Germans from Russia Heritage Society


Ray Heinle Korner





Ray Heinle is the village coordinator for Johannestal, Beresan, Odessa, Russia.

Johannestal Well

Beresan, Region of Odessa, South Russia (now Ukraine)

N47 deg 7' E31 deg 20'

This page is dedicated to the memory of my Heinle ancestors who were from the German colony of Johannestal located in the "Old Country" of Russland. Johannestal, modern name Ivanivka, is located about 50 miles northeast of the city of Odessa in what in now in the country of Ukraine. Johannestal is on the flat treeless plains, called steppes, not unlike the plains of the American Midwest. Johannestal was founded in 1817, primarily by German immigrants from Württemburg. In the 1858 census its population was 624 people. In 1914 its population was 1,620 people living on 163 house-and-yard lots. There were 4,165 dessatynes ( 1 dessatyne = 2.7 acres) of crown land allocated to the village and an unknown amount of land which had been purchased privately. Prior to 1861, Johannestal was affiliated with the parish of Rohrbach and had an Evangelical Lutheran church and a community school for 200 children.

Photo of well was built by Johann Schorzmann in the 1880's courtesy of Robert and Lillian Vossler

Those not having left Russia before the 1917 revolution became trapped inside the Godless USSR and became the subject of numerous persecutions, the height of which came in 1937 and 1938. Please see Harold Ehrman's home page. Thanks to New Data coming from the Nikolaev archive we are beginning to see the depth of the persecutions that happened during these dark days.

Later in its existence (1870's on), as the German villages became more Russified, the village was known by the Russian name "Pushkinskii." During the Communist days the village was in the Karl Leibknecht district.

Johannestal Today

Johannestal is no longer populated principally by Germans: In 1943 as Stalin reclaimed the area of South Russia after the German occupation, he dispersed the German residents of the area around the Soviet Union, primarily Siberia and Kazakstan. Some residents were fortunate enough to flee ahead of Stalin's advancing army and escape to the West - Germany, or even Canada and the U.S.

Mayday Dance in 1943 photo courtesy of Carolyn Diede

German Soldiers as they prepared to evacuate Johannestal...Winter of 1943/44.
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Diede

Names of the early settlers of Johannestal are listed. This list was compiled by looking at the surnames which appear in the records of the Rohrback parish plus the article in Stumpp on Johannestal. The list is linked to various census articles.

1943 Platt map of Johannestal, posted with permission of the AHSGR and Mr. Garvin Bertsch. A high-quality version of this map is available for purchase from the AHSGR. This map is not at all to scale. It is perhaps 300 yards across the central avenue in the village (the street containing the church)

Where is Johannestal?

Johannestal Homes A sample of old photos of homes in the village of Johannestal (Photos courtesy of Gary Schorzman).

The 1848 Chronicles of Johannestal presents a description of the village in 1848, as written by its schoolmaster at the request of the Russian authorities.

Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland article about Johannestal

The Church in Johannestal

Letter from the present pastor of Lutheran Church in Johannestal

Eureka Rundschau, 9 DEC1915 for a letter from Christian Maier to the U.S. from Johannestal.

Eureka Rundschau, 15 September 1921 for two more letters from Christian Maier to the U.S. from Johannestal.

Photo, the old Lutheran church of Johanestal; now a "Klubhouse" or Community Center The steeple and religious ornamentation were removed by the Communists. (Photo courtesy of Elaine Morrison)

Photo, the only remaining readable German headstone in Johannestal cemetary in 2000. Most headstones that still remain are unreadable because they were made from the very soft Johannestal limestone. This one may have been preserved because it has lain horizontal, thus filling the enscription area with water.(Tombstone noted Sophia Eisenger 1863-1881) Photo courtesy of Raymond Maas.

List of pastors  and other facts from the Johannestal Lutheran Church

Collection of Communist-Era Documents courtesy of Dalles Schneider and Valentina Fromm

Related Web Pages

Large volumes of data are flowing in from the Ukrainian archives in Nikolaev and Odessa. Much of this data is being posted on the GRHS and BDO web pages. Some of this data may be in members-only areas of the webspace and it may be necessary to join the GRHS in order to gain access to this data. (Not a bad idea anyway.)

German Russian Heritage Society
BDO (Beresan District Odessa)
American Historical Society of Germans from Russia
Ehrman Home Page
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
Jakob Heinle Home page
Roll map and listing of South Russian Villages
Odessa Library

For more information

Joseph S. Height, Homesteaders on the Steppe, Germans from Russia Heritage Society, Bismarck, ND, 1987.

Karl Stumpp, The Emigration from Germany to Russia in the Years 1763 to 1862, American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Lincoln, NE, 1993.

Johannestal, Beresan District Odessa, 1858 Census, GRHS and AHSGR, 1998.

Need more information? Contact one of the Village Coordinator for Johannestal:
Ray Heinle at



Johannestal is about 50 miles northeast of the Ukrainian city of Odessa on the Black Sea. It appears on most maps as Ivanovka but there are many villages with the name of Ivanovka in Ukraine.


Road Map Showing Beresan Colonies

(map courtesy of Merv Rennich)

Beresan map

The map of the Beresan area is taken from the book, SPEYER IM BERESANER TAL DER SUEDURKAAINE; 1809/1910 - MARZ 1994 HEUTE PESTSCHANYI BROD by Johannes Philipps, published in the German language by the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo, North Dakota, copyright 1996. Map printed at this website with permission of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection. For more information please see





From an 1848 document scanned by Dale Lee Wahl Coordinated with GRHS Village Research Clearing House Coordinated with AHSGR/GRHS Translation Committee Chairman

This particular Village History was published in the English form in Joseph S. Height's book "Homesteaders on the Steppe".

