Glückstal [Russian: Glinnoi]

by Homer Rudolf

Known today as Glinnoi (its original Moldovian name) the village of Glückstal is located 260 versts (172.38 miles) west of the government city of Cherson, 45 versts (29.84 miles) north of the district city of Tiraspol, and ten versts (6.63 miles) northeast of Grigoriopol, which is near the Dniester River. It lies in a side valley of the Tschornenko (Chornenko, Trehonenko) Valley, which stretches 27 versts in a southwesterly direction beginning 2 versts north of Bergdorf and ending in the Dniester River valley, near Grigoriopol. The valley is also referred to as Kalossova in Bergdorf (after its first inhabitant, an Armenian name Kalos who farmed and raised cattle until the colonists arrived), and as Karamanovka in Neudorf.

The actual date when the colony of Glückstal came into existence is complicated by the first arrival of future residents (in July 1804); the years spent in Grigoriopol (beginning in early 1805); the apparent year in which the decision was made to move the colonists to Glinnoi (1808); and the time when the actual settlement did occur (spring of 1809). Mertens cites three dates: 1805, 1808, and 1809 [Mertens, p. 301]. His sources are the following: Konrad Keller gives the date of 1805 [Keller, vol. 1, p. 31]; the Odessa Kalender [OdKal] states 1808 – beginning with the 1895 or 1896 issue, when it first included this information; and [Glückstal-1848] gives 1809.

In 1809 nineteen newly arrived families (from Baden, Elsass and Pfalz) were added to the original population of Glückstal, for a total of 125 families in 122 farmsteads: 618 individuals – 326 males and 292 females. Each farmstead was assigned 60 dessiatines (= 162 acres) of land, including the farmstead. In addition, the head of the household of each farmstead was entitled to vote in the district and village elections. The origins of the families are given as 67 from Württemberg, 27 from Hungary, 10 from Alsace, 9 from Baden, 3 from the Palatinate, 3 from Saxony, 2 from Prussia, 2 from Hesse, 1 from Galicia, and 1 from Italy. In the Glückstal Wolost, only the village of Glückstal was predominantly Swabian. In 1814, five families arrived from the Duchy of Warsaw, primarily from Posen Province. These "Warschauer Umsiedler" families had probably been temporarily quartered in Glückstal awaiting the opening of the first colonies in Bessarabia; instead they were accepted into the colony of Glückstal.

The original houses in Glückstal were small and uncomfortable – laid out in an irregular fashion, and constructed with mud-wattle wickerwork walls. Before long the village was set out on a “regular plan.” We have an example of the role the government played in laying out a village in the relocation records of Kassel, dating from 1839-1854. In this case, among other things, a government surveyor was sent to lay out the lots in the village before construction could begin [Ketterling].

Once the village was laid out, the Glückstalers constructed two-room houses of stamped earth or sun-dried clay bricks, most of which were subsequently replaced by stone houses by 1848. At that time Glückstal had 215 houses for the 231 resident families. Building stone was easily available from the hills bordering the Tschornenko Valley.

The personal possessions and cash of the original Glückstal colonists were estimated to value about 7,000 rubles. They were also assisted by the government loan program, which advanced them 37,432 rubles for food rations, 47,282 rubles for settlement, and 2,410 rubles for seed – a total of 87,124 rubles. According to the colonist settlement policies, the colonists did not have to begin to repay these loans until ten years had passed.

The total of crown land received by the village varies in different sources. The 1848 Chronicle states 7,034 dessiatines. In 1901 the Odessa Kalendar [OdKal] says 7,034 dessiatines and 2,145 square Faden (almost 18,994 acres); and in 1915 it says 7,553 dessiatines, 2,000 square Faden – bordered on the north by land of the Russian village of Remanovka, on the south by land of the village of Schippki, and in the southwest and northwest by land belonging to Grigoriopol. A total of 500 [Glückstal-1915 says 530] dessiatines of land southwest of the colony – between the borders of the colony and Grigoriopol – were designated communal sheep land for the four Glückstal mother colonies by the government, and 120 [Glückstal-1915 says 121] dessiatines east of that land were designated as church land for the use of the local pastor, who originally served all four mother colonies. The steppe land consisted of one to three feet of fertile humus, with a sub-layer of clay, sand and gravel. Over the years additional land was purchased by the residents of Glückstal. The 1858 tax list [Glückstal-1858] cites 259 houses and 11,012 dessiatines. In 1896 the total given was 10,899 dessiatines (with a population of 2,996) and again 11,012 in 1907 (when its population was 1,905) [OdKal].

