By Twila Garber (Hilty)
A Research Paper presented to the Department of Church History Bethel
College in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the course Our Christian Heritage, Winfield Frets, Instructor
North Newton, Kansas. May 7, 1954
This history is incomplete in many places due to time limitations and absence from the community about which this is written. This is not intended to be a parallel study of the two churches. This project has revealed to me the possibilities of a more complete history which I should like to explore further sometime if possible.
I owe my thanks to a number of the members of the Mt. Zion and Bethel Churches in Missouri, my mother, and the Bethel College Historical Library, who have all been especially helpful in giving me the information necessary for this study.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- The Early Settlement
- The Bethel Mennonite Church
- The Mt. Zion Mennonite Church
- Social and Economic Influences
Tables and Graphs
- Arrival of Early Settlers
- Ministers of Bethel Church
- Bethel Church Membership
- Contributions of Bethel Mennonite Church
- Charter Members of Mt. Zion Church
- Ministers of Mt. Zion Church
- Mt. Zion Church Membership
History of the Mennonites of Moniteau
and Morgan Counties, Missouri
The history of the Mennonites of Moniteau and Morgan counties, began when several Mennonite families emigrated from Canton Barne, Switzerland to America about 1819. They settled in Wayne County, Ohio. Soon a large number of Mennonites from Switzerland joined them, forming the “Sonnenberg” Church. By the and of the Civil War the community had grown to number ninety families. Because the price of land was very high, there was a desire to find a suitable location for a colony in the west where the young people of that community could buy cheaper land.
In October 1865, Peter P. Lehman Sr., Ulrich Welty, and Christian Loganbill composed a delegation to find a suitable location for such a colony in Missouri. They journeyed westward through northern Missouri and southern Iowa to Kansas state line, returning eastward along the line of the Missouri Pacific railway, viewing many localities. They finally found a suitable location about eight miles south of Tipton, Missouri on open grass prairie of the Ozark upland. The land was bought for twenty-five dollars per acre for timber land and fifteen dollars per acre for prairie. Christian Loganbill bought a farm conditionally. He, together with his brother, John, Christian Gerber, John Lehman, and Ulrich Aeschbacher with their families left the Sonnenberg community for Missouri and settled near Tipton in Morgan and Moniteau Counties the following April.
This was one of the oldest Mennonite settlements west of the Mississippi River. A few Amish had already settled in Iowa and in the 1850’s some Mennonites had located in Shelby County, Missouri. However, very few Mennonites of Swiss descent had settled that far west prior to that time.
For many years the church seems to have been an emigrant church. The church grew rapidly at first. By 1869 the settlement consisted of thirty-fire families, some seventy members, who had come from a dozen different communities. The following is a list of the pioneer families which came between 1865 to 1877, date of arrival, and the locality from which they came to Missouri.
|Date of Arrival||Early Settlers||Locality Came From|
|April, 1866||Christian Loganbill||Wayne County, Ohio|
|April, 1866||John Loganbill||Wayne County, Ohio|
|April, 1866||Christian Garber||Wayne County, Ohio|
|April, 1866||John Lehman||Wayne County, Ohio|
|April, 1866||Ulrich Aeschbacher||Wayne County, Ohio|
|October, 1866||Peter P. Lehman||Wayne County, Ohio|
|November, 1866||Peter C. A. Lehman||Wayne County, Ohio|
|April, 1867||Adam Basinger||Putman County, Ohio|
|April, 1867||Jacob S. Leib||Niagara County, New York|
|October, 1867||Jacob Beutler||Polk County, Ohio|
|October, 1867||Martin Freuy||Polk County, Ohio|
|October, 1867||Martin Good||Kent County, Michigan|
|October, 1867||Emanuel O. Weber||Kent County, Michigan|
|October, 1867||Peter L. Welty||Wayne County, Ohio|
|February, 1868||Daniel Neuschwander||Polk County, Iowa|
|March, 1868||Peter P. Lehman, Jr.||Wayne County, Ohio|
|March, 1868||Daniel Loganbill||Wayne County, Ohio|
|March 1868||Peter Loganbill||Wayne bounty, Ohio|
|April, 1868||Lorenz Horchheimer, Sr.||Joseph County, Indiana|
|June, 1868||John Beutler||Polk County, Iowa|
|August, 1868||John Newschwander||Polk County, Iowa|
|August, 1868||Peter Newschwander||Polk County, Iowa.|
