Category Archives: Hutterite

Winnipeg Great War Veterans’ Association on the Hutterites (1919)

The policy of the government in continuing to admit alien immigrants in the West, is bringing about a very acute and very ugly situation. The attitude of the veterans, which has been persistent and strenuous opposition, has met with wide support from all sections in the West. This fact has given the question a national significance—indeed, according to Ottawa, it may give rise to international complications. The patience of the soldiers is exhausted and they are determined, even if they have to take the matter into their own hands, that immigration of undesirable aliens must cease immediately. The gravity of the situation is, therefore, apparent. The Winnipeg veterans passed a very long resolution at a recent meeting in this connection, in which they summarize the history of the Hutterites, a sect which is now coming across the line in large numbers.

Under an agreement made in the year 1899, a number of a German-speaking denomination of Christians, called Hutterites, were permitted by the Dominion government to settle in Manitoba in the neighborhood of Dominion City, these people being guaranteed complete exemption from military service by said government. These Hutterite settlers subsequently departed from Canada and returned to the state of South Dakota, U.S.A., from whence they came in the first place.

This sect or denomination professes to be governed by the rules, regulations, and doctrines embodied in a small volume printed in German and entitled, “Rechenschaft unsrer Religion, Lehrer und Glaubens von den Brudern, die man die Hetterischen nennt,” and has, through its leaders and officers, publicly admitted that where the law of the land is at variance with or contrary to the tenets and principles of this sect, as based on the volume referred to, the members of the sect are bound to disregard the law of the land and pay heed only to these rules, regulations, and doctrines aforesaid.

Their religious convictions prevent them from participating in war or contributing thereto in any way whatsoever, whether by the purchase of war loan bonds, subscriptions to the Red Cross and Patriotic funds, or otherwise.

The Hutterites live in colonies of from 80 to 140 each, or thereabouts. Each colony lives in one large house, taking their meals in one room, holding and cultivating their land in common, etc., and owing to their convictions and methods of living, are never likely to become good Canadian citizens or desirable settlers.

In the year 1918, while this country was at war and notwithstanding the provisions of the Military Service Act, the Dominion government renewed the agreement of the year 1899 and permitted these Hutterites to settle in the prairie provinces of Canada, complete exemption from military service being again guaranteed by the government. Six colonies of these people are now established in Manitoba in the neighborhood of Benard, 35 miles west of Winnipeg on the Canadian National railways, and have secured land located in such a manner as to interfere with the development of large sections of this locality by desirable settlers.

It is considered by the Great War Veterans’ Association that encouragement by the Dominion authorities of the immigration of such undesirable settlers is likely to prove detrimental to the immigration of our own kith and kin from the United Kingdom, and it is desirable to give the widest publicity in the United Kingdom as well as in Canada, to the fact that this association is irrevocably opposed to the practices hereinbefore mentioned.

Having enumerated the above particulars, and for the reasons contained, the branch resolved:

Now, therefore, be it resolved by this, the Great War Veterans’ association of Canada (Winnipeg branch):

(1) That the attention of the Dominion government be drawn forthwith to the above facts and statements.

(2) That the said government be informed that this association will do everything in its power to prevent the further immigration of Hutterites from the United States or elsewhere.

(3) That the said government be requested to have all Hutterites at present located in the province of Manitoba deported without delay.

(4) That this association deems a guarantee by the Dominion government of exemption from military service, while the country is in a state of war, and having regard to the provisions of the Military Service Act, to be unpatriotic, unconstitutional, contrary to public interest, ultra vires, null and void.

(5) That this association demand that the responsibility for the admission of these Hutterites to Canada and their exemption from military service be fixed as soon as possible and that those upon whom the responsibility is found to rest, be relieved from all public appointments, honors, and emoluments, and be debarred from ever again holding any public appointment or position of honour in Canada.

