Christian Kaufman- 1840-1906
One hundred years ago, 1906, a chapter ended. Reverend
Christian Kaufman, first Swiss minister in Dakota territory, conference
organizer, pioneer with Freeman College and minister in the Salem Zion
Mennonite Church, stood on the station platform ready to go on a mission
to Alsen, North Dakota. But this parting was different. Christian, usually
eager, was apprehensive, “I don’t know why it is so hard for me to leave
this time.” Later his daughter-in-law, Anna Kaufman, recalled his unusual
words to her as he prepared to “board” the waiting buggy, “Dear daughter,
forgive me if I have ever knowingly or unknowingly offended you.” She
assured him that he had not and wished him well. However, she had an
This ominous feeling and Christian’s premonition came true when several
days later, word came from N. Dak. that Christian was gravely ill with
a diabetic infection resulting from a carbuncle on his neck. He died
Aug. 15, 1906.
Who was this man who contributed somuch and whose death we now mark?
Flash back to 1874: Christian and his wife, Anna Stucky, with a teen
age son struggled along with other Russian Mennonites with a dilemma.
The new emperor’s edicts were replacing the favorable edicts of Catherine
The Great. “Will it be worse to fight for the Emperor than to be scalped
by the Indians? Will we not perish on the ocean? Maybe the young men
will never have to take part in war; why face the hardships of a strange
“What about our privileges of religious freedom, exemption from military
service and the right to own property? Will we need to speak Russian?”
What did this mean for the Mennonites- valued for their farming skills?
Jacob Stucky and Tobias Unruh traveled to St. Petersburg to investigate.
They returned with disappointing news. Within 10 years young men must
either take up arms or leave the country.
At this crucial time, Christian- 34 yrs. old- knowledgeable and trustworthy,
became one of the leaders of this Horodisch group. On Aug. 14, 1874,
he and Anna and their four children- Tobias 11, Jake 8, Elizabeth 7,
and Caroline 4 joined some 70 others on The City of Chester sailing
for Yankton, SD. It is a mystery why Christian chose this location when
all of his siblings, with another group, went to the Moundridge, KS
After years of hardships, the pioneers began adjusting to their new
surroundings. Many became prosperous and built beautiful homes. Christian
changed his means of travel from a lumber wagon to a top-buggy and a
white horse, Chollie.
Christian was a dramatic speaker. Few could sit through his sermons
In his sermon following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake he compared
the sins of San Francisco to those of Sodom and Gomorrah. He spoke against
proselytizers who tried to lure church members to start a new group
with “the absolutely correct interpretation of the Bible.”
His kindness and compassion were remembered by Dr. A. Wipf who left
the Wolf Creek Colony to pursue education. When Dr. Wipf’s son died
of diphtheria, a Freeman pastor refused to officiate at the funeral
because Dr Wipf belonged to the Masonic Lodge. He got the same response
from another minister. Deeply grieved, Dr. Wipf approached Christian
Kaufman. His response was, “Yes, Doctor, I will come and bury your son.
You belonged to the Lodge, but your son did not.” And, “Doctor, if you
should pass on before I do, I will be honored to serve at your funeral.”
The Sabbath was laced with “dos” and “don’ts.” Eldest daughter, Elizabeth,
was to have her engagement announced in church. Carolina and Freni,
her sisters, worked feverishly on a new dress for the occasion. On Sunday
morning she proudly appeared wearing a lovely, ornately-trimmed dark
dress. Her minister father strenuously objected, demanding that all
trimming be removed. Reluctantly, the girls complied and heard a memorable
lecture on the sins of pride and vanity.
As activities with the conference, church and college increased so did
Christian’s concerns. Wife Anna was frugal and hardworking, listening
to his problems, nursing him through his physical ailments, his diabetic
condition and overweight problem (five feet five inches tall and weighing
over 300 pounds).
Christian eventually resigned from the Salem-Zion Church. He thought
life would be easier. However, later a large group of young people started
arriving at his home. Not knowing what they wanted, he invited them
in. Finally the spokesperson asked that Christian set his chair in the
middle of the room, with the guests sitting on the floor. They then
asked-begged him to reconsider his resignation. In spite of his protests,
they would not take “No” for an answer, insisting that he return to
the pulpit. Finally, Christian acquiesced and withdrew his resignation.
He was happy with this decision and said, “Bring some apples and some
apple juice for our dear guests.” He served as pastor until his death.
