Associated Colonies
Place of origin
Thallichtenberg, Kusel, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Johann Heinrich Bier was born about 1738 in Lichtenberg (now Thallichtenberg), the son of Jacob Bier and Barbara Elisabeth Blinn (also Blinnd and Blinng). They were married in Pfeffelbach on 16 May 1736. At the time Lichtenberg and Pfeffelbach were part of the Duchy of Zweibrücken. In 1768, 375 inhabitants lived in Pfeffelbach. In 1588, the Count of Zweibrücken forced all his subjects to convert to the Reformed (Calvinist) faith.

Johann Heinrich married Maria Rosina Scherer in the Reformed parish church of Pfeffelbach on 10 July 1764. Maria Rosina is the daughter of Andreas Scherer who was also a Volga German colonist. Maria Rosina was born on 28 September 1742 in Pfeffelbach and baptized in the church there on 3 October 1742.

A daughter, Anna Juliana, was born in Thallichtenberg on 15 June 1765 and baptized in Pfeffelbach on 19 June 1765.

In early 1766, the Johann Heinrich Bier family and the Andreas Scherer family registered as Russian colonists with the private recruiter LeRoy. The David Hess family from Thallichtenberg joined them. All three heads of household were stone masons.

The families traveled to the Baltic seaport of Lübeck and boarded the Russian cargo ship “Slon” (Elephant), commanded by Sergey Panov. The ship carried about 345 colonists and made an intermediate stop at the port of Reval (now Tallinn, Estonia) before proceeding to Russia’s island fortress of Kronstadt in the Gulf of Finland. From Kronstadt the families were transported to Oranienbaum (now Lomonosov) on the mainland in an oared boat. There they were recorded by Ivan Kulberg as households 596, 597 and 598 on 27 May 1766. At this time, Johann Heinrich stated that he was a member of the Reformed faith from Zweibrücken.

After a year of travel, the family arrived first in the town of Cossack Sloboda (now the city of Engels) where Johann Heinrich signed a document stating that he agreed with the terms of Catherine II’s Manifesto. The family then proceeded south along the eastern shore of the Volga River where they arrived at the colony of Warenburg on 12 May 1767. They were recorded in the 1767 Census of Warenburg as household 118.

A son, Johann Jacob, was born in late 1767 and likely died as an infant. Maria Rosina died sometime shortly after that.

Johann Heinrich married again to Maria Margaretha Sparwasser in 1773. They had at least one son, Johann Heinrich, born about 1775.

Daughter Anna Juliana married Johann Christian Müller from Laub (Tarlyk) about 1787. They had at least three children in Laub: Johann Christian (born about 1789); Maria Barbara (born about 1792) and Johann Ernst (born 11 June 1794).

Johann Christian Müller died before 1798 and Anna Juliana remarried to Johann Michael Kreutzer. They had one child, Maria Margaretha (born 3 Apr 1800). Kreutzer died about 1801 and Anna Julianna married again to Johann Heinrich Dellos about 1802. He was born in Kukkus. They had one documented child, Johann Heinrich (born 13 September 1805). When Dellos died in 1825, Anna Juliana married again to the widower Johann Wilhelm Wagenleitner in the colony of Dinkel (Tarlykovka). They are listed there in the 1834 census as household 52.

Anna Juliana’s son from her first marriage, Johann Christian Müller (born about 1789), married Catharina Elisabeth Wagenleitner (born about 1793). She is the daughter of Johann Wilhelm Wagenleitner (Anna Juliana’s fourth husband).

Anna Juliana died sometime before the 1850 census and Johann Wilhelm Wagenleitner died in 1840.


Pfeffelbach parish records on

Idt, Andreas Idt and Rauschenbach, Georg. Die "Berufer" Abenteuer der Aufklärung in Katharinas II. Kolonisierungsprojekt (Moscow: 2019). Page 282.

Idt, Andreas and Rauschenbach, Georg. Auswanderung deutsche Kolonisten nach Russland im Jahre 1766 (Second edition). Moscow: 2019. Page 29.

Pleve, Igor. Lists of Colonists to Russia in 1766: Reports by Ivan Kulberg (Saratov: Saratov State Technical University, 2010): Page 63.

Pleve, Igor. Einwanderung in das Wolgagebiet, 1764-1767 Band 4 (Göttingen: Göttinger Arbeitskreis, 1999): Page 322, Households 3, 3a and Page 339, Household 118.  

Pfeffelbach - Wikipedia

Steve Schreiber
Sharon White