A Digital History and Photo Archive for the Beresan District, Odessa, Russia


Former Catholic Church in Karlsruhe


Today, Karlsruhe is called Stepovoye. 

The Catholic colony of Karlsruhe was settled in the years 1809 and 1810, and was located in the province of Kherson.  It was named by Franz Brittner, Mayor of Liebental at that time, because most of the colonists came from the the Grand Duchy of Baden, of which Karlsruhe was the capital.

The first German colonists arrived in Odessa in the Fall of 1809, too late to travel to the site of their new home.  They stayed that first winter in the homes of people in Liebental and Kutschurgan colonies.  Then, in the Spring of 1810, the Mayor of Liebental, Franz Brittner, led them to the site of the new colony.  Arriving, they saw only the vast uncultivated steppe which was covered with tall grasses and shrubs.  There were two very large trees there, which was an indication that people had tried to live there earlier.


As most of the colonists were completely destitute by Spring, the Crown provided them with everything they needed to build their homes and begin their crops.  Only a very few colonists had brought along enough money from home.

They began working on building their houses right away, and by winter, most
of them were finished.


  In Konrad Keller's book "The German Colonies in South Russia 1804-1904" he mentions one of the main buildings in the colony was the "lovely Gothic Church."  This  MASSIVE church still stands today.  In the early 1930's, it was desecrated by the Russians, had it's steeple, altars and statues destroyed, and was transformed into a grain storage facility.  It is still used for storing grain today.


In the early years, the front of the houses usually had small flower gardens and the main street was lined with trees on either side.  The fruit orchards had been started behind the houses, but were later replaced with vegetable gardens. 

Today, you can still see the trees lining the main road that leads out of town and into Landau, as you can see in the background of this picture.


Families listed in the 1812 census of Karlsruhe




In September of 2003, I was a member of Schneider LLC Tours for a trip to Ukraine.  We had the pleasure to experience this museum, and I had the opportunity to visit with the Director, Antonina Melnitskaya. 


When we arrived, Antonina was waiting for us with the traditional Welcome Ceremony of a baked loaf of bread with salt in an indent on the top, held in a beautifully embroidered cloth.  Everyone was to break off a piece of bread, dip it into the salt and eat it.  It was VERY GOOD!!




Antonina has an important request:

ANYONE who is researching their families from Karlsruhe, PLEASE send your information to her, along with pictures of your family (or anything else you would like to donate) so she can build exhibits of the various German families that worked so hard to build Karlsruhe. 

Our German Heritage is being preserved and remembered through the work of this museum!


 This museum has many interesting exhibits, and is recognized by the Ukrainian government.  However, money is always short, and any donations would be appreciated and welcomed!!


This is what is left of the headstone of Peter Stein, and is part of the exibit for Vera Hoff's family. 

Vera and her husband, Richard, had the opportunity to visit their ancestral villages during the  SchneiderLLC's 2002 tour of Ukraine. 

They had found the headstone of her 2nd great grandfather laying on the ground in part of a ruined cemetery, and arranged for it to be donated to the museum.


Upon returning back home after the tour, Vera printed out some family charts, rounded up copies of pictures of her family, and sent them to the museum in Karlsruhe.  This a picture of how they have worked up a display for Vera's family. 

It was ironic while we were looking at the various pictures elsewhere in the museum, that my sister and I found a studio photograph of man and his wife, and they were sitting at the EXACT table, with the EXACT background as the one picture we have of our Grandparents, Christian and Barbara (Bernhardt) Renner!


Museum picture of Peter Stein and his wife Marianne Berger.

                    Our Grandparents, Christian Renner and Barbara Bernhardt.


The mailing address is:

Melnitskaya Antonina
Molodeznaya Street, 3
Nikolaev District
Nikolaev Region
57107  Ukraine


IF you would like to make a donation to the Karlsruhe Museum, there ARE some problems in getting money sent.  They cannot cash checks!  It is unwise to send cash through the mail!  To wire the money, it will cost both the sender AND the receiver a fee so it is not a feasible solution.  If you would like to donate, I am willing to collect the funds and make sure they are delivered in your name to the museum.  In this way, the museum would get the most out of your contributions!

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Catholic Beresan Villages


If you are researching any of the Beresan villages of South Russia and would like to join the BDO listserve (Beresan District of Odessa) which is a private listserve, please contact me for a special invitation or for more information.   On this listserve, you'll meet many other members that are researching the same family names as YOURS!!




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Last Update:05/02/10
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