Village News

   We have just received our first donation of the new year, a 1753 three-Pfennig coin from Münster, Germany. In 1753 there weren't any Mennonites in the city of Münster, as the group now known as Russian Mennonites were in Prussia at the time, and the Swiss-German Mennonites were further south in Germany. So what does this coin have to do with Mennonites? To answer that question, we have to go back more than two hundred years earlier, to a time before there were any “Mennonites.”

   In 1517, Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation when he posted his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the All-Saints Church in Wittenburg. What began as an honest attempt to reform the Church soon turned into a religious schism that divided Catholics and Protestants. At the time, there was no concept of religious freedom as we understand it; if the leader of a country was Catholic, the entire country had to be Catholic. The same went for Protestant countries (so named because they protested the moral decline of the Church). The Anabaptists emerged in the 1520s in Switzerland. They agreed with the Protestants on many things, but went another step further. Where both Catholics and Protestants practiced infant baptism, the Anabaptists believed that Christians should only be baptized upon an adult confession of faith.

   Despite opposition from the Catholics and Protestants, the Anabaptist movement grew in areas which are now the Netherlands, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Most Anabaptists were peaceful, but one sect believed that Christ would soon return to Earth and destroy everyone who wasn't Anabaptist. This is where things got out of hand. In order to hasten Christ's return, members of this radical sect took control of the city of Münster in early 1534 and declared it the "New Jerusalem." Their new leaders made everyone get re-baptized and declared a community of goods (common ownership of everything). In response, the Bishop of Münster laid siege to the city. Mounting Münsterite casualties is likely why the leaders soon instituted polygamy. Theoretically, this was to better follow the example of the Old-Testament patriarchs, but practically, there were many more women than men by this time.

   As it turned out, the kingdom of New Jerusalem was not to be. The siege was broken on June 24, 1535, and the leaders were soon arrested and executed. But this is where the Mennonite connection to our 1753 coin comes in, speaking to this violent episode in early Anabaptist history. The significance is that it was in response to this Münster Rebellion that Menno Simons finally agreed to become a leader of the peaceful Anabaptists in the Netherlands. Although an ordained Catholic priest, he withdrew from the Catholic Church in January 1536, and his followers soon became known as Mennists, then Menninists, and eventually as Mennonites. 

   That's what a 1753 Pfennig from Münster has to do with Mennonite history. Not too bad for a single coin!

Village News

   It’s unlikely that anyone would be surprised to learn that Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is a member of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada (MHSC). This society is made up of six provincially based Mennonite historical societies, Mennonite denominational conferences and their archives, Mennonite Central Committee, and several other Mennonite institutions such as MHV. MHSC members meet together only once a year for a series of committee meetings, a board meeting and the Annual General Meeting. This year’s meetings were held last weekend in Abbotsford, BC.

   One of the key elements of these meetings is to share information about projects and activities of the various member agencies and institutions. The sharing of ideas, methods and projects is both interesting and inspiring. One of the highlights this year was touring the new premises of the Mennonite Historical Society of BC, where we learned about the way they function and the initiatives they are busy with.

   Other member organizations shared updates as well. The Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO) is a website operated by the Faith and Life Commission of the Mennonite World Conference, with MHSC being one of the representatives on their Management Board. This online resource of Mennonite information, begun in 1996, now has some 16,000 articles.

   The Archive Committee has been very busy during the last few years developing an online photo database. This tool is the Mennonite Archival Image Database (MAID) and is designed to store archival photos, also making them available in digital form for use in historical research projects. In just a few years, approximately 12,000 images have been entered into the database. It can be found at archives.mhsc.ca.

   In years past, the MHSC has commissioned the writing of three books in a series called “Mennonites in Canada.” The first two, covering the period from 1786 to 1940, are both written by the late Frank H. Epp. The third volume brings the story up to 1970 and is written by Ted Regehr. MHSC will now begin to explore the possibility of a fourth “Mennonites in Canada” volume to cover more recent history. The MHSC board made a decision to distribute remaining copies of the current books free of charge through the provincial societies. This will be a great opportunity for the public to acquire copies of some very thorough and interesting Canadian Mennonite history books.

