Friedenstal - 1848 Village History (E. Necker-Eberhardt) . .

Copyright 2000, Dr. Elvire Necker-Eberhardt, Medicine

        Hat, Alberta Canada




The settlers' own wish still exists and requires that not only the demands of

the governmental care should be met but also the founding, the origin, the main

events, the setbacks and progresses of the first, and still very active,

settlers should be kept for posterity to remember those undeserved blessings of

our gracious and merciful God as well as the caring government laws and the

good and benevolent reception by our most gracious Tsar Nicholas I. In this way

also those struggles experienced since settlement will remain vividly in our


Therefore we willingly supply the necessary information (admittedly inadequate

in light of the past) to His Excellency Knight von Hahn, the chairman and privy

councilor of the Welfare Office. We want to supply the information according to

the format requested on January 8, 1848.

1. The beginning or the founding of our colony when the settlers started the

settlement happened in the fall of the year of our Lord 1833; in this year not

all lots were occupied. Only in 1834 did all farmers settle; a considerable

number of residents were also accepted.

2. The village of Friedenstal was laid out according to government regulations

in the two-werst(1)-wide Schaak valley, and two rows of buildings were formed

in such a way that each farm had a width of 30 faden(2) (one faden of 3

arschin(3) ) and a depth of 90 faden with a garden in the back. The Schaak

valley, in which the settlement was established, runs from north to south, a

length of at least 120 werst, and runs into the equally long Gukellik valley

between the settlements of Alt-Arcis and Toeplitz. The elevation bordering the

Schaak valley on the east and west side offer a hilly overview which changes to

a mountain range sloping toward the beginning of the valley. The eastern row of

buildings, including their gardens, borders the foot of the above-mentioned

elevation, which can be seen from Alt-Arcis to the east opposite Kloestitz, but

from there to another intersecting valley it changes to the above-mentioned

mountain range. Towards the west, behind the village, the little Schaak stream

flows by, containing only water from snowmelt or rain and so has to be dammed

up in places if it is to be of any use to the colonists. The use available to

the colonists would be that all herds would find water to quench their thirst

during summer in the noon heat. The above-mentioned Schaak stream flows into

the Gukellik river above the colony of Brienne. Two werst outside the colony,

towards the west, the western  range of hills is found, which ends in a

mountain range just like the eastern hills do.

The distance to the district city of Akermann is estimated to be 80 werst, to

the capital Kischinev, 100 werst, and 96 werst to Ismail, the port city on the

Danube, which is very useful to all the Bessarabian colonies.

In general, the steppe land assigned by the crown is satisfactory for the

colonists and always produces (provided there are favorable rain falls) enough

for the farmer to sustain his body and so naturally also sufficient means to

satisfy the demands of the crown and all other needs too many to mention.

A small portion of the land owned by the colonists in the two-werst-wide

valley contains saltpeter; hard to believe right where the colony was founded,

which terribly opposes the diligence of the farmers and residents in their

planting and gardening. It makes their diligence appear as laziness, which, of

course, is not true.

The greatest disadvantage for the colony of Friedenstal is the total absence of

rocks on the steppe land assigned to them. They all have to be hauled from a

hill south of Brienne, 9 werst away, which has to be considered quite a burden,

all the more when the colonies of Brienne, Toeplitz and Fere-Champenoise I(4),

only have to roll the stones down the hill, and they are where they are needed.

There are hardly any natural thorny thickets or forests, except for the ones

the colonists planted in hard labor. These do not do very well, due to the hot

climate and the saltpeter in the soil.

3. Even though the colony was already founded in 1833, it was called only

Colony #13  until 1835. In this year of 1835, by the order of the district

government, an opinion poll among the residents was called to determine a

permanent name. This was the common custom. The majority chose the name

Friedenstal (valley of peace) and proposed it to the Welfare Office for Foreign

Settlers of Southern Russia, which approved it.

The reasons why the colonists chose the name Friedenstal are the following: The

majority of the local colonists settled here after the Polish Revolution to

escape the discord and dangerous life there. Here they met different

nationalities, but among the new settlers no real peace existed, therefore,

before the above-mentioned opinion poll, they suggested this fitting and

hopeful name Friedenstal. To this day, peace is only a wish. Nonetheless, it

has been recognized that the name can not be the sole source for peace, and

recently a closer consolidation among the settlers to be of one heart and one

soul has contributed most to the present unity.

4. The High Crown parceled out the steppe land to 87 farmers, just as it is

today, and to these, 48 more residents were added, mostly widows and orphans,

where single people were given a number too, entered into the Book of

Revisions, which is found in the village. As a result, the revision numbers

grew to 195.

