The Colony of Selz

            The colony of Selz was established in 1808, and the building of the homes was completed in 1809. 

            The colony is located in the Kutschurgan Valley where the Kutschurgan River flows into the Djnester Liman [estuary].

            The water in the estuary is sweet and is drinkable for people and livestock alike.  Selz is located 60 verst [ca. 40 miles] from the district center city of Odessa. 

            The soil near the village is quite sandy, but as one moves away from the village, the soil turns black and contains nitre.  With favorable weather, the soil is very fertile.  Stone quarries exist, but the stones are of low quality.

            In 1848 the community owned 5835 dessyatines [nearly 16,000 acres] and 2126 faden [a unit of length (!)–ca..1.8 meters; it is not clear why it is cited here, or what exactly is 2126 faden in length - AH] (at the present time, more land is available). The community land was divided up as follows:

            Cropland 1867 dessyatines, meadowland 2108 dessy., livestock grazing land 2108 dessy., field gardens and home gardens 170 dessy. and 2125 faden.  In 1842 trees were planted, but by 1848 there were only 631 trees.  In 1848, people began planting fruit and shade trees totaling to about 3444 trees. 

            The original colonists consisted of 100 families, 205 males and 196 females.  The colonists came from various German provinces.  From the province of Lower Elsaß there were 95 families with 196 males and 186 females.  From Prussia there were 2 families with 2 males  and 2 females.  From Austria there was one family with one man and one woman.  The homeland of the two remaining families is unknown.  The settlers arrived in two parties in 1808 under the leadership of Jakob Steinhäuser and Michael Scherr.  The land for the settlers was obtained by Duke de Richelieu from three Russian families.  There were three earthen structures located on the land which served as a camp for the Russian families.  These Russians soon abandoned the huts, leaving the area with no one knowing where they went.  The Russian government assisted the families by paying 171 Rbl. silver per two persons, totaling 20,936 Rbl.  The money brought to Russia by the German settlers totaled about 3250 Rbl.  The Kutschurgan District office was located in Selz until 1871 and covered the colonies of Selz, Kandel, Baden, Straßburg, Mannheim and Elsaß.  At the present time, Selz houses the Volost Office for only Selz and Kandel.  The other colonies have established a separate Volost Office for themselves.  Selz also has the oldest parish church in the Kutschurgan District, the parish having been founded in 1811 [perhaps 1841?]. Prior to that time, individuals were served from Josephsthal.  The first house of prayer was erected in 1811.  In 1821 the first church was built, but by 1830 the building was in need of repair and was remodeled on numerous occasions over the years.  In 1901 the current, spacious, beautiful parish church was completed.

            The Selz lands, according to the most recent measurements, total 6270 ½ dessy.[nearly 17,000 acres].   The land is divided as follows: yards around homes total 65 dessy., vegetable gardens total 42 ½ dessy., orchards take up 11 dessy., vineyards total 61 ½ dessy., reedy tracts take up 3 dessy.  141 dessy. are under water due to the liman, the clay pit covers 3 dessy., the garbage pit covers 5 dessy., roads utilize 61 3/4 dessy., cropland covers 4695 3/4 dessy., and pastures cover 1174 ½ dessy.  In addition, Selz has 120 dessy. belonging to the parish that is leased to local residents at 8 Rbl. per dessy. 

            Selz has property 298 lots and 2637 individuals of both genders.  Selz has a beautiful church, a pastor, and one school with 4 teachers and 246 students. 

            Every two weeks Selz hosts a market and every year a fair is hosted, from both of which the community receives 1400 Rbl.  Selz has one doctor, a medical assistant, one pharmacy, a poor house with 40 beds, and a post office. 

            Selz is actually a colony of craftsmen, so it would be useful to build a trade school there.  Selz has 100 workshops and industrial enterprises.  These include 3 steam mills, 1 lemonade factory, 1 bakery, 28 blacksmith shops, 1 plumbing establishment, 6 carpenter shops, 4 painting firms, 2woodworking shops, 2 barrel makers, 49 cartwrights, 1 milliner, and 2 tailors.  Additionally, there is one co-op and 32 stores and warehouses.

            The proceeds for wagons, plows, harrows, fords and other items manufactured by the craftsmen of Selz totals in excess of 10,000 rbl. per year. Community taxes paid annually are as follows: 613 rbls 14 kop. to the Crown, “Auskaufsumme” [???] 3862 rbl. 20 Kop., land tax (or land rent),3021 Rbl. 17 Kop., community debts 4327 rbl. 10 kop

Reprinted in Der Staats-Anzeiger  from the Odessa Zeitung, Sept. 17, 1908,



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