MHSA

Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta


 

The Guardianship Committee of Foreign Settlers in South Russia

Compiled March-November 2002 by Tim Janzen & Tatyana Makarenko

Odessa Archives
Fund (Fond) 6, Inventory 1

Click on the year below to see the descriptions of each file from that year which may be found in these microfilms.

1799 - 1800 - 1801 - 1802 - 1803 - 1804 - 1805 - 1806 - 1807 - 1808 - 1809 - 1811 - 1812 - 1813 - 1814 - 1815 - 1816 - 1817 - 1818 - 1819 - 1820 - 1821 - 1822 - 1824 - 1825 - 1826 - 1827 - 1828 - 1829 - 1830 - 1831 - 1832 - 1833
1836-1839* 1840-1841*

Introduction

Settlement of the region known as New Russia (Novorossiysk) by foreign immigrants began in 1787. At the close of the 18th Century Mennonites lived in the Chortitza Colony in eight villages (Ekaterinoslav District), in Kronsgarten (Novomoskovsk District), and in Schoenwiese (Pavlograd District). Other colonists lived in the Josephstal (Novomoskovsk District), Danzig (Elisabethgrad District), Jamburg (Ekaterinoslav District), and Swedish Colonies (Kherson District).

Administration of Foreign Colonies

From 1797, onward all colonies in Russia were overseen by a department known as the Expedition of the State Economy and by the Guardianship Office of Foreign and Rural Settlers. These offices were established by a decree made on March 4, 1797 by the Government Senate and were under the supervision of the General Public Prosecutor. In 1811 the Expedition of the State Economy was renamed as the Department of State Economy and Public Buildings when the various ministries and departments were established. The Department of State Economy and Public Building was subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In 1797 the Expedition of the State Economy undertook effective measures to regulate the foreign settlements on the Volga River because it had received information about poor management of the colonies that didn't correspond with the stature and rights the colonists were promised when they originally settled there. The Expedition of the State Economy thus created the Saratov Guardianship Office of Foreign Settlers. As a result, the colonies in the Saratov area were excluded from the general structure of Russian civil governance and the colonists there obtained self-government.

In 1798 the Expedition of the State Economy dispatched the Adviser of the Geographical Department, Samuel X. Contenius, to investigate the economic condition of the colonies in New Russia because it had received information about the decline of the condition of the colonies and about oversights in management. Samuel Contenius examined the condition of the colonies and within one year put in order the confused state of the colonies' accounts. He also made plans for the settlements and supplied an accurate description of the circumstances of the settlers. He presented this information to the Expedition of the State Economy and his notes became the basis of a report from the Senate to the Emperor. This report had the title "About Prospective Means to Improve Conditions of Foreign Settlers in the New Russia Region and about the Establishment the New Russia Guardianship Office of Foreign Settlers under the Supervision of the Expedition of State Economy". On April 6, 1800 this report was accepted by the Emperor.

The New Russia Guardianship Office created in 1799 was similar to the Saratov Guardianship Office and its purpose was to carry out the general management of all foreign colonies in the territory of South Russia (also known as the New Russia or Novorossiysk Region). Samuel Contenius was appointed to be the Chief Judge of the Guardianship Office, and his assistant, I. O. Brigontzi, was made the director of the colonies in New Russia. The Guardianship Office was established in the city of Novorossiysk (Ekaterinoslav).

On July 26, 1800 the Emperor approved "Instructions for the Guardianship Office of New Russia Foreign Settlers" which was prepared by the Expedition of State Economy. These These Instructions determined the basic functions of the Guardianship Office and served as a guide for officials for many years, remaining unchanged until the reorganization of the Guardianship Office in 1818. In addition, on May 16, 1801 the "Instructions for the Internal Regulation and Management of the New Russian Colonies" concerning the internal affairs of the colonies was authorized.

Resettlement of Foreigners

Intensive resettlement of Germans, Bulgarian, Greeks, Mennonites, Serbians, Swiss, Jews, and immigrants from internal provinces of Russia to southern Russia began in 1803. Admission, distribution, and settlement of the colonists were entrusted directly to Samuel Contenius.

