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From: Vera Beljakova <>
Subject: [GV] How GRs from Niedermonjou landed in Cape Town, South Africa
Date: Sat, 03 Jan 2004 20:48:56 +0200

Thought you might like this:

Robbed Volga-GR colonists end up on shores of Africa - 1878

1878 – How a group of Volga German farmers aimed for Brazil’s Parana or
North America, but disembarking in Africa’s British Cape Colony instead.

Compiled and written by Vera Beljakova (copyright © 2003)
(based on notes by Georg Conrad Rieb (Rueb), in the archive of Robin
Binedel, and the Hamburg Shipping Lists and Volga Websites).

for Extra Thanks and credits, see below.

AN ADVENTURIOUS family group of 38 sturdy Volga German colonists left
their colony of Nieder Monjou, hoping to reach the shores of North
America - a veritable Utopia in the eyes of the Volga-German farmers –
or at the very least the Parana Province of Southern Brazil.

It is the story of the Binedel extended family clan which counted 14
adults (including the family Matriarch, a widowed Mother of 4 brothers,
daughters, their husbands and a combined number of 24 children under 21.

But fate was quirky and decreed otherwise, Georg Conrad Rieb dictated
his recollections thus:

<<...We embarked in 1877 in God's Name on an unknown voyage, and
trusting in good fortune, we arrived at the African Coast, in Cape Town,
on a sailing ship…>> on the "Saturnus", 63 days after departing from


On around the 23rd of November 1877, two months after harvest-time,
during one of Russia's most severe winters, a large family group of
hardy German farmers from Niedermonjou (also Nieder Monjou, in Russian
“Bobrovk”a) on the Volga embarked upon their lifes’ adventure.

It was the Binedel extended family, with sons, daughters, son in-law
Rieb/Rueb, and family Anschuetz, along with a tribe of grandchildren
wrapped up warmly, took their Reisekost (Journey's Food), collected
their meagre belongings, climbed onto their horse-drawn farm carts and
in slow procession proceeded to Kossackenstadt (Pokrovsk, now Engels,
the largest town on the east side of the Volga)

<< … the journey by cart we traveled took one day...then
transferred...onto a boat across the icy Volga River to the town of
Saratov, where we spent 8 days in making our inquiries, and satisfying
ourselves generally….>>

This now doubt refers to their inquiries about their emigration
possibilities to the favourite and second most desired destinations for
the Volga-Germans: to North America and South America. They must have
inquired about costs and tickets, land availability, homesteading,
stringent health requirements for landing in North America – and
collected their foreign-travel passports.

<<…thereafter we spent 8 days and 8 nights on a train from Saratov to
Hamburg, where our arrival was less fortunate...>>>

One of the Family Elders, Johan Peter Binedel explained later in South
Africa to his grandchildren: that the combined savings had been
entrusted to one of their family members, who, after a few days in
Hamburg claimed that he was robbed and all the family funds had
vanished. They were now lost and almost penniless in a German harbour
city. The self-same family member came under suspicion of dishonesty
later, because, after a few years in Cape Town, he had sufficient funds
to return to Russia.

<<... we learnt that our remaining funds would not even cover a voyage
to Parana in Brazil, as our Money-Bag was now too empty even for this….>>

Parana is the southern-most region of Brazil, which King Pedro II,
married to a German princess, wished to turn into his country’s
bread-basket by encouraging agricultural development by German
settler-farmers in 1877,

<<...On arrival in Hamburg, our first board and lodgings were with a
Herr Baeck, but we now found ourselves with insufficient funds to
continue our voyage. But Dear God had very different plans for us, and
not what we expected, because financially we were not strong anymore,
and could not fulfill our hearts’ wishes

<< We were in need of guidance, which fortunately was forthcoming when
we chanced upon the (travel firm) Mr. Meyer & Comp. from whom we had
earlier received information that the highly-praised (British)
Government of the Cape Colony provided free passage to Cape Town for
Germans (also English, Danes, Austrians, Swiss) with experience of
working farmland - but that there would be a delay before the sailing
date of the ship.