|August, 1868||John Singer||Polk County, Iowa|
|October, 1868||Noah Basinger||Mahoning County, Iowa|
|October, 1868||Ulrich Welty||Wayne bounty, Ohio|
|October, 1868||Abraham Baumgartner||Wayne County, Ohio|
|February, 1869||Christian Detwiler||Kent County, Michigan|
|February, 1869||A. J. Moser||Wayne County, Ohio|
|February 1869||Christian Ramseier||Wayne bounty, Ohio|
|March, 1869||Christian Welty||Wayne County, Ohio|
|March 1869||Daniel Brundage||Elkhart County, Indiana|
|April, 1869||John Schneider||Elkhart County, Indiana|
|April, 1869||David Kauffman||Elkhart County, Indiana|
|April, 1869||Abraham Wenger||Rockingham County, Virginia|
|April, 1869||Gabriel Wennet||Bucks County, Pennsylvania|
|October, 1869||Samuel Baser||Elkhart County, Indiana|
|November, 1869||Abraham Bloseer||Livingston County, Illinois|
|December, 1869||John Wenger||Cambria County, Pennsylvania|
|March 1870||David Schenck, Jr.||Rockingham County, Virginia|
|March 1870.||Daniel F. Driver||Rockingham bounty, Virginia|
|March 1870||Jacob Huber||Putman County, Ohio|
|April, 1870||Jonas Detwiler||Kent County, Michigan|
|May, 1870||David Schenck, Sr.||Rockingham County, Virginia|
|May, 1870||Melchia Brenneman||Rockingham County, Virginia|
|February, 1671||Jacob Blosser||Rockingham County, Virginia|
|April, 1871||John C. Driver||Rockingham County, Virginia|
On April 21, 1867, John Schmidt and Jacob Pletscher, minsters and elders of the Mennonite church at Summerfield, Illinois, visited the new colony to observe holy communion for the first time. Nineteen persons took part. This was the time when the Bethel Church was officially founded and organized. During the first three years the congregation had no minister; however they met in the homes of the various members every second Sunday. The services usually consisted of Scripture reading, singing, prayer, and sometimes one would read a sermon and give exhortations on it. The services were held in German. By 1869 the congregation felt the need for a resident minister. Four men were elected from other churches to come and serve. These were Peter Neuenschwander, John Singer, Daniel Brundage, and John Schneider. The two latter preached regularly every two weeks, but the former two, however, excused themselves with timidity. They were later released of their duties and remained faithful members of the church.
The first death among the early settlers was that of Katharina, wife of Jacob Beutler, on October 30, 1867. The first couple to be married in the new settlement was Peter L. Welty and Elizabeth Lehman. They were married in the home as there was no church at that time by a Baptist minister, Rev. Robinson on February 27, 1868. In the new settlement a “singing” welcomed every newly married couple. The “singings” were usually held in the home of the groom’s parents and the entire church was invited. Refreshments of candy and water are usually served. This custom is still carried on today.
Prior to 1870 the people met in private homes and. school houses for Sunday school and preaching services; however they were such too small for such meetings. In 1869 a building committee was elected composed of Martin Good, P.P. Lehman, Sr., J. B. Neuenschwander, Christian Welty, and Rev. Brundage. They bought two and one half acres of land for one hundred fifteen dollars from Noah Basinger. Peter Althaus and Daniel Brundage were contracted to do the building for one thousand fifty dollars. The money was raised by equal taxation. The church building was thirty-six by forty-eight feet with a seating capacity of two hundred people. The first service was held on July 3, 1870. The building was later enlarged in 1897. It was no longer used after 1909 and sold at public auction for two hundred dollars in 1913.
It has already been noted that the congregation was composed of both Swiss and American Mennonites. Naturally people coming from so many different parts of the country varied considerably in their customs and doctrinal questions: however during the early years of the settlement these differences were overlooked in order to keep the church unified. But in the spring of 1871 the peace of the church was seriously threatened. The main issue was that of feetwashing. The result was a peaceful separation into two churches. Fifty-one of the Swiss Mennonites remained in the Bethel Church. They agreed to pay the remaining debts on the church building. The other group formed what it known as Mt. Zion Church. A spirit of harmony has existed between the two churches since that time.
