Johann David Elsässer, son of Hartmann Elsässer and Luise Armbrecht, was born on 24 December 1734 in Gelnhausen, northeast of Hanau. He and his wife Margaretha immigrated to Russia, arriving from Lübeck in Oranienbaum on 19 July 1766 on a ship under the command of skipper Jacob Bauer.
They arrived in Schwab on 8 July 1767, and are recorded there on the 1767 Census in Household No. 25. In 1795, the family moved to the neighboring colony of Galka, although some descendants remained in Schwab.
David was travelling with a Johann Jacob Elsässer who was also from Gelnhausen (although their exact relationship is yet to be determined). Jacob had married Charlotte Wentzel on 15 March 1766 in Büdingen on the way to Russia. Jacob and Charlotte arrived in Oranienbaum with David, but they have not been found among the settlers who reached the Volga colonies.
- Frey, Julius. "Auswanderung aus den Kreisen Gelnhausen und Büdingen im Jahre 1766." Geschichtsblätter für Stadt und Kreis Glenhausen. Herausgeber: Geschichtsverein Gelnhausen, 1965.
- Mai, Brent Alan. 1798 Census of the German Colonies along the Volga: Economy, Population, and Agriculture (Lincoln, NE: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1999).
- Mai, Brent Alan and Dona Reeves-Marquardt, German Migration to the Russian Volga (1764-1767) (Lincoln, NE: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 2003): 55.
- Pleve, Igor. Einwanderung in das Wolgagebiet, 1764-1767 Band 4 (Göttingen: Göttinger Arbeitskreis, 2008): 132.
- Pleve, Igor. Lists of Colonists to Russia in 1766: Reports by Ivan Kulberg (Saratov: Saratov State Technical University, 2010): 180.