Melchior Heinrich was born about 1711, probably in the former Duchy of Zweibrücken in the Rheinland-Pfalz region of modern-day Germany. Melchior married Anna Margaretha Mohr in the Baumholder Catholic church on 8 Jan 1732. Anna Margaretha was born on 31 Mar 1712 in Thranenweier and was baptized on 3 Apr 1712 at the Lutheran parish church in Baumholder. She is the daughter of Johann Velten and Anna Christina Mohr from Thranenweier.
Melchior and Anna Margaretha lived in the village of Ruschberg. At least eight children were born there: Johann Georg (27 Nov 1732), Johann Matthias (23 Jan 1735), Anna Maria Margaretha (11 Jul 1737), Anna Rosina Barbara (3 Jun 1740), Johann (Hans) Peter (19 Apr 1743), Johannes (2 Jun 1746), Anna Catharina (27 Feb 1749) and Maria Elisabeth (2 Oct 1751). All were baptized and confirmed in the parish church at Baumholder which served the Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed faiths at that time. All of the males were baptized by the Catholic church and all of the females were baptized by the Lutheran church. The youngest child, Maria Elisabeth, died on 2 Jul 1753.
Johann Georg and Johann Matthias were confirmed on 28 Jun 1750 by the Evangelische (Lutheran) parish church in Baumholder. The Lutheran confirmation record for the two boys contains a note that their father, Melchior, is a "papist" (a disparaging term for a Catholic) but he has promised to raise the children in the mother's Lutheran religion. This was a serious commitment in the 1700s when interfaith tensions ran high.
In the spring of 1766, Melchior and Anna Margaretha, along with their children: Anna Rosina Barbara, Johann Peter, Johannes, and Anna Catharina joined thousands of colonists bound for Russia in search of a better life. Anna Rosina Barbara married Philipp Brun (Bronn) on 19 Jun 1766 in Büdingen, a major recruiting and gathering place for the colonists. In the marriage record, Philipp Brun stated that he is from Kellenbach, which is located about 22 miles northeast of Ruschberg.
Daughter Anna Maria Margaretha married Johann Peter Mohr on 21 June 1763 in the Reformed church at Baumholder. This couple also decided to become Russian colonists.
There is no documentation showing that Melchior and Anna Margaretha's two oldest sons joined the family migration to Russia.
The Heinrich, Brun and Mohr families arrived in Oranienbaum, Russia (now Lomonosov) on 29 Jul 1766 aboard the transport ship Apollo under the command of Friedrich Detleff Mörenberg. Both the Kulberg arrival list and the transport list show that Melchior is Catholic. However, Melchior kept his promise to Anna Margaretha and the family joined a group that would settle in a Lutheran and Reformed faith colony. Over a year later, the Heinrich, Brun and Mohr families were among the colonists that settled in the colony of Norka, arriving there on 26 Aug 1767.
Melchior died at some point during the journey to the settlement area or soon after their arrival in Norka. His widow, Anna Margaretha is recorded in the 1767 census of Norka living in household 174 along with her children Johannes, and Anna Catharina. Her son, Johann Peter, is married and listed in household 177. Daughter Anna Rosina Barbara and her husband Philipp Brun are listed in Norka household 104 along with a 9-month old son, Johann Adam. Daughter Anna Maria Margaretha and Peter Mohr are recorded in household 175.
Decker, Klaus-Peter. Büdingen als Sammelplatz der Auswanderung an die Wolga 1766 (Büdingen: 2009): p. 78.
Mai, B. A., and Reeves-Marquardt, Dona B. German migration to the Russian Volga (1764-1767) : origins and destinations. (Lincoln, Nebraska: 2003): p. 96.
Mai, B. A. Transport of the Volga Germans from Oranienbaum to colonies on the Volga 1766-1767. (Lincoln, Nebraska: 1998): p. A-13.
Pleve, Igor. Lists of Colonists to Russia in 1766: Reports by Ivan Kulberg (Saratov: Saratov State Technical University, 2010): p. 328.
Pleve, Igor. Einwanderung in das Wolgagebiet, 1764-1767 Band 3 (Göttingen: Nordost-Institute, 2005): p. 256 and p. 276.
Rauschenbach, Georg and Idt, Andreas. Auswanderung deutscher Kolonisten nach Russland im Jahre 1766. (Moscow: 2019): p. 33.
Rauschenbach, Georg and Idt, Andreas. Deutsche Kolonisten Auf Dem Weg Von St. Petersburg Nach Saratow (Moscow: 2017): p. 143.
Kirchenbuch, 1679-1798, Evangelisch-Reformierte Kirche Baumholder (Kr. Sankt Wendel): Taufen 1745-1780 -- Kommunikanten 1745-1747 -- Heiraten, Tote 1745-1780 -- Taufen 1781-1798 -- Konfirmationen 1781-1797 -- Heiraten, Tote 1781-1798 -- Taufen 1682-1744 -- Heiraten, Tote 1679-1744. Family History Library (FHL) Film #493258
Kirchenbuch, 1701-1798, Evangelische Kirche Baumholder (Kr. Sankt Wendel): Pfarrliste 1704-1797 Taufen 1701-1785 Konfirmationen 1704-1784 Heiraten 1705-1785 Tote 1704-1785 Almosen, Schulmeister usw. item 2.: Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1785-1798 Kommunionen 1792-1797. Family History Library (FHL) Film #493257.
Katholische Kirche Baumholder (Kr. Sankt Wendel), Heiraten 1718-1778 Pfarrer 1696-1774 Taufen, Heiraten, Tote 1661-1717 Taufen 1718-1778 Chronik 1686-1774 Tote 1718-1778 Heiraten 1779-1797 Taufen, Tote 1778-1798. Family History Library (FHL) film #849150.