Journey to America

In 1873, the Mennonites and Hutterites sent out members to North America in search of a new place to live.  The main reason for this: Russia had made a new regulations making it compulsory for everybody to join the military.  In addition, all citizens were to be taught the Russian language.  Consequently, on April 14, 1873, two Hutterite men, Paul & Lorenz Tschetter, along with the rest of the Mennonite delegation, set out for USA to search for suitable land.

Original limestone house in Bonhomme, SD.

Once they were in the North America, they traveled through many parts of the country including Manitoba in search for suitable land.  They even met with the President of the USA, Ulysses S. Grant, to request military exception, but he was unable to secure their wish.

While this was happening, the Russians realized that they were about to lose 45,000 of their best farmers, so they sent representatives to try to persuade them to stay.  So instead of all Mennonites and Hutterites leaving, only 18,000 left, although all of the Hutterites in Russia left.  During the immigration to the USA, thirty-six children and one old man died of dysentery in Lincoln, Nebreska.

The Schmiedeleut (those under the leadership of Michael Waldner, a schmied or blacksmith) settled at Bon Homme Colony, where they bought 2500 acres of land for $25,000.  The Dariusleut (Named after their leader, Darius Walter) established their first community at Wolf Creek.  Later a third group was established.  They were called the Lehrerleut, because their leader, Jakob Wipf, was a teacher (lehrer).  They built their first colony, Elm Spring, near Ethan, SD.

The fourth group to arrive had not been living communally in Russia, so when they came to America, they settled on separate homesteads on the Dakota prairies.  They were known as the Prairieleut.

The first few years were hard for all of the communal Hutterites, but gradually they prospered and went on to establish many more colonies in the US.