SCHÖNFELD SETTLEMENT - SUMMARIES
Mennonite Settlement (Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine)
Schönfeld Mennonite Settlement was located in the district of
Alexandrovsk, province of Ekaterinoslav (now Zaporizhia Oblast),
Russia. The nucleus of the settlement was the estate consisting of
14,000 acres which was purchased from D. N. Brazol, 20 July 1868. This
land was located north of the Molotschna settlement and east of the
Chortitza settlement and differed from most of the other Mennonite
settlements of Russia because it was primarily purchased by
individuals and scattered over a large area interspersed by numerous
other German settlements and Russians. Only a few of the villages
resembled the traditional pattern. Most of the dwelling places were
scattered on estates. A second purchase of land was made in 1869 from
the nobleman Chonuk. As in the first case the settlers came from the
Molotschna. Two families, Cornelius Epp and Peter Epp, coming directly
from Prussia purchased the Hutterian Bruderhof Kovalicha. The
Hutterites then migrated to America. This total settlement became
known as Schönfeld.
In 1885 a number of settlers purchased an estate consisting of
1,458 acres from the owner Samoylenko. The settlement became known as
Schönbrunn. As a result of further purchases the Rosenhof settlement
consisting of the estates Rosenhof, Tiegenhof, Blumental, Solenaya,
Hochfeld, Schönberg, Bergtal, Oleyev, and Krukov, originated between
1855 and 1875. This settlement consisted of representatives from both
the Molotschna and Chortitza settlements. Between the years 1875 and
1879 the villages Blumenheim and Kronberg and the estate Eichental
were established by settlers coming from the Molotschna. A village,
Silberfeld, near the station Pologi, had been previously established.
South Russia Mennonites
Ekaterinoslav (now Dnipropetrovsk since 1917), was a province (oblast
in Russian) of the Ukraine, Russia, crossed by the Dnieper River, and
was founded in 1786, and named after Catherine [The Great] II.
Ekaterinoslav is bordered on the north by Poltava, on the east by
Kharkov, on the south by Taurida, and on the west by Kherson.
In the year 1789 and
then started again after 1803, the second large emigration of
Mennonites from Danzig [present-day Gdańsk, Poland]-West Prussia
began. It led through Riga into the Black Sea area to Chortitza
(founded 1789) and Molotschna (founded 1804). The Schönfeld Colony was
founded in 1868.
Settlement (District Schönfeld) existed in what is now Zaporizhia
Oblast (province) in the Ukraine and was located north of the
Molotschna settlement and east of the Chortitza settlement. It
differed from most of the other Mennonite settlements of Russia
because it was primarily purchased by individuals and scattered over a
large area interspersed by numerous other German settlements and
Russians. Only a few of the villages resembled the traditional
settlements: Schönbrunn, District Schönfeld, was founded in 1885.
Mennonite Villages in Bergthal, Ukraine, South Russia (began 1836)
Bergthal, Friedrichstal, Heubuden, Schönfeld [Schoenfeld],
Mennonite Villages in Brazol (Schönfeld [Schoenfeld]
Colony), Ukraine, South Russia (began 1836)
[Note: D. N. Brazol was the name of the owner of
a large estate that had been purchased]
Blumenfeld, Blumenheim, Eichental, Kronberg,
Rosenhof, Schönfeld [Schoenfeld], Silberfeld
1917 - 1922
The prosperity of Schönfeld was its undoing when
revolution and civil war engulfed Russia in 1917. Schönfeld suffered
particularly because of its proximity to Gulyaipole, the home and
first base of operations of the anarchist (or bandit, depending on
one’s ideological inclinations) Nestor Makhno. Property and chattels
were expropriated by Bolshevik authorities while random acts of
robbery, torture, rape and murder by anarchists became commonplace.
The area of Schönfeld fell variously into the hands of Bolsheviks,
anarchists and the troops of the White armies as the battlefronts of
the civil war moved north and south. Even the brief occupation of the
area by Austro-Hungarian troops in 1918 offered little respite, as
they were unable to control Makhno. Some Schönfeld residents formed
Selbstschutz militias to protect their homes and enjoyed some brief
military successes, especially during the occupations of the area by
the White armies. The last meeting of the Schönfeld council was held
in August, 1919. The last church service was held Sept. 14, 1919. By
1920 almost all the surviving Mennonite residents of Schönfeld had
fled south to the Molotschna colony. The area came under the control
of the White army under General Wrangell, briefly, in 1920, but
Wrangell had to retreat south that same year. The Schönfeld
Selbstschutz militia which, by that time, had been incorporated into
the White army, retreated with him and was evacuated from the Crimea
to Turkey. Some Schönfeld landowner/refugees returned long enough to
plant and harvest crops as late as 1922, but for all practical
purposes, the Mennonite community of Schönfeld ceased to exist. [http://home.ica.net/~walterunger/SchoenHistory.html
Notes taken from the "SCHONFELD" book written by
Gerhard Toews in 1938 after a gathering of Schonfelder in Manitoba.