(6) That a copy of this resolution be sent to the following:

(a) The Canadian Club of Winnipeg.
(b) Senators Benard and Sharpe.
(c) Every member of the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada.
(d) Every member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
(e) Every daily newspaper in the Dominion of Canada.
(f) Such newspapers in the United Kingdom as may be selected.
(g) The G.W.V.A. advisory committee to the Repatriation Committee of the cabinet.
(h) The Dominion Executive, G.W.V.A.
(i) The provincial command, G.W.V.A., Alberta.
(j) The provincial command, G.W.V.A., Saskatchewan.

(7) That members of parliament in the United Kingdom be requested to accept the regrets of this association that there are men in the public life of Canada, who would countenance the state of affairs hereinbefore disclosed, while large numbers of good British men would be glad to settle on Canadian farms.

Turner’s Weekly News (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), April 19, 1919, page 14.

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Hutterite Colonists Move to Canada (1930)

We notice a report in several papers that the Mennonite colonies will soon move to South Dakota. There never was a Mennonite communistic community in South Dakota. For more than 50 years these people lived here but it was not long enough to learn that they are followers of Jacob Hutter not Menno Simon and are called Hutterite Colonies. What gave them the name Mennonites is because they are opposed to war. It may be of interest, at this time, when nearly all are gone, to know that in 1874 the first colonies were started at Wolf Creek and Bon Homme and the third one in 1879 at Elmspring. Bon Homme then branched out to Milltown, Rosedale, Maxwell and two colonies in Beadle. For a short time they had a colony at Tripp. Wolf Creek branched out to Jamesville, Tschetter Colony, Lake Byron in Beadle, one in Spink and the Richar Ranch at Forestburg. Elmspring branched out to Rockport, New Elmspring, Milford in Beadle. At the time the war broke out there were 16 communistic colonies in all. Today we have 11 at Winnipeg, 4 near Calgary, 12 near Lethbridge. Our visit to all these colonies in Canada with Mrs. about five years ago will always be a sweet remembrance. All branches of the Old Bon Homme colony settled don in Manitoba and those of Elmspring and Wolf Creek are all in Alberta.

Mennonite Weekly Review (Newton, Kansas), June 4, 1930, page 1.

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Hutterite Sect in Dakotas Leads World with Zooming Birth Rate (1954)

A slice of the Upper Midwest contains a strange and little-known sect that is multiplying faster than any other group on earth.

Population experts are agape a the amazing Hutterites, a communal religious sect of 8,000 people who inhabit 98 modern agricultural colonies and 500,000 acres of land in North Dakota and South Dakota, Montana and in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The full story of the fertility of the swift-multiplying Hutterites has been developed by the Population Reference Bureau, Inc., a non-government research organization in Washington, base don an extensive study by Doctors Joseph W. Eaton and Albert J. Mayer of the sociology and anthropology department of Detroit’s Wayne University.

Here are some of the highlights of the reproduction capacities of the Hutterites, whose statistical story reads like a human multiplication table:

The Hutterites are out-multiplying such rapidly-growing peoples as the Brazilians, Mexicans, Ceylonese and Malayans.

The majority of Hutterite women with completed families have had nine or more children.

Only a taboo on teenage marriages prevents the Hutterites from approaching “the theoretical maximum in human fertility,” in the words of Robert C. Cook, chief of the population reference bureau.

Of 340 completed Hutterite families studied, 124 of them had 11 or more children, 40 had 10 children, and 42 had 9 children.

Nine children is the median number of offspring in the 340 completed Hutterite families studied.

Married Hutterite women in the 25 to 29 age bracket average one birth every two years.

The average Hutterite mother in the age bracket of 45 to 49 already has had 10.9 children.

The Hutterites are doubling their population every 16 years. This would mean an American population of 320 million persons by 1970 if Americans reproduced at the same rate as the Hutterite sect.

The average annual Hutterite birth rate is 45.9 per thousand of population, as against only 24.1 for the United States as a whole.

The average rate of annual increase is 41.5 per thousand for the Hutterites, as against 13.9 for the United States, 12 for Russia, 33.6 for Costa Rica, 23.4 for Brazil, 26.9 for Ceylon and 28 for Malaya.

