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Information about this period has been culled from the

The Jewish Encyclopedia  Funk and Wagnals 1951

and placed in quotes: i.e." pp 252-253 "


Kherson - First Colonies


"In 1806 many Jewish families from the Government of Vitebsk and Mogilev on the Dnieper removed to southern Russia and founded the first seven agricultural colonies i the government of Kherson. They were named: Nahar-Tob, Har Shefer, Sede Menuhah, Brobrovy-Kut, Jefer-Nahar, Jaazer, and Kamenka. These lands had previously been inspected by Nahum Finkenstein and Lieberman, who were commissioned to do so by the Jews of Vitebsk and Mohilev with the consent of the minister of the interiou (Nikitin, Yevreiskiya Zemledelcheskiya Kolonii," 12)


"The authorities in charge of colonization were directed to establish settlements in territories well adapted for agricultural purposes. The colonies were to be founded at certain distances from Christian settlements, and the Jewish colonists were denied the right to purchase land in Christian villages. Every occupation not in the line of agriculture was strictly prohibited. The colonial authorities were to lend the Jews all possible assistance and protection. Unfortunately for the settlers, the officials selected territories more adapted to cattle breeding and agriculture on a large scale than for small farms; and those colonists who had settled on their own account were left almost without necessary means to purchase implements and food. Exhausted by the long and weary journey, unaccustomed to the climate of the sparsely settled South Russia steppes, many fell ill and died; while others sold their estates for next to nothing and returned to their old homes or left the country altogether. Only the poorest remained in the colonies; and these led a miserable existence, hoping in vain for the support promised by the government. Notwithstanding the drawbacks, 1,690 families had been settled in these colonies up to the year 1810. On April 6 of that year an edict was issued, discontinuing the transfer of Jews to New Russia, all the funds assigned by the government having been expended. In 1819 General Intzov, chief superintendent of South Russia colonies inspected the Jewish settlements and he reported on them so favorably that the question of continuing Jewish colonization was discussed at St. Petersburg. In 1823 a loan of 50,000 rubles was granted for colonization purposes, and this enabled 443 families to settle---partly in the old colonies and partly in new settlements. In the same year further emigration to New Russia was stopped by the government. Under the conscientious management of General Intzov, the economic conditions of the colonies improved; but his strict administration and almost military discipline drove many of the colonists away. His plan of distributing the free farms---by which the colonists were grouped together, not by families, byt to suit the convenience of the management---was detrimental to the development of the colonies.


Second Era


"The second period in the history of the Jewish colonization in Russia begins with the edict concerning Jews issued by Czar Nicholas I*. On April 13 1835. From this it was manifest that the czar intended to colonize New Russia with Jews, who were to be settled there in great numbers. Briefly, the provisions of the edict were as follows: (1) Jews were permitted to join the peasant class in New Russia without being compelled to do so. (2) Forty candidates were entitled to the right of founding a colony. (3) Jews were granted the right to buy or rent lands from Christian owners or from the crown in territories where Jews were allowed to live (4) Jews joining the peasant class were relieved from certain taxes and duties. (5) Jews colonizing fifty Jewish families on their estates were entitled to honorary citizenship and those colonizing one hundred families were entitled to be raised to the nobility. (6) Colonists were granted the right to send their children a=to all public schools, gymnasiums, academies and universities ("Russian Code." pp/ 24-27, 104-117). Not withstanding these privileges, the Jews, remembering the trials and sufferings encountered by the first colonists, showed but little enthusiasm for the scheme; and the czar, disappointed at the complete failure of his well-meant project, ordered a special commission, under the presidency of Count Kankrin, minister of finance, to investigate the matter. This commission attributed the failure to climatic reasons, and recommended the fertile territory of Siberia, with their healthful climate, as more suitable for colonization.


The Siberian Proposal


"In 1836 the czar issued an order assigning 15,154 deciatines of land in the government of Tobolsk and Omak for the colonization by Jews. This order had an unexpected and remarkable result. The enthusiasm of the Jews, rich and poor, learned and ignorant knew no limits. Jewish scholars---I.B.Levinsohn, B. Mandelstamm, and others---supported the government plan by contributions to the press and public speeches. Almost equal sympathy was shown by the Christian population of all classes.


