This page was last updated 1 July 2011 -- rak.

Reserved for the Thüngen Kraus coat of arms

The Thüngen Kraus coat of arms

All of my father's ancestral families in 1765 left various small countries which many years later became part of a new country, Germany, which did not then exist. For instance, our Kraus family left a very small country, the Thüngen Barony, to go to Russia. Most of dad's ancestral families traveled overland and by river north to the Baltic Sea port of Lübeck, where there would be a wait, long or short. From there they took ship to Kronstadt, the Russian naval base on the Baltic Sea just west of St. Petersburg.

Having sworn allegiance to the the Russian Empire at Oranienbaum, Catherine the Great's summer palace on the mainland just south of Kronstadt, they waited, sometimes months, in temporary "housing", for transport south to the provincial capital, Saratov, on the Volga River.

Such transport was rarely by wagon train either all the way to Saratov, or, more often, to a major tributary of the Volga River At, or just after, such a transhipment point, they often had to over-winter incurring grevious loss of life. From thence the survivors took boat to the Saratov area. As soon as it could be arranged (sometimes months later), they were assigned to a colony and moved there. All too often no viable housing was available in this just-founded colony and that first winter "in colony" added to their death toll.

The trip from their "old home" in the west to their "new home" in on the Volga in Russia was long, tiring and hazardous It often took a full year or more, with perhaps 20% to 25% of those who set out for Russia dying along the way.

Dad's ancestors, along with almost 25,000 other emigrants, had accepted offers made by recruiters sent by the Russian Czarina (formerly a German princess), Catherine the Great. These offers included promises of a number of freedoms and rights which which would have been unimaginable if they remained in the countries where they were living in 1765.

Most of these people as well as many of their predecessors had for years, if not for generations, suffered either depredations by marauding soldiers, or confiscatory taxation, or total economic chaos brought on by repeated wars, or all three. As they left their homes in 1765, they could not have known that some of Catherine's promises would never be fulfilled, or that getting started in a new country with a totally different climate and soil than they were used to, along with inadequate housing, would be so lethal.

Those who survived the trip and the early years in-colony were a very tough and resilient people. These were my dad's people, who came to be known here in the US as the "Volga Deutsch".

This Kraus Section will include the following Parts. To get to the page of any title that is underlined, click on it:

1. Dad's Ancestors

2. Their Ancestral Places

especially 3. Alexandertal

4. Kraus DNA

5. The Thüngen Kraus Coat of Arms

6. Kraus Mysteries and Unknowns

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