   Our meetings were held in the new Mennonite Heritage Museum in the heart of Abbotsford. This museum seeks to tell the Mennonite story going back to the 16th century, as our own museum does, but with a specific focus on the contribution of Mennonites in British Columbia. This fine facility also houses the Mennonite Historical Society of BC Archives and is sure to be a popular destination for locals as well as visitors to that city. We welcome their partnership with us in preserving and telling these stories.

   This year’s meeting also included a change in leadership personnel. Lucille Mar from Quebec stepped down as President of MHSC after four years in that role, and Richard Thiessen from BC was elected to replace her. Next year’s meetings will be held in Winnipeg.

Calendar of Events

February 7: Vespers Service – 7:00 PM

Village News

   Klaas Reimer built Steinbach’s first General Store in 1884, ten years after the first group of Mennonites arrived in this area. It causes one to speculate how people purchased supplies, food and other items, during those ten years. A trip to Winnipeg with an ox cart or even a team of horses and wagon surely was a more significant undertaking in that era than a trip to Winnipeg is today. Nobody stopped at the grocery store for a jug of milk and a loaf of bread on the way home from work.

   The original Klaas Reimer store is a valued part of our building collection on our Main Street. As Mr. Reimer’s business grew he needed more space and built a two-story building, very much like the General Store that is currently located right beside the Reimer Store at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). This new store became known as the “Central Store”.

   Village stores were a supplier of many of the physical necessities of life to the area’s residents, on occasion including a postal service. As a result the stores also became a meeting place for the sharing of all kinds of information.

   The General Store in our village is not an original building. It’s a replica building patterned after a general store of the early 1900’s, very likely Mr. Reimer’s “Central Store.” While the appearance of today’s store resembles the original store, the function is somewhat different. Our General Store is not a place to purchase the necessities of life, other than perhaps an ice-cream Revel on a very hot day, but rather a place to get souvenirs and hand-made crafts. It is, in-deed, somewhat of a meeting place where people come to browse and talk with the store-keeper and learn more about our village.

   The store-keepers are the artisans who make the crafts that are sold in the store. Last year there were 14 who participated, volunteering one day at a time to staff the store. Being the storekeeper involves selling all the items in the store which includes all items contributed by each artisan and many different types of candy contributed by the museum. The General Store is also the candy store. Each artisan receives a monthly cheque for the product that sold in the previous month.

   This is a win-win situation where the artisans have low-cost space to sell their wares to a large international audience and the museum gets volunteers to staff the store. This is also a great opportunity for our guests to browse for gifts and souvenirs in an early twentieth century setting.

   We are currently receiving applications from artisans who would like to join the program. Anyone interested in participating should apply to Jo-Ann Friesen at [email protected] on or before February 1, 2016. There are still spaces available.

Calendar of Events

February 7: Vespers Service – 7:00 PM

Village News

   One of my Christmas gifts this year was a book by Sarah Klassen, The Wittenbergs: A Novel. This 400-page volume is very engaging, as the setting moves from the late 20th century to the early 20th century and back again many times.

   A pivotal character, Marie Wittenberg, is a survivor of the atrocities that many Mennonites (and others, for that matter) experienced at the hands of bandits in post-World War I Russia. Her granddaughter Mia, a Grade 12 student in Winnipeg, is a talented writer and spends many hours sitting with “GranMarie,” listening to her stories from Russia and writing them as part of her English assignment.

   The Wittenberg family seems to have been dealt a disproportionate share of grief, trauma and dysfunction, beginning with Marie’s horrible childhood experiences in Russia. While the intensity of these life challenges helped make the story engaging, I found myself wishing the family might get a break every now and then.

   As it turns out, Mia quickly becomes the family historian. Despite all of Marie’s terrible experiences in the land of her birth, the rest of her family has remained woefully uninformed about their family history. Only when Mia begins to write her grandmother’s stories do they become aware of many of her experiences. For example, they were surprised to learn that some Mennonites gave up their long-held position regarding pacifism and resorted to taking up arms to try to protect themselves and their families from the pillaging, rape and murder inflicted on them by the troops of anarchists. This initiative became known as the SelbstSchutz or self-defense. Marie’s stories, shared through Mia’s writing, begin to prompt additional exploration into the family’s past.

   It struck me that the fictional Wittenberg family may not be unique in their ignorance of their own history. For much of my life I’ve been so preoccupied with the present and the future that I’ve not spent much time looking into the past. And for most of that time I didn’t really understand the value of being acquainted with one’s past.

