This day in the history and culture
Of Germans from Russia

Belowesch Colonies in Chernigov

In March 1767 in the Chernigov province were founded Belowesch German colonies (included 6 settlements) in Chernigov.
In 1766 some of our forefathers left Germany to start a new life in what at that time was known as southern Russia. The vast majority went either to the Volga or the Black Sea Regions.  A few families proceeded to the Belovezh District where they established the following Colonies: Belowesch, Gorodov, Gross-Werder, Kaltschinowka, Klein-Werder, and Rundewiese. Collectively these colonies are known as the Belowesch Colonies and also include Kreschatten which was established later in 1779. 
Due to the relative size of these colonies very little history is available.  The purpose of this page is to bring together as much information on these colonies as possible to assist in the research of this area. If you are aware of any information relating to these areas not referenced on these pages, please contact me so that I can add or reference it. (1)
(1) Site to contact:
Belowesch colony Surnames: Bauer, Bechthold, Brill, Dell, Gorbulenko, Hahn, Holterbein, Kirchner, König, Laukart, Lautenschläger, Luft, Mohr, Müller, Oldenburger, Reh, Reimchen, Reuswig, Schäfer, Scheller, Schellhorn, Seibel, Wunderlich
Gorodov colony Surnames: Arnold, Betschke, Danowitsch, Danowiz, Dell, Dierlein, Dirlink, Engel, Grabowski, Gribowski, Himmelreich, Hoff, Kampf, Knorr, Kranz, Krohn, Kroll, Kronhart, Kude, Luft, Nep, Oldenburger, Raschke, Reimchen, Reisserich, Repp, Reuswig, Rogbach, Rossbach, Scherer, Schültz, Seel, Speck, Tipelius, Wenzel

Groß-Werder colony Surnames:  Arndt, Bär, Bittner, Burmann, Charlotte, Dieterich, Franz, Herr, Imbrund, Kunkel, Maier, Maisteter, Markstätter, Massold, Oldenburger, Operowski, Rätzel, Remmel, Resch, Röhrich, Saler, Sauerwald, Schäffner Scharlott, Schreiber, Siegfried, Springer, Treser, Tresner, Trinz, Ulrich, Wagner, Weber, Weiss, Wenzel, Wolf

Kaltschinowka colony Surnames:  Bechthold, Becker, Beker, Edel, Gottfried, Haag, Kehrmann, Krell, Maier, Müller, Neumann, Oldenburger, Phaffenhut, Reimchen, Sartison, Schäfer, Scherer, Schwarz, Strauch, Stumpf 

Klein-Werder colony Surnames: Betke, Blank, Brunner, Buchmüller, Doring, Enshinskij, Jakobschinski, Kanz, Kaptz, Keipert, Kühneresch, Küster, Meister, Rätzel, Reit, Rohn, Scheck, Sperling, Sperling, Springer, Wagner, Wotschall

Kreschatten colony Surnames: Alfalt, Brimchen, Färber, Hagin, Hahn, Himmelreich, Kaftan, Klaus, Knorr, Kranz, Krell, Lawtschenko, Masold, Massold, Moos, Neumann, Northeimer, Peters, Pindikhaus, Reimchen, Reuswig, Schäfer, Schreiner, Schwarz, Sikowski, Sperling, Trinz, Ulk, Witowski, Wolf 

Rundewiese colony Surnames: Bambach, Beckel, Braun, Buchmüller, Butzbach, Edel, Haag, Hoffmann, König, Krehl, Küster, Littau, Melchner, Müller, Neumann, Oldenburger, Rapp, Reh, Ritter, Rohn, Rosenberg, Sander, Schaubert, Schulz, Schülz, Schwab, Schwarz, Seel, Seibel, Semmel, Weber 

Belowesch, Chernigov is located approximately 110 miles ENE of Kiev, Ukraine

Article by Brandes (Düsseldorf) and I.Plehve (Saratov).

