The life of August Koth



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August Friedrich Koth`s life and his roots


Investigated by Dr. Harald Schoettle (a grand-son)
August Friedrich Koth was born March, 27, 1851 in Kulm / Bessarabia.

His parents are Friedrich Koth, born Jan, 11, 1809 in Croitz / Sieradz (Poland). His wife Christine, born Hensel came from Semlin /Poland. They married Sept, 22, 1829.

His father Friedrich Koth was Johann Kothe`s son, born 1781 and his mother Susanne, born Riethmueller in 1785.

August Friedrich`s grand-parents are Gottfried Kothe1, born 1739 and Justina.

They settled somewhere near Danzig (Semlin?) and moved in 1805 to Croitz/Sieradz

about 60 km south-west of Lodz. They were poor at that time, underlayed reprisals of the authorities (in the meantime this region was no longer Prussian but Polish).

In addition to the lords of the manors despotisme there were very meager religious and school care. There existed also revolutionary riots. Napoleon crossed Poland with his army twice in 1812. This exhausted the patience of the settlers and the capacity to bear distress.

In 1813 Zar Alexander I. asked them to move to Bessarabia and there were thousands who followed his request2. He promised many priviliges, such as the exemption from military service for ever and tax-exempt for 10 years.

On Sept.,1,1815 Gottfried and his wife Justina, their son Johann and his wife Susanne with their children Wilhem, Justina, Carolina and Friedrich left their home in southern direction and went about 2500 miles away to Bessarabia3.

In 1815, 124 families with 520 persons, settlers from Prussish-Poland, Prussia, Pommern and Mecklenburg, founded Kulm in Bessarabia. They all spoke a lower German dialect and were teased “Kaschuben” by settlers in other Bessarabian villages, who spoke the Swabian dialect and originated from Wuerttemberg.

The first settlers arrived already in autumn 1814 and founded provisory shelter in moldavian villages.
It isn`t known where Gottried was born. His wife`s (Justina) birth name is unknown. Because of the origin of the surname “Koth” from the flat German area one can assume that they are originally from this region4.

As the “Kaschuben” were in minority among the German settlers in Bessarabia and they were assimilated over the years by the Swabians, concerning the spoken dialect. Therefore some descendants from Gottfried spoke Swabian but that`s no proof for Swabian roots!


August Friedrich`s grandfather Johann Kothe died 38 years old Aug, 14, 1819 in a horse accident. That is why he had only 4 children, few at that time.

At the time of foundation the Kothe-family had to share the allocated farm at Kulm with another family because there wasn`t enough farmland for each family5.


In 1865 August`s father Friedrich moved with his family ( 8 children) from Kulm to Neu-Posttal, near the northern border of the Black Sea, founded in 1864/656.

He leased about 35 hectares for himself and another 35 also for his new born son David. August then was 14 years old.
As a young man August was hired on Christoph and Louise Geiszlers farm in Neu-Posttal. Christoph and Louise had 3 boys: Johann, Christoph und Andreas. In 1871 Christoph Geiszler died by a stallion. One year later August married the widow Louise Geiszler born Rieker. In 1884 the 3 boys ran away and emigrated to the USA.

Further details about the emigration of these 3 boys see appendix.


In 1881 August leased farmland was offered by the Russian aristocratic landowners. Friedrich bought the 71 hectares he had run before (89 Rubel pro hectare).

In 1881, when he was 30 years old, August bought the farm of Christian Geiszler who was leaner of before until his death 1871. In 1883 August Friedrich was the owner of: 92 hectares, 8 horses, 22 cattle and 52 sheeps. Later on he owned even 150 hectares farmland7.


An event of great importance for life in Bessarabia was the suspension of colonial administration in 1871. The colonists were subordinated to the general state administration. That included the loss of many privileges. Some privileges could be saved. The exemption from military service, which was promised, when the settlers moved to Bessarabia, was suspended in 1874. Simultaneously German as official language was replaced by the Russian.