"The first who sought to be colonized were 70 families, numbering 350- persons, from Mitau in Courland, who applied through their leaders, Meyer Mendelsohn and Elijah Mitauer, for permission to settle in the province of Ekaterinoslav. Numerous other applicants sent in similar requests for the provinces of Siberia, among them 117 families from Courland, 200 from the estates of Prince Dologorukov, and 427 from Mohilev. In all, 990 families forwarded applications to Count Bludov, minister of the interior. At the same time the minister received communications from many governors pointing out the impracticality of sending Jews to Siberia.  Count KanKrin, however, remained firm in his conviction that Siberia was the most suitable country for Jewish Colonization; and his plan was sanctioned by the czar, October 27, 1836 ("Vos." 1882, iii.62). Kankrin proceeded with his arrangements, and in due course reported to the czar that all was  ready for the expedition. To the intense disappointment of all concerned, the report was returned, January 5, 1837, with the following remark in the czar's handwriting, "The transfer of Jews to Siberia is to be stopped."


"As soon as the new edict was issued Bludov gave orders to all governors and governor generals of the Siberian provinces to seize the would be colonists wherever they might be found and to send them, under proper convoy. tot he government of Kherson. Shortly before the publication of the edict, 36 families had arrived at Omak. With the permission of the authorities, they had migrated there on their own account. These were permitted to return to their former homes or to settle in New Russia.


Difficulties of the Kherson Colonies


"Komarow was sent by Bludov to the government of Kherson to settle 738 families in the original nine colonies  But not until the year 1840 were the new colonists moved. There were then to be settled 346 families (1,552 persons) from Courland and 863 families (6,171 persons) from Lithuania and other north-western provinces. The condition in which most of these colonists from Siberia and from the northwestern governments arrived at South Russia was pitiful. On the road many died while others had to be placed in hospital. The Courlanders---destined to be pioneers of colonization---were maltreated by the officials in charge during their voyage down the Dnieper, and were unable to begin work till the following year, as is shown in the report of D. Schindler to Prince Dalgorukov. Major Benkendorff, in a communication to Kisselev, declared in distinct terms that the czar's promises to the Jews of Courland, both written and verbal, had not been fulfilled. They found no houses , seeds, or agricultural implements. As soon as they had reached their destination the authorities of Kherson went them to the old colonies. The result was that in a short time all the houses were over crowded, and the thousands had to camp in the open fields near the settlements. In Yanovka, for instance, two thousand settlers had to remain with out shelter; and the provisions soon gave out. This famine brought on all kinds of sickness and finally caused the people to revolt. The authorities took strong repressive measures, the number of overseers was considerably increased, and the disturbers of the peace were severely punished. Count Vorontzov, the governor general of Kherson, decided to found four new colonies; and he did his best to improve the wretched conditions of the old settlements. In June 1941, he founded four colonies which, according to the wishes of the settlers were called Novy Breslawl (New Breslau), Lvov (Lemberg), Romanov, and Novo Poltavka (New Poltavka), and settled there 700 families ("Vos." 1882, vol.7).


Statistics of Kherson Colonies


"Kartzev's report of 1845 showed that there were 1.661 families (12,779 persons) in the Kherson colonies. Of these 11,099 individuals were settled by the government; the rest, having paid for their farms, settled on their own account. From 1841 to 1845 the government expended 234,589 rubles in aiding Jewish colonists in Kherson.



The  following table shows the condition of the fifteen colonies in the government of Kherson in 1845.



In the fifteen colonies there were 5 synagogues, 12 houses of prayer, 6 town halls, 7 warehouses, 7 bath-houses, 1 seed-warehouse, 8 windmills, 463 horses, and 533 harrows. Of the colonists 3,308 were entered in the books as taxpayers.


"The colonies had an income of 3.363 rubles per annum besides rents from distilleries and restaurants kept by Jews who were not colonists. The local authorities of the fifteen Jewish village named in the table were 11 mayors , 22 assessors, and 11 clerks. Religious affairs were administered by 12 rabbis, assisted by 30 parnassim ("directors") and 16 treasurers. The five synagogues were maintained at the expense of the communities. Most of the colonists originally belonged to the merchant class, 833 persons only being artisans. Only the tailors (359), shoemakers (144), and blacksmiths(11) found employment in the colonies; the others either sought employment or established themselves in surrounding towns. The death-rate of the colonies was very high. To every birth there were over twenty deaths. The poor results shown were die to the inexperience of the colonists. This was practically confessed by the Russian officials in their reports to Czar Nicholas, who took a deep personal interest in the whole matter (see Kisselev's report, June 1845.) In 1846 the colonies were put under the management of the Ministry of Domains, a special Jewish Fund, called Korobka ("basket fund"), being set apart for the necessary expenditures."


[Editor's note: This part of the article covers only the period up to 1845. The article continues and includes information on the Colonies in Ekaterinoslav; The Contrast between 1851 and 1865;The end of the Colonization Period and the effect of the May Laws of 1882 on the colonies.] from: The Jewish Encyclopedia  Funk and Wagnals 1951


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