Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta
Busau Church Records, Busau, Crimea
Click on a letter above to view an index of people who are mentioned in the church records and who have a surname starting with that letter.
The Church Books' History . . .
These two church books have an interesting history. The Mennonite Encyclopedia indicates that the Busau Mennonite Church was founded in 1884 under the name of the Ettingerbrun Mennonite Church. In 1905 the church had a congregation of 632 people, of which 272 were members. The members of the church came from the following villages: Saribasch, Tokultschak, Muni, Timir Bulat, Yapuntchi, Safronovka, Jalantusch, Kutyuki, Busau, Aktatschi, and Montonai.
It is difficult to know for certain exactly when the first volume of these two church books was begun but it seems that entries may have been made in the book as early as 1884 when the church was founded. The book had almost certainly been started by 1890. In 1901 Heinrich Martin (1860-1905) was installed as the elder and the name of the church was changed to the Busau Mennonite Church. It appears that this occasion was the impetus to begin the second volume of the two church books since this volume carries the date 1901 on its cover. The last event recorded in the second Busau church book occurred on September 20, 1922.
Apparently shortly after this the church was shut down by the Soviet authorities and the two church books were eventually deposited in the Simferopol Archives.
Available on Microfilm . . .
These two Busau Mennonite church books were microfilmed at the Simferopol Archives by the LDS Church in 1996 along with many Russian Orthodox church books and other materials. If you are interested in reviewing the microfilm of the original church books, you may order Microfilm #2084337 for viewing at your nearest LDS genealogical library. The quality of the microfilm is generally very good, but some pages are difficult to read because of blurring likely caused by the camera shaking when some of the exposures where made. Some of the baptism locations in Volume 1 are difficult to read because the pages of the book weren't opened wide enough when the book was microfilmed to allow reading of the entire location. Volume 2 is at the beginning of the microfilm and Volume 1 is at the end of the film. There are 140 different families listed in Volume 1 and 220 families listed in Volume 2. It appears that families who were members of the church in 1901 were entered into Volume 2 when it was started even though they had already been included in Volume 1. This resulted in quite a few families being entered in both books.
Origins of Busau Church Members . . .
Essentially all the people listed in the church books originally came from the Molotschna Colony with rare exceptions. Quite a few of the families listed in the church books came from the Molotschna villages of Landskrone, Hierschau, Schoensee, Muensterberg, Schardau, Waldheim, and Halbstadt. The information contained in the church books is fortunately quite detailed with the locations and dates of births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths generally being given. Quite a few burial dates are also given. The full names of the parents of the father and mother of each family are also generally given.
Notes were generally made in the Busau church books about which Mennonite church the family transferred from when they joined the Busau Church as well as the date they transferred there. Whenever families transferred out of the church their destination and date of transfer were also given. Most transfers were back and forth between the Karassan Church, the Spat Mennonite Brethren Church, and the various Molotschna churches. Quite a few families also transferred to the Omsk region around 1912. Comments were made about anyone who was elected a deacon, minister, or aeltester and the dates are given when they were elected and/or assumed their position.
Authorship of the Church Books . . .
It is difficult to know who made all the entries in the two church books. The handwriting and writing style is different between Volume 1 and Volume 2 suggesting that at least two different people recorded information in the books. Aeltester Peter Friedrichsen (b. 1866) made at least one entry in Volume 2 and may have recorded quite a bit of the information in that volume.
Geography and Time Covered . . .
Generally these books only cover Mennonite families that lived in the western and northern portion of the Crimea. Most of the people listed in the church books lived in the following Crimean villages: Aktatschi-Busau (Aktatschi), Biyuk-Busau (Busau), Baschlitscha, Danilovka, Saribasch (Ettingerbrun), Jalantusch (Marienfeld), Tokultschak (Johannesfeld), Kaban, Kodagai, Kopkari, Kutyuki (Alexanderfeld), Minlertschik, Muni (Monie), Montonai, Timir Bulat (Philippstal), Safronovka, and Tschokmak. Almost all of the entries in the book are in German, although in Volume 2 the locations where the head of each family was living at the time of the last census are given in Russian.
There are also entries in Russian up until 1941 where notations were made that people had requested birth certificates. Apparently after the Busau Church was closed about 1922 these two church books were deposited in the Simferopol Archives. Apparently many people needed to acquire birth certificates for various reasons in the 1930's. The archivist issued them birth certificates as they requested them up until 1941, after which time no further birth certificates were issued, likely because all Mennonites were expelled from the Crimea in 1941. A few Mennonites wrote in the 1930's requesting their birth certificates who were not listed in the church books. Fortunately, the archivist kept their inquiries which often provide significant genealogical detail about those individuals as well.
Researchers should bear in mind that both the German and Russian names for a number of common Mennonite villages in the Crimea were used in the Busau church records. In general in Volume 1 of the Busau records, the German names were used more frequently and in Volume 2 the Russian names were more commonly used. Of course there is overlap in that in some cases both the German and Russian village names were used within one book. Because there are duplicate entries for many entire families in the two church books I have been able to determine that a number of village names were equivalent. A number of other sources have also been helpful in determining what some of these village names were equivalent. These would include the list of village names found in the Deutsches Ausland Institut records on microfilm #T81 607 from the National Archives, the chart of equivalent names found on p. 28 of Schroeder's Mennonite Hist. Atlas, 2nd Ed. and Heinrich Goerz' book Mennonite Settlements in the Crimea. The following are villages names I believe to be equivalent:
Accuracy . . .
The location where the father's family had been residing at the time of a previous Russian census is also given in the church books. Since the year of the census being referred to is not stated in the church book it is frequently difficult to determine exactly when the family was at the village mentioned in the church books in this regard. A review of all the families in the church books in reference to the census information given and comparing it to the information in the Grandma database for these families allows at least some general conclusions to be drawn. It appears that in Volume 1 in most cases the location mentioned where the family was residing at the time of the last census was the location where the father of the family or his parents were residing at the time of the 1858 census. In some cases the location was where the father, his parents, or his grandparents were residing at the time of the 1835 census. It appears that in Volume 2 in most cases the location mentioned where the family was residing at the time of the last census was the location where the father or his parents were residing at the time of the 1897-98 census. In some cases it appears that even in Volume 2 the location mentioned was the location where the father, his parents, or his grandparents were residing at the time of the 1835 or 1858 censuses. When a number is shown with a village this indicates the number of the farm (wirtschaft) where the father, his parents, or his grandparents were residing when the census was taken. For some reason it appears that the numbers of the farms listed in the church books when the 1835 census was being referred to where generally one number higher than the number for that family's farm as given in the existing 1835 Molotschna census.
Although I consider the Busau Church records to be highly accurate, they are not 100% accurate. I have found a number of internal discrepancies in the data entered for identical families in the two church books as well as a few discrepancies when the records were compared to other reliable sources.
For Further Information . . .
These church books provide us with detailed genealogical information that had never been available to us before about the Mennonites who lived in the western and northern portions of the Crimea. The information they contain will primarily be of interest to Mennonite genealogists, but Mennonite historians will also find it helpful. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding this data. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who while reviewing the original microfilm discovers any errors I may have made in either the translation or extraction of this material.
Credits . . .
I would like to express my appreciation for the following people who assisted me in reviewing some of the more difficult to read Russian and German passages in the microfilm: Hans Winofsky, Yury Basarab, Richard Rye, John Thiesen, and Elli Wise.