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Settlement of the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren at Gnadenau

Marion County

by Alberta Pantle

February, 1945 (Vol. 13 No. 5), pages 259 to 285.
Transcribed by lhn;
digitized with permission of the Kansas Historical Society.

IN 1870 the Mennonite colonists [1] in South Russia were faced with he alternative of giving up certain special privileges which they had enjoyed for nearly a century or founding new homes in other lands. These privileges, promised by Catherine the Great in a manifest issued July 22, 1763, included the right of freedom of worship, settlement in closed communities, establishment of schools in the German language, almost complete local autonomy in political and economic affairs, [2] and exemption from military service. These guarantees had been respected by each succeeding emperor until 1870 when Czar Alexander II decided to abolish them. The terms of his decision gave the Mennonites ten years in which to emigrate or to conform as bona fide Russian citizens.

Despite their long years in Russia the Mennonites were a separate and distinct group, a virtual state within a state. Held together in their compact villages by ties of race, religion and language, there had not been any need or inclination for contact with their Russian neighbors. Because of this voluntary isolation and lack of interest in affairs of the world few of the Mennonites had kept pace with changing conditions in Europe. They did not realize that the growing nationalism and democracy of the age precluded further favoring of minorities. Consequently the revoking of the privileges came as a complete surprise and many felt that it was a breach of faith on the part of the Russian government. A compulsory military law passed early in 1871 caused even greater concern because it threatened one of the fundamentals of their belief.



Almost immediately steps were taken to protect their established rights. Leading men were chosen by the various colonies to go to St. Petersburg for an audience with the Czar. Several delegations were sent during the next two years but none was successful. Interviews with certain high officials gave them no promise of a repeal of the hated decree, only the intimation that some sort of noncombatant service might be substituted for actual military duty. As time went on hopes faded, and determined against compromise with the government, a few of the Mennonites began active plans for emigration.

One of these men was Cornelius Jansen, [3] a merchant of Berdiansk [4] and formerly Prussian consul at that place. He wrote John F. Funk, [5] editor of the Mennonite newspaper, Herald der Wahrheit, at Elkhart, Ind., asking for information about conditions for settlement in the Middle West of the United States. He also made inquiries of the British consul at Berdiansk concerning the availability of land in Canada. These later inquiries led to an exchange of communications between British and Canadian officials with the result that Canada soon began an active campaign to secure the Mennonites as settlers. The government promised the prospective colonists practically all the privileges they had had in Russia including exemption from military service. [6] Large tracts of land in Manitoba were offered for settlement. In the United States little official recognition was given to the Russian Mennonite migration.

Several independent parties of Mennonites "scouted" this country in 1872. The next year congregations in South Russia and Prussia where conditions were very similar sent twelve representatives who arrived in May and spent much of the summer visiting the Middle West of the United States and Canada. [7] Some of them immediately decided on recommending settlement in Canada. Others were im-


pressed with tracts of cheap government land in the Dakotas. Two of the delegation, William Ewert and Jacob Buller, accompanied by Christian Krehbiel [8] of Summerfield, Ill., inspected land in Kansas. They were especially pleased with the Arkansas river valley between Newton and Hutchinson.

Most of the delegates did not seem concerned with the question of special rights in the United States. But two, a bit more cautious than the others, addressed a petition to President Grant. They asked for exemption from military service for a period of fifty years, excuse from jury duty, judgeship and voting, the right of establishing schools in the German language and the privilege of settling in closed communities. [9] The President replied, through the Secretary of State, Hamilton Fish, that certain of the privileges asked for were matters for the individual states to decide. He gave them no encouragement in regard to military duty, although it was very certain, he said, that the United States would not be engaged in a major foreign war during the next fifty years. President Grant, in his annual address to congress on December 1, 1873, spoke highly of the Russian Mennonites as prospective settlers and suggested favorable action in their behalf.

During the following months several bills were introduced into each house of congress and lengthy debates ensued. There was no objection to the Mennonites as a people but there was much opposition to the idea of passing special legislation in favor of any one group. Said Sen. Powell Clayton of Arkansas,

It seems to me that under our system of Government we ought not to depart from the general rule which we make applicable to all people. We have certain advantages here of our own. We are not selfish in those advantages. We are willing that persons from abroad may come here, and by becoming citizens of this country share with us in those advantages. That applies to Germans and to men of all other nationalities. [10]

No action was taken at any time by the federal government.


but three of the states, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska, passed laws exempting the Mennonites from serving in the state militias. [11] In contrast to the irresolute policy of the government toward the Mennonites were the determined efforts of the prominent Mennonites already living in this country, the agents in the state land offices and the land departments of the various railroads to induce them to come here to settle. To encourage railroad building during the 1850's and 1860's the federal government had made liberal grants of land to the transcontinental lines and other strategic roads west of the Mississippi river. Cheap lands and scarcity of cash characterized the West at this period and it was difficult for the railroads to turn their land into money badly needed in the construction of new lines.

An act of congress in 1863 gave the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company 6,400 acres of land for each mile of road satisfactorily constructed. [12] This amounted to some 3,000,000 acres in the state of Kansas. The land was in alternate sections only and extended approximately ten miles on either side of the tracks. A Santa Fe land and immigration department was established. The land was surveyed and local sales agents were appointed in all the larger towns along the line west of Florence. [13] Fortunately for the.Mennonites, the foreign immigration department was under the management of C. B. Schmidt. [14] A German himself, he was able to deal directly and successfully with the Russian Mennonites.

In July, 1873, the delegation of twelve returned to Europe favorably impressed with the United States. Already several Mennonite families from the Crimea had left for America. [15] Soon a number of colonists had decided upon emigration. One of the first groups to begin active preparations was the entire congregation of the Krimmer


Mennonite Brethren at Annefeld, near Simferopol, under the leadership of their founder and elder, Jacob A. Wiebe. [16]

As with other Mennonites bent on emigration, the Krimmer Brethren encountered many difficulties. Land and other property had to be disposed of in a short time and the market was flooded. Buyers were wary and many fine farms sold for much less than their actual value.

The Russian government, by this time alarmed over the prospective loss of thousands of its ablest farmers, made a strong effort to induce them to stay. General von Todtleben was sent as a special emissary of the Czar to meet with the various congregations. He now promised the Mennonites noncombatant duties in lieu of military service [17] and spoke at length of the difficulties they would encounter in establishing new homes in America. Through his efforts many of the more liberal Mennonites were persuaded to stay in Russia. [18] The Krimmer Mennonite Brethren, having disposed of their land and being convinced that they were right in their determination to emigrate, went ahead with their plans. Elder Wiebe addressed a petition to the general in which he thanked His Majesty for favors that had been granted to his people in the past and asked for permission to leave the empire. This request was readily granted by General von Todtleben.

Passports were applied for, as Elder Wiebe later said, "because we wanted to emigrate from Russia as honest people." [19] Records do not show that this particular group had any difficulty in obtaining them although some of the Mennonites had to wait many tedious months and pay heavily in fees and gratuities to unscrupulous government officials.

The Inman Steamship Line on which the Annefeld congregation had chosen to travel allowed only twenty cubic feet of baggage free for each adult ticket from Hamburg to New York. [20] Some families


could afford to pay excess baggage, but many could not; in fact some had to borrow passage money. In addition to personal effects it was thought necessary to bring furniture, tools, agricultural implements and grains and seeds for planting. Since space was so limited careful selection and packing was necessary. Nearly every family planned to bring several varieties of fruit, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds and a peck or two of wheat, oats or other grain. Thus they would be able to grow some of the crops in America to which they were accustomed in Russia.

Elder Wiebe and his congregation left Annefeld on May 30, 1874. They traveled the usual emigrant route by way of Odessa, Lemberg and Breslau to Hamburg. Here they embarked for America on the Inman line steamship City of Brooklyn. They stopped en route at Liverpool and sailed from there on July 2. After a stormy crossing they reached New York on July 15. Here they were met by Bernard Warkentin, representative of the newly organized Mennonite Board of Guardians. [21] He directed them to Elkhart, Ind., where John F. Funk gave them further assistance. Arriving in Elkhart on Saturday afternoon, part of the group were quartered in an empty building which Elder Funk had provided and the rest were allowed to stay in the Mennonite church.

