German Migration - Russia

Volga Germans: (1763-1767)
Germans had lived in various parts of the Russian empire for centuries but the largest migration to Russia was in the sixteenth century to the Lower Volga Region near Saratov. In 1763, Catherine the Great, German born empress of Russia, sent agents into the German states for the purpose of recruiting settlers. These colonists were to develop the uncultivated agricultural lands along the Lower Volga. Later in 1802, further large German migrations occurred to the Black Sea Region but our interest is with the village of Holstein located within the Volga 102 village settlements.
There were several promises that made this offer attractive to the Germans, as listed by Catherine's second Manifesto (1763).  For example: Freedom from various forms of taxes, self government for the towns, freedom of religion, and freedom from military service. It is easy to see how attractive this would be to Germans who were suffering from widespread poverty, malnutrition, and unemployment brought on by feudal infighting, wars, religious persecution, and the general politics of the day in Germany.
The extent of this migration was so great (Austria-Hungary was also competing for colonists), that further migration was forbidden by the German Emperor Joseph II and migration to the Volga ended at this time. During these 4 years it is estimated that over 25,000 Germans had migrated, coming primarily from Hesse, but also from Baden-Wurttenberg. 

It is from Karlsruhe, on the Rhine, that the first Yauks (Jauk) migrated to Holstein, Russia. This was the widower  Johann-Adam Jauk, born abt 1719, who arrived with his sons in Holstein 26 May 1765. (source LDS 1798 census)
A possiable conjectured family tree from 1719 to present is located on the "Tree" page.

Many migrants met in Budingen, Hesse, and even married here for greater acceptance by the agents. After forming into larger groups, their route included the towns of Kassel, Celle, and Hamburg ending at Lubeck, the port of embarkation for Russia. Here they were housed either in constructed barracks or in rented space like old warehouses.

The Baltic Sea Voyage
To maintain order, Russian emigration agents appointed leaders from among the recruited colonists. Many of these German supervisors, after arrival at the Volga settlements, became the first overseers of the new colony villages. Although the Russians gave a name for each village, the German migrants used the overseers family name as their village name. In some cases they also used the German home they came from. 

Usually it took them 9 to 11 days to travel from Luebeck to Kronstadt, however in bad weather or crooked sea captains, who were paid for food and accessories and prolonged the journey, it sometimes took six weeks 

After their arrival in Kronstadt (the Russian naval base on an island off St. Petersburg), the colonists began their departure to Oranienbaum, now known as Lomonosov, a small port on the Baltic, 25 kilometers west of St. Petersburg. The original name was derived from German and meant "orange tree". 

Oranienbaum was the colonist's first disembarkation point in Russia. It was here that most of them spent their first winter in Russia, departing for the lower Volga region in the spring and summer of the following year. While waiting, they were kept in wood barracks, some for weeks, took a Russian oath, then were moved to St. Petersburg to make ready for their departure to Saratov. The shanties and barracks, that were furnished for them were unsanitary and many fell ill and died. Catherine the Great's summer palace is located here.

Volga River Route -- Tver To Saratov:
As soon as navigation resumed in the spring, the journey to their destination to the province of Saratov on the Volga began. Most traveled under the leadership of military officers who proceeded on the Neva river to Lake Lagoda (largest in Europe), through the Schluesselburg canal to the Volkhov river, then met the Volga river at Yaroslava. Others met the source of the Volga at Tver using transport wagons from Saint Petersburg.

Although they were provided with warm sheepskin coasts, it often happened that some of the travelers became ill due to cold and hunger. Many died on the way and were buried on the roadside. During the journey on the Volga more colonists died. For their burial the ships stopped at the river bank, a grave was dug for the deceased, and relatives hastily erected a rough-hewn cross.

It happened that some ships were damaged causing long and unpleasant delays. This might explain the earlier or later arrival of the colonist groups in Saratov. They arrived gradually all spring and summer long over the years 1764 to 1767.  (The first who arrived were the founders of the colony of Dobrinka on June 29, 1764.)