After the division of the settlement into two Mennonite churches in 1871 the fifty-one members who remained with Bethel Church drew up a constitution which was adopted August 30, 1871. In 1873 it was decided to hold a regular annual business meeting. The proceedings were to be recorded in the Church Record and the Church Chronicle. Again in 1896–97 the constitution was revised and printed in pamphlet form. Some additional revisions were made again in 1920 and in the following years to meet the needs of the changing congregation. The pastor, three deacons, a clerk, the chairman, and three trustees constitute the church council. The deacons and trustees are elected for a term of three years. The chairman and secretary are elected annually. The pastor is supported by a small salary, but he is expected to earn what more he needs.
In 1876 A. J. Moser was sent to Halstead, Kansas, to represent Bethel Church in the Western District Conference. This was the first time the church was associated with any conference. Bethel Church entertained the Western District Conference in 1880 and again in 1886. In 1889 it was decided to send the delegate to the Middle District Conference instead of to the Western District Conference. The church entertained the Middle District Conference in the fall of 1894 and again in 1910 and 1936. Since that time the church has tried to send delegates to the Middle District Conference and to the General Conference. The pastor is usually delegated to represent the church and lay members attend whenever possible.
During the early years of Bethel Church several Ministers from different states served the church on special occasions quite frequently. The following is a list of the full time ministers serving Bethel Church.
|Ministers||Years of Service|
|P. P. Lehman, Jr.||1871–1903|
|M. S. Moyer||1878–1901|
|D. D. King||1905–1913|
|J. M. Regier||1913–1915|
|D. D. King||1915–1919|
|Peter P. Hilty||1919–1926|
|John D. Warkentin||1927–1932|
|Clyde H. Dirks||1932–1936|
|E. A. Albrecht|
The church increased rapidly in members as the settlement grew during the first few years after the church was founded. The graph on the following page shows how the number of members has varied. A class to instruct candidates for baptism is held once every several years. Today the usual age for baptism is between the ages of thirteen and fifteen; however there is no set age and some are baptized older or younger. Sprinkling is practiced as the form of baptism.
Mention has already been made of the first communion service held in 1867. Until 1879 various ministers served the church with communion when two of the resident ministers were ordained bishops and elders. In 1887 it was decided to hold communion twice a year, a practice which has been continued since that time. Communion is open to all who are members of the body of Christian believers and have peace with Jesus Christ.
These German speaking people held their church services in the German language for many years. A German parochial school was organized in 1878, Rev. M. S. Moyer being the first teacher. It was generally held during July and August for six to eight weeks every summer. The school met in the church house and general subjects were taught with special emphasis on the Bible. During World War I German was thought impractical and the school was discontinued. The German language gradually disappeared among the members and today only few of the older members of the congregation speak German. The German parochial school was the forerunner of the Daily Vacation Bible School. Today Bible School is held for two weeks every summer. For a period of years Bible school was held together with the Mt. Zion Mennonite Church.
In 1873 a resolution was passed to have a regular monthly offering. This money was sent to help the Mennonites in Russia who were suffering in the yellow fever epidemic. During the years 1873–75 the church sent over two hundred twenty-five dollars to the Russian Mennonites in Kansas in addition to twenty-two sacks of flour, thirty-six hams and other provisions. In 1875 five families from Russia and Poland arrived at Tipton, Missouri, who were fed and cared for through the winter by the church. These were Whitzki(?), Montez, Ratzleff, Goertz, and Crowberger. Two of the families remained in the community. In 1878 it was decided to hold quarterly collections for missions. These were the beginnings of the relief work and interest in missions. The table on the following page shows the amount of money contributed in more recent years to local church work, foreign missions, home missions, and relief.
By 1907 the people began to feel the need for a new church building. Plans were made and the actual building operations began in the summer of 1908 and the new church was finished the next year and dedicated on August 23, 1909. The size of the building is fifty-four by fifty-six feet with a seating capacity of about three hundred fifty on the main floor and one hundred fifty in the balcony. The approximate cost of the building was seven thousand dollar. The money was raised by equal taxation and the last debt was paid by 1913. It has been in use ever since that time. The cemetery is right beside the church. A parsonage was purchased in 1919 located near the church.
