Emigration to Unexpected Places

This week while working with German records, I came across something very interesting, and as I thought more about this particular document, I realized that there is a deeper message here than is initially evident.

The document is a list of individuals who had obtained permission to emigrate from Wurttemberg, Germany between 1816 and 1822.  At that time, one had to file for permission to emigrate, obtain permission, and the list of those departing was a legal document published to forewarn any debtors.  This list happens to include, in some cases, the destination of the departing German citizen.  It’s obvious that this information was not essential, because at least half of the entries don’t have any destination.  They really didn’t care where you were going.

Some destinations are very specific, particularly if they were moving to another German town outside of Wurttemberg.

Several destinations gave locations like “to America or Russia” and sometimes “to America and Russia” and others “some to America and some to Russia.” Either the emigrants hadn’t yet made up their mind, or the German authorities really didn’t care which of the two destinations.

My ancestors were in the “America” group, but I never thought about Germans migrating to Russia.  In general, my assumption has been that migration was generally westward, and Russia is significantly east of Germany.

Emigration Germany

Even more interesting are the entries that say Kaukasus which is dramatically distant. The Caucasus is just north of the Middle East, in the area considered Eurasia, the dividing line between Europe and Asia, between the Black and Caspain Seas.  In 8 cases, they gave the name of the town, Odessa, which is in the Ukraine on the Black Sea.  So, Russia may not mean the closest portion of Russia – although no part of Russia was close to Germany.  Russia as a location may indeed mean traveling thousands of miles east and south.  Not exactly the direction in which we think of relatively contemporary population migration.

There were 3605 records total, many without additional information. But those that do provide additional information are quite interesting:

  • 327 America (including North America)
  • 501 Russia (some say Georgian, one says Crimea)
  • 112 Kaukasus (one says Russia – Kaukusas)
  • 11 Asia (1 says Russian Asia)
  • 16 Poland
  • 17 Austria
  • 8 say Odessa, which is in the Ukraine on the Black Sea.

Some name other German towns.

A couple of people are noted as Separatist, one is divorced, two are single females with illegitimate children. Several are noted as widows or widowers.  One says “with wife without permission.”

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this list are locations not listed. No other countries are listed, other than what is shown above.  South America is not listed.  No place in southern or western or northern Europe is listed.  Neither is Scandinavia.

I would never have thought about “backward migration.” In genetic genealogy, unless you are one of the Vikings who basically invaded pretty much anyplace in Europe and the Mediterranean that could be invaded, we think of settlement and migration as moving northward and eastward into Europe out of the Middle East, Asia and the Caucasus.  I have never, not once, thought about people from central Europe migrating back into Eurasia, back into the Caucasus from southwestern Germany – over 2000 km or about 1300 miles.  They did, however, and became known as the Black Sea Germans.

Emigration Odessa

Georgia, on the other hand, is even further – about 3680 km or 2300 miles.

Emigration Georgia

At 10 miles a day in a wagon, it would be 230 days to Georgia or 130 days to Odessa. You had to really, really want to go there.

On the other hand, the trip to America was “just” 600 km (370 miles) or so to Rotterdam where you boarded a ship, sailed and waited, probably seasick, for between 2 and 3 months to arrive.  You then climbed aboard a wagon again to your final American destination which was probably relatively close to your port of arrival – at least compared to the Caucasus.

Emigration Rotterdam

We’re not surprised to find “German” DNA in America of course, but finding “German” DNA in the Middle East or the Caucasus could well lead to interpreting the data incorrectly if we adhere to the model of only forward (nearing northward and westward) migration. In these records, we find documentation that significant backwards migration did occur, and relatively recently.  We can’t assume that where DNA is found today is where it originated nor that the expansion area follows the generally accepted direction of population migration.

Of course, we’ve always know that about destination locations, like the British Isles for example, but we don’t often think of places in Russia and the Caucasus which was at that time under Russian rule as immigration locations for European emigrants.  That small stream of Russian emigrants, over time added up to a significant population.  The first Russian census was taken in 1897 and it showed 1.8 million Germans living in Russia.

If you’re interested in further information, there is a very interesting website that includes a history and map of German Russian settlements from the 1700s and 1800s.



