Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him, for the Lord is your life! Deut. 30:20

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cemetery at 1st Mennonite in Pretty Prairie

February cemetery post ~

We are visiting cemeteries this year - ones that we have never seen before for the most part.  I find them so interesting!  This month I am posting on a cemetery we have been to many times though.  Where many of our family are buried.

   "Do not forget how the Lord your God has led you."  Deuteronomy 8:2

This is the First Mennonite Church outside of Pretty Prairie, Kansas.  If you ever go to the Pretty Prairie rodeo and come from Highway 17 (which recently was renamed to Highway 14 I heard), you will pass it.   It is the church my husband grew up going to and the church my daddy pastored for 6 years in the '70s.  When we were children, we called it the chocolate cake church.  That's what it looked like to us.

In the 1960's they made this addition to the front because the church was growing in numbers, but I love the look of the old and wish they could have kept it.

My grandparents told me that after Sunday evening services, the fellas would be on one porch and the girls on the other and they would make eyes at each other.  When Grandpa Carl and Grandma Martha got married in this church, it was a wintry night.  They snuggled under the blanket in the buggy and told the horse to go home.  He could find the way, blizzard or not.  And I think my grandparents had a  warm and cozy, fun time as it took the horse about an hour to plod home in the snow!

The first organization of the Mennonite Church took place in 1884 with 29 charter members.  They met in the home of one of the members. Land agents Brown and Bigger agreed to donate $50.00 toward a church if at least 9 sections were contracted for settlement.  And that is what happened.  The first building ended up becoming too small as more immigrants moved to the area, so a bigger one was built.    This one was destroyed by a tornado.  There were 2 more buildings (one destroyed by fire) before the "chocolate cake church" was built in 1928.

The cemetery is behind the church.

Many of the ancestors are from Russia (or Prussia), arriving in America in 1874, and before that they came from the Alcase, France and Switzerland area.

 Heilige Biebel - Holy Bible
They spoke German

 This has always been my favorite gravestone.

 My Dad's side of the family ~

       Grandpa Carl                                                        Grandma Martha

The story of the Vorans is quite interesting.  There was an orphan boy by the name of Paul.  He was an emaciated child of 5 and was following this man named Joseph Mundelheim.  Joseph was the son of a Roman Catholic nobleman thought to be a Count, Count Philip of Bavaria or Holland.  According to oral tradition, Joseph's father wanted him to enter the priesthood.  Joseph rebelled and ran away.  In his travels, he encountered the Mennonites and became enamored with their beliefs.  He married one of them, an Eliz Maurer.  The Mennonites at that time we traveling, seeking a place to live that would grant them religious liberty.  They were in Lemberg, Austria, (I've also heard that it was in Poland) in the late 1700's when Joseph ended up taking in this little boy, Paul, and raised him as a servant.  He gave him the last name "Voran", which means wanderer or traveler.

Paul Voran ended up in Edwardsdorf, Volhynia.  His grandson Jacob Voran emigrated to America.  My great-grandpa Peter (pictured below) was born a year after they arrived.  Grandpa Carl was born in McPherson County and then they moved to Pretty Prairie.  This is a picture of him with his parents.  His father died when he was 8 years old and his mother remarried.  They are buried elsewhere.


Grandma Martha's parents

My grandma's father was 3 years old when he came to America, and his parents were in their 50's.  I could not imagine taking my family and packing it all up in a trunk and emigrating to another country and having to learn a new language.  Grandpa married Caroline, a widow who was 12 years older than him.

Back Row, left to right:
Alfred, John - the son of Caroline from another marriage, Carl, Otto, Helene and husband, Gerhard Goering
Front Row, left to right:
Bertha, Grandma Caroline, Martha (my grandma), Grandpa Benjamin, Marie

to be continued....

1 comment:

Nellie Graber said...

My Grandmother was Maria A. Unruh and is the photo of the Unruhs. Mary married Ben P. Graber. My father was Merle Smick Graber and was their first child.
from Nellie Graber