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Many of my German ancestors seem to have come from a place called Plotzk, Bessarabia. They ended up in South Dakota, many in Parkinston, Hutchinson County, SD.

Here are some examples of a few of them:

Andreas Hoehn (Hehn)
b. 16 FEB 1833 Plotzk, Bessarabia
m. 1 DEC 1852 Christina Merkel
d. 21 JUN 1902 Plotzk, Bessarabia

Andreas Reimann
b. 21 APR 1847 Plotzk, Bessarabia
m. 26 AUG 1867 Regina Deeg
d. 18 FEB 1918 Anoka, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
burried 3 MAR 1918 Kulm, Hutchinson County, South Dakota, USA

  1. From what I understand, Bessarabia no longer exists. Where can I find out more information about it?

  2. Would there be birth records stored somewhere? How can I find them?

  3. Would there be cemeteries or unmarked graves? Was all trace of the German settlers who lived there for only a few generations wiped out?

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Are you asking abut emigration (as the title suggests) or about finding records in (former) Bessarabia, as the text suggests? –  ColeValleyGirl Nov 27 '12 at 15:33
    
I guess I am confused as to how to connect South Dakota with Plotzk, Bessarabia. How do I find out more info about Bessarabia (does anything even exist there anymore?) so that I can figure out the migration pattern of my ancestors to the U.S.A. (hope that's not too broad). –  Canadian Girl Scout Nov 27 '12 at 15:48
    
Try this link- you may find help there. grhs.org/villages/bessarabia/plotzk_bess.html –  Andy Hatchett Nov 27 '12 at 18:33
    
@ColeValleyGirl I've reconsidered: before I look at migration patterns to North America, I first want to discover more about the Germans in Russia (how they got there in the first place). I've created an answer that has lots of links to great information, maps, settlers lists, etc. –  Canadian Girl Scout Jan 8 '13 at 23:22
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5 Answers 5

From what I understand, Bessarabia no longer exists. Where can I find out more information about it?

  • So far, I have discovered that the Bessarabians did not move into Russia all that long ago, ("German colonization of Bessarabia began in 1812"), and many of them did not stay for a terribly long time. Nearly 12,000 of them emigrated to North America in 1902.
  • The question indicated that some relatives were born in Plotzk, Bessarabia. I have discovered that Plotzk was founded in 1839. It is in the German region of "Ackkerman" and the church parish of "Alt Elft". In 1859, it had 411 residents, 67 of whom were children and 47 houses. The German Colonies in South Russia 1804-1904.
  • "It becomes apparent that the immigrants arrived at their assigned territory in several treks. Some of the families could not be housed so they were allocated to nearby villages. Furthermore it took time to build all farmyards. Tarutino, for example, was founded in 1814 but the last farmyard was occupied in 1816. This must be considered when analysing the immigration lists." This explains why I'm certain my ancestors were in Bessarabia before the town that they settled in (Plotzk) was even formed. I believe that they also spent time in Klostitz, Fere Champenoise, Alt Arzis and Brienne before settling down in Plotzk for a few generations.

Would there be birth records stored somewhere?

  • Some BMD records went to St. Petersburg. They have been microfilmed by the LDS Church.

  • Some records have been compiled into the Odessa Digital Library, which can be searched here.

  • From my local genealogical society, I've borrowed The Emigration from Germany to Russia in the years 1763 to 1862: Part II, which contains a list of the original 39 founders of Plotzk (pgs 542-543).enter image description here enter image description here

Would there be cemeteries or unmarked graves? Was all trace of the German settlers who lived there for only a few generations wiped out?

  • "Many German villages no longer appear on present-day maps of Russia, as most were destroyed as a result of the 1941 deportation of the German populations in Russia to work camps in Siberia and Middle Asia. Those villages that were not destroyed either deteriorated with time or were resettled by non-German populations. Due to the many changes that have taken place in Russia this century, these villages seldom appear as they did when inhabited by their German populations."

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Your best bet would be to find a book in the library that describes the history of the region. As a start, there are a couple of Wikipedia articles to start with: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bessarabia_Germans and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bessarabia

These describe how the people you are interested in got to Bessarabia; how they got to the US should be findable as with any other immigrants: through ship manifests, passport and naturalization records, etc.

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Hi, thanks. I did read the Wikipedia site already. I edited the question to clarify what I'm trying to focus upon, which is where to look for records after the German colony moved (or was pushed out) of the area. –  Canadian Girl Scout Nov 27 '12 at 16:47
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The FamilySearch catalog lists a few films here:

https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/results#count=20&placeId=137542&query=%2Bplace%3A%22Russia,%20Bessarabia,%20Akkerman,%20Polot%EF%B8%A0s%EF%B8%A1k%22&subjectsOpen=487429-50,968948-50,968947-50

I don't know whether these can be viewed on-line, but otherwise you can probably order some for viewing in a local Family History Center.

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Previous answers have omitted the German (and Russian) language resources.

The German genealogy wiki page Bessarabia has large list of resources and links. The following paragraphs (translated to English) may be of interest:

Church records

...The church books (like all official documents) of Bessarabian German villages could not be removed in the resettlement of 1940 (according to the resettlement agreement). However, they were partly transferred in the subsequent recapture of Bessarabia in 1941 by German and Romanian troops to Berlin, where they were handed over to the Reichssippenamt. A detailed article on the whereabouts of Bessarabian church records can be found in the "Heimatkalender der Deutschen aus Bessarabien", 1993, pp.165-180.

Some of the church books from the territory of Bessarabia, belonging today to Moldova, are in the National Archives in Kishinev. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in Salt Lake City has microfilmed copies of these documents. The Heritage Museum of the Germans from Bessarabia in Stuttgart has received copies from Kishinev.

About 350 original church register volumes and approximately 100 (filmed 1941 in Berlin) microfilms of church records documents from Bessarabia are available at the Deutschen Zentralstelle für Genealogie (German Central Office for Genealogy) in Leipzig. They are not complete, some are only a few years of family books or church events, such as baptisms, weddings, available. Detailed information is contained in the book "Die archivalischen...Kirchenbuchunterlagen deutscher Siedlungsgebiete...Bessarabien..." (full title in literature list later on page)

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I recommend contacting FEEFHS (http://feefhs.org/) and EEGS (http://www.eegsociety.org/Home.aspx), two genealogical societies that have active member rosters who know a lot about doing Bessarabian research. I believe both also publish quarterly or semi-annual journals whose back issues may cover how best to do research in this situation.

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