The Seibel Family is of German heritage, German their native language. They migrated to South Russia from Germany during the reign of Catherine the Great, who ruled Russia from 1762 to 1796. In 1783, Catherine annexed Crimea, and since she was originally a German princess, she sent a declaration to people in Germany offering them land in Crimea to any who wanted to start a new life. It is believed that between 1783 and 1796 this line of the Seibel Family migrated to Russia. The following story is an abstract from the Germans from Russia Heritage Society website. Full citations follow. Russian/German History
"When the German Black Sea colonies were founded, the Russian government gave each village community a tract of land which was to be divided equally among the settlers in the village considered suitable for farming. Only able-bodied married men, or widowers or widows with grown-up children, were eligible to receive land. Single men or women, arriving without parents, had to become hired help for a landowner or in an artisan's household. Ambitious single men tended to overcome their handicap by finding a wife en route to Russia, some of them at quite an early age, or by marrying the first available landowner's widow, whose land needed a man to farm it. Each landowner in a village was called a Wirt and his landholding, along with a farmyard in the village that went with it, was called a Wirtschaft. A Wirtschaft could not be sold or transferred without the permission of the authorities and, on the death of the owner, had to pass undivided to his youngest son; or to another son, if the youngest was unfit to farm it; or, if there were no sons, to the first male that married into the family. "
"Not all families that settled in a village were given land. Some were artisans, who did not want land; others were considered unfit to operate a farm and were expected to make a living as day laborers; still others did not arrive in the village until after all the land had been divided. Such landless families were given a village lot to live on and were called Anwohner or Kleinhdusler." "Because of the high death rate in the early years and because of the difficulties some of the immigrants encountered in adjusting to farming under the unfamiliar conditions, landholdings frequently changed hands. Sometimes colonists sold their land in a particular village only because they wanted to move to another village, where they thought life would be more congenial for them."
"The Germans who migrated to Russia in the 1760's did not all go to the Volga region. Among them was a group of 147 families, mainly from Upper Hesse, 2 who ended up in the Ukrainian province of Chernigov. Here, in the region where Peter the Great in 1708 had defeated Charles XII of Sweden in a major battle, these 147 families, in 1766, founded six villages some thirty versts southeast of the Ukrainian town of Borzna. Four of these villages, Belowesch, Gorodok, Kaltschinowka, and Rundewiese, were settled by Lutherans; the other two, Gross-Werder and KIein-Werder, by Catholics. The whole group of six villages was usually called the Belowesch settlement. "
"The original land grant, as in the Volga region, was thirty dessiatines per family. An exception was made for Gorodok, which was to serve as the town for the new settlement. Here the artisans were settled and, so that they would have time to ply their trades, were given only eight dessiatines of land each. "
"The colony Belowesch was near the river Kalchik, about 168 versts (1 vefrst = 0.662879 miles) from Alexandrovsk and 240 versts from Ekaterinosla. It was named by the mayor, Georg Bechthold. Colonists received no financial help to get settled, but each family had brought along 400 rubles to provide for itself. "
A listing of our family surnames of people living in the colony of Rundewiese in 1807 and 1809 is: Baumbach, Bechtold, Seibel, Weber, Littau.
"Although their land was fertile, the Belowesch settlers failed to prosper to the same degree as most other German settlers in Russia. The isolated location of their villages, far away from the main trade routes, hampered progress. The settlers here engaged in subsistence farming, raising grain, vegetables, and livestock mainly for their own use. Eventually tobacco became a cash crop on a small scale. Although few suffered serious want, almost no one managed to acquire any amount of wealth. More than a century later a chronicler mentions only one rich man, 'der reiche Laukart.'"
"The young people of these villages married early and raised large families. The population grew so rapidly that land shortages developed at frequent intervals. Following Russian law in this region, at a father's death his land was divided equally among all his surviving sons, daughters inheriting only when there were no sons. When there were many sons, they all became poor. The need for land brought an exodus, every thirty years or so, of groups of young people who went to other parts of Russia to found daughter colonies."
