Calling It Quits

I haven’t read nearly as much as I’d like to…and this is indicated by the many piles of books on my desk at home. Every time I discover a new book, I open it and read a few pages at random, or I’ll find the part that directly has something to do with me, and selfishly focus on that. And then add the book to one of the many piles. My smattering of readings, coupled with the information provided by the genealogy website Grandma’s Window, I’ve come to realize that the village of Neuanlage had a lot to do with Koops.

Koop: my last name was an annoyance to me as a child. All the other kids at school had “cool” last names like Dueck, Fast, and Friesen. (SE Manitoba was not yet very diverse in the 1980’s.) And here I was stuck with the unattractive last name of “Koop”. However, after a few years, the name grew on me. I mean, this was who I was, might as well go with it.

The books and papers on my desk make mention of Koops fairly often…and often associated with Koops is the village name of Neuanlage, both in South Russia, and near Blumenort. And thus, the name Neuanlage has embedded itself in my memory, a place of mystery.

The Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society published the book Settlers of the East Reserve, and Andrew purchased a copy of this book last year. I found it on the bookshelf and now it sits on my desk. My eyes went directly to Chapter 17: Johann M. & Katharina (Barkman) Koop by Delbert Plett. Because in my genealogy, there are about 5 Johann Koops in a row, and a John Koop as well. So anytime I see a Johann Koop, my curiosity is piqued. I read: “Johann M. Koop was an independent Vollwirt (land owner) and was given permission to establish a separate settlement. In 1879 six farmers, including the senior Koop, two sons, two sons-in-law and the Peter B. Friesens, established a village two miles southwest of Blumenort, again called Neuanlage. In 1916, when the Provincial Government imposed public schools, this became the Twincreek school district.”

From here, Delbert turns to diary mentions of daily life, and personal memories from his family, because he was also descended from Johann Koop (as are many of us around here, likely). There are no more mentions of Neuanlage.

In both South Russia and a few miles up the road from here, both manifestations of this village have been dissolved and disappeared.

When I was in the Mennonite Heritage Village gallery with Alexandra the other day, an old document caught my eye. Upon it I spied the name “Koop” and also the mysterious “Neuanlage”.

It is a document of dissolution. And thus, village life in Neuanlage came to an end.

VILLAGE DISSOLUTION AGREEMENT, 1891 The village of Neuanlage was established in 1879 near Blumenort and Blumenhof (East Reserve). It dissolved in 1891 as households purchased and moved to their own quarter sections. This dissolution agreement regulated the way in which the village would legally cease existing and what each villager would receive from the village as it disappeared. This disbanding of the village was a common theme in Mennonite communities in Manitoba in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as families left the villages to move onto their own homesteads, where they could farm better land or simply acquire more land to expand their farms.