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Date: 28 Aug 1765 [unknown]
Location: Latitude, Longitude 51.0192, 45.7116map
Surnames/tags: Volga_German Volga_German_project
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Balzer, Saratov, Volga, Russia

Bergseite | Mother Colony |Protestant
Balzer-See red arrow
Goloi Karamysh
Goly Karamysch
Golyi Karamysh
Golyj Karamysch
Голый Карамыш
Daughter Colonies:
Rosenberg (Bergseite)
  • The colony of Balzer was founded 85 kilometers southwest of Saratov by colonists recruited by the government from the Kurpfalz, Isenburg, Hessen-Darmstadt, and Baden. The first group of settlers arrived on 28 August 1765, and they were followed by two additional families that arrived on 26 November 1765. The following year another 22 families joined on 28 March 1766 with others joining on April 26th, June 18th, July 1st, and August 18th.
  • The village grew to be one of the largest of the Volga German settlements and became the commercial center for the colonies on the west side. Balzer was also the Kanton for several other adjacent villages.
  • In his book The Emigration from Germany to Russia in the Years 1763-1862, Dr. Karl Stumpp indicates that in 1768 there were 90 original families comprised of approximately 377 individuals. From this small beginning the village grew dramatically over the next 150 years. It is estimated that there were still over 11,000 residents of Balzer in the early 1900's, even after the heavy emigration to the United States and other countries which had been in process since 1875.
  • A large percentage of original Balzer residents came from Hesse-Darmstadt. Many came from the Budingen area and were subjects of the count of Isenburg. Other villages in Hesse were Alt Wiedermus, Diebach, Dudelsheim, Lorbach, Offenbach, and Rohrbach. Although few Balzer residents were married at Budingen Castle, several hundred Volga Germans were married there before leaving for Russia.
  • The colony was named after Balthazer "Balzer" Barthuly who served as its first Vorsteher (mayor). The second mayor was Johannes Weisheim who began his term in 1784.
  • The colony was located in the Volga River valley about eight miles from the river bank and about sixty miles south of the Russian provincial city of Saratov. The tract of land allotted to the village by the Russian government was comprised of 18,000 acres, excluding the forest, town lots, gardens and threshing floors. This amount of land was not sufficient to sustain Balzer completely as a farming community, which led it to become an industrial city developing much business and commerce, especially with other Volga German colonies.
  • The initial group of settlers developed a prosperous colony. It soon grew to include 238 horses, 150 cows and 2 swine. Approximately 670 acres of prairie were put under cultivation near the southern end of the village.
  • On 26 February 1769, the colony received its official Russian name of Goly Karamysh in reference to the lack of trees in the area and its proximity to the Karamysh River.
  • The first school house stood on main street in the "Unterdorf" (lower section) of the colony. A second school was built in 1846 near the church. A new two-story school building was constructed in 1898. A Russian school was built in the colony in 1882.
  • Many Balzer residents also have links to the nearby village of Moor.
  • The village was laid out with the main street running North and South, eventually extending to two miles as the village grew. The church, schoolhouse and market were on this main street. All the other streets ran east and west, forming squares with the alleys that ran north and south.
  • Balzer was the commercial center for colonies on the west side. Numerous flour and grist mills were built, with some of the early ones powered by wind. Other important industries were dye and tanning. Altogether there were about 30 tanneries that handled about 10,000 hides per year. The textile industry was probably the most prominent, with thousands of hand looms in the homes. It has been estimated that over 5 million meters of textiles (Sarpinka) were shipped to both domestic and foreign markets.
  • Today the former Volga German colony of Balzer is called Krasnoarmeysk. Because of the nearby military base built during the Soviet era, Balzer today is much larger than it was when the Volga Germans were living there.
  • Most of the original settlers in Balzer were of the Reformed faith. The Reformed congregation in Balzer was originally part of the parish headquartered in Messer where the pastor resided. In 1856, Balzer became an independent parish serving the colonies of Balzer and Anton, with the pastor living in Balzer.
  • The dominant church in the colony was Evangelical Reformed, with Lutheran being the other major denomination. Of the original 90 families, 60 belonged to the Reformed Church and 30 to the Lutheran Church.
  • The first church in Balzer was built of wood in 1777. A new building, also made of wood, was contructed in 1821 [Litzenberger records this date as 1815]. The third church building, constructed of brick covered with plaster, was built in Balzer from 1848-1851. The nearby bell tower housed three bells, typical among the Volga German colonies.
  • On Christmas Day, 1935, the last service was held in this church. It was conducted by Elder Köhler. In March of 1936, the steeple was torn down and the alter and pulpit removed from the building. It was used as a community center during the Soviet era. Today, nothing remains of the church. It's foundation was used to build a new movie theatre. In front of where the church was is now a plaza commemorating the Red Army soldiers who put down an uprising in the colony in 1918.
Pastors & Priests:
The congregation in Balzer was served by the following pastors:
1767-1777 Aloysius Jauch
1778-1799 Johannes S. Janet
1802-1818 Josua Graff
1821-1823 Johann Samuel Huber
1823-1850 Emmanuel Grünauer
1852-1887 Gottlieb Friedrich Jordan
1887-1892 Johannes Kosciol
1893-1903 Ernst Theophil David
1904-1922 Paul Reichert
1929-1930 Max Maier
David Kaufmann
Notable Individuals:
David, Ernst Theophil
Dorsch, Karl
Jordan, Gottlieb Friedrich
Jürgens, Ralph Waldo
Kosciol, Johannes
Kähm, Georg
Maier, Max
Möllmann, Johann Friedrich
Reichert, Bruno
Reichert, Paul
Schwabauer, Heinrich
Siebengar, August
Volz, Jacob Jr.
Volz, Jacob Sr.
Weber, Jakob