On Sunday afternoon Elder Wiebe preached, by invitation, to a large audience. Members of the Elkhart church generously donated food and other necessities for the poorer families among the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren and work was found for some of the men. As soon as his people were settled, Elder Wiebe, accompanied by Franz Janzen, started west to look for a place of settlement. They traveled over much of Nebraska and then came down into Kansas. Here C. B. Schmidt showed them all the available land the Santa Fe had to offer as far west as Great Bend. Much of the land they looked at in both Nebraska and Kansas was satisfactory and a decision was difficult to make. According to Elder Wiebe, "In Nebraska we were afraid of the deep wells which had to be drilled and cost much money, our people did not have much money

[Woodcut of Mennonite well.]



The well was located southeast of Gnadenau schoolhouse, District 11. Note the style of dress of the early settlers. (This and succeeding cuts courtesy of The Mennonite Brothers Publishing House of Hillsboro.)


and were used to dug wells, so we decided for Kansas where we found the wells shallow." [22]

One hot day in August the three men were eating their dinner on the banks of the south branch of the Cottonwood river in Risley township, Marion county. After they had eaten Schmidt said that while he hoped they would decide to settle on Santa Fe land in Kansas he had no more land to show them. He believed he had done his part. Because the land suited them as well as any other or perhaps because they were influenced by the presence of other Mennonite settlers in Marion county, [23] a decision was soon reached by Elder Wiebe and Mr. Janzen. They contracted for twelve sections in the northeast corner of Risley township. The land, of course, lay in alternate sections and was not in one large tract.

The site chosen was eight miles west of Marion Centre [24] and about fourteen miles northwest of Peabody, the nearest point on the main line of the Santa Fe. The population of Marion county at that time was between four and five thousand people with the greater part living in the eastern half. The three towns, Peabody, Florence and Marion Centre, had a combined population of eleven hundred. The western half was very sparsely settled, the only settlement of any size being centered around Durham Park, the shorthorn ranch of Albert Crane. [25]

Mr. Schmidt offered to go to Elkhart to arrange for the transportation of the colony to Kansas while the two Krimmer Brethren stayed in Peabody to prepare for their arrival. Elder Wiebe rented an empty store building to house the party when they came. For himself he bought a stove, a table, two horses and a wagon. During the long days of waiting he began to feel the weight of his responsibility. His people were poor and it would be a year before they could expect any return from the soil, provisions would have to be bought and houses built before winter, which would soon be upon them. The summer of 1874 had been dry and hot. On August 6 the grasshoppers had swept through Marion county destroying crops


and stripping trees and shrubs of their leaves. [26] It was not strange that the elder doubted whether they would be able to make a living in such a place. The colony arrived in Peabody late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, August 16. Jacob G. Barkman. [27] then a lad of five, writes that "Everybody slept because of the long and tiresome journey, . . . except my mother, who was troubled with her little boy, that called for an early breakfast." She saw the door of the car open and Elder Wiebe came in. His call "all asleep" aroused every one.

As nearly as can be determined the colonists left Peabody on the day of their arrival. [28] John Fast, Jr., who had come to the county the year before, sent a team and wagon, and William Ewert, Mrs. Peter Funk, John Ratzloff and possibly others sent teams. Elder Wiebe loaded some lumber and household goods into his own wagon, and with his family, on top of the load, led the way to the site he had chosen for the settlement.

The country northwest of Peabody is a rolling prairie. At that time it was covered with grass three feet high. There were no roads, no trees except a fringe along the creek banks, and no sign of habitation except an occasional settler's shanty. Many of these were deserted because of the drought and grasshopper invasion of the preceding weeks. The hot, dry winds sweeping over the prairies and the parched grass made the countryside seem even more desolate and uninviting than it would have been in a normal season. Mrs. Wiebe burst into tears when she saw where they were to live. Probably her discouragement was shared by many other mothers in the colony that first day.

Elder Wiebe and his family lived for a few days at the home of John Risley, [29] who had settled in the township in 1870. Mrs. Funk cleared her large barn and fourteen families found shelter there. On


Sunday night a long table the length of the barn was laid and the entire congregation sat down to their first love-feast in America. Some of the men turned their wagon boxes upside down and slept under them until they could get their houses built. They built light board shanties at first and dug wells. Before they were settled one of their number, Mrs. Abraham Cornelson, died. This was the first death in the colony in Kansas.

Accustomed to village communities in Russia, the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren planned the same type of settlement in America. The village was named Gnadenau meaning Meadow of Grace. [30] It was destined to become the most perfect of the few communal villages organized by the Mennonites in Kansas. Even here the system lasted only two or three years. Conditions in America differed very greatly from conditions in Russia and many factors entered into the breakdown of the closed community. [31]

The village proper of Gnadenau occupied section 11. A street was cut through the center of the section from east to west. To-day this street is a public thoroughfare, one of the few roads in Marion county located midway between section lines. Each half of the section was divided into twenty strips of equal width and a little less than half of a mile in length. The dwellings were to be built on either side of the street, although in reality very few buildings were ever erected on the south side. Noble L. Prentis in describing a trip to Gnadenau in August, 1875, remarked that, "The houses of Gnadenau present every variety of architecture, but each house is determined on one thing, to keep on the north side of the one street of the town and face to the south." [32] E. W. Hoch, proprietor of the Marion County Record, visited the village a year later and made this observation: "It is all or most all of it on one side of the street." [33]

At first it was planned that the villagers would farm only five sections, section 11 and the sections adjoining it at the four corners, namely: sections 1, 3, 13 and 15. Land lying at a greater distance


from the townsite was to be used for grazing at first and later for farming. The strips in the village proper were numbered from one to ten thus making four sets of numbering in the square mile. The four strips in the center of the mile were to be reserved for community buildings, church, school, etc. The four outlying sections were divided into twenty strips of equal width and one mile in length and numbered in the same way that the strips in the village were numbered. The residents of each quarter of the townsite farmed in the section nearest their homes, each being responsible for the farming of the land in the strips bearing the same number as that on which he lived. In this way the distance traveled by each farmer in reaching his land was equalized. The farming of these narrow strips became a nuisance after the use of American farm machinery was adopted. In Russia it was customary for those in charge of the village to designate the crops to be sown in each field and to plan a systematic rotation of crops. Probably this plan would also have been followed in Gnadenau had the village system continued for a longer period of time.

Following the Russian custom the village was to be governed by a committee of three men. They served without pay, meeting once a week to transact the business of the village. They settled disputes between members, although in the case of an actual crime the laws of the state governed. The committee designated work to be done and planned public improvements. Another of its tasks was the appointing of the village herdsmen.

The Santa Fe, in advertising grant land, offered several plans for payment. The most liberal terms allowed eleven years' time with specified dates for payment on the principal and interest at seven percent. Generous discounts were given in shorter term offers and for cash purchases. As soon as the payments were completed a warranty deed was given to the purchaser. [34]

Elder Wiebe, in discussing the purchase of the land at Gnadenau, says:

We originally bought 12 sections of land of the railroad company in Risley township, later Liberty township, on ten years' credit; we had to pay down some, and the dear friend and general agent C. B. Schmidt, and Case and Billings, [35] have treated us nicely and faithfully. We were all poor people,


many families owed their traveling expenses. They had to go in debt for land, oxen, plow, farmer's wagon and even their sod house; they had to have provisions for a year; there was no chance of earning something, so they had to go in debt for that too, so there was na other way than to borrow money, but where? We were strangers, had no friends here, only Bernard Warkentin of Halstead knew us from Russia, and he helped us through Elder Christian Krehbiel with a loan of a thousand dollars, when those were distributed, it was said, "Brother Wiebe, we also need oxen and a plow to break prairie." Then Cornelius Jansen, of Nebraska, the well-known Consul Jansen, loaned us one thousand dollars; when these were distributed, it was said, "Brother Wiebe, we have to buy provisions for a year, and some lumber to build little houses," then the Elder Wilhelm Ewart loaned us one thousand dollars. Then the time of payment for the land came, so Jacob Funk loaned us one thousand dollars. [36]

Notwithstanding the scarcity of money during the first few years, the people of Gnadenau prospered. A survey of the records in the office of the register of deeds at Marion shows that practically all the land in the original five sections comprising the original colony was paid for and warranty deeds issued to the owners by 1879, only five years after settlement [37]

Soon after their arrival the villagers began breaking sod in preparation for the planting of crops the next year. In the fall of 1874 they were able to rent some plowed ground from English neighbors in sections 12 and 14. Farmers in the vicinity were discouraged because of the drought and grasshopper plague of the preceding summer and a few had deserted their land. Not a very encouraging prospect for the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren, but they planted a little wheat and were rewarded with a good harvest in the summer of 1875. According to some former members of the village they had brought some seed wheat with them. [38] This was apparently augmented by American grown wheat because Elder Wiebe speaks of having paid 70 cents a bushel for it.

