Fuerstenland Baptism Register: 1885-1932

Translated by Cary Desnoyers
Edited by Tim Janzen

This web site makes available a translation of the baptism register from the Mennonite church in the Fuerstenland Colony in South Russia. This translation is an edited version of a translation of the register that was created by Cary Desnoyers which he shared with me in 2000. The original baptism register appears to have been brought from Russia to Canada in 1926 by Aeltester Johann Martens (b. 18 May 1885, d. 5 May 1935) of Olgafeld, Fuerstenland Colony. After Johann Martens died the baptism register was given away and is now in private possession in Canada.

The baptism register includes 1122 people who were baptized in the Fuerstenland Colony between 1885 and 1926 and 13 people who were baptized in Saskatchewan in 1928 and 1932. Entries were made each year between 1885 and 1932 with the exception of the years 1916, 1927, 1929, 1930, and 1931, when no people are recorded as having been baptized. In a typical year about 30 people were baptized, with a peak number of 48 people being baptized in 1918. As few as 3 people were baptized in some years. The original register was written predominantly in German although there are a few locations that were written in Russian. Information found in parentheses in the comments column are my personal comments and do not appear in the original. A few question marks appear after some locations that are difficult to read in the original.

The baptism register usually includes the birth date and the village of residence of those who were baptized, as well as the name of their father. Beginning in 1912 the name of the mother of those being baptized and the location where the family was registered also began to be recorded. This location is given under the column heading "Revision" in the original. In the translation I have given used "Ancestral Village" as the heading for this column. In many cases this location is likely to have been the village where the father's family was listed in the 1858 Revision List, but in some cases it appears to have been the village or colony where the family had transferred after 1858.

The village in the Fuerstenland Colony where the baptisms were performed is given only for the years 1900 to 1904 and 1919 to 1920. In four of these years the baptisms were performed in Georgsthal, but in other years baptisms were performed in Olgafeld, Rosenbach, and Michaelsburg. As was typical during this time period in Russia, baptisms of Mennonites from the Fuerstenland Church were only performed on one date during the year (usually in late May or June) and at one location. The only exception to this occurred in 1898 when two people were baptized on 21 Jun 1998, almost 3 weeks after the main group was baptized. Interestingly, in 1919 and 1920 the baptisms were performed in September and in 1921 they were performed in March. Aeltester Heinrich Epp (b. 18 Dec 1827, d. 11 Apr 1896) of Chortitza, Chortitza Colony performed all of the baptisms between 1885 and 1895. Aeltester Isaac Dyck (b. 9 Dec 1847, d. 24 Aug 1929) of Rosenthal, Chortitza Colony performed most of the baptisms between 1896 and 1921. Aeltester Johann Martens (b. 18 May 1885, d. 5 May 1935) of Olgafeld, Fuerstenland Colony performed all of the baptisms between 1922 and 1928. He immigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada in 1926 so the 3 baptisms he performed in 1928 were performed in Saskatchewan.

The baptism register also includes the page number where the person being baptized was found in the Fuerstenland Church Registers. This information is helpful in reconstructing family groups from the baptism register. Reconstruction of the family groups must be done with care because the page numbers given in the baptism register pertain to at least two different volumes of the Fuerstenland Church Registers. The location of the original Fuerstenland Church Registers is not known at this time. Information found in a microfilm of materials from the Deutsches Ausland Institut suggests that these church registers were shipped to Germany during World War 2.

The data from this baptism register is available for review as tables in two different formats:

1. An original version in which the baptism data is shown in chronological order in the exact sequence as the names appear in the original register. I have attempted to spell names and locations exactly as they appear in the original document in this version, but I have translated common German and Russian words found in the original into English.
2. An alphabetized version in which the names of those who were baptized have been sorted alphabetically by surname. The spellings of the names and locations have been standardized in this version. This version also includes estimated years of birth for those people whose birth dates are not given in the original.

A microfilm of the original baptism register is stored at the Mennonite Heritage Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Copies of that microfilm are available for purchase from the Mennonite Heritage Centre. If you have any questions about any of this information feel free to contact me.

Tim Janzen

Page created 19 September 2006; introduction revised 19 October 2006; corrected 4 July 2007
HTML by Richard D. Thiessen

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