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64 thoughts on “Emigration to Unexpected Places

  1. My second cousin’s maternal ancestors were Mennonites enticed to Ukraine by the government, then pretty much strongly encouraged if not ordered to leave. They were Mennonites. None spoke English and they were taking the train to Ohio where they were to work on farms, and an agent sort of hijacked the group and took them to Nebraska. They knew how to grow winter wheat! They were highly desirable!

  2. My husband’s family are Germans from Russia. One side originated from what is now Poland and the other from Wurtemburg. There is a Society of Germans from Russia. They have a library in either North or South Dakota.
    Prussia during those years had a lot of turmoil and Catherine the Great put out a request for these German people to farm those southern lands of Russia, especially around Odessa, to have a presence there and hopefully keep the Turks from trying to move in. They were given land that was free from taxes for a certain amount of years and their young men would not be required to enter the Russian army. Then when Catherine died things began to change and many forced to flee.

  3. All of my direct ancestors are German-Russian. There are two major societies and a library devoted to them in the USA;


    There are several active Facebook groups and many German language groups devoted to their history.

    My grandmother’s family emigrated from Wurttemburg to a religious colony named Teplitz. From their, the family spread over North and South America, Siberia, the Caucasus region, and back to Europe.

    One fun genetic find – my half-brothers Mt-DNA haplogroup, R0a2, looks like it came from Yemen, through Turkey, and made it into the German-Russian population that was carried to the USA.

    Much of the area was called Bessarabia and is now in the Ukraine.

    To make things more complicated, many of the emigrant groups actually moved to Poland before relocating to Bessarabia.

    Major settlements in the USA were the great plains states – from Texas to North Dakota, eastern Washington, and the central valley of California.

    On another genetic note, Ukraine was called the ‘bread basket of Europe’ and the German-Russians / Mennonites are credited with bringing hard red spring wheat from the Ukraine to the great plains.

  4. >> At 10 miles a day in a wagon, it would be 230 days to Georgia or 130 days to Odessa <<

    Well, sure, but who would opt for a wagon when a boat trip down the Danube would be much nicer?

    (Been there, done that!)

    • I think that the migration to the Kuban / Georgia / Caucasus regions was secondary.

      The German-Russians had ‘mother colonies’ and then ‘daughter colonies’ founded nearby after population growth.

      The eastern migration to the Caucasus probably happened around 1900. I have a 3rd cousin born in this region. The family left the Ukraine prior to the 1920’s man-made famines and were then exiled to Siberia. They were able to make it back after WWII.

  5. I believe there is a genealogical group in the US that focuses on German from Russia. I my midwestern small town I reemember the old women in their long black coats who sat to one side in the Catholic Church, with names like Heim, etc.

    • My mother is a Heim! Her father’s German Russian family immigrated to Bessarabia in 1814 and then to North Dakota in the early 1900s and then to Yakima Valley, Washington in the 1920s. I started my genealogy research because I had no idea why my great grandparents spoke German, but were from Russia. It has been both an interesting and sad journey. Stalin killed 10 million ethnic German Russians during his reign of terror. The Nazi SS troops took many Bessarabian women and children and repatriated them to Germany while their husbands/fathers were conscripted as Russian Soldiers. These families had to prepare genealogies prior to repatriation to prove that they were still “pure” German after 130 years. Some of those folks repatriated were my great grandparents’ siblings. I’m so blessed that my family come to America. A young Russian man matches me on 23andme. He knew nothing of his genealogy except that his grandparents had Ukrainian roots. He had no idea that some of his ancestors had immigrated to Bessarabia from Germany in the early 1800’s.

      • In support of Shari’s comment about Stalin and his inhumanity, everyone please read, “The Whisperers, Private Life of Stalin’s Russia.” by Orlando Figes. It is indexed, sourced and riveting. It should be required reading in high school and college. My heart aches.

      • Are there any lists of the people arrested by Stalin’s men and never heard of again? My grandfather’s brother was one of them.

      • My Grandparents (who were German) moved from Odessa, Russia in 1889 and went to Richardton, ND. They raised 14 children and about 1940 they moved to Yakima where eventually all the family followed.