Two crops grown in abundance by the farmers of Gnadenau were not common on the American farm. They were Russian sunflowers, the seeds of which were used for food, and watermelons, another favorite item in their diet. Noble L. Prentis wrote, after a visit to Gnadenau in 1875: "Of course we visited the watermelon fields,


which, in the aggregate, seemed about a quarter section. Mr. Wiebe insisted on donating a hundred pounds or so of the fruit, fearing we might get hungry on the road." [39] Other visitors have commented on the immensity of the watermelon patches and the remarkable success of the Mennonites in raising melons.

Early Gnadenau presented an unusual appearance to the non-Mennonite residents of the county. W. J. Groat visited the village on January 7, 1875, just five months after its settlement. From him we get our first description of the place:

Approaching it from the east you ascend a gentle raise of table-land of one-half mile, and at the summit of this gentle slope is where this peculiar people have built their strange village. At a distance, to a casual observer, it has the appearance of a group of hay-ricks, but on drawing nearer you will perceive human beings passing in and out. Driving past the school house-which is the first building in town, and is a snug frame house, neatly painted; and we understand both the English and German dialects are taught within its walls-we pulled up at what we would call an adobe hut, or wigwam; being constructed of prairie sod, cut in brick form and dried in the sun. The majority of these "fix-ups" have no side walls whatsoever, the roof starting from the ground, and only the gables are laid up with these brick. The roof is simply composed of poles thatched, or shingled, with prairie grass; with an adobe chimney, projecting twelve or sixteen inches only above this dry hay. We were not in the fire insurance business or we would not have halted. We were met at the door and invited in, and following, we were in the rear, and closing the door behind us, which darkened the room, we started in their wake; but what was our astonishment to find ourself plank upon the heels of a horse, but we were soon relieved by our hostess throwing open another door on the opposite side of the stable (for such it proved to be) revealing a small passage between a horse and a cow leading into the presence of the family; each one coming forward and saying "welcome," at the same time giving us a hearty shake of the hand. From the appearance of these buildings on the exterior, and in some instances having to pass through a stable to get in, we were not a little surprised at the neat appearance of the interior. Instead of a stove they have a large brick furnace, which will, they assured us, keep the room comfortable for a whole day with only one heating. The furniture consists principally of bedding, of which they seem to have an abundant supply, and of the warmest material. Nearly every family has an old fashioned German time-piece, reaching from the ceiling to the floor, the weights and pendulum of polished brass, and apparently heavy enough to run a small engine; but we noticed they all kept the same time. They have as yet but little use for the improved chair system, as they use their trunks and chests for that purpose. Still it will be remembered that these people have all moved in in the last six months, and a few have neat frame houses. . . [40]

Practically all the furniture in use at this time had been brought


from Russia. During the first few years it was supplemented by other pieces made by the villagers themselves and still later by furniture purchased in the stores. The beds they brought with them are of special interest. They were divided lengthwise, and during the daytime could be pushed together somewhat like a modern-day studio couch. This not only conserved space but with the covers piled on top made a very good seat. Several pieces of the furniture brought to America by members of the Gnadenau community are on display in the Tabor College Museum at Hillsboro. Many of the tools and some of the house furnishings in the museum were made by Jacob Friesen, Sr., who must have been a very fine carpenter and machinist.

The ovens or stoves mentioned by Mr. Groat created considerable interest among the Americans living nearby. Within a few years one of their neighbors had installed one in his home and others planned to do so. [41] An early visitor to Gnadenau aptly describes the stoves.

The perhaps greatest curiosity about their houses, is their oven fire-places, and with one of which the whole house is well heated and the cooking done for twenty-four hours, the coldest seasons of the year, and all from the burning of four good-sized arm-fulls of straw. The oven (will call it such) is built of the brick of their own make, and is generally 7 feet high, 7 feet long, and about two feet wide, and situated about equally in each of the three lower rooms. The door of the oven is in the kitchen, as is also a door through which to allow the smoke to escape in the chimney, both of which are opened and closed at will; otherwise the oven is perfectly air tight. The blaze from the straw passes from the front to the rear and then back again to the front of the oven, the smoke passing out through another smaller door near the top of the oven and into the chimney. In its circuit through the oven the blaze passes around a couple of smaller ones conveniently opened into from the sitting rooms, constructed of iron, inside of the large oven. They also have doors to them, and in these each family can do nearly all their cooking, as they are each large enough to hold half a dozen good-sized vessels. Their bread is generally baked in large bread pans placed upon iron stools in the front of the large oven after the fire has gone out, something after the manner of our bakers. The chimney is good-sized and located just in front of the large oven, and goes straight through the top of the house. In some of the chimneys places are fixed to hang meat upon to be smoked. Besides the ovens there are small fire-places built on each side of a passageway which leads to the door of the oven, and are provided with places for cooking and are intended to be used only in warm weather, or when the rooms are too warm to admit of the oven being reheated. The smoke from these passes up the same chimney. The large oven is heated up twice a day during cold weather, with about two arm-fulls of straw each time, or a proportional amount of dry manure, or such other fuel as they may choose to use, excepting coal, which cannot be used in them. In a country like


this, where fuel is so scarce and expensive, and straw and its likes so plenty, we can but look upon these ovens as among the grandest things in use for this country, and might with a sense of economy, neatness and practicability be adapted into every house where it is possible to do so. By so doing, it would save the expense of stoves and of fuel, . . . and at the same time put to good use all the straw and other refuse about the premises. [42]

One of the first frame houses in Gnadenau was the residence of Elder Jacob A. Wiebe. This house at the east end of the village street was painted red with board window shutters painted green. A contemporary account says: "Mr. Wiebe has built a house more nearly on the Russian model. He took us over the structure, a maze of small rooms and passages, the stable being under the same roof with the people, and the granaries over all, the great wheat stacks being located at the back door." [43]

The houses were set back from the street to allow for the planting of trees and flower beds. E. W. Hoch, during his visit to Gnadenau in 1876, was particularly impressed with the beauty of the yards. He wrote: "Their yards are immense bouquets. Every other town in the county might well imitate Gnadenau in this matter." [44]

Rows of fruit trees were planted near the houses and shade trees lined the village street. Noble L. Prentis, when he visited the Mennonite settlements a second time in 1882, was amazed at the number of trees he saw. In describing the three villages of New Alexanderwohl, Hoffnungsthal and Gnadenau, he wrote:

The most surprising thing about these places is the growth of the trees. I left bare prairie; I returned to find a score of miniature forests in sight from any point of view. The wheat and corn fields were unfenced, of course, but several acres around every house were set in hedges, orchards, lanes, and alleys of trees; trees in lines, trees in groups, and trees all alone. In many cases the houses were hardly visible from the road, and in a few years will be entirely hidden in the cool shade. Where the houses were only a few hundred yards apart, as was frequently the case, a path ran from one to the other between two lines of poplars or cottonwoods. . . [45]

For their first supplies the people of Gnadenau had to go either to Peabody or Marion Centre. It is likely that most of their trading was done at the former because it was on the railroad. Grain and livestock had to be hauled there for shipment for several years after the founding of the colony. At least one Marion Centre merchant made a determined bid for their business. He was a young German, John C. Mehl, who had started a store in Marion Centre shortly

[Early views of the Mennonite Settlement at Gnadenau, Marion County, Kansas.]


