Pleshanovo Mennonite Settlement (Orenburg Oblast, Russia)
Pleshanovo (Neu-Samara), a Mennonite settlement in the Luxemburg district of the province of Samara, South Russia, was founded by the Molotschna settlement in 1890. The settlement covered an area of 96,376 acres and included 14 villages and 9 separate farms, with a Mennonite population of 3,670. In 1917 the settlements organized a volost, whereas up to that time they had belonged to Bashkir and Russian volosts. The settlement suffered less during the Revolution than some of the other Mennonite settlements. During the civil war the front passed over the settlement several times, but aside from the much requisitioning and occasional plundering did relatively little damage. In 1919-20 the Pleshanovo and Orenburg settlements were incorporated into the newly established Bashkir republic. The Bashkirs, an Asiatic Mohammedan race on a culturally inferior plane, had difficulty in adapting themselves to the role of ruler of the relatively wealthy Mennonites.
The Tok-Churan province, to which the two Mennonite settlements belonged, moved its seat from the Bashkir villages into the Pleshanovo settlement, beginning for the Mennonites a period of requisitioning and oppression; for since the Bashkirs owned practically nothing, they had to depend on the Mennonite farms for everything. Even the obligation of the settlers to transport the innumerable petty officials of the clumsy government organization meant a heavy burden, so much the more serious because the crop failures of 1920-1921 made it difficult to feed the horses adequately. The employees of the province and the army had to be supported by the settlements. At the end of 1921 a Mennonite delegation in Moscow managed to have the Mennonite settlements separated from the Bashkirs and attached to the Russian regional government.
Pleshanovo had three steam-driven mills, two of which were ruined during the Revolution (1917); there were no funds available for repairing them. A large Mennonite water mill on the Tok filled the needs of the settlement for a time.
In 1905 a post office was built in Pleshanovo, and in 1907 a Mennonite hospital was founded by G. G. Voth; it passed into the hands of the district, and was enlarged in 1912. The school (a three-class Zentralschule) was built at Lugovsk in 1908.
Mennonite villages in the Pleshanovo settlement were: Krassikov with 221 souls on 45 farms with 4,860 acres of land; Podolysk with 263 persons on 47 farms with 5,000 acres and a steam mill; Lugovsk with 64 families, 305 persons, on 31 farms with 3,248 acres; Pleshanovo with 49 families, 258 persons, on 22 farms with 4,700 acres, with a post office, a Mennonite church, a Mennonite co-operative, and a hospital; Donskaya with 58 families, 298 persons, on 45 farms with 4,860 acres; Bogomazov with 65 families, 284 persons, on 34 farms with 3,672 acres; Annenskoye with 93 persons on 15 farms with 2,025 acres; Ishalka with 38 families, 212 persons, on 22 farms, 2,700 acres; Klinok with 246 persons on 44 farms, 4,700 acres; Yugovka with 175 persons on 35 farms with 3,780 acres; Kaltan with 251 persons on 45 farms with 4,860 acres; Kuterlya with 195 persons on 40 farms with 4,320 acres.
According to Ehrt the settlement had a population of 3,071 in 1926. After the Revolution many were exiled but the settlement was not completely disrupted during World War II as was the case with most of the European Mennonite settlements, and as erroneously stated in the article Neu-Samara. Numerous communications published in the Mennonite papers indicate that the settlement continued some activity, although on a different level. Regular reporters were Jacob and Anna Wiens. They stated that many of the homes had been changed considerably. The traditional barns and sheds were removed and the dwelling places had been altered to accommodate more families. Between the villages of Bogomazov and Dolinsk an electric power station was erected for the industrial centers and the surrounding villages. A large carpenter shop, sawmill, blacksmith shop, flour mill, secondary school, hospital, clubhouse, garage, and barns and sheds for cattle, horses, and poultry as well as grain bins were established., All the five sons of the Wienses served in the Russian army during the war and three of them did not return. Another report stated that the churches of Lugovsk and Donskoye were being used as schools. The Donskoye collective farm planted an orchard of 32,123 acres.
Regarding the religious life letters also gave encouraging information. Wilhelm Sawatsky, a minister of Lugovsk, celebrated his golden wedding anniversary, for which occasion many people came. In both the afternoon and the evening three ministers preached. Another minister named in the letter was Peter Engebrecht. Even in 1949 religious funeral services were conducted. All the old ministers were gone, but young ones had taken their place, and revival meetings and baptismal services were common occurrences. Greater religious freedom prevailed in the settlement since the death of Stalin. (See Neu-Samara, which this article corrects and supplements.) -- JQ, CK
Unlike most other Mennonite settlements in European Russia, the Pleshanovo community was not forcibly relocated in 1941. Of the original 14 villages, 12 remained in the late 1980s.
During the 1920s, about 700 persons (of a total population of about 3,300) had emigrated, mostly to Canada. Collectivization of agriculture, loss of traditional privileges, and the implementation of antireligious policies ended traditional patterns. Church buildings were transformed into schools, as in Lugovsk, or clubhouses, as in Pleshanovo.
In 1986 the villages of the settlement were organized into collectives, with most of the villages forming part of the Karl Marx or Lenin collective farms. The former has been honored as an exemplary kolkhoz. The village of Pleshanovo served as the administrative center of the local area, which in turn is situated in the Orenburg Oblast (administrative region).
In the 1980s, a substantial part of the Pleshanovo population was Russian, although the Low German dialect was still commonly heard on village streets. Agriculture continued to dominate the local economy, with a wide variety of grains being raised. Dairy, poultry, and hog products were also important. Most families had their own garden plot and a few animals for personal use.
Both "kirchliche" Mennonites and Mennonite Brethren had active congregations. In 1978 the latter built a new church in Donskoye seating at least 500 persons. The local membership was about 400 and was registered as Mennonite Brethren. Another church was built in the village of Podolsk. In addition, a number of village congregations met in private homes. Close ties were maintained with Orenburg Mennonites, some 150 km. (95 miles) to the east. Another large church was built at Susanova, situated between Pleshanovo and Orenburg. -- PJK
Der Bote, (27 June 1956): 7; (25 July 1956): 7; (19 March 1958): 4.
Brucks, J. H. and H. Hooge, eds. Neu-Samara am Tock. Clearbrook, BC, 1964.
Ehrt, Adolf. Das Mennonitenturn in Russland. Berlin, 1932: 152.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon., 4 v. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: III, 378 f.
Klassen, Peter J. "Die Brücke zur Herkunft." Heimatbuch der Deutschen aus Russland, 1973-1981 (Stuttgart, 1981): 97-99.
Mennonitische Rundschau (10 August 1955): 2; (6 June 1956): 11; (13 June 1956): 2; (27 November 1985): 18-22..
Stumpp, K. "Die deutschen Siedlungen im Raum Alt-Samara, Neu-Samara." Heimatbuch der Deutschen am Russland (Stuttgart, 1964): 23-30.
Wölk, Heinrich and Gerhard Wölk. A Wilderness Journey, trans. Victor G. Doerksen. Fresno, CA: Center for MB Studies, 1982: 127-129 (originally published in German at Fresno, 1981).
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 193-194; vol. 5, p. 705. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Quiring, Jakob, Cornelius Krahn and Peter J. Klassen. "Pleshanovo Mennonite Settlement (Orenburg Oblast, Russia)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/P626.html.
APA style: Quiring, Jakob, Cornelius Krahn and Peter J. Klassen. (1989). Pleshanovo Mennonite Settlement (Orenburg Oblast, Russia). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/P626.html.