After his funeral, the casket was not placed into the hearse as was
customary. Instead, it was respectfully carried by members of the church.
Taking turns carrying the coffin to the distant cemetery, they sang,
“Wo Findet die Seele, die Heimat, die Ruh” from the Gesangbuch mit Noten.
His last sermon was on Mark 6:11 - “Shake off the dust from your feet.”
After 28 years of service his untimely death closed the Reverend Christian
Kaufman chapter. His life, however, contributed to new chapters for
-Kaufman, Edmund G. Editor. General Conference Mennonite
(Katharine Kaufman), Bethel College Press. 1973.
-Suderman, Alice. The Home Place. 2005.
-Kaufman Genealogy Committee. Peter and Elisabeth (Graber) Kaufman
Fm. Rec. 1770-1987 (Alma Schrag Kaufman), Mennonite Press, Inc. 1988.
Quiltmaking in Mary Goering's Life
-Teri Klassen, Grandaughter *
As early as I can remember her, in the mid-1950s when she was in her
sixties, quiltmaker has been an important part of Mary (Kauffman) Goering's
identity. I suspect that when she was in her teens in South Dakota in
the early 1900s, quiltmaking was a fairly new-fangled and exotic way
for young Mennonite women whose parents had emigrated from Russia to
distinguish themselves from the older generation. Because quiltmaking
is not a folk tradition in German-speaking countries, Poland, Russia
and eastern Europe, many of the mothers of these girls would not have
known how to quilt, or at least would not have been raised doing it.
The girls may sometimes have learned it from Mennonites who had been
in the U.S. longer or from non Germanic neighbors. If this scenario
is correct, quiltmaking in the minds of young Mennonite women of this
generation, whose parents were part of the 1874 wave of immigrants,
was likely seen as something up-to-date and fashionable, a way of expanding
their horizons beyond immigrant sectarian communities of the Midwest
to the American mainstream. It also was a way for a woman to be creative
and get family- and peer-group recognition for her productivity while
upholding a social order that defined women's sphere as domestic-, family-
Although mainstream urban American culture of the late
1800s and early 1900s saw quiltmaking as outdated, something done by
old women, it became very fashionable in the Colonial Revival of the
1920s and 1930s. At this time quilt patterns became standard fare in
the women's pages of magazines and newspapers, and world fairs such
as the Century of Progress in 1933 included nationwide quilt contests.
I imagine that this period, when Grandma was in her thirties and forties
and raising six children, confirmed her sense of quiltmaking as a socially
condoned and rewarding pursuit at the individual level, the community
level, and the broader society level. I suspect that it was in this
period that she was the most quality-conscious and also the most adventurous
and ambitious with patterns and colors.
Although quiltmaking was not part of a fashionable feminine identity
as defined by national taste arbiters in the commoditized post-World
War II years, this seemed to have little effect on Grandma, who kept
quilts on the beds of all of her children and her 28 children's children
through the 1950s and 1960s. By this time, which was not an innovative
period in quiltmaking generally, she may have been focusing on a few
favorite patterns that she could produce efficiently and that particularly
suited landmark family occasions, such as Double Wedding Ring and Dutch
Girl; or that particularly satisfied her aesthetic sensibility, such
as the showy Broken Star and multiple variations of Log Cabin. I am
glad that Grandma got to share in the beginning of the quilt revival
of the 1970s, which brought her a new wave of appreciation and attention.
Thirty years after her death, in 1976, the legacy of
her quilts and memories of her quiltmaking, often mediated through her
daughters and daughters-in-law, are a bond of shared culture among all
of her descendants, even those of us who rarely see each other and in
some cases have never even met.
*Teri welcomes family stories regarding quilting in
the 1800-1900s. Teri Klassen, 812 W. Howe Street, Bloomington IN 47403,
phone 812-332-1368, e-mail: email@example.com
One day, Elizabeth, Rev. Christian and Anna Kaufman’s married
daughter, was severely tested when a covered wagon drove into the yard.
Two gypsy women descended and rapidly moved toward the playing children.
Sensing danger, the screaming youngsters raced to the house. The gypsies
followed. Once inside, they demanded one child. Elizabeth was aghast. She
offered food and clothing, but to no avail. Exasperated, she quietly sent
an older child to the field for husband, Peter Joseph Schrag’s help. He
rushed home. Realizing gypsy aggressiveness, he minced no words and a verbal
fire ensued. Thwarted and enraged, they left only to return minutes later.
