be fathers of families with
children and owners of property valued at least 300 guilders.
Unmarried adults were not accepted, nor was any whose conduct
was dubious. A person who wanted to immigrate had to
present certificates of diligence and respectable behavior
from authorities in his place of legal residence to the
Russian consul. Only after authorization by the Russian
officials could he be admitted for immigration.
Unfortunately, after Alexander became czar, his attentions
were diverted all too soon, when he was obliged to fight in
the Napoleonic wars. In the years 1805-1814 Alexander
and his armies were occupied fighting Napoleon, who had risen
to power in the French Revolution of 1789-1799, in Europe
Alexander was defeated and humiliated repeatedly. In
1807 he signed an uneasy peace treaty with Napoleon at Tilsit
in Eastern Prussia. This Napoleon-imposed treaty
deprived Prussia and Austria of some of their Polish
acquisitions and set up the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. Some
German settlers now found themselves under an unfriendly
government. In June 1812, the year before the Grenz
brothers went to Russia, Napoleon, wanting more land and power
marched the largest army ever assembled, 575,000 men, across
Europe into Russia. Russia's army was barely
one-third of that. The battles were very bloody, and at
one point, each army lost about 50,000 people in one day.
In Sept 1812, Napoleon marched into a mostly deserted Moscow.
He soon realized he did not have the resources either to
winter in Moscow or attack St. Petersburg, so in October, he
withdrew back to French soil. But the harsh Russian winter had
set in by then, and only 29,000 of Napoleon's original 575,000
returned to France. This was a stunning Russian victory
and the first time Europe thought Napoleon could be defeated.
Alexander pursued Napoleon and in the spring of 1814,
Alexander led his men triumphantly into Paris. Napoleon
was exiled to the island of Elba.
We can only imagine the hardships that the brothers Samuel and
Gottlieb Grenz and Gottlieb's wife encountered on the long
trip to Russia in 1813. They were farmers so perhaps
they were looking for a chance to spread out and settle on
good land. They were probably also influenced by the
political upheavals and bad economic conditions with its high
cost of living brought on by the Seven Years War and the
Napoleonic wars. They settled in the village of Rohrbach
in Southern Russia and are found there in the 1816 census.
By then, Gottlieb and wife located 66 miles from Odessa on the
Black Sea. Twenty-five German families settled there in
the fall of 1809 and in 1810, 68 more families joined them.
Rohrbach was located in a valley without a river, which
was a bit unusual, but there were wells that provided plenty
of excellent drinking water, even in the dry years. At
first, there was nothing there, only ":healthful air, a carpet
of dry grass of many years standing, all kinds of weeds with
flowers and a new blanket of grass."
In a few years, after much hard labor, there were stone
enclosed vineyards along the rear of the village. Viewed
from the heights, the colony had beautiful vegetable gardens
and orchards of apple, pear, prune, plum, cherry and apricot
trees together with beautiful poplar, aspen, willow, and
acacia trees, in all about 4 -5,000. The valley had good
soil with one to two feet of fertile soil mixed with some
sand. The subsoil, was however generally red clay, and
hard to work, and had to be frequently fertilized. In
1813, 22 more families arrived in Rohrbach. Among the
eighteen families originating in Prussian Poland were or Grenz