   Perhaps it’s logical that many people only develop an interest in their history later in life. But I find it quite delightful when I encounter young people, in their teens or twenties or thirties, who have a profound interest in where they came from and how they got here.

   The mission of Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is “to preserve and exhibit, for present and future generations, the experience and the story of the Russian Mennonites and their contributions to Manitoba.” Our museum works hard to keep people of all ages connected with their history. That means telling the stories in many ways that will engage many age groups. That is our challenge.

   The Wittenbergs: A Novel is published by Turnstone Press and is available at our gift shop, Village Books and Gifts, for $21.00.

Village News

Year in Review

   After a year of 50th Anniversary celebrations, we had expected that 2015 might be a quieter year, but that was not the case. With a new exhibit to be designed, staff to be hired and trained, heritage facilities to be maintained, festival and fundraising events to be planned, and many guests to be hosted, we found ourselves appropriately engaged in, and challenged by, the work of Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) throughout the year.

   Our theme for 2015 was Mennonite Food: Tastes in Transition. The primary exhibit in our Gerhard Ens Gallery, as well as a photo exhibit by the Steinbach Regional Secondary School photography class in our Auditorium Gallery, addressed that theme well. We are pleased when we can partner with local institutions and organizations in this way.

   Approximately one hundred new and interesting artifacts were added to our collection during 2015. The stories that accompany many of these artifacts are so interesting and add much value to our collection. Three local radio stations provide us with live on-air time every other week to talk about one of our artifacts. This is a great way of sharing our collections with our constituency.

   While overall attendance at our museum was higher than in 2014, our spring and summer Education Programs, aimed at the primary grades, saw reduced attendance in 2015. We suspect that several new public attractions in the province may have contributed to that decline. Despite having to cancel Spring on the Farm due to snow and cold weather, our combined attendance at festival events was up considerably. Canada Day registered just over 5,000 visitors, well beyond the number of guests attending on any other single day. Ideal weather conditions and free admission can be credited for this strong showing. The Livery Barn Restaurant saw increased sales in 2015, due in part to the popularity of our Sunday Buffet.

   Building restoration and facility maintenance are large and important initiatives at MHV. With the help of the RM of Hanover and a Community Places grant from the Government of Manitoba, we were able to put new shingles on the roof of the Livery Barn Restaurant and replace our four humidifiers in the artifacts storage and exhibition areas. Repainting of the Old Colony Worship House and the barn in our farmyard had to be postponed to another year.

   Although saying farewell to staff who decide to move on is always sad, it is also exciting and energizing to welcome new staff. In addition to the many fine seasonal staff members who joined our team in 2015, we welcomed Patricia West as Development Coordinator, Edna Klassen as Bookkeeper, Alexandra Kroeger as Assistant Curator, and Jo-Ann Friesen as Gift Shop Manager. They have all quickly found their place in our organization.

   For most of 2015 our finances have been on budget and better overall than in 2014. Contributing to this success were three Federal Government labour grants for the hiring of our summer staff. These grants were all specified for student employees who would be returning to school in the fall.

   In October, MHV was recognized by the Association of Manitoba Museums with the Award of Excellence in Research and Publication for A Collected History: Mennonite Heritage Village, the book we launched in December 2014. This book tells the story of Russian Mennonites through photographs and narratives about a number of our artifacts, as well as special MHV features. It’s a wonderful souvenir for our guests.

   At the end of this largely successful season, MHV announced a new and significant development initiative, Foundations for a Strong Future; Family, Faith and Community. This multifaceted initiative seeks to build and strengthen our foundations for ongoing growth and development. It includes items such as the restoration of the Waldheim House, our first and oldest heritage building; construction of a Summer Pavilion to replace our big tent; replacement of furnaces and air conditioners in our 25-year-old Village Centre; payment of our remaining debt; enhancement of our endowment fund; and the restoration of a number of other heritage structures. We are aiming to raise $3,000,000 over three years to accomplish all these goals.

   Again we are grateful for God’s blessings, which include all the human and material resources we’ve been given in 2015.

   Our offices at Mennonite Heritage Village will be closed from noon on December 24 until Monday, January 11. Happy New Year from the staff and the Board of Directors at MHV.

