I Am Hutterite: The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman's Journey to Reclaim Her Heritage

I Am Hutterite: The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman's Journey to Reclaim Her Heritage

by Mary-Ann Kirkby

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In 1969, Ann-Marie’s parents did the unthinkable. They left a Hutterite colony in Canada with seven children, and little else, to start a new life. Overnight, the family was thrust into a society they did not understand and which knew little of their unique culture. The transition was overwhelming. Desperate to be accepted, ten-year-old Ann-Marie was forced to deny her heritage in order to fit in with her peers. 

Winner of the 2007 Saskatchewan Book Award for Non-fiction.

“Your mother and father are running away," said a voice piercing the warm air. I froze and turned toward home. To a Hutterite, nothing is more shameful than that word, running away, Weglaufen...”

In 1969, Ann-Marie’s parents did the unthinkable. They left a Hutterite colony in Canada with seven children, and little else, to start a new life. Overnight, the family was thrust into a society they did not understand and which knew little of their unique culture. The transition was overwhelming. Desperate to be accepted, ten-year-old Ann-Marie was forced to deny her heritage in order to fit in with her peers. I Am Hutterite chronicles her quest to reinvent herself as she comes to terms with the painful circumstances that led her family to leave community life. Rich with memorable characters and vivid descriptions, this ground-breaking narrative shines a light on intolerance, illuminating the simple truth that beneath every human exterior beats a heart longing for understanding and acceptance.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781418560324
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 05/09/2011
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 274
Sales rank: 15,464
File size: 927 KB

About the Author

Mary-Ann Kirkby spent her childhood in a Hutterite colony in Canada. Without warning her parents uprooted their 7 children to begin a new life in the outside world. Mary-Ann's difficult transition into popular culture led her to an award-winning career in television as a gifted storyteller.

Read an Excerpt

I Am Hutterite

The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman's Journey to Reclaim Her Heritage

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2010 Mary-Ann Kirkby
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8499-4810-7

Chapter One

"Der G'hört Mein!" "He's mine!"

New Rosedale Hutterite Colony, Western Canada November 1952

My mother, Mary Maendel, rose early Sunday morning and gently pushed back the feather quilt on her side of the bed, careful not to wake her niece, Sarah, who lay motionless beside her. No one stirred in the alcove just a few feet away, where her other nieces, Lena, Katie, Susie, and Judy, were still enveloped in sleep. She collected her clothing from a nearby chair and slipped on her cropped white shirt, or Pfaht; her vest, or Mieder; an ankle-length, gathered skirt, or Kittel; and a pleated apron called a Fittig. Then she quietly proceeded downstairs.

Yesterday was cleaning day on the colony, and the floors and furniture had been thoroughly washed down and wiped. But in a culture where cleanliness and godliness were revered virtues, Mary was determined that today, one of the most important days of her life, the house would be spotless. A bar of homemade lard soap called Specksaften, resembling a square of butter, slowly melted into her pail of hot water, filling it with sudsy bubbles. Down on her hands and knees, she began washing the floors, her deft, young hands moving easily around the Schlofbänk, or sleeping benches, filled with children deep in slumber. The soundless movement of her washrag kept time with their breathing, and the house soon responded with the sharp scent of wet wood and wax.

By 7:00 a.m. she had finished her chores. Outside, the wind was tossing the lifeless branches of the old oak trees that separated the colony's neat semicircle of homes from the barns and machine shop.

Through the front window she could see lines of adults and children scurrying over to the community kitchen for breakfast. Bearded men wearing black, homespun jackets and trousers, and women in ankle-length patterned skirts and vests, some still knotting identical polka-dot kerchiefs under their chins, strode purposefully and in single file toward a large central building that drew them together three times a day for sustenance. Young girls in Mützen (bonnets) and long, flowered dresses, and boisterous boys looking like miniature versions of their parents trailed after them, drawn, it appeared, by some invisible string. To Mary, the scene was as familiar as the sunrise, but to an outsider the setting and period costumes, adopted from sixteenth-century peasants, would have seemed staged, as if the players were on a film set where a centuries-old story was about to unfold.

Peering through the window, Mary could have been taken for an actor waiting for her cue, but this was not a movie. This was life on the New Rosedale Hutterite Colony in southern Manitoba, and the one hundred men, women, and children who lived there were the cast of characters whose lives echoed those of their European ancestors of nearly five hundred years ago.

