Migrations into Russia lasted only from 1766 to 1767 with isolated stragglers in 1768. Those settling in the Volga region came, mostly from the Rhineland, the Pfalz (Palatinate), Hesse, Sachesen, Wurtemberg and Switzerland. It wasn’t until the early 1800’s that Bessarabia, in the Black Sea, was opened to the new wave of German migration.
Prior to departure from Germany, leaders, or Vorstehers, were appointed from the better and more educated classes of the recruited colonists to maintain authority over an assigned number of emigrants, watching their food rations, and eventually became overseers of their respective colonies. In the story of Margheim, two of these Vorstehers, Johann Georg Merkel from Hamburg and Georg Jacob Kautz from the Palatinate. Most emigrants traveled by caravan to Lubeck, where they boarded ships to Kronstadt, an island across the bay from S. Petersburg; (Oranienbaum), Russia.
When a caravan entered a town or village, it would normally buy all available foodstuff. Consequently these movements were commonly described as resembling a swarm of locusts. Quarrelling over food and supplies became commonplace. Women of ill repute plied their trade without hindrance from the Russian commissar who directed the caravans.” Some would take the stipend, lose interest and disappear, such that the size of the caravan was always smaller by the time it reached a seaport. Church records of the period reveal weddings, funerals and baptisms that occurred along the routes. Budingen* was the site of 350 of the above stated crash weddings. Roslau saw some 4000 individuals pass through from May, 1765 through the autumn of 1766 en route to Lubeck, directed by Beauregard and Meixner.“ Facius, who operated in Budingen after being driven out of Frankfurt [On Apri121, 1765, Frankfurt took very firm stand against emigration efforts], transported his recruits directly to Hamburg.
The agents along the lower Rhine used the Dutch seaports. A number of groups originating at Worms moved down the Rhine and on through Westphalia and Hannover to Lubeck. At Lubeck the merchant Christoph Heinrich Schmidt., also a Russian commissar in the city, built a number of shelters in very close and uncomfortable quarters to temporarily house the new arrivals. ” Though rumors spread that these people were of the lowest social element of Germans, there were, in fact., “an assortment of indigent aristocrats and members of the nobility , craftsmen, merchants, musicians, artists, and some destitute farmers, all of whom lost their wealth due to no fault of their own. There were also recently discharged soldiers, prostitutes, escaped or recently freed convicts, shady characters, and indolents.“ Lubeck, the major embarkation port., had been overfilled since early in 1766. The Russians had curtailed their activities because there were insufficient ships to carry the emigrants and the expense of their maintenance in Lubeck was very high. *Budingen Castle, property of the counts of Ysenburg since 1323, was built around 1200 by the Lords of Budingen. Unlike neighboring principalities, the count of Isenberg was very sympathetic with the recruiting agents of Catherine the Great. For this reason, Budingen Castle became a meeting place for emigrants, and many of these crash marriages were performed here. The structure has maintained much of it’s medieval character. Lubeck was a free Imperial city from 1226-1937. The Capital and Queen City of the Hanseatic League, Lubeck was a wealthy Hanseatic port known for it’s high gabled houses, massive gated, strong towers, and many gilded spires, topping ornately decorated, and treasure filled, churches. Lubeck is considered richer in antiquities than any other German City. Surrounded by the Trave river and it’s canals, gives it an island appearance. The Holsten Gate (Holstentor), a 15th century structure just across south bridge from the old town, was the former main entrance to the city from the south. Designed to awe visitors of the town’s power and prestige, the structure appears simple and defiant on the outside, yet., inside, toward the old city , it is decorated with windows, arcades and terra cotta friezes.
Near the Holstentor are five attractive buildings from the 16th century, of varied Renaissance gabled architecture, known as the Sa/t Lofts, designed near the river for the storage of salt blocks until exported to Scandanavia. Also, in old town,. is the Romanesque and gothic town Hall (Rathaus) from 1230 AD.. About 600 medieval houses still exist in the 2 square miles around city hall, one dating from 1363. Across the marketplace from city hall, on the highest point in old town, is Marienkirche (St. Mary’s Church) with it’s flying buttresses. Originally planned as a Romanesque Basilica, is the world’s largest Gothic brick church, altered to Westphalian gothic architecture. A cathedral built in the early 13th century with slender twin spires is located on the south end of old town (A/tstadt).Also, in view, the severe clean lines and light spaciousness of the 14th century monastic St. Catherine’s church, and the Seaman’s guild house (1535) with it’s elaborate renaissance high gothic blind windows and stepped gables.
The city is unified by the consistent use of brick construction in it’s architecture. insisted on after several fires in the 13th century)’. Many from these areas sailed for Kronstadt, on route to St Petersburg, Russia from the Belgium ( ports of Lubock, Regensburg, and Freibrug in Breisgau on the Baltic. The usual voyage took nine to eleven days, and could even take up to six weeks depending on the winds. Unscrupulous, Hanseatic or British sea captains would often take advantage of these emigrants stalling their ships, or sailing backwards on dark nights, for up to 2 months, claiming unfavorable ~ conditions, and thus. selling food, at exorbitant prices to the desperate passengers who only stocked supplies for a few days. Before embarking, each person was given sixteen shillings, about $2.2 butterge/d (butter money) with which to buy food for the trip. The poorest and most ragged of migrants were given an issue of clothing. The food allowance, while not large, was enough to meet needs. Bread. zweiback, pickled meat, wine. and French brandy were stored in the hold of the ship. Those who died were tossed into the waves.
Once arriving in Kronstadt, (an island across the bay from Petersburg; Oranienbaum) Russia, the Germans found themselves living on the ships for extended periods of time. or in make shift barracks. while the inept government bureaucracy determined their fate. Stay on the ships and meager food allowances resulted in illness. Unclean living conditions seasickness. were the cause of many deaths among children and adults.
Sailing to Oranienbaum (Kronstadt)I, Russia, then down the Volga river to Saratov, and by wagon to the steppes of Russia. Oranienbaum (German: orange trees) of the Gulf of Finland, across from St. Petersburg, was site of an imperial palace began in 1713 by Prince Menshikov, of which Catherine II was not very fond. Its name derived form the orange trees planted there as the ultimate in conspicuous consumption. Often German settlers stayed here for up to a year before leaving for the steppes of the Volga region.
They were then taken by bearded Russian teamsters via wagon to Oranienbaum, where they erected huts for a few weeks stay. Here they were to declare a trade, however, to further disillusionment, regardless of a person’s expertise, all villagers were forced to be farmers. Commissar Ivan Kuhlberg was appointed to record immigrant’s decisions regarding occupations and locations in cities or villages. His instructions were to persuade the recruited colonists to settle in unpopulated regions of the empire as farmers.