Dietel, pages 705-709.

Oleshnya, Oleshna, Oleshny, Elshanka, Tittel’, Dittel’, Dittel, German colony, Volost village of Kamyshin uyezd (district), Oleshinskaya volost (small rural district). 2 police stations, 2 districts of Zemstvo (Zemstvo - elective district council in pre-revolutionary Russia) Head. Colonists are villagers-owners, Germans, Lutherans. According to Klaus (Our Colonies) the colony was founded between 1764 and 1766. According to Province Zemstvo and Oleshnya Volost Board, the colony was founded in 1767 by people, who came here after Catherine’s manifesto from Hamburg, Saxony, Wuertemberg, Pfalz, Meklenburg and Elzass. They settled on the Elshanka river (3 verstas (1 versta = 3,500 feet, 1.06 km, 0.66 miles) from its confluence with the Karamysh river) and named the colony the same way. At that time there were steppes and forests in this place. The colony is 150 verstas from Saratov and 95 verstas from Kamyshin. The colony is situated 50 degrees 54' North in latitude and 14 degrees 51' East in longitude from Pulkovo,[1] on the right bank of the Elshanka river, where there are 3 small dams: for watering the cattle and for laundry. In the yards and on the streets there are about 130 wells, water in which is only good for cattle and household use. The water for drinking and cooking is taken from the springs situated in the ravine, ½ versta from the colony. On the left bank of the Elshanka river, right across from the colony, there is Zum-Grabe ravine.

According to the 1859 Register of Foreign Settlers (Our Colonies by Klaus) the colony Oleshnya was shown in the Norka district, Kamyshin uezd, and it had: according to Census #5 in 1788 – 69 families, 227 males and 218 females; according to Census #6 in 1798 – 78 families, 241 males and 261 females; according to Census #7 in 1816 – 91 families, 471 males and 468 females; according to Census #8 in 1834 – 101 families, 892 males and 847 females; according to Census #9 in 1850 – 194 families, 1,310 males and 1,251 females; according to census #10 in 1857 – 230 families, 1,616 males and 1,551 females. 

According to the list of settlements of the Central Statistics Committee, published in 1862, there was the German colony Oleshna a.k.a. Elshanka, Tittel’ on the Karamysh river, 93 verstas from the uezd town Kamyshin. The colony had in 1860: 250 households, 1,609 males and 1,572 females, total: 3,181, also there was 1 Lutheran church, 1 school, 2 markets and fairs, 5 tanneries, 4 oil-mills, 9 flower-mills. In 1873 15 people, in 1874 9 people and in 1879 32 people moved to Samara Province. Moved to America: in 1875 – 19 people, in 1876 – 21, 1887 – 5 families (5 males and 5 females). In 1883 I person moved to the Caucasus. In 1887 1 person moved to Bluemenfeld, Novouzensk uezd. In 1884 1 person came to the colony. 

According to 1886 Zemstvo Census there were 1 Volost Board in Oleshnya, 1 church, 1 school, 1 medical attendant’s office, markets and fairs, 388 households, 1,805 males and 1,705 females, total: 3,510 of Germans, Lutherans, also there were 110 families constantly absent and 6 families of 24 people of both sexes who were outsiders. 975 males and 962 females were literate. There were 382 inhabited buildings, 205 were made of stone and 177 of wood; roofs of 273 of those were made of straw, and 145 – of wood. There were 29 industrial enterprises, 2 taverns, 5 stores. The settlers had: 410 ploughs, 18 winnowing-machines, 1,450 horses (both working and non-working): 374 of them died of cattle-plague before June 1887, 2,851 sheep, 1,293 pigs, 374 goats, 1 bee-garden (apiary) with 6 bee-hives. In 1885 11,024 rubles were paid in taxes and duties. 

The land endowment was 7,691 dessiatinas [2] of convenient (including arable land – 5,405 dessiatinas and forest – 650 dessiatinas) and 1,635 dessiatinas of inconvenient soil, total: 9,326 dessiatinas. The allotment is in 3 pieces: 1) close to the colony - 4,1274/5 dessiatinas of convenient and 492 4/5 dessiatinas of inconvenient land; 2) 10 verstas from the first piece there is the second one: 743 dessiatinas of convenient and 571 dessiatinas of inconvenient land; 3) 1 ½ verstas away: 2,750 dessiatinas of convenient and 571 2/5 dessiatinas of inconvenient land.

In the 1880s there appeared lots of gophers (ground squirrels). They were exterminated in different ways, in spring people pour water in their holes, making them get outside and after that kill them. By the end of 1880s they became fewer in quantity. Earlier people killed them voluntarily, then in 1887 Zemstvo Board passed the law that every person has to bring to the Board legs of 30 gophers a year. 

In winter cattle is fed with straw; chaff and hay are saved for the spring. Those who use horses for carrier's trade, feed them with hay and oats. In 1887 cattle-plague killed 99 bulls, 101 cows, about 50 calves.

