Omsk Mennonite Settlement (Siberia, Russia)
Omsk Mennonite Settlement, formerly in the Akmolinsk Region, now partly in the Omsk Region and Kazakh SSR, Western Siberia, is located between the cities of Petropavlovsk and Omsk, extending some 100 miles (160 km) east to the railroad station of Tatarsk. This was the first Mennonite settlement in Siberia, expanding gradually some 300 miles (480 km) on both sides of the Trans-Siberian Railroad between Petropavlovsk and Tatarsk, centering primarily around Omsk. Omsk and Petropavlovsk became the gateways for the establishments of this settlement as well as for the establishments of other Mennonite settlements in Siberia, such as Slavgorod and Pavlodar. The first Mennonites to settle in this area and in Siberia in general came to the city of Omsk, where Peter J. Wiens started a business in 1897.
Kulomzino was the station on the left side of the Irtysh River near the city of Omsk. Johann P. Isaak had bought some land here in 1902 which was later incorporated into the city of Omsk.
In 1899 the families of Johann Matthies, Franz Balzer, Julius Dick, and Peter Dick, of the province of Taurida, and H. Ewert and Gerhard Ewert, of Samara, bought 4,680 acres of land south of the Trans-Siberian Railroad a few miles west of the city of Omsk, and established the village of Tchunayevka. These were the first Mennonite families to settle on land in Siberia. One end of the village was called Orloff because the owner, Heinrich Warkentin, preferred this name. Gerhard Ewert and Peter Engbrecht established a steam-driven flourmill in this area.
Tchukreyevka was a Mennonite village located north of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, about three miles (5 km) west of the city of Omsk. Among the early settlers were Franz, Peter, David Thiessen, and the sons of Johann P. Isaak. In addition to grains the settlers raised vegetables, for which they found a profitable market in the city.
Maryanovka was a railroad station west of Omsk. North of the railroad station and five miles (8 km) east was the village of Sharapov, which had been bought in 1904 by Jakob and Heinrich Dück, Crimean Mennonites. Other families living there were Jakob Goossen, Abram Wiens, and Jakob Schierling. The village had a school. Worship services for the Mennonite Church were conducted by Johann Teichrieb and for the Mennonite Brethren by Jakob Fast. Teichrieb later immigrated to Paraguay. This village achieved considerable prosperity. During the Revolution of 1917 a number of Mennonites were killed. Four miles (6.5 km) east of Sharapov near the station of Alonsk was the Renpenning estate, owned by the manufacturer Jacob Renpenning, formerly of Fabrikerwiese, Molotschna. Further east near the station of Luzino was a Mennonite village which bore the same name.
Moskalenko is located west of Maryanovka, east of Isil'-Kul, and south of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. This was a business center in which some Mennonites had located. A steam flourmill was owned by a number of Mennonites. A Mennonite village named Ekaterinovka was located in the vicinity of Moskalenko. This was a scattered village with a school. The ministers of the Mennonite Church were Peter P. Bergen, elder, and Peter P. Fröse, who perished in exile. A number of Mennonite estate owners lived in this area, including Johann Rahn and Jakob Konrad.
Margenau is located twelve miles (20 km) east of Isil'-Kul and one mile (1.5 km) south of the station of Gorkoye. According to a Russian map of 1946, the station is now called Margenau and not Gorkoye. North of the railroad was the village of Hamberg (Puchkovo). Both villages were located on rented land. Margenau was the center for a number of smaller hamlets and estates. One mile away was the estate of Ivanovka owned by Heinrich Epp and his children. Three miles (5 km) south of Margenau was the village of Nikolaifeld, where the ministers Johann Käthler and Peter Isaak were located. Five miles (8 km) from Margenau was the village of Alexanderkrone with a school taught for a while by H. H. Friesen. In the vicinity was the large estate of Alexeyevka owned by a Reimer. The station Kuyanbar was located six miles (10 km) east of Margenau (Gorkoye). South of it was the village of Korneyevka named after Cornelius Siemens. The minister of the community was Jakob Heide. South of this village was the large estate of Johann Heinrichs. East of this estate was another, named Grigoryevka after the owner Gerhard Dück. Another place occupied by Mennonites was Bogunovo.
