Kassel Colony

Type of Settlement: Mother

Founded: between 1808-1810

Religion: Lutheran, Reformed

Wolost: Glückstal and later Kassel

District: Tiraspol

Province: Cherson

Other Names and Spellings:

Ukrainian: Великокомарівка

Also: Cassel, Kasel, Komarovka, Komarowka

Current Name:

Velykokomarivka, Odessa Oblast, Ukraine


Coordinates:

1809-43: 47.1103, 29.6089

1841-present: 47.0921, 29.6474


History of the Colony

Kassel is about 15 versts [1 verst = 0.66 mile] southeast of Glückstal, and 30 versts northwest of Tiraspol. Although it was not settled until 1810, the colonists arrived in the late fall of 1809, traveling without guides. The Odessa Kalender [OdKal] gives two different dates for the founding of the village: 1809 in the 1896 issue, and 1808 in the 1900 issue. The 1848 Chronicle is apparently in error when it says that they were placed into winter quarters in the homes of the already established colonies of Glückstal, Neudorf and Bergdorf. According to the chronicles of those villages, Neudorf was not settled until January 1810, and Bergdorf and Kassel in the spring of 1810. That means things were pretty crowded in the village of Glückstal in the winter of 1809-1810. The Glückstal Chronicle specifically says that the 122 families of Glückstal had to provide quarters for 293 families, totaling 1,304 individuals. Things eased up a little in January, when 490 people moved to Neudorf.

Kassel was pre-eminently a Franconian settlement with 80% of the settlers from the Rhineland plain of Alsace, Baden and the Palatinate [Height, p.73]. It was the only Glückstal mother colony in which the Franconian dialect became established as dominant. In fact, of the 99 families that settled Kassel only 6 came from Württemberg. The others came from Alsace (60), Baden (12), Warsaw [actually the Duchy of Warsaw, Posen Province] (12), and Rhine Palatinate [Pfalz and Rhineland] (9). They consisted of 399 individuals – 205 males and 194 females. The Glückstal colonist, Heinrich Heilmann, served as the guide and advisor during the move to Kassel. The Crown had houses of stamped earth constructed for them, which were later replaced by stone houses. However, the 1848 chronicle states, “Local building stone is scarce and of poor quality, so that the colonists have to haul the needed stone from other quarries with great difficulty.”

Loans from the Russian Crown to the original colonists were 46,410 rubles for subsistence, 36,789 for settlement expenses, and 3,310 for the purchase of seed grain. Their possessions were estimated to have a value of 14,750 rubles.

Originally Kassel was located in a small tributary valley of the Dniester river, known as Kumurofka by the Russians. The valley originates near the then small market town of Domanov, and runs 45 versts south, until it joins the Dniester river, near Bender. The land was being used by locals for the grazing of cattle. Kassel was selected as its name in recognition of Daniel Ficke, a deceased colonist who was a native of Kassel, Germany (according to [Kassel- 1848], but apparently he was not from Kassel) . The current name of the village comes from the name of the valley. Although the village site was selected because of the fresh-water springs located there, it was relocated in 1841 – after more than 30 years – because of recurring spring floods and insufficient drinking water at its original location. The five wells were only 12-15 feet deep, and frequently went dry. It was moved four versts to the east, to the elevated bank of the valley. Originally only half of the village moved, but due to a variety of problems, including financial ones, the remainder moved in 1843. The poorest among them received an interest-free loan of 1,200 rubles, repayable in 15 years [Ketterling].

The village received 6,948 dessiatins [1 dessiatin = 2.7 acres] of crown land, and the 1914 edition of the Odessa Kalender [OdKal] states that it has 8,014 dessiatins. Many of the original colonists were not experienced farmers. In addition, local conditions were very different from those they had left. Couch grass was a problem in the area in the early years. It spread quickly, was difficult to eradicate, and the cattle would not eat it. Like the other Glückstal mother colonies, its land consisted of good topsoil. By 1848 the field crops were winter wheat, arnaut wheat, spring wheat, rye, barley, corn (raised for fodder), potatoes and melons. “Arnaut (also known as Glass wheat) is the oldest variety of wheat in South Russia, and is much sown, especially in Greece and Bulgaria. Arnaut has a hard grain, a longish form, and a very thin transparent skin. . . . Arnaut can be sown later than hirka and fully ripens in 110 days. This wheat is seldom sown at present among the German colonists” [Keller, vol. 1, p. 89-90]. Viniculture in 1848 occupied 116 dessiatins of land (ca. 313 acres) , with 169,995 grapevines. Native oaks again only grew to a height of 20 feet when mature at 30 years of age.