Evangelistic meetings were held as early as 1872 with Rev. C. Krehbiel as the guest speaker. Twelve were baptized. Evangelistic meetings have been held almost every year since that time, generally in the fall of the year.
|CONTRIBUTIONS OF BETHEL MENNONITE CHURCH|
|Year||Local Church||Foreign Missions||Home Missions||Relief||Total|
|1905||$ 200||$ 23||$ 62||$||$ 346|
From the very beginning there was interest in music in the church service. A chapel organ was bought in 1910. Today a piano is used. A choral society developed and for many years the church had one of the best choirs in the surrounding community.
Prayer meetings were started in 1887. They have continued at various intervals, depending largely on the wishes of the minister. Today a mid-week prayer and Bible study service is held every Wednesday evening in the church or in the homes of the various members.
The Sunday School was started in 1867 “to instruct the children in reading, writing, and spelling, to sing with them and to impress the religious truths in their minds.” The Sunday School met in the homes and school houses at first and was well attended. By 1871 the enrollment had reached sixty-five. From time to time new departments were added. Prior to 1914 the Primary Department became a regular part of the Sunday School. In 1915 the Cradle Roll and the Home Departments were added. Today the Sunday School is very important auxiliary of the church. The Sunday School sponsors the Annual Christmas program. Every Christmas eve the congregation gathers at the church to hear the children give their Christmas recitations followed by a pageant given by the young people of the Sunday School. The children look forward to the sack of candy which the Sunday School superintendent passes out at the close of the program. The Sunday School also sponsors the annual Fourth of July picnic. Young and old gather in a nearby timber for a day of relaxation. The children look forward to “swimming in the creek,” the men look forward to a good game of baseball while the women watch and visit. A business meeting is held once a year and new officers are nominated.
A Christian Endeavor was organized as early as 1895. It has continued to be active since that time, except for having a short interruption In 1903–1905. It became affiliated with the District and State Christian Endeavor Organization. In the years 1933 and 1935 It was honored by the Missouri State Christian Endeavor Organization for the splendid and faithful work that it had accomplished. The group has come to work with the Middle District Conference young people and has furnished some officers for their organization. They also support the Young Peoples Union of the General Conference. The custom has been for many years to meet every Sunday evening. The program generally consists of several topics discussed by young people, sometimes panel discussion, quizzes, hymn sings, etc. Various projects have been undertaken such as singing for shut-ins, visiting poor farm inmates, gospel meetings at Gravois Mills, etc. In 1948 a project of giving regular monthly programs at a Training School for Negro Girls at Tipton, Missouri; it has continued since that time. A big event in the year is the annual retreat held on the Lake of the Ozarks. It was begun in 1934 under the leadership of Rev. C. H. Dirks. A guest speaker has charge of morning and evening services. The retreat is usually concluded with a basket dinner at the church on Sunday which the entire church attends. Another highlight of the year is New Year’s eve when the young people visit every home in the church to welcome in the New Year while they sing:
“We have Come to wish you dear ones
A happy glad now year;
Twelve months of constant blessing
Filled up with right dood cheer.”
They are usually invited into the homes, no matter what time of the night, where they are served homemade candy. Hera they sing:
“God grant you may live and enjoy the new year …
Good fortune and blessing to dwell in your home …
In heaven before the great heavenly throne
God grant you reward in that heavenly home.”
The “serenaders” are usually not done until three o’clock in the morning. This custom is believed to have been begun soon after the church was first founded. The songs are the same year after year. Every child looks forward to the tine when he will be old enough to go “serenading.” The Christian Endeavor also sponsors an annual missionary conference. A missionary on furlough is the guest speaker. A business meeting is held twice a year and officers are elected for a term of six months.
A Junior Christian Endeavor has also been started. It, too, meets every Sunday evening. The children sing and often have little progress patterned after those of the Senior Christian Endeavor. For a number of years each child was given “God’s dollar and told to make it earn as much as possible. This proved quite successful and a surprising amount of money was raised for missions and relief, Thera have been other projects from time to time. Two women are elected each year by the Senior Christian Endeavor to plan and supervise their work.
The Bethel Missionary Society began on July 4, 1887 when several sisters met to arrange a sewing society. It began with only ten members. During the first few years they sent much of their sewing to mission stations in Oklahoma, Arizona, Montana, and India. During World Wars I and II some sewing was done for the Red Cross. They have been serving lunches at sales which is a service as well as a means of making extra money. Their meetings are held once a month where they work together. They often sponsor a mother and daughter banquet. They help those in the community who suffer loss from fire. They have had various projects from time to time and have been a very active organization. They also sponsor a Junior Missionary Society during the summer months.