"Mein Himmel, eilt's! Good heavens, hurry up!" shouted Mary's brother-in-law, Paul Hofer, who was hastening his brood of children scattered throughout the house. Mary's sister, Sana, was the head cook, and she had been up since dawn over in the community kitchen, boiling choice cuts of beef for today's special noon meal and supervising the breakfast of boiled eggs, hot buttered toast, and plates of Schmuggi-soft, homemade cheese sprinkled with caraway seeds.

The thirteen Hofer children brushed past Mary to join the procession, and she shivered as a gust of crisp November air blew through the open front door. On an ordinary day she should have gone with them, but today was an exception. Today was her wedding day. After the morning Lehr church service, she would be making her formal vows of marriage, elevating her status from Diene, a young woman, to Weib, a wife, and increasing her worth and workload in the community.

The twenty-one-year-old started up the narrow wooden staircase to her bedroom, grateful for the seven years of shelter her sister had provided but eager to leave the overburdened household for a place of her own.

Until age thirteen, Mary had lived at the Old Rosedale Hutterite Colony sixty miles to the northeast, where her father, the well-respected Joseph Maendel, was the manager of the largest and most successful colony in Manitoba. It was to him that many other colonies had come for financial assistance. Old Rosedale's prosperity was rooted in its diversity and in its management.

Joseph Maendel had been a shrewd administrator, ensuring that the colony made an enviable profit from its field crops and livestock. In 1931, a devastating drought year for most prairie farmers, Old Rosedale's income was a princely $60,000 from grain and other enterprises. These included 900 hogs, 250 geese, several hundred cattle and sheep, and an apiary that produced 40,000 pounds of honey a year.

His devoted wife, Katrina, was the head gardener and special cook for the sick, but when she died suddenly of a gallstone attack at age forty-five, she left a husband and colony in shock, and sixteen children, including one-year-old Mary, without a mother.

A devastated Joseph Maendel poured out his grief in a letter to his sister-in-law at the James Valley Colony.

Oh dear sister-in-law, it was very, very sad for us to be hit like this. We stared in disbelief as our desperately needed and precious mother lay dead in front of our eyes. Her sister Rebecca cried out loud, "Oh Almighty God, how can you take a mother like that out of this house!" But nothing helped. Our dear mother was in eternity with God. I told our daughters and all the children, "Let's diligently pray to God so that no other calamity should befall us." How sad it would be if I, their father, couldn't be with them anymore either. We hope and beg and pray that the Almighty God will have mercy on all widows and widowers and their orphans.

A year after his wife's death, Joseph Maendel began to write to mature, eligible women and widows from other colonies to secure a mother for his younger children. After a handful of rejections, Rachel Gross, a widow with six children from the Maxwell Hutterite Colony, agreed to marry him, enlarging his family to twenty-two. Despite her best efforts, mild-mannered Rachel simply wasn't able to adequately nurture so many children, and Mary, left in the care of her older sisters, clung to her father, who gave what parental love and grounding he could.

Two years later the blended family was dealt a dreaded blow when fifty-year-old Joseph was diagnosed with intestinal cancer and underwent major surgery in Winnipeg. He was a steadying influence during times of turbulence at Old Rosedale, and his illness threatened the political stability he had worked so tirelessly to forge within the community. As the ravages of the disease drained his energies, Marilein, or "Little Mary," was often turned away from his bedside. One warm afternoon in September, as she was out playing in the bluffs of trees that surrounded the colony, she felt a sudden compulsion to go home and found the adults in an upheaval. "Where have you been?" they cried. "We've been looking everywhere for you!" Her father had wanted to say goodbye to her, but she had come too late. Overcome, the young girl buried her hands in her face and cried.

At age five, Mary was essentially an orphan. In succession, her three adult sisters-Sana, Anna, and Katrina-married, and each time was like losing her mother all over again as she was shuffled off to the care of the next sister. She escaped from her loss during the day when she could run and play in the vast open areas of the colony, and in the late afternoons when she would take a little stick and join the other children in rounding up the community's geese from the riverbank. Each of the ten families at Old Rosedale was in charge of seven geese, and Mary loved to shoo the Maendel geese home so they could lay their eggs in the wooden nests her father had built around their house. She knew each of them by name and could tell exactly which ones belonged to her family.

