Potemkin, who had helped to place Catherine on the throne, was made governor-general of the Crimea after the annexation. In 1787 war again broke out with Turkey, and continued until 1791, when the Turks sued for peace and in 1792 they abandoned all claims to the Crimea. It was during the period from 1768 through 1792 and after that many of the Crimean Tatars migrated in droves from the Crimea. (A full treatment of the political and social issues that culminated in the migration of the Crimean Tatars can be found in the book, “The Crimea Tatars,” by Alan Fisher.) After the migration of the Crimean Tatars, many of their villages and estates lay empty, leaving vast tracts of
land open for migration.
After the death of Catherine, her son Paul took the throne. His reign was to be short lived, and by 1801, his son Alexander had taken the throne. Tsar Alexander I reigned from 1801 to 1825, and further carried on the colonization of the vast empty tracts of newly gained Turkish lands. In the Crimea, small groups of Crimean Tatars remained, but for the most part, their former villages lay empty. Alexander, following in the steps of his grandmother, Catherine, decided to bring German peasants in to colonize the Crimea and the newly gained lands of Bessarabia.
The governor of Taurida was instructed to find land in the Crimea for any experienced wine growers who were among the immigrants. The influx of immigrants to the Black Sea region was particularly heavy during the years from 1803-1805 and continued on through the early 1800’s. At first, land was readily available near the mother colonies in other regions of the Black Sea for daughter colonies to be formed near their mother colonies. But by 1848 there was little crown land to be given away in the regions of the Black Sea, however, vast lands were still available in the Crimea.
Purchases of land by mother colonies for their landless sons seems to have occurred first in the Crimea, as these land grants had been smaller than in other Black Sea colonies. In 1839, Kojanly was formed, in 1844, Neudorf (Islam Terek) was formed, in 1849, Fruedental (Okretsch) and Neu Hoffnung in 1852. During the period of 1853-1856, while the Crimean War raged, severe
economic depression effectively halted land purchases in the Crimea. However, good crops after the war helped the colonists to recover quickly and new daughter colonies were formed in earnest. Between 1856 and 1860, twenty-five new colonies were founded from Bessarabia to Crimea.
Of the new colonies in the Crimea, some were formed by mother colonies there, but many were formed by colonists from mother colonies in the Molotschna, Odessa colonies, the Berdjansk colonies, the Belowesch Colonies near Mariupol, the Chotiza Colonies, the Prishib Colonies, and from as far away as the original Belowesch colonies in the Chernigov region near Kiev. Twenty new
colonies were formed in the 1860’s, thirty colonies in the 1870’s, and fifty colonies in the 1890’s. By 1914 there were 250 or more small German villages in the Crimea with a total population of 31,000. These villagers owned approximately 360,000 dessiantines of land in the Crimea alone. In addition to the colonists living in the German villages, many lived on their own land. In 1912, an estimated 41% of the arable land on the Crimean peninsula was in the hands of German colonists. (see below for alternate figures)
Among the first colonists who arrived in Odessa in 1803, many of those had wine growing experience, so in the spring of 1804, these colonists boarded ships headed for Eupatoria and traveled overland from there to a region between Simferopol and Karasubasar where the majority of them settled and formed the villages of Neusatz, which was formed on the Tatar estate of Tschurkurtscha
(e) and Rosental, which was formed on the Tatar estate of Schobanoba(c). A small group broke off and formed the village of Sudak (e), which was founded near the Russian village of Sudak, and Herzenberg (e), near Feodosia and Otus, and one other village, Otus (e).
Also in 1804, a group of Swiss colonists arrived in the Crimea, and after some delays, formed the village of Zuerichtal (1/2 Cath and ½ Evang) 35 versts northwest of Feodosia. Then in 1805, two groups of Wuertembergers arrived and formed the villages of Friedental, which was formed on the Tatar estate of Chan-Tokus (e) near Neusatz, formed by 25 families, and Heilbrunn (e) near
Zurerichtal, formed by 40 families.
In 1810, another 105 families arrived in the Crimea. They were mainly Catholic families from Alsace, Baden, and the Palatinate. The majority of them formed the village of Kronental (Bulganak) (1/2 Cath and ½ Evang), which lay 25 versts west of Simferopol and the rest filled vacant spots in the former villages.
These mother colonies were formed in the mountainous regions of the Crimea, which were quite suitable for wine growing. However, the land arable land was in short supply in these regions, and therefore their landless sons were forced to find land on the northern steppes. The first daughter colony was formed in 1839 and by 1859 there were five daughter colonies. By 1859, colonists began to arrive from other regions and Schoenbrunn (Adargin) was formed by Separatists from the Berdjansk, in 1861, Byten (Herrehilf) was formed by colonists from the Belowesch Colonies in the Chernigov district near Kiev, and in 1862, Karassan was formed by Mennonites from the Molotschna.
Most of the new villages in the Crimea were small, averaging about 100 people, but there were many of these villages. By 1914 there were more than 250 villages and the total population of German villagers was estimated at 60,000. (Catherine to Kruschev) Another source claims the German population owned 2/3 of the arable land in the Crimea by 1914 and over 314 villages and estates comprised of over 600,000 hectares. (Black Sea Germans in the Dakotas) The statistics for the Mennonite colonies indicate that there were 70 Mennonite settlements on the Crimean penninsula in 1926 which encompassed about 55,000 dessiantins of land with a population of 4.900. (Mennonite Settlements in the Crimea, by H. Goetz)
Primary Sources include:
“From Catherine to Kruschev,” by A. Geisinger
“The Black Sea Germans in the Dakotas,” by George Rath