Wolost Structure of the Glückstal Colonies

The Wolost [English = volost, Russian = Волость], system was apparently established by Czar Paul I in 1800. Colonies were organized into districts similar to our counties, which had officers similar to those in the villages. It does appear that in most cases the German villages had their own wolosts until after the October 1917 Revolution, and the wolost headquarters was located in a German village. The German word Gebiet was commonly used interchangeably with wolost. Whether the Bulgarian, Jewish (Hebrew), and Russian villages also had unique wolost systems is unknown to this writer. It appears that a political reorganization took place sometime after the Revolution. The term rayon replaced wolost during the Soviet administrative reform of 1923-1929, and the headquarters often are located in Soviet villages. For example, Bergdorf and Neudorf, are listed as being in the Grigoriopol Rayon, and Kassel is listed in the Grossulowo Rayon [StumppV, pp. 182-184]. Because of the history of the creation of the Glückstal mother colonies, it is reasonable to assume that they were grouped together in a single wolost from the very beginning, with the headquarters in Glückstal. That is still the case in 1868-1870, according to the voter’s lists from that time. Those lists confirm that not only Neudorf, Bergdorf and Kassel were in the Glückstal Wolost, but also the daughter colonies of Klein Neudorf, Neu Glückstal/Zibyljewka, and Neu Kassel.

As the number of daughter colonies increased, and their locations were frequently some distance from the mother colonies, some reorganization did take place. For example, Neu Glückstal (Zibyljewka) was established in 1860 and was a part of the Glückstal Wolost until 1869 according to the voter’s list. But by 1881, it became part of the Hoffnungstal Wolost [OdKal, 1881, p. 23]—a practical change, given its location about 8 versts (ca. 5.5 miles) south of Hoffnungstal and 64 versts [1 verst = 0.66 mile] southeast of Glückstal. [Matthäi, p. 64]. The Odessa Kalender [OdKal] turns out to be the best source of information regarding the restructuring of the wolosts. Beginning in 1872, it began to list the wolosts, providing 1) the location of the headquarters, 2) the central post office 3) the names of the wolost officers, 4) a list of all the villages in the wolost with their elected officials, and 5) the population of each village. Beginning in 1895 or 1896, the founding year and the total dessiatins [1 dessiatin = 2.7 acres] of land were also listed. A separate listing was also given for the parishes. Although the Odessa Kalender began publication in 1863, unfortunately no issues prior to 1881 are known to be extant by this writer.

Some of the information in the Odessa Kalender raises questions about the governance of certain villages. Klein Neudorf (part of the Glückstal Wolost in 1869) is listed as the only village in Nowopetrowskischen Wolost for the entire period of 1881-1915, but no wolost headquarters or administration is listed. The same is true of Schönfeld (Markarowka), which moved to Maligonower Wolost by 1897, to Topik established in 1896 (in Kondratowka Wolost), and to Shirajewo, established about 1875 (listed from 1900-1915 in Stepanowker Wolost, Ananj. Kreis). Chutor Faas, established in 1892, is listed from 1910-1915, with the indication that it does not belong to a wolost. With the exception of one year (1890) Kassel is listed as the only village in the Kassel Wolost, so the village officers and the wolost officers are the same.

More of this article can be found in [Glückstal-2004], pp. 187-203 & 127-167.

By Homer Rudolf, 2009

Edited and updated by Sandy Schilling Payne, 2022


[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.

[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.]

[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.

[StumppV] – Stumpp, Karl. “Verzeichnis der deutschen Siedlungen im Gebiet Odessa,” [Directory of German Settlements in the Odessa Region] in Heimatbuch der Deutschen aus Russland 1956. [Homeland book of the Germans from Russia 1956.] Stuttgart: Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland, 1982 reprint, 182-192. “Anhang” on p. 193.

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