Founding of Volga German colonies celebration in April

Outlook managing editor
This map depicts the Volga River area in Russia. Many Germans relocated to the region about 250 years ago. The establishment of their villages—which are shown on the map—will be remember at a celebration and workshop April 8.

A day-long celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of Volga German colonies of Kautz, Dietel and Kratzke in April will appeal to genealogists, historians and other residents of the Yellowstone valley, some of whom are descendants of Germans who came to this area from the colonies in search of work in the sugar beet fields in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The celebration and workshop is presented by director of the Volga German Institute and Dean of Libraries at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn., Dr. Brent Mai and Michael Frank from Vancouver, Wash. Frank is the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia Village Coordinator for the colonies of Kautz and Merkel. He has researched and spoken extensively on topics related to Kautz’s history and people. The celebration and workshop is Saturday, April 8, at Pilgrim Congregational Church from 8:30 a.m to 5 p.m. A catered German lunch will be served. Pre-registration is required for those who intend on dining on cabbage rolls, potato brats, kraut bierocks, butterball soup and kuchen, among other specialties.
Most of the Germans who emigrated to the Volga River region in southern Russia about 1767, did so at the behest of Catherine the Great. They were promised they could enjoy their culture, language and religion and be exempt from conscription in exchange for bringing their skills and knowledge of agriculture to Russia.
Life in Russia was tough from the beginning. The early German settlements were attacked during the Pugachev uprising in the 1770s, which was centered on the Volga area. While most of the settlements survived the rebellion, many settlers were captured and held for ransom or killed, according to historical records.
Because there were several waves of emigration from the Volga German colonies and many of the colonists relocated around the world, there is some confusion about their history, the names of the villages and the lineage of the people.
“When I do my research I have to record two different names used for the villages,” said Laurel genealogist Stacey Osborne. In addition to the German and Russian spoken in the villages, the residents used the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets.
The first sessions of the celebration will address the history of people and the languages and geography of the Volga Germans.
According to the schedule, “Everyone starts on a different page when it comes to their knowledge of who the Volga Germans are and how they came to be in Russia. This session will bring all attendees to the same place in that understanding.”
The third session will address the Volga German settlement in the Yellowstone Valley and how the immigrants influenced and helped develop the communities here.
After lunch there will be an hour discussion on the history of Dietel, Kautz and Kratzke, followed by a session on the western European origins of the settlers in Volga. The celebration will wrap-up with a session on the lives of Volga Germans today.
For more information or to register phone Jill at (203) 254-4000 ext. 2648, or online at


Upcoming Events

Tuesday, June 18, 2019
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