This page was begun 24 June 2001, revised 5 Nov 2002 -- rak.

Messer, aka Ust-Solikha, Ust-Solicha, and Ust-Zolicha, a Lutheran colony, founded by the Russian government on 7 July 1766.  Its official population was 397 (in 1773), 581 (1788), 619 (1798), 960 (1816), 1,828 (1834), 2,704 (1850), 3,327 (1857), 3,403 (1860), 3,102 (1886), 4,260 (1891), 4,627 (1894), 5,204 (1897), 5,057 (1905), 5,295 (1912) and 3,375 (1926) {Mai, vol.I, pp.21-22}.

For the exact location of Messer, click on the Saratov Area Map.

In late 1798, Popov, the official census taker, reported:

"This colony is located ... on the Bergseite, along Ust-Zolikha and Goly Karamysh Creeks, on the main Astrakhan road.  It is 80 versta [1 verst is slightly longer than 1 km.] ... from Saratov, 100 from Kamyshin, and from its neighboring colonies: 12 from Balzer, 10 from Grimm, 8 from Moor, 7 from Doenhof, and 5 from Kutter; and 25 from the nearest Volga docks.... The inhabitants ... are of the Reformed faith and have their own church and pastor.  The younger children learn to read, write and learn religion from a schoolmaster under the supervision of the pastor in a school building (p.159)."

"The lands of this colony are bordered by those of the aforementioned [five] colonies ... Regarding cultivation of arable and mediocre land, fully one third ... is mostly clay and saline ... suitable only for pasturing stock.... The colony suffers major deficiencies in all areas of economic importance.  As a result, the most productive farming efforts are concentrated on ... mediocre land.  Because of a lack of hay, they purchase feed for the stock.  In place of firewood, they use dung.  There is no escape form the ... deficiencies because the land allotment of the colony is limited and they cannot be offered state lands (p.159).

"All are engaged in farming.... They farm with ploughs and horses.  They do not fertilize the land.  On the arable land, harvests are good, but mediocre on the other.  Every summer gophers consume a  considerable amount of the crop....  [The next] Harvests will be collected ... next autumn [it is now Nov.].... [After] grain is harvested [it is] threshed on threshing floors adjacent to their farmyards.... [They have] been instructed to immediately move the threshing floors to a safe distance from the homes.  The grain is sold in Saratov ... The common granary here is new and constructed in a convenient place. [It stores] rye, wheat, and oats ... (pp.159-60)."

"Of the trades, they have two blacksmiths, two bootmakers and one weaver.  They are favorably disposed towards work.  They live in moderate condition.  Their buildings are for the most part dilapidated, there being very few new ones.  Six of the homes are of stone, and several of them have similar outbuildings.  One is of rammed clay.  Fences are wattle and stone.  Vegetable gardens are all behind the homes.  They have no orchards or apiaries.  They have three water-powered flourmills (Mail, vol.I, p.160)."

My Messer Ancestral Families

I no longer think I have any likely Messer ancestors.  rak, 5 Nov 2002.


To get to other ancestral villages, click on them.