The Mennonites are a group of people who originated in the Netherlands and Switzerland during the 1500s. Due to unrest in Switzerland and the Netherlands in the 1600s and 1700s, many Mennonites moved around between Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States.
Mennonite immigrants traveled from Switzerland, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, or the United States.
Mennonite immigrants arrived in the United States as early as 1683 and settled in Pennsylvania. This group of Mennonites moved from Pennsylvania, across the border, to settle in Canada in the 1770s. This group of Mennonites is referred to as the ‘Swiss-South German Mennonites’.
This map highlights the countries that Mennonites traveled from, and the surrounding countries.
Another group of Mennonites called the ‘Dutch-North German Mennonites’ immigrated from Ukraine, which was being controlled by Russia at the time. These Mennonites who lived in Russia in the 1800s were able to practice their own religion, speak their own language, have their own schools, and live peacefully without having to join the army, as they did not believe in fighting.
A Mennonite family in the 1940s.
In the 1870s, Russia began to change and wanted the Mennonites to change their way of life as well. This would mean the Mennonite people could no longer live the way they wanted to. A group was sent to Canada and the United States to see if it was possible to settle there. About 18,000 people chose to move. They settled on the central plains of the United States and Manitoba.
PHOTO CREDIT: WESTERN DEVELOPMENT MUSEUM
This Mennonite family built a homestead in Canada.