1. The beginning of the settlement was made in 1820 by 34families consistin
of 122 persons (71 male and 51 female) who were directed to this locality by
government officials. Since there were no dwellings to house the settlers,
they had to seek shelter in the homes of the colony of Rohrbach until 1821,
when they had built the clay huts, called semelankas, for which the government
advanced the necessary loan.
2. The colony was first located on the eastern ridge of the Sasika valley,
about midway between the colonies of Rohrbach and Landau, which are about 20
versts from each other. However, in view of the lack of water supply the
colony had to be moved one verst farther to the south. The Sasika valley
begins about 3 versts to the north and continues in a southeasterly direction
for 50 versts until it reaches the Black Sea. The colony is about 110 versts
from Kherson, the administrative center of the "gouvernement", and 100 versts
The steppe assigned to the colony has an area of 4,143 dessiatines. Except for
the Sasika valley, the land is completely flat and has one to two feet of
topsoil consisting of black humus and loam, with a lower layer of clay, sand,
and gravel. The soil, though mixed with saltpeter, is very productive when
there is sufficient rainfall. It produces luxuriant vegetation and tall grain.
However, in periods of prolonged drought, which occur quite frequently, little
or nothing grows in the parched loose earth. The following crops are planted:
arnaut, spring and winter wheat, winter rye, barley, oats and potatoes.
Many years of experience and largely unsuccessful attempts have convinced the
farmers that the locality and the soil are not favorable for the production of
wine or the planting of trees.
There are no woods here, and the success of the plantations that were started
in 1817 upon orders of the authorities cannot yet be determined.
At the southern end of the colony there are stone quarries that deliver an
abundance of good building stone for the colonists. Three dams and ponds have
been constructed by the community to provide water for the cattle during the
3. Out of love and fondness for His Excellency Superintendent General von
Inzow, under whose paternal guidance the colony was established, the
community, at the suggestion of its mayor Dietrich Lutz, requested that they
be permitted to call their settlement "Johannestal", after the surname of His
Excellency. This was granted.
4. In addition to the original 34 pioneer families who settled here, and of
whom 27 had emigrated from Wuerttemberg, 5 from Prussian Poland, one from
Saxony, and one from Switzerland, other immigrants arrived in subsequent
years: in 1822 8 families from Warsaw, in 1824 8 families from Baden, and
between 1829 and 1831 14 families from Wuerttemberg. Thus the fixed quota of
66 families was filled. Since the founding of the colony 13 families have
moved away to other colonies and, in 1842,23 families emigrated to Siberia.
5. The families who had come from Wuerttemberg in 1817 on the Danube waterway
were organized into parties which were led by the transport conductors Stephan
Schmidt and Johannes Gugel. The other immigrants came on the overland route
independently, without conductors. Until they were settled they remained in
the colonies of the Grossliebental and Kutschurgan districts. Most of the
local inhabitants are Lutheran; only a few belong to the Reformed Church.
All of them came to Russia during the glorious reign of the late Czar
Alexander I and in response to the gracious privileges granted by His Majesty.
6. The steppe that was allotted to the immigrant settlers originally belonged
to the Imperial Crown and was used by the local landowner Yeschitzki to
pasture his cattle. There were no dwellings to be found here to shelter the
7. Apart from the non-