Walter (Walther) family

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Walter is the oldest Hutterite name still in existence. The earliest Anabaptist member of this family was Franz Walter, a barber-surgeon from Oetisheim near Maulbronn, Württemberg, who immigrated to Moravia in the 1580s to join the Hutterites. In 1597 he was made preacher at the Pribitz Bruderhof in Moravia. In 1621, at the height of the Thirty Years' War and the Hapsburg persecutions, he left Moravia for Slovakia. In the same year he, together with 183 other persons, crossed through Hungary to Transylvania, obeying an urgent invitation by Prince Bethlen Gabor. Franz Walter became the Vorsteher or bishop of the group which settled at Alwinz. He did not enjoy the newly found peace very long, for he died in that same year of 1621. Nothing more about the Walters is reported in the Hutterite Chronicle, and the Smaller Chronicle reports nothing until 1746, when a Zacharias Walter was made elder in Sobotište, Slovakia. Zacharias eventually turned Catholic in 1763, and only one of his children, Jacob (1740-85), immigrated to the Ukraine in 1784. It is from Jacob Walter that all later Hutterite Walters descend. (There are still some Walters in Slovakia among the Catholic Habaners.) This Jacob had a son Jacob (1770-1855), who in 1818 left communal living to own private property in Radichev, Ukraine. His grandson Darius Walter (1835-1903), however, was one of the few men who re-established the community of goods in Russia in 1860. In 1874 Darius Walter's family came to North America and established the Wolf Creek Bruderhof near Freeman, South Dakota. In recognition of their leader this group adopted the name "Dariusleut." The nephew of Darius was Elias Walter, Jr., the revitalizer of the entire brotherhood. Today the Walter family is widespread and numerous among the Hutterites, almost a clan in itself.


Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-bücher der Weidertäufer in Oesterriech-Ungarn. Vienna, 1883.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. IV, 462.

Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer I. Band, Herzogtum Württemburg. Leipzig, 1930.

Zieglschmid, A. J. F. Das Klein-Geschichtsbuch der Hutterischen Brüder. Philadelphia: Carl Schurz Memorial Foundation, 1947.

Author(s) Robert Friedmann
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Friedmann, Robert. "Walter (Walther) family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 17 May 2022.

APA style

Friedmann, Robert. (1959). Walter (Walther) family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 May 2022, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 882. All rights reserved.

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