Most of these settlers were born in the Kingdom of Prussia, in the provinces

Brandenburg, Pommerania, East and West Prussia, and the principality of

Mecklenburg. By following the call from Poland, they thought to better their

lot and so were settled in several districts in Poland. Some of the colonists

of Friedenstal are from Wuerttemberg originally, and also had settled in

Poland. And then there are a number of them who in 1832 and 1833 joined the

Bessarabian settlers directly. They wanted to participate in the good fortune

hoped for in Bessarabia and naturally also wanted to improve their situation.

In addition, the local settlement has former subjects of the Grand Duchy of

Baden, and some from the province of Alsace on the lower Rhine. These last ones

had first settled in Poland or Hungary, but then, after the conditions there

became too burdensome and annoying, decided to emigrate to Bessarabia or to

southern Russia in general. Many of the Polish immigrants (originally from

Prussia) returned to Poland, as their hopes were not satisfied in the local


5. Of all these settlers coming from many districts, provinces and landscapes,

were first of all those who came from Poland without a leader, solely following

the call publicized all over Poland. They paid their own way, wanting to

improve their lot and have peace. The last ones, like all the others, also came

without a leader, paying their way when they left their former habitat, relying

on the news coming from Russia either in written form or orally. They hoped to

increase their wealth, which some succeeded at more, while others less.

6. The steppe land assigned to the settlers by His Excellency, the chief

welfare officer for foreign settlers in southern Russia, General of the

infantry and Knight von Insow had been rented before by the former chief mayor

Engel and a Moldavian man by the name of Karp. They cultivated very little of

the land. Instead they used it mainly as pastureland and for hay for their

considerable herds. But for the comfort of the settlers, no huts, much less

furnished houses, were found; everything had to be built by the colonists with

diligence and great toil.

7. The settlers also did not receive any support to construct the necessary

housing and farming facilities in spite of their great need; the means of most

were very scarce. Some had absolutely nothing left and still had to pay back

the debt incurred to support themselves on the trip to Bessarabia.

8. Therefore, poverty has to be viewed as the most important reason there has

been no boom and progress. In the first 3 years, because of this poverty, not

enough land could be brought under the plow and then only scarcely seeded; then

the meager crop could not be harvested because instead of favorable rains, only

dry winds and heat prevailed, which turned the expected bread into nothing.

Another unfortunate event for the settlers cannot be omitted, which was not

only disadvantageous but also hurting. When in the following year the exhausted

colonists sought to have a good crop in sight so that all deep wounds could be

healed, just at harvest time a fever epidemic struck young and old to such a

degree that a considerable number even died and all hope for bread was gone, as

they were too weak to work. Because of this, most could not even see the great

blessing, let alone harvest it, so it became the prey of rot and food for the

birds under the sky, and the roaming cattle.

Other unfavorable events for the colonists, such as relocation of the village

to a more suitable spot, floods, or earthquakes, cannot be mentioned, but fire

gave 15 farmers such a setback that they still feel it today. What injured the

colonists' progress and put everything at a disadvantage were the terrible

cattle epidemics in 1839 and 1846, where no superfluous wealth was lost, but

only accumulated necessities. This everybody experienced, some even to the

highest degree. On the other hand, some chief events cannot be concealed, which

have to be counted among the favorable ones: In 1842, 28 farmers were fooled by

an unfounded spirit of emigration to leave their place of settlement for

Turkish Moldova, Serbia and Wallachia. This happened among the poorest and to

an extent, also the laziest. Their illusion was that there they would find

paradise. Naturally, this proved to be only a vapor, however, they realized it

too late and to their own irreparable detriment. In their stead, others joined

the remaining hard-working farmers in eagerness and faithfulness to their

sovereign. These were wealthy, diligent farmers from the Cherson district,

especially the area of Odessa. The slogan was: Improve everything, which is

everybody's main duty, especially that of the Christian.

To this new and encouraging beginning, our merciful God and Father added His

rich blessing in the last 5 years, so that the earlier sad condition has

disappeared totally. Now the colony has achieved a completely different and

satisfying sight, so that now with continuing divine blessing, we hope to reach

our intended goal.


9. We owe this obvious upswing and wealth to the free, divine and undeserved

grace and mercy as well as to the benevolence of our most merciful sovereign,

amongst all others. We want to express our dutiful gratitude to the high and

low government. Every reasonable person realizes that the most courageous army

can win no favorable victory, unless they have a faithful and brave general.

We, the called upon, certify with our signature that the questions were

answered truthfully to the best of our knowledge.

Church School Teacher: Jakob Friedrich Eckert (author)

Community Delegation:

1.  Johann Hirschkornn

2.  Griedrich (sic) Groshans

3.  Leonhard Kern

The Mayor's Court:

Mayor: Zimmermann

Assistants: Niebel, Joachim

Colony Friedenstal, April 30, 1848


Translator's notes:

1.)  1 werst = 1.06678 km

2.)  1 faden = 3 meters

3.)  1 arschin = 71 centimeters

4.)  Neu Elft

 Published by the Odessa Digital Library - 11 Sep 2000



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