Village News

Barrys Barn

   Have you ever been asked what your all-time favourite Christmas gift was? Not necessarily from this year or last year, but the gift that you recall with greatest fondness from your past. Mine showed up under our Christmas tree about 55 years ago.

   Farm life influenced my thinking, my activities, and even my toys as a child. My toy box included miniature farm machinery and farm animals. Over time I accumulated numerous farm animals, all of which had their places on my imaginary farms on the kitchen floor. So it was quite distressing to me when one day, about a month before Christmas, one of my cows went missing.

   This cow was either an Ayrshire or a Red Holstein, and she had a calf. Because of their uniqueness, they were special animals in my herd. For reasons I didn’t understand, the cow didn’t take her calf with her when she disappeared. These inexplicable circumstances were quite troubling to me. Curiously my parents didn’t seem to share my concern or have any time to help me look for the cow.

   But one day, equally mysteriously, she reappeared. There was no more explanation for her unannounced arrival than there had been for her departure. Nor were my parents any more helpful in explaining how she might have reappeared. But all that mattered was that my herd was again complete.

   As was the custom at our house, many gifts were not wrapped and were simply placed under the tree behind closed living-room doors on Christmas Eve. Imagine my delight when on Christmas morning I bolted into the living room and saw a big toy barn under that tree. Because I had two sisters and no brothers, I knew immediately that this was MY gift.

   So now the mystery was solved. My parents revealed that my missing cow had spent some days in my cousin’s workshop as he built the barn to fit the cow and all my other similar animals. This was a real barn made of wood, with stalls, pens, gutters, a hay loft, and even a ladder going up the wall to the hay loft. And it was open along one side so that I could access the entire building. Needless to say, my new barn made the temporary distress of a missing cow well worthwhile.

   That homemade barn provided many hours of entertainment and joy. And it’s still a part of the memorabilia from my childhood. My grown-up daughter even recalls taking her Barbies to visit the barn from time to time. I think my grandchildren might soon enjoy it, so one of these days I’ll get it out of storage for them to play with as well.

   This year my daughter-in-law chose to make many of the gifts she gave to family members. From mittens to hair clips to homemade truffles (which are incredibly good), the TLC contained in these gifts adds something extra special.

   The gifts we receive this year may be homemade or may be ones that couldn’t possibly be made at home. But they will hopefully be accompanied by love and affection which is what makes the exchange of gifts at Christmas meaningful. And if this gift-giving spirit reminds us of the gift of Jesus to the world, it’s certainly an appropriate part of our celebrations.

   Our offices at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) will be closed from noon on December 24 until Monday, January 11. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the staff and the Board of Directors at MHV.

Village News

   Much of the warmth and excitement we experience in anticipating our Christmas celebrations comes out of our Christmas traditions. These traditions give us a pretty good idea of what’s in store as this season approaches. So we look forward to the things we know will happen, and we also anticipate some exciting surprises. So grab a mug of hot apple cider, and let’s share some Christmas traditions.

   At my one-room country school in Burwalde, between Winkler and Morden, we always prepared a Christmas program for our community. This involved decorating the building; setting up a stage for the program; learning songs, poems and lines for dramas; and buying and wrapping a present for the teacher and for the student whose name you had drawn. The culmination of this exciting event was coming home after the program with two presents and a bag of peanuts, candy and an orange.

   The Sunday School program usually happened on Christmas Eve. The Sunday School superintendent always read Luke’s version of the Christmas story from the King James Version of the Bible. The program usually included a nativity pageant, and one year when I was already a teenager, it was my turn to be Joseph. My father and I had spent the day working in the hog barn, and despite having had a bath before the program, I was convinced that everyone could smell the hog barn on me.

   After the Christmas Eve program, our family always went to the home of my three single aunts (who were also our surrogate grandmothers on our mother’s side of the family), where we exchanged gifts and enjoyed Christmas oranges, candy and other goodies. Often we would be joined by additional uncles, aunts and cousins.

   In the home where I grew up, the Christmas tree was integral to creating a festive environment. Given the fact that we were a family of five in a house with two rooms on the main floor and two rooms on the second floor, it seems remarkable in retrospect that we found room for a full-sized Christmas tree.

   Usually there were no presents under the tree until Christmas Day, which added considerable excitement to our anticipation. When my siblings and I came down from our bedrooms on Christmas morning, we would find the living-room door closed, because many of our gifts were not wrapped.

