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disruptive since over 70 per cent of the Sommerfelder membership remained behind.

The exodus of approximately 4,000 Mennonites from what had been the West Reserve sounded the death knell for the open field village economy. In fact a number of villages ceased to exist completely while others were weakened. All twenty-one Eichenfeld families left for Mexico as did most of the inhabitants of the villages of Kronsthal and Blumengart. Rosengart lost 25 families, Blumenort 20, while Reinland and Schoenwiese also lost a significant number of families. 27 In the case of Blumenort 20 of the 24 families left between 1922 and 1925 effec­ tively dissolving all village organizations and disrupting life as it had been. The Mennonite system of private schools also ended with the move to Mexico. Since the decision to emigrate had been a corporate one in most cases, those remaining behind had, by doing so, taken a stand of greater individualism. This emigration and accommodation not only broke any remaining resistance to the public schools, but made any united action virtually impossible until World War II.27

In some villages the cessation of village government also resulted in disputes among those that remained in Manitoba. Following the breakup of village government, villagers on the east side of the village of Reinland threatened to fence in all their land, including land that had been used as a street and schoolyard. This would have prevented a number of farmers from reaching their fields and petitions were sent to the Municipal council to prevent this. 28

The disappearance of the open field system was not the only economic consequence of the emigration. When the Reinlaender and Sommerfelder groups left they took all their belongings, livestock and cash assets with them. In the case of the Reinlaender Church, the entire Waisenamt relocated to Mexico. While the Sommerfelder Waisenamt remained in Manitoba, large amounts were withdrawn with it and from the Bergthaler Waisenamt. Both took years to recover from this cash outflow. 29

Business in Rhineland towns was also significantly affected by the exodus to Mexico. Particularly hard hit were the towns of Gretna and Plum Coulee, which had depended on the loyal business of the pros­ perous Reinlaender villages. Altona did not suffer as great a decline since most of the Bergthaler and Sommerfelder farmers that patronized the town's businesses, remained in Rhineland. While the existing Rein­ laender settlers were eventually replaced by incoming Russian Men­ nonite immigrants, business did not return to what it once was in Gretna and Plum Coulee." Thus, by the late 1920's Rhineland's trading hinter­ land had been significantly altered.

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