In 1851 Kassel was separated from the Glückstal Lutheran parish, and established as a separate parish. Unfortunately, no details are known about the process. Because it had a significant population of members of the Reformed faith, a Reformed congregation was established there in 1861 as part of the new Neudorf Reformed parish. It is noteworthy that neither a separate Reformed church nor a school was constructed in Kassel. Somehow, the Reformed and the Lutheran congregations were able to share the already existing Lutheran facilities.


More of this article can be found in [Glückstal-2004] pp. 105-114.

Read more about Kassel in its 1848 Chronicle.


By Homer Rudolf, 2009

Edited and updated by Sandy Schilling Payne, 2022

Progress of the Colony


1831

  • Cholera, 2 died.


1834

  • Smallpox outbreak.


1841

  • Colony begins to relocate due to recurrent spring floods and insufficient drinking water.


1843

  • Smallpox outbreak.

  • Remainder of colonists relocate to Kassel's new location.


1844

  • Smallpox outbreak. 44 children died.


1848

  • Colony has a "new" school house and prayer hall.

  • The Crown granted a 1,000 ruble construction loan, but later released the colony from repayment.


1851

  • Kassel became an independent Lutheran parish with 12 congregations.


1861

  • Neudorf Reformed parish established on 4 January included the Kassel Reformed congregation.


1862

  • 1681 residents.

  • Lutheran church and parsonage.

  • School with 250 children.

  • Still part of the Glückstal Wolost [Matthäi, p. 64]


between 1869-1881

  • Sometime during these years, Kassel became an independent Wolost.


1909-15

  • Konsumverein Gemeindeladen (community cooperative store) listed in Odessa Kalender [OdKal].


1911-15

  • Kreditanstalt (Waisenkasse, Orphans Fund) listed in [OdKal].


1915

  • Odessa Kalender [OdKal, p. 179] includes a photo of a monument to Czar Alexander II in Kassel.

Population


Year Pop.

1810 399

1816 461

1825 609

1858 1613/1637

1859 1637

1881 2376

1882 1183 [2183?]

1883 2218

1884 2442

1885 2256

1886 2363

1887 2483

1888 2560

1890 2563

1892 2580

1894 2490

1896 2461

1897 1831

1898 2013

1900 2133

1901 2140

1902 2080

1903 1827

1904 1818

1905 1888/1715/1388

1906 1812

1907 1761

1908 1684

1909 1686

1910 1686

1911 1771

1912 1771

1913 1785

1914 1644

1915 1644

1918 1644

1919 1827

1926 2025

1943 2613



Mayors

1881-82 Jakob Dörr

1883-85 Philip Ketterling

1886-88 Gottlieb Reich

1890 Daniel Meyer

1892, 94 Friedrich Dörr

1896-98 Jakob Klooz

1900-01 Ludwig Eberhardt

1902-04 Ludwig Martel

1905 Andr. Stewahn

1906-10 August Schnaidt

1911-1913 Jakob Burkhardt

1914-1915 A. Schnaidt

Pastors

Kassel Lutheran Parish was founded 1851.

1852-65 Nikolaus Emil Justus Mikwitz

1866-70 Carrol Wilhelm Segnitz

1873-75 Ludwig Traugott Katterfeld

1875-82 Peter Gustav Becker

1882-97 Georg Leonhard Eppeler

1897-1908 Heinrich Mantel

1914-22 Waldemar Seib

1923-35 Wilhelm Frank

Schoolmasters

Kassel Lutheran Parish

1881-86 Friedrich Koch

1887-88 Alexander Stuhlfeier

1890-1901 Christian Rieger

1902-07 Friedrich Magstadt

1908-15 Jakob Leicht


Kassel Reformed Parish

1881-84 Jakob Permann

1885-94 Jakob Knoll

1896-98 Jakob Fink

1900-01 Jakob Kessler

1902-03 (vacant)

1904-07 Jakob Tomm

1908 Christian Obernauer

1909-15 Philip Bender

Agriculture

1813 Middling crop.

1814 — Middling crop.

1818 — Livestock epidemic.

1822 — Crop barely yielded seed.

1822-27 — Grasshoppers.

1823 — Crop barely yielded seed. Neighboring districts offered surplus grain at modest prices.

1828 Livestock epidemic.

1832 — Middling crop.

1833 — Total crop failure.

1834 — Livestock epidemic.

1234 — Total crop failure.

1835 — Middling crop.

1844 — Livestock epidemic destroyed 680 head of livestock.

1846 — Grasshoppers.

