Hoffnungstal Odessa - 1848 Village History
Copyright 1996, Paul Reeb
Notes: Please see the Introduction to the Village History Project for additional information.HOFFNUNGSTAL ODESSA (Translated by Paul Reeb)
Pastor: Friedrich W. Poeschel
Sexton: A. Fritz
Mayor: Fr. Metzger
Clerk: Gottfried Wagner
Schoolmaster: A. Roeder
Church trustees: J. Leibbrandt, Jak. Lutz, Klotz, Lachenmayer
Assessors: Schlichenmayer, Zweigardt
(Important Note -- by Paul Reeb)
The significance of the name "Hoffnungstal" (Hope Valley) stems from the fact that the original settlers, who were Separatist - believers of the second coming of Christ on Mount Ararat in the Caucasus region, only foresaw their stopover to be temporary until they could continue to their original destination in the Caucasus. In other words, they were not giving up hope!
(Addenda to the 1848 Hoffnungstal History)
by Dr. Georg Leibbrandt
(Translated by Paul Reeb)
The colony of Hoffnungstal since its very founding has always been accorded a rather exceptional position due to the origin and motives that caused its founders to leave their former homeland. During the early part of the 19th century, especially in southwestern Germany, were the people affected by the strong and widespread teaching of chiliasm, that is, the accepted teaching that their religious hopes be directed toward entering the establishment of Christ's thousand-year kingdom on earth. Everything else was subordinated to this principle dogma, not only things regarding to religious matters, but also the exercise of present day material affairs and the planning for the future.
The supporters of this religious opinion were soon ousted from the church, but believing to have discovered true enlightenment, they formed new congregations outside the church to foster their religious life. Because they saw in the church the "whore of Babylon" and the betrayal of true godliness and the teachings of Christ, many believers were still not satisfied with their quasi-separation and demanded a formal dissolution of all church ties. Once, thus accomplished they become the true ecclesiastical separatists. They saw
themselves as the guardians of the gospel and the true believers who were called to preserve the purity of Christianity. Based on various points taken from the Book of Revelation, particularly through the highly learned Johann Albrecht Bengel* did they believe that by the year 1836 the end of the world would be established, the very same place where once before mankind was saved from the Flood through the ark of Noah.
Note: *Albrecht Bengel (1687 - 1752) was perhaps the founder of the Separatist movement, but later his students brought the movement into growth and coming to a climax with the advent of the 19th century. A special group among the Separatists were the Chilists who were primarily lead by Jung-Stilling, a member of the privy-council to the Grand Duchy of Baden. He predicted that Christ's thousand year reign of peace would begin in the East by 1833 or 1836. The chilists looked upon their expedition as a "likeness to the children of
At that time notion dominated individuals minds to a far greater degree than what generally would be the inclination of acceptance. Recognized scholars from many diverse fields of knowledge embraced these ideas, and not even men in politics remained untouched. The question was even raised in the British Parliament as to what actions their government might take to prepare for a welcome to Christ upon His second coming.
If one wishes to comprehend the rather unique historical status of Hoffnungstal, one has to proceed from the standpoint of such a history of ideas. Naturally, the economic depression, the overabundance of craftsmen, the crowded living conditions, the Napoleonic wars, etc., all played an important roll in the decisions of many to leave their homeland with house and goods to go into an uncertain future. Not only did they take upon themselves a most difficult journey, but the emigrants actually faced many threats to life and other great dangers by undertaking a goal as far as the Caucasus.
During the years 1816 - 17, the "Believers in the Last Days" belonging to both confessions (Lutheran and Catholic) assembled themselves into migratory contingents know as "Harmonien," the largest group (14 contingents) leaving from Ulm (spring of 1817) floating down the Danube River. By the time they had reached Odessa, death had wiped out more than half, among them even the leader of the first contingent, Johannes Leibbrandt, a master brickmaker from Unterweissach, Wurttemberg. They had to spend the following winter in the Odessa area (among colonists who had established themselves previously), and in the spring the greater portion continued their journey to the Caucasus;
however, a small group who had temporarily settled in a valley about 62 miles northwest of Odessa, remained behind, nevertheless still having hope to continue on to the vicinity of Mount Ararat in the Caucasus and to reach the "hallowed land" at a later date. They, therefore, named their settlement "Hoffnungstal," meaning "valley of hope."
In the following are presented the first community ordinances, which heretofore haven't been published, of the separatist colony of Hoffnungstal. (Further details about the founding of Hoffnungstal may be found in my literature, "The German Colonies in Cherson and Bessarabia," Stuttgart 1926, and "The Emigration from Swabia to Russia," Stuttgart 1928.)
