmyards were occupied in 1816. Hence it is difficult to state the original number of families and persons. The first official statistics from 1827 names 939 persons and allocates them to their original homeland: pastor 1, Prussia 514, Poland 248, Mecklenburg 88, Württemberg 70, France 9, Bohemia 4, Austria 2, Saxony 2, Hungary 1.

The Low German ("Platt") of Tarutino concured outstanding in the Platt of the Oder district. This is an additional indication of the origin of the most families. Some were from the Netze district. This is indicated in the Geschichte der Gemeinde Tarutino: After Bessarabia was reachable by train Wilhelm Hammel and Wilhelm Zarbock were the first ones to "travel to the homelands of their fathers (in 1877). The former, born in 1811 outside Bessarabia, wanted to see, where his cradle had been standing. Near Schoenlange was his place of birth ... [born in Pennsylvanin in 1811]. The next year Zarbock travelled the second time "to see everything over". After his visit soon a return visit of a close relative took place ... To our knowledge these two have been the first to travel to their father's homeland."

The village report from 1848 clarifies how the settlement took place: "The colony Tarutino was founded in 1814 in the province Bessarabia, district Akkermann, right next to the earlier founded colony Borodino... The emigrants used the name 'Elisabeth', liked by the higher authorities, during the early years of settlement. In 1817, the regiment changed the name officially to 'Tarutino', as memorandum to a battle fought on Oct 18, 1812, near Tarutino (against Napoleon)... The earlier [ten moldavian] lessees of the land cleared out, leaving it to the Germans. Lead by Russian officials, the Germans had emigrated in different groups from the kingdom of Poland, Prussia, Bavaria, and Mecklenberg. They found crude huts made of shrubbery and clay available to them. The huts provided shelter for 100 families... The colonists had not all come at once, instead they had arrived here as small parties, and in 1816, the colony was completely filled, counting 136 families."

The immigration list of Tarutino is available on a separate page.

[Sources: (2) ]


The origin of the immigrants to Paris is not clear from the existing sources. Mostly only Poland or Prussia is noted, only for some Suabian the villiages are know. Nevertheless we can reconstruct a lot looking at theit names and the dialect spoken. Everything indicates Hugenots and an emigration from the Netzedistrict.

Artur Suckut writes: "When we arrived at the camp Semlin near Belgrad (Yugoslavia) in the resettlement of 1940 all resettlers were examined. The doctors and administrators were not only astonished about the name Paris (Bessarabia) but even more about our surnames. Two of them had linguistic research as a hobby and new a lot about names. Immediately they told us: "All of you must go to Paris in France because you are descendants of Frenchmen or Hugenots." At that time we didn't know anything about Hugenots. They enumerated surnames which according to there knowledge belonged to Hugenots: Allmer, Fano, Fercho, Jans, Kison, Konrad, Kroisandt, Reppnack, Salo, Suckut, Wornath - just to name some. The spelling was different because it was germanized but they were shure that the ancestors came from France."

On October 29th 1685 Fridrich Wilhelm, the Grosse Kurfürst issued the "edict of Potsdam" and promised the persecuted Hugenots accomodation in his country. Thereupon they settled in the whole country, often in villages of their own.They had a own municipal government, church administration, school administration and jurisdiction. His successors continued this policy. A total of probably 20000 Hugenots immigrated to Prussia. As a result of the three partitions of Poland (1772, 1793 and 1795) these Hugenots also settled in the newly acquired provinces together with other Germans. This at least is verifiable for the Netzedistrict and we can assume that this is the case also for other areas.

The dialect of Paris indicates also that the immigrants came from the Netzedistrict. Artur Suckut writes: "The [dialect of Paris] is in accordance with the dialect of the Netzedistrict. During the war (we have been residing there) I spoke to several people who spoke nearly the very same dialect. In the Netzedistrict also many of our surnames were present. Some of the people could tell that relatives emigrated to Bessarabia or Russia via Posen, Kalisch, Lodz, Warsaw. In the area of Filehne-Schoenlanke-Schneidemuehl and elsewhere else surnames from Paris were present. During the war I met people from the Lodz-Petrikau-Pabianice-Lask area with our surnames. They told similar things like the people from the Netzedistrict. After the settlement in the Warthegau in 1941/42 many of the Paris families lived in the the districts of Scharnikau und in the neighboring Eichenbrueck. I would like to tell a story of Emil Ziebart. During holidays he wanted to visit his brother Willi who was living in Muehlingen, district of Scharnikau. Beginning in Rogasen, where he had to switch the train, he heared in the neighbouring cabin our dialect and went there assuming that the people were from Paris. He was very surprised to find out that they were polish i.e. ethnic Germans. They explained to him that they would always talk like this because it was their dialect. In Muehlingen he was looking for his brother. From a farmyard he heared the same dialect and he thought that people from Paris lived there. But again they wheren't. ... In any case it is certified herewith that the colonist of Paris must have been living in this area a long time ago."

The immigration list of Paris is available on a separate page.

[Sources: (4) ]


The immigrants in Wittenberg came amongst others from the area of Łódź (Grömbach / Łaznowska Wola, Neu-Sulzfeld / Nowosolna, Erdmannsweiler / Kochanow, Effingshausen / Starowa Góra, Koenigsbach / Bucowiec, Ofterdingen / Michalow, Friedrichshagen / Augustow, Olechow und Wiaczyn-Gorny. Half of the people moved away from Wittenberg and founded the new district capital Malojaroslawetz II (Alt Posttal) in 1823.

The immigration list of Wittenberg is available on a separate page.

[Sources: (5) ]


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