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"You are the salt of the earth..." Matt. 5:13

Swiss (Volhynian) Mennonite Cultural and Historical Association Newsletter, Spring 2004, Vol.3-1


I heard a good one the other day. Some old-timer insisted that I was from Amish background.
“Sure, sure,” I said, (just to pacify); but I’ll check it out...maybe set him straight.

  1. I am of Swiss Volhynian Mennonite descent. Am I from Amish background?
    You probably are. Surprised? Find your name:
    Definitely Amish: Albrecht*, Flickinger, Gering, Gordia, Graber, Kaufman, Lichty, Maurer, Mundelheim, Prieheim, Ratzlaff, Riess, Rupp, Schrag*, Schwartz, Sutter, Stucky, Voran, Wolbert
    Maybe Amish: Albrecht*, Archelus, Waltner
    Probably not: Dirks, Krehbiel, Sehner, Strauss, Wedel
    Definitely not: Hubin, Muller, Ortman, Schrag*, Zafft, Zerger
  2. You could have fooled me. What is “Amish”? During 1693-1697 the Swiss Mennonite churches in Switzerland, France, and the Palatinate divided by what is known as the Reist-Amman split. Our ancestral churches followed Jacob Amman, a young minister who thought the church lacked discipline, especially the failure to apply the ban to excommunicated members.
  3. So, if I were excommunicated for wearing fancy clothes, and “banned,” you couldn’t talk to me?
    Right. Nor could we eat a meal in the same room, even if you were my spouse. A wife had to avoid a friendly laugh and even eye contact with men other than her husband, lest she be put under a “ban” for many weeks.
  4. That’s severe! The wives had to act pretty “wimpy”. In fact, there were 16 rules in the 1779 Amish Essingen agreement that defined appropriate behavior. These related to resolving conflicts, shaving the beard, wearing long hair, attending funerals at the state church, buttons instead of hooks and eyes, wearing shawls over their shoulders, and foot washing at the Lord’s supper.
  5. I still remember seeing those big tubs of water for foot washing when I went to the Hopefield Church as a kid. At that time I thought it was kind of indecent-getting the socks off and all. Of course, I know it means humility and servitude.  The Brotherhood often discussed very seriously how to live in accord with the word of God.
  6. Wow, if we went by the 1779 Amish Essingen agreement today, no one would be talking to anyone. When did we stop signing the Essingen agreement? The Swiss Volhynians were Amish Mennonites from 1807 until their emigration in 1874. Although they continued the practices of simplicity, humility, shunning and footwashing, the Essingen agreement was no longer signed in any new location after 1850.
  7. I don’t want to go back to the “brotherhood” making all the decisions, but we lost a unique piece of our past. Why did this happen? Politics? Love? War?  Maybe a little of all the above.
    a. Intermarriage was almost unavoidable.
    b. Pietistic influence of the surrounding Lutheran, Low German Mennonite and evangelical Churches and also literature stressed the change in the inner life. (For example, when asked if traveling preachers were Mennonites, Elder Jacob Stucky wrote to friends in Dakota in 1878, “they are not Mennonites, but they are born-again Christians, so this is sufficient.”)
  8. That sounds pretty radical from the days when we were a closed faith community.  So here in America we quit cold turkey?  Although some elders attended Amish conferences for several years here in America, other issues began to take priority. In 1876, Jacob Stucky and others began working toward a Kansas Conference of Mennonites. In 1880, Johann Schrag and other Mennonites of Dakota held a conference and agreed to open communion, transfer of membership and intermarriage. The Swiss Volhynians found more value in working with other Mennonites than in maintaining separatism or strict discipline.  So, we Schweitzers move on through new visions.
  9. Is it progress? hmm... Well, thanks for the info.  I think I’ll go pay a visit to the old-timer.


Krehbiel, James W. “Just Which Swiss Volhynian Families Were Originally Amish and Which Were Not? (SMCHA website- SMCHA Monthly Features- March 2003.)
-Stahly, Jerold A. “Mennonite and Amish Identities among the Swiss Volhynians in Europe” (SMCHA speech- June 3, 2003)
-Kaufman, M.S. and committee, The Challenging Faith- Centennial Publication 1874-1974 of the First Swiss-German (Volhynian) Congregation in Kansas. 1975. (copies available from editors).


Question: How important is it that the Mennonite-Schweitzer tradition continue?

