Ethnic Settlement: Hutterites, Part One
Hutterites first started moving to Alberta from South Dakota in 1917. As pacifists, they wished to avoid service in the American military when conscription was forced upon them.
It was not the first time Hutterites migrated to avoid persecution for their beliefs and communal lifestyle.
As historian David Leonard explains, it's been a part of their heritage since the 1600s.
Well, the Hutterites were originally from various locations in Germany and the Low Countries, and Austro-Hungary, in the 17th century, during the Reformation period. And they took advantage of Gutenberg's new invention, the printing press, to spread literacy among the people, and many smaller groups of people spread around the rural areas of Germany began to read the Bible on their own, and take certain passages of it and try to apply them to their everyday life.
Like many people of the time, those who eventually became Hutterites began to question the practices of the Roman Catholic Church.
And they took certain passages of the Bible, like Acts 2:44, where it said, "And all that believed were together and held things in common," lived commonly, like the first century Christians, it was felt, by many. And also, in Romans, 12:2, they read, "be not conformed to this world."
And so, led by an individual named Jacob Hutter, they refused to conform, refused to enter the army. They were persecuted. They developed larger cells for self-protection, as well as living communally, until the 18th century, when the more enlightened Czaress of Russia, Catherine the Great, granted them lands in Moravia, and other areas of her empire, where she agreed that they could live according to their own faith.
But later czars were less tolerant and tried to force the Hutterites to give up their faith and take up arms.
So, by the 1870s, the Hutterites began immigrating to the plains of North America, where they would be free to farm and practice their beliefs without interference.
On the Heritage Trail,
I'm Cheryl Croucher.