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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 ominous feeling.

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 country?”

“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 area.

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 dry-eyed.

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 many others.


-Kaufman, Edmund G. Editor. General Conference Mennonite Pioneers
(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- and church-centered.

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:


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., 1988

Schweitzers Speak...

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 discoveries.

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 not acceptable.
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

...And Today...

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 of Ours."
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 and
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, WA 98117.

“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 of Agriculture.

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 extremely important.

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

Smarter Boo

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 for 2006.
    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)

  1. Ozzie Goering: Cemetery fund-raising is proceeding well.

  2. Budget for 2006 is $20,980

  3. Officers: *Election results:

    1. Pres.- Arnold M. Wedel *Treas.- H. Keith Goering

    2. Trustees- Alice Suderman, Delbert Goering

    3. V. Pres.- Roger Juhnke Sec.- Melvin Graber


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


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