Schönfeld Mennonite Settlement (Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine)
Schönfeld Mennonite Settlement was located in the district of Alexandrovsk, province of Ekaterinoslav (now Zaporizhia Oblast), Russia. The nucleus of the settlement was the estate consisting of 14,000 acres which was purchased from D. N. Brazol, 20 July 1868. This land was located north of the Molotschna settlement and east of the Chortitza settlement and differed from most of the other Mennonite settlements of Russia because it was primarily purchased by individuals and scattered over a large area interspersed by numerous other German settlements and Russians. Only a few of the villages resembled the traditional pattern. Most of the dwelling places were scattered on estates. A second purchase of land was made in 1869 from the nobleman Chonuk. As in the first case the settlers came from the Molotschna. Two families, Cornelius Epp and Peter Epp, coming directly from Prussia purchased the Hutterian Bruderhof Kovalicha. The Hutterites then migrated to America. This total settlement became known as Schönfeld.
In 1885 a number of settlers purchased an estate consisting of 1,458 acres from the owner Samoylenko. The settlement became known as Schönbrunn. As a result of further purchases the Rosenhof settlement consisting of the estates Rosenhof, Tiegenhof, Blumental, Solenaya, Hochfeld, Schönberg, Bergtal, Oleyev, and Krukov, originated between 1855 and 1875. This settlement consisted of representatives from both the Molotschna and Chortitza settlements. Between the years 1875 and 1879 the villages Blumenheim and Kronberg and the estate Eichental were established by settlers coming from the Molotschna. A village, Silberfeld, near the station Pologi, had been previously established.
According to a table presented by Töws, the whole settlement consisted of 202 farms, 132,838 acres, and a population of 1,056. Among the railroad stations used by the settlers were: Gaichur, Mechetnaya, Obshaya, and Gulay Pole. The settlement had fourteen schools and one Zentralschule (Schönfeld Mennonite Zentralschule) supported and administered by the Mennonites. Since the farms of the village were so scattered, most of the villages had more than one school. The three churches were located in Schönfeld, Blumenfeld, and Rosenhof (see Schönfeld Mennonite Church and Rosenhof Mennonite Church). The Mennonites obtained the right for self-administration of this scattered settlement known as the Schönfeld Volost (administration).
The Schönfeld settlement consisted primarily of farmers but soon a large network of industries developed. In Rosenhof Kornelius Epp and Abr. A. Sawatzky had brick factories. In Schönfeld there were a number of brick factories. Later flour mills originated in all areas. The Russian population in the surrounding territory made use of them. Schönfeld had a wagon factory and other factories, a foundry, and two sunflower seed presses. At the station Sofiyevka, Heinrich Neufeld had a factory for agricultural machinery. There were numerous business establishments in the villages. The annual fairs were attended by people from far and near.
In the realm of agriculture the Mennonites raised sheep, cattle, hogs, and horses. At the turn of the century hard winter wheat had generally been accepted. In matters of health the community was taken care of originally by the traditional "Knochenarzt," midwives, and chiropractors. Before World War I some trained physicians were available.
During World War I and the Revolution this settlement suffered similarly to the others. The settlement was occupied at one time by the German army, then again by the White army, and finally by the Red army. Before this happened the Mennonite settlement was dissolved. During the chaotic years of 1918-20 the bandits of the surrounding territory robbed the settlement and killed many inhabitants; those remaining fled to the other near-by settlements. After the establishment of the Soviet government some returned to their estates. Many of the homes were destroyed. The Schönfeld church was destroyed in 1920. The former inhabitants shared the fate of the Mennonites of other settlements. Some were exiled and others found their way to Canada and South America.
Töws, Gerhard. Schönfeld. Werde- und Opfergang einer deutschen Siedlung in der Ukraine. 1939.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 473-474. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Krahn, Cornelius. "Schönfeld Mennonite Settlement (Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 20 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/S36774.html.
APA style: Krahn, Cornelius. (1959). Schönfeld Mennonite Settlement (Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/S36774.html.