BELOWESCH COLONIES , colonies of German settlers, founded in March 1767 in the Borzensky district of the Chernigov province. They included 6 settlements: 4 Lutheran - Belaya Vezha, Gorodok, Kalchinovka and Rundewiese (Rundewiese) and 2 Catholic ones - Groß- und Klein-Werder. The White Tower was at the same time the center of the district and the seat of the church. In 1779, east of the rest, another colony was formed - Kreschaten (Romensky district of the Poltava province).
Most of the colonists who came to Russia on the basis of the Manifestoes of 1762 and 1763, the Russian government sent to the Volga, to the Saratov region. With the increase in the number of visitors, it was decided to place some of them on the lands of persons particularly close to Empress Catherine II. General-Field Marshal Count PA. Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky, one of the first, was given permission to pick up colonists arriving in Oranienbaum for settlement on the empty lands in the area of ​​Chernigov. The official decision to send part of the colonists to Little Russia was adopted on May 22, 1766. The land was allocated to the settlement in the Belovezhskaya Steppe with hay and forest lands. Up to a hundred families were supposed to settle in the empty city of Belaya Vezha (for construction of the church, schools and town halls were allocated up to 5 thousand rubles).
I. Kulberg, who received and recorded the colonists upon their arrival in Oranienbaum, during May-July persuaded 57 families to settle in the Belovezhskaya Steppe. However, this number of settlers was not enough to organize several colonies. Since August, agreements with the colonists were signed by Prime Minister Freigolts (confidant of Count Rumyantsev). Thanks to his activity, by the end of 1766, 166 families had agreed to go to the Belovezh steppes. By the time the colonists were sent from St. Petersburg, on January 16, 1767, there were already 173 families (583 people). For the purchase of warm clothes and tents from the Chancellery was issued more than 1000 rubles. In addition to this, each family received 10 rubles each. on food on the road.
In the confessional plan, 58% of the arriving colonists were Lutherans, 32% Catholics, and 10% Reformed.
The first settlers of the Bialowieza colonies came from various parts of Germany: Catholics from Mainz, the Palatinate, Würzburg and Swabia and elsewhere. Among the Lutherans, most of the colonists arrived from Hessen, as well as from Saxony, Hanover and Prussia.
In addition to the grain-growers constituting 71% of Belovezhsky colonies, weavers (9%), blacksmiths (4%), millers, carpenters and bakers were among the settlers.
The reception of the colonists was poorly prepared. Only in 1768 construction of houses for settlers began. This led to the flight of the colonists (in 1767 49 people fled from the settlements, and another 6 fled the next year, and in the 1770s another 30 families arrived from abroad to settle in the area).
Ten years after the arrival in Russia, the Belovezhsky colonists had to pay their debts (about 100 rubles per person - several times less than the debts of the Saratov colonists, often more than 500 rubles for individual families). Since 1779, the Office of Foreign Custody has demanded that the Belovezhsky colonists repay the first third of the debt within 3 years. In 1781, the government ordered the remaining debt "without fines to collect."
With an increase to the beginning of the XIX century. of the population of the Bialowieza colonies (1,444 people lived in 6 colonies in 1807), settlers began to experience land hunger. In 1820, at the request of the Chernigov civilian governor about the possibility of resettlement of some of the colonists to Novorossia, the Senate decided not to relocate the colonists, but to allocate land to them at their place of residence (30 dessiatins for 160 families).
In January 1829, 209 families from the Bialowieza Colonies, because of a shortage of land (for 1,198 male souls, there were only 4,800 acres) were again asked permission to move to Novorossiia. The government responded to their request and separated them from the "Jewish steppe" (initially the Jews had to settle here, hence the name) to the northern part (13,300 dessiatins requested by the colonists). In May 1831, the Committee of Ministers agreed to the relocation of 1,047 people, united in 124 households. The colonists moved at their own expense, receiving 60 dessiatines per family and tax exemption for 5 years. Newly created families were to receive 30 dessiatins each. The first 60 families moved in August-October 1831, and the rest - the next year. 78 Lutheran families were settled in 3 colonies, 46 Catholic - in 2 colonies, which residents gave the names of their villages from their former homeland. These daughter colonies became part of the Mariupol colonial district.
In 1861, the Belovezhsky colonies acquired land in the Crimea, on which five more daughter colonies were established with the center of Bytene, where the church parish was located and later - the volost administration. In the 1870's. colonists from the daughter colonies of the Mariupol colonial district bought land in the Don Cossack Region, and at the end of the 19th century, - in the Stavropol province. From these new colonies, some descendants of the Belovezhsky colonists left for Siberia in 1906, where they founded the Halbstadt colony in the Omsk district of the Akmola region.
In August 1941, the male population of the colonies was enlisted in working columns to create defensive structures. After the seizure of the territory of the Bialowieza Colonies by the German troops, the population succeeded in dissolving the collective farms and dividing the land among the individual families, in spite of the directly opposite directives of the German occupation authorities. As the front approached in September 1943, the inhabitants of the four Lutheran colonies made their way westward, and the majority of the inhabitants of the two Catholic colonies remained in place. In March 1944 the refugees were placed in the "Wartegau", and in January 1945 they fled further to the west from the advancing Red Army. In occupied Germany, part of the Belovezhians were identified by the Soviet search teams and deported beyond the Urals, the other part managed to escape.

Lit : Schutz Ph., Der Ruf der Zarin. Ein Beitrag zur Auswanderung hessischer Familien nach Rußland, Marburg, 1989; Plewe I., Die ersten Ansiedler der Belowescher Kolonien im Gebiet Tchernigow, in: Heimatbuch der Deutschen aus Rußland 1997/98, S. 86-93; Schlau F., Die deutschen Siedlungen des Belowescher Kirchspiels im Gouv. Tschernigow, in: Heimatbuch der Ostumsiedler 1955, S. 23-31.

4 - Belowesch Colonies Suggested sources for German Origin research Prepared by Maggie Hein, 9/12/2017