This is an extraction from a document compiled on 16 January 1820 that was sent to the Guardianship Office of Foreign Settlers by the Chortitza Colony Orphans Office (Waisenamt). The document title when translated from German reads as follows: “Account of the fund for minors in the Chortitza Colony from 1815 to 1819.” The original document is written in German and is located in the Odessa State Archives in Odessa, Ukraine, in Fond 6, Inventory 1, File 926, on pages 309-334 (microfilm frame numbers 551-583). A copy of the microfilm on which the document is found is available at most major Mennonite archives in North America.
The information in the document is organized by village and information is included for all of the villages in the Chortitza Colony with the exception of Kronsgarten, likely because Kronsgarten was located in a different administrative district. There are two different types of lists within the information for each village. The first list is a summary of the financial records of all of the minor children in the village for which the Orphans Office was responsible. The second list is a summary of all of the people in the village who had borrowed money from the Orphans Office. This list also includes the amount of money each person owed to the Orphans office in rubles and kopeks. There are some additional comments and statistical data found in the original document that has not been extracted since it seems to add little to the primary information found in the two major lists.
The financial records for the minor children include statistical information such as the total capital of each group of minor children as of May 1815, the interest earned on that capital from May 1815 to May 1819, and the total capital available after the addition of the interest from 1815 to 1819 and after various deductions. Adjacent to each entry line for the minors a year between 1805 and 1819 is shown. This year appears to be the year the estate of the parent or other relative was settled and the money for the minors was placed under the control of the Orphans Office. In most cases the person in question died one or two years before the estate was settled, but in selected instances it appears that the person died as many as 10 years before the estate was settled. It appears that not all the minors mentioned in the document were still living in 1820. For instance, Heinrich Unger's wife Margaretha Klassen (b. 1793) (Grandma #219661) is mentioned as having two minor children, but one of them (Katharina) died in 1814.
There appear to be at least four men who did not have minor children who are shown as being owed funds or having received funds from the Orphans Office. These men are Peter Enns of Einlage and Johann Wiens, Heinrich Wiens, and Wilhelm Thiessen of Neu Osterwick. It is unclear why these men had positive balances with the Orphans Office. It is possible that these men had deposited funds with the Orphans Office much like one would deposit funds in a credit union or a bank. Possibly further research will clarify why these men had positive capital accounts.
It is possible that at least a few of the people listed as borrowers were not alive when the list was compiled in 1820. For instance, a Giesbrecht Neudorf appears as a borrower in Rosenthal. The only known Giesbrecht Neudorf in the Chortitza Colony is Isebrecht (Giesbrecht) Neudorf (b. ca 1755)(Grandma #46110). However, elsewhere in the 1820 Orphans Office document it says that the estate of a Giesbrecht Neudorf was settled in 1811 and that 4 minor children had funds left for them from his estate. Thus it would appear that Isebrecht Neudorf (b. ca 1755) died some time before 1811. This would be consistent with the fact that he is not included in the Oct 1816 Chortitza Colony Census. The identity of the Giesbrecht Neudorf of Rosenthal who was a borrower in the 1820 list is somewhat uncertain, but it is quite possible that he was Isebrecht Neudorf (b. ca 1755). He may have borrowed money from the Orphans Office prior to 1811 and had debt that was still being carried on the books in 1820. A similar situation applies in regard to Peter Wall (b. ca 1775)(Grandma #530181) whose estate is said to have been settled in 1816, but whose name appears among the list of borrowers in Schoenhorst.
While it is possible that some of these borrowers could have been listed in more than one village there don’t seem to be any clear examples of that having occurred. There also do not seem to be any clear examples of people being listed as a borrower in one village but residing in another village. It appears that people were listed as borrowers in the village in which they resided. Some borrowers seem to have been as young as 18 or 19 years old at the time they borrowed money. Few women are listed as borrowers and virtually all of those were widows. A total of 463 people are listed as borrowers and this appears to represent a significant majority of the heads of households in the Chortitza Colony at that time. The borrowers were a mix of landowners and non-landowners. They also appear to include a few non-Mennonites, who were likely members of nearby colonies such as the Jamburg and Josephtal Colonies or were people who had moved from those colonies to the Chortitza Colony.
The extraction of the Orphans Office document is available in a number of versions. In the original version an attempt has been made to transcribe the information exactly as it appears in the original version in German. In the English version the information has been translated into English and the spellings of the some of the surnames and given names have been standardized to more typical spellings. Glenn Penner, Margaret Kroeker, and Elli Wise provided useful comments that helped improve the accuracy of the English translation.
From the English translation Tim Janzen created a version that includes the most important information about the minors but does not include the statistical data. He added a column in this version in which he entered the name of the father of the minors if he was able to determine this. Columns were also added that contain the birth date or approximate year of birth, the death date, and the GRANDMA number for that person in the GRANDMA genealogical database, version 4.22. If he was uncertain about the identity of the father of the minors mentioned on any given line he added a question mark behind the name of the father and that person’s Grandma number. He also created a version of this document in which the fathers of the minors are sorted alphabetically by surname and by given name.
Tim Janzen also created a version of the document that only contains the borrowers. Using available census data and other resources he attempted to determine the identity of all of the borrowers. Columns were added that contain the birth date or approximate year of birth as well as the GRANDMA number for that person in the GRANDMA genealogical database, version 4.22. In some cases, the borrowers in question have not yet been added to the GRANDMA database. Since these people do not currently have a GRANDMA number he instead inserted "new" into the column containing the GRANDMA numbers for such individuals. If he was uncertain about the identity of a specific borrower he added a question mark behind the Grandma number for that person. In some cases he was able to narrow down the number of possibilities as to the identity of the borrower in question to 2, 3, or 4 individuals and added the Grandma numbers for those people as necessary. He also sorted this version alphabetically by surname, by given name, and year of birth.
If you have any questions about this material feel free to contact me. If you believe I have incorrectly identified anyone in the list please let me know the correct identity of the person in question.
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