Geschichte der Gemeinde Alt-Posttal (Bessarbien) (History of the Colony Alt Posttal (Bessrabia))

Review by Arnold H. Marzolf, Professor Emeritus, NDSU, Fargo, ND

Gäckle, Herbert. Geschichte der Gemeinde Alt-Posttal (Bessarabien) (History of the Colony Alt Posttal (Bessarabia)). Markgronigen/Wuerttemberg, Germany: Alt-Posttaler Heimatausschuss, 1983.

Here is a book that contains the names and addresses of hundreds of people who lived in Alt-Posttal and who migrated to other places, especially to North Dakota and Montana – a great source for genealogy work!

Although this book consists of 1028 pages of history and names, it is well organized, interestingly written and fairly easy to review.

It begins with a five-page Foreword by the author telling why he undertook this mammoth work, naming sources and helpers, including Dr. Karl Stumpp.

Herbert Gäckle then presents a short history of Bessrabia (its situation, climate, early inhabitants, relations with Romania, etc.). He explains the meanings of the Manifestoes of Czarina Katherine II and Czar Alexander I, giving the usual reasons why these “Warschauer Kolonisten” left Poland and Prussia in 1814. He give an account of the settlement of Alt-Posttal, listing 219 names of founders (their history and places of origin), and 15 pages giving street numbers and the names of the early settlers.

Gäckle next explains the economy of the area, its industries, trades, plants, farm animals, wild animals, honey making and spinning of satin. He gives the reasons why some people had to leave Atl-Posttal (near Odessa) to found other German-Russian settlements, and why some people left (after 1874) to come to America (especially to North Dakota and Montana) to Argentina and to Brazil.

Page 197 ff. he writes about businesses in old Russia, gives names and date of city officials, covers items relating to the legal system, banking, schools, churches (Lutheran, Catholic and Baptist), names of teachers, pastors, and priests; housing, hospitals, food, customs, superstitions; dialects used (Schwabian, Russian, Romanian, Plattdeutsch, etc.), proverbs, myths, music, newspapers, books, etc.

Pages 441 ff. Herbert Gäckle writes about the military after 1871, wars, the first Centennial of Atl-Posttal, visitors from America, Germans who became wealthy in Russia, the Repatriation of 1940, and the “Trek” to various countries including Stuttgart, Germany (giving many pages of family names).

Page 613 ff. Gäckle recounts the horrible “flight” of January 1945, to Poland and Germany, supplying hundreds of names, including a long list of “missing persons”; a long list of soldiers from Alt-Posttal who died in W.W. II, a report of Atl-Posttal after 1940 and the names of families who went to France, England, Stuttgart, Germany, Sweden, Canada and to the U.S.A. (especially North Dakota and Montana), gives a short history of prominent individuals who live in Alt-Posttal (92 pages), 23 pages of honored old folks, another 126 pages of names and addresses of citizens who lived in Alt-Posttal in 1940 and who were resettled, 14 pages of the names of children who were born after 1940, etc.

What a ripe field for genealogists, especially for those who had ancestors in Alt-Posttal and the surrounding colonies nears Odessa on the Black Sea.

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