  6. Many Russian emperors encouraged people from various European countries to emigrate because they were engineers, skilled workers, farmers, or had abilities in the arts. Other Europeans emigrated because they were merchants. Russian novels are full of characters who are part-non-Russian (like French-born Pierre in War and Peace, whose mother was the French mistress of a Russian noble). I wonder if there is a way to tell, when you see you have distant Russian or Ukrainian or other old-Soviet genetic connections, whether that means you have a Russian (or Ukrainian or accompanying possibilities) ancestor, or whether your Western European collateral ancestor migrated there. In addition to all the farming settlements scattered throughout, I am sure St. Petersburg, for example, has many people who have significant Western and Central European heritage. (I don’t mean to focus exclusively on Europeans either, as the famed poet Pushkin, for example was said to be 1/8 African from a kidnapped ancestor, and I’m sure he was not the only one.)

  7. This blog is very timely. I just found out the my daughter-in-law’s paternal grandparents, who are still living, were born in Bessarabia in 1926 and 1931, married in Germany in 1949 and immigrated to the US in 1951 with a 8 month old child, my d-i-l’s father. My d-i-l’s DNA shows almost entirely Europe-East (her maternal side is from Hungary) and Europe-West (which includes Germany). I taking a crash course in learning about these people and places.

  8. My Germans are called Bukovina (Bukowina) Germans, The term “Bukovina-German” refers to German Swabian, Bohemian, and Zipser emigrants who settled in Bukovina.

    Bukovina lies on the outer eastern curve of the Carpathian mountains in southeastern Europe. The area became an important border of Moldavia around the year 1514. By the year 1775 it had been annexed by Austria and was used as a land bridge linking Transylvania and Galicia. Originally the area was known as “Austrian Moldavia.

    Austria’s empress, Maria Theresa, then began to recruit German colonists whom she expected to facilitate economic development and to aid in defending the area from any external aggressors. German farmers were invited by her to settle in Bukovina. In 1780 the Patent of Toleration and in 1782 the Patent of Settlement, promised to eligible immigrants benefits such as free transportation, a house with garden, fields and animals. Also, exemption from taxation for the first 10 years of residency, exemption from military service for the eldest son of the family and complete freedom of conscience and religion. Immigrants came from many different parts of Germany. Three regions have been identified, 1) southwestern Germany, which includes the Swabian regions of the Palatinate and Wurttemberg as well as the Rhineland; 2) German Bohemia; 3) the Zips district in upper Hungary, which is now identified as Spis in Slovakia. My ancestors primarily came from Wurttemberg and Rhineland.

    After arriving in Bukovina the Germans were directed to “Fratautz”, this is were they received directions to the already existing Romanian or Ukrainian communities in which they were to live. The farmers were given about 12 hectares of farm ground, a wooden home with outbuildings, livestock, farm implements, and advances on seed grain

    Many of the descendant (which I am one of) would later emigrate again, this time traveling to the United States settling around Hays, Kansas, Chehalis, Washington, Regina, Canada and Rio Negro, Brazil. There is a website dedicated to preserving the heritage of these people at:

    • There is tons of history regarding Black Sea Germans, but the one thing people tend to overlook is the fact that they were Blacks. Multiracials just like Afro-Americans and gradually bred into Whites during the great Transatlantic migration. Bessarabia was also called Blokumannland and the people were sometimes referred to as Blachs or Blokumenn.

      One way to learn more about them is through lawsuits and slave lawsuits. Reading court transcripts and affidavits. Apparently they did suffer a great amount of discrimination, feared color laws and some did end up trapped in the illegal slave trade.

      I watched a documentary by Angela Merkel & Vladimir Putin where they claimed to have found Black Sea Germans of the Black complexion living in California are the early Viking settlers that came before Columbus. That was a shocker! They are in Central Los Angeles and their DNA does not match with African Americans. It should show Russo-German-Yemenite.

      Try reading this book – Lost German Slave Girl – Solame Mueller for a glimpse into the courts trying to figure out who were Negroes of African descent and who were Negroes of Eurasian descent (Blachs). It was almost impossible with witness statements and documented proof of lineage.
      So, with all that being said, as a East German of Saxony we are Black Sea Germans. Myself and many of my relatives pulled our ancestral tree, DNA, and to no surprise the results: various African mixture (North, West and East African), Yemenites, Russo (Russ) and German. We even have the paper trail of marriages with various African people that are very dated.