During the day she was always occupied, but at night, alone in her bed, she couldn't suppress the ache of loneliness that lingered in the pit of her stomach. She longed for her mother and tried to envision her face, to remember the smell of her skin and the safety of her arms. Under her covers, she practiced saying Muetter, or "Mother," out loud to the darkness. But then the tears would start, and every time she cried like that, she'd see a vision of her mother, Katrina, at the end of the bed, holding a lighted candle. Every night Katrina would come to her daughter this way, but the small child became so frightened she couldn't fall asleep. It was only after she willed herself to stop yearning for her mother that the haunting visitations ended.

After Joseph Maendel's untimely death, a change in leadership ignited years of smoldering conflicts within the community. His oldest sons had hoped one of them would replace their father as colony manager, but when they were outvoted by the Waldner and Hofer families, the bitterness escalated until the two factions could no longer live together. In the summer of 1944, Mary's brothers decided to leave Old Rosedale to establish a new colony in southern Manitoba. They named it New Rosedale and took most of their extended families and supporters with them. Thirteen-year-old Mary and her two teenage brothers, Darius and Eddie, became part of their sister Sana's household.

It was from the relative safety of Sana's house that Mary first laid eyes on Ronald Dornn. "Der g'hört mein! He's mine!" she wisecracked to her teenage nieces as they peered out of an upstairs window. She was eighteen years old and had a quick wit and a devilish sense of humor. "We'll tell him you said that!" the girls teased, but she knew they lacked the courage to follow through on their threat. Down below, the wiry frame of a handsome stranger emerged from the colony vehicle onto the sandy soil of the Assiniboine River valley. It was obvious from his square, black hat, lovingly referred to as the "washtub," that he was from the Lehrerleut in Alberta, one of three distinct sects of Hutterites in North America.

The cultural and religious differences between the three groups were minor, confined more to dress code than religious principles. To an outsider the discrepancies would hardly be discernible, but to the Hutterites they were so significant that intermarriage between the groups was rare. The Dariusleut in Saskatchewan were committed to simple buttons on their shirts and jackets, but the Schmiedeleut in Manitoba, which included New Rosedale, considered buttons too flashy, and opted for invisible hooks, eyes, and snaps. The Lehrerleut were the most conservative, insisting the zipper of a man's pants be at the side rather than the front, in case some unmindful man forgot to zip up. All three groups did agree on one thing: pockets on the back of a man's pants were far too worldly. Store-bought pants with "ass pockets" were strictly off-limits.

The new visitor from the Lehrerleut created significant excitement in the community, and people looking out of their large picture windows wanted to know which colony in Alberta he was from, how long he was staying, and why he was here. To the great surprise of no one, Mary's sister had had a hand in orchestrating his visit. Sana Hofer was known to everyone as Sana "Basel," or "Aunt" Sana, and her congenial nature was legendary. No one would think it out of the ordinary to find some new lodger sleeping on a cot in her living room or safely tucked beneath the kitchen table, out of the way of perpetual foot traffic.

Fate had introduced Sana Basel and Ronald in the summer of 1949 at the Rockport Hutterite Colony in Alberta. Her clout as head cook had earned her a once-in-a-lifetime trip to pay a social call to some of the Lehrerleut colonies in the province, including Rockport. Ronald, on the other hand, had spent his youth at the Rockport Colony and had just returned for the first time in seven years to discuss his family's future with the colony minister.

When Ronald confided to Sana that in a few days he would be taking the train back east to an uncertain future, she didn't waste any time rearranging his schedule. "Come for a visit to New Rosedale Colony in Manitoba," she insisted in her charming way. "Give us a call from the train station in Portage la Prairie, and we'll come to get you." Gostfrei Sana Basel was beguiling and had a heart for those whose lives were troubled with ambiguities and indecision. Ronald found himself drawn to the open face and loving manner of this forty-year-old woman who embodied the warmth and caring of a mother and comfort of an old friend. She made him feel cherished, and he hadn't felt that way in a long time. Her compelling invitation was hard to resist.

Once home in New Rosedale, Sana Basel soon received word that her visitor had arrived at the station and quickly dispatched her husband, Paul "Vetter," or "Uncle" Paul, and son Paul Jr. to fetch him. They returned in time for Lunschen, three o'clock lunch, the only time families ate together in their own homes. When Ronald entered the house, Sana Basel's face lit up and she greeted him enthusiastically, pulling out a chair for him and taking his hat from his hand.

