Saturday, March 18, 2017

Molotschna Voting List for 1850

In Molotschna Colony in Russia, the landowners had to vote frequently in the village assemblies on issues affecting the colony.  Only the landowners could vote, so not every family is listed.  And only the heads of households are listed.  Some of these voting lists have been preserved in the various archives in Ukraine.  Tim Janzen has extracted one of these here, the list for the voting for village and district mayors in 1847.  These lists are valuable for genealogists because you can see whether your ancestor owned a farm, which tells you a lot about the family's economic status.  And if your ancestor was a landowner, it gives you confirmation of his residence in a certain year.

I have been going through some microfilms at the Tabor College Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies in Hillsboro, Kansas, specifically the ones designated as Fond 6, Inventory 2; and I found a number of voting lists from the 1840s and 1850s.  I decided to extract and post online the names from one that dealt with hiring a professional doctor for the Molotschna colony in 1850-1851.  There are over 1200 names, so I'm kind of regretting my decision to do this, but I'm going to finish it anyway.

Here is the page with the names from the protocol for Margenau village reporting the voting for the doctor.  They are even signed by the landowners, so this is a great way to collect signatures of your ancestors.
Village council voting list, 18 December 1850, Margenau village, Molotschna Mennonite District, Tavricheskaia Guberniia, Russia, State Archive of Odessa Region, Odessa, Ukraine, Fond 6, Inventory 6, File 11792, p. 22, Held at Tabor College Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Hillsboro, Kansas.
And here is an enlargement of the signature of David Klassen (or Klaassen as he spelled it) #6718 (1813-1900):

He was my great-great-grandfather.  Interestingly, he is not in the 1847 voting list for Margenau that I mentioned above, so he must have gotten a farm and moved to the village between 1847 and 1850, when he would have been between ages 34 and 37.  So this list adds some detail to his life.  It also shows that he spent his 20s and early 30s landless, probably working as a farm laborer.  Since he had five children by the time he moved to Margenau, he experienced poverty and the responsibility of providing for a growing family with only limited means as well as God's blessing in providing him with a farm.  This shows how you can combine a bureaucratic document that has very little information in and of itself with other documents and facts to create a picture of a person's life.

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