These statistics leave the population experts bug-eyed and scrambling for reasons to explain this modern phenomenon of huge families, high birth rate and low death rate.

Cook thinks he can find many possible reasons in the heritage and life of the Hutterites, a sect that originated in 1528 in Switzerland and Bohemia, taking its name from Jacob Hutter, who espoused development of communal life during the reformation.

Persecuted in western Europe, the Hutterites sought refuge in Russia during the regime of Catherine the Great. In the period 1874-77, the Hutterites feared another wave of persecution and fled Russia to settle in southeastern South Dakota.

The Hutterites hold their land and property in common. There are no rich and no poor and virtually no class distinctions. When a colony numbers 100, the parent group sponsors a new colony and purchases the land and necessary equipment and builds the homes.

Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, December 5, 1954, p. 24.

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Hutterite Children Swear Loyalty to King (1941)

Expelled for refusing to sing the National Anthem, eleven Hutterite children returned to school in North Dumfries Township, Waterloo County, yesterday morning under a compromise arrangement which satisfied both their religious leaders and the school authorities.

Each of the eleven affirmed his or her loyalty by standing in the classroom and saying: “I hereby solemnly declare my loyalty to His Majesty King George VI.”

The Hutterite children will not be required to sing the National Anthem, but they must stand at respectful attention while the other pupils are singing it. The children belong to the Hutterite colony near Glen Morris.

The Hutterite pupils, the girls with black kerchiefs over their heads and the boys in plain, dark clothing, prayed in unison before being admitted to class. The prayer was prepared by their leader, Julius Kubassek, and most of it was taken from the New Testament. The arrangement which permitted the return of the children was made by Kubassek and School Inspector Charles Howitt.

“In a democratic country it is not the desire of any board of trustees to offend the religious beliefs and feelings of any person or group of persons,” School Inspector Howitt said, in an address to the class. “Religious tolerance is one of the glories of a democratic country.”

“Certain children were expelled from this school because they refused to sing the National Anthem. It now appears this refusal was purely on religious grounds and not through any lack of patriotism or love and respect for our King.”

The Hutterite children were lined up at one side of the classroom as the inspector spoke. The rest of the pupils were sitting.

“The parents of these pupils have agreed to have them solemnly testify their loyalty,” the school inspector said.

When he was through he handed to each Hutterite child a slip on which was written the pledge they uttered. They repeated it in firm voice.

As they offered the prayer Kubassek prepared they started in low voice.

“Louder children,” said the bearded, bespectacled and black-clothed Kubassek.

The children’s voices rose.

It was an unusual scene as school trustees, the school inspector and the bearded leader stood as the prayer was repeated.

The national anthem, Kubassek said, was based on the teachings of the Old Testament.

“Our faith, our way of living, our prayers, are all based exclusively on the New Testament,” he stated.

The Sun Times (Owen Sound, Ontario), May 6, 1941, p. 9.

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Evacuation of Hutterite Colony (1940)

Proposal to bring a Hutterite colony from England to join their brethren in this province has been made to the provincial government by leaders of the sect from southern Alberta, it was learned Friday.

After hearing the representations, the provincial authorities told the delegation that it was not a matter for the province to consider but should be referred to the dominion government which handles the admission of newcomers to Canada.

The proposal is said to involve the movement of more than 100 women and children from the Hutterite colony at Ashton Keyes, Wiltshire, England. All told, there are 250 persons in the colony, operating as a community farm project.

It is hoped by Hutterites in this province to bring their English brethren away from the seat of the war. As the Hutterites claim they are pacifists, they believe that in Canada they will enjoy special privileges from Ottawa absolving them from military service. They speak German.

In Alberta there are some 4,000 Hutterites in colonies, scattered from New Dayton to High River, in the southern part of the province. The sect originated in Germany, migrating to the U.S. in 1875. About 30 years ago, members of the sect settled in Alberta.

