MHSS Mennonite Historical Societty of Saskatchewan
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Johann Neufeld 1844-1913

Johann Neufeld 1844-1913 with wife, Marie Neudorf and daughters

Johann Neufeld was born Aug. 7, 1844 in Russia to Johann and Maria (Rempel) Neufeld. He was married on Dec. 12,1869 to Maria Neudorf. She was born July 17, 1849 to Johann and Maria (Hildebrand) Neudorf.

They joined a group of Mennonites who moved from Russia to the United States. Their ship, the SS Cimbra, arrived in New York City on July 1, 1875. From New York they made their way Westward to start a new life in Mountain Lake, Minnesola.

The Mennonites who moved to the United States from Russia in the 1870s setteled mainly in the states of Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska and, the Dakotas. This group also included a large number of Hutterites. Mennonites and Hutterites are only two of the peoples of German origin who lived in close proximity to each other in Russia.

Why was it that some Mennonites chose the United States and others Canada? One Canadian historian puts it this way: "Those who placed fertile soil above sectarian freedom went to the United States and those who insisted on religious freedom at any price came to Canada." (1)

Since President Grant of the United States could not promise Mennonite delegates from Russia military freedom for at least 50 years, certain delegates automatically chose Canada. These Canadian delegates felt they could live wih the cold and mosquitoes for the sake of freedom from military service.

One other difference concerned economic, social and educational sophistication. "The Canadian group consisted primarily of Chortitza Russian peoples, descendants of those poor and simple pioneers who in the previous century had first left Prussia for Russia. The American group, largely from Molotschna, had not only made a stronger start in Russia, but had also benefitted from the Cornies' reforms in agriculture as well as in education." (2)

In 1901-02 many Mennonites took the opportunity to move from the United States to Canada. The majority of these people settled in the Dalmeny, Langham, and Hepburn areas. They tended to be of General Conference Mennonites or Mennonite Brethren background.

The Neufelds were exceptions to this rule. They belonged to the, Bergthaler Mennonite Church.

The Neufelds took up a homestead east of Osler. They homesteaded the NW 10-39-4-We. An 18x 30-ft framed house was built in May 1902, They also built a 28x25' framed stable and a few other buildings, together valued at d $375. They also made the following improvements. In 1902, they broke 5 acres and cropped none; in 1903, they broke 60 acres and cropped 65; in 1902, they owned six head of cattle, eight horses and 12 hogs. They had also fenced 25 acres.

The Neufelds home became the place for many church services. Bergthaler ministers came to their house on every second and third Sunday to hold a service. For some it was a great distance for many of these settlers had to travel by horse and buggy to thel nearest church. 'Therefore it made more sense for the ministers to serve these scat- tered clusters of members.

'Johann Neufeld died at his home near Osler on Oct. 30s 1913. His wife, Maria, soon went to live with her childeren, Aaron and Aganetha Neufeld west of Osler. She is fondly remembered by many for her many talents as a chiropractor and and midwife. Maria Neufeld was blind in the last years of her life. She died on Oct. 1931.

Jacob N. Friesen, Warman, contributed the photo and some of the information. The Neufelds were his grandparents. Also helpful was Men of Steele by Jacob G. Guenter, a history of the Steele School District. Frank H. Epp's book Mennonites in Canada Vol I, ) 1786-1920, provided some helpful background information (see quotes 1& 2).




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Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan (MHSS)
Room 900 - 110 La Ronge Road, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7K 7H8
(306)242-6105
Archive Hours: Monday: 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. Wednesday: 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. & 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.