There is much more data contained in this book concerning this area and our German Russian ancestors who lived there.


1. The beginning of the settlement was made in 1820 by 34 families consisting of 122 persons (71 male and 51 female) who were directed to this locality by government officials. Since there were no dwellings to house the settlers, they had to seek shelter in the homes of the colony of Rohrbach until 1821, when they had built the clay huts, called semelankas, for which the government advanced the necessary loan.

2. The colony was first located on the eastern ridge of the Sasika valley, about midway between the colonies of Rohrbach and Landau, which are about 20 versts from each other. However, in view of the lack of water supply the colony had to be moved one verst farther to the south. The Sasika valley begins about 3 versts to the north and continues in a southeasterly direction for 50 versts until it reaches the Black Sea. The colony is about 110 versts from Kherson, the administrative center of the "gouvernement", and 100 versts from Odessa.

The steppe assigned to the colony has an area of 4,143 dessiatines. Except for the Sasika valley, the land is completely flat and has one to two feet of topsoil consisting of black humus and loam, with a lower layer of clay, sand, and gravel. The soil, though mixed with saltpeter, is very productive when there is sufficient rainfall. It produces luxuriant vegetation and tall grain. However, in periods of prolonged drought, which occur quite frequently, little or nothing grows in the parched loose earth. The following crops are planted: arnaut, spring and winter wheat, winter rye, barley, oats and potatoes.

Many years of experience and largely unsuccessful attempts have convinced the farmers that the locality and the soil are not favorable for the production of wine or the planting of trees.

There are no woods here, and the success of the plantations that were started in 1817 upon orders of the authorities cannot yet be determined.

At the southern end of the colony there are stone quarries that deliver an abundance of good building stone for the colonists. Three dams and ponds have been constructed by the community to provide water for the cattle during the summer months.

3. Out of love and fondness for His Excellency Superintendent General von Inzow, under whose paternal guidance the colony was established, the community, at the suggestion of its mayor Dietrich Lutz, requested that they be permitted to call their settlement "Johannestal", after the surname of His Excellency. This was granted.

4. In addition to the original 34 pioneer families who settled here, and of whom 27 had emigrated from Württemberg, 5 from Prussian Poland, one from Saxony, and one from Switzerland, other immigrants arrived in subsequent years: in 1822 8 families from Warsaw, in 1824 8 families from Baden, and between 1829 and 1831 14 families from Württemberg. Thus the fixed quota of 66 families was filled. Since the founding of the colony 13 families have moved away to other colonies and, in 1842, 23 families emigrated to Siberia.

5. The families who had come from Württemberg in 1817 on the Danube waterway were organized into parties which were led by the transport conductors Stephan Schmidt and Johannes Gugel. The other immigrants came on the overland route independently, without conductors. Until they were settled they remained in the colonies of the Grossliebental and Kutschurgan districts. Most of the local inhabitants are Lutheran; only a few belong to the Reformed Church.

All of them came to Russia during the glorious reign of the late Czar Alexander I and in response to the gracious privileges granted by His Majesty.

6. The steppe that was allotted to the immigrant settlers originally belonged to the Imperial Crown and was used by the local landowner Yeschitzki to pasture his cattle. There were no dwellings to be found here to shelter the settlers.

7. Apart from the non-refundable food ration and travel money granted by the government, the immigrants received an advance loan for the purchase of building materials and farm equipment amounting to 660 rubles for each of the 34 pioneer families, or a total of 22,440 rubles. The property that most of the immigrants brought with them consisted largely of clothing, bedding, and household goods; only a few had actual cash, but this was spent before they learned how to put it to good use.

8. Since our colony of Johannestal lacked water on its first site, but succeeded, after many failures in getting a well with good drinking water one verst farther south in the Sasika valley, the colonial officials acceded to their request that the colony be reestablished in the new location. In 1833 the resettlement got underway and the construction of the houses was undertaken.

Special events and diseases. Since the founding of the colony 3 houses burned down; one in 1830; one in 1831; and one in 1840. In 1842 a windmill went up in smoke. In 1838 a fire that started on the steppe of a nobleman also burned it down with its stacks of wheat and hay on 3 threshing floors and destroyed a large number of shocks in the wheat fields.

There were earthquakes in 1829 and 1838, but they caused no damage.

Grasshoppers ruined much grain and grass in 1827, and also in 1846 there were considerable traces of devastation.

In 1830 and 1845 many children died of the measles; otherwise there was no epidemic.

There was a livestock epidemic in 1845 that wiped out half of our cattle.

Besides these losses, the colony had a total crop failure in 1833. In 1834 and 1842 the farmers did not even get their seed back.

9. The community owes its undeniable progress both in civic and religious matters to the wise and paternal regulations enacted by the colonial authorities, and to the preaching of the Gospel.

Of great benefit to the community was the resettlement which has provided everyone with a plentiful supply of well water. The raising of sheep has shown itself to be profitable, for several colonists have thereby become prosperous. Very useful has been the establishment of the reserve grain depot in this community, for in years of crop failure the poor people have been able to obtain the needed grain. A few excellent harvests in 1825 and 1837 have enabled the colonists to build a spacious schoolhouse (84 by 28 feet), in which religious services are also held. The people have also been able to transform their semelankas (adobe) into attractive houses.

Colony of Johannestal, May 4,1848


Mayor: Peter Martin

Burgomasters: Johannes Eisinger and Johannes Zimmermann

Village clerk: Michael Roll

Schoolmaster/Sexton: Valentin Wahl (author)

Scanned by Dale Lee Wahl Coordinated with GRHS Village Research Clearing House Coordinated with AHSGR/GRHS Translation Committee Chairman

If you would like to have a Korner on our website contact our webmaster at: