Alt Danzig - 1848 Village History
Copyright 1996, Curt Renz
Notes: Please see the Introduction to the Village History Project for additional information.
In the fall of 1786, 50 families from the district of Danzig in the kingdom of Prussia assembled under the leadership of Von Trappe, who was to conduct them to Russia. They traveled by ship across the Baltic Sea to Riga, where they spent the winter. The following spring, wagons took them south to the city of Kremenchug. There they separated, one group going to the Swedish colony and the other to Elizabethgrad. About 15 versts from town, they founded a new village on land assigned to them by Prince Potemkin. Through unfitness for work, death, poverty, luxurious living and wastefulness, many made almost no progress, while others returned to Germany or simply fled from the colony. Eventually there remained only 19 of the original 29 families. In 1803 another 10 families arrived from the Bitau District of Further Pomeranis, who were given permission by Kontenius to settle here. Through these newcomers farming in the colony received a substantial boost. They loved order and brought the prevailing disorder to an end. They built more houses as well as a small chapel to promote religious services.
The colony lies on the Suzakleya river, a tributary of the Ingul, which originates seven versts from the colony and receives contributions from three valleys rich in springs. At some points the rocky banks on the river rise up on both sides like high walls, from which there issue springs of good fresh water, which provide adequately for the needs of the village. A profitable water-mill has been built. Opposite the colony there is a small forest of wild fruit trees, aspen, willows and the like, but this does not belong to the colony. The colony itself, on its side, owns a forest, planted by the community, which is in a healthy condition. Because the land is rocky underneath, trees often die in dry years. The fact that the village lies on high ground also has an unfavorable effect on tree growth. But the good black soil is well suited for raising cattle and sheep and for growing grain and potatoes.
In the memory of their old home, the new village was at first called Danzig. By a decree of General Insov, young colonists from Danzig later founded a new colony, Neu Danzig, on the Ingul river 35 versts from Nikolayev, whereupon the old colony was officially renamed Alt Danzig.
The steppe, before our arrival, was a wild uninhabited region. We did not know where to begin. We lived in earthen huts, which we had built for ourselves. Being artisans, we understood nothing of farming. With crown advances exhausted, without houses, without roof of any kind, with no knowledge of the prevailing language, in a primitive savage land, with frequent crop failures in the early years, we were often close to despair and many times seriously considered moving elsewhere. But better times came and under the wise guidance of the authorities prosperity and love of order entered our settlement. God be thanked that the younger generation has been so fortunate as to live under the beneficial jurisdiction of State Councilor E. von Hahn. Tree planting and other useful changes have improved the colony under his leadership. While formerly there was disorder here and excessive drinking undermined our prosperity, and the local colonists were notorious for their irreligious manner of living, religious services are now diligently attended and promoted. On January 12, 1844, there was a great awakening among us which affected the majority of colonists. They were converted and turned their backs on their former evil life. Drinking, gambling and debauchery were ended among us. If now and then one or the other of us fails to live up to this high standard, he is punished by the village leaders, so that the honor of God and the wishes of the authorities may be promoted.
Teacher: Johann Ernst
Village mayor: B. Pritzkau
Assistants: Wilhelm Pritzkau, Johann Giedd
This history appeared in Gemeindeberichte der Schwarzmeer deutschen, 1848 by M. Woltner
Data provided by Curt Renz
Coordinated with GRHS Village Research Clearing House
Coordinated with AHSGR/GRHS Translation Committee Chairman
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