Marion County Goessel, KS

The Mennonite Settlers

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        The Mennonite farms in the Goessel community were established in 1874 by Mennonite immigrants who came from the Alexanderwohl village in South Russia. The origin of the Alexanderwohl congregation is in 16th century Flanders, a province of the Netherlands. During the years 1556-1565 hundreds of Flemish people fled the southern provinces of the Netherlands because of severe persecutions and settled around Amsterdam. During the first half of the 17th century many of these Flemish brethren migrated to Prussia. They established villages and churches around Danzig between the Vistula and Nogat rivers. The Alexanderwohl church records date as far back as 1661.

        The name "Alexanderwohl" originated as a result of a short visit of the Czar Alexander I with the Mennonite immigrants in Warsaw on their way from Prussia to South Russia. After the Czar inquired of the immigrants of their former home and the destination (the Molotschna Colony, South Russia), he said, "I wish you well on your journey; greet your brethren, I have been there". When they arrived at Molotschna and the chief justice heard of this greeting he named their village "Alexanderwohl", because Czar Alexander had wished them "wohl" (well).

        For approximately 53 years, the Alexanderwohl village in Russia prospered and increased in numbers. But their exemption from service in the military, and other religious freedoms, came to an end in the 1870s. In 1874, Elder Jacob Buller led the Alexanderwohl congregation to Kansas. About 800 persons, including children, came to America on two ships, the Cimbria and the Teutonia. Elder Buller was on the first ship and settled with his group in this area. Elder Dietrich Gaeddert, leader on the second ship, settled his group in McPherson County, establishing the Hoffnungsau Church.

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Information supplied by the Mennonite Heritage Museum

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July 26, 2004 / Goessel, Kansas / mhmusuem@mtelco.net

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