<< … However, we reached an agreement. For our upkeep in the meanwhile,
our purses still had just sufficient moneys, but with nothing left over
thereafter. We pulled out our purse again, and it was a miracle that we
indeed were just able to cover our costs. Our worries and sorrows were
now dispelled in this manner and we moved over this very hour to take
up board and lodgings with Mr. Meyer at this company (ie shelter house
for transient immigrants awaiting shipment)...>>

In those days, in German harbours, Travel Companies and Shipping Line
Agents, also provided board and lodgings for immigrants awaiting their
ship's sailing dates. They ran communal shelter accommodation, very
communal barrack-style living with long refectory tables, bunk beds,
moneychangers, ticket sales. They also offered 3 categories of
accommodation comforts for travelers to choose from A, B & C-grade.

<< all – for 114 marks - we were promised board and lodgings for 2
days for 33-and-a-half persons....>>

(this number is made up of adults and children who numbered as "halves",
at half-tariff. In actual fact, there were 14 adults and 24 children
under 21 years of age.)....

<<... we were charged about one-and-a-half marks a person a day. We had
to remain with Meyer & Comp. for a little over 3 weeks until our ship
was ready for embarkation on Thursday, 3rd January 1878.

<< On our ship were German and Danish families. Altogether, 60
passengers embarked with all confidence. Seasickness troubled us for a
time, but later on there was an improvement.

<<. Many of our families from Russia found the time somewhat tedious
and tiring. But during the voyage we were to see and marvel at many
life’s novelties - and we also experienced grieves, so that we should
better understand the Guidance of Light, and that a voyage also creates
many difficulties to overcome. However, the truth be said, we had a
benevolent voyage, both overland and by sea. Accidents and great storms
we were spared; instead of which we enjoyed really fine weather...>>

<< … A son was born to us on the 13th January 1878 in the English
Channel, who was christened Johan Heinrich RIEB on arrival in Cape Town.
(Papa Rieb was married to Casper's Binedel daughter.

<< …Our first-born passed away onto the Home of Our Lord and his body
committed to the grave of the waves. >>

(The first-born was Casper, who was 1 year old when the family left
Russia. Later, the Rieb's 8th child, a son, was also christened Casper,
but he died of TB in 1920).

<<… Our relationship with the Ship's captain, the Doctor and the First
Mate were satisfactory... >>

(this relationship was probably fostered by their good sense in
volunteering to relieve the crew of such labours as required no skill or

<<… There was no reason to complain about what we were given to eat and
drink. In some respects, improvement would have been possible but,
otherwise, we were satisfied. On a voyage it is different - from the
comforts we are accustomed to in our homes. We spent 63 days at sea,
and we experienced much to remain in our memories…. >>

The extended 38-strong family Binedel and brother-in-law (Rieb) &
Anschuetz, with a brood of 24 children, disembarked in Cape Town on the
7th March 1878.

<< This all I confirm with my own name Georg Conrad Rieb >> (signed)


WITH INFORMATION COLLECTED regarding other Volga-Germans who landed in
Africa. ( Vera Beljakova )


Binedel : alternative spellings = Binnedel, Bienedell, Binedell
In the Russian Volga Census of 1798, the family name is spelt: BINATEL

Rieb is spelt “Rueb” in German church documents, sometimes Rupp, Ruep,
but because of German platt-deutsch pronunciation, “Rueb” would in fact
sound like “Rieb”

Georg Conrad Rieb, was 24 years old at the time of the journey from
Russia. He was the husband of Catherina Sophie (aged 21), daughter of
Casper, the family head.

My first link to the research was Paul Jessen of Pretoria, RSA, who
wished to find his grandmother's Bindel's links in Russia, through the
Engels Archives, Russia This proved to be such an intriguing story of
how a group of Russian Volga-Germans set foot and settled in South
Africa, that I too immersed myself in this research

The story is based on notes passed on to Robin Binedell (great grandson
of Casper Binedel, the family Elder), which were dictated in 1925 to
Georg Stelzer by his grandfather, Georg Conrad Rieb, Casper’s
son-in-law, at a time when Rieb was 71 years old. Georg Stelzer writes
in a phonetic German, as he heard it spoken in the family home, which
must have been close to 18th regional Plattdeutsch ( or Low-German,
meaning Low-country German)

Glik - for "Glueck" (luck)
Wolka - for "Wolga"etc...
Kiste – Kueste (coast)
Sint – sind
Vihle – viele
Jeber - ueber

illustrations: (are available)

