Aulie-Ata Mennonite Settlement (Kyrgyzstan)

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Aulie-Ata Mennonite settlement was located in present-day Kyrgyzstan, approximately 150 miles (250 km) northeast of Tashkent, the capital of Turkestan in Central Asia, on the south side of the Talis River, close to the Kazakhstan border. It had four villages which merged into one town, first called Leninpol, and now called Bakay-Ata. The location should not to be confused with the city Aulie-Ata (Әулие́-Ата; later Taraz, Kazakh: Тараз; formerly also Talas and Jambyl) in Kazakhstan.

This settlement was originated by Mennonites from the Trakt settlement (Samara) under the leadership of Claas Epp and from the Molotschna settlements under the leadership of Elder A. Peters. Both groups were looking for a refuge to escape military service and to meet Christ at his second coming. After their arrival in Tashkent in 1880 they sent a delegation to the region of the Thianshan Mountain Range to find a location suitable for settlement. Near the city of Aulie-Ata they found a valley averaging 10 miles (16 km) in width and 100 miles (160 km) long flanked by the Ala-Tau and the Alexander mountain ranges.

Upon the return of the delegation, the Molotschna group under the leadership of Elder Peters chose this location although they had not been granted complete exemption from military service, while the majority of the Samara group followed Claas Epp to Khiva, where they established the Ak-Mechet settlement. The Aulie-Ata settlement established in 1882 consisted of the following villages: Gnadental, Gnadenfeld, Nikolaipol and Köppental. The latter village was settled by those who had come from Samara. Later the villages Ohrloff and Hohendorf were added. Homes and villages were patterned after those the settlers had left, although they had a somewhat oriental appearance. The use of adobe for building was predominant. All land was irrigated. In 1910 the settlement had a population of 1,000 souls.

In 1884 the Romanovka Mennonite Church was organized at Aulie-Ata with A. Peters as elder. He was succeeded by Johann Regier and later Gerhard Kopper. Not only because of its chiliastic views but also because of other peculiarities, this congregation remained somewhat independent. Partly through influences from the Molotschna and Kuban settlements, the Nikolaipol Mennonite Brethren Church was organized here in 1887 with Heinrich Kroeker as its first elder. According to a report of 1925 a third congregation existed at that time. Baptism by immersion had become predominant in all congregations. There was good cooperation not only in the affairs of the community but also in evangelistic endeavors in the surrounding communities. The young men took part in forestry service and encountered some difficulties after the Revolution. Before World War I some of the Aulie-Ata Mennonites came to America. The total membership of all congregations in 1925 was 550. Little was known about the fate of the settlement in the 1950s.


Bartsch, Franz. Unser Auszug nach Mittel-Asien. North Kildonan, MB, 1948, reprint of first edition of 1907.

Bartsch, Franz. "Meine Reise nach Turkestan." Unser Blatt 1 (October-November 1925): 9-10, 26-27.

Janzen, Johannes. "The Mennonite Colony in Turkestan." Mennonite Quarterly Review 4 (1930): 282-289.

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Alf Redekopp
Date Published April 2021

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MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Alf Redekopp. "Aulie-Ata Mennonite Settlement (Kyrgyzstan)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. April 2021. Web. 20 Sep 2021.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Alf Redekopp. (April 2021). Aulie-Ata Mennonite Settlement (Kyrgyzstan). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 September 2021, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 190. All rights reserved.

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