In 1946 a Men’s Brotherhood was organized. This organization holds its meetings every month. They sponsor a relief sale every year. The men donate cattle, grain, or whatever they can and the women make things to sell. It is sold at public auction at the parsonage. These have been very successful. The Mt. Zion Church, too, sometimes makes contributions. The money raised in this way is used for relief and missions, sometimes to help local families who have suffered loss by fire. They are also trying to help Mennonite young men to get started on the farm. They, too, have been a very active organization.
Unlike any other Bernese Anabaptist churches that joined the General Conference the church has held to their nonresistant position. During World War I three men were drafted from the church, but only one did regular military service while the other two did noncombatant duty. During World War II nine were drafted; eight went into Civilian Public Service camps. During this war there have been eight drafted; there are three in 1–2 service and one in non-combatant service.
The Bethel Church has had a number of its sons and daughters to enter full time Christian service. Dr. Ella (Garber) Bauman sailed for India in 1925 as a missionary and Ina Garber sailed for the Indian mission field in 1953. Among those who entered the ministry are Rev. Joe Aeschbacher, Rev. Hiram H. Hilty, Rev. Harley King, Rev. John Moyer, from Bethel Church.
The group that left the Bethel Church in 1871 immediately organized the Mt. Zion Mennonite Church. As in the Bethel Church there was much moving in and out during the first few years causing a lack of unity. The following is a list of the charter members:
|Daniel Brundage||no knowledge|
|David Shank, Jr.||descendants are in community today|
|Christian Dettwiler||moved to Michigan|
|Jonas H. Dettwiler||moved to Indiana|
|Mrs. Sarah Wenger||descendants are in community today|
|Daniel F. Driver||descendants are in community today|
|John C. Driver||descendants are in community today.|
|Peter Blosser||moved to Indiana|
|Jacob Shank||descendants are in community today|
|Samuel Shank||no knowledge|
|Jacob Blosser||his widow moved to Virginia|
|Emannuel Harcheemers||moved to Kansas|
|Samuel Ramer||descendants are in community today|
|Martin Good||moved to Kansas|
|David D. Kauffman||descendants are in community today|
The church has one bishop and one deacon. The ministers do not receive a fixed salary, but earn much of their living by farming. There is no parsonage owned by the church. The first ministers of the church were David Kauffman and Daniel F. Driver. It is hard to trace the exact years of service since often several ministers served the church at one time. On the following page is a list of the ministers who have served the congregation.
|Ministers||Years of Service|
|Daniel F. Driver||1871–1920|
|Joe C. Driver||1896–?||(bishop)|
|C. B. Driver||1920–|
|John R. Shank||1937–||(bishop)|
During the first few years after the church was organized the membership averaged about forty. The earliest records of the church have been lost; therefore it is impossible to give an entire account of the church in its earliest years. Below is a graph showing how the membership has varied since 1905.
ZION CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
During the first few years the congregation met in the Fisher School House, now known as Prairie Valley. Services were held every other Sunday, alternating with a Dunkard (or Church of the Brethren) congregation who also hold services in the school house. This was continued for about four years. In 1876 the congregation decided to build the Mt. Zion Church. The building was twenty-four by forty feet in size. The Dunkards held their services on alternate Sundays in the Mt. Zion Church for the next four years until they built their own church in 1881, known as Prairie View Church. Even after this the two churches continued to alternate their services for a number of years in order that some of the people could attend both services. A cemetery was started beside the present Mt. Zion Church a few years previous to the building of the church. A new church was later built similar to the first one; it was thirty-six by fifty-four feet in size.
The chief problem during the earlier years of the church was that of holding the young people. A skeptical school teacher influenced some of the young people to the point that some became unbelievers and did not join the church. These tragic conditions lasted for about ten years; there were practically no converts during this time. As in most of the Old Mennonite churches of that time, revival meetings were a mark of worldliness and were not held in their churches; however the church felt something must be done. In 1883 they called J. S. Coffman to hold a series of meetings which resulted in the conversion of five people. He continued to hold meetings every year for some time. The entire community became interested in the meetings and the life of the church was revived. It is believed that if Brother Coffman had been called five years earlier the church would be much larger than it is today because a large number who had drifted away were never converted. Today a series of meetings is held every year.