      Therefore it explains why Bessarabia included parts of Turkey, Kazakhstan, all the way to France (Frankreich) and practiced the four religions. It also explains why I have so many native brown skin relatives in my family in Osterburg.

      Hope this was helpful.

  9. I see the Ancestry.com database link above, but does it contain all the records referenced? I am looking for origins of my German Russian ancestors. I have some in Poland in mid-1800s who were born in the 1700s and others in Russia by 1852. It would be great if I could find at least a couple of them in the Wurttemburg records.

      • I am looking for “The document is a list of individuals who had obtained permission to emigrate from Wurttemberg, Germany between 1816 and 1822.” The Ancestry.com database has dates much later in the 1800s, but does it also contain the 1816-1822 document names?

  10. My wife’s family has a similar experience. Her family were Germans from Yugoslavia. A region called the Banat. Recruted to migrate there in the late 1700s to settle the land to discourage the Turks.

    Its very challenging since the Germans came from Alsace Lorraine and some of them seemed to be French rather than German or perhaps a combination of both. And the Banat is mostly Yugoslavia but extends into Hungary and Romania. And was administered by Austria or Hungary or Austria-Hungary or Serbia. Yugoslavia is not an easy country to understand itself. All of this in a region about the size of Connecticut (my estimate).

    Many of the Germans were evicted after WW 2 with a bunch more removed in the 1990s.

    Immigration forms to the US are likely to say just about anything for birthplace, nationality or language. Often they left from some big port in another country and they indicated that as their starting point rather than their real homeland. Sometimes they were evading the law or military service and were consequently evasive on their documents.

    Spelling is influenced by a mixture of French, German, Romanian, Hungarian, Slavic, Cyrillic (alphabet) and bad English and bad handwriting and marginal education.

    And their DNA is predictably endogamic leading to inflated DNA matching.

  11. Hello Ms. Estes,
    I have a question about ancestry. My great-grandmother’s DNA test said she was 13% Eastern European, within the range of 3%, up to 24%! I was wondering, even though DNA gets reshuffled and such, and I may not have inherited any Eastern European DNA, I was wondering if this proves that I have one Eastern European ancestor fairly recently, maybe a 4x great grandparent. Am I totally off in my thinking? Thanks so much!

      • Thanks for your timely reply. To respond to it not being accurate at the inter-continental level, I would also like to say that on the conservative estimate on 23andme, a great uncle’s results said 0.1% Sub-Saharan African. Could this mean I have one Sub-Saharan African ancestor from very long ago. It doesn’t seem implausible as I had ancestors from Kentucky and a lot of them were slave owners and there is one dead end on that side so I’m guessing that is where the African came from.

        • C is Asian. P 53 is not Native American. You can tell more by looking at your Haplogroup Origins page as well as the matches map and the haplogroup project (C) that you would be in. The admins will group you accordingly and where the most distant ancestors of your group members are found is generally interesting.

      • So P53 is Asian? I have no Asian ancestry except for traces of Caucacus (but who knows, probably not accurate!)

    • Thanks again for your help. Sometime, I will get a consultation with you. I love your blog. One quick thing: we are pretty sure we know the haplogroup of another relative, and that it is Q-M3 from an Eastern Alqonguian ancestor, based on a confirmed third cousin: she is confirmed through paper not DNA. So, we were wanting to test this relative just for basic haplogroup results, to see if he is indeed Haplogroup Q. What is the cheapest Y-DNA test we could get that would tell us the haplogroup. We already know who the ancestor is, from paper trail, and a third cousin’s DNA test. But just to confirm that we are from the same line as her. I believe this cousin has also done AncestryDNA and I am waiting for my AncestryDNA results, and we will see if we match autosomally too. Thank you.

      • Bummer. At the time, that test is too expensive. I would love to do it sometime though. On your Native Heritage Project, do you talk much about Haplogroup Q, because I find it fascinating, even though I don’t have it myself, but it is in my family?

