Mother/Daughter Colonies Relationships

Identifying the Relationship of a Daughter Colony or Chutor with a District or Group of Mother Colonies in the Black Sea Area
by Homer Rudolf

The Glückstal district contains four mother colonies: Glückstal, Bergdorf, Kassel and Neudorf – founded in 1808 and settled in 1809-1810. Although the colonists who were settled in these villages began to arrive in 1804, they were initially settled in the village of Grigoriopol (except for the Neudorfers who arrived in 1808 – they were initially settled in the Liebental district).

The laws in South Russia that governed the German colonists up to 1871 stipulated that the farmland assigned to a colonist family did not actually belong to the family, but was owned by the village – in common with all of the farmland of the village residents. The assigned family parcels of farmland could not be subdivided; could not be “owned” jointly by several individuals, including male members of the same family; nor could they be sold or mortgaged without the approval by a majority vote of the heads of household of all the farmsteads in the village with assigned land, and the approval of the Russian authorities. Individuals who were not the head of a household of a farmstead with assigned land did not have voting rights. In the vast majority of cases, the voting head of household was a male, although there are examples of widows being allowed to vote in some instances. There are examples in which land transfers, and perhaps land subdivision requests, were approved by the system prior to June of 1871. Of course, the practical reason for the approval by the community was that once land was transferred or sold, any debts against that land became the responsibility of the community at large.

Conflicting information is included in two articles, one about Glücktal itself [Glückstal-1901] and the other about the Glückstal volost [Glückstal-1915]. Schrenk, the author of the 1901 article states: “Obviously, through the large increase in colonists, the portions of land became ever smaller and smaller. Nowadays there are few complete farms with more than 60 dessiatines of land, usually only half that. Indeed 1/4 or 1/8 of a farmstead is sufficient – more than enough. But with such small parcels of land, if the farmer does not know how to manage his farm wisely, his land will not support him anymore” [Glückstal-2004, p. 66]. The anonymous author of the 1915 article says of Glückstal: “The assigned settlement land amounts to 7553 dessiatines, 2000 square Faden, which is divided into 122 farmsteads with 60 dessiatines assigned to each farmstead. In the course of the years an area of 3450 dessiatines, 11 square Faden was purchased in addition, which land simply had to be forced upon the people at that time, because none wanted to buy, which also developed great discontent. The good old days! Nowadays it is different! [Glückstal-2004, p. 69].

As of the Decree of 4 June 1871 it became possible to purchase land from the community [Gesetz-1871]. Further agrarian reform was established by Czar Nicholas II on 9 November 1906 [Agrarreform]. It allowed the dissolution of community ownership of property, and the transfer of that land to the private ownership of the resident farmers, as well as other modifications of current land laws. Finally, on 2 February and 13 December 1915 imperial decrees provided for the expropriation by the government of all land owned by the colonists [Liquidationsgesetze].

The Colonist Statutes established that upon the death or retirement of a male head of household, the family farmland was inherited by the youngest son, unless there were extenuating circumstances. That system resulted in a situation in which the older sons became landless. Frequently, they continued to live in the same village, either working with the head of household on the family land, or practicing a handicraft such as a blacksmith, a wagon builder, etc. In other situations they married into families in the same or another village that had no sons. In these instances, they could become the head of household of that farmstead. Tradesmen often moved elsewhere to marry and/or practice their handicraft. Other examples exist of families that surrendered their “land right” for a variety of reasons (such as old age, a change to the full-time practice of a trade, a widow who did not remarry, etc.), and of vacant land rights (due to the death of entire families during epidemics, etc.). Such vacant land rights were transferred to landless older sons.

As time went on, because of the large size of German-Russian families, with the possibility of many sons, there became a pressing need for additional land that could be settled and farmed by the landless sons and their families. Russian law allowed for the possibility of either purchasing or leasing land for this purpose, and the result was the creation of many daughter colonies and chutors.

In general, a chutor is a small settlement on land purchased or leased from a private estate. The inhabitants are generally closely related to a single family or a few families, and those families can generally be traced back to a single district.

However, it is often difficult to establish a relationship between a daughter colony and a specific district or group of mother colonies. The mother colony-daughter colony relationship suggests that the initiative for the creation of the daughter colony came from a particular group of mother colonies. Documentation of such a relationship can sometimes be found in village or district records; published articles in early sources, such as the Odessa Kalender [OdKal]; or personal correspondence. A strong genealogical connection between the residents of a daughter colony and a district can be interpreted as circumstantial evidence. Other factors that also are considered are:

1) Name: If a daughter colony has a name that adds the word Neu (new) or Klein (small) to the name of an existent mother colony, there generally is a presumed relationship, unless the mother colony name is common. One notable exception is Neu Beresina, which is a daughter colony of the Gluckstal Colonies, and not of Beresina, Bessarabia.