"As early as 1802 there arose in this way seventy versts east of the Belowesch settlement the village of Kreschtscharik, founded by thirty-six families. In 1831 a group of 131 families founded five new villages in the Mariupol region, named after the mother colonies: Belowesch, Kaltschinowka, Rundewiese, Gross-werder, and Kleinwerder. In 1861 another group went to the Crimea to found the village of Byten and in 1878 another to the North Caucasus to found Deutsch-Chaginsk. Towards the end of the century forty families went to the Turgai region east of Orenburg to found a settlement there. By the time the mother K Iein-Werder o /-, ", , oGross-Werder Rundewiese o o Belowesch Kaltschinowka o ^ Gorodok Borzna A Konotop Bakhmach ^ colonies were wiped out during the second world war, the descendants of the original 147 families numbered thousands of people scattered over the vastness of Russia." "The following statistics illustrate the population growth during the first century; "
"1766: 147 families, an estimated 700 people; 11 1806: 194 families, 1,201 people, in the original six colonies; 36 families, 205 people, in daughter colony, Kreschtschatik; total: 230 families, 1,406 people; 12 1860: 2,064 people in the original six colonies; 285 people in Kreschtschatik; 2,367 people in the Mariupol daughter colonies; total; 4,716 people. "
"The majority of Belowesch settlers were Lutherans and the village of Belowesch became the Lutheran parish center for the settlement. The first minister, Pastor Schneider, came with the immigrants from Germany and served them for the first thirty years. His successor was a Pastor Horn from Moscow who served for eighteen years. These men laid a good foundation for the religious life of these villages, so that a relatively high moral tone became characteristic of the Belowesch Protestants."
"Catholics founded the two villages, Gross-Werder and Klein-Werder. In the early days, according to the report of a Mennonite leader who visited these villages in 1794, the Catholic parish here had a German-speaking priest, Innocentius Watler. Later, however, the priests were always Polish. This parish, unlike those in other German colonies in Russia, never came under the jurisdiction of the German bishops of the Diocese of Tiraspol, but remained part of the huge Archdiocese of Mohilev. The Polish parish priests who were sent here took no interest in preserving the German language but allowed their people to become ukrainized. By the end of the nineteenth century only a few old people still understood and spoke German. The rest continued to mumble their prayers and to sing hymns in a German which neither they nor anyone else understood. Bishop Cieplak, Polish coadjutor of Mohilev, who visited this parish in the last years before the revolution, advised its people to re-germanize their children to preserve the faith. In contrast, the Lutheran villages, whose clergy were German throughout their history, preserved the German language to the end. "
"Even in the Lutheran colonies, superior in this respect, education was in a sad state for more than a century. Throughout this period the teachers were men chosen from the ranks of the colonists and their quality degenerated from generation to generation. In the 1860's, we are told, they could not spell correctly. Their instruction was restricted to reading and memorizing of the catechism, Bible sayings and prayers, and the elements of writing and singing. There were no school houses. When winter came on, the villagers looked around for a house in which there was an empty room. A farmer was then prevailed upon to hold school there. The children had to bring whatever book they had, a catechism, a hymn book, or any other. They were told to learn their lessons and when they were ready they had to recite them to the "teacher." At the age of fourteen school attendance ended, although in most cases the child could not read. "
"The church authorities issued directives that schools were to be built and proper instruction given but the colonists kept delaying on the plea that they could not afford it. In the 1870's the Russian local government built two Russian schools in the settlement, each with a Russian teacher, and capable of accommodating twenty children. These schools did not solve the problem because German language and religion were not taught there, nor could they accommodate all the children that needed schooling. An improvement was finally brought about by Pastor Neander and his wife, who served in Belowesch from 1880 to 1908. They trained teachers and prevailed on the colonists to build schools. As a result the new century started with much more promise for the children of the Belowesch settlement."