      • Ok cool! So exciting. Before I got into genealogy, we had no idea that we were part Native American. No family legends, no anything. We discovered that a line we thought had been English was in fact Native American! My great great grandfather’s parents died when he was a baby, so I do not think he had known of his Native American heritage. My mother and I had always suspected that there was a little Mediterranean in my great-grandfather as he had dark, olive skin. When I found out that his line was Native, it clicked! What’s weird is my great grandfather (who is now deceased) was in fact very racist towards any non White race. If only he knew that he had Native American in his veins and haplogroup Q! I read something that more families who don’t have any Native American ancestor stories actually have Native ancestry than those who do. Certainly true with our family! However, I certainly doubt it will show up on my autosomal DNA test….

      • Hello again,
        Sorry for the pestering. Just wanted to let you know that I contacted Ed Martin, administrator of the FTDNA Haplogroup C project. He happens to have C-P53 as well! He gave me some interesting information on the Haplogroup, and told me that it got to Europe through Hunnic invasions in the 5th century AD. I just ordered a Y-DNA test and am going to join the project. Thanks again for your help!

  12. Fascinating! You mention German DNA, though, and I haven’t seen reports showing that I have German DNA from either Ancestry or 23andme. They don’t narrow it down that finely. It’s more along the lines of “western European” or “unidentified European” or something similar to that. Yet you mention it that way and I’ve seen articles and even a video where apparently tests are narrowed down to countries of origin. Am I missing something I am supposed to be getting from these companies?

  13. One of my “Retirement Projects” is reading those classic novels I never got around to when younger. Feedbooks has free ebooks in Kindle (mobi) format in collections. One of those collections is the Harvard Classics Bookshelf. I have been reading those for several months. In books by Russian writers of the 19th century it is not unusual to find mentions of German living in Russia. And apparently most educated Russians knew both German and French as well as English. Also, I found it interesting that many Russians in these novels vacationed in German states.
    I’m so glad you mentioned this immigration document. One of those immigrants would have been an ancestor of one of my nephews, a Jacob Fetterling. He married Sarah Holcombe and they lived in Missouri.

  14. Wow! This couldn’t come at a better time. I stumbled on “Black Sea Germans” last week in order to unravel a mystery in my family.

    For years, my mother’s family from always assumed they were part Jewish if for no reason other than that they look Jewish. No seriously. That’s the only “evidence.” We have no records of them being anything other than Catholic (ok, a few Lutherans slipped in. Shh!). One of my relatives researched all the families in the town they came from – even learned German and went to the town to do it and practically counted all the hairs on each head. So, we are well-researched on that line. I didn’t think anything other than a standard European mixture – West-Central-Eastern would show up.

    Everyone from that line turns out to be between 8-12% Middle Eastern per MyOrigins in FTDNA. I was surprised at the consistency & it was above 2% – the most I thought would show up. However, we don’t match with any Ashkenazi Jewish people at all. Apparently if you’re at all Ashkenazi, they’ll show up in your matches. All the Y markers seem to focus on Turkey, Georgia & other regions in the Caucasus, rather than specifically Ashkenazi markers. My current working theory is that some people in that line had settled in the Caucasus, mixed in a bit and then returned to Germany with the “Caucasian” DNA on board. Interestingly enough, that side is extremely long-lived, considered to be common in the Caucasus region – most lived well into their 90s and even 100s. My grandfather’s sisters died at 106 & 108 and his youngest cousin is still alive at 104. My mom still insists we’re part Jewish, which isn’t inconceivable, though it doesn’t appear to be from the Ashkenazi subset.

    Thanks for posting the links. I’ve got some digging to do.

  15. Tim Janzen’s Mennonite Project includes the Mennonites that went to Russia. My father is first generation Volga German with both of his parent’s having been born in Russia. His father was 2 years old when his family left Rosenberg, Russia in 1907. My father has done all the DNA tests – autosomal, mtDNA, yDNA 111-marker and Big Y. (R-U152). He only has matches at 12 markers on yDNA.

  16. I am a descendant of Germans from Russia who originally answered Catherine the Great’s Second Manifesto seeking foreigners to settle the vast land of Russia. My ancestors settled in the Volga region in the late 1700s.

