Durango (Nuevo Ideál) Colony (Durango, Mexico)
The Durango Mennonite Colony was established in the state of Durango in Mexico some 75 miles (130 km) northwest of the city of Durango in 1924 by Old Colony Mennonites coming mostly from the Hague, Saskatchewan Mennonite settlement. Johann P. Wall and Benjamin Goertzen, delegates who investigated Mexico for possible settlement, were instrumental in choosing this site instead of the one in the vicinity of Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua. Thirty-five thousand acres of land were purchased through the mediation of Arturo J. Braniff from Juan L. Losoya for $7 per acre, on which 17 villages were established. In the years following additional land was bought as it was needed for landless families.
In 1955 the settlement had its own elder, Peter P. Wiens, a civic leader called Oberschulze, and other organizations characteristic of the Old Colony Mennonites. The economic development of the Durango settlement was similar to that of the others in Mexico. During the latter years (1950s) they experienced a setback because of severe drought. In 1925 the population was 946, in 1949 it was 2,861, and in 1953 the total was 3,281. -- Cornelius Krahn
The first 90 families of the Durango Colony arrived from Saskatchewan, Canada in 1924, because they had been deprived of their privileges in operating their private schools. They settled near the town of Patos, now called Nuevo Ideál. Bishop Jacob Wiens and ministers Johann Wall, Peter Wiens, Peter Klassen and Frank Harder, as well as Vorsteher (Chairman) Benjamin Goertzen, who had also been one of the delegates who looked for land, were the early leaders of the colony.
This colony was able to buy some land that was adjacent to the colony in the 1930s and 1940s on which more villages belonging to the Nuevo Ideál Colony were established. After 1944 this colony began to look to other states for land for their rapidly growing colony. In 1987, Nuevo Ideál had daughter colonies in Zacatecas State and Campeche State.
In the 1950s Mennonite Brethren established a clinic in the town of Nuevo Ideál which served the Mennonites but made no attempt at church planting among the old Colonists. Mennonite Brethren did, however, conduct services in Spanish for the local people of Nuevo Ideál. This attracted some Mennonites eventually. By 1973 a group of Old Colony Mennonites invited the Mennonite Brethren to start a congregation using the German language. Thus a school and church were begun, which in 1985 became affiliated with the Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference of Canada. Neither school nor church have drawn heavily from the Old Colonists for their membership.
In 1987 the Durango colony had 25 schools with as many teachers. Worship services in High and Low German was held at 5 different meetinghouses. Approximately 800 people attended on Sunday mornings and on church holidays. In December 1986 the colony counted 5,503 inhabitants, with 1,838 being baptized members. Mixed farming was the main occupation. The 24 cheese factories in the colony received circa 60,000 liters (16,000 US gallons) of milk daily. The colony also had factories and shops where implements, buggies, windmills, etc. were built and repaired. -- Helen Ens
Kraybill, Paul N., ed. Mennonite World Handbook. Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1978: 277-278.
Mennonite Weekly Review (14 March 1985): 2.
Cite This Article
Krahn, Cornelius and Helen Ens. "Durango (Nuevo Ideál) Colony (Durango, Mexico)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1990. Web. 24 Jan 2018. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Durango_(Nuevo_Ide%C3%A1l)_Colony_(Durango,_Mexico)&oldid=56025.
Krahn, Cornelius and Helen Ens. (1990). Durango (Nuevo Ideál) Colony (Durango, Mexico). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 January 2018, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Durango_(Nuevo_Ide%C3%A1l)_Colony_(Durango,_Mexico)&oldid=56025.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 109; vol. 5, p. 249. All rights reserved.
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