Los Jagueyes Mennonite Settlement (Chihuahua, Mexico)
Early in 1948 a group of Kleine Gemeinde Mennonites from Manitoba and a smaller group of Old Colony and Sommerfelder Mennonites from Saskatchewan and Manitoba purchased a ranch of 52,700 acres at Los Jagueyes, Chihuahua, Mexico, at $7.00 per acre, for the purpose of settlement. Two thirds of this land was fit for cultivation and one third was mountainous and partly wooded. It is located about 80 miles (130 km) northwest of Cuauhtémoc and 12 miles (20 km) southwest of the Sommerfelder Mennonite settlement at Santa Clara. The northern two thirds of the land was set aside for the Kleine Gemeinde and the southern third for the Old Colony Mennonites. The aim of these people was to preserve the German language for their children, and escape the social and religious changes taking place in Canada.
In July 1948 the first seven families of the Kleine Gemeinde arrived at Los Jagueyes, "the place of springs," hired a large caterpillar and put into the virgin soil nearly 1,000 acres of oats. It being a dry late season, only feed was harvested in November, which, however, was of great help to the numerous settlers arriving that fall, most of whom brought their machinery and some stock along from Manitoba. By March 1952 the final group of about 12 families left Manitoba to conclude the movement. This brought the total Kleine Gemeinde group to about 90 families, or over 600 souls, which, however, comprised only 15 per cent of the church in Manitoba. Elder Peter P. Reimer was the spiritual leader of the emigrating group until his death in April 1949. In March 1951 Cornelius R. Reimer was ordained elder of the group, now called the Kleine Gemeinde of Mexico. In 1954 the baptized membership was 323.
Within a radius of about five miles from the center of the settlement, where a large adobe church was built, six villages were established: Morgental, Talheim, Grünland, Wiesenheim, Ebenfeld, and Eichenbach. Five of the villages have schools, the teachers being elected from the membership of the church. The language of instruction is German with a little English to assist in keeping contact with the relatives and friends in Manitoba.
By 1952, there was a planing mill, a cheese factory, a garage, two stores, a hatchery, a sawmill, a machine shop, and a shoemaker's shop. Thus the settlement in four short years (1948-1952) established itself as an agricultural, economic, and religious unit, though its members came from five different congregations and districts in Manitoba. There was almost constant economic contact with Chihuahua, the capital of the state, which is only 100 miles (160 km) away.
Early in 1949 an Mennonite Central Committee emergency health clinic was established 12 miles (20 km) from the settlement under the directorship of Peter J. B. Reimer, which proved to be of great help, since the nearest hospital was 80 miles (130 km) away. About two years later this clinic was moved by request of the settlers directly into the center of the settlement.
The southern third of the ranch was settled at the same time by about 30 families of Old Colony Mennonites from Saskatchewan and some Sommerfelder Mennonites from Manitoba. The former were mostly poor and the latter were somewhat better off economically. This factor and probably a different social and religious background led to considerable friction among the group, so that their spiritual leader, Bishop John Leppky, returned to Saskatchewan, where he soon died. A number of other families of this group also returned to Canada. They had two other leaders who apparently also left the settlement. However, the group established three villages. The ground is higher in this settlement, the soil better, and the countryside more attractive than in the northern area. The Kleine Gemeinde group purchased a part of this land to help the Old Colony group financially, and may possibly have to take over most of it because of the apparent economic and cultural disintegration of the Old Colony group.
Reimer, P. J. B. "From Russia to Mexico." Mennonite Life 4 (1949): 26-33.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 396. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Reimer, P. J. B. "Los Jagueyes Mennonite Settlement (Chihuahua, Mexico)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 19 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/los_jagueyes_mennonite_settlement_chihuahua_mexico.
APA style: Reimer, P. J. B. (1957). Los Jagueyes Mennonite Settlement (Chihuahua, Mexico). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/los_jagueyes_mennonite_settlement_chihuahua_mexico.