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"You are the salt of the earth..." Matt. 5:13
Swiss (Volhynian) Mennonite Cultural and Historical Association Newsletter, Fall 2003, Vol.1-3
It’s A Miracle
- Harley J. Stucky
It’s a miracle and I’m thrilled by it.
It was a miracle that most of the Swiss Mennonites in Volhynia chose to come to America in 1874. It’s a miracle that they found good land and were able to settle in the center of the Kansas Mennonite settlement between Hoffnungsau (Buhler-Inman) and Alexanderwohl (Goessel). It’s a miracle that the community survived the drought, grasshoppers, prairie fires, blizzards and depression.
It’s a miracle that a Monument was built to share part of the Swiss Mennonite story with us and our children, and to serve as a point of inspiration for Christians from all walks of life.
The travels of the Swiss Mennonites from Montbeliard (Moempelgard) and the Palatinate to Austria, Poland and Russia during the French Revolution was a miracle. The survival of the Mennonites from the intense persecution of those days is a miracle.
Now you see why I’m filled with joy for the many personal and family miracles as well as those of the Swiss Mennonites.
The centennial celebration in 1974 was a miracle. The publication of Martin Schrag’s “The European History of the Swiss Mennonites from Volhynia” was a miracle. Even the creation of this organization, The Swiss Cultural and Historical Association was a miracle.
You see, I’m thrilled by the time, money and effort the officials and membership have put into this effort. I am thrilled that this organization has taken over the cemetery where many of the pioneers are buried. I’m excited by all those who have contributed to our Mennonite Story verbally or in writing.
I am thrilled with the work that James Krehbiel has done including his work of putting his material on a computer disc. I hope that somebody will write the story of the Swiss Mennonites in America. Perhaps the organization can begin an endowment fund for publications.
Our Swiss Mennonites are scattered over the globe and need help in tracing their roots back to 1874-1880 migrations.
In two or three generations those who have lost all connections are no longer aware of their Mennonite heritage- of the good genes, values, and faith they inherited. Maybe this organization can develop a program of connections.
Again I’m pleased that the Swiss Cultural and Historical Association is active and sustained by its members and able to meet the challenges it faces. Again the world, including our heritage, is full of miracles that bless and enrich our lives.
Thank you one and all for your personal and organizational concern, prayers and contributions. The future is in your hands and so is the road of miracles which thrills all of us and fills our hearts with joy.
No longer “the silent in the land,” Schweitzers address the issues of our day.
Question: How would the world be different if the leaders of major countries were Schweitzers?
Judging from our history, the world would not be Utopia, but leaders would be striving to improve it and not make decisions that would primarily benefit themselves.
Even Swiss politicians remain relatively obscure. Unlike the Quakers of the Enlightenment, the Kingdom is not on earth, but drueben.
Like the Swiss, Schweitzer Mennonites lead by example: Once in the South, I was told in a thick Southern drawl by a community leader, about a group from the North which arrived weekly to clean up after a tornado. “They are religious, but bring hammers rather than Bibles. I think they are called Mennonites. Why Mr. Kaufman, I do believe I see a tear in your eye.” -Kenneth C. Kaufman
WHAT IS YOUR VISION?
The Hopefield Vision
For the thousands of scattered descendants of the Swiss Volhynian Mennonite Immigrants to the United States in 1874, a specific place to visit and re-connect with this heritage will become increasingly meaningful as the years go by. The Hopefield church building, the cemetery, and the centennial monument with its seven informative plaques, all on the very soil ceded to the immigrants by the Santa Fe Railroad, are the best possible ingredients for developing and preserving such a spiritually venerated site.
The long term vision should include placement on the National Register of Historic Places, although the recent addition to the church building precludes this for the immediate future. Yet, further developments should proceed. A specific acreage should be plotted out and designated for eventual inclusion. We should continue to encourage restoration of the graves and the cemetery generally, and a comprehensive landscape plan for the entire area should be provided. Eventually, a caretaker’s residence ought to be added.
The development of an attractive, historically symbolic and informative site
would be greatly treasured as a sacred place and visited often by descendants
of the Hopefield pioneers and many others as well.
(Are you befuddled? Read on...)
--The Schweitzer Bauer, Maynard Krehbiel
SCHWEITZER ONLY SPOKEN HERE
Over sixty Swiss-German speaking people gathered in the Memorial Home Activity Center in Moundridge, Kansas, May 23, 2003 for the first “Schweitzer Only Spoken Here” program. They listened to several people tell stories of the past as they spoke in their dialect language. Soon others joined in telling their stories. Afterwards they enjoyed cookies and drinks.
The second session was held on August 8 with eighty people in attendance to hear Dr. John O. Schrag tell of his growing up years in Pioneer School and of the various nicknames that people were called.
The group decided to have quarterly meetings planned by a committee of four. Two members of the committee will be replaced at each meeting. The next meeting will be held on Friday, November 7, 2003, at 2:00 PM at the Memorial Home Activity Center. - Ozzie Goering
“cum mohl zu uns”
(Remember the time when the relationship between the Schweitzers and the Low Germans was like that of the Israelites and the Philistines? ed.)
