Bagé (Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil)
Bagé, a Mennonite settlement in southern Brazil in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, about 25 miles (40 km) southeast of the city of Bagé, and 40 miles (65 km) north of the Uruguayan border. The Mennonites of Witmarsum in the Krauel Valley of Brazil, facing the difficulties of making a living in that area, in 1945 appointed a committee to investigate new areas for settlement. In 1949 a new resettlement committee was created to serve as official contact agency and negotiator for the Mennonites, For a time it appeared that the government would advance them financial credit for the purpose of helping the Mennonites acquire land and machinery for wheat farming in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, but when this plan did not materialize, Jacob Epp, a leading industrialist of the Witmarsum settlement, rented a 700-acre tract near Bagé on a five-year contract. He became the leader of about 70 families who decided to relocate without waiting for government aid or official colony action. In 1949 three families moved to the new area and by the end of 1951 the settlement had grown to 82 families. The colony in the 1950s consisted of two agricultural villages plus a small settlement of perhaps a half-dozen families living on land bought privately. Some land purchases were still continuing. The land was purchased largely with the financial aid of the Mennonite Brethren of North America and the settlers were largely Mennonite Brethren. The colony had its own school attended by some 80 Mennonite children, and an organized Mennonite Brethren Church under the leadership of Elder Gerhard Rosenfeld. The teacher of the school in 1952 was Lydia Janzen, from Curitiba, the first Mennonite teacher born and educated in Brazil. Efforts were being made to establish a secondary school as well.
The land is rolling and in general suitable for temperate zone farming. The soil is somewhat heavy and sticky. In 1952 a total of 2,500 acres of corn were planted. Wheat was also grown, as well as oats, vegetables, and other common cereals. Farming was done by horses and by tractor. The administration of the colony was in the hands of a committee elected by the settlers. There was no cooperative store in 1952, but marketing and purchasing of materials was usually done unitedly. Prices received for their agricultural produce compared somewhat favorably, in general, to those prevalent in the United States.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 212-213. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Fretz, J. Winfield and C. J. Dyck. "Bagé (Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1955. Web. 19 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B3439.html.
APA style: Fretz, J. Winfield and C. J. Dyck. (1955). Bagé (Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B3439.html.