"Reinhold, sog wos! Ronald, say something!" Sana said eagerly as she handed the hat to one of her daughters. He was suspected of having heard or seen particular things of interest since he had just traveled across several provinces, and she expected to be entertained. Sana Basel's raised eyebrows were poised for a juicy tidbit of almost any sort, but her visitor proved a disappointment in the gossip department. Ronald preferred to listen rather than be heard and didn't seem to appreciate the fine Hutterite tradition of Tschelli draufschmieren, "adding jam" to an unexceptional story. Some would have called him Maulvoll or "mouth lazy"-too sparing with his words to be considered entertaining-but in the secluded Hutterite world, his mere presence invited curiosity.

The Hofer boys drifted in from their farm chores, and a handful of regulars stopped by to fraternize and to inspect the strange man in the "English" leather jacket and the black lamb's-wool hat. Mary piled gingersnaps and oatmeal cookies on two Dura-Ware plates and placed them in front of the visitor with the steel-blue eyes and thick, auburn hair, neatly parted down the middle. Back behind the safety of the steaming kettle, she noted that he could use a new pair of pants. She watched Ronald dip the tip of his tablespoon into the jar of honey, tasting it before stirring the rest into his hot cup of chamomile tea. She observed the methodical way he tidied the cookie crumbs on the heavily varnished wooden table, cupping them into his left hand and placing them on his plate. Mary secretly wished she could have served him something better. The fresh lemon pies piled high with meringue and Queen Elizabeth cakes portioned out on Thursday, the colony's baking day, hadn't lasted the weekend at the Hofer house. With seven beautiful daughters who attracted their fair share of interest from eligible Buben (young men), Sana Basel's house was always a gathering place, filled with young people who would convene every evening to socialize and sing.

Ronald came for a week and stayed for good. Sana Basel's crowded quarters became his retreat and she a surrogate mother who sympathized with his inner struggles. He lived in a room upstairs with the Hofer boys while Mary lived across the hall, in the girls' room with her nieces. Mary cleaned his room and made his bed every day, but there was never a hint of romance. The only evidence to suggest any concern for his welfare was that she had repaired his tattered pants and left them neatly folded on his bed.

Ronald was consumed with the plight of his father and siblings back in Ontario. His Russian-immigrant parents had joined the Rockport Hutterite Colony in Alberta when he was nine years old, and the family lived there for almost a decade. But when Ronald was seventeen, Christian Dornn had cut his ties with the Hutterite Church, gathered his eight children, and joined a Hutterite-wannabe community in eastern Canada. The mission and the move were disastrous, as the leader turned out to be a dictator who treated the people in his commune abusively and harshly. When Ronald met Sana Basel, he was on a mission to bring his beleaguered family back to the Rockport Colony, but his hopes were dashed when the colony minister bluntly informed him that he and his siblings were welcome, but their father was not.


Excerpted from I Am Hutterite by MARY-ANN KIRKBY Copyright © 2010 by Mary-Ann Kirkby. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword Arvel Gray xi

