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Travelling by Oxcart. A group from Sommerfeld on a ride at Eastertime. The Ox was the main form of transportation and motive power in the first years of settlement.

Credit: D. K. Friesen

Mennonite brethren from Kansas who tried to convince them not to go to Manitoba, because they would not be able to survive the winters.

Those who continued on to Manitoba, including all the leaders of the group, took a boat to Emerson. There they were given lodging in immigration sheds where they waited for the remainder of their group who had remained in Ontario to buy cattle. When the rest of the group arrived they started out for their allotted land. They travelled west with oxen, taking a number of days to reach their destination.

The Russian Mennonite immigrants who first came to the West Reserve in 1875 came from the Fuerstenland and Chortitz or "Old Colony" settlements in Russia. These were of the most conservative minded of all the Mennonite groups that came, and most intent in maintaining the traditional customs they had been accustomed to in Russia. Their conservatism made the Old Colony group a very self­ conscious and identifiable group.

These first settlers settled in villages on the western part of the reserve where soils were light and water and wood were near at hand. In 1875 alone, 300 families settled in 18 villages in the West Reserve. These included: Schoenwiese, Rosengart, Neuhorst, Neuendorf, Hochfeld, Neuenburg, Osterwick, Rosenthal, Chortitz, Blumenstein, Ebenfeld, Blumenfeld, Schanzenfeld and Rosenfeld. In 1876 and 1877, 176 more families arrived founding an additional seven villages:

Hoffnungsfeld, Eichenfeld, Gruenfeld, Waldheim, Kronsthal, Schoen­ feld, Schoendorf. 2