Already in the Russish-turkish war (1877-1878), Bessarabian soldiers were fighting, like August´s brother Johann Koth, born Nov, 20,1853, who was 2 years younger. Johann suffered from a war injury and therefore he died of infection and blood poisoning.

It isn`t known until now, if August served in the russian army, however there are photos, showing him bearing insignia with Russish inscription.

August Friedrich Koth


In 1878 the greatest part of Friedrich Koth`s family emigrated to the USA. The essential reason was the loss of their son Johann in the Russish-turkish war of 1877/ 78.
Wilbert Koth told me what Friedrich, the father of the emigrating family declared:

“They got one of my sons. They won`t get another”.


He emigrated with his wife Christine and their sons Friedrich, Daniel, Gottlieb and David to South Dakota USA, arriving on MS Bremen at New York April, 13, 1878.

By that time father Friedrich was 69 years old and seriously ill, he died in the same year. On the shipping list he was registered to be 63. I suppose he feared to be turned away. Also his wife pretended to be 5 years younger as she really was.

The oldest son of the family, Friedrich jun. emigrated not in company with his parents and brothers but with his own family (some months later to the USA where they arrived in Dezember 1878.

Friedrich Koth jun., wife Louise and their 3 sons: David, Johannes and Friedrich in 1878, just before emigration to the USA


Friedrich´s only son, who stayed in Bessarabia with his wife Louise was August Friedrich Koth, my great-grandfather.
Nov, 26, 1872 he had married Louise Rieker in Benkendorf / Bessarabia, by that time he was 21 years old. His wife was 11 years older.
Louise Koth, born Rieker

Louise Rieker was born Aug, 16, 1840 in Bergdorf near Odessa. Her parents are Jakob Friedrich Rieker and Louise born Werth. Ten years after her wedding my grandmother Anna Louise Koth was born in 1882 –see below.

4 other daughters, who were born before, all died in early childhood:
Louise * Dec, 31, 1875 + Jan, 23, 1877 Neu-Posttal

Magdalena * Jan, 15, 1874 + Jan, 21, 1877 Neu-Posttal

Christine * Oct, 30, 1877 + ? Neu-Posttal

Magdalene * Nov, 25, 1879 + ? Neu-Posttal

Anna Louise * Apr, 28, 1882 + Aug, 8, 1963 Neu-Postal / Backnang
I found their entries in the parish register of Benkendorf (that was responsible for Neu-Posttal at that time). The reason of the death of the 2 children who died within 2 days there is recorded infection of the throat. Probably it was a diphtheria. The 2 daughters Louise and Magdalene were buried the same day Jan, 24, 1877.

The only child who survived the childhood and got old was my grandmother Anna Louise.


One can only guess why August Friedrich stayed in Bessarabia whereas his parents and all his brothers emigrated: he had a large farm and was prosperous. 4 of his children were buried in Neu-Posttal. He had no son, who could be drafted into the Russian army.
In 1900 my grandfather Immanuel Schoettle married August`s daughter: my grandmother Anna Louise. She got 70 hectares from her father as dowry. Her husband, my grandfather purchased the remainig 100 hectares from his father-in-law.

My grandparents Immanuel Schoettle and Anna Louise, born Koth. Marriage: Sept. 1990


Since 1900 August Koth had enough money and time for further initiatives.

He donated money for the building of a new church in Neu-Posttal. As mayor of Neu-Posttal he was a member of the commission for the church construction. The church was opened in Nov. 12, 1905. The village got an own priest in 1911.


In 1901 he might have bought Friedrich Hoefel`s the farm, (*Febr, 22,1864) in Basyrjamka / Bessarabia near the border of the Black Sea. In the same year Friedrich Hoefel and his wife Theresia (*Nov, 21, 1856), born Gutsche, emigrated to the USA. So F. Hoefel could finance the costs of the emigration. Friedrich Hoefel was the brother of August Friedrich`s second wife, he married, after his first wife has died in 1910.
Now 50 years old, my great-grandfather August Friedrich had a new position in Basyrjamka and besides the farm he started trading salt. In the “liman” near Basyrjamka one could harvest salt, which the water left behind, when it was evaporated by the sun in summertime.

