Schroeder, David David (1808-1877)
David David Schroeder: estate owner and businessman; born 10 August 1808, likely in Ekaterinoslav, South Russia, to David Isaak Schroeder and Aganetha (Kliewer) Schroeder. He was the eldest of nine children. On 15 October 1831, David married Helene Martens, daughter of Wilhelm Martens and Aganetha (Berg) Martens. The couple had 14 children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. David died on 15 April 1877 in Tashchenak, South Russia.
David was born in Ekaterinoslav but grew up on the Neuteich Estate near Neu-Tashchenak, the son of immigrants from Prussia who had moved south from the Molotschna Mennonite settlement. David’s parents were quite wealthy and had bought an estate in South Russia, where David and his siblings grew up. His father established a woodworking business in Ekaterinoslav, which he sold after some time and moved south to the Neu-Tashchenak area, near the land where Wilhelm Martens had established an estate called "Schönteich." The Schroeders called their new estate "Neuteich" and raised their family in these new surroundings.
In 1831, David married Helene Martens, and the newly-married couple likely settled first on the Neuteich Estate. David owned a lumberyard in the Molotschna setlement but also made an income from the property he owned. Likely using the profits from the Neuteich Estate and the inheritance received by his wife, Helene, after her father’s death in 1845, David began to build up an empire of estates. He himself inherited property at Neu-Tashchenak, and his wife inherited the neighboring land, and so David had a large base estate in the area. Known in the area as a millionaire, he was one of the few people from the Michalin settlement in the province of Kiev to become wealthy.
Together with his brother, Peter, Schroeder purchased land in the Umenzov area west of Melitopol. When his father-in-law bought a large tract of land in the Jerlitzkoya area of Taurida, between the Black Sea and the Dniepr River, David also bought some land in the area and named his estate "Davidsfeld." Meanwhile, another Mennonite named Peter Schmidt, bought a piece of land between the two estates. Although his father-in-law’s land was sandy around the Dniepr River and contained the mineral saltpeter in the region by the Black Sea, David’s property was suitable for agriculture. At first, David used his land mainly for raising sheep and cattle before he began to grow crops as well. In addition to farming, he was also instrumental in founding the community of Tashchenak in the 1840s.
Schroeder died on 15 April 1877 in Tashchenak, leaving his estates and wealth to his children. Several of them became estate owners and also added to their inheritance with further land purchases, but two sons-in-law became well known in the field of education. Other family members were known for their contributions to hospitals and other philanthropic endeavors such as funding the Alexanderkrone Zentralschule.
The life of David David Schroeder is somewhat unique in that he did not have to experience the pioneering phase of Russian Mennonite life, being born into a wealthy family, nor did he suffer the fate of many rich estate owners during and after the Russian Revolution. Through his efforts as a businessman, farmer, and estate owner, he established a tradition of hard work and generosity for his children and the other people around him to follow.
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