Grenz Family History




models for the still underdeveloped economy.  The 10 principal points of the Czar's Manifesto consisted of complete religious freedom, no taxes and other burdens for 10 years (after 10 years being treated as regular subjects of the empire), exemption from military service (but could volunteer service), every settler receiving advance loan with repayment of 10 years, movable personal property duty free, craftsmen being permitted to join guilds and associations, every family receiving a grant of 30-60 dessiation (81 - 162 acres) of productive land and settlers being allowed to return to their native land by repaying the crown debt plus three years of taxes.  Alexander ordered resident ambassadors at Ulm, Frankfort and Regenburg to issue passports to all qualifying would-be immigrants.  The immigration agencies were to organize the immigrants into groups of 20-3- families and to appoint a leader within each group.  The necessary transportation facilities by wagon or boat were provided at the collecting center, Ulm, a city on the Danube.  From Ulm to Vienna, they traveled by flat-bottom barges.  After the immigrants reached Vienna, they selected three routes.  From Vienna they traveled by wagon train through Bohemia and Austrian Poland via Radzivilov, Russia to Odessa.  Some immigrants went by river barge from Vienna down the Danube to the Russian river port of Ismail, then a wagon train to the region of Odessa and some continued their journey to the Caspian Sea near Trifles.  From Vienna others traveled by wagon through Czechoslovakia, the province of Galizia, then proceeded in a southern direction through Rumania to the entry port of Dobossari, Russia; which was about 110 miles from Odessa.  The average duration of these trips took from 80-100 days.

             Many immigrants were beset with difficulties and tribulations, including sickness and many diseases contacted by inadequate preparation on the part of the Russians.  Quarantine stations had to suitable quarters for the arriving immigrants.  The compounds lacked sufficient medical care and epidemics such as virulent fever, yellow and black dysentery accompanied by large boils on the head and neck occurred.  In one camp, nearly 3000 deaths were recorded.

               Immigrants arriving in the Odessa region faced great hardships during the first years of settlement and many people did not survive those storms.  Most of the German immigrants perished even before they were able to take possession of the land that had been apportioned them.  The worst thing that confronted the immigrants was that nothing what-so-ever had been prepared for them when they arrived at the places where they were to be settled.  In the beginning, they received nothing from the government but some wretched, drafty wattled hut (wickerwork covered with clay) in which they almost perished during the cold winter.  The following year, the settlers dug themselves into the earth and built earthen huts, like those of the Russians.  To make matters worse, the colonists really had no idea in what latitude they were now living.  They didn't know when to start work in the fields - when to sow, when to reap. whether to fertilize or indeed what to plant.  Moreover the plowshares bent like tin.  In due time the situation changed, the Germans not only soon learned what was needful and proper, but with hard work and their ambition to improve themselves, combined with the greater knowledge of agriculture already gained from their homeland, things slightly improved.

               By 1809, about 110 Lutheran families were settled in Rohrbach and Worms, in the Bereson district.  Heinrich Fuhrmann came from Erlenbach, Germersheim district, Pfa'z; according to the 1809 Rohrbach settlers' census list.  Also mentioned was a Peter Fohrmann, who was a village mayor in Rohrbach in 1890.  Waterloo was home to Johann Zeigele from Reichenbach/Esslinger, Württemberg, Germany.  This could possibly be the family of our great grandmother.  In the emigration list from Germany to Russia in the years of 1763 to 1862, a Schirmeister family is listed from Anhalt-Kothen, who migrated in 1829 to Ascania Nova in the Taurien district of Russia then migrated elsewhere.


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