Neudorf - 1848 Village History
Copyright 1996, GRHS

Notes: Please see the Introduction to the Village History Project for additional information. This particular Village History was published in the English form in Joseph S. Height's book "Homesteaders on the Steppe". There is much more data contained in this book concerning this area and our German Russian ancestors who lived there. As this file is placed on the Internet, the book is still available from GRHS (copyright holder).


The colony was founded in 1809, and 100 houses were constructed of stamped earth. The settlement is located in the Karamanova valley which begins two versts north of the colony of Bergdorf and runs into the Dniester valley near the village of Grigoriopol about 15 versts to the west. The distance to Tiraspol is 45 versts and 250 versts to Kherson.

The colony owns 5,810 dessiatines of land, consisting of hills, mounds, valleys, and a few level tracts. To the east it borders on the estate Parkanovka, to the south lie Thomanov and Shippki. On the west lies the colony of Glueckstal and to the north Rehmanovka and Bergdorf.

The properties of the soil are: one half, lying east, has black humus which is very productive and capable of withstanding much heat, so that even in the driest years it bears some grain and fodder; the other half, lying south, west and north also has black humus but heavily mixed with sand. The crops here are good when there are frequent rains, but in times of drought all plants dry up. The crops that thrive best are winter rye, winter wheat, lentils, barley, maize, and potatoes. Other grains and vegetables are less productive, and flax does poorly.

At the time of settlement there were about 500 dessiatines of wooded valleys, consisting of oak, ash, linden, apple and pear trees, some alder and other kinds. but they were merely shrubs and bushes.

The colony has no stone quarries, but must obtain its supply near the Dniester, about 10 to 12 versts away. Most of the original houses of stamped earth have been replaced by larger stone buildings, and 64 additional dwellings have been built. Stone walls have been built on the street side, and avenues of trees planted.

2. The Naming of the Colony
While the site for the colony was being surveyed, Councilor Rosenkampf commented on the beautiful setting and asked the colonists who had gathered around him to suggest a name for the new settlement. When someone indicated the name Neustadt, the Councilor replied: "We are not going to build a city, but only a village. It shall be called Neudorf." And that settled it.

3. Number and origin of the pioneer settlers
There were originally 100 families (259 males and 231 females). Twenty-eight families came from Wuerttemberg, 37 from Alsace, 7 from the Palatinate (Pfalz), 11 from Baden, 2 from Saxony, 3 from Prussia, 11 from Hungary, and 1 from Warsaw. In 1814 eight more families came from Prussia and in 1815 3 families arrived from Galicia. The colony has increased to 208 families (657 males and 589 females), not counting the families who moved to Grusinia and Bessarabia.

4. Leaders of the immigrant parties
The settlers immigrated in 1808 and 1809 in smaller or larger groups, without leaders. Those who came in 1808 were billeted with the colonists of the Liebental district until the spring of 1809. All had immigrated at the request of His Majesty Czar Alexander I, in response to the promised privileges (refer to the details in the section under Glueckstal).

5. The Locality at the time of Settlement
When the colonists arrived there were 3 isolated farms (khutors), three wells, and one dessiatine of vineyards on the steppe. The vineyard showed that it would be possible and profitable for the settlers to engage in viniculture, and they soon did so.

6. Support and independent means
The settlers received the following sums from the Imperial Crown:
For subsistence: 51,580 rubles
For settlement: 36,484 rubles
For seed: 3,360 rubles
Total: 91,424 rubles

From their homeland the colonists brought with them funds amounting only to 500 rubles, for most of them were poor day laborers and craftsmen.

7. Events and conditions that were unfavorable
Since there were many among the early settlers who were not farmers butcraftsmen and villagers unfamiliar with agriculture, it was no wonder that only a few could adapt themselves to the new conditions. A large number became discouraged because of mistakes, prejudices, sickness, and poverty, and longed to return to the fatherland. Only after a period of experience, poverty, and misery, did they finally learn to accept their fate.

If we examine the school situation we find that a schoolmaster with mediocre knowledge had been engaged, but school attendance was very irregular until 1819, when the new chief mayor Stephan Weiss took office. Because of the absence of a preacher, the mayor instituted an annual final examination, after which diligent students were given awards, and the schoolmaster and parents encouraged this, so that school attendance became more regular.

