The first group under the leadership of Jacob Hoeppner left
Bohnsach, a little village near Danzig, at on Easter Sunday, March 22, 1788. The emigrants travelled
alternately by sleigh and wagon to Riga
and then south along the DongavaRiver
to Dubrovno where 228 families were forced to spend a terrible winter.
Renewed hostilities between Russia
forced Potemkin to locate the first Mennonite settlement not near Berislav as
planned but on his own private estate adjacent to the ChortitzaIsland. In June, 1789, the first
settlers arrived at the point where the ChortitzaRiver joins the Dnieper.
The big oak provided their first shelter.