The first services were held in the German language. Gradually the young people could no longer understand German and it became necessary to conduct the service in English. This came about gradually. Daniel F. Driver was the first English-speaking preacher to serve the congregation. Today hardly anyone is able to speak German.
Music, too, had an important place in this Mennonite church. The first song books had only the words in them. later books used were Psalms. Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, Gospel Hymns, Church and Sunday School Hymnal. As in other Old Mennonite churches no musical instruments are used.
The church has held to its nonresistant stand. During World War I the members agreed to pay five hundred dollars monthly to the Red Cross for three months because they refused to buy bonds or thrift stamps. Also some of their young men were drafted. Three went to Camp at Ft. Dodge, Iowa, one to Camp Fumton, Kansas, and one to Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri. All of the boys drafted in World War II went into C.P.S. camps. Today the three boys drafted are in 1–W service.
Prayer meeting was begun during World War I when the first young men were drafted. Since that time a mid-week prayer and Bible study has been held. It meets in the homes during the winter months and at the church during the summer.
Daily Vacation Bible School is held every summer for a period of two weeks. For a number of years Bible School was held jointly with Bethel Church as has already been mentioned.
Sunday School was held only during the summer months at first. As there were no lesson helps a chapter from the New Testament was studied. When preaching services began to be held every Sunday, Sunday School also began to meet every Sunday. Officers are elected for a term of one year. An extension of the Sunday School was begun in July 1950 at the Coffee School House in the Ozarks. There are three Sunday School classes; primary, junior, and adult. The first classes were held on Sunday afternoons, but in 1951 they began to hold them on Sunday morning with Leroy Gingerich preaching on the first and third Sundays of every month. The attendance varies, but averages about twenty-five. The Mt. Zion congregation has also been sponsoring a Bible School for two weeks during the summer there.
A Ladies Missionary Society meets once a month in the homes of its members. It has done much sewing for relief and has undertaken various other projects.
The young people conduct a worship service every other Sunday evening which usually consists of topics discussed by various members. A preaching service is held on alternate Sunday evenings. For a number of years the young people of Mt. Zion and Bethel gathered for “literary.” It was held in the school houses or hones. Short informal programs were conducted and much of the evening was spent in recreation. The “literary” is still an organization of the Mt. Sion Church.
A very Important part of the work of the church has keen their mission work in the Ozarks. As early as the 1890’s there has keen interest in mission work there. A few years later Brother D. F. Driver began to preach regularly every month at Carver School House in the Ozarks. A number of converts were won. Soon they found a regular minister, John R. Shank, who had been engaged in similar work in the Ozarks, for this group of converts. In 1909 a church was organized. The work was continually expanded in the Ozarks and in 1936 Leroy Gingerich from the Mt.Zion congregation was ordained to conduct regular services at Rocky Ridge School House in Benton County. Various ministers from Mt. Zion have filled regular appointments for Proctor, Little Buffalo, Post Oak, Holst, Purvis, and Rocky Ridge school houses and others. In 1947 a Providence Church was built in the Ozarks in an attempt to unify the work. John R. Shank continues to be pastor of the Providence Church today which is now under the mission board. A direct mission work of the Mt. Zion congregation today is the Sunday School held at Coffee School House which has already been mentioned.
There have been a number of members of the congregation to enter full time Christian service. The following became missionaries: Eva Harder went to India in 1908; Joe W. Shank to South America in 1917; Charles Shank to India in 1915; Minnie Swartzendruber to India in 1925; Mary Holsopple to India in 1929. The ministers serving the congregation have been local ministers. Several have also become ministers wives.
These early Mennonite families who settled in Missouri found a medium loaM typo of soil. Some of the land is rocky, the hard pan being from six inches to ten feet from the top. These Mennonite farmers developed a diversified type of farming—raising corn, oats, wheat, hay, and pasture. About the average yield per acre of wheat is fifteen, oats thirty, and corn twenty-five. They raise dairy and beef cattle, hogs, and poultry. During recent years several have been raising large numbers of turkeys. As the churches grew more land came into Mennonite hands. Today a total of 5,520 acres is owned by brethren of the Bethel and Mt. Zion churches.
