Friday, September 02, 2011

From Russia, With Love - Part 1

Part 1 - Historical Background -

My maternal Grandfather's parents and grandparents were natives of Russia who immigrated to the United States in 1892.  They were part of the ethnic group of Germans living in Russia. 

Historically, in 1762-3, Catherine the Great of Russia issued an invitation to Western Europeans to travel to Russia to settle and farm the land.  They were promised religious autonomy, the ability to maintain their own culture, and freedom from the military draft.  Between 1764 and the early 1800's, hundreds of thousands of Germans settled in Russia.

My Steinbrecher ancestors settled in Donhoff (German) or Gololobovka (Russian), a town southwest of Saratov, east of the Volga river. 

In 1872, Alexander II revoked the previously granted privileges.  Germans began to be drafted into the Russian army, and were discouraged from practicing their own culture, language and religion.  For this reason, many Germans from Russia began to leave.  They traveled to the United States, especially the midwest and great plains.  Many also traveled to Canada, Brazil and Argentina.

My ancestors were Lutheran.  This is the Lutheran Church in Saratov, the nearby city.  If there was a church in their town, it is no longer there.

My great-grandparents were:
Johann Wilhelm Steinbrecher, born 5 March 1834 at Doenhoff, Russia.  He was the son of David and Catherine (Krauss) Steinbrecher. 
Catherine Elizabeth Steinbrecher, born 30 June 1839 in Russia.
They were married in Russia and had 11 children:
1. John William Steinbrecher (see next post)
2. Henry Steinbrecher, born 11 April 1864
3. Katherine Steinbrecher
4. Marie Steinbrecher
5. John Steinbrecher
6. Marie Elizabeth Steinbrecher
7. Catherine Steinbrecher, born ca 1870
8. Elizabeth Steinbrecher
9. Elizabeth Steinbrecher, born 21 February 1885
10. Eva Steinbrecher
11. Jacob Steinbrecher

For more information about the Germans from Russia, visit 


  1. My great-grandfather was born in the colony, if desired can contact me to, I have a map of the colony with the details of the names of the settlers.

  2. I just discovered that a distant relative from the same region in Russia, immigrated to the United States in Colorado, and married an Elizabeth Steinbrecher in 1913. I'm not sure if it's one of the ones listed above, but their families were both from the same town in Russia, and married in Windsor, Colorado. This is the first page I've read of your blog, and the similarity to the documents I've just recently came across of my own family is amazing. I hope to discover where our families came from in Germany before this colony in Russia. Feel free to reach out to me at aaron . i . spring at gmail dot com.