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About half of the good crowd that turned out on Sunday, June 9th, for the launch of the "The Fehrs - Four centuries of Mennonite migration" raised their hands to indicate they were personally of the de Veer/Fehr bloodline, or had close relatives who are or were. There was a keen and attentive interest as the author, Arlette Kouwenhoven, from the Netherlands, told the story of how she came to research and write this story.
The author, Kouwenhoven, is a Dutch Anthropologist, and owner of Kouwenhoven Publishing Services.
Her husband imports yucca from Mexico to the Netherlands, and upon discovering a colony of Mennonites who still refused to drive cars or use electricity, he sent her a message to check this out. She visit the Sabinal colony just over the border into Mexico, south of El Paso, and met the David Fehrs. Tracing their family line's migrations led her to research in Winnipeg, where she met very helpful people. She discovered that all Fehrs can trace their ancestry back to a Dutch grain merchant, Gijsbert de Veer.
In this book, "The Fehrs" resulting from all her research, the author describes the times and mores and religious events at each stage, for the generations who form the ancestors to this line. She brings the people to life, so they are not just names on a chart, but take on flesh and personality.
The book launch, or book signing, was sponsored by the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan (MHSS), who provided the faspa reception. It began at 2:30 pm, and was held in the Fellowship Hall of Bethany Manor. Jake Buhler, president of the society, opened the meeting and Leonard Doell introduced the author. He also helped her field some questions from the audience.
After this, various Fehr genealogists compared notes and sought out one another to check for new information. Book sales were brisk both before and after the talk by Arlette. At this book launch the price was $25. "The Fehrs" is still available by order through this website's Book lists, but now the price is $30.00.
An invitation was given for those who wanted to see the new, larger archive space, to follow Dick Braun down for a tour.
Arlette with her Canadian friends, Leonard Doell, with the Plett Foundation, which helped sponsor her book, Elizabeth Guenther, her hostess when Arlette came to research and get first-hand stories in Saskatchewan, and Dick Braun.