Isil'-Kul, a larger railroad center half way between Omsk and Petropavlovsk, attracted a number of Mennonites who established businesses there. Numerous estates and villages were also established in the vicinity. Among them was the estate owned by Peter Funk, who had a large orchard. His married children also lived in the vicinity. Six miles (10 km) north of Isil'-Kul were the following villages: Friedensruh, Tiegerweide, Rosenort, Feodorovka, Petrovka. The settlers came mostly from Zagradovka. Bückert, the Mennonite Brethren minister, lived in Rosenort.
Bulayevo, a railroad station 25 miles (40 km) east of Isil'-Kul, north of which a number of Mennonite families settled.
Tokushi was a railroad station between Bulayevo and Petropavlovsk. Four miles (6.5) north of Tokushi was the Mennonite village of Friesenov, founded by Peter, Johann, Nikolai Friesen and others in 1901. This place was sometimes called Friesenhof or Perfilyevka after the former owners. Four miles (6.5 km) from Friesenov was the Mennonite village of Mikhaylovka. Some of the settlers here were Johann Dück, Wilhelm and Gerhard Janzen, and Peter Harder, ministers. They worshiped in school buildings. East of Tokushi, next to the railroad town of Asanovsky, was located the Mennonite village of Osanovo.
Additional Villages and Estates
These are the major Mennonite settlements, villages, and estates established by the Mennonites along the Trans-Siberian Railroad between the cities of Petropavlovsk and Omsk. The city of Petropavlovsk also had some Mennonites, among them Johann Friesen, who was the proprietor of a steam flourmill. North and east of the city of Omsk some additional Mennonite villages and estates were located, as follows:
Apostolic Brethren (Hermann Peters group); Apostolische Brüdergemeinde, a group founded by Hermann Peters in the Molotschna settlement as an independent branch of the Mennonite Brethren, who lived for a while in Crimea, and then moved to Siberia in 1900-1901, where they established the village of Trussovka, 25 miles (40 km) north of Omsk and Ivanovka. Another group settled northeast of Omsk on the Om River, six and one-half miles (10 km) from Valerino, and established Kiryanovka, Khaldeyevka, and Devyeterikovka. Numerous additional smaller and larger estates and industries were established. The settlers here were industrious and successful farmers, some of them engaging in dairying and the production of barley, oil, milling. Another village of Mennonites and Mennonite Brethren in this area was called Chortitza.
Maslyanovka and Smolyanovka
Maslyanovka and Smolyanovka were located about eight miles (13 km) north of the station of Novolyubino on the Omsk-Tyumen Railroad east of the Ob River. This land was not purchased like all other land of the Omsk Mennonite settlement, but was obtained through a government grant similar to the Slavgorod settlement land. Masylanovka was a regular Mennonite village with a school and with its own worship services. The minister was Peter Wiebe. Smolyanovka was located six miles (10 km) distant. The farmers lived on their own land and had their own school. The ministers were Martin Hübert and Nikolai Siemens.
There were some Mennonites at Kremlov, 20 miles (33 km) from Omsk. Near Barodin not far from Kremlov were some Mennonite estates owned by Philipp Wiebe, Jakob Rehann, David and Peter Unrau, Dietrich Kröker, and others. North of Omsk near Devyeterikovka (Deyatirikovo) there were some Mennonites who had come originally from Crimea. Neu-Dachnoye, south of the Trans-Siberian railroad station of Karatkansk, was the easternmost Mennonite village of the Omsk settlement.
