Beautiful Abandoned Rosenfeld! East Reserve. In Hanover.

Ever since I first obtained, and opened, and read, the Historical Atlas of the East Reserve, I’d wanted quite badly to visit Rosenfeld. Really, it was the photograph of the cemetery gate that did it for me. I could imagine pushing open that gate and exploring this cemetery. Adding to my desire was the fact that it’s entirely on private property. It’s a private site. Verboten, as it were.

Then I obtained Henry Fast’s book Gruenfeld (which documents not only Kleefeld, but all its neighbouring villages), and learned that Rosenfeld had been “one of the more picturesque villages in the East Reserve.” Fast writes, “Paul Jart, a German adventurer, who stayed with the Regehrs in the 1890’s remembers Rosenfeld with its beautiful street and the wooded road to Hochstadt.” This ignites my imagination like nothing else!

On the day that Andrew and I spent touring village sites with Ernie Braun and Glen Klassen, they’d showed us how to get to Rosenfeld… but we hadn’t had time to stop and see it. So close! It was going to be up to us to introduce ourselves to the property owners, when we returned someday.

Well… now that spring has returned, we were able to finally visit Rosenfeld. Quite impulsively, too. Sometimes that’s the best way to do these things. No time to think about how awkward it’ll be to drive onto someone’s property.

For while now, I’ve hesitated to write about visiting private sites. I guess that’s because I myself have been too shy to talk to people. But I think I’m taking a page from Ernie and Glen’s book, and I’m getting over that now. I figure the key is to treat private property like just that: it belongs to someone else, so first of all go directly to the home and speak with the owner; explain, introduce, and request permission. If no one’s there, leave and try again another time. Don’t ever trespass. Don’t ever treat the property poorly. Always respect, and if there are people or signs telling you to stay away, then you stay away.

As we drove up to the lone farmsite that remains at Rosenfeld, I confidently told Andrew, “The owner will know we’re here.” Sure enough, it wasn’t long before he emerged, curious as to who was on the yard unannounced. After introductions, he was kind and helpful, telling us how to find our way to the cemetery, which is located in the cow pasture.

I’m a farm girl born and raised, so honestly I was in my element. Once we were let into the pasture, we said hello to the cows, and tried to walk slowly so as not to alarm the livestock (I don’t think running is good for them, they can be very jumpy with unfamiliar people in their space). It was difficult to walk slowly because we were so excited to be there!

The cemetery is on a hill, in what you could maybe call a forest remnant. The whole thing’s gorgeous. I kept saying, “WOW!” over and over. Here are the pictures from our time here:

Approaching Rosenfeld cemetery, with the late afternoon sun at our backs.
Opening the gate!
Exploring what little remains of Rosenfeld today.
Can you spot Andrew in this picture?
Bench, positioned on the hill to overlook the creek/swamp… and sunset. The trees on either side have grown into it.
Marker for who is all buried here. Some heartbreaking numbers: Mrs. Jacob Regehr 1832-1893, Mr. John Regehr 1865-1887, Mr. Gerhard Schellenberg 1819-1908, Mrs. Gerhard Schellenberg 1819-1905, John Schellenberg 1888-1888, Elizabeth Dueck 1922-1923, Margareta Dueck 1937-1937, Anna K. Barkman 1927-1927, Mrs. Abram Schellenberg 1845-1895, Mr. Dietrich Isaac 1831-1902, Mrs. Dietrich Isaac 1840-1919, Mrs. John P. Esau 1865-1894, John U. Esau 1890-1894, Justina I. Bartel 1896-1897, Lena Bartel 1915-1920, Erwin Bartel 1923-1923, Justina Isaac 1907-1911

By 1907, the village was completely gone, with just a lone farmhouse remaining. (I learned this from Henry Fast’s Gruenfeld book.) And, evidently, the cemetery, whose last entry appears to have been in 1937.

It was particularly fascinating to be here because this site is where Andrew’s great-great-grandparents had homesteaded for their first winter in Canada in 1874. We stood on the wooded hill, taking in the scene, absorbing the history, trying to imagine what had happened here on this very spot, 145 years ago.