What did it take to build a bridge across Turkey Creek in Kansas between Low Germans and Schweitzers? Or, how could one overcome the same kind of chasm which existed between the two groups in South Dakota?
Adeline (Boese) Kaufman, now 100 years old, residing in Marion, South Dakota, can tell you what made a difference in her life seventy-eight years ago when she married outside her ethnic enclave in Avon, South Dakota. Her Low German ancestors and those of her Swiss husband, Harry Kaufman of Freeman, had had some positive experiences with each other in Polish Volhynia, Russia. There the two groups lived within wagon-riding distance from each other in villages like Karlswalde and Antonovka for the Dutch, and Waldheim and Kotosufka for the Swiss. In those days in Russia the church elders from one group would assist in the churches of the other group when there was a need. That kind of relationship continued even after the two groups settled near each other in Dakota after the migration. Only a few months after their arrival Elder Tobias Unruh, a Low German leader, died at Marion, and Johann Schrag from the Swiss at Freeman, was in charge of the funeral. Such experiences would have built positive relationships, but intermarriage was another thing.
When Harry and Adeline decided to marry, he was asked, “Warum ‘ne Englishe?” (Why an English woman?) Of course, she was no more English than he, but as a Low German coming into the Swiss community she was given the designation of an outsider.
When asked recently about this time of transition in her life, Adeline mentioned first the kindness of Harry’s maternal grandmother, Mrs. Jacob P. Kauffman (Katherina Schrag).
When Harry would be cultivating the corn, working with the hay, or picking corn on the home place where Grandma lived, Grandma would ask Harry to bring Adeline for the day. “I could learn the language,” Adeline said, “as I visited with Grandma, and helped her with her work in the garden. The Schweitzer dialect is very much like the German language we all talk.
Check the SMCHA website: www.swissmennonite.org
So for me it wasn’t hard, but I had to say it right, as the people in the community talk. I am sure I made many mistakes in talking Swiss at first, and that gave Harry’s teenage brothers something to tease me about, and they loved to tease!”
Could Grandma Kauffman have had a second motive beyond teaching the dialect when she invited Adeline to come and spend the days with her? She herself had made the migration from Russia to Dakota in 1874 at age 11, and may therefore have sensed the loneliness which Adeline was experiencing as a transplant from one cultural group to another.
Gradually, as English began to replace the dialect somewhat, Adeline didn’t face the language difference as much, but the transition from Low German to Swiss ways also meant learning to make mock kucken, kutji (another poppy seed dessert), nalles nicki, and beet borscht. But many kind Schweitzers, and especially Grandma Kauffman made the difficult change easier.
Adeline’s love of birds also helped to soften her loneliness, and the mourning dove was a favorite of hers. She describes its song as peaceful, not sad.
Comforting, soothing, the dove’s song
Hopefield Cemetery Directory Dedication
A SMCHA goal was reached with the dedication of the Hopefield Mennonite Cemetery Directory Building and markers on June 3, 2003. The Directory includes the names of ancestors likely to be, as well as those known to be buried in the Hopefield Cemetery.
Program participants Ed R. Stucky, Gary Stucky, LaVera Schrag, Mervin Schrag, Galen Waltner and Harry Crabb led in remembering our heritage and the faith of those who continue to shape our lives. Soaring over the wheat fields, plaintive notes of the trumpet closed the service.
Following the dedication, SMCHA held its annual dinner at the Memorial Home Wellness Center in Moundridge. Jerry Stahly spoke on “Mennonite and Amish Identities Among the Swiss Volhynians in Europe.”
SMCHA AWARDS SCHOLARSHIPS
The SMCHA scholarships have been awarded for this school year.
Contributors to and Distributors of“Schweitzer Salt.”
Did you get a “Schweitzer Salt” in your church box?
These are the folks to thank:
HOPEFIELD CEMETERY RESTORATION BEGINS
Where are your ancestors buried? SMCHA has arranged for restoration of the graves in the Hopefield Cemetery. Many are in need of repair. Descendants and others interested in having graves restored should contact SMCHA. Approximate cost may be obtained from Harold Schrag 620 345-8576 or Arnold M. Wedel 316 283-5595, e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SCHWEITZER ALERT! The SMCHA Board encourages all persons interested in supporting SMCHA projects to join the SMCHA Membership for 2003. Yearly membership is $15; Ten-year membership is $100.00. Donations and membership dues may be paid to treasurer Jay Goering, 2002 Arrowhead Rd., Moundridge, KS 67107. Make checks payable to: SMCHA.
Walter W. “Sprig” Graber, Pretty Prairie, KS, “a man for all seasons,” died July 3, 2003 at the age of 96. Please see www.swissmennonite.org for an inclusive article on his life.
-Donna Kaufman Neufeld
-Neva Belle Kaufman Stucky
-Consultant: Arnold M. Wedel
Das Ist Alles
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