Although the settlement is a farming community, not all of its members have remained farmers. Some have become teachers, ministers, missionaries, etc. Among the early settlers who entered business was Martin Good who opened the first Woolworth store in Tipton, Missouri. He also had half Interest in a hardware store. Today there are very few members of either church in business.
The early settlers built large square houses and big bank barns. Today the large bank barns are occasionally used for social gatherings of various types.
Several storms and droughts have brought destruction to the settlement through the years. In 1872 a cyclone passed through wrecking six houses and killing two persons. Offerings were taken to help those who suffered most. In 1875 the Mennonites were hardly able to survive the winter because of the severe drought in addition to grasshoppers, chinch bugs, etc. during the sunnier. The church observed a day of fasting and prayer on July 3, 1875 as the governor of the state issued a proclamation to that effect. The crops during the next year were abundant; however wood was scarce and the Mennonites were forced to use corn for fuel which was selling for only ten cents per bushel. Other severe droughts were in the years 1929, 1934, and 1936. A tornado passed through Morgan County in 1916. Bethel Church was just missed; the damage to property in the comminity was extensive. A snail tornado again damaged some of the property of the Mennonites during April of 1954.
The children of the Mennonites have attended rural schools in the community. The children are still attending these small one roomed rural schools, but they are gradually being consolidated. The children attend high school at Versailles and Tipton.
Although the Mennonites of Morgan and Moniteau Counties have not become wealthy they have been able to earn a sufficient living. Many have looked to “greener pastures” and moved to other states, but those who remained have been richly blest in many ways. The Mennonites have developed into two very active churches and have become interested and active in the community about them.
Boole and Booklets
Gratz, Delbert L. Bernese Anabaptists. Scottdale: Herald Prese, 1953.
Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Bethel Mennonite Church. California: Democrat, 1942.
Souvenir Album of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Founding of Bethel Mennonite Church in Morgan and Moniteau Counties near Fortuna. Missouri. Berne: Berne Witness Company, 1917.
Ramer, Jake. “History of Mt. Zion Congregation.” (Versailles, Missouri).
 “Early Day Mennonites,” a document printed by the Versailles Statesman.
 From a conversation with Mrs. Christ Hofstetter, of Bethel Church on April 18, 1954, concerning early settlers.
 Delbert L. Gratz, Bernese Anabaptists (Scottdale: Herald Press), p. 162.
 Jake Ramer, “History of Mt. Zion Congregation,” an unpublished manuscript (Versailles, Missouri).
 Souvenir Album of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Founding of Bethel Mennonite Church in Morgan and Moniteau Counties near Fortuna, Missouri (Berne: Berne Witness Company), p. 22.
 “Early Day Mennonites.”
 Souvenir Album of the Fiftieth Anniversary, p. 22.
 Ibid., p. 22.
 From a conversation with Mrs. Christ Hofstetter.
 Souvenir Album of the Fiftieth Anniversary, p. 15.
 From a conversation with Jake Ramer of Mt. Zion Church on April 19, 1954, concerning early settlers.
 Souvenir Album of the Fiftieth Anniversary, p. 24.
 Ibid., p. 25.
 Ibid., p. 24–25.
 From a conversation with Jake Ramer.
 From a conversation with P. P. Hilty of Bethel Church on April 18, 1954, concerning early settlers.
 Souvenir Album of the Fiftieth Anniversary, p. 24.
 From a conversation with Jake Ramer.
 Souvenir Album of the Fiftieth Annivesary, p. 16.
 Ibid. p. 26.
 Souvenir Album of the Fiftieth Anniversary, p. 25.
 Ibid., p. 22.
 Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Bethel Mennonite Church (P. P. Hilty; California: California Democrat), 1942.
 Souvenir Album of the Fiftieth Anniversary, p. 25.
 Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Bethel Mennonite Church.
 Albert L. Gratz, Bernese Anabaptists, p. 163.
 From correspondence with Mrs. Leroy Gingerich of Mt. Zion Church.
 Jake Ramer, “History of Mt. Zion Congregation,” pp. 3–4.
 Ibid., pp. 5–7.
 Ibid., pp. 12–13.
 Ibid., p. 13.
 Jake Ramer, “History of Mt. Zion Congregation,” pp. 10–11.
 From correspondence with Leroy Gingerich of Mt. Zion Church.
 John Ramer, “History of Mt. Zion Congregation,” p. 1.
 From a conversation with Jake Ramer.