Mennonite Heritage and
Each of the 8 buildings tells a different story.
Judy Krause Unruh (a direct decendent) is shown making zwieback for a past Country Threshing Days. Anne Unruh Harvey (Judy's daughter) is helping.
The Krause House, originally located about six miles northwest of present-day Goessel, is believed to be one of the first houses built in the Alexanderwohl Mennonite community during the first year of settlement 1874-1875. It is a reminder of the Mennonite immigrant's first ten years of their life in Kansas.
Soon after his arrival in Kansas in September 1874, Jacob Krause bought 160 acres in Section 23 of Spring Valley Township, McPherson County, from the Santa Fe Railroad for $380. He and his wife, Anna (Buller), their two children and her five children (she had been a widow) moved into the house as soon as they could.
The front room/kitchen was the center of most activities of domestic daily life. In traditional Mennonite homes, the kitchen table served many purposes. For example, it provided a surface on which to knead bread dough; it held pans for washing dishes; and it was a place around which conversation with friends, neighbors and relatives took place. The back room served as a bedroom for the parents and young children while the older boys and girls slept in the semi-finished attic.
Russian baking oven and fire chamber. (Straw, grass, or even dried manure were used for fuel).
Outdoor brick oven used for baking in the summer.
A small pantry was located under the stairwell in the southeast corner of the house. Various staples, such as sugar and flour, were stored on shelves. The stairs to the cellar were located here. The cellar was used to store food that needed to remain cool, especially apples, potatoes, and cured meats.
Krause House Zwieback
2 1/2 cups milk 1 T. salt
1/4 cup margarine 2 pkg. dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar flour
Warm milk, margarine, sugar and salt to 120-130 degrees. Combine 3 cups flour and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add warm liquids all at once. Blend at low mixer speed for 1/2 minute. Then beat at high speed 3 minuets. Stir in enough flour to handle. Knead until smooth. Dough should not be too soft. Cover and let dough rise 1 hour or until double. Grease cookie sheet. Pinch off large balls of dough and place on greased cookie sheet. Pinch off smaller balls and place on top, pressing down firmly with flat of fingers. Cover and let rise 30 minutes. Bake until brown in 400 degree oven, about 15-30 minutes.
The Krause House looked rough before the move to the Museum
The home includes sod/adobe insulation in the walls and a reproduction "Russian oven". It was a typical feature of the homes in Russia and is an example of the type of heating/cooking source still used in some north European homes today. These efficient ovens produced an even heat while using a minimum of fuel. Straw, grass, or dried manure was used to fuel the oven -- it was "fed" only twice a day.
Many zwieback were baked on pans designed to fit into the long, narrow baking chamber. During the summer, most of the baking was done in a separate building called the summer kitchen, or in an outdoor brick oven..
The Mennonites who came from Russia in the 1870s and 80s put up a certain type of good frontier house. Sundried brick were used for the walls and the partition between house and barn. The bricks were made of grass and straw and mud then tramped down by oxen being driven back and forth over it. This became solid and was cut into bricks, which were dried in the sun. This made for very thick walls. On the outside it was whitewashed. Some walls were later covered with wood to keep the mud from melting. Floors were finished to a hardness by mixing cow dung and clay with water and spreading it ove the earth. Inside, the clay bricks of the Russian oven looked just like a wall, kept the house warm. Hay, flax, straw and homemade coal, (which was dried sheep-manure), were used for fuel.
This account comes from OFF THE MOUNTAIN LAKE RANGE cookbook. Compiled in 1958 by the Mountain Lake Gopher Historians of Mountain Lake, Minnesota. No longer in print.
For more information about life on the Prairie for Low-German Mennonites from Russia, see articles in the Mennonite Life 1874 Anniversary 1949 Oct. issue, click link below.
2014-2020 Mennonite Heritage
and Agricultural Museum
Created by Fern Bartel nee Schmidt