   Since we lived on a farm and the animals were our livelihood, they had to be fed and cared for before any gifts were revealed. To make matters worse, we also had to eat breakfast while the living-room door remained closed. So we were kept in great suspense until the door was finally opened and we were allowed to rush in and claim our gifts. Usually it was quite clear which gifts belonged to me, since both of my siblings were girls.

   On one of the days following Christmas we would have a family gathering at the home of our grandparents on our father’s side of the family. There we knew we would get more presents and another treat bag, enjoy a great meal, and have the opportunity to play with cousins who lived in other communities. There were usually two disappointments related to this particular event. First, the cousins who were around my age were all girls, so what was a young boy to do? Secondly, our grandparents, uncles and aunts all insisted we recite and sing the parts we had memorized for one of our Christmas programs. This little ad-hoc program always preceded the distribution of presents in order to ensure that we would be willing performers.

   With the passage of time and generations, some family traditions have continued, but we have also created new ones. It seems that Christmas traditions may be a little more flexible today than they were in the past. If that flexibility still enables us to celebrate the birth of Jesus, as our entrenched traditions did in the past, then all is well.

Village Books and Gifts store hours:

-   December 19: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

-   Monday through Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

December 24: Open until noon (Then closed till January 11)

Village News

Q & A with Alexandra Kroeger

   Alexandra Kroeger joined our team here at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) in late November as our new Assistant Curator. Some of our volunteers and members of the public have had a chance to meet Alexandra, but for those who have not, I thought I would sit down with Alexandra for a “Question and Answer” session about museum life and her first few weeks here at MHV.

What drew you to MHV?

   I was just finishing up a term position as Acting Curator at the Transcona Historical Museum when I came across this job opportunity. It sounded perfect – I would get to build on the skills I had gained in Transcona, and I would be able to do so while learning about my Russian Mennonite heritage. Lo and behold, I got the job, and it’s even more fun than I’d imagined.

What has been the highlight of your first two weeks at MHV?

   Some big highlights for me have been learning how the Mennonite history I learned in university applies to me and my family, and learning how to tell this history using the artefacts we have in our MHV collection. Also, I’m very excited to know that a large part of my job is learning new things and then telling people about them.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

   Right now I’m doing research for two new exhibits. The first one is a small exhibit that will replace some of the textiles currently on display in the Permanent Gallery, so I know a lot more about Mennonite folk art than I did three weeks ago. This exhibit will be complete by the end of December. The second exhibit I’ve been working on is our new themed exhibit for 2016, which will replace Mennonite Food: Tastes in Transition in the Gerhard Ens Gallery in the new year. I’m also busy cataloguing a backlog of artefacts and editing our collections manual in order to standardize our cataloguing procedures. (Yes, museum people find this interesting!)

And finally, the question every curator gets asked: What is an interesting artifact that you have worked with so far?

   I haven’t been here long enough to become very familiar with the collection yet, but I would have to say I’m most interested in our collection of Fraktur art. Fraktur combines gothic script, calligraphy, and painting in a way reminiscent of Medieval manuscript illumination but was used to decorate everyday things like love letters, wall hangings, and birth certificates.

   Thanks, Alexandra. Although our outdoor village is now closed, our indoor galleries are still open. If you have not yet had an opportunity to take in our 2015 exhibit, Mennonite Food: Tastes in Transition, we invite you to come and explore Russian Mennonite history from the vantage point of the foods Mennonites have eaten throughout the centuries.

Village Books and Gifts hours:

-   Monday through Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

-   December 24 – open till noon

Village News

New Books

   Village Books and Gifts, the gift shop at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is seeing an increase in traffic these days. No doubt this has something to do with the rapidly decreasing number of shopping days left before Christmas and the fact that Village Books and Gifts has a lot of specialty gifts not carried by most other stores.

   As the name would suggest, books are an area of specialty for this store. Our book section focuses on Mennonite History, cook books, novels by Mennonite and other local authors, and a few children’s books.