Colonists who settled on the right bank of the Volga (Yauk), the hilly Bergseite side, were taken there by wagon from Saratov, to where their settlements were to be established. Those who settled on the left bank, the plains Wiesenseite side, were taken to the suburb Pokrovsk (Engels) lying opposite Saratov across the Volga. From here, the colonists were assigned to regions along the Tarlyk, and Karaman rivers. 

Land Route -- Novgorod To Petrovsk - Saratov:
Other colonists groups took various ways to reach the lower Volga including land and river. The direct route overland passed through Novgorod, Tver, Moscow, Ryazan and Pensa, wintering at Petrovsk in the north part of Saratov province, then on to Saratov in the spring.

The overland journey was long and arduous. Women and children had to ride in wagons piled high with baggage, while most of the men had to walk along beside them. The land was a wild frontier. On the west side of the Volga (bergseite) the banks rose steeply to a wooded range of hills with many deep gorges, and was a favorite hiding place for robber bands and runaway serf's. A cossack named "Pugachev" terrorized this region (1773) until captured and hung in 1775.

On the meadowside (weisenseite), the steppe sloped gently toward the river, was crisscrossed by many small rivers, and with grass that grew almost as high as their horses. Here nomad tribes of Kirghiz and Kalmucks roamed, plundering, robbing, killing, and kidnapping. Some villages were completely destroyed necessitating armed patrols into the Ural steppe. 

It wasn't till the 1790's that the Volga Germans reached reasonable safety and prosperity. Their main accomplishment, through trial and error, was learning to farm and grow specific crops allowed by soil and environment. The biggest burden was Russian government loans which took till 1846 to repay.

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Land Route 1

Land Route 2

Volga Route

Migrate Out Of Russia:
There are good reasons why the Volga Germans wanted to immigrate out of Russia, the main being the loss of most of the original stipulations in Catherine's Manifesto, as listed above. By 1870, the colonists saw the abolition of privileges as a breach of promises and became disenchanted with Russia. They began to send out delegations to North and South America to investigate potential sites for migration. Fortunately this also was the period that both American continents were attempting to attract settlers by offering inducements such as free land.

Note: Reinhardt Yauk went to Brazil about 1890, probably as a delegate, with immigration on his mind.  After his return to Holstein, he married Katie Yauk, raised four children, and eventually took his family to Winnipeg, Canada in 1912.

The main migration route out of Russia was by train, during this period, either directly to the ports of Bremen and Antwerp or to travel to Libau and take a ship to Europe's coast ports, then cross the Atlantic to their destination.

Example Migration: (Henry Hoff)
The first step in obtaining a passport was to go to the proper Russian authority and swear that all debts were paid. Then one had to appear before the district commissioner for a permit to leave the country. All emigrants were required to give ten percent of their property value to the government plus eighteen rubles (about one dollar) per person.

The families disposed of all property which could not be taken with them. They carried a few small bundles of clothes needed for the trip. They also carried food such as Pumpernickel bread, cheese, cold cured salted meat and onions. Feeding the babies was no problem because all were breast fed.

In 1880, 108 families left a Volga village by horses and wagons, then by boat on the Volga River to Saratov. There they were joined by other Volga Germans on their way to North America, a total of 1,454 persons.
They went by train from Saratov to the Polish border where each adult had to have 150 rubles to enter. They traveled on to Bremen, Germany, where they had a three day layover.

A man from the steamship company gave them news that their voyage fare was 38 rubles per head and included all expenses on the ship. The following day was filled with apprehension as the emigrants prepared to leave for Bremenhafen. The mighty ship anchored in the harbor didn't frighten them so much as did the vast ocean. Some people trembled and grew pale while others burst into tears. Women screamed, children cried, and some were unable to move, but they could not go back now. The men took them by arm and helped them to walk up the gangplank.

A storm set in as the ship crossed the English Channel and some passengers were sick. Freight was loaded in England and the ship began to cross the Atlantic. The young people spent much time on deck, the women did various chores, mostly washing clothes. A problem with drying was no clothes lines, so they would pin the washed baby diapers to their skirts and walk around until they were dry. Others danced and played cards while some walked around the deck breathing the fresh salt air which was very refreshing compared to the unpleasant odors below deck. After fifteen days at sea the ship arrived to the North American Shores.