The Colony of Mannheim

            The colony of Mannheim was established in April 1809 on the steppes near the Baraboi River, located 40 verst [ca. 27 miles] northwest of the main city of Odessa.

            In 1808, people from a variety of localities in Germany gathered for the purpose of emigrating to Russia.  From the Duchy of Baden came 26 families.  From Elsass there were 16 families.  From Pfalz, there were 8 families.  Together, this group totaled 50 families, with 105 males and 90 females; they had been divided into three groups for their trip to Russia. 

            The first group was led by Michael Schneider and Peter Bonhoffner.  The second group was led by Ignatz Schatz and Simon Aman.  The third group was led by Michael Hentsch and Joseph Vetter.  The majority of the emigrants shipped out of Lauingen, traveling on the Danube River as far as Vienna.  From Vienna the groups traveled on land through Austria, Mähren[Moravia] and Galica to the Russian boarder town of Radzivilov, where they remained for one month.  While at Radzivilov, they were joined by 10 families from Prussian Poland, who had lived there for 5 years.  From Radzivilov these three groups traveled further to Odessa, and while 2 groups arrived in September, the third came there in December.  By decree of the colonist authorities, the settlers spent the winter in the Liebenthaler colonies, not far from Odessa.

            On April 6, 1809, the 60 families of colonists gathered once again, and under the direction of the Liebenthaler Mayor Franz Brittner traveled to the area where they would establish the colony of Mannheim.  The land on which the Colony was established was purchased by the Crown from a Captain Petro.  The colonists found 6 stone houses, 2 of which continued to be occupied by the colonists in 1848.  The other 4 houses were in a very poor state of repair and were eventually torn down.. 

            The Crown provided advance money for food and loans to the colonists, as had also been provided earlier to the Liebenthaler colonists.  Funds brought by the colonists from their homeland totaled approximately 2150 rbl. silver.

            The colonists named their new settlement “M. Hilf” (translates to M. Help [possibly “Maria Hilf,” a common old custom of calling on Mary’s help - AH]), which is how it is worded in the document.  However, in 1810, by decree of the authorities, the village was renamed “Mannheim”.  The land given to the colony of Mannheim is mostly level, with only a few ponds made by the Baraboi.  The soil is made up mostly of good, black dirt containing good levels of nitrogen.  The water in most wells has a harsh and bitter aftertaste.  In 1826 attempts began to establish vineyards found little success.  In 1842, the authorities ordered the planting of a forest, but the document states that “the soil does not appear to be suitable for growing trees”.  Over time, later arrivals came to Mannheim from Germany.  In 1848 there were 140 families, with a total of 836 souls of both genders.  The colony was also affected by tribulations and fateful events of various kinds.  Nonetheless, our dear God always helped the colonists and they soon enjoyed growing prosperity.  At the present time, Mannheim claims 208 properties and 1777 souls of both genders.  There is a parish church with a pastor.  There are two schools with 5 teachers and 258 schoolchildren.  Mannheim owns 3705 dessy. [ca. 10,000 acres] of community land which is divided as follows: Yards on which people live takes up 103 dessy.. 15 dessy. are used for vineyards.  There are 8 dessy. of forest, 2 dessyi. are under water, 27 dessy. are used as a rock quarry, 1 dessu. is used to mine clay, 13 dessy. are used for garbage dumping, and 30 dessy. are taken up by roads. Land under cultivation totals 2251 1/5 dessy., 169 dessy. are used for haying, 1061 dessy. Serve as livestock grazing land.  Orphan land consists of 300 dessy. and the best of this land costs 9 rbl. to rent while, lesser land rents for 5 rubles per dessy.. Other rental land in the ara of Kurz and Viehler rents for 10 rbls. Per dessy., and near Schedewer, only half that price, and the owners of the land furnish the required seeds.

            In Mannheim one will find: 2 windmills, one oil mill, one co-op, 9 second-hand stores, 4 wine cellars, and one pub.  Every two weeks a market is held, but it is not well attended.  Community obligations include the following:  Payment to the Crown totals 362 rbl. , 29 kop.  Land tax totals 1721 rbl 8 kop. and the comminity owes 5313 rbl., 25 kop.

Reprinted from the Odessa Zeitung, Sept. 3, 1908, in Staats-Anzeiger


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