Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta
Windows on the West Reserve: A Mennonite Heritage Preservation Newsletter
No. 23 - 2 Nov 2006
COMMUNITY NOTES AND NEWS
"Community Notes and News" will bring an update on publications and other items of possible historical interest and significance.
ALTBERGTHAL The upcoming 90th anniversary of the passing of a prominent Altbergthal resident, Aeltester Johann Funk, can be celebrated next year, 2007, on 17 March.
Some Bergthaler and possibly other congregations – and even Mennonite Church Manitoba - may want to get involved. Aeltester Funk and his third wife, Louise (d. 1926), were buried in the Altbergthal cemetery which still has the headstone placed for the couple by the Bergthaler Mennonite Church. Johann Funk, a minister since 1877, was ordained Aeltester in the West Lynne Mennonitengemeinde in 1882 and then continued to serve as Aeltester of the Bergthaler Mennonitengemeinde when it was formed on the West Reserve in 1892-93. He continued in that office till his retirement in 1911. He also led the Gemeinde to become part of a new Western Canadian church organization, Die Konferenz der Mennoniten im mittleren Kanada in 1902. An entry on the life and work of Aeltester Funk is found in Dictionary of Canadian Biography Volume XIV 1911-1920 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998), 379.
ALTONA VILLAGE (Darp Aultneiv) This village was founded in 1879-1880. The homesteaders had come to Manitoba originally from the Bergthal colony in south Russia (later Ukraine), and been part of the immigration to the East Reserve of Manitoba in 1874-76.
For further info on this story see Esther Epp-Tiessen. Altona: The Story of a Prairie Town (1982), 19ff. Some of these families settled in the small village of Altona in the western part of the East Reserve. This early Altona village dissolved during the move of many families from the East Reserve to the West Reserve in 1878-1882. The original cemetery of Darp Aultneiv is located at the south end of the village east of Main Street and north of the township road running east-west through the village. Some school records from the early years of village life have been placed in the Research Centre and Archives at Altona.
ALTONA Elmer Heinrichs continues to publish articles on Mennonite topics, including the history of the West Reserve area, in a local newsletter called News in a Minute.
Some recent articles deal with “Sugar Beets remembered – 10 years later”, “Rise and Decline of the Dutch Mennonites”, a Dr. Gerlof Homan lecture in Neubergthal (Oct. 17), “Launch of the Reinlaender Gemeinde Buch, II edition” (Oct. 19), and “Municipal Elections in the RM of Rhineland “(Oct. 24). For further information on the columns contact Elmer.
The Altona and District Research Centre has completed its obituary and anniversaries index to the Red River Valley Echo, formerly The Altona Echo. For information on accessing the index contact Alf Redekopp at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Altona website.
The Heritage Committee of the town believes it has located the original first school building of the town of Altona built in 1896. It has been moved to a site just west of the Johann Schwartz House Bed and Breakfast immediately to the north of the Altona park. See Altona: Story of a Prairie Town (p. 76).
We hear that Golden West Radio will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year, and have learned that the Low German Mennonite history lectures done on CFAM and CHSM for over 30 years, are being continued by Gerhard Rempel of Winkler. Correct us if we are wrong on that. Further details on the anniversary will no doubt be forthcoming.
BLUMENFELD A history of the community, published in 1981, was entitled Blumenfeld: Where Land and People Meet.
The authors were Irene Friesen Petkau and Peter A Petkau. It is now out of print but remains a very helpful model for a way to write a village history. The book includes a communication routes map which shows the location of the Haskett to Morden rail line which ran past Blumenfeld somewhat to the west of the village (p. 69), and also a section on the COs from the community who went to offer alternative service during WWI (p. 51ff). The village was one of the westernmost Reinlaender villages established on the West Reserve in 1875. The authors list 24 pioneer adults living in the village in 1875, when it began (pp. 27-28).
BURWALDE The book on the Burwalde community titled Reflections on a Prairie Community: A Collection of Stories of Burwalde S.D. 529 (2004) has been reprinted. To order a copy contact compiler and editor Marjorie Hildebrand of Winkler.
