Borodino - 1848 Village History

Copyright 1999, Judy Remmick Hubert

 

 

BORODINO

 

It was in the 1814 that Czar [Tsar] Alexander of the glorious memory issued a proclamation announcing the establishment of colonies in the province of Bessarabia. The very attractive privileges granted by His Imperial Majesty appealed to many people from Wuerttemberg and also to many of the German settlers who had been established in Prussian Poland in 1803.

 

Indeed, the offer of a new homeland was all the more enticing, inasmuch as the colonists had endured a great deal of suffering and incurred substantial losses in their former settlements, largely because of the military operations and the frequent billeting of local and foreign troops during the course of the French campaigns.

 

In the same year (1814) the Germans colonists therefore started out on their journey to Bessarabia under the leadership of commissioner Krueger and took possession of the land that had been assigned to them.

 

At the beginning, 100 families were settled in the colony of Borodino, and 15 more families were brought here by the immigration authorities in the spring of 1815. Of these 115, 64 had come from the Kingdom of Wuerttemberg, 18 from West Prussia, 22 from the Grand Duchy of Baden, and 2 from the Kingdom of Saxony. The exact districts from where they originated can no longer be determined since most of the founders of the colonies are no longer living. The Wuerttemberg emigrants came mostly from the region of the Black Forest.

 

The steppeland [sic] that was originally assigned to the newly-arrival settlers in Borodino was still occupied by native Moldavians. Therefore the new settlers were provided with living quarters for 13 weeks in the surrounding Moldavian villages. During the first winter the immigrants had to live in hastily constructed huts of wickerwork [sic] and clay, the cost of which added to the colonists' crown debt. It was not until the spring of 1815 that these huts were placed on a foundation and their conditions improved to provide suitable living quarters.

 

The year 1815 was the actual date when the colony was founded in a valley, which was traverse by a small steppe river called Sack, at the front of a range of hills that lay about 400 above sea level. The colony was located in the Akkerman district in the parochial division of Kloestitz, 90 versts from the provincial town of Kishinev and 110 versts from the town of Akkerman.

 

To get established, the first settlers received advance loans from the government, each family obtained a farmstead, a yoke of oxen, a cow, some household and farming equipment, the necessary seed-grain, and found rations until the first harvest. Their own resources were so meager that only a few families owned a team of horses and a wagon. Hardly anyone had sufficient money for his daily sustenance.

 

The new settlement was originally named Soak, after the valley in which it was located. Later on it was renamed Alexander, in memory of benefits received from his majesty the Czar by the grateful settlers. But a short time later, the government officials decided to name it Borodino. In memory of the Russian victory over the French army in the battle of Borodino.

 

The soil of the land apportioned to the colony is mostly black earth with a sub-layer of loam and yellow sand. In the valleys, the soil has a large selpetar [sic] content, so that a deficiency of rain easily produces drought and crop failure, whereas it can be very productive when the weather is favorable.

 

Stone quarries are found on the summit of the hill, but it has to be dug and broken out of 9 feet of earth. Despite laborious efforts, the supply is no longer sufficient for the increasing needs of the settlers. A large quantity of dried clay blocks are therefore produced.

 

The numerous wells we have are often from 4 to 5 fathoms deep and generally deliver water of good quality.

 

The plantations of trees undertaken in recent years give promise of wooded areas in the future. The American acacia (a variety of locust tree) thrives best. Other trees, despite all efforts exerted in the past, have had only a brief survival.

 

Among the misfortunes we have experienced the colonies, we need mention, above all, only the total crop failures that occurred in the years from 1822 to 1827. But there have been frequent years of drought with resulting crops that were mediocre or so sparse that some people became impoverished.

 

In 1838 and 1839 the crops in Borodino area were almost completely destroyed by a hailstorm. In 1824, 1827, 1833, and 1845 the people of Borodino suffered severer losses from livestock epidemics. In 1825, 1836, 1847 the grasshoppers and locusts did very serious damage to the grain.

 

In 1828 and 1829 the constant passage of army troops through the colony, particularly at harvest time, hindered the people from doing their field work, so that many farmers fell into a state of poverty from which they have not recovered to this day.

 

In 1831 a considerable number of the people in the community became victims of a cholera epidemic, and numerous families were stricken, so that their farming operations deteriorated. Several homesteads also suffered losses from fires, but there was no widespread damage. Such fires occurred in 1822, 1829, 1842, and 1845. With the generous assistance of the community, new buildings were constructed for the unfortunate victims. Likewise, in 1845, when two houses were destroyed by the flood waters of a cloud burst. But we never had a flood that caused widespread damage. The two earthquakes, one on November 14, 1829, at 8 o'clock in the morning, and the other at nine in the evening of January 11, 1838, caused no harm to the village.

 

Although the colony, in view of the aforementioned misfortunes and setbacks, could not achieve prosperity in the full sense of the word, it would not be overlooked that, by and large , it belonged to the more well-to-do among the Bessarabia communities. Material well-being had been on the increased, especially since the colonists have become more familiar with the natural qualities their annual seeding of grain has increased four and eight fold.

 

If God continues to grant us further blessings and growth, Borodino will not only maintain its lead over many of the other colonies, but will also move forward with rapid steps toward a more promising future

 

Colony of Borodino, April 30, 1848

 

The Mayor's Office Mayor : Weiss

 

Assistants: Zeh and Kuebler Village secretary: Knodel Sexton and church schoolmaster: Eckert

 

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*************************** As provided by Village Coordinator Judy Remmich Hubert Jan/99 Coordinated with GRHS Village Research Clearing House