Chronology of Hoffnungstal, Bessarabia

Prepared by Carolyn Schott and Dale Wahl


    1806 - 1819 25 families[1] immigrated to Russia and settled on the manorial estate of the knight Karl Bitch,[2] who was employed by the king of Prussia. Nineteen of these families were from Württemberg.


               1841 Many of the families of Karlstal were driven from the estate. These families tried to find a new place to live. They chose the nearby Swiss Colony of Chabo[3], close to the city of Akkermann.


                         However, the higher officials of the government heard about this displacement and offered Steppe Number Nine in the area of Klöstitz to these homeless families. This area is located 60 miles from the provincial capital Kischenew; 60 miles from the district city Akkermann; about 36 2/3 miles from the city of Bender; and 73 1/3 miles from the city of Ismail.


            1842     The main group of families from Karlstal settled in this area (Steppe Number Nine) in the valley of the Karatay River and formed a colony. The Karatay River runs into the larger valley of the Tschaga River where the colony of Klöstitz was located.


Hoffnungstal was the last of the mother colonies formed.


Neighboring villages were: 

·          The Russian village Nicolaijewka 3 1/3 miles to the northeast.

·          The German colony Borodino 6 2/3 miles to the west.

·          The German colony Klöstitz with the territorial posts and parish 6 2/3 miles to the southwest.

·          An estate belonging to a Russian Countess Manfix[4] 10 miles to the north.


At the time the settlers were granted the steppe, the Count Etling was the lessor. The colonists found nothing on the land. It was bare; there was no forest, no housing, nothing. Their houses would have to be built through their own means.


The village was initially granted about 14,000 acres of land


As required by upper level government, the houses were built on both sides of the small stream Karatay.


The 25 families obtained a loan from the Welfare Committee, an advance of 100 Rubles interest-free, which had to be paid back within 10 years.


The money brought with them by these settlers varied; the poorest with 150 silver Rubles to the richest with 1,000 Rubles. All of the colonists’ hard-earned monies were decreased because of crop failures three of the first four years on Steppe Number Nine. They were forced to use what little capital they had brought along with them.


               1842  Crop failure


               1843  The Colony had no official name. It was simply called Number Nine. At the wish of the first settlers and with the permission of the upper colonial administrators, the colony was named Hoffnungstal.


The name Hoffnungstal (Hopeful Valley) expressed the colonists’ fervent wish for their future there. Owing to the wonderful soil, the authorities agreed that the name was a good fit. This was deep, black river soil, 10-13 inches deep and mixed with sand which was especially suitable for the cultivation of grain, fruit, and grapes. Besides this, the settlers had a good supply of groundwater and an adequate supply of stone for building purposes. The stone had to be quarried from a depth of 16 to 18 feet. The entire area of the colony is marked with graceful alternating hills and valleys.


   1843 – 1847  Other colonists from the Cherson[5] District, namely the colonies of Worms, Glückstal, Bergdorf, Neudorf, Kassel, and Hoffnungstal, also settled in this area.


               1844  Crop failure


               1845  Crop failure


               1848  The colony had increased to 82 families. Since the families came at different times and at the request of the upper administration of the government, no organizer was needed.


20 April 1848  “However, thanks to God, the young colony was spared from accidents, epidemics among their livestock, and human epidemic illnesses. With God's help, the young colony was able to present in a short time, a friendly picture to the wanderer or traveler, what can be attained through perseverance, diligence, and hard work. With God's blessing and the faithful protection of their government, the colonists hope to gain greater prosperity, wealth and affluence. The name of their village was a continuous reminder, ever to be hopeful.” 

// Sexton/School teacher: L.A. Kurtz (Author)


               1855  Cholera claimed a number of lives


               1858  The schoolhouse was built. The main subjects were reading, writing, arithmetic, and the Lutheran catechism. The schoolbooks used were primarily the Bible, the hymnbook, and a catechism. Instruction in religion was the primary purpose for education and Hoffnungstalers had little use for additional education.


               1859  The village had a population of 743 in 89 families.


               1860  The nearest doctor for Hoffnungstalers was in Tarutino, approximately 16 miles away.


   1874 – 1916  Leopold Roßmann was the main teacher in the Hoffnungstal school. Until the late 1890’s, he was the only teacher in the school despite having a large number of students. Even in 1905, there appear to have been only two teachers for 330 students.


               1874  WAHL, Johannes                          born  1845 -   "to America"  


               1877  Tarutino received a telegraph office


               1878  With the opening of the Bender-Reni rail line in, the mail began to be delivered daily to Leipzig.


   1879 – 1915  The Klöstitz parish was served by the Reverend Julius Peters.


