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Molochnaya colony

The history of the colony’s creation and the list of villages founded by Mennonites

Molochnaya is the second largest Mennonite colony of Novorossiya; it was founded in 1804. Authorities of Taurida Governorate granted the Mennonites 120000 tithes of land for later habitation. This land was approximately 80 km South-West from Khortytsia colony. The first group of settlers (193 families) moved from West Prussia in the summer of 1803. The migrants spent the winter in Khortytsia colony, and then in the spring, they set off to the appointed place, where they started to accommodate villages. Each family got 65 tithes of land.
Along the eastern shore of Molochnaya river the firtst settlers founded a group of nine villages, starting with Halbshtadt in the North, ending with Altonau in the South. More settlers arrived the following years, and new villages were founded along the side stream of Molochnaya river. People who came to this colony, were much better prepared than the settlers of Khortytsia colony. Most of them were experienced agriculturists who had sold their lands to be able to bring around money capital, livestock and furniture.
The very first villages were designed in such a way that houses were arranged from both sides of the street that went parallel to the river. A courtyard was typically 84m in width, and houses were built 29m away from the street. In front of houses, there were orchards and flower gardens. Initially, the settlers built dugouts. If they could get a little bit of wood, they would set up small blockhouses. Later on, these houses were replaced with others – houses with wooden carcass, whose walls were filled with thatch mixed with clay. Since there was enough of sand, clay and water at the site, the first tiny brick houses started to appear.  That was also when they started to build houses from burnt brick. The house projects were copied from the Prussian ones, where horse barns would side with residential section of a house. More often than not, the houses were arranged perpendicular to the street. Several religious communities built up in the colony. The churches would normally reach out to a few neighboring villages. Afterwards, new religious groups appeared in Molochnaya colony, including Kleine Gemeinde  (Small Congregation) and Mennonite Brethren commune. 
Economically, the colony thrived. On the first stages of the household development, the main profitable business was sheep breeding. The peasants would also practice silk raising. Under the influence of Johann Cornies, innovation were made in agriculture, including four crop rotations of summer fallow. Soon agriculture would become the main occupation of the settlers, superseding the previously profitable sheep breeding. Before long, industry started to develop, notably the production of agricultural tools. In 1910, a Mennonite commune (Vall brothers and their partners-investors) laid a rail track close to Molochnoe. 
It stretched from the North and the West sides of the colony. It was Johann Cornies, undoubtedly, who had a huge impact on construction style after 1830. He worked through special orders concerning appearance and planning of schools, houses and whole towns. Village houses could be built only from two projects and in only two sizes. Sheds had to be adjoining to residential houses, but there were an anti-fire wall and a metallic door designed to be put between them for fire protection. Horse barns were built directly against drying-houses, or at a right angle to it.
Molochnaya colony became the most successful Mennonite agricultural colony in Russia. All the way down to 1860, government considered it an example for other colonies of foreign settlers: Bulgarians, Hebrews, Germans, catholics etc.) It was in 1824 that the earl V. Kochubei, a home affairs minister, wrote this to Alexander I: 
“Despite me having been warned about the status of German colonies of Molochnaya, I was pleasantly surprised by the fruit of Your Majesty’s creation. What I’ve seen greatly excels my expectations. As of today, we have 38 mennonite colonies who, with their wealth and order, make us feel as if in the best district somewhere in the vicinity of Rhine. All over the place here, I’ve seen good houses, surrounded by magnificent fruit trees, household buildings that shocked with their cleanness, tidiness and utmost frugality. At one place on the shore of Molochnaya river, I was shown a plantation enumerating 30 000 fruit trees for later planting out in the vicinity.”
The Revolution of 1917 and the Civil war put an end to this thriving. Villages of the colony suffered from troops of Makhno, starvation and confiscation of private possessions by the State. Many inhabitants were sent to labor camps in 1930s, and the rest moved to Germany in 1943. Currently, the former colony of Molochnoe is still considered an efficient agricultural region, and on its territory, there are several cooperative households.

The list of villages of the former Molochnaya colony.
Village – also known as – today’s name
Altonau (1804) - Krasnoe - Maiskoe
Blumenort (1805) - Svobodnoe - Orlovo
Blumenstein (1804) - Kamenskoe
Valdheim (1836) - Rechnoe - Vladovka
Vernersdorf (1824) - Pribrezhnoe - Ostrikovka
Halbstadt (1804) - Molochansk
Hamberg (1863) - Kamenka
Hirshau (1848) - Vladovka
Hnadental (1862) - Blagodatnoe
Hnadenfeld (1835) - Bogdanovka
Hnadenheim (1821) - Balahovka - Balashevka
Hrossweide (1820) - Prostornoe
Elizabettal (1823) - Kalinovka - Elizavetovka - Alexandrovka
Clippenfeld (1863) - Molochnoe - Stulnevoe
Cliefeld (1854) - Roskoshnoe – doesn’t exist
Kontennyusfeld (1832) - Dolgoe - Kuroshan
Ladekopp (1805) - Ladovka – a part of Tokmak 
Landskrone (1839) - Lankovoe
Liebenau (1823) - Ostrikovka
Lindenau (1804) - Lubimovka
Lichtenau (1804) - Svetldolinskoe
Lichtfeld (1819) - Hrushevka
Margenau (1819) - Rakovoe/Karkovoe – doesn’t exist 
Mariental (1820) - Panfilovka
Mariavol (1857) - Marievka/ Zeleniy Luh – Zeleniy Yar
Muntau (1804) - Yanovka/Yasnohlazaia - Molochansk
Munstberg (1804) - Prilukovka
Nikolasdorf (1851) - Nikolaevka/Nikolsk – doesn’t exist 
Noi-Halbstadt (1842) - Molochansk
Noikirkh (1819) - Udarnik
Alexandervol (1821) - Svetloe
Alexanderkrone (1857) - Molochnoe - Hrushevka
Alexandertal (1820) - Alexandrovka
Orlov (1805) - Orlovoe
Pastva (1820) - Tsvetochnoe
Paulsheim (1852) - Pavlovka – doesn’t exist
Petershahen (1805) - Kutuzovka
Pordenau (1820) - Vesnushka - Panphilova
Prangenau (1824) - Stepnoe – doesn’t exist
Rosenort (1805) - Vodianoe - Orlovo
Rudnerveide (1820) - Rosovka
Riukenau (1811) - Kosoluhovka
Tihe (1805) – Tihe-Orlvo - Orlovo
Tihenhahen (1805) - Levodnoe
Tiherveide (1822) - Hrozny - Mostovoe
Фабрикервизе (1863–1869) - Фабричное
Fishau (1804) - Ribalovka
Frantstal (1820) - Luhovo/Nelgovka – doesn't exist
Friendelsdorf (1824) - Khmelnitskoe
Frydensru (1857) - Maliarovka/Mirnoe - Udarnik
Fyrstenau (1806) - Luhovka
Fyrsterverder (1821) - Vozvratnoe - Balkovoe
Shardau (1820) - Horovka - Panphilovka
Shparrau (1828) - Zeleniy Hai/ Klinovoe - Dolgoe
Steinfeld (1857) - Makovka/Sadovoe – doesn’t exist
Shenau (1804) - Dolina
Shenzee (1804) - Shenze - Snehirevka


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