Putnam/ Dougherty family genealogy

Posts tagged ‘Johann Christoph Bender’

The Importance of Genealogy Workshops

Attending a genealogy workshop can

  • reignite your research.
  • provide you with more contacts of individuals with similar interest.
  • introduce you to new resources.
  • expose you to new methods of researching.

Have you heard of TL:DR? This is what may happen when confronted with a long dissertation to read in your family history research. It is TOO LONG therefore DIDN’T READ.

Attending a workshop on a specific group in your family line can give you a more personal connection and some specifics you may have missed due to TL:DR.

  • you may find a new friend and/or a new to you cousin.

This past week my husband and I spent three days in Leavenworth Washington attending workshops on “The Volga Germans”, presented by Concordia University Center for Volga German Studies (CVGS).

Leavenworth Washington

Leavenworth Washington

Leavenworth is situated on the eastern side of the Cascade mountains on US Hwy 2. It was a very appropriate setting for our German Heritage workshops since the picturesque town is styled like a Bavarian village.

This year is the 250th anniversary of the beginning  trek of many immigrating Germans to the Volga River area in Russia. CVGS is puting on 9 events around the country as a celebration for this auspicious anniversary. They have four  more coming up between June and the end of October. For more information visit their website at http://cvgs.cu-portland.edu/index.cfm.  I suggest if you have any Volga Germans in your family tree you should try to attend one of these upcoming events. This particular workshops gave

  •  an overview of the History of why our ancestors may have made the decision to accept “Catharine the Great’s” invitation to immigrate to Russia in the 1760’s.
  • What the geography of the region tells us.
  • A sampling of the food that our ancestors traditionally made.
  • The Volga Germans of  South America.
  • the 1941 Deportation.

I had read several books on the Volga Germans and done some research on my own in libraries and online in addition to asking my mother-in law questions. I was very interested in the history and the family connections to this remote region in southwestern USSR even though the connection is my husbands maternal grandparents. It was to me very interesting, yet I was not seeing the interest and enthusiasm when I shared what I learned with my husband Roy.

Last year I did  blogs on Johann Christoph Bender  and Nicholas Schneider. These were Roy’s original immigrants to the Volga River region. I was able to trace the lines through the 1857, 1834 and 1764-67 census’ for the Kratzke colony. These census provided some great information but unfortunately few maiden names. So I had gone to the workshops hoping to discover a means of determining the maiden names in these lines.

At this conference I not only learned  a great deal more from an expert on the Volga Germans, but my husband, who is not a genealogist and has limited interest, was an enthusiastic and captivated participant.  The whipped cream on this dessert was that we met several distant cousins. Now the cherry on top was the main speaker Dr. Brent Mai.

Dr. Mai sat down with us and shared his family research where it tied into my husbands line. He had some of those maiden names that I was looking for and footnotes indicating an 1897 census as a source. That census was after our Benders had left Russia but not all of the family left for America. Another reminder that there is more to be found in an area even once your family has moved on.

I had the family lines back six generations and Dr. Mai has two lines back 14 generations. Not a Schneider or a Bender but I now have more clues  and lots more to work on in this very interesting branch that has developed into a huge segment of the Bender family tree.






52 Ancestors-Johann Christoph Bender original Volga German


This weeks challenge that Amy Crow has issued on 52 Ancestors is “So Far Away”. The first thing that came to mind was the Movie “Far and Away”, so this story could be on either of my Irish Ancestors. The 2nd story that came to mind would deal with the furthest back in time that we have a known Ancestor. That would be Roger De’Puttenham  (tenant of Puttenham Manor, Buckinghamshire, England) who is listed in the Doomsday book (1086). The third story is for my husbands maternal line ancestor that traveled “so far away” from his home in 1767 Germany- to colonies on the Volga River area of Russia at the invitation of Catherine the Great. I think it is time to tell the story of Johann Christoph Bender.

Johann Christoph Bender was born about 1748 in Germany. Johanns early years were probably harsh during this time period. The Seven year war from 1754-1763 devastated Europe and to pay for the war the peasants were repressed. Germany was not united until the mid 1800’s but divided into many Duchies. Prussia  and Austria the larger.

Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great

Catherine The Great came to power when her husband Peter III was assassinated in 1762. Soon after, she issued her Manifesto inviting foreigners to immigrate to Russia. Catherine employed recruiters throughout Europe. That was how Johann learned about the invitation and Czarina Catherine’s Manifesto. Once Johann had signed a immigration contract he would have been sent to an assembly point where temporary housing was provided. As soon as there was a large enough contingency he would have been transported to one of the Baltic ports where a ship would take them the 900 miles to the Russian port  of Kronstadt, a Russian naval port on an island in the Gulf of Finland, then on to Oranienbaum, known today as Lomonosov. Oranienbaum is just 40 kilometers west of St. Petersburg and the site of Catherine The Greats Summer Palace.

The Great Palace Catherine II Summer Palace

The Great Palace
Catherine II Summer Palace


The above print is a drawing of the Great Palace in Oranienbaun, Russia. Notice the ship tied up near the palace gates. (Click on images to enlarge.) This may be the landing for the Germans arriving in Russia. It is stated that over 20,000 colonist were recorded by the Titular Counselor, Ivan Kuhlberg in Oranienbaun.

The ocean trip from a German port could last from 9 days to several weeks or even months with an unscrupulous captain. History  states that the new arrivals were often lead in reciting the oath of allegiance to the Russian Crown by the German pastor of Oranienbaum’s Lutheran Church. In one historical account I read, it stated that not only did Catherine sometimes speak in German to welcome the colonist from her balcony at the Summer Palace but she and her officials had once walked in review and stopped to speak  or shake an individuals hand.

Once in Oranienbaum, Johann would have been given materials to build a hut for his own housing. His stay in Oranienbaum may have been from several weeks to months. The time spent near St. Petersburg would have given Johann an opportunity to see what it was like in Russia except he would not have been free to wander, and no matter where Johann might have hoped to establish himself he would be compelled by the Russian officials to locate along the lower Volga River near Saratov.

So finally the time to travel to Johann’s new home came. From Oranienbaum to Saratov was over 2,000 miles. The trek could have been made by boat down the various rivers or overland. The overland trek took months up to a year depending on when the group was finally allowed to leave. They traveled in groups with the women and children riding in carts and the men walking. In the dead of winter it was doubly grueling. over 26,000 started out and 12.5% died in route. Johann Chritoph Bender arrived in Kratzke on 8.5.1767. Is that August 5 or 8 May?

From the 1768 census for Kratzke, Saratov, Russia, Johann came to the Colony on 8.5.1767, from Wittenberg, Nauteis(?).  He was listed as a Lutheran. It was either expected that he would receive  or he had received 25 rbl. (rubbles) from Vormundschaftskontor (the government).  In 1768 he was just 20 years old and married to Katharina who was 18 years of age. The census indicates that Johann had 2 cows (2 Kühe) had plowed (4 des. = 4 desyatina (farmer)) approximately 14.4 acres and sowed approximately 3.5 bushels of rye (gepflügt: 4 Des., gesät: 5 Cetverik Roggen). Thanks to the internet for providing this non-linguist with a translation, even if it was one word at a time.

Kratzke Lutheran Church (1996) Photo source: Rodney Fink

Kratzke Lutheran Church (1996) Photo source: Rodney Fink

By the 1816 census for Kratzke, Saratov, Russia there is no Johann Christoph Bender, having died sometime between 1807 and the 1816 census.There is Johann Peter Bender (age: 25), Georg Jakob (age: 25), and Georg Philipp (age: 9), brothers. Listed separately a Johann Kaspar Bender (age: 36) family, a Johann Fredrich Bender (age: 30) family, and a Johann Philipp Bender (age: 43) family. The youngest son age 9 would have been born about 1807 when Johann Christoph was about 60. In the initial listing in 1768 for Kratzke there is only one Bender and by 1816 we have at least five Bender families. Having met my husbands grandparents I  picture how Johann Christoph Bender must have looked and try to imagine the adventure that he had taken on as a young man to make such a trek “so far away” from his birthplace.




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