Gnadenthal - 1848 Village History
Copyright 1996, Elli Wise

Notes: Please see the Introduction to the Village History Project for additional information.

GNADENTHAL

I.  FOUNDING

The Colony Gnadenthal was founded in the year 1830.  The land was measured in
1822 for Pastor Lindl, who moved from Bavaria to Russia.  He wanted to build a
community, equal to Sarata, for his parishioners.  His stay in Sarata was short lived, though, and he had to leave Russia.  This type of settlement never came about.  Wuerttembergian colonists undertook this task in 1830.

II.  SCENERY

The colony is 60 werst from the district city of Akkermann and 110 werst from the governmental city of Kishinew and lies on an a 1/2 werst wide ridge in the Kagelnik valley.  The valley stretches from Kershinow at its beginning point, into flatland, 15 werst from the Black Sea..  The creek running through the valley is named Kagelnik, being replenished by rains and snowmelts, such as are other steppe creeks that do not originate from natural springs.

The colony is formed like a rectangle consisting of four rows of houses. There are two streets leading through the colony and between them is a large yard in which stands a prayer house.   Behind the houses and yards, there are large gardens and orchards and the water from the wells are fairly good.

III.  CONDITION OF THE LAND

The land is fairly flat without much rise to mention.  The soil is rather alkali and contains alkali concentrations throughout the valley. The black fertile dirt is 3/4 to 1 fuss deep and beneath it is a hard layer of clay, thus not favorable for the planting of trees which usually succumb before reaching maturity.  For growing grain, the ground is satisfactory but one has to consider to only use land that was pasturage, or which has been rested for 6 to 8 years to regain nutrients.   However,  if it rains at the right times, there is plentiful harvest, even on the fields that have been used more frequently.  Since there are more dry than wet seasons,  one can not use the same fields too often.

For vineyards, the climate and the ground condition is favorable as well. Use of precautionary measures will result in decent vineyards, such as guarding from the northwinds and using new, unused land.  Nevertheless, the vines can't reach the maturity that vines in Germany do.  The Gnadenthal wine is, however of good quality.   The land does not have forests, rock quarries, or springs.

IV.  NAMING THE COLONY
    
In the second year of the settlement, throughout the area, a cholera epidemic broke out, taking many lives.  This colony was spared the severety of the out break and thus named "Gnadenthal"  (Valley of mercy).  The name was introduced by the Welfare Committee and permission granted by the Sarata district office.

The colony is also known under the name "Neu Sarata".

V.  SETTLEMENT

In 1830, this colony started with ten families that emigrated from the German Kingdom Wuerttemberg,  and in the same year twelve more families joined.  Most emigrants came from main districts like Schorndorf, Waiblingen, Kanstatt (Cannstadt), Ludwigsburg and Marbach.  They undertook the journey without a leader.  There were no houses waiting for them and they lived in crude hutches until their houses were built.

In the years 1831 until 1833 more and more people and families emigrated from the above mentioned towns.  Gnadenthal became a focus of immigration and it soon counted 80 inhabitants of which all received 60 dessjatine of land to use. The emigrants did not receive any assistance from the crown and had to use what means they had brought with them.  They averaged  700 rubel per resident and they used it mainly to erect houses.  During the time of settlement, the steppe was occupied by some Moldavians and used for grazing cattle.

VI.  SPECIAL HAPPENINGS

     A.  Illnesses - In 1831,  there were only 22 families settled in Gnadenthal, when a cholera epidemic broke out.  70 people of different ages succumbed, and it was not surprising, since most emigrants contracted the fever right away. This misery quickly ripped 12 new marriages apart.

     B.  Earthquakes - On the evening of January 11, 1838 at 9 o'clock a heavy
earthquake occurred.  Luckily, there was not much damage and only a few injuries.

     C.  Cattle epidemics - Immense losses came twice during the time of the settlement.  In the years 1835 thru 1836, 370 animals were lost. During the period of 1845 thru 1846, 300 were lost.


VII.  FOR THE WELL BEING OF THE COMMUNITY

     A.  Because of the devastating cholera epidemic and many poor harvests, the community received three extra 'free' years before dues were applicable.
In consideration of the state of emergency, General von Inzow, extended the the 'free years' to begin in 1833 and also encouraged free leasing of spirits production facilities.

     B.  The Supreme Welfare Committee enjoyed the reputation of being dedicated to improve the well being of an individual as well as for the community as a whole.  The Sarata district government totally supported all means that enhanced the welfare of a community.

     Colony Gnadenthal,  March 27, 1848
     Mayor:  Hottmann
     Advisory Board:  Fickel, Kienzle
     Lay preacher/Teacher:  Jacob Koch (Author)
     Community Secretary:  Manske

as translated by Elli Wise 6/96
Coordinated with GRHS Village Research Clearing House
Coordinated with AHSGR/GRHS Translation Committee Chairman
 

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