Other Names and Spellings:
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.
Progress of the Colony
Page last updated 7 March 2022