On October 17, 1803 colonists received permission from the Odessa Governor, the Duke Emmanuel O. Richelieu, to settle in the vicinity of Odessa. All immigrants who wished to settle near Odessa were under the supervision of the Duke de Richelieu and the other colonists were under the jurisdiction of the Guardianship Office. The Guardianship Office was to help the Duke de Richelieu on all matters concerning the settlers. The formation of the Odessa Settlement thus began in 1803. Prior to 1803 Catherine the Great's Manifesto of 1763 was the document providing for the settlement of foreigners in Russia. However, experience and time demanded revision of its provisions. On February 20, 1804 Emperor Alexander the First authorized new rules for admission and settlement that differed in many respects from the conditions outlined in the Manifesto of 1763. On February 23, 1804 the Duke de Richelieu was appointed President of the New Russia Colonies and the Guardianship Office was transferred under his supervision. Soon after that the Duke de Richelieu was also appointed to be the Kherson Military Governor. In addition to this, he was made the New Russia General-Governor, the Odessa City Governor, and the President of the New Russian Colonies.

The measures taken to prepare for the reception and settlement of new immigrants into colonies were complex. These numerous preparations and responsibilities in conjunction with the imperious power concentrated in the hands of the educated, energetic, and progressive Duke de Richelieu fortunately created the opportunity to successfully establish the colonies. In 1800 the staff of the Guardianship Office consisted of the Chief Judge, his assistant, the secretary, the accountant, and two bureaucrats. However, by 1810 the staff of the Guardianship Office had grown to consist of 55 people (members of the Office, inspectors of the colonies, and clerks). Samuel Contenius was the first and only Chief Judge of the Guardianship Office. In 1808 at his own request he was released from his responsibilities at the Guardianship Office in the areas of office correspondence, accounting, and monetary affairs due to his poor health. Thereafter he only engaged in the management of the economic affairs of the colonists and in the initiation of new kinds of enterprises (sheep breeding, silkworm breeding, winemaking, etc.).

About 1803 the special Chancellery (Office) of the Odessa Settlement was established to supervise the settlement and management of colonies in the vicinity of Odessa. Initially the Chancellery was in Odessa, but in 1817 it was moved to the colony of Katarzina. Originally the staff of the Chancellery consisted of one person, namely I. O. Brigontzi. Later the staff of the Chancellery was considerably increased.

The managers of the Chancellery were changed a number of times. In 1806 Prince I. S. Meshchersky replaced I. O. Brigontzi because the Duke de Richelieu had found evidence of dishonesty in his accounts. In 1807 A. D. Smolodovich was named as the manager. In 1808 Andrej ?. von Rosenkampf was made the manager. However during his time as manager evidence was found that he was embezzling funds. He died in 1814 during an investigation of this situation. From 1814 to 1816 the manager was A. S. Lashkarev. In April 1816 the manager of the Odessa colonies become Karl von Lau and he remained in this post until the reorganization of the Guardianship Office.

Local Supervision of Colonies of Foreigners

Inspectors of the colonies were the staff of the Guardianship Office. They lived in the colonies and were intermediaries between the Guardianship Office and the colonists. The Chief Judge of the Guardianship Office determined the duties of the inspectors of the colonies and supervised them. Self-management of the colonists was the task of the district and village offices (okrujnoy and village prikaz). A village office was established in each village and consisted of the mayor, two assistants, and one foreman from every 10 houses. The Guardianship Office divided all colonies into districts. A district office was established in each district and consisted of a district mayor and two assistants. District mayors, mayors, and assistants were determined by the results of elections held in the communities and were affirmed by the Guardianship Office. All colonies in each district elected the district mayor to a term of 3 years and district assistants were elected to terms of two years. Both were under supervision of the inspector of the colonies. The community of a village (or colony) elected a mayor and assistants to terms of 2 years, each being under supervision of the district mayor. Elections were held in each village where the owner of each farm had one vote.

The colonies that from 1800 until 1818 were under the jurisdiction of the New Russia Guardianship Office are as follows:

