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History of Goessel Area Mennonites 

Mennonite Heritage and

Agricultural Museum

Let's take a Look into the Past

The origins of what would become the Alexanderwohl congregation date back to the mid-1500s when hundreds of Flemish Anabaptists fled the southern provinces of The Netherlands bacause of severe religious persecution and settled in the northern Dutch provinces.  Many of the Flemish people, as well as others, migrated to Prussia, now Poland, during the late 1600s.  They established villages and churches south of Danzig in the delta region of the Vistula and Nogat rivers.  Alexanderwohl church records date back to 1661.

In 1820, Elder Peter Wedel led this congregation from Prussia to Russia because of the Prussian governmen's increasing efforts to force Mennonites to follow government rule, including military service.

While this group of Mennonites was on its way to South Russia, the immigrants met Czar Alexander I.  He asked them about their former home and their destination.  He then wished this group well and told them to greet their brethren in the Molotschna Colony, because he had just been there.  After they arrived at their destination, it was decided to call their village "Alexanderwohl", because Czar Alexander I had wished them "wohl" (well).

Photo of  Alexanderwohl Village church in South Russia.

Abt. early 1900s

Alexanderwohl Village church, So. Russia | Goessel Museum

Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church one mile north of Goessel on Hwy K-15. 

Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church north of Goessel,KS

For about 53 years, the Alexanderwohl village prospered and increased in numbers in Russia; but during the 1870s, the Mennonites there learned that exemption from military service and some other privileges would be withdrawn in 1880.  In the summer of 1874, the Alexanderwohl congregation, except for seven families, left for America. 

The emigrants boarded two ships, the SS Cimbria (303 adults, and 172 children) and the SS Teutonia (200 adults and 111 children).  Those on the SS Cimbria, led by Elder Jacob Buller, traveled by train from New York to Lincoln, Nebraska.  Elder Buller then decided to have his group go to Kansas.  But part of the group wanted to stay in Nebraska and they settled in what is now the Henderson area.  The group on the SS Teutonia, led by Minister Deitrich Gaeddert, traveled directly to Kansas and settled near present-day Inman in McPherson County and established Hoffnungsau Mennonite Church.

The Santa Fe Railroad built two long buildings to shelter the immigrants during the winter, or until their own houses were built, and offered them land at $2.50 per acre (half of the then-current price of $5.00 per acre).

Illustration of Immigrant House |  Goessel Museum

The Alexanderwohl congregation established a village system similar to that in Russia, but in a few years the village system was abandoned.  Two miles north of Goessel on Hwy K-15 is the last visable village of Hochfeld.

South Hochfeld sign along Hwy K-15 | Goessel Museum

Adapted from : "They Sought A New Land"

                   Stories, Information and Recipes from the

                   Mennonite Heritage Museum Goessel, KS

                         Compiled and Edited by Darlene Schroeder

                        

2000 Mennonite Heritage Museum

 

This book is for sale at the Mennonite Heritage and Agricultural Museum Store.

The descriptions of the Museum's eight buildings was taken from this book and in some cases added to or updated in some way.

2014-2019 Mennonite Heritage

and Agricultural Museum

Created by Fern Bartel nee Schmidt