Still fresh in our memory are the years when we suffered losses because of epidemics: in 1831, 1834 and 1844 through smallpox; in 1837 and 1843 many children died of measles; and in 1846 both young and old succumbed to a neural fever. In 1831 12 died of cholera.

From 1823 to 1827 locusts caused considerable damage to the gram fields and meadows. In 1829 a hailstorm passed through the colony destroying all crops in an area 5 versts by 2 versts. Neither fruit nor foliage was left on the vines and the trees; indeed a large portion of the trees were so damaged that they withered away. On the north side of the houses all the windows were smashed.

The years 1833 and 1834 were oppressive, for not even seed grain was harvested and the Welfare Committee found it necessary to advance seed and subsistence money to the impoverished people. The livestock disease of 1828 destroyed 1,400 head of cattle and in 1844 a similar disease killed 400. In 1845 and 1846, 916 sheep were destroyed. The year 1843 was notable for the fact that so many field mice appeared that the colonists caught and killed 10,120 of them within four months.

Fail crops, where only the seed was harvested, occurred in 1813, 1814,1822, 1823,1832, and 1835. In 1841 and 1845 only double the seed was harvested. The productive years were 1816,1818,1837 and 1838. In general, the early years were more bountiful. This is probably due to the fact that the steppe was still virgin soil and was not plowed as frequently as is now made necessary by the increased population. The year 1847 is unforgettable. Such a great drought prevailed all summer that the livestock lacked fodder and suffered want all through the winter, so that 675 head perished of malnutrition, despite the fact that the colonists had spent at least 3,000 silver rubles for feed. In 1848 such a severe frost fell on the night of April 25, that all the fruit trees and vines were damaged, and the colonists suffered a loss of 3,000 to 4,000 rubles.

8. Favorable conditions
Through the presence of good preachers who insisted on better schoolmasters and regular school attendance, the instruction of the young people has been significantly improved. Through the preaching of the divine word many disorders have been corrected, the moral and religious character of the colonists enhanced.

In 1814 a schoolhouse was built by the community, and two bells purchased. But soon the building became too small to accommodate the churchgoers, and the settlers, encouraged by their mayor Michael Bollinger, decided to build a church. The foundation stone was laid in 1825 and the building constructed at a cost of 15,000 rubles, most of which was raised by the colonists themselves, but the Welfare Committee also contributed 1,377 rubles. The church was consecrated in 1830 and a new bell purchased. Soon the need of a larger school was felt, but the means were lacking until, in 1840, the newly elected mayor Johann Schauer decided that the needed capital could be obtained from community crops. In two years, enough money was raised, so that a new school could be built in 1842. His Excellency Councilor von Hahn donated 300 rubles to the project, and the old school was remodeled to house the schoolmaster.

Through the use of an additional sum of 300 silver rubles obtained from communal crops, mayor Schauer also succeeded, in 1847, in embellishing the interior of the church. This year the churchyard is to be surrounded by a stone wall, and avenues of trees are to be planted. In fact the community is indebted to him for the construction and embellishment of most of the community buildings. The communal grain storage depot, built in 1837, has been most useful in aiding the poor people of the village.

The most productive enterprise for the settlers has been the raising of livestock and the growing of grapes. In the frequent years of crop failure these have provided a good income. The fruit trees have been less productive, for they generally survive only 15-20 years, since they are often damaged by various insects. In general, these trees are planted in order to beautify the colony and to satisfy the wishes of the colonial authorities.

A useful provision for the settlers is the common decision that any man suffering a loss from a fire is compensated by the collective contribution of the settlers, each being assessed according to his means. Similarly, whenever a villager breaks a leg or suffers some other physical injury, every family pays its share for the cost of the doctor's services.

Finally, a good deal of the welfare of the colonists is attributed to the fact that the colony has had good, honest officials and overseers who have sought to achieve order, harmony, and industry for the good of the colony.

Neudorf, May 5, 1848
Mayor: Schauer.
Aldermen: Job; Kercher
Village clerk: Stroh
Church schoolmaster: D. Mehlhaf (author)

Scanned by Dale Lee Wahl
Coordinated with GRHS Village Research Clearing House
Coordinated with AHSGR/GRHS Translation Committee Chairman

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