DECREES OR RULES FOR ETHICAL AND CIVIL STANDARDS OF CONDUCT AND FOR THE OBSERVANCE OF DIVINE SERVICES IN THE COLONY OF HOFFNUNGSTAL:
Because the colony of Hoffnungstal has upheld its own religious liberty, separated from all others, it abides by its own customs and elects for its own membership its own spiritual leader. The same shall be after any death of the spiritual leader, or when at an earlier date such leader no longer has the mental capacity to hold his position, or has otherwise had a moral lapse which after sufficient proof has made himself unfit to perform the duties of the spiritual post, so shall there be appointed another spiritual leader from our midst after holding another election by the congregation for a capable person who has heretofore lead an irreproachable life and can command the universal trust of the congregation.
There shall also be elected two assistants for the elected minister of the Gospel, this election to be conducted under same procedures and stipulations as outlined above, and at the same time also be elected six persons from whom shall be selected by drawing lots those who must render punishment whenever a religious ordinance is violated which need not be handed over to a civil court.
In cases, however, where settlements and peace cannot be achieved easily without both offices, the civil office pledges itself to offer all necessary support toward the befitting arrangement which will serve the colony for its spiritual and physical well being, in as much as no civil order is possible without the observance of the rules.
By this means the two offices will have established the
village council, under which all religious and civil ordinances shall be
subordinated, and thereby complete and final determinations will be
handed down for the colony, nevertheless with the adjunct, that those in
the spiritual office will never meddle with the decrees and regulations
of the higher authorities
(government), in as much as those do not contradict the word of God and the true religion.
It shall be the spiritual leader's highest duty to administer his office conscientiously and in strict faithfulness so that all teachings have their source from the Holy Scriptures and are not distorted there from and are presented to the listeners in an understandable language, and never shall the study lesson be presented in a philosophical or otherwise undignified manner. Likewise, this is also to be complied with by the assistants to the spiritual leader in the event that the spiritual leader is sick or absent. The latter shall attend all church services if not interfered with by a special emergency.
During the forenoon of every Sunday and holiday a sermon shall be given by the ordained spiritual leader on the thereto specified gospel and epistle. During divine services, however, one of the assistants to the spiritual leader has the duty to watch that the school age children behave themselves according to the befitting regulations.
Catechistical training shall be given to the single people every Sunday afternoon. During the summertime, however, following the catechism class an additional Sunday school will be conducted, whereat young people of both sexes from age ten until married will always be required to do written assignments. Should it not be possible for one or the other to get married, so is this person under continued obligation until the 25th birthday, and for each absence due punishment may be anticipated, excepting only in emergency cases.
During the week two divine services will be held, namely on Tuesday and Friday. One Friday every month will be a day of prayer and repentance, and on this day while divine services are being held, everybody must refrain from labor or be subject to penalty, unless it might be in ones own home or on ones field. In cases of deaths where it is not possible to hold the funeral on a set church day, so in each similar instance the church day will be changed to another day, so also when there is urgent work, and after approval, the church days may be suspended.
All baptisms taking place shall be scheduled on the above mentioned church days, unless it is a justifiable emergency, then the holy sacrament of baptism my be performed on another day. Holy Communion to Christ's memorial supper will be held on the usual appropriate days as announced during divine services. However, should an emergency arise, such as with a sick person, then Holy Communion may also be given at such a time. Should it, however, happen that some in the congregation omit Holy Communion, or are even haughty, so shall these upon their first offense be punished according to the words of God; the next time, however, they will be considered guilty for the inevitable punishment decreed by the village council. Similarly for persons who are negligent and lazy about attending divine services, or for juvenile delinquents, these also can expect to received their punishment through a jurisdictional convocation.
Even so shall all wedding be performed during church days.
No betrothal shall ever take place without the knowledge and voluntary consent of the parents on both sides, and where such is not possible, so shall the negotiations take place between the guardians and two witnesses. In like manner will the aforesaid also give notification of the betrothal to the spiritual leader. In no other manner can it be accepted.
In addition to the divine services there shall be prayer
meetings or devotional meetings, essentially during the winter time, on
Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday nights. These devotional meetings
to be attended on a voluntary basis. Nobody will be excluded, nor will
anybody be obliged to attend.
CONCERNING THE SCHOOLS:
It shall be the schoolteacher's highest duty to watch with a sharp eye for any pupils who have received from God talents above the others, to ever search out these by giving them advanced assignments so that the blessed talents of these children will not be applied to naughtiness.
The teacher must convey to the schoolchildren his catechistical instruction and other religious lessons in the pure and exact text of the word of God, also in a manner neither pompous nor disrespectful, as is already mentioned under article five on church matters.