-Generations of Swiss-Mennonites have deleted, augmented and redefined given customs to the extent that the word “tradition” defies definition. However, the Mennonite zeal for peace has held quite steadfast. Even so, this principle is also echoed by other regional and global voices. Only when all these voices are conjoined in the struggle for justice can there be realization of a meaningful universal community irrespective of race, creed, culture or gender.
-Orpha Schrag, Nashville, TN

-Our Schweitzer Anabaptist Heritage contains numerous principles that support the ultimate meaning of life. Ours is a community of memory which contains great wisdom and can deliver us from the provinciality of the present. Acknowledging our roots and honoring them allows them to nourish our lives even as do the roots of a tree in nature. Severing such roots leads to limitations of vision, loss of vigor and ultimate degradation. Our heritage does not inhibit our growth, but rather enhances fulfillment and enriches freedom and creativity.
-Jake. D. Goering, N Newton, KS

-Frankly, I do not know how important it is to continue Schweitzer traditions, nor how it best be done. I am four generations removed from those who came to Freeman, Moundridge and Pretty Prairie in the 1870s. I have a daughter living in the Freeman community and she has a good sense of the traditions, but the rest of my children and my grandchildren do not have much understanding of that tradition.
I think it more important to have a sense of the Mennonite heritage, however that is traced back to the Reformation. But I am also not sure how we can best assure that this happens from generation to generation.
-Vern Preheim, Newton, KS

-(from the Swiss Ancestral Tour, 1995 daily log)
As we have gone on this search for our “roots”, it was humbling to realize the singular commitment to Christ which led our people on their personal life journeys and together on their group migrations...And now I realize there is a certain joy in being part of that tradition.

Someone was wondering aloud if the Mennonite Church would go on and on; and I say yes, yes, yes...a thousand times yes, for this world truly needs this eternal message of the Lord’s teaching of love and meekness, honesty and good workmanship, and of simplicity. For me, this heritage of faith is not just an icon to put upon the library shelf, or just part of a rather unique history. Rather it is a beautiful stream of life-giving water that transforms and blesses life...THANK GOD for that foundation on which our forefathers built, based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is like a house built on a rock land, not on sand, that firm foundation that holds eternally.
-Josephine Goering Schmidt, N Newton

-Important to whom? The U.S.? Mankind? Schweitzer descendents? Any ethnic culture contributes its unique traditions to the larger society. Descendents of each are usually pretty sure of their own special importance. In our case, respect for human life, for peaceful, inclusive, constructive living over force and violence seem more needed than ever.
Personally, after attending the Eden Church interment services of two brothers this past year, I can verify firsthand the power and strength in shared community, family, values, traditions.
Besides, where else would I ever have learned to make borscht, kuchen and nalles nicki?
-Kathryn Goering News, Drexel Hill, PA

Verhuddeldi Nursery Reims
Hickory Dickory Dock, Die mouse is uff die Unr Keshprung.
Die uhr schlat eins; die mouse laufed schnell runder.
Un datt hoct a grosse rode Katz; ar hot die mouse ufkafress.

Hickory Dickory Dock, The mouse jumped up on the clock.
The clock struck one; the mouse quickly ran down.
And there sat a big red cat; he ate the mouse all up.

Peder Peder Karebsefresor
Hot a frau un hut sie net halde kenne.
Er schtect sie in a karebseschaal, un dott hot er sie gut ghalde.
Bis der sherif ausgfunne fum dem.
Yetz hockt der karebsefresor im jail.

Peter Peter Pumpkin eater
Had a wife and couldn’t hold her; he stuck her in a pumpkin shell; and there he held her good
Until the sheriff found out. Now the pumpkin eater sits in jail.
-The Schweitzer Farmer, Maynard Krehbiel


The SMCHA Annual Meeting was held at the Hopefield Church,
Feb. 8, 2004.
Officers elected:
Pres.- Arnold M. Wedel Treas. - Jay Goering
Trustees: Theodore James Goering, Lowell Goering
Committee Appointments:
Executive trustee- Ben Stucky
Scholarship- Alice Suderman
Nominating- Betty Jean Graber Stegall
Research- James W. Krehbiel
-James Krehbiel gave annual meeting attendees discs containing Swiss Mennonite historical information. (

-Efforts will be made to increase the awareness and contributions to the Hopefield Cemetery grave restoration. Restoration work will begin as funds are available. Families are urged to contribute.
-Dates of the fiscal year will coincide with the calendar year.
-Proxy information, as well as structure and procedures of SMCHA governance and operations, will be available on the SMCHA website.
-$2500 was spent on initial Memorial restoration.