EDENBURG A new historical cairn has been erected near the site of the former village of Edenburg northeast of Gretna, MB. Jim Wiebe of Edmonton, AB, has facilitated the project. For further info contact Conrad Stoesz or see the article, “Local Historians at MMHS Workshop May 6”, Heritage Posting No. 53, July, 2006, 1-2.
GRETNA The historical exhibits panel of Buhler Hall at the MCI was completed in 2005. For info on this project contact Daryll Loewen.
Presentations at an MMHS local history workshop held in Gretna on 6 May 2006 included one by Bruce Wiebe of Winkler on the Russian Mennonite community which existed for nearly two decades after 1874 at Maple River in North Dakota, USA. Many of these families moved to the West Reserve in Manitoba in due time. For further info on Maple River contact Bruce Wiebe.
HALBSTADT To order the recently-reprinted history of Halbstadt, The Halbstadt Heritage: Strassberg, Blumental (Houston) and Halbstadt S.D 1879 – 2005, contact David Sawatzky or see the Altona website.
HASKETT See the next entry for related information. There are materials on the community of this area (including Haskett) in the vertical file of the Mennonite Heritage Centre archives. Contact Conrad Stoesz if interested. See also the Blumenfeld book noted above.
HORNDEAN A Mennonite congregation has been meeting in Horndean for a number of years. We would be pleased to get more information on this group. Send info to the editor.
KRONSFELD Alan Warkentin is gathering information on the extinct village of Kronsfeld originally near the town of Haskett.
His material was exhibited at the Pembina Threshermen's Reunion on Sept. 9 – 10, 2005. You can contact Alan at 1-204-325-8453, or RR 2, Box 284, Morden, MB R6M 2A1.
The Haskett Community (formerly Kronsfeld, Eichenfeld, and Gruenfeld villages ) is planning a homecoming on 30 Jun-1Jul 2007. For further info on this event call Abe Wieler at 1-204-325-6957, e-mail Hasketthomecoming, or contact Alan Warkentin.
NEUBERGTHAL A local newsletter, Neubergthal Notes, continues to bring family stories from the community.
The summer issue of 2006 featured the story of the Neubergthal store, begun in 1928 by John W. Klippenstein. For further information contact email@example.com Information on the reconstruction of a heritage house-barn undertaken by the local Heritage Foundation, can be obtained at the same address.
A Holdeman (Church of God in Christ Mennonite) congregation has been meeting for some years in Neubergthal. We would be pleased to get more info on this group (contact the Editor).
NEUENBURG Henry Unger of Morden is gathering information on the village of Neuenburg, and the S.D. of Birkenhead.
To connect with him, and supply information, you can contact Henry Unger. He is also gathering bibliographical data on publications dealing with the full range of extinct and existing West Reserve villages. There used to be a small community of Jewish farmers in the vicinity of this village (locals may have called it Judenplan).
OSTERWICK Many village records, including those of Osterwick, were taken along to Mexico at the time of the Reinlaender Mennonite move to that country in the 1920s.
A large number of these documents were borrowed from there and photocopied , so are now available for research at Mennonite Heritage Centre. For further data on Osterwick see Peter Brown. The Brauns of Osterwick (Winnipeg, 1972).
PLUM COULEE In the 1980s Jake C Fehr wrote a series of West Reserve school district sketches for the Red River Valley Echo.
They may be researched at the Mennonite Heritage Centre which has them all on file. This was a project sponsored by the RM of Rhineland to commemorate its centennial year in 1984. Further info on heritage developments in PC can be obtained from Cleo Heinrichs.
REINFELD Sally Harms, editor of Legacy Links, is continuing her research on a history of the village of Reinfeld, located just east of the city of Winkler.
She is looking for more information. She also has information on the celebration of the Winkler centennial (see below).
REINLAND. A local history workshop sponsored by the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society will be held on Saturday, 4 November, at the Reinland Community Centre.
The program will begin at 9:30 am. Included in it are the launching of a new edition of the Reinlaender Gemeinde Buch, with several related lectures, and a presentation on how to conduct fruitful genealogical research. For further info contact Alf Redekopp.
