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.
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.
What do these four places have in common?
- Gebershein, Hanau
- Heckeberg, Hanau
- Höhenbergheim, Hanau
- Deckerbergheim, Hanau
You will not find villages with these names on a map of Germany. In spite of that fact, all four of these places appear in the published translations of the First Settler’s Lists. “Gebershein" and “Heckeberg” are reported as origin locations on the Kolb First Settler’s List, and “Höhenbergheim” and “Deckerbergheim” are reported as origin locations on the Walter First Settler’s List.