    The most fascinating discovery from my DNA was that I have cousins on my maternal side in Argentina. When the Germans from Russia were ready to leave their homeland, any ship to America was a good ship. North or South America made no difference! I have also discovered a cousin in my hometown of whom I was unaware!

  17. Great issue. What was it that pushed these people to leave Germany in the 1820s?
    My people from the tripoint of Silesia, Posen and the Mark of Brandenburg were Old Lutherans who were looking to leave in the late 1830s/early 1840s due to religious persecution. They discussed moving east, but there was a war on and many went to America or Australia instead. Wilhelm Iwan wrote of this in “Um des Glaubens willen nach Australien”, 1931 (Translated version as “Because of their beliefs”). There are copies of his work online (but I recently lost links due to computer problems). It includes details of those who went to USA and started synods there. Many names mentioned.

    One of my Nitschke ancestors from Mark Brandenburg had siblings, one of whom married an Esslinger and went to Russia, according to a note in the Kay church register.
    A sister married a Schreck and went to USA. Which sets off a laugh or two as people envision a green ogre standing in a swamp. Another Schreck came to Australia.

    One thing I have found is that people on a ship were often connected through their WIVES and sisters, and similarly successive ships in chain migration. Most descendant studies are naturally based on surname. Look to link people on the DISTAFF side and a much richer picture emerges. This may be possible by putting several different descendant studies together.

    • I am descended from Christian Nitschke born about 1754 died Jan 1819 in Lodzkie, Poland, whose son, Matthaus Nitschke immigrated to Bessarabia. I have collateral Esslinger/Eszlinger families also in my tree.

      • Among the Old Lutheran immigrants to Texas around 1854 from the Wendish/Sorbian (Lusatian) area also include the name Nitschke and variations.

  18. My grandparents, mother’s side, were Volga Germans born in Krasnojar, Russia near the Volga. I have a Krasnojar Facebook page ( please visit and like the page ). Germans immigrated everywhere and there are multiple slices of the German/Russian pie. Germans were skilled in many crafts and their expertise was desirable in many places. From Wikipedia = German Quarter (in Moscow) The German Quarter appeared in the mid-16th century and was populated by foreigners from Western Europe (collectively called “Germans” by the Russian people [NB: the word ‘German’ in Russian means ‘mute’]) and prisoners, taken during the Livonian War of 1558-1583. The residents of the German Quarter were mainly engaged in handicrafts and flour-grinding business (that’s where the flour mills on the Yauza come from). In the early 17th century, the Old German Quarter was ravaged by the army of False Dmitri II and did not recover afterwards, since many residents relocated closer to Kremlin or fled the country.

    The “Volga Germans” went to the Volga region in two major emigrations, 1763 and 1766. About 7,000 families; 25,000 people. Catherine the Great sent recruiters to Europe to get settlers for the Volga region because she correctly knew that if they settled and farmed there they would defend their land and be “buffers” from the constant invasions of Turks from the South and Kirghiz from the East. It worked. They were overpromised about the lands they were settled. When they arrived there was nothing there except the Steppe plains. The Russian government helped the settlers with loans of money, equipment and animals to get them started. The quintessential book on the Volga Germans is From Catherine to Khruschev Hardcover – 1974, by Adam Giesinger (Author), ASIN: B000NN3L2S.
    The Volga Germans were settled separately in 103 original colonies two thirds were Protestant and the balance Catholic. About 1850 some “daughter colonies” were established for increased farming opportunities. NOTE the Volga Germans actually came from many European states including Sweden, Holland, France, Hungary, Czech areas although I would guess at least two thirds were actually from areas all over today’s Germany.

    About 1780 more Germans immigrated to Russia some to the Volga but most were Mennonites mostly from “Prussia” northeast of present day Germany and they were settled in separate Mennonite colonies. BTW Tim Janzen’s ancestors are part of this group.

    Between 1808 – 1820 many more Germans went to Russia. These people were from today’s Southern Germany and Alsace-Lorraine regions. These people were refugees from the Napoleonic wars. They immigrated to the Odessa region and are called Black Sea Germans / Odessa Germans. BTW after Napoleon was defeated in 1815 a few of his soldiers immigrated to the Volga Colonies.

