Vishenka & Radichev
In Vishenka, Ukraine, the Hutterites were hard at work establishing a new Colony. In no time at all they were back to working in the mills, shops, orchards and other industries. They were quite content at Vishenka and sometimes the Count Rumiantsev would take guests with him to the bruderhof and show off all that the Hutterites had done on his land.
After Joseph’s Kuhr’s death in 1794, Johannes Waldner became elder. Waldner played an instrumental role in recopying old, almost forgotten Hutterian sermons and other writings. He also started writing the 2nd Hutterite Church history chronicle, entitled Kleine Geschichtbuch (Small Chronicle). Writing of the previous chronicle, Grosse Geschichtbuch (Large Chronicle) had seized in 1665. The original copy of the Kleine Geschichtbuch is stored at Sturgeon Creek Colony, near Headingly, MB.
All went well until the Count died in 1796, and his two sons felt that the Hutterites were serfs on their land and didn’t want to allow them to leave as they pleased. However, the Emperor of Russia ruled in the favor of the Hutterites because they had made an agreement with the Count allowing them their freedom. This freed the Hutterites up to move off of Rumiantsev’s land onto government land. In 1802 forty four families (about 200 people) moved to Radichev, eight miles away, on the Desna River, where they set up another bruderhof.
As time elapsed, the older and more stable Hutterites died, but the younger generation was not as strong in faith. As the community grew, there was not enough land under cultivation to support the population. In addition, other disagreement arose between a group supported by Johannes Waldner, the elder, and Jakob Walter, his assistant. The former wanted to retain community of goods and the later felt that they should give it up.
With the governments advising them, it was decided that Walter and his group would move to the Chortitza Mennonites (560 km south) with their share of the property, while Waldner and his followers would stay in Radichev.
At Radichev however, fire destroyed most of the buildings in 1819, which devastated the remaining Waldner group. They decided then also to abandon community of goods. When Walter and his group, who had difficulty adjusting to life with the Mennonite Brethren at Chortitza, heard of their plight they moved back to Radichev.
Unfortunately, after communal living was given up, the group continued to decline both economically and spiritually. Members became looser in their convictions, and the group gradually declined, to the point that by 1842, most were illiterate.