Germans from Baden, Hesse, Rhineland, Palatinate, Württemburg and Switzerland emigrated to Russia between 1765 and 1767. They settled along the west side (Bergseite) of the Volga River, forming the Village of Balzer. 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. Transcripts of the Budingen marriage records in German have been obtained. A translated copy of these records may be printed in a future special edition of the Balzer Village Newsletter.
The summer 1997 issue of the Balzer Village Newsletter contained a reprint of a several page history of Balzer and emigrating families. A brief synopsis of this article on Balzer History is included here, but see the details on newsletter back issues below. The picture at the top right is the Balzer Church, built 1849-1851. To view a larger image of the Church (56K).
Many Balzer residents also have links to the nearby village of Moor.
Passenger Ship Emigration to the U.S.
The Ellis Island passenger ship records for selected Balzer families & individuals have been extracted for the years 1892-1924. Older records will be added on a case by case basis as discovered. Please submit any passenger records for families not listed on this page that have been researched.
Mosel - Passenger Ship Arriving from Bremen on 23 Aug 1875. A list of Germans from Russia for abstracted passengers that all have family names from the village of Balzer and "possibly" were Balzer residents. This group represents one of the early large departures from the Volga region after the "Russification" process began.
The Eurich family history has been traced back through Balzer, Russia to Dudelsheim, Hesse, Germany. Several generations are documented including a sample passport used to emigrate to the U.S. in 1887.
Please feel free to submit any other family histories that should be included to aid Balzer descendants.
Surname charts have been purchased from Russia for the following Balzer families:
For a complete list of surname charts available for all Villages see the AHSGR Surnames page. See the contact information if you are interested in these families.
Balzer (Russia) Census Records 1775, 1798 and 1857
The 1775 and 1798 censuses are available from AHSGR headquarters and can be very useful in documenting the first two to four generations of the original families. Unfortunately, the census versions for other years are not readily available. However, the Balzer 1857 Revision is available in Russia. It is being purchased on a family by family basis from researchers in Russia by the Balzer Research Group and individual members.
Many issues of the Balzer Village Newsletter contain an 1857 abstract for a family. The following families have been printed to date: Rockel, Schwabauer, Grasmuek, Spaeth, Haberman, Mueller and Claus. For more details see the back issues for when they were printed.
US Census Records Containing Balzer Families
Several of the early families leaving Balzer in the 1870s made their way to Friend, Nebraska. A list of all German Russians has been extracted for the 1880 Friend Nebraska Census. Most of these have Balzer surnames and were probably Balzer residents.
A census of Germans from Russia was performed in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1913-1915. Over 50 Balzer family surnames are included in the census . There were ~123 families that listed Balzer as their home village in Russia. These 123 households contained approximately 500 individuals. This may be a great source of information if your Balzer family arrived in the Lincoln area between 1891 and 1913. For further details see the AHSGR Lincoln Census page
The village coordinators for Balzer are Wayne Bonner, Dr. Darrell Weber and Herb Femling. They can assist you in finding information and in coordinating with others researching Balzer families. For a complete list of all the village coordinators try the AHSGR Village Research Coordinators page. If you would like to search for other people researching Balzer families or similar surnames, check the AHSGR Master Listing of Germans from Russia.
Balzer Village Newsletter
A newsletter is published quarterly and is available for a subscription price of $8.00. Examples of items covered in an issue include: Balzer village history, German parish records, abstracts from the 1857 Balzer Revision, family histories, and a variety of photos, maps and other types of records. For subscription information or to obtain back issues contact:
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.
Among the families who are still represented include:
Pictures of Ancestral Villages In Germany
Pictures of home villages and areas surrounding Budingen, Hesse, Germany where many Balzer residents are known to have originated from or had family connections.
Home Pages of Other Volga German Villages
A complete list of home pages for the other Volga Villages can be found
at the AHSGR site.
Moor Village Home Page
Copyright © 1995-2004 Herb Femling
Updated December 31, 2004
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