"The early months of the war in 1914 brought the threat of deportation to the east and the proscription of the German language in church and school. In 1915 Pastor Jurgens left the settlement and for nine years Belowesch remained without a pastor. The parish sent a delegate to the General Synod of the Lutheran Church which met in Moscow in 1924. In the same year Pastor Mollmann came to Belowesch to restore 3 normal religious services. "
"Normalcy did not last long. The Stalin regime dealt harshly with the Belowesch settlement. A total of 193 men were deported to slave labor camps. The death rate during the famine year of 1933 was high. Pastor Mollmann was arrested and deported to the east. The church and the parsonage were torn down and the stones were used to build a theatre (which, however, was never completed). From 1937 on, instruction in German was forbidden. "
"A Lutheran pastor, who was a sergeant-major in the German army, visited the Belowesch villages in December 1941 and January 1942. 23 He found great poverty and a fervent desire for the consolations of religion. There had not been a religious service here since 1933, He held a Christmas service and a New Year's service for them and baptized many children. To make the season happier for them he managed to get food and blankets from army supplies for the poorest."
"With the withdrawal of the German armies from the Ukraine, the people of these villages were evacuated westward and the Belowesch settlement came to an end. There were 3,726 people in the six villages at this time. "
Three Seibel brothers - Lenhart, Ludwig, and Carl - immigrated to the United States in the 1890's. That left 8 brothers and sisters in the Ukraine. To see what MIGHT have been their fate after WWI and WWII, I have found the following story on the Frank/Brunnental Village Newsletter, online addition. In the story, several Seibel's are mentioned. As of this date, I have not been able to see exactly what relation they would be with our line of the Seibel's.
Escape From Brunnental -- 1921/1922, as published in the Summer 1994 Issue of the Frank/Brunnental Village Newsletter
"Several accounts have been written about the escapes from Brunnental during the early 1920's. These have appeared in several issues of the AHSGR Journal (Spring '82, Summer '82 and Fall '82). In these articles, the author, Adam Giesinger, gives us an excellent account of the history leading up to this exodus and tells us what was going on in the Volga colonies at this time. I would like to use direct quotes from his articles to give you a little history about that time period. Then we will bring to you several personal accounts from 3 different families, describing what it was like during that era in Brunnental and personal memories of their escapes from Russia. "
But first, a little history according to Adam Giesinger:
"During the years 1918-1920 the Bolshevik (Communist) regime, which had seized power in Russia in November 1917, was locked in a desperate struggle with the so-called "White" armies, led by former generals of the old regime. To feed its soldiers and its working class supporters in the cities, the "Red" government resorted to ruthless requisitioning of grain and livestock from the peasants, depriving them of nearly all reserves of food. When a crop failure hit the Volga region in 1920, there were immediate food shortages and soon widespread famine. The Volga farmers, both German and Russian, blamed the Red regime and its local collaborators, and in the spring of 1921 rose in armed insurrection against them. By this time all German villages had some Communists among their own people, mainly such as had been poor before the revolution and now saw hopes of bettering themselves. Won over by Red propaganda, they collaborated with the regime against their better-off-brothers, which led to bitter feuding within the villages and eventually to unbelievable cruelties on both sides."
Then in another story Adam Geisinger goes on to say:
"An important factor in causing the flight of many German families was a traveling revolutionary tribunal which visited their villages in the early summer of 1921. The purpose of this special court was to mete out punishment to those suspected of having participated in or sympathized with the uprising against Communist rule in the Volga region during March and April 1921." "The uprising was a reaction against the violent requisitioning of grain and livestock in the preceding months, which left many families destitute and facing death by starvation. Both German colonists and their Russian neighbors rose up against the oppressors, the Communist officials and their local stooges, and killed many of them....eventually the Red Guard were sent in to suppress the insurrection."