Edmonton Journal (Alberta, Canada), July 12, 1940

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Hutterites Reestablish Homes in South Dakota (1936)

Having farmed in Manitoba and Alberta, Canada, for more than 15 years, a group of Hutterites, a socialistically inclined religious sect of Germans, are now returning to the plains of South Dakota because they believe that it is here that opportunity still knocks the loudest.

The recent migration of Hutterites has led to the establishment of a colony about 20 miles south of Alexander, near a companion group of Hutterites at Rockport. The newcomers believe that the best farm land is in South Dakota.

In the word of the Rev. Daniel Wipf, minister of the Rockport colony, “the new settlers think the land along the James river to be of the best in the country and highly suitable for their needs.”

Despite the fact that grasshoppers and dry weather have played havoc with farming, these hardy people have set themselves up in a colony of 12 or 15 families. Huge, modern barns house the livestock and there are man acres for grain and pasture.

At the close of the World War these Hutterites lived near Yankton, but immediately following the armistice they transferred to Manitoba, where they have farmed until the new movement began in the spring of 1936. Now they are firmly entrenched near Rockport and are putting the finishing touches to a number of new buildings and improvements.

It is expensive work to move a large colony from Canada to the United States, but the Hutterites now believe they have found the “promised land.”

The Hutterites were not known by their present name until 1774, when Jake Hutter, a religious leader, led a band of his followers to Russia in order to escape persecution in Germany. There the Hutterites lived, speaking their own dialect of German, for 100 years.

At the end of a century in Russia, the Hutterites came to the United States to settle near Yankton. Others sought different locations and today there are communities near Alexandria and Tyndall in South Dakota, and in Iowa and Mexico.

The Hutterites are similar to the Mennonites in race and religious creed. But the Mennonites are not as socialistic as their brothers. A man may own private property, earn his own living and put money in the bank if his efforts are successful. But the Hutterites differ.

In their colonies everyone works for the benefit of the community. No one owns personal property. It is perhaps the one example of pure, unadulterated socialism in its Utopian conception.

The elders of the community elect by vote a business manager, a chief thresher and a head farmer. These offices, like those of the United States supreme court, are for life, governed of course by good behavior. The leaders govern the colony and see that harmony is maintained.

Each community has two ministers who are selected from the seven members best qualified for that position. They are chosen by the men and hold their title for life.

The colony of Rockport, perhaps one of the best known in the state, is an excellent example of prosperity under the Hutterite code. Situated in the beautiful country along teh James river, it boasts a flour mill which draws trade from many of the farms nearby. Its livestock would gladden any farmer’s heart.

One building is utilized as a laundry and another as a baker. There is a community shoe shop and a church which is also the school. Children receive a fair education, both in English and in German. German school is taught in the summer and a teacher is hired for the usual school term.

Very religious are the Hutterites. Sundays are devoted to their teachings, with services in the morning and in the afternoon. In their every day life these Germans live up to their ideals. Physical punishment is unknown. If a member commits a minor offense he may put himself in the good graces of the community again by asking for universal forgiveness from all of the members.

A Hutterite may leave the colony if he sees fit, and he may return if he doesn’t find his lot outside the group enjoyable.

The Hutterites are almost self-supporting. Except for a few minor articles, everything for their use is made at the colony. Their garments, quaint in design, are home made.

The women are clothed in dark dresses that reach to their ankles. All wear an apron and perhaps the most striking part of their costume is the small, tight-fitting hood on every head. Invariably it is dark blue with white polka dots. It fits on the head like a boy’s skating cap. The small girls dress exactly like their mothers and go barefooted.

A cluster of these small children with their bashful eyes and quiet manners is especially pleasing to the tourist.

The men and boys dress alike in blue broadcloth shirts, dark trousers and suspenders. Most of the boys wear shoes. The babies and small tots just learning to walk parade about in bright colored dresses of some cheap material.

