It took me a surprisingly long time to understand where on a map my family history was taking place. I had yet to realize that having even a “work in progress” understanding of the regions I was researching would be as helpful as it is. Perhaps I didn’t bother to orient myself right away because I was intimidated by the everchanging European borders of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. [Note: The blog post, “Those Infamous Border Changes: A Crash Course in Polish History,” from From Shepherds and Shoemakers is a thorough yet concise overview of Polish border changes]. In this blog entry I will first try to explain how I understand the geographical terms and then provide a visual guide to what locations I write about with regards to the Kirsch family (see Kirsch Research page) in Volhynia. I should preface with the disclaimer that I am still learning and this is the way I currently understand it. Corrections are appreciated and I probably need to revisit previous blog entries to make corrections based on new knowledge.
My great-great-grandfather, Samuel Kirsch, traveled with his family from Florentynow (colony or village), Lodzkie (voivodeship = province), Poland (country), to Rozyszcze (parish), Lutsk (raion = district), Volhynia (oblast = province or region), Russia (country), in around 1867. The journey from what is now central Poland to western Ukraine was more than 500 kilometers. [Note: I use the terms “colony” and “village” interchangeably because I am often referring to communities established in Congress Poland and Volhynia by German colonists]. The Kirsch family had lived in Florentynow since at least 1813, the recorded year of birth of Samuel’s father, Krzysztof Kirsch. Before then, the family lived in Wola (colony or village), Grand Duchy of Posen, Kingdom of Prussia (the precise location of Wola is currently unknown, but you can see Posen city, or Poznan, on the map below, west of Point A).
Samuel and his family first settled in Konstantynow (colony or village), Rozyszcze, Lutsk, Volhynia. Samuel’s seventh child, Daniel, was born in Konstantynow, August 22, 1874. Samuel moved ten kilometers to Ludwischin (colony or village) between 1874 and 1877–assumed because his other eleven children were born there, the first being Karl, born March 27, 1877. I often refer to Ludwischin as Ludwischin-Scheppel, which is sometimes how I see it written. The community of Scheppel is located approximately two kilometers north of Ludwischin.
[Note: Refer to Kirsch Research for a list of names; all the Kirsch names in this paragraph are children of Samuel Kirsch unless otherwise noted] Scheppel is where Gottlieb Kirsch was confirmed in the Lutheran church in 1882. But the community has Baptist associations as well. August Rempel and Julianna Kirsch Rempel emigrated from Scheppel with other Baptist families in 1890. Daniel Kirsch’s wife, Wanda Schindler, was from Ludwischin, but her father and two of her sibling were of the Baptist group that traveled from Scheppel aboard the Hansa. According to In the Midst of Wolves by Donald Miller, Scheppel was a Baptist station in Rozyzscze (parish). While Rozyzscze city was home to the largest Baptist church in the parish, there were several “stations” established as the Baptists grew in number in Volhynia, including Scheppel, where people from various communities congregated to worship. Some of these stations became self-supporting churches. Other names for Scheppel are Schepel, Schepek, Schöpel, Schlepe, Szepel, and Schelpe.
There is evidence that the Kirsch family moved to the nearby colony, Wsewolodowka, between 1902 (death of Adolf Kirsch in Ludwischin) and 1905 (birth of eighteenth and last child, Olga, in Wsewolodowka). Karl Kirsch’s residence was Wsewolodowka when he emigrated in 1913 [Update: Karl lived in Wladislowka, which is a different colony]. His four children were also born there (1901, 1905, 1909, 1911).
Finally, Friedrich Kirsch was born in “Marienovka Usicze,” or what I think is nearby Usicze, in 1899.
Tracking geographic locations as they appear in various records against a timeline helps me determine where the family was during major migrations and important historical events. This information helps me construct a narrative, to help tell a story that is more than names and dates. It will also help with future research–for example, where did remaining Kirsch family members go during the deportation of Volhynian Germans in 1915. Knowing where they were living around that date could help find answers.
 [“Gottlieb Kirsch confirmation record, 1883”] from VKP Birth & Confirmation Records, accessed 21 Mar 2021 through Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe
 [“Rempel family in Hansa ship manifest, 1890”] from Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934, accessed 20 Mar 2021 through Ancestry
 Miller, Donald N., In the Midst of Wolves: A History of German Baptists in Volhynia, Russia, 1863-1943, Portland, OR: Multnomah Printing, 2000
 “[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Lange/Schindler/Gurel/Pries/Pudel Families from Scheple” [message board thread], Feb 2007, accessed 16 Nov 2020 through Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe, https://www.sggee.org/pipermail/ger-poland-volhynia/2007-February/006644.html
 [“Olga Kirsch birth record, 1905”] from Volhynia Indexes 1900-1918, accessed 21 Mar 2021 through Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe
 “Karl Kirsch” in Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934, accessed 21 Mar 2021 through Ancestry
 [“Kirsch family in Stockport ship manifest, 1921”] from Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934, accessed 21 Mar 2021 through Ancestry
 [“Friedrich Kirsch birth record, 1899”] from VKP Birth & Confirmation Records, accessed 21 Mar 2021 through Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe