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1671 Mennonite Refugees
Posted by: Dwayne Nicely Date: July 21, 2001 at 11:07:50
  of 716

With the expulsion of many of the Mennonites from Zurich and Schaffhauser,the Emmenthal Valley in Bern had become a hotbed of Anti-Baptist activities and their numbers were growing rapidly,which greatly alarmed the Swiss authorities.On May 3,1671 the magistrate of Signau received orders from Bern to seize the Anti-baptist of Eggiwil and bring them to the prison in Bern,where they would be led out of Switzerland.The villiage community of Eggiwil refused to permit this,probably because so many of them had relatives who were Anti-baptist ans also because many themselves had leaned towards the Mennonite faith.
Shortly there after ,twelve of the wealthies residents of Eggiwil were sent to the city of Bern as hostages until the Anti-baptist agreed to be delivered to the Bern prison or to leave the land.They apparently agreed to the latter as the reformed pastor of Eggiwil was able to report on October 16,1671 that the Anti-baptist had left of their own accord.
This same scenario was unfolding in other villiages as well and between October 16,1671 and December 14,1671.There were 643 Mennonite refugees who had arrived in the Pfalz,mostly from the Emmenthal Valley.One of those was Ully Seyler who was a minister with twelve children.There were 100 refugees who had recently arrived in from Alsace and who would be coming to the Pfalz in the spring as well.Making a total of 743 people,probably the largest group of Mennonite refugees to be driven from Switzerland at one time.
On November 2,1671.Jacob Everling of Obersulzen reproted that the long exspected Swiss Bretheren emigration has started on ships and also in wagons overland,all together totaling about 200 people,both young and old.Six Bretheren came to tell me that 70 would be here within two days and that when they went to reserve rooms in the inn,60 more came.Among them were old and young children,crippled and lame.They had stuff on their backs and children in thier arms and some were cheerful and others were weeping,especially the old ones.They lodged them with their friends and when they returned home two Bretheren said that about 50 had arrived in Mannheim.They rented some farms for them,but dont seem to possess as much as a bed to sleep upon.Some women had to leave husbands and children behind in Switzerland and like wise some men left there wifes and children behind.,not knowing if they will follow them.P.S. This morning there were another 68 and an exspected 40 who are coming over land ,all together now 300 people .Trouble was experienced in lodging them all.
By December 1671,it was reported that on the east side of the Rhine river in the Hilsbach district,and around Heidelberg there was a total of 284 refugees,250 of them were families,19 widows and unmarried adults and four women who had left their husbands and children because they were devoted to the reformed religion.Also 11 people at Mannheim.On the west side of the Rhine there were a total of 359 refugees.In the Alzey district,215 and in the Dirmstein district there were 144 people.
The refugees were not allowed to bring their belongings and were stripped of their Swiss citizenship.They arrived in the Pflaz poor and sick.It was reported that there was only enough money amongst them to buy each person a pair of shoes.In a letter to the Dutch Mennonites,Valintine Hutwole,a Mennonite minister who was living in Kriegsheim at the time reported that these refugees cannot rent for they have not the wealth to pay and they have no furnature,no equipment to farm,no horses ,no wagons,no plows and all that belongs thereto,no seed,and they must wait one and a half years before they get the fruit of their sowing.Until that time we will need to provide maintenance.You can imagine what the situation must mean,and they probably have enough trouble themselves ,there is an added burden by the great number of these persecuted peoples.
The Dutch Mennonites wished to send money and support to the Swiss refugees and ask the Mennonite leaders in the Pfalz to make lists of all refugees,so they would know how many there were,and how much assistants they should send to their Bretheren in need.
Hans Nussli/Knussli b.October 11,1624 was on this list he had a wife and four children who went with him,it was reported.

Source:Richard Warren Davis:Emigrants,Refugees,and Prisoners Vol.I


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