[Early views of the Mennonite Settlement at Gnadenau, Marion County, Kansas.]



before the arrival of the Mennonites. He ran this advertisement in the Marion County Record dated August 15, 1874, though the paper probably was actually published two or three days later:

About thirty families of Russians have just arrived in Marion County and are settling six miles west of Marion Centre. They want to buy thirty or forty span of work horses, milch cows, poultry, and everything necessary for the opening up of their farms and to live on, for which they will pay cash.
Have your stock and other articles at Marion Centre, Thursday morning, August 20th, and they will meet you with the money.
For further information call on J. C. Mehl, opposite the postoffice.

A month later the Record reported that, "One of the liveliest business men in town is our German friend, Mr. J. C. Mehl. He is doing a good work for Marion Centre, as well as himself, by attracting and retaining, by fair and honorable dealing, the trade of our newly acquired Russian citizens." [46] Sometimes the Mennonites were not dealt with "fair and honorably" during the first months before they had some knowledge of English and the value of American money.
Later Mr. Mehl instituted a "sales day," at which time the farmers brought in stock and other property which they wished to sell. This was a further effort to retain the Mennonite trade.

As in the case of the other inland towns of the county, a store was soon opened at Gnadenau. The first store building stood on the south side of the street and later was moved to the north side. The storekeeper was forbidden, by the rules of the village, to sell either intoxicating drinks or tobacco. The first storekeeper was a Russian named Edward Dolgorouki. [47] Little is known of him except that after a short time, possibly only a few months, he was arrested for larceny and taken to the county seat for trial. There is no record of another storekeeper for several years.

On August 10, 1877, the Risley reporter for the Marion County Record wrote: "Our Gnadenau friends want some one to open a general grocery store there." It was not until March of the following year that they were successful. The building was not in the village but was located about a quarter of a mile south of the east end of the village street in section 12. The owner was Thomas Holcomb. In less than a month he had taken a partner, a young


man from Illinois whose name is unknown. On March 22, several weeks after the opening of the store, Mr. Holcomb reported a brisk business and said that he was receiving from one to two hundred eggs a week. Evidently Mr. Holcomb sold quite a variety of merchandise because the Risley correspondent for the Peabody Gazette sent in this news item in August: "T. J. Holcomb has an agency for somebody's wheat drills, at Gnadenau. Tom's store seems to be a success." [48]

In spite of his apparent success Mr. Holcomb did not stay in business in Gnadenau very long. In June, 1879, a heavy wind blew the building down and damaged about $200 worth of merchandise. [49] During August he moved his family and what was left of his stock of goods to the new town of Hillsboro. [50]

There was some talk in March, 1875, of building a water grist mill on the south branch of the Cottonwood in section 13 but the plan did not materialize. [51] During the latter part of 1876, however, a grist mill operated by a large Dutch windmill was erected just west of the village. In March, 1877, we find that: "The grist mill at Gnadenau is running night and day when there is wind. They grind corn, rye, barley and wheat, but do not bolt any." [52] We have no record of the length of time this mill was in operation but the building itself stood until about twenty-five years ago. In the later years it was used as a granary. The mill was built and operated by Jacob Friesen, Sr., and his son, Jacob J. Friesen. Later Jacob J. Friesen moved to Hillsboro and became a grain and coal dealer. He died there April 13, 1940, at the age of eighty-seven.

Several sorghum mills were located near Gnadenau. As early as September 20, 1878, one was operated by C. A. Flippin and a Mr. Hine of Gnadenau. Sorghum mills did a good business among Mennonites because sorghum molasses was one of the staple articles of their diet. A former resident of the village states that some of the families used as much as a hundred gallons a year. [53] Considering the fact that there were ten and twelve and even more children to feed in many families this does not seem exaggerated.


There were two blacksmith shops in Gnadenau during the early years. One was located at the west end of the street and the other at the east near the Holcomb store. Two of the blacksmiths were Franz Janzen and Gerhard Cornelson. The Cornelson shop was moved to Hillsboro in 1881.

In addition to these established businesses at or near Gnadenau, many services were performed by various individuals in the village. J. J. Friesen is listed in the 1875 census as a machinist. In the same census we find: John Keck, carpenter; Aaron Shellenberg, shoemaker; Jacob Harms, painter. Evidently Jacob Harms was somewhat more than an ordinary painter because in June, 1877, he did some fancy counter-painting in the Wand Drug Store at Marion Centre. The editor of the Marion County Record speaks of him as being "a truly artistic painter" and says, "We have seen floral paintings by him, which looked so natural that we could scarcely refrain from attempting to pluck the flowery beauties." [54] The names of Jacob Harms and John Keck appear in a business directory for 1878 as well as the following: Buller, Rev. Jacob (Mennonite) ; Bushman, G., tailor; Bushman, Henry, carpenter; Fast, John, grocery; Flaming, A., schoolteacher; Harder, Rev. John (Baptist) ; Schenkofsky, C., blacksmith; Wedel, Rev. C. (Mennonite) ; Wiebe, Rev. Jacob (Baptist). [55]

Gnadenau never had a post office but there was one in nearby Risley and John Fast, of the village, was the postmaster at least two different periods of time. After the founding of Gnadenau, Risley lost its identity as a town, if indeed it was ever more than a postal station. The two names were used interchangeably while Gnadenau was still in Risley township. After the township was divided the original settlement of Risley was in Liberty township [56] and the whole community became known as Gnadenau.

The Marion & McPherson branch of the Santa Fe railroad was built along the north edge of the settlement in 1879 and Hillsboro [67] was established two miles west of Gnadenau. Gradually the need for business houses and tradesmen diminished and Hillsboro became their trading center. The coming of the railroad was received with no little opposition in Gnadenau. The chief factor in this opposition was the anticipated rise in taxes but there was also a strong feeling


that the new railroad would bring new non-German settlers whose presence would endanger the entity of the Mennonite community. At an election in Risley township on December 16, 1878, the. railroad bonds carried by a vote of 77 to 43. It was charged that the Marion Centre political ring had invaded the township on election day, and by fair means and foul had exerted pressure to influence the vote. There was a feeling in Peabody that the "poor foreigners" in. Risley township had been tricked. On the other hand the people in Marion believed or pretended to believe that the Peabody politicians had worked against the bonds because they feared loss of trade to the towns located along the route of the proposed railroad. For several weeks the controversy occupied considerable space in the columns of the local newspapers. Just how large a part the Mennonites at Gnadenau took in the election is not known. Probably little, since it was still very much against their belief to take part in elections although they must have been vitally interested in the outcome. [58]

Because of their unusual habits of living and dress, the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren were a source of curiosity to the American settlers of the county. This was true throughout the state wherever there were Mennonite settlements, but probably to a greater extent in Gnadenau because of the reluctance of the people there to adopt American institutions. The men and boys dressed much alike and the little girls, in their long full skirts and white aprons, looked like miniatures of their mothers. Clothing could be, and usually was, made of the finest materials but no lace or other ornamentation was allowed. Mr. Hoch, in his visit to Gnadenau in 1876, observed that the favorite color was blue. "Probably," he said, "because the color yields less readily than any other to the bleaching rays of the sun. We noticed several strangely constructed dye houses, made from bottom to top of adobe, at which operatives were engaged coloring garments." [59] Another author has suggested that they chose blue because that seemed a more modest color than any other. For many years the women were not allowed to wear hats to church but tied a kerchief or shawl over their heads or, perhaps, wore a bonnet. The women inevitably wore white aprons to church. New and shiny vehicles were looked upon as a vanity and there were cases in which 68. Very few of these people had declared their intention of becoming citizens and so could not have voted at this time. A survey of the naturalization records in the office of clerk of the court at Marion shows that less than a dozen men from the Gnadenau community had begun naturalization proceedings before this date. Strangely enough the papers of four more are dated December 10, 1878, the date of the railroad bond election. Older people among the Mennonites were loath to become citizens because they felt that they would then be obligated to the duties of voting, serving on juries, etc., against the belief of the church.


the owner of a new buggy or carriage daubed cheap paint over its bright, glossy surface to show his humility. While the village system functioned it was comparatively easy to safeguard the old established habits and customs. After it had failed, the church for many years sought to prevent the adoption of innovations in dress and manners. At one time or another the church fathers banned the wearing of ties, detachable collars, hats with trimming on them and other "Americanisms." Gradually the church became more liberal in its attitude and since 1900 the people of Gnadenau have dressed much like the other residents of the county.