               1884  SCHMIDT, Johann                       born  1845 -   "to America"  

               1884  SCHMIDT, Peter                           born  1858 -   "to America"  

               1885  BOSSERT, Christian                     born  1865 -   "to America"  

               1885  HOFER, Imanuel                          born  1853 -   "to America"  

               1885  MÜLLER, Martin                           born  1845 -   "to America"  

               1885  MÜLLER, Philipp                          born  1857 -   "to America"  

               1885  SCHMIDT, Ludwig                        born  1831 -   "to America"  

               1885  SCHMIDT, Ludwig                        born  1863 -   "to America"  

               1885  WAHL, Friedrich                           born  1862 -   "to America"  


      April 1885  ENGELHARDT, Heinrich              born  1856 -   "to America"  

      April 1885  SCHNAIBLE, Carl                         born  1857 -   "to America"  

      April 1885  WAHL, Wilhelm                            born  1858 -   "to America"  


ca 1885/1889  SINGER, Andreas                         born  1864 -   "to America"  

ca 1885/1889  SINGER, Friedrich                        born  1863 -   "to America"  


               1886  SCHERBINSKE, Elis (geb. _____)  born  1863 -   "to America"  


      April 1886  NAGEL, Johann                            born  1861 -   "to America"  


  14 May 1886  NAASZ, Christian                         born  1847 -   "to America"  

  14 May 1886  OSTER, Christian                         born  1859 -   "to America"   

  14 May 1886  OSTER, Johann Georg                  born  1863 -   "to America"  

  14 May 1886  OSTER, Philipp                             born  1833 -   "to America"  

  14 May 1886  SCHERBINSKE, Johann               born  1859 -   "to America"  

  14 May 1886  SCHOTT, Philipp                           born  1848 -   "to America"  

  14 May 1886  WAHL, Wilhelm                             born  1829 -   "to America"  

  14 May 1886  WENZEL, Michael                          born  1848 -   "to America"  


  29 May 1886  SCHOTT, Friedrich                       born  1863 -   "to America"  

  29 May 1886  SCHOTT, Peter                              born  1840 -   "to America"  


21 March 1888 ALDINGER, Jacob                         born  1868 -   "to America"  

21 March 1888 HAAS, Christina (nee LÄMMLE)   born  1841 -   "to America"  

21 March 1888 MÜLLER, Friedrich                       born  1859 -   "to America"  

21 March 1888 NAASZ, Ludwig                             born  1861 -   "to America"  

21 March 1888 RIEGER, Ludwig                           born  1868 -   "to America"  

21 March 1888 WEISSHAAR, Jacob                      born  1860 -   "to America"  


  11 May 1889  ALDINGER, Imanuel                     born  1870 -   "to America"  


  16 May 1889  BAUER, Conrad                            born  1856 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  BAUER, Gottfried                          born  1858 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  BERRETH, Leonhard                    born  1865 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  EHERT, Johann                            born  1862 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  EHERT, Magdalena (nee GRAFF)  born  1837 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  GÖTZ, Gottlieb                              born  1864 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  HAAS, Friedrich                            born  1864 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  HINDEMITH, Johann                    born  1850 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  LÄMMLE, Wilhelm                        born  1861 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  NAASZ, Andreas                           born  1863 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  NAASZ, Friedrich                          born  1857 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  NAASZ, Margaretha                      born  1828 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  OBENAUER, Friedrich                  born  1860 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  OBENAUER, Johann                    born  1858 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  OBENAUER, Philipp                     born  1856 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  OSTER, Carl                                 born  1841 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  OSTER, Christina                         born  1865 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  RETZLAFF, Johann                      born  1860 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  RIECKER, Jacob                           born  1863 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  SCHLEPP, Johann                        born  1839 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  SCHLEPP, Johann                        born  1862 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  SCHLEPP, Johann                        born  1863 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  SCHUH, Johann                           born  1864 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  VIX, Jacob                                    born  1864 -   "to America"  

  16 May 1889  WAHL, Karl                                   born  1863 -   "to America"  


  23 May 1889  RIECKER, Ludwig                         born  1842 -   "to America"  


               1893  NAASZ, Georg                               born  1855 -   "to America"  


               1894  WEISSHAAR, Johannes                born  1864 -   "to America"  

               1894  BOLLINGER, Jacob                      born  1870 -   "to America"  

               1894  BOLLINGER, Johann                   born  1862 -   "to America"  

               1894  ENGELHARDT, Heinrich              born  1861 -   "to America"  


               1896 The Hoffnungstal school received a Russian teacher in addition to Herr Roßmann.


               1897  The villagers purchased another 675 acres.


               1899  The villagers purchased another 1100 acres from Countess Tolstoi.


               1900   The population of Hoffnungstal had grown to 1160.


   16 Oct 1905  The Hoffnungstal church was dedicated. (The school house had served as the prayer house or chapel until this time.)


               1907  HOFER, Christina (nee LAIB)       born  1863 -   "to America"  


    4 May 1912  SCHUH, Jacob                              born  1866 -   "to America"  


               1918  Bessarabia annexed to Romania as part of the Versailles Treaty after WWI.


     Late 1930’s  The last sexton-teacher of Hoffnungstal, Emil Wernick, was able to introduce some changes in the church, such as reviving the church choir, introducing a Ladies Aid Society, and starting a youth fellowship.