ROSENFELD A historic marker set up near the highway at Rosenfeld by the Historic Sites Branch of Manitoba some years ago, has been moved to the town cemetery.
Rosenfeld was established close to a Reinlaender village by that name which was founded southwest of the town on Buffalo Creek around 1875. Is anyone writing a history of Rosenfeld? Part of the Transcanada Trail is planned to follow Buffalo Creek in the area of the former Altbergthal SD.
ROSENORT (ROSETOWN) The personal papers of Isaac Loewen, a successful merchant first in Rosenort, west of Gretna, then in Osler, Saskatchewan, have been inventoried by Dr Alan Guenther at the archives of the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. For further info contact Victor Wiebe.
SCHANZENFELD With the West Reserve a current research theme and focus of commemoration, it could be recalled again that a cairn to remember Jacob Y. Shantz who first explored and recommended the area for Mennonite settlement, is located on the school grounds at Schanzenfeld just south of Winkler.
A local committee led by Frank Sudermann, under the auspices of MMHS, erected the cairn. Not far away, perhaps a mile or so to the north, is a cairn set up in south Winkler in memory of the first Hoffnungsfeld residents of that nearby village.
WALDHEIM Mavis Dyck is continuing her research on the early history of Waldheim.
Some of her findings were exhibited at the Pembina Threshermen's Museum grounds during the Pembina Threshermen’s reunion there last September. Ed Hoeppner of Winnipeg has been working on the history of Waldheim also. He can be reached at 1-204-896-3328. Mavis can be reached at 1-204-822-3304 or by e-mail.
WEIDENFELD Interesting new information on the early years of this community (once a village north and west of Altona), and nearby communities such as Schoenau, is now available in the published memoirs of a one-time teacher of Altona, and surrounding communities, Jac Schroeder.
Jac was also deeply involved in the founding and development of the cooperative movement in southern Manitoba. His book is listed in the bibliography at the end of this issue.
WINKLER The new history of Winkler, written by Dr. Hans Werner, professor at the University of Winnipeg, is now in print.
It is titled Living between Worlds: A History of Winkler (hdc., 226 pp., 50.00 plus postage). You can order a copy by contacting Ken Loewen in Winkler.
The city of Winkler is celebrating its centennial this year. Kick-off events were held in December, 2005, and other activities will follow throughout the year. The Winkler Heritage Society is deeply involved in the programming. For further info contact Ken Loewen.
For a historical novel on the beginnings of Winkler and its neighbouring village, Hoffnungsfeld, see Nettie Kroeker. Far Above Rubies.The Story of Helena Wiens (1976).
A local committee headed by Bernie Loeppky of Winkler is working on raising awareness about the service of conscientious objectors during WWII. It includes discussion of setting up two memorial cairns, one at the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, and the other on the former West Reserve at a site still to be chosen. For further info contact Bernie.
Dr. Sawatzky did a PhD study on the architecture of the West Reserve villages of Neubergthal, Chortitz and Reinland several years ago. For further info on this event contact CMU at 1-204-487-3300 and ask for the lecture series coordinator. The lecture is part of a series made available under the John and Margaret Friesen Lectureships in Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies at the university.
*The next issue of Preservings (December, 2006), formerly edited and published by the late Delbert F Plett, is under preparation. The journal is now edited by Dr. John J. Friesen of CMU and Dr. Hans Werner of the University of Winnipeg. To order a subscription contact John.
*Selected papers from the recent “War and Conscientious Objection” conference sponsored by the Chair of Mennonite Studies at the University of Winnipeg on October 20-21 a few weeks ago, will be published in the next (2007) issue of Journal of Mennonite Studies. For further info on the conference and the upcoming publication contact Dr. Royden Loewen or call 1-204-786- 9391. Some West Reserve-oriented themes were covered in the presentations.
*Dr. Peter Pauls of Winnipeg is the editor of The Stone House Memoirs: The Story of the J.M. Pauls Family (2005, hdc, 281 pp). For further info contact the editor. Rev. Jacob.M. Pauls was a minister and Aeltester of the Bergthaler Mennonite Church in southern Manitoba for many years.
