We call ourselves "Volga Germans". While most of the settlers in Volga (and later Black Sea) villages were German, there were also settlers from other European countries. Many settlers in Russia were French, or came from French-speaking areas of Europe. Some of these French settlers were Calvinist or Reformed Protestants (Huguenots) who fled religious persecution in France.
My last blog post discussed the marriages, births, and deaths that occurred while the emigrants destined for the Volga region gathered for their journey. I'd like to provide two specific examples of how this data can be used to help confirm an origin location, and to identify pairs of siblings who went to Russia.
The city of Büdingen was a major recruiting and gathering point for individuals and families who wished to emigrate to Russia. The Russian authorities preferred married couples and families, resulting in many hastily arranged marriages among single colonists wishing to travel to Russia. Other major gathering points were Lübeck and Roßlau.
The First Settlers Lists (FSL) are an an important resource for Volga German genealogy research. It can be frustrating when you discover that your ancestor does not seem to be on those lists. One possibility to consider is that your ancestor is on the FSL, but listed under a different surname.
The 1767 Census, often called the "First Settlers List", is the primary source document for determining the origin locations of Volga German settlers.
The information reported varies somewhat depending on the village you are looking at, but generally these lists include the following details about each family:
• Names and ages of each family member
• Profession of the head of the household
• The town or region that they came from
Where is Hanau? That might seem like a silly question. Anyone with a computer can search for "Hanau" and learn that it is a city in Germany, just east of Frankfurt. "Hanau" might also refer to a region in Hessen that was formerly known as the County of Hanau.
But this is Volga German genealogy research, and it isn't always that simple.