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Version 2 as at 23 August 2008
Origin of the Bessarabian families: The Warsaw colonists

In order to determine the origin of the Bessarabian immigrants it is necessary to know the historical background. The settlers can be divided into two groups. The smaller group emigrated directly from Germany (e.g. Württemberg, Baden, Bayern) and settled in Teplitz (1817), Sarata (1822), Gnadental (1830) and Lichtental (1834). The bigger group are the so-called "Warschauer Kolonisten" (Warsaw colonists) from the grand duchy of Warsaw which was established by Napoleon in 1807. They emigrated 1814 and 1839 to Bessarabia. This migration is closely connected with the Polish and Prussian history and the partitions of Poland in 1772, 1776, 1793 and 1795.

On September 1st 1798 Friedrich Wilhelm III von Preußen ordered that the colonisation of the acquired provinces of Südpreußen and Neu-Ostpreußen had to be continued. Prussia was sparsely populated and therefore Prussia was seeking settlers from abroad. This was the reason why a second period of emigration from Württemberg took place, mainly to South Prussia. The authorities had learned from the colonisation of West Prussia that it was more easy for settlers to build up a new community with people from the direct neighbourhood of their homeland. If the village where a family came from is unknown it is worthwile to see when the settlement took place and where the other settlers in the direct neighbourhood came from.

Until April 10th 1800 445 families from Württemberg and Baden moved to South Prussia, most of them to the east of Lodz in newly founded villages. Altogether 1103 families moved to the eastern part of South Prussia until the middle of 1803. Including Posen and Kalisch there is a total of 8495 families in South Prussia at the end of 1804. As a general rule the new villages are scattered to all parts of the new provinces, only near Lodz the villages are closer to each other. Starting in 1800 the foundation of "Swabian villages" in South Prussia was performed mainly by the four domains Łaznów, Tcaczen, Zdiechow and Pabianice. Łaznów to the east of Lodz attended the foundation e.g. of Grömbach (1800), Neu-Sulzfeld (1801), Wiaczyn (1804) and Grünberg (1805).

An exemption from duty was guaranteed to the settlers. For instance the settlers of Groembach did not have to start with their payment before December 1st 1806. Because of bad circumstances this was not possible. According to §15 of the agreement a state of emergency would have been a reason to be excused from payment. But from 1807 on the area belonged to the newly established grand duchy of Warsaw and the settlers had to pay. This is the reason why several families sold their property and moved to Volhynia or back to their original homeland. In the majority of cases the properties were transferred to pomeranian farmers. As we can see not only people from Württemberg settled in South Prussia but also people from West Prussia.

People which suddenly disappear in West Prussia can afterwards be found in South Prussia. Among the Bessarabian immigrants are also people from the Netzedistrikt. This was part of West Prussia and established in 1772 and consisted of the Marienwerder Kreis and a part of Poland. It was the district on both sides of the Netze river almost from the river head to the border of the Brandenburg Neumark. This Netzedistrict had an administration of its own in Bromberg which was subordinated to the administration in Marienwerder. Nevertheless it was considered as the second major part of West Prussia in every sense. The major part of the Netzedistrict was added to the province of Posen which was established in 1815.

The Germans from the grand duchy of Warsaw have been encouraged by the czar to move to Bessarabia and many settlers left.

We can note ascertain that the Bessarabian immigrants consist of two ethnic groups. Looking at the more or less 6500 first settlers in Bessarabia the proportion between North- and Southgermans is about 3:2. With the foundation of Sarata, Gnadental and Lichtental the proportion is more or less balanced. The immigrants from South Germany were called "Schwaben", the North Germans "Kaschuben". Looking at the records, the dialect, the surnames and their originalities the latter probably were from Pomerania.

Origin of German settlers in Central Poland

Origin of German settlers in Central Poland

The map showing the origins of the German settlers in Central Poland is of special interest. It was published by Alfred Beyer in 1935 in the Ostdeutsche Monatshefte in the article Deutsche Gaue in Mittelpolen. The different settlement waves can be seen. For the Vistula valley there is one between 1600 and 1650 and one beginning in 1750. The settlers that arrived between 1600 and 1650 mainly came from the areas around Thorn, Bromberg, Kulm and Schwetz but also from the more distant areas around Graudenz, Neuenburg, Marienwerder, Dirschau and from the Danziger Großes and Kleines Werder. These areas had been settled already in the 16th century by Dutch and Friesian Mennonites. These settlers are called "Niedrunger". Some families also came from Western and Eastern Pomerania. In the second settlement wave starting in 1750 the settlers came mainly from areas north of Włocławek and Thorn. The settlers around Lipno und Rypin probably originated from West and East Prussia.

[Sources: (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6) ]


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