Development of the Settlements
The total population of the Omsk Mennonite settlement was 3,512 in 1926. The amount of land owned and farmed by the Omsk Mennonites is hard to determine. It is variously estimated at 81,000 to 1,080,000 acres. This settlement prospered economically and overcame its pioneering difficulties much more rapidly than did the Slavgorod settlement. This was partly due to the fact that the settlers came with money, and above all that they settled along the railroad lines and did not encounter the severe pioneer difficulties of the Slavgorod settlers. They were as a rule close to the markets, some of them engaging in industry, milling, and business. The cultural level of the settlement was also higher than that of Slavgorod. Although they had difficulties in maintaining schools for smaller groups since they were much more scattered, they usually had qualified teachers and adequate teaching facilities. By 1911 a school board and a Zentralschule had been created in Kulomzino, the railroad station of Novo-Omsk. Among the teachers were Gerhard Gäde, Benjamin Schellenberg, and Jacob Hübert. After World War I a Mennonite secondary school was established in Margenau. Some of the teachers were Abram Schierling, Wilhelm Wilmsen, Jacob Epp, Aron Rempel, Suse Löwen, Agatha Friesen, Hans Braun, and Hans Legiehn. The school building burned down around 1923 but was rebuilt. The school was soon taken over by the Soviets but continued to function.
In 1921 there was a teachers' conference of all German teachers of West Siberia, in which the Slavgorod Mennonite teachers also participated. Some German professors of the University of Omsk were among the speakers. During and immediately after the Revolution the Mennonites of the Omsk settlement suffered severely, particularly those who had attained a certain status of prosperity as estate owners, businessmen, or industrialists. Many were put to death or exiled. In the 1920s some gradually found their way to Canada or later in the 1930s to South America. During the NEP period the economic life of the Omsk Mennonites was revived. They took active part in the program of the Allrussischer Mennonitischer Landwirtschaftlicher Verein (AMLV). A. J. Unger reported (Der Praktische Landwirt, June-July 1926: 11) that their co-operative had established a cheese factory which was functioning satisfactorily, that they had purchased some mills and were going into the milling industry, and that their seed selection program and other business operations were successful. In the same issue J. Epp reported that their co-operative had purchased 25 Fordson tractors and that they had made tremendous progress since 1921 when they had reached the lowest ebb; conditions had improved so much that the "American fever" was gradually disappearing, although some had left for Canada. P. F. Fröse, of Moscow, who visited the settlement during the winter of 1925-26, reported good progress. The AMLV had 500 members in Omsk. Soon collectivization, exile, and the suppression of organized religious activities were similar to those of the other Mennonite settlements. (See also Omsk Mennonite Church, and Tchunayevka Mennonite Brethren Church.)
Before, during, and after World War II many of the Mennonites who had been evacuated and exiled from the Ukraine were brought to the Omsk Region, some of whom are now located in the city of Omsk. Mrs. M. Friesen, formerly of Nieder-Chortitza, reported that she and others were living in Zontsovka, Isil'-Kul, Omsk Region (Bote, 17 August 1955: 7). Helena P. Petkau wrote that they were living near Luzino in Petrovka, Omsk Region, with other Mennonites; they met to sing and worship, but had no minister (Mennonitische Rundschau, 8 August 1955: 14).
Fast, Gerhard. In den Steppen Sibiriens. Rosthern, SK: J. Heese, 1957.
Hildebrand, J. J. Sibirien. Winnipeg, MB, 1952.
Unser Blatt I (1926): 129, 155, 174, 247, 308; II (1927): 333, 373; III (1927): 11, 15, 42, 73.
Cite This Article
Krahn, Cornelius. "Omsk Mennonite Settlement (Siberia, Russia)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 16 Apr 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Omsk_Mennonite_Settlement_(Siberia,_Russia)&oldid=135021.
Krahn, Cornelius. (1959). Omsk Mennonite Settlement (Siberia, Russia). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 16 April 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Omsk_Mennonite_Settlement_(Siberia,_Russia)&oldid=135021.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 58-60. All rights reserved.
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