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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 because 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.  The current Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church records date back to 1661.

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

While this group of Mennonites was on its way to South Russia, the immigrants met Alexander II the Czar of Russia.  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 II had wished them "wohl" (well).

Alexanderwohl Village church, So. Russia | Goessel Museum

Photo of  Alexanderwohl Village church in South Russia.

Abt. early 1900s

Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church north of Goessel,KS

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

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during the 1870s, the Mennonites there learned that exemption from military service and some other privileges would be withdrawn in 1880.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, than traveled by train from New York to Lincoln, Nebraska.  This group decided to settle in the Goessel, Kansas area.   Part of the group on the SS Teutonia, wanted to settle in the Henderson, Nebraska area.  The rest led by Minister Dietrich Gaeddert, traveled to Kansas, and established the Hoffnungsau Mennonite Church.

The Santa Fe Railroad built two long buildings in the middle of the section where the Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church stands today.  These structures sheltered the immigrants during the winter, until their own houses were built. They also offered 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.

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2014-2024 Mennonite Heritage

and Agricultural Museum

Created by Fern Bartel nee Schmidt

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