The Country Church
I went to church before I was born and haven’t stopped.
Don’t remember a time I didn’t “go” to church.
My dad saw to that. Weather didn’t matter.
Dirt roads didn’t matter.
You had to be dead sick before you could miss.
The church had two doors.
The south door was for men. The north one for women.
We all knew which door to enter. I never saw the rule broken.
There was a small room between the two doors.
That was for the preacher, or whenever one accepted Jesus.
Also foot washing tubs used at Christmas eve for passing out goodies.
We had no baby room so the kids had to cry out in the open.
Inside the center isle lead straight to the altar.
Carbide lights hung from the tin ceiling.
The stage had white pillars lining the front.
We kids stood back of these pillars Christmas eve.
A pump organ stood on the north side.
The Kansas winds rattled the side windows.
Sounded like ghosts whenever you were in the room alone.
Green curtains walled off our Sunday school classes.
Couldn’t see thru, but the noise slipt right thru.
During the preaching we kids sat in the front benches.
Saw the blood vessels on the preacher head.
As long as we behaved we were alright.
Whenever we felt Dad’s hand on our necks
we knew we had fouled out and the game was over.
We all knew we had to be saved sometimes,
but we put it off as long as possible.
That was a long time ago.
Don’t really remember any sermons.
Must have heard several thousand of them. Don’t recall much. They must have been about Jesus, sin, heaven, hell, Moses and Joseph.
I remember the water dripping down my shirt in baptism, puddling on the floor.
The thing that scared me the most was about that second coming. I always expected that to happen on New Years night.
I often dream about that country church.
The other night I dreamt I was there for a funeral.
It was a mixed up affair. One kid brought in a baseball bat.
He ran all over the place swinging that bat.
These days I’m still in church most every Sunday.
Sit way back in the deaf section. Can’t see too much that far back.
I have one wish. Don’t drag me back into church after I die.
I’ve been to church often enough. You may read a Psalm... Sing a few songs, that will be enough. But sing good and loud, even if you take a breath in the wrong places.
That country church means a lot to me, even though we often quarreled and left with some scars, it is still my church.
I finally graduated. I’m going on. Even better things are ahead.
I have other things to do, other places to go.
-J.O. Schrag, N. Newton, KS


“cum mohl zu uns”

Place: Schultz Student Center, Bethel College
Time: 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 7, 2004
Speaker: Dr. John Ruth, Harleysville, PA
Dr. Ruth is a minister, author and filmmaker who enjoys sharing Mennonite history through storytelling.
Banquet reservations must be received by May 28.
Banquet tickets are $15.00.
If you have not already remitted your 2004 SMCHA membership dues of $15.00 (or $100 for a ten-year membership), they will be added to your banquet ticket price.
Reservations may be made and tickets purchased from:
Jay Goering, Treasurer, 2002 Arrowhead Road, Moundridge, KS 67107, Ph: 620-345-2899
Arnold Wedel, President. Ph: 316-283-5595
Roger Juhnke, Vice-Pres. Ph: 316-283-0452
Waneta Goering, Secretary. Ph: 620-345-8671
Ben J. Stucky, Trustee. Ph: 620-241-1648
Gary L. Stucky Trustee. Ph: 316-283-4840
Kummen Essen! Es Is Arich Gut!

SMCHA Annual Members Banquet Speaker- Dr. John Ruth
Dr. Ruth was born and raised in the oldest continuing Mennonite community in North America. Ordained as a minister in 1950 at age twenty, he studied English at Eastern Baptist College and Harvard University, receiving his PhD in 1968. After teaching English and American literature at Eastern College and at the University of Hamburg, he turned to writing a series of dramatic, biographical, and historical works related to Mennonite heritage and witness. He has published or produced over 50 books, articles, documentaries, films, and even the text of an opera.
Dr. Ruth is a widely respected and sought after speaker. His skill for revealing Mennonite history through storytelling is legendary, and his style of presentation makes him difficult to forget. He is one speaker SMCHA members will not want to miss.

Additionally, in recent years, Dr. Ruth has frequently led tours with Tourmagination to various Mennonite destinations and historical sites around the world. He, along with Jim Juhnke, and Wilmer Martin will be leading the Swiss-Volhynian Mennonite Heritage Tour this coming September 15-19. Information about that tour will be available at the banquet or at

Come join the fun May 7, 2004, 2:00pm. at Goering Activity Center, Memorial Home, Moundridge. “I’ve been at all the meetings, but I haven’t understood one word yet,” said one enthusiastic participant. Fellowship counts!
What means “uberflechlich”??

