Schonfeld colony

The creation history of the colony and the list of villages founded by mennonites

The Schonfeld colony, also known as Brazol. It was founded in 1868, when 15 families from the Molochnaya colony bought a land of 4,873 acres. Their previous owner, a Russian officer Dmitry M. Brazol acquired 133,100 silver rubles in exchange for the lands sold to Mennonites. Dmitry Brazol knew well what Mennonite entrepreneurial attitude is. During the Crimea war, he would often visit settlements in Molochansk, where he spoke with Mennonites. During one of these visits, he said that he owned agricultural lands to the North from the Molochnaya colony.  Later, the Mennonites bought out this land, which found itself in the Alexandrovsky district of the Ekaterinoslav governorate, to the North of the Molochnaya (at a distance of 50km) and to the East of Khortytsia. The land was divided into tight sectors. There was also the small Gorkaya river flowing on the territory, which then flowed into the Tersa River. A road passed through the colony, which cut the lands in the South across. The farmer lands were situated between the river and the road. Since the households went in a row stretching for 10km, and they were figuratively called “the Brazol Line”.

Since not all peasants were engaged in farming, there was the village of Schonfeld built not far away. Later on, another settlement was established under the name of Rosenhof. In 1869, one more group of families from the Molochnaya colony arrived, which would buy the lands further south and parallel to the so called “Brazol Line”. Given that Mennonite bought the new land from a farmer with a surname Khonuk, it was called the Khonuk Line. Through these lands, too, flowed the Solona River and a road passed. All of the households were planted on the private land of peasants. As a consequence, an even bigger number of settlers arrived - some in groups, some in families. They would design new households and villages. In 1870, settlers from Prussia purchased lands of Hutterian residence, the previous owners of which migrated to the USA.
The Schonfeld colony was different from other colonies in the way of its construction. The Molochnaya, as a mother colony, supported settlers morally, but not financially. It didn’t help in organizing settlements either. What was also unusual was that the Russian authorities allowed them to form their own administration (volost), situated in the village of Shenfeld. Only the Mennonite lands submitted to the jurisdiction of the volost administration. The lands of Russians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Germans-Lutherans and Catholics, in spite of them finding themselves near the lands of Mennonites, didn’t submit to the rule of the administration. In 1875 and in 1879, new villages were founded – Blumenheim and Kronsberg, and then the Aihental country estate appeared. In 1885, additional lands were bought from a landowner Samiylenko, where the village of Shenbrunn was founded.

As opposed to other colonists, the people of the Schonfeld colony created farm households exclusively on private lands. Consequently, the villages of this colony weren’t alike to the Mennonite ones. Peasants’ estates took their places on only one side of a street, and a school and a church were either close by, or on the opposite side of the street.
The first settler houses were built from adobe brick and had thatched roofs. The roofs’ construction was wooden. Since the colony started to grow and richen fast, the first buildings were replaced with better ones, made of burnt brick. They were covered in tiles or metal. The way of designing of an estate was different, too. If the territory was large, houses and other household buildings were built far enough from each other.

If the strip of land was small, the houses, the horse barns and sheds would adjoin to the dwelling place and be separated from the residential section just by a small room into which an iron anti-fire door led. A typical house would have walls of 45cm in thickness. 
The horse barns would always be wooden, but its walls came with brick built into them. There was a drying barn near every stable, where the owners kept their agricultural machines. Nearby, in the open air, there was a place for a threshing machine. In the yard, there were workshops and a little warehouse for labor tools. Behind this complex, there was a cookhouse, where hired workers would live. The owners stored grains on top of the roofs of the buildings. Sometimes, a half of the roof would be layered with brick. It was another anti-fire tool. The houses-stables stood, of course, at a distance from 50 to 100m in depth from the street. The house was surrounded by garden flowers and gardens, and behind it there was a vegetable garden. Farmers who lived far from settlements designed a part of the land in the garden to be their own cemeteries. The vegetable gardens occupied up to 2 acres of land

The Schonfeld colony was very rich. Initially, the settlers were occupied with sheep breeding, but then they switched completely to grain cultivation. The land was so fertile, in fact, that it allowed to successfully grow all sorts of cultures. Peasants also had livestock. Gradually, the colony’s population grew up to 2000 people who lived in eight villages. The colony enumerated 202 private farmer households, situated on the 69,259-acre land. Most of the settlers were descendants from the Molochnaya, but some of them either came from Khortytsia, or migrated from Prussia
The first primary school in the colony was built in the Brazol Line in 1870. Later, 13 primary schools would operate in the colony.    In 1909, a secondary school was built in the village of Schonfeld. The Mennonite church of Schonfeld became an affiliate of the church of Lichtenau-Petershagen, situated in the Molochnaya; in 1883, here (in Schonfeld) a church-house was built. Gradually, church buildings were constructed in the village of Blumendorf and in Rosenhof. The year of 1902 was marked by the construction of a new administrative building in Schonfeld. The colony also had its own industry. Thus, two brick factories functioned in Rosenhof; in Schonfeld, there were a wagon factory, two oil presses, several brick factories and some other facilities. 

The village of Zilberfeld had a distillery (D. Shreder). At the Sofievka station, there were an agricultural machine factory (G. Noifeld) and two mills. In 1916, the cost of agricultural lands on the territory reached 600 rubles per acre.

Given that the people were well to do, and the settlements were not far from Huliai-Polem, the capital of Machno, the colony of Schonfeld suffered the most of Mennonite colonies during the Civil war. The cruelest fate befell upon the Brazol Line and the Khonuk Line, and on the Schonfeld village itself. People of Machno killed 45 settlers. In some places of the colony, people even created self-defense groups. But in 1919, nearly all the settlers left Schonfeld and moved to the Molochnaya. Several other families moved out the next year. The resettlement became the last milestone of the history of the Mennonite colony of Schonfeld. People of the neighboring villages took the former Mennonite houses apart, using the brick to construct new villages. Today, on the site of the former colony, there are almost no traces of Mennonites’ staying left.

List of Mennonite settlements in the Schonfeld colony:

Village name - another name - group name

Eichenthal (1875–1879)

Blumenheim (circa 1875) - Verbovskoe - Danilovka

Blumenfeld (1848) - Zagoryanskoe

Brasol (1868) - Aspic

Silberfeld (circa 1839) - Komsomolskoye

Kronsberg (1879) - Ostapovskoe

Rosengoff (1868) - Unnamed

Khonyuks (1869)

Schönbrunn (1885)

Schonfeld (1868) - Krasnopolye - Barvinovka 






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Mennonites in Orekhovo​

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