Only necessary work was done on Sunday. In fact religious services left no time for labor. Church began at ten o'clock in the morning and lasted several hours. A second church service was held in the evening. Sunday school, to keep the young people occupied and out of temptation's way, took up most of Sunday afternoon. Carefully chaperoned hymn practices were held in the evenings during the week and revivals were frequent. These usually began as a series of Bible meetings where different phases of religious life were discussed. Even when these meetings assumed the proportions of a revival there was little preaching. Singing and praying and the giving of testimonials usually resulted in the con version of a number of young people. After the revival these converts were baptised in the south branch of the Cottonwood, conveniently located a short distance south of the village. The Krimmer Mennonite Brethren differed from other branches of the Mennonite church who practiced immersion in their form of baptism. Instead of laying the person back into the water the Krimmer Brethren had the applicant kneel and he was dipped into the water face forward. Insistence upon this procedure was one of the factors which kept other Mennonites from uniting with the Gnadenau church. [60]

The first church building was erected in the fall of 1874 on the south side of the street near the center of the village. It was made of adobe with thatched roof similar to the first houses. The cemetery was in the rear of the church. The walls of this first church soon crumbled and a frame building was constructed across the street. This is probably the building referred to in an item in the Marion County Record for March 2, 1877, "Quite a large though plain church house has been erected in Gnadenau." Records show


that a certificate of incorporation of the Gnadenau Mennonite church of Gnadenau, Marion county, was filed with the secretary of state February 5, 1877. The trustees named in this certificate were: Jacob Wiebe, Johann Harder, John Goossen, Peter Barkman, Aaron Shellenberg, Franz Groening and Gerhard Buschman. [61] On March 30, 1899, some of the provisions of the charter were altered and the name of the church was changed to The Gnadenau Crimean Mennonite Brethren Church. This document was signed by: Heinrich Wiebe, John Berg, John A. Flaming, Peter M. Barkman, Deitrich Wiebe, Abram Groening, John Peters and John J. Friesen. [62] There is no record that the name was ever changed from Crimean to Krimmer but it is doubtful whether Crimean was ever used very much. Krimmer Mennonite Brethren is the name most commonly used and the one preferred by the members of the church at Gnadenau.

By 1895 many of the members of the church had settled on farms west and south of the village and the church was no longer conveniently located. The old building was torn down and a new one erected two and one-half miles south of Hillsboro on highway 15. This is the location of the present church. Many members of the original colony are buried in the cemetery adjacent to the church. In a plot on the side nearest the church are the graves of Elder Jacob A. Wiebe [63] and his wife, Elizabeth Friesen Wiebe.

For many years the ministers of the Gnadenau church served without pay, but I believe this is no longer true. Jacob A. Wiebe was pastor of the church from 1869 to 1900. He was succeeded by his brother, Henry Wiebe, who served from 1900 to 1910, and by John J. Friesen, 1910 to 1937. In 1937 the present pastor, the Reverend Frank V. Wiebe, assumed the charge. There have been periods when the Gnadenau church has lost heavily in membership. One of these periods followed the resignation of Jacob A. Wiebe in 1900. Some of the members married outside the church, and for that reason or for other reasons joined Mennonite or Mennonite Brethren churches nearby. Some members moved away from the neighborhood, and of necessity joined other congregations. At times the younger people in particular have felt that the Gnadenau church


was too conservative and have rebelled at the restrictions put upon the church members.

Always deeply religious in nature and strict in church and personal conduct, the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren have accepted changes less rapidly, and on the whole have been less liberal than the other branches of the Mennonite church [64] in America. For many years the church officials at Gnadenau sought to maintain the beliefs and practices of the congregation as it was organized in 1869. They sought, also, to regulate the daily conduct of the members. Sermons had to be delivered in German, although today some are in English. As one of the members expresses it, "For many years our people had the idea, if we should lose our language we would lose our religion. But this has changed in the last 20 years. If the language must go, then the religion can be switched over into English. . . . Now, a minister that cannot preach in English is out of date." [65] Until a comparatively recent date musical instruments were forbidden in the church. The hymns used in the service were very simple and part singing was not approved. There were many special religious gatherings, but except for these social life was practically non-existent. Various taboos in dress have already been mentioned. In addition many other things, including bicycle riding, purchasing of life and property insurance, excessive buying of land, voting at elections other than school elections, serving on juries, having photographs taken, have at some time fallen under the ban of the church. In the early days an occasional member was excommunicated if he persisted in ignoring the regulations but he usually repented and came back in a short time.

A charter was filed with the secretary of state July 12, 1917, incorporating the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren Church of North America at Hillsboro. The certificate of incorporation was signed by John Esau and Cornelius Thiessen of Inman, Peter A. Wiebe of Lehigh, and John J. Friesen and David E. Harder of Hillsboro. [66] The last named men were at one time members of the congregation at Gnadenau. The church is one of the smaller branches of the


Mennonite church, numbering about sixteen hundred members in the United States. At present there are only three congregations in Kansas. They are the Gnadenau church at Hillsboro, the Springfield church at Lehigh and the Zoar church at Inman. Churches have been started in Butler county and at Lyons in Rice county but they did not exist very long [67]

Evangelistic work has been stressed by the church and missions have been established by the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren conference. Since 1898 they have supported a mission among the colored people at Elk Park, N. C.

On September 15, 1890, the Krimmer Brethren were granted a charter for The Industrial School and Hygienic Home for Friendless Persons. Its purpose was "to maintain and educate friendless persons, to provide and maintain a home for such persons, and to provide homes in Christian families for homeless and friendless children." [68] This home, organized largely through the efforts of the congregation at Gnadenau, was to be located just north of the site of the old village. The first officers were: Elder Jacob A. Wiebe, president; the Reverend Abraham Harms, vice-president; the Reverend J. A. Flaming, secretary, and John Regehr, treasurer. Mrs. Amanda Dohner was chosen matron. The building committee, consisting of Frank Groening, Peter Barkman, John Goossen, John J. Friesen, Jacob Prieb and Tobias Martin, was appointed at a conference at Inman on October 23, 1893. Its members supervised the building of a four-story stone structure, erected cornerwise with the world so that sunshine would reach all the rooms at least part of the day.

The orphanage operated, not too successfully, for about twenty years. It was then converted into the Salem Home for the Aged and Helpless. The third floor was equipped as a hospital. In a short time the hospital space proved inadequate, and in 1918 the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren united with the Mennonite Brethren to establish the Salem Hospital in Hillsboro. The Salem home has been very successful in its operation. The building was destroyed by lightning April 29, 1944, but plans are under way for the erection of a new one.

School District No. 11 in which Gnadenau was located was a very large district organized in 1871. It was referred to at that time as the Risley school. The village children did not attend the public school, however, for at least two years. Having been accustomed


to their own church schools in Russia, they built a schoolhouse in the village in the fall of 1874. After about 1876 the pupils attended the public school when it was in session and attended the church school a different period of time. At first the usual division was four months in the public school and three months at Gnadenau. As time went on the term in the public school tended to become longer.

The first German schoolhouse in Gnadenau was made of sod and a few boards and thatched with long grass. It was located near the center of the village on the south side of the street. This building served as a meetinghouse as well as a schoolhouse. After a short time the walls crumbled and school was moved to the home of the teacher, the Reverend Johann Harder. [69] One or two rooms in his house were used exclusively by the family and at night the Harder children slept in the schoolroom. The desks were pushed aside and the benches pushed together to serve as beds.

According to Mr. Harder, the Mennonites wished to establish their own schools "for the purpose of teaching the children the most essential things in life." [70] Very essential things at that time, according to their belief, were a thorough acquaintance with the Bible and a knowledge of the German language.

There were no graded classes, but a division of the pupils was made into the A. B. C. or chart class and advanced students. The chart class was "heard" by some of the older pupils. There were few books except the Bible, which was used as a textbook in reading and in Bible history.

H. P. Peters, in his book, History and Development of Education Among the Mennonites in Kansas, gives the following curriculum as observed by Mr. Harder:

The first hour on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Bible history. Second hour: Reading, two classes, one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. One "Buchstabier" or A. B. C. class. Third hour: Penmanship, advanced classes. The A. B. C. class was heard by one of the advanced pupils during this hour.