More corybantic rhetoric followed until Peter Joseph threatened to summon
the Freeman sheriff. Meanwhile, Alma, the frightened, innocent target, was
hiding upstairs. Regardless of this gypsy encounter, Elizabeth continued
her generosity to drifters.
-From Alma Nilla Schrag Kaufman in P. and E. (Graber) Kaufman Fm. Rec.,
As with most of our ancestors who closed the “Homeland”
chapter in 1874 and opened the “America” chapter, we too have our life chapters.
Each has its learnings which can never be gotten from books--our own personal
Question: What personal learnings or insights have you gleaned from a chapter
of your life?
-From my Schweitzer Mennonite parents, I learned not
to possess beneficence, instead to transfer this energy to the next
generation. It is my practice to resign from institutions I’ve had the
privilege to build after about a decade. If well grounded, beneficence
will flourish anew ceded to leadership readied for that next decade.
It is important to remember that one is a mere steward of the moment,
of institutions, of wealth, and of the opportunities they present. Passing
them a bit better than merely intact is sufficient ambition.
-Kenneth C. Kaufman, Palo Alto, CA
-All media need a verification system to assure that
they are disseminating truth rather than sensationalism.
-Neva Belle Stucky, N. Newton, KS
-Life during the drought, dust storms and grasshoppers
of the 1930’s made lifelong impressions. Thick black clouds of rich
top soil came rolling across the fields. Grasshoppers devoured all growing
plants and wooden fence posts. They clung to your clothing, pinching
arms and legs. The faith of our parents, centering around church and
family taught me that Living Simply with less can be adequate.
-Vivian Brockmueller Gering, Freeman, SD
-Upon college graduation, having been deferred as a
student, I was qualified to teach, but once likely to be drafted during
the Korean conflict. This put my professional career on hold. I was
drafted within six months. After a considerable struggle of loyalties,
I accepted a non-combatant classification. I served in a medical field
unit in a laboratory. Prior to deployment, I arrived at the conviction
that a non-combatant was still in essence part of the military and therefore
Thus, upon completion of the active part of my tour of duty, I applied
for a change of status to “conscientious objector” and did not participate
in the reserve commitment of six years. My application was denied, but
I was not forced to serve the reserve component.
Patrick Stone, wrote in Christianity Today an article: “Post- Traumatic
Faith (Understanding the plight of Christians who have killed in combat)
which said, -on the home front, most non-combatants rarely make the
connection of their own personal involvement... “The soldier is only
the tip of the spear.”
-Art Goering, Newton, KS
-It wasn't leaving home that made me appreciate my Mennonite
history and family; it was returning home. Having been gone almost 40
years from the Lehigh-Moundridge-Hillsboro community where I grew up,
I use my all-too-rare visits home for needed perspective and understanding
of a lifestyle, a family and a faith we take for granted until we no
longer are actively part of it. A visit home to the few -- unfortunately
-- members of the Goering family still around never fails to re-charge
my spiritual and moral batteries.
-Pete Goering, Topeka, KS
“Justice” may have more to do with who best manipulates
the system, than with finding truth. -Donna Neufeld
Originally the settlers were concentrated in a very
few rural localities in Kansas and South Dakota, but today the descendents
are scattered from coast to coast. Nobody can live today like our ancestors
did a century ago. So who then are we Mennonites now in this urbanized,
high-tech post industrial, instant communication affluent American society,
and what is the relevance of our culture and our history as we adapt
daily to modern living?
It may be that some of the “Schweitzer” descendents will think the history
of our people is a drag or an impediment to making a successful adaptation
to modern life and try to separate themselves from their past. I think
that would be a grave mistake for any individual to renounce his heritage,
and it would almost certainly impair the chances of his becoming a really
happy, creative, productive and fully functioning or individuated person.
If we can become sufficiently conscious or aware of our history and
clearly identify the values that guided our forebears in their time,
it should be possible to identify which of those values are most relevant
today, and then translate and incorporate them to our time and place.
-Jacob D. Goering, North Newton, KS
You Can't Judge A Swiss Mennonite
By Their "Cover"
In the Spring 2005, Vol. 1-5
"Schweitzer Salt”, recognition was given to Will Ortman of South
Dakota for his original oratorio under the heading "Two of Ours."
