Established between 1764-1766, a cluster of nine colonies populated by Germans of the Lutheran faith were established by the Russian government on the west side of the lower Volga River. Among the 104 original colonies founded between 1764 and 1767, this group included both the first and last of the colonies established. The lower Volga villages are Dobrinka, Dubovka, Dreispitz, Galka, Holstein, Kraft, Mueller, Shcherbakovka, Schwab, and Stephan.
Most villages were established on the Volga River or upstream on brooks which ran into the Volga. Kraft, established on a brook which runs into the Jiowija (Liolwa) River, is furtherest west of the nine villages. Several Catholic villages are north of Kraft. Along the Volga, north of Danilovka are numerous Russian villages. Starting in 1846, daughter colonies were established to the southwest and on the eastern or Samara side of the Volga. As a result of increased population, many residents of the colonies moved to the newly established daughter colonies. There was a great deal of travel, communication, and marriage between residents of these villages.
After the Russian Revolution in 1918, all Germans who had any means had everything taken from them and were sent to Siberia. In world War II, starting September 1941, all remaining Germans were relocated. In December 1941 and January 1942, all men of 18 years and older were taken to the labor front (Trudarmee). In 1942 and 1943, all women of 18 years and older were also taken to forced labor camps. Only women with children under two, people over 50 years of age, and children were left. Families were separated and scattered throughout Russia. Many people died of cold and hunger.
In May of 2001, Ed Hoak visited Saratov and the ancestral villages of his grandparents in the lower Volga Region. He spent several days in the villages, and copied names and dates from many of the grave markers in the cemeteries.
The Lower Volga Village newsletter, the Lower Volga Villages Sheet, is to facilitate family research of Volga Germans by providing information about the lower Volga village area, concentrating on the parishes of Stephan and Galka.
The obituary project helps link families as additional dates and details are needed on many family research projects. Rachel Smith entered hundreds of obituaries, funeral cards, headstone information and related material on computer and continues to add data when received.
Research available for the Lower Volga Village area includes census, family charts, and family histories. AHSGR's library has extensive information on the Germans that lived in the Volga area. AHSGR's bookstore has copies of Igor Pleve's books, Einwanderung in das Volgagebiet, 1764-1767, vols 1-4, for sale. The books contain the first settlers lists for the lower Volga village area.
Janet Flickinger researched German Russian communities in Kansas. Her publications are listed at http://www.angelfire.com/ks/gerrus/index.html.
Volunteers are establishing a village data base and sharing information. We need additional data from all descendants in order to fulfill our purpose. We are AHSGR Village Coordinators and make regular reports which are on file at AHSGR in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Articles of Interest