The first hour in the afternoon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays he had arithmetic, both mental (Kopfrechnen) and written (Tafelrechnen). After arithmetic there was another hour in reading. The third hour there were singing exercises or geography.

On Tuesday and Thursday there was German grammar the first hour in the morning. Then followed construction of sentences, arithmetic and penmanship. In the afternoon again arithmetic, dictation exercises and reading each one hour. [71] Every morning and afternoon session opened and closed with prayer. The singing of religious songs was also a part of the program every day.

During the first year or two Mr. Harder received no salary but made an agreement with each family having children in school to bring a load of building material, either rocks or lumber, to be used in the construction of a house. After he began teaching in his own home he was paid a certain amount for each pupil. The last year he taught the school was held in the meeting house and he received a salary of $30 a month. Public funds could not be used in the maintenance of church schools. One writer says, however, that a Marion county superintendent of schools once visited the German school at Gnadenau and was so impressed with Mr. Harder's conduct of the classes that she allotted him a portion of the school fund. Because of a complaint by other residents of the county the money was later returned to the county treasury. [72]

The second German teacher was Andreas Flaming, [73] a resident of the community but not a member of the original colony. There was an effort, at one time, to engage two teachers, one German and one English, for the regular district school. Mr. Flaming took the teacher's examination in order to qualify for the position as German teacher. As far as can be ascertained the plan did not materialize because of the opposition of the non-German residents of the district.

Concerning the public school which the children of Gnadenau began attending about 1876, David Harrison, the county superintendent, reported: "District No. 11 includes Gnadenau, and in number of pupils, stands fourth in the county. Miss Thompson is teaching the school, and appears to be doing well. The school is furnished with books, and the house is neat enough, but too small for so large a number of pupils." [74] This was in June of 1877. At the end


of the next winter term of school on February 15, 1878, Miss Thompson arranged an entertainment in the form of a school exhibition. Part of the music on the program was furnished by a choir of German boys who sang, with flute accompaniment, in their native tongue. One of the audience wrote, "As a whole, the exhibition was very good, especially as some of the Germans who took part had been studying our language but a short time. Despite the diabolical state of the roads, the audience, from whatever distance they came, felt well repaid for being present." [75]

On April 1, 1878, Willie Groat commenced a term of school at Gnadenau. In August of that year he was employed to teach the Gnadenau school for another term of six months and possibly three months longer. At various intervals during the winter there were "spelling matches," presumably attended by the people of Gnadenau since the greater part of the students came from the village.

The first public schoolhouse in District No. 11 was located in section 12 east of the village. Since the district was so large a second schoolhouse was built, a few years later, west of town on land donated by John J. Friesen. For about ten years the community maintained two schoolhouses, paying the expenses out of a common treasury. Finally the two schools were incorporated into one and a large brick schoolhouse was erected on almost the same location as the first German school built in 1874. This is the location of the present Gnadenau schoolhouse. The early years at Gnadenau were filled with hardships and dangers. Prairie fires were common. In the first fall a fire, which was reported to have swept down from fifty miles north, threatened the village itself. Unused to such a spectacle the Mennonites did not know what to do. Mr. Risley, their neighbor to the east, brought his plow and helped plow protective furrows around the entire section. Prairie fires at or near Gnadenau were frequently reported in the local newspapers. In the Marion County Record for April 13, 1877, we find, "It [Gnadenau] comes very near being the banner town for prairie fires. One sees them day and night. One ran against John G. Hill's farm last week, destroying his hedge which was six years old, besides killing between five and six thousand fine peach trees and some shrubbery. . . ."

Grasshoppers destroyed some of the crops in July, 1876, and again in September, 1877, when they were so bad that the people were reminded of the dreadful plague of 1874. Some years the crops suf-


fered from lack of rain. Horse thieves were frequently reported at Gnadenau as late as 1879. The reluctance of the Mennonites to prosecute or take any part in court proceedings may have been the reason why so many horses were stolen from them.

E. W. Hoch remarked once that the people of Gnadenau looked healthy and surmised that doctors dispensed few pills and powders there but childhood diseases struck hard in the village. One winter twenty-four children died of diphtheria in Liberty township and most of them were from the families of Mennonites at Gnadenau. [76]

Gnadenau, in its early years, was enough of a novelty on the Kansas prairies to attract a great many visitors. W. J. Groat, a frequent visitor at the village, Once wrote that the person living within the limits of Marion county who had never visited one of the Russian towns was to be compared with people who, living in the vicinity of Niagara Falls or Kentucky's great cave, would not visit them. [77] Several visits have already been described. Another seems worthy of mention. This was the visit of a group of noted foreign correspondents and artists in September, 1876. [78] This group of men had come to America to visit the Centennial exposition in Philadelphia. Desirous of seeing the country they were taken on a tour of the Middle West as guests of the Santa Fe railroad. They were in Topeka for the week-end and on Sunday, September 3, went to Florence, where they were to spend the night. On Monday the party drove out to the Russian settlement, visited Gnadenau, called on the bishop and brought back a large number of prairie chickens. The correspondents were delighted with the country and sent reports to their papers at regular intervals.

In 1875 C. B. Schmidt made a trip to Russia in the interests of Kansas and the Santa Fe railroad. He carried with him hundreds of letters of introduction, many of which were written by the people of Gnadenau. Perhaps for this reason a great number of immigrants came directly to the village and stayed until they could select permanent homes. One wonders that they could accommodate so many visitors. The Marion County Record reported on August 4, 1876, "About three hundred persons are expected in Gnadenau this week"; November 3, 1876, "One hundred and fifty or two hundred more German-Russians are expected in Gnadenau soon"; June 22, 1877,


"Several families arrived in Gnadenau last week from Russia. More are expected every day." This continued until about 1880 when the Mennonite immigration declined sharply.

Today Gnadenau lives only in the memory of the few remaining members of the original settlement in 1874. The name itself has been perpetuated in the Gnadenau school. There is little else to remind the casual visitor that the public road through the center of section 11, Liberty township, was once a village street.