One thing that strikes the visitor agreeably is the politeness of these settlers and the willingness in which they will explain their community. Cameras are almost taboo, the tourist being allowed to take pictures of the buildings and grounds but not of the people. They explain the reason for this is that pictures or images of any sort are contrary to religious beliefs.

Altho the Hutterites live in a fashion strange to the majority of persons and hold customs which seem peculiar, much can be said in favor of their industrious nature and farming ability.

They are shrewd and hard workers. They are proud of the fact that not once during the depression and drought have they asked for aid from the relief agencies. The well kept livestock and the expertly-tilled fields that greet the visitor to their communities prove that their efforts have not been in vain.

The Weekly Pioneer-Times (Deadwood, South Dakota), September 24, 1936, p. 4.

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The Hutterite Petition to Woodrow Wilson (1917)

To the Hon. Woodrow Wilson,
President of the United States,
Washington, D.C.

Our Dear President:—

We, the Hutterian Brethren Church, also known as Bruderhof or Communistic Mennonites, comprising about 2,000 souls, who are living in eighteen communities in South Dakota and Montana (organized as a Church since 1533), kindly appeal to you, Mr. President and your Assistants, briefly wishing to inform you of our principles and convictions regarding military service. Being men of lowly station and unversed in the ways of the world, we would ask your indulgence if in this letter we should miss the approved form.

The fundamental principles of our faith, as concerns practical life, are community of goods and non-resistance. Our community life is founded on the principle, “What is mine is thine,” or in other words, on brotherly love and humble Christian service, according to Acts 2:44, 45: “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” Hence we differ fundamentally from non-Christian communistic systems, with their principle, “What is thine is mine.” We believe the community life, if not based on Christian love, will always fail. Our endeavors are of a religious nature throughout, and we know that very few people are willing to accept our faith, denying themselves and serving God by serving each other in community life, as we do.

We are free from political ambitions and recognize civil government as ordained of God. We honor our civil authorities and in our daily evening prayer meetings, which are regularly attended by all our members, as well as in our Sunday services, we pray for our government. We have always willingly paid taxes on our real estate and personal property, although we were told that our real property, being held by a religious corporation, is not taxable according to the law. It need not be said that we do not permit our widows and orphans, invalids and feeble-minded to become a burden to the country or state.

Our community life is based on God’s Word, and we could not serve God according to the dictates of our conscience if we were not permitted to live together in our communities. Our members would, by the help of God, suffer what He may permit, rather than consent to leave the community life.

On the principle of non-resistance our position is strictly in accord with the New Testament teaching. Our Confession of faith shows that we hold the government to be ordained of God for the reason that not all men are followers of the meek and lowly Savior, and that we further believe, the government should protect those who do good and punish evil-doers according to Rom. 13:17. The Church, however, must conform to the express teachings and examples of the Master. She is in the world, but not of the world. We have never taken any part in the election of civil officers. Without boasting we can say that our life has been consistent with this principle. To go to law is contrary to our convictions and is not permitted among us. Our young men could not become a part of the army or military organization, even for non-combatant service, without violation of our principles.

Our comprehensive Confession of Faith was written in 1540 and printed for the first time in 1565. The voluminous Chronicle of our Church, which gives our history since the year 1530, is mentioned in the article, “Mennonites” in the International Encyclopedia. The principal contents of our Church Chronicle were published by Dr. Joseph Beck, in 1883, under the title, “Geschichtsbuecher der Wiedertaeufer.” Our history is written with blood and tears; it is largely a story of persecution and suffering. We have record of over two thousand persons of our faith who suffered martyrdom by fire, water, and the sword. Our Church has been driven from country to country, and rather than to compromise their principles, have fled to various countries until at last they emigrated from Russia to this country in 1874.

We would further say that we love our country and are profoundly thankful to God and to our authorities for the liberty of conscience which we have hitherto enjoyed. We are loyal to our God-ordained government and desire to serve our country in ways and duties which do not interfere with our religious convictions. We humbly ask you, our dear Mr. President, not to lay upon us any duties which would violate our Christian convictions, and we hope, you believe with us, that we ought to be faithful to the teaching of God’s Word and the dictates of our conscience, and should suffer what He may permit, rather than to do that which we clearly recognize to be contrary to His Word.

