Immigration to America and Settlement in Kansas
In 1872 four young Mennonites traveled to the United States and visited various American Mennonite communities. One of the four, Bernhard Warkentin, remained in America and sent favorable reports back to Russia. In America the Swiss Volhynia were divided between settling in South Dakota and Kansas. The largest group in Kansas founded the Hoffnungsfeld Mennonite Church near Moundridge in 1874. American affluence cultivated a spirit of individualism and independence amongst the Swiss Volhynians. The Russian and East European Mennonites were not the first to settle in Kansas. That distinction goes to Old Order Amish and American Mennonites who settled in central Kansas beginning in 1870. The American Mennonites settled in Marion, eastern McPherson, and northern Harvey counties forming a conference in 1876 which eventually became known as the Kansas-Nebraska Conference of the Mennonite Church. The Americanization of the Mennonite Brethren church merits separate treatment due to an affinity for American revivalism and a historically close association with the Baptists.