The ship's voyage pass: "Passage-Billet" for Sailing-Ship "Saturnus" -
departs Hamburg on the 3rd Jan 1878
It is part of the John Cesar Godeffroy & Sohn shipping company of Hamburg

The large Immigration-House "Meyer & Comp."
(communal shelter for passengers)
< Hamburg am Theerhof Nr. 3,4,5,6,7,8.
Neben den Berliner,- Luebecker- und Altona-Kieler Eisenbahnen u. in der
naehe des Hafens.
Preise fuer Logis und Kost fuer 24 Stunden. >
(even lodging came in 1st, 2nd and 3rd class of comforts at the
Immigration Shelter)
This company shelter, which also provided advice to immigrants,
- eg those with no funds, could apply for free passage to the Cape
Colony in S Africa -
traded in articles "necessary for a sea voyage" and engaged in "currency

On this card are printed these words:
" On arrival at Hamburg (railway stations), please hold this card in
your hand or pin to your hat. "

3) “La Rochelle” sister sailing ship of the “Saturnus”

*Passenger List > Extended family Binedels with Rieb (Rueb) & Anschuetz

Sailing.Ship “Saturnus”

Hamburg 3rd Jan. 1878 > Cape Town 7th Mar. 1878
of John Cesar Godeffroy & Sohn Shipping Line of Hamburg
Hamburger Schiffslisten, Jahrg. 1878, Fol. 4-6. Archiv der Hansestadt

Landman – „ploughman“ or “tiller of soil” – „khlebopashetz“ in Russian

The FAMILY PATRIARCH - eldest of 3 brothers:
Binedel, Casper, Landmann (45), Niedermonjou (Russland),
mit Frau Catherina Marie (44)
und Catherina Elisa (16), Johann Friedrich (13), Anna Elisa (10), Johann
Peter (8), Johann Christofer. (unter 1).

The Family Matriarch, mother of Casper, the eldest son:
*Binedel, Marie Elisabeth (67), Niedermonjou.
(probably the widowed mother of the 3 Binedel brothers – she travels as
a single, unmarried, person)

Binedel, Johann Heinrich, Landmann (23), Niedermonjou (Ru?l.),
mit Frau Anna Marie (23)
und Engelbrecht (3), Johann Christ. (1).

Binedel, Peter Johann, Landmann (34), Niedermonjou (Ru?l.),
mit Frau Catherina Sophie (36)
und Marie Sophie (10), Marie Elisabeth (8), Johannes (3), Johann Peter
(unter 1).

Binedel (1) (should read RIEB) Georg Conrad, Landmann (24),
Niedermonjou (Ru?l.),
mit Frau Catherina Sofie (21)
und Johann Caspar (1).

Binedel, Johann Jacob, Landmann (32), Niedermonjou (Ru?l.),
mit Frau Marie Elisabeth (32)
und Gottfried (10), Johann Conrad (9), Johann Christian (5), Anna (4),
Catherine (2), Johann Carl (unter 1).

These CHILDREN traveled as "ADULTS", so we do not know their parents :

Johann Christian, (21) Landmann , Niedermonjou (Ru?l.),
Johannes (18),
Marie (15).

Ansch?tz, Carl, Landmann (29), Niedermonjou (Ru?l.),
mit Frau Marie Catherina (26) * (* nee Herber. She may have been a
sister of one of the other Bindel wives, 2 sisters often married 2
brothers, & traveled in family units)
und Johann Heinrich (8), Dorothea (5), Johann David (3), Anna Elisabeth
(unter 1).

Notes: (1) It seems that a mistake may have been made with the surname
of this family. According to Robin Bienedel the surname of this
particular family should be REIB (Rieb), while BINEDEL is Catherine
Sophie's maiden name.



Credits With Thanks:
After many years of searching for the mythical link between Volga-German
colonists from Russia and South Africa, at last, the jigsaw puzzle fell
into place thanks to the help of various surviving grandchildren of the
Binedel clan: Paul Jessen of Pretoria, who remembered his grandmothers
tales being retold; Robin Binedel who provided the notes dictated by
Georg Conrad Rieb/Rueb (aged 24 at the time of the voyage) to his
grandson Georg Stelzner, a school inspector in Grahamstown, in 1925,
with additional information by grandson S O Dehning.

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