Although the government strongly advocated the planting of trees, the climate there was basically too dry for trees to be successful, so the oak trees and fruit trees that were planted did not do well. Already cited as a problem in 1848, little had changed by 1901: the height of mature trees was still hardly over 20 feet, and the diameter scarcely a foot. By that time the colonists had literally given up on the fruit orchards. It was easier to purchase fruit from the Moldavians who brought it in from the gardens of the Dniestr Valley. Crops that thrived, according to the 1848 Chronicle, were spring and winter wheat, winter rye, corn (raised for animal feed and fodder), barley, potatoes, various vegetables and vineyards (about 519 acres with 465,400 vines that year). In 1901 oats is also listed, and corn is cited as being particularly important, often providing half the income of the colonists.

A time line listing progress in the colony and for agriculture, etc. provides a concise overview.

Progress of the village

1811 - parsonage and school constructed with the aid of Crown funds
? - community storage granary constructed – used to support poorer members of the community
1811-16 - had a pastor (Krussberg) who had to be removed because of reprehensible conduct
1815 - parsonage burned down - due to careless shot in the roof by the pastor
1818 - second smaller bell purchased for church
  - some colonists move to Grusinia, Caucasus, with the Chiliasts
1819 - cemetery surrounded by a stone wall
1823 - new school house of stone, with a classroom and teacher’s apartment
1824 - next pastor, Johannes Doll, arrives
1828 - government granted them the privilege of holding an open market every week
1830-48 - Pastor Friedrich Pensel served the congregation
1832 - church closed, school used for church services, new house built for teacher
1834-36 - some colonists move to Bessarabia
1840 - church torn down
1842 - cemetery enlarged
1843 - foundation stone of new church laid on 2 Apr. – 3,000 ruble donation & 1,000 ruble loan from Crown
1845 - Sept 30 - church dedicated, it cost 8,581 rubles, plus donated labor
  - three bells rang out (largest 540 pounds) purchased for 235 silver rubles
  - Pastor Pensel delivered sermon, choir sang
  - Provost Gletnitzer performed dedication, State Councilor von Hahn attended
1847 - 23 local farmers built a cheese factory
  - Glückstal district established a common Orphan’s Savings Fund
1850s - Lutheran - Reformed controversy stirred up
1857 - reorganized Glückstal Lutheran Parish established, including Glückstal, Neudorf and Bergdorf.
1861 - Neudorf Reformed Parish established, including Neudorf, Kassel and Glückstal.
1866 - 1967 residents
  - has a church and parsonage
  - has a school with 2 classes: 184 boys and 172 girls = 356 children
1896 - new Wolost building constructed (district and village government office)
by 1900 - new stone school building with four classrooms
  - a German teacher’s house
  - two houses for Russian teachers
  - German teacher, teaching assistant, 2 Russian teachers
  - 7-8 yrs of schooling (from ages 8-15?) in four grades, but there was unsatisfactory attendance and vacations were too long
  - four major buildings: church, parsonage, school, Wolost administration building
a.1905 - new parsonage
1907 - new church bell and bell frame (belfry), new organ in the fall
1907 - Konsumverein (community cooperative store) listed for the first time in [OdKal]
1915 - 324 farmyards
1915 - also - a new Küsterrat (deacon/teacher’s residence)- north of the church - in same design as other residences - two houses for Russian teachers
  - school inspector has ordered, and pastor has recommended the school be modified into 5 school rooms, a library, and a teacher’s room.
  - a new building consisting of 2 classrooms and a teacher’s apartment is also planned
  - post office
  - 2 private businesses
  - a pharmacy
  - 2 milk companies
  - 1 beer hall
  - one crown liquor store
  - one steam mill at each end of the village
  - orphan fund - value on 1 Jan 1914 = 230,068.39 rubles

    5,111.95 rubles in deposit
226,211.41 rubles on loan
    8,968.93 rubles cash on hand

  - Fire Insurance Federation has existed for several years
  - agriculture is main occupation
  - practicing craftsmen (most as a second job, unless they are of other nationalities):

  7 blacksmiths,
  5 carpenters
  9 wagon makers
  1 cooper
10 shoemakers

  - many beekeepers
  - school
180 boys, 200 girls
4 teachers (2 German, 2 Russian) in 4 grades (a Volkschule)

Agriculture, etc.

The early years of farming were obviously difficult. On top of the natural causes, the fact the many of the colonists were not experienced farmers did not help.
1812 - earthquake
1814 - crop failure resulting in only half-seed crop
1815 - eruption of Tambora Volcano on Sumbawa Island, Indonesia
1816 - good harvest
1818 - good harvest
1822 - crop failure resulting in only half-seed crop
1823 - crop failure resulting in only half-seed crop
1823-27 - grasshoppers
1829 - earthquake
  - smallpox outbreak
  - livestock epidemic
1832 - crop failure resulting in only half-seed crop
1833 - total crop failure
1834 - earthquake
  - total crop failure
1835 - crop failure resulting in only half-seed crop
1836 - good crop
1836-37 - hoof and mouth disease
1836 - good crop
1838 - earthquake
  - good crop
1841 - crop failure resulting in only half-seed crop
1843 - measles epidemic
1843-45 - so-called “neural fever” struck the 20-30 year-old residents the hardest
1845 - crop failure resulting in only little more than seed
1846 - plague of field mice
1847 - grasshoppers
  - poor hay harvest – lost many livestock due to shortage & livestock epidemic
1847 - 23 men established a cheese factory


– “The Chronicle of Glückstal,” transl. by Joseph S. Height. – Copies are available in three sources: [Height, pp. 186-192]; [Glückstal-2004, pp. 60-64]; and at the website: – /Collections / Village Histories. The original German version can be found in [Leibbrandt, pp. 52-61].

[Glückstal-1858] – Hoffman, Karl, Margaret Freeman & Harold Ehrman, transl. 1858 Glückstal Colony Census. Fargo, ND: North Dakota State University Libraries, 1998.

[Glückstal-1901] – Schrenk, Martin Friedrich. “Glückstal,” in [OdKal, 1901, pp. 101-106], (English transl. in [Glückstal-2004, pp. 64-67].)

[Glückstal-1915] – “Das Wolostgebiet Glückstal,” in Neuer Haus- und Landwirthschafts- Kalender für deutsche Aussiedler in südlicher Russland auf das Jahr 1915. Odessa: Druck und Verlag von L. Nitzsche, [1914], pp. 108–128. (English transl. in [Glückstal-2004, pp. 51-56; 68- 69; 86 & 96-97].)

[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.

– 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.

– Keller, Konrad. German Colonies in South Russia: 1804-1904, transl. by Anthony Becker, 2d. ed, with some revisions by Adam Giesinger, 2 vols. Lincoln, NE: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1980-1983.

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

– Leibbandt, Georg. Die deutschen Kolonien in Cherson und Bessarabien: Berichte der Gemeindeämter der lutherischen Kolonien in der ersten Hälfte des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. Stuttgart: Ausland und Heimat Verlags-Aktiengesellschaft, 1926.

– Mertens, Ulrich. Handbuch Russland-Deutsche: Ein Nachschlagewerk zur russland-deutschen und deutsch-russischen Geschichte und Kultur (mit Ortsverzeichnis ehemaliger Siedlungsgebiete). Darmstadt: Weihert-Druck GmbH, 2001.

Neuer Haus- und Landwirthschafts- Kalender für deutsche Aussiedler in südlicher Russland auf das Jahr ... Odessa: Druck und Verlag von L. Nitzsche, [published 1863-1915].

Homer Rudolf, 2009

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