For those familiar with Swiss Mennonite family names, it may be
a bit of a puzzle as to how Will Ortman is claimed as one of "Two
Rest assured, that it is a good claim. The South Dakota- Kansas
Ortman(n)s stem from four Ortman brothers who came with their families
to South Dakota with the Swiss-Volhynia Mennonites in 1874 and a
sister who married an Ortman cousin who came to Kansas in 1878.
There were a number of villages in the Mecklenburg area of northern
Germany where Ortman(n)s lived in the late 1700s. In 1819, a Friederich
Ortman family, who were Lutheran, moved to a village called Adelhof.
This Friederich had two sons. Son Friederich Christian produced
four grandsons- Christian, Karl, Heinrich and Friedrich (the four
Ortman brothers) and a granddaughter Julia. The second son, Johann
Christian, produced a grandson also named Friedrich who married
his first cousin Julia.
Around 1870, the Ortmans, who had not been getting along with their
neighboring Lutherans, made contact with the Stucky Mennonite congregation
in Kotosufka, Volhynia. Friedrich and his wife Julia, along with
Friedrich's father Johann Christian moved and joined this Mennonite
congregation in 1871. The four Ortman brothers were also preparing
to join the Stucky community when the Swiss-Volhynian Mennonites
decided to emigrate to America. However, the four Ortman brothers
and their families were still in Adelhof and the government officials
would not issue them
passports. They had to sneak out of the country. They made their
way to Hamburg and sailed on the S.S. Westphalia which arrived in
New York City on May 6th, 1874.
Given the fact that the four Ortman brothers and their families
did not come into close contact with Mennonites until after they
had arrived in Dakota Territory in 1874, it is amazing how intertwined
the Ortman family tree has become with the Swiss-Volhynian Mennonites.
However, if one of your grandparents lives in the Freeman community
marries a Graber, you immediately graft on virtually all the other
Mennonite Swiss-Volhynian family names. In fact, Will Ortman is
a descendent of five Graber siblings and I (David E. Ortman) have
two direct Kaufman ancestors.
Copies of the F. Christian and Anna Eleanora (Zafft) Ortmann Family
History (1800-1992) 400+ pg. book with lots of pictures and stories,
$15 are available: David E. Ortman, 7043 22nd Ave N.W., Seattle,
“Blessed are the quilters for they are the piece makers
of the world.”-Pearl Graber Torres, Puerto Rico
Schweitzer Expertise in North Korea
As a farm kid growing up in rural Reno County, Jim Goering
watched cars whiz by his family's land near K-17 highway and was intrigued
with where those people were going.
"I wondered just what was on down the road," he said.
Following that youthful quest, Jim earned agricultural economics degrees
at Kansas State University and Michigan State and embarked on an international
career that has taken him on a lifetime of assignments around the world
- from Ethiopia to Malaysia to China - as an agricultural policy expert.
Now retired, or as he prefers, "refocused," Jim’s most recent ag-related
travel was to North Korea as a Mercy Corps volunteer looking for an efficient
way of converting poultry litter to high-value farm fertilizer.
The feasibility study done by Jim and Mercy Corps Program Officer Simon
Miller was "distinctly separate" from the political hostility between the
United States and North Korea over nuclear arms.
Few Americans have traveled to North Korea since the Korean War, and many
wouldn't be supportive of efforts to help that country.
“On another level, the North Koreans are just like you and me," he said.
"The people are well-intended. They just want to raise their children, be
sure of educational opportunities and have enough food to feed them."
Mercy Corps has targeted efforts for helping North Korea raise the 5 million
tons of food grains needed annually to feed an estimated 23 million people.
Virtually all poultry - both meat birds and layers - is held in commercial
poultry farms that house from 200,000 to 700,000 birds. Although they weren't
allowed to visit a farm because of avian flu lock-downs, they forwarded
three proposals for handling the litter. Those proposals - air-drying, composting
or pelleting - are expected to eventually flow to the North Korean Ministry
Their findings also will go to other relief organizations, including American
Friends Service Committee of Philadelphia. Because of the limited number
of humanitarian nonprofits working in North Korea, sharing information is
The destinations in his own life taught him the importance of making a difference
in other's lives, Jim said.
"There are good people in every country, and we try to find those people
and see if we can do something that's helpful to them,"
-From T. James Goering- Hutchinson News, Clara Kilbourn
Du bist a smarter boo. Yo, smart bin ich.