Hopefield Cemetery Dedicatory Prayer 6/3/03
Gracious God, the God of our immigrant mothers and fathers who 130 years ago came forth onto this continent, from Volhynia.
We pray this day for your blessing, your grace and your mercy upon us as we dedicate and consecrate these new facilities at Huffungsfeld--Hopefield
We pray this day to you the God of Elder Jacob Stucky, who led so many unto Christ and also guided them into a new land, where prairies became pastures, and pastures became plush wheat fields.
We pray this day to you the Almighty One of Katherina Stucky Schrag, pioneer mother of Russia, first wife of Schmitt Jakob, and now at rest in this hallowed field here--losing life early, but gaining a faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.
We pray this day to you the Eternal Light of John J. Schrag, whose testimony of peace led those in his era to new vision for pacifistic non-resistance.
We pray this day to you the Everlasting Savior of George & Emma Voth, pioneers crossing two centuries of faithful endeavor unto Huffungsfeld.
We pray this day to you the Lord Christ unto Ida Juhnke Stucky, venerable mother, wife of Simon, composer of poetry, singer of heartfelt German songs, encourager of generations, and representative of the many women at rest here who kept Christian commitment unto family.
We pray this day to you the Holy Spirit who led a Strausz, a Goering, a Schrag, a Ratzlaff, a Wedel and a Graber, a Miller and a Juhnke, all whose vision provided hope for the day, and faith for tomorrow, even unto our lives, and our trust in You, oh mighty Wind who breathes and blows amongst us.
We pray this day to you who have led, and encouraged, and challenged and forgiven in your mercies all the souls departed and whose remains lie here, as they have been willing to come to your “fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins.”
We dedicate, we consecrate, we hallow this ground in the name of you O Lord, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, reckoning unto all of us who remain a charge to keep our faith in You, oh God, the faith of fathers, mothers, and little children who journeyed by your love and care in sacrifice from a far-off place to live, and move and be believers in that time and in this place, generation unto generation.
We ask great Gott, your favor, your unmerited grace, your abiding generous sense unto us as we set apart these facilities and this holy ground, remembering again all those resting here, who have gone on before us.
And for all of the unspoken that we would bring before you, we do now also pray in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, and Savior, AMEN -Gary Stucky

In Memory- (SMCHA Members)- Mildred Buhr Leo Miller
Swiss-Volhynian Mennonite Heritage Tour- September 15-29, 2004.
Tour leaders: John Ruth, Jim Juhnke, Wilmer Martin
Ph: 1-800-565-0451, E-mail:
“Schweitzer Salt” thanks all contributors & distributors.
Check the SMCHA website:

The editors asked me to write about the two people who came into my life. They were strangers who became friends and then family.

Two years ago I had a bout with cancer which I could accept, but when I was told that I needed to go to Wichita for radiation and chemo treatments I said, “I don’t drive to Wichita.” I shared this with the Sunday School Class that meets in my home, not expecting anyone to volunteer to take me to Wichita. The news got around and several people took me.
This was a humbling experience. I needed help and got it.

During this period I read about a couple who was about to have their house demolished if they didn’t get it finished by a certain date. This appeared in the Kansan day after day. He was remodeling the house he grew up in and the progress was too slow. I read about this property; so I drove by one day and thought, “it doesn’t look so bad”. The Kansan was saying how terrible it looked. After reading about it many times, I said, “What’s happening that people living here are about to lose their home? We read about how much MCC is doing all around the world. With many church people living here why would we let this happen?”
To bring this to a close, the easiest way to explain how this happened is to say, I needed help and received help. These people were put out of their home with no place to go. My attorney is also their attorney and I was told that these people are good, trustworthy people. So after meeting them, I said I had an extra bedroom. One day I was called and asked if the offer is still good, that she was very ill. So they came Nov. 9 and are still here.

Who are these people? These are show business people. He is a Hollywood screen writer and university professor. She was an actress on Broadway. They come from a different world. We keep our identity. Yet we care about each other and have a special relationship. -Fern Goering, N Newton

The SMCHA Board encourages all persons to join SMCHA for 2004. Yearly membership: $15; Ten-year membership: $100. Treas: Jay Goering, 2002 Arrowhead Rd, Moundridge, KS 67107
Year: 2104. Place: Horodische, Kotosufka, Moundridge KS
“They say our ancestors trod here. Wouldn’t it be awesome to find some sign of them...a trace! Is that a cemetery in the grove of trees in the middle of that field? Stop the bus! Run, walk, hobble, hurry...perhaps a tombstone with a name-
a Schweitzer name- maybe a connecting link to our past...”

Contact Arnold M. Wedel (316-283-5595; for cost estimates to restore the sites of your ancestors buried in the Hopefield Cemetery.

Newsletter Editors
-Donna Kaufman Neufeld, Box 142, N Newton, KS 67117, 316-283-3373
-Neva Belle Kaufman Stucky, 405 NE 24, N Newton, KS 67117
-Consultant: Arnold M. Wedel

Ganz gut Das Ist Alles

This web page is a “work in progress” subject to continuing change as new material and events come along. Please check it out and send comments or possible items for the Home Page to a Committee member: Jim Goering (, Victor R. Goering ( and Dale E. Schrag ( To facilitate fast and low-cost handling, these items should be sent electronically, i.e., as an e-mail message or file attached to an e-mail. We value you suggestions. Webmaster is Dennis Quiring. -Jim Goering

Newsletter Editors: Donna Kaufman Neufeld    Box 142    N. Newton, KS 67117   ph: 316-283-3373    e mail-

Neva Belle Adamson Stucky   405 NE 24   N. Newton, KS 67117

Consultant- Arnold Wedel      Logo- Kristi Neufeld
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