It is reported, that August Friedrich Koth, as he shipped salt all over the world, became a rich man.

In 1910 August Friedrich`s first wife Louise died. At that time she was 70 years old.
After that he married Justina, widowed Schimke (* Dec, 31, 1855 in Dennewitz), born Hoefel. Justina has had 12 children with her first husband Johann Schimke, who died Aug, 7, 1907 in Basyrjamka. 6 of her 12 children survived the early childhood, among them 2 daughters.


After the marriage with Justina, August Friedrich moved definitively to Basyrjamka.

He sold the house he had bought in 1901 and bought a grand farmhouse on the other side of the village street. In 1891, when Basyrjamka was founded, the owner of this house was Christian Mueller7.

In consequence of the 1 World War (1914-1918) the position of Germans in Russia became worse. During this war, the port of Basyrjamka was destroyed by the Russians.

The crisis reached its climax with the declaration of the liquidation laws in 1915.

These meant the expropriation of all German colonists in Russia and their deportation to Sibiria.
The preparations for deportation were nearly perfect, when the Russian Revolution began. Kerenski cancelled the liquidation 1917 and also the deportation order.
In winter 1917 the railway waggons, which were ready for deportation of the Bessarabian people were now needed to transport backhome thousands of defeated Russian soldiers.
In 1918 Bessarabia declared the indepandance from Russia and since 1920 it became associated to Romania (Peace treaty of Paris).
In 1920 farmers had to cede all farmland that exceeded 100 hectares. The ceded territory was distributed to poor farmworkers in parcels of 6 hectares each.
In 1923 the Saline of Basyrjamka was expropiated by the Romanian monopoly administration.

At that time my grand uncle Heinrich Schoettle was the leaner of the Saline of Basyrjamka, but he never was compensated for this expropriation neither by the Romanian nor by the German administration.


Now finally I want to tell You a little story about a photo a got from Wilbert Koth in 2006.
This was a copy of a photo, that was sent from August Friedrich to one of his brothers, approximately in 1923. In 2005 I got this picture from Wilbert Koth.


You can properly recognise August Friedrich`s house with 5 persons standing in front of it. It is rather clear, that the two persons on the left were August and his 2nd wife Justina. First we couldn`t recognise the other 3 persons. People assumed that these three persons were Justina`s grandchildren, who had been grown up by her grandmother, because their mother had died early.

About 2 years later I found the original of that picture in the estate of my aunt Isolde Schoettle.




Now we could clearly recognise all persons on the picture. My grand cousin Dr. Ernst Schoettle recognized his mother on the photo: Bertha Schimke (2nd from the right). She is Justina`s daughter. So the person on the right side is Maria Ziehman, born Schimke. The boy on the chair is Maria`s child Willi.

They all lived in Neufall, about 30 miles away and visited her relatives in Basyrjamka.
As August Friedrich had no son, he offered his farm to my uncle Rudolf Schoettle. August died May, 30,1927. But Rudolf inherited only 33 of the 100 hectares that August had left. The remaining farmland was inherited by my father Artur and my uncle Richard. The former was doctor, latter was a vetinary surgeon. Rudolf ran the total farm for them paid them rent.

Justina passed her twilight with Rudolf`s family in the Basyrjamka farmhouse until she died Nov, 17, 1930.

On her gravestone there was marked: Justina Schimke instead of Justina Koth.

Perhaps her children weren´t happy about the 2. marriage of her mother and wanted her to be buried as a widowed Schimke.