1. The Mennonite population of South Russia in 1870 was approximately forty-five thousand. Some were Germanic, Swiss or Polish in origin but many were Dutch. Driven from Holland by religious intolerance they had settled in Danish Prussia and along the Delta of the Vistula as early as the middle of the sixteenth century. Here they had adopted the use of the German language and acquired a German culture, both of which remained virtually intact during their residence in Russia. They also prospered materially and this prosperity fostered intolerance and jealousy among the non-Mennonite inhabitants. By the latter part of the eighteenth century the situation had become critical, and when Catherine issued a general invitation to the Mennonites to settle in South Russia in 1786, many families migrated. The two principal colonies were Chortitz with eighteen villages and Molotschna with forty-six. Several independent colonies were established. As the original settlements outgrew their land allotments, daughter colonies were founded. The Crimean colony at Karassan with which this paper is concerned was founded in 1862 by settlers from the Molotschna colony.-Smith, C. Henry, The Story of the Mennonites (Berne, Ind., Mennonite Book Concern, 1941), pp. 883-403.
2. Contact between the Russian government and the Mennonite colonists was exercised through a supervisory commission (Fuersorge Komitee) organized in 1818. This commission, usually headed by a German, had consistently maintained a liberal policy toward the Mennonites.-ibid., p. 418.
3. Because of his activities in behalf of the migration movement, Cornelius Jansen was exiled from Russia in 1873. He came to America and located temporarily in Iowa. In 1874, with a group of other Mennonites, he purchased 20,000 acres of land in Jefferson county, Nebraska. His son, Peter Jansen, has taken a prominent part in state and national affairs.
4. Berdiansk, a thriving city on the Sea of Azov, was one of the principal ports for the exportation of products from the Mennonite colonies in South Russia.
5. John Fretz Funk, born April 6, 1835, in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, was the great, great grandson of Bishop Heinrich Funk who settled in America in 1717. He became interested in the work of the church at an early age and was ordained into the ministry in 1865. In addition to publishing the Herald der Wahrheit for many years he sponsored many institutions of benefit to the Mennonites in America.-Kolb, Aaron C., "John Fretz Funk, 1835-1930; an Appreciation," The Mennonite Quarterly Review, Scottdale, Pa., July, October, 1982 (v. VI, Nos. 3, 4).
6. 31 Vict., a 40, Sect. 17, approved May 22, 1868.
7. The delegation was composed of Jacob Buller, Leonhard Suderman, Jacob Peters, Heinrich Wiebe, Cornelius Buhr, Cornelius Toevs, David Klaasen, Paul and Lorenz Tschetter representing congregations in South Russia, William Ewert of West Prussia, and Tobias Unruh and Andreas Schrg of Poland. Smith, C. Henry, The Coming of the Russian Mennonites (Berne, Ind., Mennonite Book Concern, 1927), pp. 51, 52.
8. Christian Krehbiel, son of John and Katherine Krehbiel, was born in Germany, October 18, 1882. He came to America at the age of eighteen and settled in Ohio. He was married, March 14, 1858, to Susanna Ruth. They came to Halstead, Kan., in 1879, and for a number of years conducted an Indian school for pupils from the Arapahoe and Cheyenne agency in the Indian territory. After the school was discontinued the Krehbiel home was turned into as orphanage. Mr. Krehbiel died in 1909.-Moundridge Journal, "Golden Jubilee Edition," October 7, 187, p. 22.
9. The petition, dated July 26, 1873, was prepared and presented by Paul and Lorenz Tachetter, representatives of the Hutterites. An interesting account of the tour and the circumstances connected with the presentation of the petition is found in "The Diary of Paul Tachetter 1873," translated and edited by J. M. Hofer.-The Mennonite Quarterly Review, April, July, 1931 (v. V, Nos. 2, 3). Efforts to obtain legislation in the United States congress favorable to the Mennonites are discussed in Leibbrandt, Georg, "The Emigration of the German Mennonites From Russia To the United States and Canada in 1873-1880," in ibid., October, 1932; January, 1933 (v. VI, No. 4; v. VII, No. 1).
10. Congressional Record; Containing the Proceedings and Debates of the Forty-Third Congress First Session (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1874), v. II Pt. 4, p. 8056. Senator Clayton was a former resident of Leavenworth.
11. Laws of Kansas, 1874, Ch. LXXXV, March 19, 1874; General Laws of Minnesota for 1877, Ch. XVI, March 2, 1877; Laws of the State of Nebraska for 1877 (February 14 1871) p. 48. None of the laws specifically names the Mennonites The Kansas law reads: "Section 2. That the following persons are exempted from enrollment in the militia of the state: . . . all persons who shall, on or before the first day of May of each year, make and file with the county clerk of their county an affidavit that they are members of any religious society or organization by whose creed or discipline the bearing of arms is forbidden." The laws of the other two states mentioned are similar. These laws did not apply to service in the federal army.
12. Public Laws of the United States of America, Passed at the Third Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress, 1863-1863 (Boston, Little, Brown and Company, 1863), pp. 772-774. 13. Bradley, Glenn Danford, The Story of the Santa Fe (Boston, Richard G. Badger, 1920), pp. 107-113.
14. For a biographical sketch of Carl Bernhard Schmidt, see Kansas Historical Collections, v. IX, p. 485. His activities as foreign immigration agent of the Santa Fe are described in his Reminiscences of Foreign Immigration Work for Kansas," ibid., pp. 485-497.
15. Several families of Mennonites from the Crimea came to America in 1873 The largest group consisting of twenty-seven families arrived in New York in July at the time the delegation of twelve were sailing for Europe. In this party were Jacob Funk, Johann Fast and Heinrich Flaming who settled near Marion Centre, Kan The remainder settled in Minnesota and Dakota.-Smith, The Coming of the Russian Mennonites, pp. 92, 132.
16. Certain divisions had occurred within the Mennonite church in Russia although they were fundamentally the same in belief. Organization of new groups had come about as a rule because of the religious zeal of leaders who believed that the church had become too worldly. One such group was the Kleine Gemeinde founded by Class Reimer in the early part of the nineteenth century. A small faction of the Kleine Gemeinde migrated to the Crimea about 1860, and in 1869, under the leadership of Jacob A. Wiebe, had organized a church which became known as the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren.
17. Noncombatant services included duty in hospitals, munition factories and forestry service.
18. It has been estimated that less than one-third of the total Mennonite population left Russia at that time. By 1883 approximately eighteen thousand had settled in the United States and Canada with some five thousand in Kansas.-Smith, The Coming of the Russian Mennonites, pp. 129, 130.
19. Letter of Jacob A. Wiebe in Bradley, op. cit., p. 119.
20. Various Mennonite organizations made contracts with steamship and railroad companies for the transportation of immigrants. A joint contract was made with the Inman line and the Erie railroad by the Mennonite Board of Guardians (see Footnote 21). The original document is in the Mennonite Historical Library, Goshen, Ind. In return for low fares, wholesome and adequate food, comfortable accommodations, prompt service, lay-over privileges, etc., the board agreed to use their influence to have all of the Mennonites choose the said Inman line and Erie railroad on their route from Europe to their new homes in America. Leibbrandt, Georg, "The Emigration of the German Mennonites From Russia to the United States and Canada, 1873-1880," loc. cit., January. 1933 (v. VII, No. 1), pp. 29-31.
21. When the Russian Mennonite migration to America began the Mennonites in this country made plans to help the immigrants. The Mennonite Board of Guardians was organized for this purpose. They gave advice, rendered valuable assistance in problems of transportation and settlement and collected money for the immigrant poor. The first officers of the board were: Christian Krehbiel, president, John F. Funk, treasurer, David Goerz, secretary, and Bernard Warkentin, agent. David Goerz and Bernard Warkentin spent many months m New York meeting the immigrants and helping them arrange for their transportation west. All the men named above with the exception of John F. Funk later made their homes in Kansas. A sketch of Christian Krehbiel is given in Footnote 8. David Goerz settled in Halstead in 1875 and established a publishing house. He was instrumental in founding Bethel College at Newton, and acted as business administrator of that school for a number of years. For a sketch of the life of Bernard Warkentin, see Kansas Historical Collections, v. XI, p. 161.
22. Letter of Jacob A. Wiebe in Bradley, op. cit., p. 121.
23. The first Mennonite settlement in Marion county was made in 1870 by a group from Pennsylvania under the leadership of M. W. Keim. In the fall of 1873 the Crimean families, mentioned in Footnote 15, settled along the Cottonwood river west of Marion. Early in 1874 the Prussian representative in the delegation of twelve, William Ewert, together with Franz Funk and Cornelius Jantz settled near by. The community, known as Bruderthal, was a short distance northwest of the land chosen for the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren settlement.
24. The name Marion Centre was changed to Marion in January, 1882.-Peabody Gazette, January 26, 1882.
25. The Crane ranch was founded in 1872 and became one of the most noted shorthorn ranches in the west. The ranch house stood near the site of the old Cottonwood crossing of the Santa Fe trail where Moore's ranch, tavern and trading-post had been established in 1859.-Day, David I., "Memories of the Crane Ranch," Milking Shorthorn Journal, Chicago, May, June, 1941 (v. XXII, Nos. 5, 8).