In 1887 land was mostly leased from the nearby colonists: in Neu-Pantsir’ – for wheat (3-5 rubles for 1 dessiatina, the price is set by the Government); in Verkhovye – 5 rubles - 6 rubles 50 kopecks for 1 dessiatina (the land here is better and closer than in Neu-Pantsir’); in Pamyatnaya – 5 rubles – 6 rubles 50 kopecks for 30 dessiatinas; prices fluctuate depending on harvest. They also lease land in the region of the Don Army (20-30 rubles for 100 dessiatinas or pay half of the produce (as rent) to the owner). About 30 families live there, paying 1.5 rubles for 1 dessiatina. Haymaking is along the Medveditsa river, in Atkarsk uezd, they also lease meadowland from different land-owners paying 40-45 rubles for 100 dessiatinas. Some householders of Oleshnya rent their allotments for taxes and get paid 1-2 rubles. 

According to the 1887 Province Zemstvo Board majority of Oleshnya colonists were in carrier trade: from October to the season of bad roads (in spring) they would bring flour from Borel and Reineke mills on the Medveditsa river (30 verstas) to the docks on the Volga river in Sosnovka and Nizhnyaya (Lower) Bannovka. To take flour from the mill to Sosnovka (90 verstas) they would charge 8-10 kopecks a pood (36 lb. avoirdupois), to Bannovka (45 verstas) – 6-7 kopecks a pood (36 lb. avoirdupois). On the way back they would bring timber from the Volga to Borel and village Rudnya. Earlier, before the Tambov-Saratov railroad was built, the colonists used to take timber to Balashov and Atkarsk uezd. After Tambov-Kamyshin railroad was built, the carrier business was on the decline. 

1879-1880 were bad harvest years, they led Oleshnya to debts. In 1887 Oleshnya society owed 15,793 rubles to Volost fund, food bank and different people. In 1887 Oleshnya had the following income: 60 rubles from the market place, 127 rubles from the fair, 250 rubles from 3 mills that are in common ownership with colony Makarovka and that were granted on lease for 12 years.

According to the Province Statistics Committee (1891) the colony Oleshnya had a medical attendant, 347 households, 2,346 males and 2,306 females, total: 4,652. According to Oleshnya Volost Board (1894) the colony Oleshnya a.k.a. Elshanka, Tittel also had a church school that had existed from the time of the foundation of the colony; 1 Lutheran wooden church covered with metal roof, sanctified in 1810, with a bell tower, also covered with metal roof; Volost Board that opened in 1871 and by 1894 the Volost Board had a building of its own; pastorate; teacher’s (Schulmeister) house; a medical attendant and his office; Zemstvo Russian school organized in 1873; Zemstvo coachman station with 4 horses. In 1894 there were 304 households (4 – public). Buildings are mostly wooden, about 2/5 are made of stone and 9 – of brick. Most of the roofs are straw, about 2/5 of the roofs are made of boards, and 13 roofs – of metal. The settlement was built according to a plan and is divided into quarters of 4 to 6 houses each. In winter on Fridays they have market days in Oleshnya. They sell various peasants’ goods there and about 30 carts come there. Fairs are held twice a year: July 1 and October 15. They sell manufacture and various other goods there. Close to the colony by the river they have fruit gardens. In 1894 the population was 2,352 males, 2,315 females, total 4,667 of both sexes of settlers-owners, Germans, Lutherans, who make up Oleshnya village society and all of them are farmers. In winter many of them make winnowers and wheels, about 405 people weave printed calico (sarpinka fabric). The allotted land in common use is 7,621 dessiatinas of convenient and 1,635 dessiatinas of inconvenient, total 9,256 dessiatinas of land. It is considered that the colony Oleshnya is 3 verstas from Poshinnaya, Sosnovka Volost, 3 verstas from Verkhovye, 3 verstas from Vershinka, 15 verstas from the village Tonovka, 37 verstas from the docks on the Volga in Nizhnyaya (Lower) Bannovka, 37 –from the station Krasny Yar of the Tambov-Kamyshin railroad, 100 – from Kamyshin, 100 – from Saratov. 

According to S.A. Tscheglov, the distance between the Volost village Oleshnya and other volost villages of Kamyshin uezd is: Antipovka – 135 verstas, Akhmat – 49, Bannyi – 40, Burluk – 63, Dreispitz – 18, Guselka – 55, Zolotoi – 45, Rosenberg – 75, Kamenka – 35, Kamyshin – 105, Kotovo – 70, Krasnyoyar – 42, Lopukhovka – 60, Lemeshkin – 55, Linevo Ozero – 25, Dobrinka– 30, Norka – 32, Rudnya – 42, Salamatino- 110, Ust-Solikha (Sosnovka Volost) – 25, Tarasovka – 60, Tonovka – 13, Verkhnyaya (Upper) Kulalinka (Ust-Kulalinka Volost) – 74 verstas.

Translation and notes by Dr. Lyudmila I. Koretnikova

Translators Notes:
[1] Pulkovo – 15 kilometers from St. Petersburg. The main observatory islocated here. The observatory was built in 1833-39, 75 meters above the sea level, in latitude 59° 19' 40" North. Pulkovo meridian is in longitude 30° 19' 40" East from Greenwich. 

[2] 1 dessiatina (measure of land) = 2.7 acres


Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Saratov Province by A.N. Minkh (Saratov, 1898-1901)