Pulversheim, a village (population 1,040) in the Upper Alsace lowland, Guebwiller area (coordinates: 47° 50′ 16″ N, 7° 18′ 23″ E), located at the intersection of the Guebwiller-Mulhouse and Sennheim (Cernay)-Ensisheim highways, the seat of a Mennonite congregation. It is situated between the congregations of Colmar (81 members in 1951) and Neufbrisach (108 in 1951) in the north, and Pfastatt (263 in 1951) in the south, and further, Altkirch (95 in 1951) and Birkenhof (77 in 1951). Of the 23 families in the congregation, four have the name Tschantz and three Peterschmitt; one has Amstutz, one Widmer, names which are found particularly in Birkenhof and Pfastatt.
In the Reformation time there was a substantial Anabaptist movement in this region. According to Sebastian Franck, 600 (probably exaggerated) Anabaptists were executed in Ensisheim, which is only about 6 miles from Pulversheim. In spite of the severest measures it is probable that Anabaptism was never completely uprooted in this region, but the modern Mennonite community here had its origin in the immigration of Swiss Mennonites who were welcomed by the princes in this area after the close of the Thirty Years' War in 1698, to help repopulate and restore the partially devastated lands. The first documentary evidence of a Mennonite congregation in this area is from the end of the 18th century, when a "Mühlhausen" congregation is mentioned. This congregation became the largest in Alsace but suffered from a constant stream of emigration. At first families in search of land moved to Austria and Germany, and about the turn of the century particularly to Galicia and Bavaria (Augsburg to Regensburg). After the Napoleonic Wars the tide turned toward America (Waterloo County, Ontario, 1824, Lewis County, New York, 1833, Central Illinois 1829 ff., etc.), a major purpose being to escape military service.
Before 1856 the congregation met in homes in rotation. In that year a former inn in Pulversheim was purchased and a room in it renovated as a meeting room, a Mennonite family occupying the rest of the building. The purchase was made in the names of two members, Joseph Eicher of Pulversheim and Jacob Zimmermann of Mühlhausen, and the congregation now received the name Pulversheim. In 1888 it had 150 baptized members. At the turn of the century a number of families moved in from Switzerland. By 1911 it had 185 baptized members and 78 children. By an unfortunate division in 1912 a portion of the membership withdrew to establish a congregation in Pfastatt, a few miles distant at the edge of Mulhouse. In 1951 the membership was 101 with 11 children, in 1958 72 including children.
The church, destroyed in 1914, rebuilt in 1923, was again severely damaged in 1939-45. On the map Reichskarte 642 it is called "Wiedertäuferkirche." During World War I services were held in St. Georgenhof. Later the congregation was united for a time with Pfastatt, and then for a time it was served by the Alsatian Conference. Later Emil Kempf, of Colmar, was the pastor. Albert Peterschmitt, of Ungersheim near Ensisheim, succeeded Jean Peterschmitt, of Strohstadt-Biesheim, as elder. In the late 1950s worship services were held on the second and fourth Sundays of the month; on the second Sunday a Bible study is conducted in connection with the worship service. A Bible course was held in the winter, and the harvest festival of thanks in October. Communion was observed four times a year.
Almanach Mennonite du Cinquantenaire 1901-1905. Montbéliard, 1951.
"Die Mennonitengemeinde Pulversheim im Elsass." Mennonitischer Gemeinde-Kalender (1958): 61-63.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 411.
Mennonitischer Gemeinde-Kalender (1903): ff.
Seul, Christ. Christmas issue (1951).
Cite This Article
Crous, Ernst. "Pulversheim (Haut-Rhin, France)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 31 Oct 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Pulversheim_(Haut-Rhin,_France)&oldid=106091.
Crous, Ernst. (1959). Pulversheim (Haut-Rhin, France). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 31 October 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Pulversheim_(Haut-Rhin,_France)&oldid=106091.
Herald Press website.
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