Our family origin is from the Germans who went to Russia in the 1700's.
During he 1700's economic and government conditions were very poor in Germany. They had the Seven Years war which had created much economic and social chaos. Security was limited. There was no central government.
Along came an offer many Germans could not refuse. Catherine II of Russia invited Germans to areas of Russia that were sparsely populated. Her idea was that these areas could be settled and developed. The Germans were given free land, self government, could keep their own language and religion, were given loans that were forgiven , no military service as they were pacifist and could leave Russia at any time.
We don't know when the Klein family left Germany. They were the Germans who settled on the Volga.
All went fairly smoothly for about 100 years. They became successful farmers and traders. There were some problems. Marauders robbed them from time to time. Crops were not always successful.
These people were peasants. They were given about 40 acres of land. Most of the work was done by hand. Some people had a horse that was used by several farmers. They had some farm animals. They grew crops , vegetables and some fruit.
Their houses were built of clay and probably had a thatched roof. They had dirt floors. These houses were warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
They had very little money . They were able to sell some of their produce but most of it they used for themselves. They milled flour from their grain. They grew many vegetables. They grew lots of cabbage that was turned into sauerkraut as this would keep for the year. So some people had businesses as in milling grain. Leather was produced and used to make their shoes. Wool was spun and some weaving was done. Very little was bought.
They were happy with this life. After Catherine II they gradually lost some of the rights they were first given. They first lost some of their independent government. Things were slowly taken away. My Grandfather was in the Russian army for two years.
Many Germans came to North America starting in the 1870's . Our family began coming to America in the late 1890's. Grandfather Gottlieb was born in the 1840's and brought all his adult children to America. Gottlieb had three daughters and four sons who were all married. Gottlieb was about 60 when he came here so some of his grandchildren were also married. Over a period of ten years the whole family left Russia. They came to Manitoba , Canada and North Dakota . USA. Mennonites had given them some aid to make the trip to America. So when they first came some of the Kleins worked on farms to payoff their loans.
Borders were not big deals in those days as some of them lived in Canada and some in the USA. Some of them lived at Neche North Dakota and some at Gretna Manitoba.
To be continued...