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,