Lei / Ley (Dönhof / Schilling)

Spelling Variations: 
Lei (Dönhof / Schilling)
Ley (Dönhof / Schilling)
Lai (Dönhof / Schilling)
Лей (Dönhof / Schilling)
Settled in the Following Colonies: 
Discussion & Documentation: 

There are two Ley families from the German village of Gelnhausen that settled among the Volga German colonies. They are presumed to be related, but additional research needs to be done to verify that presumption.

(1) Friedrich Christoph Carl Ley, son of master baker Johann Heinrich Ley & Maria Dorothea Rühl, was born on 24 December 1739 in Gelnhausen, east northeast of Frankfurt.

Carl and his wife Anna immigrated to Russia, arriving from Lübeck at the port in Oranienbaum on 4 July 1766 aboard the frigate Love & Unity under the command of Thomas Fairfax.

Karl Lei/Ley, his wife Elisabeth, and their children (Philipp Jakob, age 6¾; Katharina Margaretha, age 3¼) are on an appendix to the 1775 census of the Volga German colony of Schilling in Household No. 1. Notes accompanying the 1775 census record that Kaspar Lei is a weaver, but that he has been unable to work because of illness. He has lost the toes on both feet, but walks well.

They are also listed on the 1798 Census in Household No. Sg061.

(2) Andreas Ley, a farmer, and his family arrived from Lübeck at the port of Oranienbaum on 4 July 1766 aboard the ship Der Junge Mathias under the command of Skipper David Wollert.

They settled in the Volga German colony of Dönhof on 18 June 1767 and are recorded there on the 1767 census in Household No. 65.

The 1767 census records that Andreas Ley came from the German village of Gelnhausen.

Descendants of these families use a variety of spellings for the surname including Lai, Lei, and Ley.


- 1775 Census of Schilling (Appendix No. 1).
- Frey, Julius. "Auswanderung aus den Kreisen Gelnhausen und Büdingen im Jahre 1766." GeschischisblätterÜrstadt und Kries Gelnhausen.
- Mai, Brent Alan. 1798 Census of the German Colonies along the Volga: Economy, Population, and Agriculture (Lincoln, NE: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1999): Dh058, Sg061.
- Pleve, Igor. Einwanderung in das Wolgagebiet, 1764-1767 Band 1 (Göttingen: Der Göttinger Arbeitskreis, 1999): 358.
- Pleve, Igor. Lists of Colonists to Russia in 1766: Reports by Ivan Kulberg (Saratov: Saratov State Technical University, 2010): #1669, #1863.

Contributor(s) to this page: 

Bill Pickelhaupt

Brent Mai

Pre-Volga Origin

Volga Colonies

Immigration Locations