    From Wikipedia, Black Sea Germans, = The Black Sea Germans are distinct from the Volga Germans, who were separate both geographically and culturally, although both groups moved to the Russian Empire at about the same time and for the same reasons. Both groups are referred to as Germans from Russia. Germans began settling in southern Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula around 1800. At the time, southern Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire. These lands had been annexed by the Russian Empire during the reign of Catherine the Great after successful wars against the Ottoman Empire (1768–1774) and the Crimean Khanate (1783). The area of settlement was not as compact as that of the Volga territory; rather it was home to a chain of colonies. The first German settlers arrived in 1787, first from West Prussia, then later from Western and Southwestern Germany and Alsace, France; as well as from the Warsaw area. Catholics, Lutherans, and Mennonites were all known as capable farmers (see Molotschna for Mennonite settlements in the Melitopol area); Empress Catherine herself sent them a personal invitation to immigrate to the Russian Empire.

    I self-published the history of my family and the Volga Germans who came to Chicago. In 1930 there were 30,000 Russian born and first generation Volga Germans living in the USA. They settled all over the USA; Chicago, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas ( mostly Catholics ) Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and Minnesota, Oregon, especially in Portland, Washington, and Fresno County in California’s Central Valley.

    You can find more information about my book =
    The Volga Germans: Krasnoyar (aka Krasnojar), Chicago, everywhere : their stories, their words, a compendium of history and family
    at Amazon = https://www.amazon.com/Volga-Germans-Krasnoyar-everywhere-compendium/dp/B0006S2194/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466340172&sr=1-5&keywords=george+valko

    my website = http://georgevalko.com/volga.html

  19. My sister’s husband is part of “The German’s from Russia in Oklahoma”, the title of a book written by the residents of Okeene, OK. There is another book that mentions them called “Blue Skies and Prairies”. They went to Russia by invitation to farm and settle and were promised that they would not have to fight in any war’s, and as soon as they got there, they were scripted into the army. My brother-in-law’s grandparents escaped by having a ‘honeymoon’ trip given to them and they went a circuitous route to America and by train to Okeene. He was a blacksmith.

  20. This situation of Europeans emigrating to multiple places is not limited to Germans and associated groups of people. An individual, Gianni Pais Becher, has spent decades documenting emigrants from the town of Auronzo di Cadore, Italy, located in the Dolomite Alps north of Venice. His research has shown that emigrants from that area went to a multitude of places, primarily in the time period of the 1880’s to the 1920’s. These places included multiple places in the United States – western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Wisconsin, among others. But in addition, these places of emigration from Auronzo di Cadore also included other countries or regions, including Argentina, Chile, Australia, Siberia, and other locations where there might be better economic opportunities.

  21. From a population genetics standpoint, there is a founder effect because the villages were very insular. After emigrating circa 1900, most of the first generation married other Germans from Russia. I match much more strongly to other descendants of GFR than would be expected.

    • Not too much of a founder effect as there were so many families that emigrated to Russia in the first place. The Volga Germans – about 7,000 families and 25,000 individuals. They did not just marry within their village. When they emigrated out of Russia, they went to Canada, the U.S., Argentina, etc. My dad’s family did marry into other Germans from Russia families, but as they were all scattered, they did not marry with people from the same villages. 1850 saw the creation of daughter colonies from the original colonies in the Volga region…the daughter colonies were made up of settlers from many villages.

  22. My Germans from Russia ancestral names are Ulm, Fenske/Wenske and Freier (were in Poland before Russia); Graber (Lutheran, not Mennonite) and Kundt.

    Graber and Kundt were in village of Czolo (Grodno – now Belarus) and Volhynia. Would like to hear from any others from Czolo (Cholo) or those with these last names.


  23. My paternal grandmother was Volga German. Her paternal and maternal lines were from Kukkus, Stahl am Tarlyk and Bangert. They left Germany in the first wave at Catherine’s request and stayed there until they moved to the US from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. My grandmother came over in 1901 when she was 8 years old. Apparently they didn’t intermarry outside the villages because I have 27% German DNA and no DNA from anywhere other than Europe from the rest of my family. Also, I have the Russian census of those villages throughout their time there so I know who they married and where they were from.

    Oddly enough, my ex-husband’s father was Volga German, a fact we didn’t know when we got together in college. His family was from Susannental.

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