Sa mare mool. Fun vo kummen die babies?
Dass vas ich net.
Manka sagen der stork bringt dee babies.
Abber glabst du dass? Dei Maa hat so gesat.
Aber glabt du dass? Ich vass net.
Hast du dem Pa get gefrot? Yo ich han.
Was hat er gesat?
Der Pa sagt see kummen fum Sears Roebock.
Dan Sa ich hen er noch mar geordered?
Er sagat na. Ich sa Em.
Next mool order from Monky Ward
Er sagt. Ach du lieber strock! Un getveck.
Was denks du yetz?
Ich ver mool in Sears catalogue gucka.
Aber mare missen probably varta.
So wan mare 40 yor sin- don, ven Mar vissa.
-J.O. Schrag, N. Newton, KS
The SMCHA Board encourages all persons to join SMCHA
Yearly membership: $15; Ten-year: $100.
Treas: Jay Goering, 2002 Arrowhead Rd, Moundridge, KS 67107
In Memory- (SMCHA Member) Harley J. Stucky
Check the SMCHA website:
Annual SMCHA Business Meeting Notes
(Hopefield Church- March 19, 2006- Arnold M. Wedel, Chair)
Ozzie Goering: Cemetery fund-raising is proceeding well.
Budget for 2006 is $20,980
Officers: *Election results:
Pres.- Arnold M. Wedel *Treas.- H. Keith Goering
Trustees- Alice Suderman, Delbert Goering
V. Pres.- Roger Juhnke Sec.- Melvin Graber
HOPEFIELD CEMETERY RESTORATION PROGRESS
Are your relatives buried in the Hopefield cemetery? Work is progressing-
87 markers have been completed. Thirteen grave stones and 170 markers needed
work. Contributions to the Cemetery Fund are welcome. On down the road,
our kids and grandkids and greats may be looking for their roots that link
them to their rich heritage.
Call Arnold M. Wedel for information 316, 283-5595, Send checks:
Jay Goering, Treas., 2002 Arrowhead Rd , Moundridge, KS 67107
SMCHA Scholarships Awarded
Recipients of the 2006 SMCHA scholarships are: Alan
Stucky, Katharine Goering and Libby Schrag. For information contact
committee members: Art Goering-316-283-9118, Delbert Goering- 620-345-2844,
Alice Kaufman Suderman.
Lang zerik in unsera schtat hot a reiche alte Frau gvohnt
ima grossa haus. Sie hat a yunga maada ghat for de schweras arbiet duh.
Alles hot arich langsam un tack maessich gang bis die frau zuffridde warr.
Mol a daag hot sie die muad af der schpeicher gschict for alles gut butze.
Die maud hat all de sache kesucht so vie a bese, dreckschaufel schtaablumpe,
heis wasser un a weshlimpe. Naht hot sie sich fleissich am arbiet gmacht.
Van alles Fardich var is sie runnerkummer in die kich. Die frau hao gsaat
sie mus das ibber du. Sie sagght das is net recht geduht. Val du varsht
zu schnell fardich. Die maud is vidder uf den schpeicher un sie ke dreck.
Sie hocket uf a schtool un lessed a alte zeidung. Alligbott hot sie dar
bese uf der bodde gschtompt as die frau denkt sie si am schaffe. Ibber a
langi veil is sie runnergang. Noht is die frau ruff gang for gucke un sie
hut gsaat. Dass mole is alles richdich geduht warre.
(Befuddled? Read on.)
A long time ago in our town lived a rich old lady in a big house. She hired
a maid to do the heavy work. Everything took a long time as she was very
particular. One day, she told the maid to go upstairs and give it all a
good cleaning. The maid gathered all the equipment she needed- a broom,
dustpan, dust cloth, hot water and washcloth. Then she went up stairs and
hurriedly did her work. When she finished, she came down to the kitchen.
The old lady told her she had to go up and do it over. She said, “You could
not have done it right because you finished too soon”. The maid went back
up and didn’t see any dirt. She sat on a stool and read an old newspaper.
Every once in a while she would bang the broom on the floor so the old lady
would think she was busy. After a long while she went back down. Then the
old lady went up to look and she said, “This time everything was done right”.
-Maynard Krehbiel, Der Schweitzer Baur
GANZ GUT DAS IST ALLES
“SCHWEITZER SALT” THANKS ALL CONTRIBUTORS & DISTRIBUTORS.