I Just Found Out I’m Part Hutterite

I don’t know a lot about Hutterites. Or, a more accurate statement would be that I know very little about Hutterites. For example, for the longest time I couldn’t tell a Hutterite from a Holdeman. Which is embarrassing because both groups have a strong presence here in Manitoba, I really shouldn’t be so ignorant.

I also know that Hutterite chickens are the very best. If you make noodle soup stock from a Hutterite chicken, your soup will be wildly successful and delicious.

But that’s about it. I’ve come to the end of my knowledge of Hutterites. I guess it just never occurred to me to learn about them. Until now.

I’ve told you about all these books surrounding me, piled up all over my “desk” (A.K.A. our dining room table). Many of these I’ve absconded from my mom’s condo, promising to bring them back…eventually. I spent many hours dusting around these old books when I was a girl. I think I only cracked one book open once, and finding it just a long list of names and dates with little reference to me (I’ve always been fairly self-obsessed, I guess), I quickly shut it and put it back on the shelf. Nothing to see here!

I felt especially disconnected from the book about Janzens. I was not aware that we were related to any Janzens in any way. I thought maybe we were storing the book for someone else or something. But now that I have my genealogy, I can see how the Janzens are grafted into my family tree. In fact, I now see that my paternal grandmother was named after her grandmother, who was a Janzen. That connects the dots a little more closely for me.

So, I’ve barely cracked open this huge book, The House of Jacob, by Frances Janzen Voth, and already I have to stop reading and tell you about what I’ve found!

Jacob Janzen was my great-great-great-great-grandfather…and he was a Hutterite!

He came to the United States on the S.S. Gellert, arriving in New York City in 1876, and settled in South Dakota. He and my great-great-great-great-grandmother Katharina Kop had been married in 1841 and had two sons together, but she died in 1848. Their eldest son was my great-great-great-grandfather Daniel Janzen. I had previously scrawled down in my notes that Jacob had lived in Hutterthal, South Russia. When I’d come across that information in Grandma Online, the village name of Hutterthal gave me pause, but I figured that probably people other than Hutterites had lived in Hutterthal. Well, maybe…the book doesn’t appear to say whether he was born a Hutterite or joined. It seems that Johann Cornies was working to establish a Hutterite colony (Hutterthal) on land that he needed farmed, and he “strongly recommended” Jacob Janzen as a teacher for the 91 schoolchildren. This book also suggests that all the passengers on the S.S. Gellert were Hutterites… and Jacob was on that ship to New York.┬áJacob also enjoyed writing in to the Rundschau, and his final report to the Rundschau was translated for the Hutterite Mennnonites centennial in 1976.

Yep, all signs indicate that my great-great-great-great-grandfather Jacob Janzen was a Hutterite. These books are so interesting, you never know what you’ll discover!