Florimont (Franche-Comté, France)
Florimont, a French village on the Swiss border about 12 miles southeast of Belfort, was the center of a Mennonite congregation. In the villages and on the farms in the vicinity of Florimont a number of Mennonite families are living, some of them on Swiss soil. Nothing is known of the origin of the congregation, but since Florimont belonged to Alsace, its history is a part of Alsatian history. The family names indicate Bernese origin.
In 1780 a report was made to the magistrate of Alsace, which stated that most of the Mennonite families around Belfort had long been there; they were farmers or linen weavers; the former were tenants on the large estates; they were preferred as farmers, for they raised larger crops and paid their rent more regularly. The weavers quietly pursued their trade in remote houses. There were 12 families of them living in the forest of Normanvillars, which belonged to Florimont. If the government should find it necessary to reduce the number they might begin with these, for the farmers were more needed. Until the end of the 19th century there were linen weavers among them; now they are all engaged in agriculture, with some fishing, for the forests abound in small lakes.
Until the middle of the 19th century their meetings were held in the homes of members. In 1849 a church (Chapelle des Fermes, or des Bois) was built and a cemetery laid out. Twice the church was destroyed by fire—in 1904 by arson and again in World War I. In 1921 it was rededicated, and services are held in it every two weeks. Since 1880 the services have been conducted in French.
Like all the French congregations, Florimont was Amish. In 1871 Elder Peter Klopfenstein opposed feetwashing, thereby causing some tension in Alsace. A conference was called 19 February 1876, to be held in Basel-Binningen, in which an unequivocal position was taken against Klopfenstein. But feetwashing was not reinstated in Florimont. The congregation is thus somewhat isolated. It long resisted all attempts to secure cooperation between the several congregations. In the mid-1950s there was increasing co-operation with the French-speaking congregations. In 1953 the baptized membership was about 160, with 60 children. In 1954 the church was enlarged to accommodate the growing congregation. The elders in 1955 were Joseph Freidinger, Joni Geiser, and Henri Zaugg; the ministers were Rene and Armand Klopfenstein and Rene Yoder. Chief family names are Klopfenstein, Riche, Roth, Zaugg, Graber, Yoder, Kaufmann, Amstutz, Boegli, Widmer, Bourquin, Choffat, Geiser, Schnegg, Zbinden.
Gratz, Delbert L. Bernese Anabaptists and their American descendants. Goshen, IN: Mennonite Historical Society, 1953: 89-95.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 v. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: I, 655.
Sommer, Pierre. "Assemblee de Florimont." Christ Seul, (June 1930): 9 f.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 342. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Sommer, Pierre. "Florimont (Franche-Comté, France)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/florimont_franche_comte_france.
APA style: Sommer, Pierre. (1956). Florimont (Franche-Comté, France). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/florimont_franche_comte_france.