"When peace had been restored in this fashion, a traveling revolutionary court visited all villages to punish suspected participants in the uprising. The following article appeared in Mitteilungblatt der deutschen Arbeiterkommune zu Katharinenstadt (Newssheet of the German Labor Commune at Katharinenestadt). It was brought out of Russia by an individual and was published in the semimonthly Heimkehr in Germany. It read as follows:"
"To liquidate banditry, by decision of the Traveling Session of the Battlefied Revolutionary Tribunal, the following persons from the village of Brunnental, dangerous elements, active participants in the insurrection, leaders of bands and known enemies of the Soviet government--
The following were shot: 1. Wilhelm Wacker, son of Heinrich, age 28 2. Friedrich Kister, son of Konrad, 47 3. Konrad Gruenwald, son of Heinrich, 43 4. Konrad Gruenwald, son of Georg, 61 5. Alexander Schaefer, son of Karl, 32 6. Heinrich Koch, son of Heinrich, 62 7. Wilhelm Schauermann, son of Georg, 32 8. Johannes Bier, son of Philipp, 48 9. Johann Hartung, son of Heinrich, 35 10. Heinrich Hartung, son of Johann, 35 11. Konrad Ohlenberger, son of Jakob, 40 12. Georg Schauermann, osn of Johann, 40 13. Heinrich Wiederspahn, son of Adam, 23 14. Heinrich Stroh, son of Heinrich, 40 15. Heinrich Hardt, son of Heinrich, 37 Condemned to 5 years' imprisonment were: 1. Johann Becker, son of Jakob 2. Georg Seibel, son of Georg 3. Jakob Weber, son of Jakob 4. Jakob Gruenwald, son of Heinrich 5. Leonhard Seibel, son of Leonhard 6. Daniel Stroh, son of Friedrich Condemned to death by shooting, conditionally: 1. Johann Seibel, son of Nikolaus 2. Karl Klein, son of Heinrich 3. Konrad Becker, son of Konrad 4. Benjamin Kister, son of Benjamin 5. Georg Wittenberger, son of Friedrich 6. Jakob Mueller, son of Johann 7. Wilhelm Schmidt, son of Georg Condemned to five years' imprisonment conditionally: 1. Jakob Borger, son of Helferich 2. Jakob Loebsack, son of Heinrich 3. Alexander Schauermann, son of Heinrich... Sources: Germans from Russia Heritage Society http://www.grhs.org/vr/tschernigov/RundewieseChern.htm Villages in Which Our Forefathers Lived: German Pioneers in the Ukrainian Province of Chernigov by Adam Giesinger, AHSGR Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Winter 1979); http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/ahsgr.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/1970_Journals/1979_Vol_2_No_3.pdf http://www.grhs.org/villages/kherson/jekaterinoslaw/belowesch_Jekaterinoslaw.html Belowesch - 1848 Village History; Copyright 1996,AHSGR http://www.grhs.org/vr/vhistory/Belowesch.htm AHSGR Journal, Vole 1 No 1, (1978) http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/ahsgr.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/1970_Journals/1978_Vol_1_No_1.pdf Villages in Which Our Forefathers Lives: Early Daughter Colonies Near By Adam Giesinger; http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.ahsgr.org/resource/resmgr/1980s_Journals/Journal,_Vol.__04,_No._1(Spr.pdf Escape From Brunnental -- 1921/1922; Summer 1994 Issue of the Frank/Brunnental Village Newsletter; http://www.brunnental.us/brunnental/newsletters/newsletter08.pdf
For more information about the colonies the Seibel family lived in in Russia, click below: BELOVEZHSKIY COLONIES, Chernigov province. The above website is in German, for English click on the icon in the URL bar on the right side.
The following is a link to a map that contains the locations of German settlements in the Russian and Austrian empires that occurred beginning in 1763 and continued into the early 20th century. It is inclusive of all German groups who uprooted from their Germanic homelands and heeded the call of Catherine the Great and others to colonize the forests and steppes of Russia and Austria.