*It is hoped that another issue of Klippings, a newsletter about Klippensteins of all stripes, edited by Ted Friesen and Lawrence Klippenstein, can be produced before Christmas. Some back issues of the newsletter are still available. Contact the Editor.
OTHER RECENT PUBLICATIONS DEALING WITH THE FORMER WEST RESERVE
Unless directed otherwise, orders should be sent to Alf Redekop, Mennonite Heritage Centre in Winnipeg or 1-204-888-6781.
*Bergen, Peter,.compiler. History of the Sommerfeld Mennonite Church, that is: the Background and First Hundred Years of the Sommerfeld Mennonite Church (2001). hdc. , 308 pp.
*Dyck, Mavis, ed. Chortitz Memories....1875 - 2002 (2002), pb., 35 pp. The focus is on family information found on gravesites of the community cemetery.
*Dyck, John and William Harms, eds. 1880 Village Census of the Mennonite West Reserve, Manitoba, Canada (1998), pb., 500 pp.
*Ens, Dr. Adolf, Jacob E.Peters and Otto Hamm, eds. Church, Family and Village; Essays on Mennonite Life on the West Reserve (2001). pb., 310 pp. With bibliography of other related publications.
*Ens, Gerhard J. The Rural Municipality of Rhineland: Volost and Municipality 1884 – 1984 ((1984), hdc., 302 pp.
*Enns, Gary and Marjorie Wheelan. Gretna: Window on he Northwest (1987), hdc., 343 pp.
*Falk, Ed., trans. and ed. The Dr. Abram B. Hiebert Letters (Written to and /or His Family - 1877 - 1924) (2002). pb., ca. 175 pp.
*Friesen, David. Journey of Faith: Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church 1895-1995 (1995), hdc., 300 pp.
*Friesen, Ted. Memoirs: A Personal Autobiography of Ted Friesen (2003). hdc., 181 pp.
*Irvin J Kroeker, comp. and ed. The Papers of Howard W. Winkler, March 4, 1891 - November 14, 1970 (1999). pb ., 173 pp. To order contact: Open Door Communications, Box 68037, Osborne Village, Winnipeg, MB, R3L 2V9.
Petkau, Irene and Peter. Blumenfeld: Where Land and People Meet (1981), hdc., 264 pp.
*Sawatzky, Dr. Roland, "The Control of Social Space in Mennonite Housebarns: Southern Manitoba, 1874 - 1940", unpublished PhD dissertation, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C., 2005. A comparative study of the architecture of the former West Reserve villages of Neubergthal, Reinland and Chortitz.
*Schroeder, Jac . Landscapes of My Life: Memoirs (1999). pb., 650 pp. To order contact: Jac Schroeder, Unit 8, 650 Harrington Rd., West Pines Villa, Kamloops, B.C. V2B 6T7.
*Strauss, Arla , et al, eds. Honouring the Pioneer Jewish Settlers of Winkler (2002). pb., 106 pp. Contact: Jewish Heritage Centre, C116-123 Dorchester St., Winnipeg, MB R3N 2B2.
*Unger, Henry, Martha Martens and Dr. Adolf Ens, eds. Sommerfeld Gemeinde Buch: Registers of the Church at West Lynne 1881 - 1935 (2004). pb., 530 pp.
*Urry, James. Mennonites, Politics, and Peoplehood: Europe-Russia-Canada 1525 to 1980. (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2006), pb., 400 pp.
*Warkentin, Dr. John H. The Mennonite Settlements of Southern Manitoba (2000). pb., 409 pp. A PhD dissertation of 1960.
Note: Dr. John.J. Friesen's book manuscript for Creating Community: The Changing Face of Manitoba Mennonites is at the press (CMU Press, collaborating with MMHS), Winnipeg, MB. Dr. Leo Driedger of the University of Manitoba is working on a manuscript titled At the Forks: The Mennonites of Winnipeg, expected to go to press in 2007.