Volendam Colony (San Pedro Department, Paraguay)

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1958 Article

The Volendam Colony in Paraguay was founded 1 July 1947, when the 57,000-acre tract of land occupied by the colony at Mbopicua on the east side of the Paraguay River near the Friesland Colony, 8 miles north of Rosario, was purchased. The settlers (1,135 people in 295 families) were part of the contingent which had been brought to South America by the Volendam, having been rescued out of Berlin. Another large group of the Volendam passengers settled contemporaneously in the Neuland Colony near Fernheim Colony. C. A. Defehr of Winnipeg, the Mennonite Central Committee representative for this purpose in Paraguay, had chosen the location and arranged the land purchase. Two additional small groups of immigrants arrived in Volendam from Europe in 1948. A group of some 50 came on the Stuart Heinzelman to Buenos Aires in July 1948. In November 1948 a larger group of 447 for Volendam arrived in Buenos Aires on the second voyage of the Volendam. Thus the total immigrant group of settlers in Volendam in 1948 was almost 1,723.

The first 1,135 settlers established 12 villages, with a cooperative and a Waisenamt. The river harbor was named Puerto Menno. In 1950 Volendam had 15 villages with a total population of 1,810 in 441 families on 441 farms, and 8 elementary schools. Most of the land was heavily wooded, though fertile, and had to be cleared by hand. The economic progress of the colony was slow, and a considerable number of persons migrated to Canada, so that in 1959 the total Volendam population was only ca. 1200. In 1950 the total church membership was 938--800 in the Mennonite Church and 138 in the Mennonite Brethren Church. -- Harold S. Bender

1989 Update

Volendam Colony was founded in 1947 by immigrants from Russia via Germany. The landscape is slightly rolling with forest and lowland alternating. The forest lands, when cleared, were well suited to the cultivation of wheat, soya beans, and feed grains, while the lowlands were used for grazing of cattle herds. The colony possessed a total of 32,700 hectares (80,800 acres) in 1986 which was divided into 100 hectares (250 acres) per family. In 1987 the colony’s population of 676 people lived in twelve villages.

Administrative patterns closely resemble those developed in Russia, with an administrator (mayor Oberschulze) and four advisers responsible for colony affairs. A hospital as well as an elementary and a secondary school served the colony, as did a retirement home and a producer-consumer cooperative. The latter was responsible for the sale of colony products as well as the supplying of necessary items for colony life through its cooperative store.

In the spiritual realm two congregations were organized by 1987, the Volendam Mennonite congregation (General Conference Mennonite) with 269 members and the Volendam Mennonite Brethren congregation with 52 members. These congregations were not only gathered for worship, but were also responsible for the education and training of young people and for missionary activity. Both congregations worked closely together and were also related to their South American and North American conferences and to Mennonite World Conference. -- Abram Funk


Fretz, J. Winfield. Pilgrims in Paraguay. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1953.

Funk, Abram, editor. 25 Jahre Volendam, 1947-1972. Curitiba, Brazil, 1972.

Handbook of Information, General Conference Mennonite Church. Newton, KS (1988): 40.

Mennonitisches Jahrbuch (1984): 158.

Quiring, Walter. Im Schweisse Deines Angesichts. Steinbach, MB, 1953.

Author(s) Harold S. Bender
Abram Funk
Date Published 1989

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S. and Abram Funk. "Volendam Colony (San Pedro Department, Paraguay)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 27 Sep 2023. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Volendam_Colony_(San_Pedro_Department,_Paraguay)&oldid=133885.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. and Abram Funk. (1989). Volendam Colony (San Pedro Department, Paraguay). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 27 September 2023, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Volendam_Colony_(San_Pedro_Department,_Paraguay)&oldid=133885.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 843; vol. 5, pp. 916-917. All rights reserved.

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