Agricultural Association (South Russia)

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The Agricultural Association (Verein zur fordersamen Verbreitung des Gehölz-, Garten-, Seiden- und Weinbaus [Society for the Effective Promotion of Afforestation, Horticulture, Silk-Industry, and Vine-Culture]) was organized in the Molotschna Mennonite settlement, South Russia, in 1830 and in the Chortitza Mennonite settlement in 1832. It was usually referred to as Landwirtschaftlicher Verein. Samuel Kontenius must first have conceived the idea for such an organization in order to promote agriculture. Johann Cornies, the model farmer of the Molotschna settlement who had attracted the attention not only of the local Russian government, but even in the circles of St. Petersburg, was asked to draw up a constitution for this association. The constitution was approved on 12 November 1830 by General Inzov, the president of the Guardians' Committee, called the Fürsorge-Komitee, a Russian government agency for the supervision of foreign settlements, with headquarters in Odessa. Johann Cornies was appointed lifetime chairman of the Molotschna Agricultural Association. The purpose of the association was an effective propagation of afforestation, horticulture, silk industry and viniculture. In 1836 all trades of the settlement were included and in 1843 education was also added. The constitution of the association is not available.

The name "Agricultural Association" was later changed to Agricultural Commission. This commission consisted of at least three members, appointed by the Guardians' Committee from a list of six candidates elected by the village meetings of the district. The candidates had to be elected from those farmers who had made the greatest progress in agriculture and stock breeding, and could serve as example to others. The time of service was at least nine years, unless ill health or misconduct prevented the member from discharging his duties. The commission had no part in administration of the district (volost) nor executive power, but its suggestions and recommendations were to be considered by village authorities and individuals as if coming from the district office. The commission was to hold at least three general and two district meetings annually. Its members received no salary, but were exempted from some of the obligations of other citizens of the community. The commission made an annual report to the Guardians' Committee, especially about individuals who had distinguished themselves in any branch of farming and could be awarded premiums of 10-30 roubles. The Chortitza Agricultural Commission was in existence until 1880, while the Molotschna Agricultural Commission continued to the time of the Revolution in 1917.

The chairmen of the Molotschna Agricultural Association served in the following order: Johann Cornies, Philipp Wiebe, David Cornies and Peter Schmidt. After this the Molotschna Agricultural Commission was divided into two parts, the Halbstadt and the Gnadenfeld branches. Chairmen of the Halbstadt branch were, in order: Klaas Wiebe, Heinrich Reimer, Johannes Wiebe and Peter P. Neufeld; of the Gnadenfeld branch: Peter Schmidt, Gerhard Fast. Heinrich Siebert, Peter Bergmann, David Unruh and Abraham Rempel. The Chortitza Agricultural Commission had the following chairmen and outstanding leaders: Jacob Penner, Franz Pauls, Heinrich Hildebrandt, Johann Siemens, David Redekop, David Koop and Jakob Niebuhr. Probably in no other settlement did the Agricultural Association or Commission contribute so much to the raising of the economic and cultural life of the settlement as in the Molotschna, and without question the most significant era was that of the chairmanship of Johann Cornies. (About the significance of the Agricultural Association see also Agriculture among the Mennonites of Russia.)


Ehrt, Adolf. Das Mennonitentum in Russland: von seiner Einwanderung bis zur Gegenwart. Berlin: J. Beltz, 1932.

Rempel, David G. "The Mennonite Colonies in New Russia, a Study of Their Settlement and Economic Development from 1789-1914." PhD diss, Stanford University, 1933.

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Date Published 1955

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Krahn, Cornelius. "Agricultural Association (South Russia)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1955. Web. 13 Apr 2024.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius. (1955). Agricultural Association (South Russia). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 13 April 2024, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 23-24. All rights reserved.

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