Welcome to: The Village of Frank, Russia

Protestant Church in the Village of Frank, Russia. The adjoining building is the school.
Orginial Settlers of Frank
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History of the Village Frank

The colony of Frank was officially founded in 1767. At first the colony did not have a name, only a number, and was called Frank by the colonists. Shortly after this, it received its official Russian name of Med-Weditskoi Krestovoi Bujerak. According to the "Dictionary of Geographical Expressions, the word "buerak" means a ravine, gorge, hollow, or depression. It is a loan word from the Turkic language and in Russian occurs through-out the area of the Privolzhskaia Vozvyshennost (Volga Hills) which the Germans called the "Bergseite".

The village of Frank was called by the Russians, "Medveditskoi Krestovoi Buerak". "Medved" is a bear. "Medveditsa is a she bear, and "krest" a crossing. In addition Frank was located on the left bank of the river. So the Russian interpretation of the name of Frank would by "Bear Crossing Ravine".

Frank was located on the east bank of the Medveditsa River, on the western edge of the Saratov Province of the Lower Volga area. It is primarily an agricultural area, with some oil and gas resources in the area.

The village of Frank was populated by German immigrants at the invitation of Catherine-the-Great of Russia. It is believed that many of the original settlers were from the Hessen area of Germany, in the 1760's.

The official statistics state that 525 people of the Lutheran faith were settled here in 1767. Most of them had left their homelands the previous spring and had spend over a year in getting there. Many traveled by ship from Germany to Oranienbaum (near St. Petersburg) and then by wagons or boats to the steppes of the Volga.

According to tradition, the colonists found little or no preparation had been made for them. and like the settlers in the other Volga colonies, they had to dig into the banks of the river to make crude shelters for themselves. However, after a number of years, the village of Frank became a very prosperous agriculture community.

The picture of the church is that of the third church erected Frank. It was build in 1842 in what was called the :KontorStil (Official Style). It seated 1,114 people but more were often accommodated. The small old wooden church was then rebuilt in the daughter colony of Neu-Frank. The church was the focal point of the colony. From the bell tower, the sexton announced the deaths in the community by means of the church bell, designating by the first peals, whether the deceased by a man, woman, or child, and then tolling out the age. The bells were further used in cases of fire, and blizzards in order to direct wanderers to the village.

In the early years, educational interest was not high. The principal aim of the whole system was to perpetuate the German language and the traditional and religious customs and practices. In subsequent year the educational cause was promoted and higher educational standards realized.

Frank families were large. Like all pioneers, a part of their service was to multiply and replenish the steppes. Despite suffering, sacrifice, and struggle, the population grew.

When in the early seventies of the 19th century the Czar put an end to all privileges and was determined to make of these Germans full-fledged Russians, they sought a land of liberty, and America was the magnet. Emigration began almost at once, some going to South America, a few to Canada, but by far the largest number came to the United States.

Many settled in the State of Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Washington State and California. The immigration period started to decline about 1915.

Mail to: Clarence Kissler, ckissler@summitnet.com