Waldeck (Germany)

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Map of Waldeck, showing the border between Westphalia and Hesse-Nassau.
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Waldeck, formerly a small principality between Westphalia on the north and west and Hesse-Nassau on the south and east, capital Arolsen. It remained independent until 1867 when the administration of government was turned over to Prussia. The prince, however, remained on the throne until 13 November 1918, when Waldeck became a Free State. In 1929 it was completely merged with Prussia. The village of Waldeck (pop. 900 in 1959; 7,770 in 2004) lies in the province of Hesse-Nassau.

An Amish community existed in Waldeck and the neighboring territories of Wittgenstein, Berleburg, and Hesse for at least a century. In all the issues of the Dutch Naamlijst that reported German congregations, 1766-1810, Waldeck, Wittgenstein, and Berleburg all appear as congregations with separate ministerial lists. In 1766 Berleburg is described as 10 (2 German miles) miles from Wittgenstein and Wittgenstein as 18 (4 German miles) miles from Marburg (Hesse). The introduction to the 1797 edition of the Elbing Catechism states, "We elders and ministers of the Mennonite Church, who live in Hesse and Waldeck, have united to publish anew this catechism," but the title page says the booklet is published by "die Christliche Gemeine im Waldeckischen welche Mennonisten benennet werden." The Naamlijst calls all three congregations "Zwitzers." Apparently the scattered families lived not too far apart to think of themselves as one church, and it is known that the families were interrelated.

The Naamlijst reports as ministers for the Waldeck congregations: 1766, Michael Güngerich, Johannes Schänebeck, Christian Güngerich, Hans König, Christian Güngerich Jr.; 1769, the same except Schänebeck; 1780, Hans König as elder (ord. 1770), Christian Güngerich as elder (ord. 1773), and Bäntz Schwartztrauben (ord. 1775); 1784, the same two elders plus Peter Güngerich and Christian Güngerich Jr.; 1786, 1793, 1802, and 1810, the same. For Wittgenstein only one appears, always David Ekker 1766-1810 (ord. 1760). For Berleburg likewise only one appears 1766-1810, always Michael Güngerich (ord. 1775), in 1766 called Jr.

The meetings were certainly held in rotation in the homes. The meeting which decided on publishing the catechism is stated in the introduction to have been held on a farm called Mittelhof in Niederhessen 11 December 1796. From information secured from descendants who migrated to America c1831-35, two locations in Waldeck are known as places of residence; Mengeringhausen in Waldeck, where Christian Schwartzentruber was born in 1765, and where he operated a mill at the edge of town called the Galgenmühle; Hüninghausen, an estate near Helsen in Waldeck, where Christian Güngerich rented a dairy farm in 1743. (These two places are about 1.5 miles apart, some 20 miles west of Kassel. Reinhardtshausen in Waldeck is also named as an Amish address in 1818.)

Among the family names known to have been found among the Amish in this general area including Hesse-Nassau, were Güngerich, Schwartzentruber, Schönbeck, Otto, Brenneman, Bender, Roth, Schöttler(?). The John Bender family immigrated to Somerset County, Pennsylvania, in 1851 from Oberweimar near Marburg in Hesse. The source of these families is not certain, but it was probably Alsace. In 1738 a Christian Güngerich formerly living on the Fleckstein Hof willed to Christian Güngerich the estate of Rödern in Northern Alsace.

Most of the Amish families of Waldeck and Hesse immigrated to Canada and the United States in the period 1830-60. The first location was Somerset County, Pennsylvania, near Springs, and Grantsville, Garrett County, Maryland. Another was west of Kitchener, Ontario. A third was Kalona, Iowa, although most of the settlers came to this region from Somerset County or its daughter settlement in Holmes County, Ohio. A few families, among them the Güngerich family, came first to Fairfield County, Ohio, then to Kalona. A considerable number of 20th-century Mennonite (Mennonite Church) and Amish ministers and teachers descend directly from the Waldeck-Hesse group, among them S. C. Yoder, Simon Gingerich, Amos Gingerich, Paul Guengerich, Orland Gingerich, Melvin Gingerich, A. Lloyd Swartzendruber, Elmer Swartzendruber, D. H. Bender, H. S. Bender, Paul Bender, Ezra Bender. A majority of the Springs-Grantsville Mennonite and Amish membership of today, as well as about half of the Johnson County, Iowa, Mennonite and Amish groups, descend from the Waldeck-Hesse Amish.

The group who remained in Waldeck-Hesse gradually died out, and by the late 19th century had completely disappeared. A Paul Güngerich of Plettenburg, Westphalia, in 1957 reported that his parents were Mennonites and that he had been reared a Mennonite. The complaint of Christian Gingerich, a tenant of the Fiddemühlen farm in 1859, may be indicative of conditions: "He has for some time been unable to satisfy his religious needs in the Mennonite society because the sermons of the Mennonite preachers annoy rather than edify and even cause merriment. Also the celebration of the sacraments, especially that of the Holy Lord's Supper, were conducted without sanctity and the preceding ordinance of footwashing takes place with gross joking." In the absence of any representation of the Waldeck-Niederhesse congregation at the Oriental (near St. Goarshausen) Amish Conference of 20-21 May 1867, it may be assumed that the congregation had died out by that time. The congregation had been represented in the notable Essingen Amish Conference of 1779 in the Palatinate by Christian Güngerich and Hans Schwartzentruber. Many of the descendants of the now extinct congregation joined the state church in Hesse and Waldeck. One of them, a Brenneman, is now serving as a Lutheran district superintendent in Hesse. The Hüninghausen estate was in the possession of the Güngerich family until World War I.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Waldeck (Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 25 Mar 2019. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Waldeck_(Germany)&oldid=134493.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1959). Waldeck (Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 March 2019, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Waldeck_(Germany)&oldid=134493.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 873-874. All rights reserved.

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