Barthuly (Balzer) | Bauer (Balzer) | Becker (Balzer-1) | Bender (Balzer) | Bengel (Balzer) | Berg (Balzer) | Biseck / Böseck / Buseck / Busek | Blitz | Borell (Balzer) | Braun (Moor) | Brotzmann (Balzer) | Burbach (Messer) | Busch (Balzer) | Bär (Balzer) | Decker (Balzer) | Dickner | Dit(t)mar / Dit(t)mer | Dietrich | Dorlosch | Dö(h)ring (Stephan) | Eichner / Egner (Balzer) | Engel (Balzer) | Engelmann (Kukkus) | Erth | Euler (Balzer) | Eurich (Balzer) | Faust (Balzer) | Fech(t) | Freund (Grimm) | Frickel (Balzer) | Geist (Balzer) | Gerlach (Balzer & Moor) | Grasmück (Balzer & Lauwe) | Gropp (Balzer) | Grün (Balzer) | Habermann (Balzer) | Haupt | Heckmann (Balzer) | Heft | Heitzenröder (Balzer) | Herzog (Balzer) | Hoffmann (Balzer) | Huber (Balzer) | Idt (Balzer) | Jakel / Jäkel / Jeckel (Balzer) | Jakob (Balzer) | Junker (Balzer) | Kaiser (Balzer) | Kalbin | Karl (Balzer) | Kembel / Kempel | Kern (Balzer) | Kisselmann (Balzer) | Klaus (Balzer / Moor / Norka) | Klein (Balzer) | Kleinfelder | Kling / Klink (Balzer) | Knaub (Kautz) | Kolb (Balzer) | Kähm (Balzer) | Leichner (Balzer) | Lein (Moor) | Lohrengel (Balzer) | Lutz (Balzer) | Magel (Balzer) | Mai / Maÿ (Balzer) | Maurer (Balzer) | Meier (Balzer) | Meisinger (Balzer & Messer) | Merkel (Balzer) | Messer (Norka-2) | Mohn | Müller (Balzer) | Neuhard / Neihard (Balzer) | Popp (Balzer) | Raab (Balzer) | Reiss / Reuss (Balzer) | Ritter (Balzer) | Robertus | Rockel / Rogel | Roth (Balzer) | Rutt (Balzer) | Röhrig (Balzer) | Scheck (Balzer) | Scheidt (Balzer / Moor) | Schleuger (Balzer) | Schneider (Balzer-1) | Schneider (Balzer-2) | Schwabauer | Schäfer (Balzer) | Schäfer (Stephan) | Sinner (Balzer) | Späth | Steinpreis (Balzer/Franzosen) | Stöhr (Balzer) | Tehele | Volz (Balzer) | Weber (Balzer) | Weisheim (Balzer) | Worster (Schilling) | Wu(c)kert |Zieg (Balzer & Messer)

  • When the "Russianizing" process began in 1874 the colonists sent an exploration party to America to explore emigration possibilities. Emigration started in earnest in 1875 as young men objecting to the compulsory military duty began to depart. Another contingent left in 1876.
  • Many of these early departing colonists settled in the towns of Friend and Sutton, Nebraska. As emigration picked up, many settled in other parts of the United States and also in Winnipeg, Canada.
  • Lincoln, Nebraska ended up being the most prominent destination by far, with more than 200 Balzer families documented living there by the early 1900's.
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Balzer Families in Kazakhstan
  • Recent news from a Balzer descendent, and former Kazakhstan resident, documents many former Balzer family surname lines there. These are surnames of individuals that were resettled there during the 2nd World War and their descendants.[Herb Femling Website]
  • Among the families who are still represented include:
Engel | Haberman | Idt | Jakel | Kahm | Kaiser | Klaus | Kling | Lutz | Muller | Popp | Roth | Rutt | Weber
  • Others that are also believed to be living in nearby villages include:
Barthuly, Becker, Decker, Grasmuck, Klein, Meissinger, Ritter, Robertus and Schaffer.


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