It shall be impressed upon the schoolteacher that he pay the utmost attention to his pupils that her further their knowledge in reading, writing and arithmetic to the extent of their abilities. On the other hand, the parents of the children are also enjoined to note their duty to encourage their children to be diligent and to study with them at home on the assignments given by the teacher. Each time the child is absent from school without the teacher being notified as to the grounds for which the child remained home, the parents of the children will be summoned before the jurisdictional convocation and they shall not escape punishment.
One quarter year before the pupils reach the age to leave school they must attend religious instruction give by the spiritual leader in order that they be prepared to take upon themselves the duties of the baptismal covenant. Should there be any, however, who have reached the age to leave school, but have missed too many sessions due to negligence or sickness, therefore not being capable to fulfill the duties of the baptismal covenant, it is then possible after examination of school records and by the directive of the village council to have the school years for such children extended.
School inspections will be conducted twice annually:
namely in the month of March and in the fall after the feast of St
Martin (November 11th). Those making appearances will be the
village mayor and the two assistants to
the spiritual leader.
These orders are authorized by the mayor's office and ;the
church president with the proviso that everyone be dealt with equally and
punishment be in accordance to the transgression with due respect to all
assoc. mayor, Dobler
assoc. mayor, Naeher
village clerk, Wall
Pursuant to the laws on our ethical and civil regulations and in accordance with the added amendments to and including the last article 25, two-wit: because of the incidence to cases of fornication, the village council has found it necessary to enact the following laws to thwart such acts in the colony.
Should it happen that single persons of opposite sex have relations which through forbidden intimacy and unholy cohabitation brings to light a showing child and such is born to them, so shall a fine of 20 rubles (10 dollars) be paid into the church treasury by both parties. In the event that the man abandons the woman after such happenings and does not marry her, then depending upon the circumstance of the man's wealth and the verdict reached by the village council, the man has to pay either in lump sum or in annual installments to the mother for the rearing of the child until the 14th year.
Should it, however, occur that the misconduct with such persons happens the second time, or even more times, so will the parties again be fined 20 rubles to be paid into the above mentioned treasury, and additionally, after the concurrence of the transgression by the village council, corporal punishment (flogging) will be inflicted, and on that Sunday in the house of prayer the teacher will bring the vile example to the attention of the whole congregation.
Now should the woman's transgressions reach a state of lewd depravity whereby it is found that she has engaged in fornication with several male persons, and in the event of her resulting pregnancy it being that none of the alleged persons will claim fatherhood of the child, likewise, the woman not being able to give sufficient proof either, so shall each who has become a party to the case be fined 10 rubles; the child, however, will be give in care of the mother who shall receive both bodily monetary punishment as provided in the forgoing article 27.
Now should it happen that married persons be found in adultery, as is mentioned under article 26, 27 and 28, so shall they likewise each be fined 20 rubles, but immediately upon their first offense shall they also receive corporal punishment. However, for subsequent offenses dealing with married person, the fine shall be doubled in both monetary and corporal punishment.
It shall be made every father's solemn duty that he and his family carefully guard against such misconduct, that they devote themselves to a moral, chaste and virtuous life according to the words of God, and to carefully protect his family against all moral corruption so that the aforementioned examples of punishment may not be carried out to their and all our shame. Also, all members of the village council are to keep an ever watchful eye upon the morally lax in order that these be stringently warned, admonished and punished before the actual happening of such sinful doings.
Should anyone not let himself be warned against such immoral ways of living, and a male person is found with a female person on a secretive basis, especially if at night in a room, or even moreover, in any compartment about the house, or else in any other illicit nook, or yet upon the field, and even though no accomplished fact is shown, so will the male person still be brought before the village council and fined 5 to 10 rubles in accordance to the evidence presented with his offense; the female person, on the other hand, shall be dealt a flogging.
These foregoing explicit laws were drawn up for the colony
of Hoffnungstal, the same having been found necessary because of irrefutable
acts and offenses, and such being herewith ratified in the name of the
entire congregation as authorized by the colony of Hoffnungstal through the
three elected men: (1) Christoph Fiechtner, (2) Leonard Harsch and (3)
These ordinances were validated by the Ministry of Interior in St Petersburg (then the capital city of Russia), and directed to the (Odessa regional) welfare committee for the colony of Hoffnungstal. Later, during the 1870s, the separatist colony of Hoffnungstal nevertheless was placed under the governing body of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia.
(This data is being shared from the collection of Paul Reeb as translated by Paul Reeb.)
as translated by Paul Reeb
Coordinated with GRHS Village Research Clearing House
Coordinated with AHSGR/GRHS Translation Committee Chairman
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