To The Volga

From Oranienbaum to the Volga

This page was begun 16 June 2001 -- rak.

Once in Oranienbaum, the colonists soon found that the only choice as to location and occupation that virtually all of them had was farming on the Volga.  Other options simply were not available.  The only way they could get further support, which virtually all of them needed, was to "choose" to become farmers near Saratov on the Volga (Beratz, p.48).

Once they had made the correct choice, they were moved to St. Petersburg where they might stay, mostly on fetid ships, up to three weeks.  Then under the leadership of military officers

" ... they proceeded on the Neva river, then through the Schluesselburg canal to the Volkhov, and then on that river down to Novgorod.  Here the sick ... were disembarked and remained for the winter.  The others continued on ships a while longer, but eventually ... began the journey overland to ... the Volga ... for about two weeks ... The transport wagons were so overloaded ... that the men ... [almost all] had to travel the long distance on foot (Beratz, pp. 50-51).

"By the beginning of the overland trip at Novgorod, it was often already uncomfortably cold, as many colonist groups did not arrive there till late in October.  Although they were provided with warm sheepskin coasts, it often happened that some of the travelers became ill due to cold and hunger, and not a few of the, as is indicated in the colonist lists, died on the way and were buried on the roadside ... as long as winter had not fully set in, the colonists had to keep traveling, whether it was by water or by land (p.52)."

"Some groups were surprised by winter while still on the Volkhov.  These were taken by sleigh to Belosersk until winter quarters could be provided for them in nearby Kyrilov.  Most of them, however, had to interrupt their journey for winter at Torzhok, where they were quartered with Russian peasants in the villages in the neighborhood of the city.  Others got as far as Kostroma, where ice formation on the river forced them to stop ... Those who had remained in Oranienbaum all summer long were brought to Petrovsk in the province of Saratov in 'covered sleighs' during the winter and remained there till spring.  Those few colonists who ... arrived in Saratov as early as March, would probably ... have made the whole journey from the border city in sleighs (pp.52-53)."

Much to their surprise the colonists found that Russian peasants lived the winter indoors accompanied by their farm animals without ventilation ... "unbearable stench" is mentioned (p.53).

"From time to time ... clergy of their denominations, who held religious services, and baptized the newborn ... were sent to them by the [Russian] government ... There were also many marriages contracted on the journey ... (pp.53-54)."

"As soon as navigation resumed in the spring the journey ... to their destination in the province of Saratov on the Volga began.  In Torzhok in the year 1767 there must have been a shortage of ships to accommodate all the emigrants, because some of them went to Kassimov and sailed towards the Volga on the Oka river, others on the Tvertza (p.54)."

"How the ... colonists must have marvelled at the sight of [the Volga] river, the largest waterway in all of Europe, particularly in the spring, when the river rises above its banks and becomes so wide in places that one can no longer see the other side with naked eye.... During the journey on the Volga a number ... died and for their burial the ships stopped at the river bank, where a grave was dug for the deceased, above which relatives hastily erected aa rough-hewn cross, and then the ships went on.... (pp.54-55)"

The skyline that the colonists first saw of Saratov on the north-west bank of the Volga would have been a bit different that this present-day picture.  Saratov was then probably less than 10,000 people; it is now 1,000,000.  saratov.JPG (63189 bytes)  However, they would have seen the golden dome of the old Cathedral  (visible in the photo if you click to enlarge it) which was built in the middle of the first Russian fort which was the start of Saratov.  Here is a closeer view of the dome taken from near the river bank.  cathedral.JPG (80871 bytes)  In the first picture, the hotel we stayed in is the tall building on the left.

"It often happened that ships were damaged and then there were long and unpleasant delays ... This ... explains to some extent the earlier or later arrival of the colonist groups in Saratov, where they arrived gradually all spring and summer long over the years 1764 to 1767 ... the first [who] ... were the founders of the colony of Dobrinka.... arrived there on 29 June 1764 (p.55)."

"... colonists who were to be settled on the right bank of the Volga [the hilly side] were taken there by wagon to the sites where their settlements were to be established.  Those ... to be settled on the left bank of the river [the plains side], were taken across to the suburb Pokrovsk lying opposite Saratov, which the Germans called Kosakenstadt (Cossacktown) ... and from there were assigned to regions along the Tarlyk, the Karaman, and in 'Catherine's Fief' (the Katharinenstadt district), where they founded their villages (pp.55-56)."

Dates, in chronological order, of my ancestors' arrival at their initial village, as now known, were:

28 March 1766: Valentin {#170},  Anna Barbara (Bosche) {#171}, and Susanna {#85} Hoffmann arrive in Balzer on the hilly side.

18 June 1767: Heinrich {#168} and Margareta (Hohnstein) {#169} SCHEIDT arrive in Balzer on the hilly side.

18 June 1767: Johann Georg {#130&140}, Barbara Elizabeth {#131&141}, Anna Margaretha {#65} and Johannes {#70} DEINES arrive in Doenhof on the hilly side.

22 June 1767: Johann Burghardt {#64} KRAUS arrives in Stahl-am-Karaman on the plains side, along with several siblings.

The numbers in {} brackets are the persons' numbers in my ancestral chart.

To go to the Tree Index or to the Tree Log, click on it.