2) Name Plus Genealogical Connections: In cases such as the above, where the residents are also shown to have a strong genealogical connection with the district of the mother colony, the mother-daughter relationship is generally confirmed.

3) Purchased Land: There are instances in which there is documentation that a daughter colony is located on land purchased by colonies from a specific district. In these cases the relationship is unambiguous. However, there are many examples for which that information is not known.

4) Leased Land: Less precise are the common situations in which a daughter colony is on leased land. Often there is no documentation that the initiative came from a particular district. In addition, the lease contracts were, by law, for a specific period of time, and either the owner of the land, or the renters could chose not to renew the contract.

5) Genealogical Connections: Because of the common occurrence of intermarriage between individuals from the same two villages and/or districts:

A) In many daughter colonies with a known, or conjectured, mother district, a strong genealogical connection also is found with another district. In those instances the “other district” has some validity in also claiming a mother-daughter relationship.
B) In the case of daughter colonies for which no mother district has been established, the genealogical connection can be the only evidence available, and is circumstantial.

In general, Volost (district) and Parish associations can be used as confirming evidence only in the early years of the existence of a daughter colony. Even when the daughter colony was a considerable distance from the mother colonies (because of the limitations of available land), the daughter colony was frequently still assigned to the district and parish of the mother colonies. However, records show that as the population and the number of villages increased significantly, the makeup of districts and parishes was changed significantly to reflect the practicality of proximity to the district and parish headquarters, rather than the mother-daughter relationship. There are several examples from the Glückstal district.

Neu Glückstal / Zybuljevka, was founded in 1860 at a location 43 miles southeast of Glückstal and only 8 miles south of Hoffnungstal. It was listed as a member of the Glückstal Lutheran parish by [Matthäi, p. 64], whose information was drawn from [Kirchen] published in 1862. There is also the suggestion in Matthäi that Neu Glückstal was part of the Glückstal district. The available editions of the Odessa Kalender [OdKal, 1881-1915] continue to list Neu Glückstal in the Glückstal Lutheran parish from 1881-1894 (the available 1895 edition is incomplete, and does not include that information). However, from 1896-1915 Neu Glückstal is listed as part of the Hoffnungstal Lutheran parish. Furthermore, it is listed as part of the Hoffnungstal district for the entire period of 1881-1915.

Another example is Klein Neudorf, established in 1854-55, and located ca. 32 miles southeast of Glückstal and ca. 19 miles southeast of Kassel. [Matthai, p. 64] lists this village as being part of the Kassel Lutheran parish (established in 1851), and presumably part of the Glückstal district. The [OdKal] continues to list Klein Neudorf as part of the Kassel parish from 1881-1915, however, it includes it in the Novo Petrovsk district during the same period of time. Novo Petrovsk was less than two miles NNW of Klein Neudorf.

Neu Kassel, a daughter colony that was originally named Kurumanova (first births reported in 1859), but became known as Neu Kassel by 1862 (after July), is located a considerable distance east from the Glückstal district, on the east side of the Bolshoi Kujalnik River. The [OdKal] lists it as part of the Rosenfeld district from 1881-1892, and part of the Neu Freudental Lutheran parish from 1881-1890. Both are also east of the Bolshoi Kujalnik River. The village of Neu Kassel is not listed by [OdKal] after those dates. Both Rosenfeld and Neu Freudental are identified as daughter colonies of the Liebental district by [Giesinger, pp. 104-105].

For a list of the Glückstal mother colonies and the confirmed and presumed daughter colonies of the Glückstal district, click here.


[Agrarreform] – “Agrarreform von 1906,” on the Geschichte der Russlanddeutschen website:

– “Angleichungsgesetz und seine verändernden Bedingungen für die Russlanddeutschen,” on the Geschichte der Russlanddeutschen website:

– Giesinger, Adam. From Catherine to Krushchev: The Story of Russia’s Germans. Lincoln, NE: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1981.

Materialen zur Geschichte und Statistik des Kirchen- und Schulwesens der ev.-luth. Gemeinden in Russland. St. Petersburg: 1862.

– “Gesetze über die Ländereien der deutschen Kolonisten. Landbesitz feindlicher Ausländer und der Kolonisten,” on the Geschichte der Russlanddeutschen website:

– 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. Leipzig: Hermann Fries, 1866.

[OdKal] —
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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