Gazetteer > Sarepta
48º52' N 44º51' E
(about 150 miles south of the southern most edge of the largest group of Volga German colonies)
Sarepta was founded by the Herrnhutt Brethren (the Moravians) from Saxony in Germany. Dietz (pp. 407-414) outlines the special agreements that were negotiated with the Russian government to gain permission for the establishment of the colony. In August 1765, the first group of Moravian colonists arrived in Saratov. From there, they launched their search for an appropriate settlement location. They chose a location 28 versts south of Tsaritsyn where the Sarpa River flows into the Volga. On 23 August 1765, the Moravian brethren began laying out their new settlement. [Koch and Beratz report that Sarepta was founded on 3 September 1765, according to the Gregorian calendar.] In 1769 there were fewer than 60 colonists in Sarepta. An additional 30 colonists arrived that year, followed by another 30 colonists in 1771.
Having been warned by the commandant in Tsaritsyn to evacuate, the colonists in Sarepta escaped the Pugachev attacks in August 1774. Those fleeing the mauraders arrived by both boat and land in Astrakhan on 27 August 1774 where they stayed until the rebels had left Sarepta. The colony was virtually destroyed; the candle factory, hotel, and church had been plundered.
About a century after its founding, the established German Lutheran Church in Russia, with the support of the Russian government, began efforts to take Sarepta under its wing. Many of the Brethren objected to this and left the colony.
In both 1801 and 1803, there were fires that destroyed portions of the colony.
In 1812, the Russian Bible Society established a branch in Sarepta and in 1814 received permission to translate the Bible into the Kalmyk language.
The colonists in Sarepta were responsible for beginning the manufacture of a choice gingham material called sarpinka. Many other Volga German colonies took up the manufacture of sarpinka, and by the end of the nineteenth century, there were hundreds of small factory operations producing this cloth and employing thousands of colonists.
According to Dietz (p.418), Professor Pallas visited Sarepta on 26 June 1773 and reported: "The best and largest building is the two-story brick prayer house with a small tower in which they have only just installed a clock and bells." This would have been the church of the Moravian Brotherhood.
An independent Lutheran parish with a resident pastor was established in Sarepta in 1894.
The Lutheran parish established in 1894 in Sarepta was served by the following pastors:
**Of whom 1,271 were German.
***Of whom 131 were German.
- Amburger, Erik. Die Pastoren der evangelischen Kirchen Rußlands (Lüneburg, Germany: Institut Nordostdeutsches Kulturwerk, 1998): 139.
- Beratz, Gottieb. The German colonies on the Lower Volga, their origin and early development: a memorial for the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first German settlers on the Volga, 29 June 1764. Translated by Adam Giesinger (Lincoln, NE: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1991): 352.
- Dietz, Jacob E. History of the Volga German Colonists (Lincoln, NE: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 2005): 403-437.
- Koch, Fred C. The Volga Germans: In Russia and the Americas, from 1763 to the Present (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1977): 33.
- Schnurr, Joseph. Die Kirchen und das Religiöse Leben der Russlanddeutschen - Evangelischer Teil (Stuttgart: Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland, 1972): 194-195.
- "Settlements in the 1897 Census." Journal of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (Winter, 1990): 19.
Last updated 26 June 2014.