After my presentation I got further information to the subject from Leona Tesky Koth Hix, Oscar Geiszler and Donald Geiszler and Edwin A. Grueneich8 :
My great grandfather August Friedrich Koth as young man was hired on the farm of Christoph Geiszler, born June 6, 1834 in Neu-Posttal. Christoph Geiszler was killed by a stallion 1871. One year later August Friedrich married Louise Geiszler. She was 11 years older than her husband and had given life to 7 children from whom at least 3 boys survived when she married August in 1872:

Johannes (John) * Febr. 11, 1862

Andreas (Andrew) * Dec. 11, 1866

Christoph * July, 07, 1868

Another son Christoph * Aug. 08, 1859 died in early childhood.

It isn´t known what happened to the other 3 children Katharina * Jan. 01, 1861 in Dennewitz, Christina * Jan 30, 1864 in Dennewitz and Gottlieb * Nov. 01, 1869 in Neu-Posttal.

In his report about “Life and times of Christoph Geiszler“ Edwin A. Grueneich wrote:

“In 1884 the three boys decided to immigrate to the USA. John grew a big, long beard and with his wife posed as parents of Andrew and Christoph and thereby smuggled them to the USA.

…….
Furthermore, they (John, Andrew, Christoph) had a personal incentive for wanting to leave and go to America. Their father had been killed in a horse accident and their mother had married a man the three boys could not stand. He was mean to them, cursed and made them work hard without wages. They thought the situation was unbearable. So their option was either to stay in Russia, put up with a step-father they couldn´t stand and at the same time be subject to a long term of military service, which didn´t appeal to them in the least, or take their chances and go to America.


“They decided to come to the new world, America, Dakota Territory. After all, youth is the time to venture out.

However, they also had a problem! Christoph, a lad of 16, did not qualify to come on his own as a single person because he had not reached 21. In order for him to emigrate he had to come with a parent. So the brothers got together and hatched out a scheme. It was decided that John, at 23 the oldest of the three, would grow a beard, which he did. I have been told for a 23-year-old he truly had a remarkable beard, which made him appear as though he were well into his thirties. He then posed as Christoph´s father. Apparently it worked. All three managed to get past the immigration authorities without any problems.

But not all were that fortunate! Some were turned back which was a devasting experience.” 9

………


“They travelled by rail from Odessa, Russia to a north German port like Bremen or Hamburg, where they boarded a steamer for the new world. Passage cost $ 45.00 from Odessa to New York per person. Children were allowed to travel free. In order to save money most of them went “steerage”, the lowest fare possible. To go “steerage” meant to be located near the rudder of the ship, a section where freight was hauled. Living conditions were cramped with boxes and barrels piled on top of each other. It was dirty and unsanitary, infested with rats, mice and lice.” 9

……….


They entered the USA via New York, November 1884. Christoph Geiszler was naturalized October 19, 1894, District Court, McIntosh County, Ashley, North Dakota”

Dr. Harald Schoettle

Heublink 58

22391 Hamburg

Germany

Phone: 0049-40-52739966


Download of this manuscript:

www.schoettle-online.de




9 Life and times of Christoph Geiszler: A German-Russian pioneer Author:


1 See “Bessarabiendeutscher Kalender 1990”

2 Heimatbuch: Wittenberg / Bessarabien, Editor: Heimatmuseum der Deutschen aus Bessarabien page 19

3 About this I was informed by Wilbert Koth

4 Also today most Koth-families have their home in the northern part of Germany, Koth people, who lives nowadays in southern Germany came there in later centuries.

5 David Traichel: „Kurze Geschichte der Gemeinde Kulm“ Editor: Bessarabiendeutscher Verein

6 Heimatbuch der Gemeinde Neu-Posttal Kreis Akkerman Bessarabien 1963/64, Bessarabiendeutscher Verein Stuttgart

7 Basyrjamka, eine deutsche Gemeinde am Schwarzen Meer 1891 - 1940, S. 9, Ortsplan mit Gründern 1891, Eichhorn Druckerei, Ludwigsborg

8 Life and times of Christoph Geiszler: A German-Russian pioneer. Edwin A. Grueneich


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