   One of the more recent arrivals in the store is The Outsiders’ Gaze compiled and edited by Jacob E. Peters, Adolf Ens and Eleanor Chornoboy, and published by the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society. Most of what has been published about Mennonite life and culture has been written by “insiders.” The introduction to this book states “The material in this volume was deliberately chosen to present ‘the other side.’ Some of the selections are taken from government reports (Down, St. George, Locke); others from larger studios (Dawson, Shortt and Doughty, McLaren); still others from churchmen of other denominations (Bitsche, Woodsworth); and some from travelogue accounts (van Dyke, Rae, Barneby, Kropotkin, Hayward).”

   Laura Reeves’ Guide to Useful Plants has also recently been added to the book shelf. The back cover of this volume states, “What hoary puccoon is and how you can make beautiful dye from its roots? How wild bergamot will be your best friend during cold and flu season? Why cattail could save your life in a survival situation? How to make your own delicious maple syrup?”

   Learn all of this and more when you take a walk on the wild edible side with botanist and forager extraordinaire, Laura Reeves. Through her expert knowledge and enlightening anecdotes reaching all the way back to her childhood, Laura will bring you up to speed on identifying, sustainably harvesting and skillfully preparing over 65 of the most intriguing wild plants and mushrooms of the northern prairie and boreal forest – from acorns to zoomsticks!”

   In For the Children: Pursuing Religious and Political Freedoms Melvin D. Epp begins story-telling with the experiences of his ancestors Peter and Agnethe Epp who resided in West Prussia in the mid-1800s. Over time they migrate to Russia and then to North America in an effort to escape oppressive governments. The Introduction states “We can only speculate on what we would be today if Grandfather-and Great-Grandparents-had gone another way. Would we be in Siberia? Paraguay? Or Canada? Or non-existent? … Would we have faith?” No doubt many people with similar backgrounds have asked similar questions.

   In addition to these and many other interesting books, Village Books and Gifts has a selection of vintage style toys, Crokinole boards, wooden clothes dryers and many other unique gift ideas. Drop in and check it out.

Village News

Farewell to a Friend

   This week Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is saying goodbye to a friend and loyal supporter. Mr. Arthur Kroeger passed away on Friday, November 13, at the age of 93. His memorial service was held on Monday, November 23.

   Mr. Kroeger was born into a clock-making family in Rosenthal, Chortitza, in Russia. The Kroeger clock-making business goes back to the Vistula Delta near Danzig (Gdansk), Poland, in the early eighteenth century. The business was relocated to Southern Russia when the family migrated to that area. Since then, many of the clocks made by the Kroeger Company have been brought to North America through subsequent migrations of Mennonites to this continent. Given the stressful circumstances under which many of these migrations took place, it’s quite remarkable how they actually managed to bring these relatively large and delicate clocks with them. Clearly the clocks were very important fixtures in their homes.

   During the time of the Russian Revolution and the Second World War, the Kroeger family experienced considerable trauma. Arthur Kroeger’s father was taken from the family by the Soviet Secret Police; his mother was sent to a forced-labour camp and was lost to the family for 13 years; his brother died in the forced-labour camp.

   By 1950, with the help of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Mr. Kroeger and his fiancé succeeded in immigrating to Winnipeg where they established a home, family, community and career.

   My contact with Mr. Kroeger goes back about five years when he asked us to publish his book about the Kroeger clocks. The resulting book is a beautiful collection of information about Kroeger clocks, including many photographs and drawings, as well as stories about the Russian Mennonite experiences. This was a significant accomplishment for someone approaching the age of 90, and MHV is proud to have had the opportunity to publish this fine work.

   In the past, whenever people asked us where they could have their Kroeger clocks fixed, we always referred them to Mr. Kroeger, and he was always willing to try to help. Now we will need to find other resources.

   Mr. Kroeger had a passion for Russian Mennonite history in general. He was very aware of the monuments in our village which recognize Johann Bartsch and Jakob Hoeppner for their work in negotiating the agreement which made it possible for Mennonites to emigrate from Prussia to Russia in the late eighteenth century.

   Last summer Mr. Kroeger noted that the lettering on those monuments had become quite difficult to read. In collaboration with our MHV Curator, he arranged to have a craftsman redo the lettering on the Bartsch monument at his own expense. He was planning to have similar work done on the Hoeppner monument next summer. He was also in the process of fine-tuning a booklet he had written about the Bartsch story when his health failed recently.

   We are deeply grateful to Arthur Kroeger for his commitment to preserving and telling important stories from Russian Mennonite history. We offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

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