26. Marion County Record, Marion, August 8, 1874.
27. Letter of the Reverend Jacob G. Barkman to Alberta Pantle, dated June 7, 1944. Mr. Barkman, the son of Peter M. (1845-1904) and Anna Barkman (1843-1910), was born in the Crimea January 9, 1870. Since coming to America in 1874 the family has been closely associated with the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren settlement. Mr. Barkman still lives near the site of his first home in Kansas. Information furnished by him was very helpful in the compilation of this paper. His parents are buried in the cemetery of the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren church south of Hillsboro.
28. In many accounts of this colony the date of settlement is given as Sunday, August 17. This is incorrect inasmuch as August 17 in 1874 was on Monday. It seems likely that the day of the week rather than the date of the month would be remembered by those relating the story in later years.
29. John M. Risley and his brother West settled on a section of land eight miles west of Marion Centre in 1870. He was postmaster of the station which bore his name for many years, the mail being delivered from Peabody. John M. Risley was prominent in county politics during the early period.-Writers' program of the Works Projects Administration in Kansas, A Guide to Hillsboro, Kansas (Hillsboro, The Mennonite Brethren Publishing House, 1940), pp. 85, 88.
31. No accurate list of the original colony has been found. The heads of families in Gnadenau, as compiled from the Kansas state census of 1575, included: Jacob Friesen, John Keck, Francis Janzen, Jacob Cornelson, Abraham Cornelson, Andrew Pankratz, Peter Berg, Gerhard Wohlegemuth, Martin Friesen, Gerhard Cornelson, Peter Wohlegemuth, Frank Groening, Aaron Shellenberg, Jacob Wiebe, David Block, Henry Block, Isaac Friesen, Peter Barkman, Abraham Goossen, John Harder, Cornelius Friesen, Francis Hine, Anna F. Harms, Abraham Coop, Jacob Harms, Peter Janzen, Cornelius Enns, Abraham Becker.
Several of this group became members of the Gnadenau settlement between August, 1874, and March 1576 when the census was taken.
31. Contributing to the breakdown of the village system included: Absence of the Factors contributing to the necessity for banding together for safety as they had been forced to do along the Turkish border in South Russia; improved agricultural machinery which made strip" farming impracticable; the spirit of the American frontier which tolerated no barriers; close contact with non-Mennonite neighbors; confusion which arose over the allocation of taxes.
32. The Commonwealth, Topeka, August 20, 1875.
33. Marion County Record, Marion, August 11, 1876.
34. The schedule of terms is described in a pamphlet in the files of the Library of the Kansas Historical Society. It is entitled How and Where To Get a Living; a Sketch of "The Garden of the West," Presenting Facts Worth Knowing Concerning the Lands of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Co., in Southwestern Kansas (Boston, Published by the Company, 1870). This is but one of the numerous pamphlets issued by the railroad in its efforts to interest prospective settlers in its grant lands.
85. The real estate firm of Alex E. Case and Levi Billings in Marion Centre. They were the authorized agents for the Santa Fe grant lands.
36. Letter of Jacob A. Wiebe in Bradley, op. cit., p. 123.
37. The deeds for the railroad grant lands are found in "Deed Book V."
38. several writers in recent years have given sole credit to the Mennonites at Gnadenau for the introduction of Turkey Red wheat into this country. This claim would be difficult to rove and is, perhaps, of less importance than has been attached to it. Even though the other Brethren brought some of this variety of wheat and planted it in the fall of 1874, the same thing could have been done at Bruderthal founded in the fall of 1873 or in Morris county where Jacob Remple and four other families settled in the spring of 1874. Other Mennonite colonies were founded too late in the fall of 1874 to have been able to get wheat planted. James C. Malin, as a result of his research on wheat growing in Kansas, believes this group cannot be given entire credit for introducing hard winter wheat.-Malin, James C., Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas (Lawrence, University of Kansas Press, 1944), p. 860.
39. The Commonwealth, Topeka, August 20, 1875.
40. Marion County Record, Marion, January 18, 1875.
41. Ibid., November 16, 1877.
42. The Commonwealth, Topeka, December 19, 1875. This is an extract from the Newton Kansan of December 9.
43. The Commonwealth, Topeka, August 20, 1875.
44. Marion County Record, Marion, August 11, 1876.
45. The Atchison Daily Champion, May 4, 1882.
46. Marion County Record, Marion, September 19, 1874.
47. Little is known of Edward Dolgorouki. He is reputed to have been an exile from Russia. His name appears frequently in the Marion County Record during the first months of 1874 but no trace of him is found after his trial for grand larceny. Many years later, Victor Murdock, editor of the Wichita Eagle, wrote of him: "Edward Dolgorouki, a name which Banana should remember and does not. Dolgorouki and other strong men like himself tired the Kansas prairies as paradise. Dolgorouki himself came to Marion county."-Wichita (Evening) Eagle, July 19, 187.
48. Peabody Gazette, August 9, 1878.
49. Ibid., July 4, 1879.
50. Ibid., August 15, 1879.
51. Marion County Record, Marion, March 20, 1875.
52. ibid., March 16, 1877.
53. Janzen, C. C., "Americanization of the Russian Mennonites in Central Kansas," thesis submitted to the department of sociology and the graduate faculty of the University of Kansas. June 1, 1914 (copy in the Kansas Historical Society Library), p. 78. This thesis together with his dissertation on, "A Social Study of the Mennonite Settlements in the Counties of Marion, McPherson Harvey Reno and Butler Kansas" (Chicago, Ill., September, 1926), contain much valuable source material for a study of the Mennonites in Kansas.
54. Marion County Record, Marion, June 22, 1877.
55. Kansas State Gazetteer and Business Directory . . . 1878 (Detroit, Mich., R. L. Polk do Co., and A C Denser), pp. 662, 663.
56. Liberty township was formed November 8, 1879.-"Records of Proceedings of the County Commissioners," Book 3, p. 269, MS. volume m courthouse, anon.
57. Hillsboro was named for John G. Hill who homesteaded near the site of the future Gnadenau in 1871. The town was laid out June 24, 1879.
59. Marion County Record, Marion, August 11, 1870.
60. Two families of Mennonite Brethren settled south of Gnadenau in 1875. It was believed that they might join the Gnadenau congregation for worship but the plan did not work because of the extreme conservativeness of the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren. These two families were joined by others from Russia and founded the Ebenfeld church which became the nucleus of quite a large community.
61. "Corporations," v. VII, p. 371.-Official copybook from office of secretary of state, now in the Archives division of the Kansas Historical Society.
62. ibid., v. A2, p. 809.
63. Jacob A. Wiebe was born August 6, 1836. He was married to Justina Friesen, daughter of Johann Friesen, at Petershagen, Russia, April 11, 1857. In 1869 he founded the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren church and served as elder, in Russia and America, until 1900. After his retirement he moved to Lehigh, Kan.,, where he ministered to the poor and ill until his death June 28, 1921.
64. Branches of the Mennonite church represented in Kansas according to the latest census of religious bodies were: Old Order Amish Mennonites; Church of God in Christ (Mennonites); Reformed Mennonites; General Conference of the Mennonite Church of North; Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Conference; Mennonite Brethren in Christ; Mennonite Brethren Church of North America; Krimmer Mennonite Brethren; Central Conference of Motes; Conference of the Defenseless Mennonites, and Unaffiliated Mennonites. U.S Census of Religious Bodies: 1956 (Washington, Government Printing Office.1941) , v. II, Pt. 2, pp. 1002-1081.
65. Letter of the Reverend Jacob G. Barkman dated June 7, 1944.
66. "Corporations," v. 98, p. 252.
67. Letter of the Reverend J. G. Barkman to Alberta Pantle, July 19, 1944. 68. "Corporations," v. 42, p. 142.
69. The Reverend Johann Harder was born August 20, 1836, in the village of Blumstein, Mclotsehna colony, South Russia. He was married November 28, 1858, to Elizabeth Fast, daughter of Johann Fast, then of Schanan, South Russia, but later of Gnadenau. They moved to the Crimea in 1866 and joined the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren church when it was organized in 1869. Harder became a minister in 1871 and served nearly fifty years in this capacity. Also he was a school teacher in Russia for seven years and taught four more years after coming to America. He lived in or near Hillsboro until his death February 23, 1930. -Hillsboro Star, March 14, 1930.
In reading of the Mennonites in Kansas, one is impressed with the unusual number of ministers in each small community. Until recent years few of them had any formal theological training. They were chosen from the laity and usually were farmers who preached when called upon to do so.
70. Peters, H. P., History and Development of Education Among the Mennonites in Kansas, a thesis submitted to the faculty of the college of liberal arts, Bluffton College, p. 22.
71. Ibid., pp. 30, 87. 72. Ibid., p. 80. 73. Ibid., p. 31. Andreas Flaming came to Kansas in 1874 but settled first on a farm near Florence. He moved to Gnadenau in 1870.
74. Marion County Record, Marion, June 29, 1877.
75. Groat, W. J., "Festivities in Gnadenau," in ibid., February 22, 1878-
76. Peabody Gazette, November 2, 1882.
77. Marion County Record, Marion, February 22, 1878.
78. Peabody Gazette, September 8, 1876.