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Mennonites celebrate 150 years at Goessel

Staff writer

A series of events have been planned in 2024 by the Mennonite Heritage and Agricultural Museum in Goessel to celebrate the first Mennonite immigrants who came to Marion County in 1874.

The Mennonites who became the Alexanderwohl Church in southern Russia lived in Prussia for years before their 1820 immigration to Russia.

Almost the entire church, about 400 people, immigrated to America in 1874 and traveled by train to Lincoln, Nebraska.

There, they decided to settle near present-day Goessel in Kansas.

The Santa Fe Railroad gave them favorable land prices and shipping rates and built two large houses for them to live in until they had established their own homes.

One of those immigrant houses is now a wing of the museum.

The first of several 2024 events was Sunday with a historical presentation by Rod Ratzlaff.

Other events:

Feb. 18 — Mark Jantzen, history professor at Bethel College, will talk about their ancestors’ lives during their 54 years in Molotchna Colony in Ukraine.

April 15 — An annual Heritage Dinner will include German sausage, horseradish, zwieback, and more. Mayleen Thiesen Vinson will give a presentation, “Packing for the Journey,” on what to take, will it fit, or what food to take.

April 7 — Mennonite Men’s Chorus at Bethel College.

April 21 — Mennonite Men’s Chorus at Tabor College.

May 20 — An informal opportunity to share experiences, ancestors’ stories, and traditions through genealogy notebooks, videos, and interviews. Interested persons can explore the Grandma program for information about ancestors and can locate grave sites of immigrant families.

May 26 — Tour of Alexanderwohl, Goessel, Tabor, and Wedel cemeteries.

Memorial Day weekend —Flags will be placed in cemeteries.

June 9 — Arlin Buller will present, “A Mennonite Timeline: The Big Picture.” He will put the story of the Mennonites in context of what was happening in history.

July 14 — A dual story about what was happening with indigenous people at the time the Mennonites were immigrating. There are common threads including ties to the Kanza and Kaw nation.

Aug. 2 through 4 — Country Threshing Days. Nancy and Brian Stucky have compiled pictures and narratives that will be presented Friday evening.

September — Field trips for Goessel Elementary School children.

Sept. 22 — At the site of two immigrant houses near Alexanderwohl Church, Brian Stucky will tell stories of the arrival of the Mennonites and life in the immigrant houses as they worked toward establishing their homesteads and farms. Arlin Buller will talk about the Cimbria, a ship that carried ancestors across the ocean.

Oct. 5 — Goessel Harvest Festival. Demonstrations of weaving, shelling corn, using the old wooden mangle, making rope, and more will be at the museum.

Nov. 24 — A joint worship service sponsored by Goessel Ministerial Alliance.

Information on events can be found at www.goesselmuseum.com.

Last modified Jan. 31, 2024

 

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