Tuesday, June 08, 2021

brother Klundt

Nearly seven years ago, I wrote up what I knew about the descendents of my ancestors Johannes Klundt and Eva Hust, who had emigrated to the Black Sea (today’s Ukraine) with their youngest children, while the oldest son, Johann Jacob Klundt (1782-1853; my four-times-great-grandfather) stayed in Germany.

The post has created a lot of interest (as well as inspiring a master dissertation from the young historian in the family) and most recently, two readers have been able to fill me in on the descendants of the youngest son, Georg Michael Klundt (1805-after 1866), about whom I knew nothing back then. It turns out his son became famous as a founder of the Baptist community in Bulgaria, but let’s start from the beginning again, from the migrating couple, and the new village of Rohrbach where they settled.

I found the historic report of school master Fritschle (an English translation available here) who taught at the village school in 1848 and wrote a detailed account of its history with its ups and downs. It started in 1809 with 26 families, and another 69 families arrived in 1810. Another arrival of five families brought the number to 100 families with 475 individuals. There were numerous Fritschle individuals among the settler families, so the schoolmaster definitely came from within that community, but I don't know his first name and haven't been able to identify him in the databases.

Fritschle noted that this happened under the authority of the governor “Rischileu”. I recently learned from Neal Ascherson's excellent book Black Sea that the city of Odessa, founded around the same time, was essentially run by French nobility that escaped the French Revolution. So this governor was Armand-Emmanuel Sophie Septimanie de Vignerot du Plessis, the 5th Duke of Richelieu and Fronsac (1766 –1822) who later returned to France to serve in the restored monarchy.

In 1810, my relatives at Rohrbach accounted for two households with nine individuals:

Founder family: Johannes Klundt, 51; Eva Katharina Hust, 48; Eva Catharina, 18; Heinrich, 13; Johann Michael, 9; Georg Michael, 5.

First generation family: Wilhelm Klundt, 25; Ottilia Golum, ca. 22; Jakob, 3

Fritschle notes that the Russian government paid for a stone-built house for every family. All other necessities such as farming equipment, seeds, animals and food were provided on a credit basis.

According to Fritschle, the colony failed to thrive in the first 18 years, because the colonists were lacking the relevant skills and/or work ethic, and for most of the time, the village didn’t have a pastor to instil the fear of God in its residents. Pastorn Elias Hübner was appointed in 1812, but died after less than two years in the job.

In 1824, the pastor Johannes Bonekemper (1795-1857) was appointed as pastor for both Rohrbach and the neighbouring colony of Worms (7km away). Bonekemper was of Reformed protestant faith, but was also tasked with offering Lutheran services. Also, from 1826, a new schoolmaster arrived, Wilhelm Eberhard, who taught until 1843 and is credited with a change of culture.

Bonekemper spread the “Erbauungsstunde” idea (a daily hour of spiritual recollection) around the Southern parts of Russia, creating what became the “Stundist” movement. A more extensive account of his role in the Reformed faith is here, scroll down to the subheading "Life in Russia". By 1847, the spiritual fervour of Bonekemper's followers got out of hand to an extent that authorities persuaded him to move on which he did in 1848. Schoolmaster Fritschle, by contrast, created the impression that Bonekemper resigned voluntarily and praised the spiritual renewal he achieved: "The blessings of his 24-years' work with us will long be remembered." Bonekemper was intending to emigrate to the USA, but didn't make it.

In the early 1840s, seven families from Rohrbach, including Georg Michael Klundt and his wife Elisabeth Feiock (* 1817 Rohrbach) moved to the new colony Neu-Danzig and took the stundist idea there. They had married in 1836 and had three children, including Margaretha (1837), Jakob (1839) and Barbara (1841). They may have had additional children in Neu Danzig, possibly including Beatha Klundt.

By 1840, the founder couple Johannes Klundt and Eva Hust had died, but all their children had families, with up to eight children. In stark contrast to the school master's moans about the colony’s initial lack of economic success, this family was thriving rather nicely, as judged by survival rates. Not counting the descendants they left behind in Germany, the founders had at least 19 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren.

In 1864, the Klundts in Neu Danzig became Baptists, which was a growing but illegal faith in Russia. In 1866, Jakob and his young family fled to Katalui, in the Danube delta, which was then a German colony under Osman rule, now known as Cataloi, Romania. This wider area on the West Coast of the Black Sea is called Dobruja, and the German settlers were known as the Dobrujan Germans. Georg Michael followed them and died there after 1866. The above-mentioned Beatha Klundt and her husband Johann Wilhelm Graf also moved there. Their first three children were born in Neu-Danzig in 1862-1865, but the fourth was born in Cataloi in 1867.

Jakob started a Baptist community in Katalui, which appears to have been so successful that he was hired by the British and Foreign Bible Society as a Bible colporteur for Bulgaria and part of Macedonia and Albania in 1872. For eight years he worked and traveled from Albania, but dangers and difficulties he faced there led him to move his base to Bulgaria.

From 1880 and for the rest of his life his base was in Lompalanka, now Lom, Bulgaria, and any history of Baptism in Bulgaria includes his biography (see eg here) and sometimes even a portrait (see below). His name in Bulgarian looks like this: яковъ клундтъ (in case anybody wants to dive into Bulgarian sources). Accounts mention his wife Regina as an active participant in the Baptist community, but don’t mention his descendants by name. He did have a son in law who later took over his role as pastor in Lom, so at least one daughter survived. We believe that no sons survived to adult age.

Jakob died on March 28, 1921, in Kazanlak, Bulgaria, where he was staying with his son in law (the obituary does not mention his daughter at this point, not sure if she was still alive).

Of Jakob’s sisters, we know nothing about Margaretha beyond her date of birth, but his younger sister Barbara married Philipp Krause and had five children. Only Barbara Krause (* 1864 in the Black Sea colony of Worms) survived to adulthood, she married Johann Brandner, emigrated to South Dakota (as many other descendants in her generation did too) and had 14 children.

Portrait of Jakob Klundt which appeared with his obituary in The EVANGELIST, Organ of the Evangelical Baptist Union of Bulgaria, editor: Rev. V. Tachtadjieff, Tchirpan.

Special thanks to Mihai, whose comment under the original Klundt Clan post already contained a lot of information about Jakob Klundt and set further investigations and contacts rolling.

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