Waterloo - 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
1. The present colony of Waterloo was established a second time by 34 families
in 1833 under the direction of His Excellency General von Inzow who was then the
superintendent of the Colonial Welfare Office.
2. The existing colony of Waterloo is located in the Beresan valley which runs
west to east for 75 versts and flows into the Black Sea. The colony is 120
versts from Kherson and the same distance from Odessa. Landau, the
administrative center of the colony, is also located in the Beresan valley,
about 10 versts away.
The terrain of our perfectly level steppe, comprising 2,654 dessiatines, has
from one to two feet of black earth, and is well suited for pasturage and
farming. However, in some places there are patches of saltpeter which are
productive only when rainfall is abundant. But, unfortunately, quite often rain
is lacking for six to eight weeks, so that the grass, grain, and other plants
suffer from prolonged drought and high winds, and do not produce the anticipated
The shallow valley in which the colony is located does not bear a strong current
of water. The four excellent dams that have been built to catch the rain and
snow provide a good supply of water for the livestock and present a picturesque
scene. The village looks very attractive with its regulation houses of stone and
the surrounding fruit trees.
A pleasing sight on our bare treeless steppe is the fine growth of trees on the
north side of the valley. This communal plantation contains 1,400 fruit and
3. Because the colonists of 1819 were unwilling to accept the ordinances of the
former commissioner of settlement, Mr. Krueger, and began to bicker and quarrel,
he chose the name of Waterloo, a Belgian village whose inhabitants at the time
of the siege by the allied powers had likewise been stubbornly opposed to any
4. In the beginning the colony of Waterloo was composed of 34
families, numbering 200 persons (95 female and 105 male), who had come from
abroad in different groups and at 8 different times:
From Rheinpfalz: 1 family in 1805 and 1 in 1809.
From Baden: 2 families in 1818 and 11 families in 1819.
From Wuerttemberg: 6 families in 1817; 1 in 1819; 1 in 1822; 2 in 1832; and 2 in
From Austria: 1 family in 1819.
From Prussia: 6 families in 1832.
To these original 34 pioneer families 14 other families, partly new immigrants
and partly transmigrants from other colonies, were added.
Two families transferred to other colonies; and in 1842 five families emigrated
to Siberia. At present, the colony consists of 74 families, totaling 375 persons
(184 male and 191 female).
5. Most of our settlers arrived here either by water or by land, in the laudable
reign of His Majesty Czar Alexander I, in response to the privileges graciously
granted by him. Most of the immigrants came independently; some were led by
conductors of organized groups. Some of the local inhabitants belong to the
Reformed Church, but the majority are Lutherans.
6. At the time of settlement in 1819 the Russian government directed the
colonists to a tract of steppeland which was carpeted with grass and flowers. It
is said that this land was previously leased to nomads who grazed their sheep
and cattle on it. There were no dwellings on this steppe and no wells could be
found. In fact, when the settlers were even unable to find sufficient water,
they joined the colonists of Stuttgart and Friedrichstal who were also suffering
from a lack of water, in sending a petition to the authorities that they be
resettled in some other locality. This was granted, and in 1830 the three
colonies were transplanted to the new colony named Gueldendorf, near Odessa.
Of the original settlers only 20 families remained behind in the old colony of
Waterloo where they leased some steppeland. In 1833, however, they too requested
General von Inzow, the superintendent of Colonial Welfare, that they be
resettled. This was granted, and in order to make a supply of water available to
them they were allotted the wells and the dam in Stuttgart, and also 3 wells
near the boundary of Rohrbach.
7. The local colonists settled here at their own cost and did not receive any
grants-in-aid from the government. Most of them were already poor in their
native land and had spent most of their cash resources on their journey. All
they brought here were articles of clothing, bedding, and some hand cools.
8. On January 9,1838, at 9 p.m. a rather strong earthquake was felt, but no
damage was caused.
There were some epidemic diseases, such as measles and smallpox, which brought
death to numerous children.
Great losses were sustained by the local inhabitants in 1844 by an outbreak of
the rinderpest, which destroyed 800 head of cattle.
The lack of water in the summer of 1834 was particularly oppressive to the
colonists, for it made it necessary for them to haul water for their livestock
from the colony of Speier at a distance of 7 verses.
For the construction of buildings, the lack of local quarries made it necessary
to haul scone from a distance of 15 to 20 versts.
The village endured frequent crop failures; there were years when the harvest
was hardly equal to the seed sown. In addition, in 1846 and 1847, the colonists
suffered a loss of 2,382 rubles (in silver) through damage inflicted by insects,
such as the prussiki (a small grasshopper), the black beetle, and mildew.
9. There's an old German saying: "Durch Schaden wird man klug" - through losses
one gets wise. Our settlers in the early years realized the truth of this
saying. Only a few of the first settlers were familiar with the qualities of the
local soil. In addition, they had so few draft animals that they were unable to
make proper use of the good virgin land that was granted them. But even when
Mother Nature amply rewarded the work on the small tilled fields, the settlers
made the mistake of squandering God's blessing instead of putting it to good
use, so that they had to pay dearly for their folly in years of crop failure.
In the beginning most of the settlers knew nothing about the raising of
livestock, which is now one of the most profitable sources of income. This is
particularly true of the raising of sheep, as can be seen from the fact that in
1847 our colony was able to sell 8,283 (silver) rubles worth of wool. At the
present a great deal of attention is paid to animal husbandry.
We recognize that through its wise regulations the colonial office has done much
to help our colonists in gaining new knowledge and efficiency. Through its
influence and through the preaching of the Gospel, but especially through the
frequent admonitions given with candor and love by our former Pastor Bonekemper,
the welfare of the community was firmly established. For 24 years he labored on
behalf of the children and the adults, stemming the incidence of immoral living
and raising the standard of Christian thought and feeling.
Also His Excellency General von Inzow, the paternal superintendent of the
Colonial Welfare Office, remains unforgotten in our memory.
We also recognize and gratefully esteem the work of His Excellency State
Councilor von Hahn, through whose sense of justice and love of order many
salutary regulations and practical innovations contributed to both the moral and
With trust in God, we hope that there will be a continued growth in the welfare
and moral stature of our colony.
Colony of Waterloo
May 6, 1848
Church schoolmaster: Ernst (author)
Assessors: Merkel and Huhn
Scanned by Dale Lee Wahl
Coordinated with GRHS Village Research Clearing House
Coordinated with AHSGR/GRHS Translation Committee Chairman
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