  1. Colonies in the Josephstal District (Ekaterinoslav Province)
  2. Colonies in the Molotschna Mennonite District (Taurida Province)
  3. Colonies in the Molotschna Colonist (Prischib) District (Taurida Province)
  4. Colonies in the Chortitza District (Ekaterinoslav Province)
  5. Colonies in the Swedish District (Kherson Province)
  6. Smolensk Colonies of state farmers (Ekaterinoslav Province)
  7. Jewish Colonies (Kherson Province)
  8. Belowesch Colonies until 1809 (Poltava and Chernigov Provinces)
  9. Crimean Colonies:
    • Colonies of the Neusatz District (Taurida Province)
    • Colonies of the Zuerichtal District (Taurida Province)
    • Greek-Bulgarian Colonies (Taurida Province)
  10. Colonies of the Odessa Settlement:
    • Colonies in the Berezansk District (Kherson Province)
    • Colonies in the Glueckstal District (Kherson Province)
    • Colonies in the Kuchurgansk District (Kherson Province)
    • Colonies in the Liebental District (Kherson Province)
    • Greek-Bulgarian Colonies (Kherson Province)
  11. Bessarabia Colonies:
    • Colonies in the Malojaroslawetz District
    • Colonies in the Kloestitz District
    • Bulgarian Colonies
  12. Separate Colonies:
    • Danzig (Kherson Province)
    • Hoffnungstal (Kherson Province)
    • Ternovka (Kherson Province)
    • Radichev Colony of the Mennonite (Hutterite) Brotherhood (Chernigov Province)
    • Artisans and colonists who lived in the cities of Odessa, Feodosia, Simferopol (from 1800 to 1816)
    • Mennonites and colonists who lived in the cities of the New Russia Region

Later Settlements

In 1817 the New Russia Guardianship Office supervised 84 colonies (16,967 persons) and the Chancellery of the Odessa Settlements supervised 44 colonies (15,499 persons). In total 128 colonies (32,466 persons) were under the supervision of the President of the New Russia Colonies or the Kherson Military Governor who in 1817 was Count A. F. Langerone. In addition to the above totals, many new foreign settlers arrived in the provinces in 1817. The increase in the number of colonists and colonies dictated the necessity to create a new structure of management of the colonies in South Russia. A special Senate Committee was created to come up with a solution for this problem.

In December 1817 the Kherson Military Governor Count A. F. Langerone received a rescript from Emperor Alexander the First about the need for him to discontinue management of the settlement of foreigners because a new Chief Guardian was to be appointed and a new Guardianship Committee was to be established. On January 10, 1818 General I. N. Inzov was appointed as the Chief Guardian of the Colonists of the South Russia Region. On March 22, 1818 Emperor Alexander the First issued an edict about the establishment of the Guardianship Committee of Foreign Settlers in city of Kherson. At that point the New Russia Guardianship Office of Foreign Settlers was renamed as the Ekaterinoslav Guardianship Office of Foreign Settlers. Its office opened in Ekaterinoslav on October 9, 1819. The Chancellery of the Odessa Settlement was renamed as the Odessa Guardianship Office of Foreign Settlers. The Bessarabia Guardianship Office of Foreign Settlers was established in Bessarabia. All Guardianship Offices were subordinated the Guardianship Committee of Foreign Settlers in the South Russia Region.

Additional historical information researched by Tatyana Makarenko

The history of the New Russia (Novorossiysk) Province dates back to 1764 when it was first named. The New Russia Province existed from 1764 to 1802. During this period it included various regions of Russia. In 1796 and 1797 Emperor Paul the First carried out reform of the political boundaries in Russia that included changing the boundaries of the various provinces. In accordance with these reforms the New Russia Province was divided into 12 districts. In 1802 the New Russia Province was divided by order the Emperor Alexander the First into the Nikolaevsk, Ekaterinoslav, and Taurida Provinces. In 1803 the Nikolaevsk Province became the Kherson Province. From 1805 to 1874 the New Russia Region consisted of the Kherson, Ekaterinoslav, Taurida, and Bessarabia Provinces.

In 1784 the Ekaterinoslav Region was organized out of the New Russia Province and the Azov Province. This new region was governed by Governor-general Prince Gregory Potemkin and its principal city was Ekaterinoslav, which was founded in 1783. In 1795 this region was reorganized into the Voznesensk Region. The Voznesensk Region was governed by Governor-general P. Zubov and its principal city was Voznesensk. In 1796 this territory was included in the reorganized New Russia Province. In the same year the city of Ekaterinoslav was renamed as Novorossiysk and became the principal city of the New Russia Province. In 1802 it was again renamed as Ekaterinoslav. Thus, Novorossiysk was the principal city of New Russia Province from 1796 to 1802 but was known as Ekaterinoslav from 1802 to 1926, when it was renamed to its present name of Dnepropetrovsk. The present city of Novorossiysk was founded in 1836 on the coast of the Black Sea.

* Note: The inventories for 1836-1839 and 1840-1841 are not yet microfilmed, but are based on a full Russian-language inventory of the records. It is hoped that the records will be filmed and available in most Mennonite Historical Societies in North America eventually.

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Last Updated 26 Jun 2009

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