Zacatecas Colonies, Mexico (La Batea, La Honda, Campeche)
La Batea Colony originated in the early 1960s when a group of 75 Old Colony settlers from the Nuevo Ideal colony, Durango State, together with 5 from the Chihuahua colonies under the leadership of Diedrich Braun, was able to buy 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of land at $72 (US) per hectare in Zacatecas State, 90 km (55 miles) northwest of Fresnillo. After the transactions were made the Durango colony approved of the move and promised moral support, since land shortage had become acute. Later more land was bought, bringing the total to 4,685 hectares (11,500 acres). With an altitude of circa 2,600 meters (8,500 feet) above sea level, from 300 to 600 m higher than colonies in Durango State or Chihuahua State (Manitoba Colony), but farther south, the physical conditions of soil and climate were similar to those of the mother colonies, therefore agricultural practices remained much the same. Oats, beans, barley, and wheat mature well. Cheese was being produced in the 1980s.
Only three families began the settlement in 1961 but by 1962 there were 518 inhabitants. By 1986 the population stood at 1,786, of these 352 were baptized members. The colony had four schools where four teachers instructed. About half of the membership attended worship services in the one meetinghouse of the colony on Sunday mornings. Both Low and High German languages were used in worship services. Only High German was taught in the schools. Some 113 persons left for a new colony in Campeche State in 1986.
La Honda Colony began in 1964 when the Nuevo Ideal Colony bought another tract of land, 17,000 hectares (42,000 acres), in Zacatecas, at only $16 (US) per hectare. An additional 4,000 hectares (9,880 acres) were bought and given to the landless Mexican population as a gesture of kindness. The La Honda hacienda complex was bought complete with buildings that had housed owner and workers. These served as temporary shelter while the land for 11 villages was surveyed and farmsteads were laid out. Here, as in La Batea, climate and soil conditions at an altitude of 2,300 m (7,545 ft) were similar to those in Durango. Corn, beans, and oats seemed to be the better crops; wheat and barley matured. Fruit for home use, such as peaches, pears, and plums could be raised since all farmsteads had sufficient water. The settlement began with 176 landless families from Durango. J. K. Guenther and David Wall provided leadership. By 1986 total population numbered 4,063, of which 1,452 were baptized members. The colony had 18 schools with as many teachers, and 4 meetinghouses where Sunday morning worship services are conducted. Both Low and High German were used. High German only was taught in the schools.
In 1987 the La Honda colony began a settlement in Campeche State. Both the La Batea and La Honda settlements had problems with the "agraristas" landless Mexican farmers who might claim untitled, uncultivated land anywhere in the Republic. This led Mennonites to procure proper documentation of landholdings and to be willing to help poorer nationals.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 953. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Ens, Helen. "Zacatecas Colonies, Mexico (La Batea, La Honda, Campeche)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/Z122.html.
APA style: Ens, Helen. (1989). Zacatecas Colonies, Mexico (La Batea, La Honda, Campeche). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/Z122.html.