Dear Mr. President, we humbly ask that we may be permitted the liberty to live according to the dictates of our conscience as heretofore. With the vow of baptism we have promised God and the Church on bended knees to consecrate, give and devote ourselves, soul and body and all, to the Lord in heaven, to serve Him in the way which, according to His Word we conceive to be acceptable to Him. We humbly petition our Honored Chief Executive that we may not be asked to become disobedient to Christ and His Church, being fully resolved, through the help and grace of God, to suffer affliction, or exile, as did our ancestors in the times of religious intolerance, rather than violate our conscience or convictions and be found guilty before our God.

For proof that our attitude on the points in question is one of conviction, and not of arbitrariness, we would respectfully refer you to our Confession mentioned above, as well as to our life and history. We desire to serve our country and be respectful and submissive in every way not interfering with serving our God consistently. We are sincerely thankful for having enjoyed full religious freedom up to the present time, and we are quite willing to do something for the good of our country, provided that it is not against our conscientious convictions.

Very respectfully yours,

Hutterian Brethren Church,
David Hofer.
Elias Walter.
Joseph Kleinsasser.

Der Herold: Ein Mennonitisches Familienblatt (Newton, Kansas), July 26, 1917, page 4.

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A Novel Settlement: Hutterites at Dominion City (1899)

Mr. J. E. Jones, German interpreter of the immigration office, has just returned from a visit to the Hutterites at Dominion City, says the Manitoba Free Press. The settlement is composed of 52 persons. They have five sections of land on township 2, 3, and 1, near Dominion City. Of this amount of land 120 acres have been cultivated and the balance is bing cleared. On the farm one big house has been built, 80×20 feet, in which the entire population live. They have built a barn, 100-40 feet, which has now 500 tons of hay stored there. They have sold 600 tons of hay and have raised 30,000 bushels of oats. They have also 10 head of cattle and a flock of sheep and geese. They have six teams, machinery and farm implements, which they brought over with them from Yankton, S.D., last May.

They are in a very prosperous condition, says Mr. Jones, and the only community of the kind in Canada, though well known in the States. They call themselves the Huttersche Society. In religion they are Baptists, the followers of John Huss, the first reformer in Austria. They have their own priests, and have religious and historical works in their possession dating back 300 years.

The Province, (Vancouver, British Columbia), October 5, 1899

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Hutterians Want to Move: Dakota Colonists Opposed to World War (1918)

Government Will Enter No Objections to Their Disposal of Lands and Emigration to Canada When They Need Not Join Army

Washington, D.C., March 5.—Special: Objecting to their sons being impressed into the army through the selective service method, the Hutterian Brethren, some 2,000 persons, intend to sell their land in South Dakota and move to Canada.

Representatives of the sixteen colonies were in conference today with state department officials and were informed the government will hold nothing in the way of their departure.

Although Canada has a draft law, the Hutterians have been assured they will not be molested if they move to that country, they told Senator Thomas Sterling, of South Dakota.

The visit here at this time, it was explained, was to learn the attitude of the government. If favorable, agents can be sent into Canada to select a desirable location and purchase land.

The South Dakota colonies were founded a few years after the war. There are two other colonies in Montana. A colony was established in Canada a number of years ago, but the members returned.

German is the language spoken by the Hutterians, although they came to this country from Russia. They were promised freedom from military service in Russia. But this was broken and they emigrated again.

Because of their refusal to adopt American ways or have anything to do with governmental affairs, the Hutterians are disliked by their neighbors, it is said. They entered strong protests last summer when some of their young men were called in the draft. Noncombatant tasks were assigned to the Hutterians, but still the leaders were dissatisfied. Their creed is opposed to any kind of service related to war.

The Sioux City Journal (Iowa), March 6, 1918, page 4.

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