1847-48 — Livestock epidemic destroyed 430 head of livestock.

Photos

Image of Kassel Lutheran church. Steeple is missing.
n.d — Kassel Lutheran church. [Schnurr1] p. 355
map showing Kassel in 1872 in the lower right. Upper right shows the original location of Kassel.
1872Map of Kassel showing its old location (upper left) and current location (lower right). [Arcanum]
Kassel Lutheran church ruin.
1996 — Kassel Lutheran church. [GRHC-JHT]

Bibliography

[Arcanum-1872] – “Russia (1872).” Arcanum Adatbázis Kft. maps.arcanum.com/en/map/russia-1872. 1872. [This map, although not identified on the website, is probably the work of Theodor Friedrich Schubert (1789-1865) a.k.a. Fedor Fedorovich Shubert. The 1860 and 1872 versions of this map appear on other map websites identified only as by "Schubert."]

[Glückstal-2004] – Rudolf, Homer ed. The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America: A Bicentennial Collection of History, Genealogy and Folklore. Pierre, SD: State Pub. & Printing, 2004.

[GRHC-JHT] Germans from Russia Heritage Collection Journey to the Homeland Tour Photo Collections, 1996-2019. Collections available on Flicker website, www.flickr.com/photos/ndsu-libraries-grhc/collections/72157637054248256/ and NDSU Repository website, library.ndsu.edu/ir/handle/10365/26147.

[HeightH] – Height, Joseph S. Homesteaders on the Steppe: Cultural History of the Evangelical- Lutheran Colonies in the Region of Odessa, 1804-1945. Bismarck: North Dakota Historical Society of Germans from Russia [now the Germans from Russia Heritage Society], 1975.

[Kassel-1848] – “The Chronicle of Kassel,” transl. by Joseph S. Height. – Copies of this translation are available in three sources: [HeightH], pp. 196-199; [Glückstal-2004], pp. 105-108; and at the website [Odessa3], (Odessa3.org). The original German version can be found in [Leibbrandt], pp. 68-71.

[Keller] – Keller, Konrad. German Colonies in South Russia: 1804-1904, 2d ed. translated by Anton Becker, 2d. ed, with some revisions by Adam Giesinger, 2 vols . Lincoln: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia: 1980-1983. [NOTE: 1st ed: 1968-1973.] Digitized version.

[Ketterling] – Ketterling, Lloyd & Adam, transl. “Relocation Records of the Village of Kassel 1839-1854,” Heritage Review [GRHS-HR], 28/4, Dec. 1998, 18-38.

[Leibbrandt] – Leibbrandt, Georg. Die deutschen Kolonien in Cherson und Bessarabien: Berichte der Gemeindeämter der lutherischen Kolonien in der ersten Hälfte des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. [The German colonies in Cherson and Bessarabia: reports from the parish offices of the Lutheran colonies in the first half of the nineteenth century.] Stuttgart: Ausland und Heimat Verlags-Aktiengesellschaft, 1926. Digitized version.

[Matthäi] – Matthäi, Friedrich. Die deutschen Ansiedelungen in Russland: Ihre Geschichte und ihre volkswirthschaftliche Gedenkung für die Vergangenheit und Zukunft. Studien über das russische Kolonisationswesen und über die Herbeiziehung fremder Kulturkräfte nach Russland [The German Settlements in Russia: Their History and Economic Considerations for the Past and Future. Studies on the Russian colonization system and on the attraction of foreign cultural forces to Russia]. Leipzig: Hermann Fries, 1866. [WorldCat does not have a sufficiently useful entry for this volume at this time. It is available at the following locations: AHSGR, GRHC, GRHS.]

[Mertens]Mertens, Ulrich, Allyn Brosz, Alex Herzog, and Thomas Stangl. German-Russian handbook: a reference book for Russian German and German Russian history and culture with place listings of former German settlement areas. Fargo, ND: Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC) Publications. 2010. Digitized version.

[OdKal] Neuer Haus- und Landwirthschaftskalender für deutsche Aussiedler in südlicher Russland auf das Jahr ... [New house and farming calendar for German emigrants in Southern Russia for the year ...] Odessa: Druck und Verlag von L. Nitzsche, [published 1863-1915]. Digitized versions of 1906, 1909, 1910 and 1913.

[Schnurr1] – Schnurr, Joseph. Die Kirchen und das Religiöse Leben der Russlanddeutschen: Evangelischer Teil. [Churches and Religious Life of the Russian Germans: Protestant Part.] 2d ed. Stuttgart: Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland, 1978.

Page last updated 7 March 2022