               1940 The Hoffnungstal crops grown included wheat, barley, oats, corn, soybeans, potatoes, rye, castor beans, millet, sun flowers, rape, mustard, flax, beets, watermelons, and pumpkins.


The primary trades represented in the village included metal workers, blacksmiths, carpenters, cartwrights, shoemakers, harness makers, mill owners, and game keepers. There were also individuals who were coopers, tailors, brick makers, quarrymen, land surveyors, night watchmen, roofers, and midwives.


There was also a butcher, a beekeeper, a truck garden farmer, a cistern finisher, and a gravedigger. “Roaming” craftsmen, who did work on a commission basis, included watchmakers, sewing machine repairman, pots and pans repairman, and a knife grinder.


Moldavians often were hired as cattle herdsmen and Russians did sheep shearing on a seasonal basis.


      June 1940  Soviet troops demanded the Romanian evacuation of Bessarabia. As part of the Hitler-Stalin pact, the German settlers would be re-settled to Germany.


At the time of the Umsiedlung (Resettlement), there were over 2000 people living in the village.


               1940 Taxes had to be paid again in full to the Russians, even if they had previously been partly (or even fully) paid. Since the Romanian Lei was declared overnight to be invalid currency, the taxes had to be paid in material goods (grain, etc.)  An (arbitrarily determined) amount from the 1940 harvest had to be handed over to Russian authorities. Often there was alleged contamination of the grain, and the villagers were forced to hand over additional amounts.


    15 Sep1940  The German Resettlement Commission arrived in Hoffnungstal to begin assessing the villages in the area for resettlement. The assessment continued probably until the end of October. The Commission went door to door through the village, assessing the contents and property of each family. The villagers would only be allowed to take a small number of possessions with them – the rest they were to leave to the Russians and they were to be reimbursed when they had returned to Germany.


   26 Sep 1940  A farewell service was held in the Hoffnungstal cemetery


     1 Oct 1940  The families of Hoffnungstal began leaving their home of almost a century. The women, children, and the elderly from Hoffnungstal’s east street were the first to leave.


     2 Oct 1940  The men from Hoffnungstal’s east street left on October 2 by horse and wagon.


     9 Oct 1940  Hoffnungstalers living on the west street followed the same journey about a week later, with the women and children leaving


   15 Oct 1940  The men on the west street left.


  Abt Oct 1940  An earthquake occurred soon after the villagers left Hoffnungstal



For the rest of this story, see 1848 Village History and the Overview of the History of Hoffnungstal


Also see  Karlstal data, the Hoffnungstal Village Data Sheet, and the Hoffnungstal Bessarabian Newsletter collection.


[1]               This 25 number has been passed down as the key number of families that actually left Karlstal and were the original families to settle on Steppe Number Nine in Bessarabia. Historically speaking, this number is in error because it was actually over a period of time that people were invited and processed to be a part of the Karlstal Estate. This lasted until a few years after 1819.

[2]               Or Vitsch

[3]               Schabo

[4]               Mansir

[5]               also spelled Kherson





°      1848 Hoffnungstal Bess History.  Hoffnungstal Newsletter (Vol 3 Issue 1)  April 1997.

°      Aippersbach, Johann and Minna.  Letters from Hoffnungstal.  Hoffnungstal Newsletter (Vol 4 Issue 1) April 1998.

°      At Last – It is Possible to Make Visits to the Homeland.  Translated by Adam Müller.  Hoffnungstal Newsletter (Vol 2 Issue 1) April 1996.

°      Eisenbeiß, Albert.  Familien- und Sippenbuch Hoffnungstal/Bessarabien.  Zentralstelle für Personen- und Familiengeschichte – Institut für Genealogie.  1996.  (Translations for some parts of this book were available in the Hoffnungstal Newsletter.) 

°      Flaig, Armin.  Ein Hauch der Ewigkeit. [A family history written by my third cousin, Armin Flaig.]

°      Giesinger, Adam.  From Catherine to Khrushchev – The Story of Russia’s Germans.  American Historical Society of Germans from Russia.  Lincoln, Nebraska.  1981.

°      Hoffnungstal Heimatbuch Peter Krug Verlag, Bietigheim, Germany.  1983. 

°      The Holocaust Teacher Resource Center website. 

°      Kern, Albert.  Homeland Book of the Bessarabian Germans.  English translation published by the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries.  1998. 

°      Ketterling, La Rose M.  Details of Hoffnungstal Cholera Deaths – 1855.  Hoffnungstal Newsletter (Vol 4 Issue 2) August 1998.

°    Retzloff, Duane.  Discovery of the Hoffnungstal Schoolhouse.  Bessarabian Newsletter (Vol 4 Issue 3) December 1998.