Schonbrun was a village in the Schonfeld settlement of villages.
The people originated from Friesland and Holland having left there for
religious reasons. They were followers of Menno Simons during the
1500's when the various churches were established after the break away
from the catholic church. They had emigrated to Prussia and in the
1600's the part of Prussia they were in belonged to Poland. But when
Poland was divided up they fell under Prussian rule and because they
would not carry arms they were not allowed full rights as the others
were. It was during the times of Frederick the Great. In 1787 they
were being frowned upMfor not carrying arms and they decided to move
on. The trek to Russia began.
The first settlements were called the Old Colony. It was located
where the Konskaja and the Dnjepr meet and consisted of 18 villages.
In 1803 another trek settled in the Molotschnaer which was also
called the New Colony. By 1863 there were 4230 families in 56 villages
and 4 Vorwerken? which I think must be what we now call township or
The new villages were often named after the village they had come
from so you would know who they were talking about. As villages grew
more land was purchased.
Then the Crimean war started with Turkey, England and France
against Russia. During this time a Lieutentant Brasol and a Mr. Fast
discussed each others property and the Lieutentant offered Mr. Fast to
come and see his property in the Steppes which he was very proud of.
After the Crimean war when more land was needed and being sought the
Lieutentants land was remembered and after checking they found out he
indeed was interested in selling some land. 5,324 Desjatinen was
purchased by 6 buyers in the Steppes of Alexandrowsker Circle that
belonged to the Government of Jekaterinoslaw and it was called
Schonfeld. The year was 1868.
The purchasers were:
- Abram Abram Driedger
- Peter Johann Dick Munsterberg
- Kornelius Korn. Friesen
- Johan Joh. Klassen
- Johann Bernhard Fast
- Jakob Peter Heidebrecht
- Abraham Dietrich Warkentin
- Class Jakob Thiessen,Ruckenau
- Jakob Dietrich Warkentin, Alexanderkrone
- David Abram Mathies, Ohrloff
- Heinrich Peter Enns
- Peter Peter Cornies
- Johann Peter Enns
- Jakob Claas Thiessen, Rosenort
- Peter Gerhard Neufeld, Altonau
David Mathies and Peter Neufeld built a brickyard. The community
established their own schools and churches.
In 1885 Jakob Warkentin, Jakob Enns, Johann Mathies, Kornelius,
Enns, Johann Dyck and Johann Berg purchsed more land from the Russian
Samojlenko. 540 Desjatinen Land was purchased for 84 Rubels per
Desjatine. This village was called Schonbrun. In 1891 they built a
More villages were established and eventually Schonfeld became the
Schonfelder Wolost. All the villages were under the self government of
Schonfeld. Church books were kept and it decided where someone was
The first "Oberschulze" which I believe would be the reive or mayor
of the Schonfelder Wolost (area) was Abraham Driediger. Then Joh.
Cornies, Joh. P. Dick , and Heinrich Wiens. Mr. Cornies and Mr.
Dick both served 12 years in this position.
During the revolution many books were destroyed and few records are
Because they had so much land they raised an easy crop which was
sheep for wool. As more settled the price of the land went up and
crops were grown as they brought in more money than wool. They grew
wheat, flax and oats and corn. The land was worked with a wooden one
row plow and 3 to 4 paid of oxen. Eventually machinery became
Russia lost the war with Japan and there was unrest in Russia. The
police and the workers were fighting and anarchy was rampant. Bands of
murderers and robbers started forming of which one was Nestor Machno
who was to later bring the Schonfelder lots of grief. Money and horses
were stolen at first. Then people were murdered. In 1914 the First
World War started.
The book notes May 29 Johann Dick and Maria Wiens; Abram Matthies
and Margareta Dick were married. 1. Sam. 20, 42 was the verse read.
In 1900 They celebrated the golden wedding of David Matthies' Text:
Lukas 24, 29.
Russia was fighting Germany and germans in Russia were not allowed
to speak german. Uncle Hans Berg was sent to Siberia. The Mennonite
men were Red Cross workers during the war. It was suggested all german
held land be liquidated. The rubel lost its value. Land and crops were
being controlled as well as prices and sales. The Czar was no more.
The Bolsheviks wanted to divide up all the land. The soldiers were
returning from the front with guns and ammunition. More plundering
took place. The germans were invading Russia. David Mathies, brother
of Abram J. Mathies (Marg Dick) was shot but lived. His wife and
mother-in-law and father-in-law however did not survive. People
started moving away from Schonfeld. Many soldiers and others died of
typhoid fever. It was impossible to carry on with farming and so much
had happened it was necessary for the survivors to leave the area.
Although it was hard to leave the home and farm there was no other
way. The last families to leave Schonbrun were Johann Dicks, Kornelius
Enns, Widow Johann Mathies, Aron Janzen, Jakob Warkentin and Jakob
Koop. These had sown their Winterwheat in the fall of 1919 and had
planted their spring vegetables but by the end of April they left.
This was the end of Schonfeld and Schonbrun.