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Mannheim: The Catholic German village of the Kutschurgan District near Odessa, Ukraine

English translation of text in German prepared by Peter Detling, Solikamsk, Russia. Mr. Detling's ancestors once lived in the Black Sea German Kutschurgan villages including Mannheim.


The village of Mannheim, founded by 60 families, was located on the western bank of the river Baraboi, 30 miles northeast of Odessa. The narrow stream had enough water and in earlier decades was rich on fish before numerous dams dried the river up in the summer time. The road from Odessa to Tiraspol, and important route for trade and commerce, ran through Mannheim and continued on through the steppes of Kutschurgan on to Straßburg.

31 of the 60 founding families were from Alsace (district of Lauterburg and Bischweiler), 16 from the Palatinate earldom and 15 from Baden. In 1811, the number of residents had grown to 294. The settlers of Mannheim arrived in three transports and reached Odessa in September and October of 1808. In 1808, ten of the settlers were in Poland and arrived with the second party via Radzivilow.

The original name of the new settlement was actually Mariahilf, given in memory or the church of pilgrimage near Lauterburg, Alsace. However, in 1810, Governor de Richelieu voiced his opinion that the pious implication would hurt the power of the Czar and he proposed, therefore, to name the village Mannheim. The community of Mannheim got a gift of 3,705 desjatines (9,005 acres) which the crown had bought from the landowner Captain Petro. They founded a settlement and built on a selected location six houses of stone to live in. The founding families were poor, their only possessions were 2,150 Rubles in cash. The crown gave them a loan of 162 Rubles per family. However, in 1811, the village of Mannheim owned 190 draft animals (140 horses and 49 oxen), 114 cows, 54 calves and 50 steers.

During the first two years church service was held in private homes with a priest from Josefstal. A house of unburnt bricks, built in 1811, served as church until 1819 and was replaced by a large spacious church of stone. In Mannheim the first living priest was Father Oswald Rausch, a Jesuit, who held church service until the general deportation of Jesuits from Russia in 1820. After his departure on June 3, the community numbered 320 people and the incorporated community of Elaß 328. Both had to accept the help of the new priest of Selz.

The first mayor of Mannheim was Martin Derian, his assistants were Anton Bischofsberger of Schellbrunn, Baden, and Jakob Giesinger, of Kreidenburg, Elsaß. Joseph Ganje, a 36 year old farmer of Beinheim, Elsaß, was not only secretary but he held also the influential position of the secretary of the community.

Translation by Brigitte von Budde, Fargo, North Dakota.

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