A Short History of the Hutterites xv

Prologue xix

Chapter 1 "Der G'hört Mein!": "He's Mine!" 1

Chapter 2 Die Hochzeit: The Wedding 17

Chapter 3 "Du Sei Der Gute": "You Be the Good One" 37

Chapter 4 Tea Bags and Sugar Lumps 53

Chapter 5 Renie 69

Chapter 6 Die Teacherin; The Teacher 87

Chapter 7 Secret Flowerpot 107

Chapter 8 Weglaufen: Running Away 127

Chapter 9 Our Year at Dahl's Farm 143

Chapter 10 Rogers' Farm 173

Chapter 11 A Place of Our Own in Plum Coulee/Winkler 199

Epilogue 227

Afterword 231

Acknowledgments 233

Family Tree 236

Hutterisch: Hutterite Language Glossary 239

Bibliography 243

Hutterite Sucre Pie 245

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I Am Hutterite: The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman's Journey to Reclaim Her Heritage 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
Spolley More than 1 year ago
Well first things first, I have to admit that I had never heard of the Hutterites. I have for the most part always been fascinated with the Amish and the Menonites, but I had no idea that there were Hutterites. And while not exactly the same, they also live in communities and have similar beliefs. You can read more about them here. When the opportunity arose to reviews this book, I was excited, I love learning about different religions and cultures and ways of life and I was not prepared for how much I would enjoy this book. It did start a little slow and it was a bit confusing at times because the author uses a lot of the German language throughout the book, but I quickly overcame that and just sat back and totally lost myself in these wonderful people. They live simply and though at the time the author lived in the community they weren't much into the modern technology, I have since then read about how nowadays they do enjoy the things that everyone else does. Matter of fact, I found a great blog by a Hutterite lady, it's called "Pebbles in My Pocket". It was fun looking through her blog and seeing how the Hutterites live today and what has changed from the time the author's family and her as a child, lived as Hutterites. The book was very well written and it left me wanting to know more and see more, which I kind of did when I visited the authors website and watched this wonderful video she has posted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Heartwarming story of finding ones place in the world...thank you for sharing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Completely unaware of this culture, religious community. Lovely rendering of the author's childhood.
GrazianoRonca on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
`Levi, - I begin, searching for the right words, - there is a little boy buried here. His name is Renie, and he is my brother.¿ (p. xxii)Levi is the son of Mary-Ann Kirkby, the author of I Am Hutterite, who asks his mother `Are you a Hutterite?¿, and as all the questions of every child arrives without notice, so starts Mary-Ann¿s journey in the past. This book recounts her Hutterite family story.The Hutterite way of life and faith was born in the sixteenth century among several refugees from Switzerland, Germany, and Tirol. During the nineteenth century Hutterite people emigrates to the United States and Canada. Dornns family follows all the `iron¿ rules of the colony where they live, but something happened to change everything. After several squabbles between the chief of the colony and Mary-Ann`s father, the Dornns escaped from the colony toward an unknown world. Everybody has seen the movie `Witness¿ a 1985 American thriller movie directed by Peter Weir and main character played by Harrison Ford. I think from this movie started all the curiosity about these communities. From Witness we know about Amish people, but almost everything is similar to the Hutterite colonies. Everybody has also studied at school the reformation movements of sixteenth century,but while reading this book we get to know the private life of a Hutterite colony, especially the feelings of these people, the meaning of their way of life, and their`way of looking at the world, and unmistakable candor¿(p. 234)So I Am Hutterite enlightens about a world not included in the general globalization; it keeps you thinking about progress: Do we really need progress? Although Mary-Ann Kirkby admits and writes the inevitable call of the progress. About this ideas I¿d like to quote a passage: ¿She wore neither makeup nor jewelry; both were forbidden. In a culture that stressed an inner adornment of the heart, her smile would be enough.¿ (p. 20) We have always thought about our world (the `mainstream¿) full of freedom, but Mary-Ann surprisingly wrote:`I was the happy Hutterite girl, free from dress code and protocol of the English world.¿ (p. 175)The best parts: Chapter 5 Renie (pages 69-86) and the pages were Mary-Ann and her siblings play baseball against all the other classmates (p. 185). I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publisher as part of their Booksneeze.com book review blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, part 255.
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In I Am Hutterite, author Mary-Ann Kirkby reflects on a happy childhood in a Hutterite colony, the pain of leaving the communal life just before her 10th birthday, and her journey of fitting into the English world, a bitter-sweet process since her family did not sever its social ties with their former community when they moved away. Kirkby's insider's view depicts a community where everyone is valued and contributes to community life. Although families live in family units, children are nurtured by the whole community, and all adults are called "aunt" and "uncle" whether related or not. Children have work to do, but there is also time for school and play. Community support allows families to care for aging parents at home.While colony life provides security, Kirkby's memoir shows that it doesn't always provide peace. Kirkby's parents made the difficult decision to leave their colony after years of discord between Kirkby's father and the colony's leader, who was also her mother's brother. Kirkby shows great sensitivity in writing of the breach between her parents and her uncle. She describes her uncle's flawed leadership style without bitterness or vindictiveness. By the end of the book I had developed a great respect for Kirkby's parents and their sincere faith.Kirkby's stories about some of her failed attempts to fit into the English world are humorous, but must have been painful for her at the time. Her challenges included packing a school lunch that looked like other students' lunches and figuring out just who or what this Walt Disney was that the other children talked about every Monday.The author's descriptions of food, particularly fresh produce and berries, made my mouth water. I'm glad I read this during the summer so I can satisfy these cravings! Only one recipe is included in the book. Many readers will want more. I think a follow-up recipe book would be a great idea.Readers who like the currently popular Amish fiction will probably like this book even though there are many difference between Hutterite and Amish communities. Readers interested in living and eating locally might also enjoy the book. Although the book is published by a Christian publishing company, the focus of the book is on lifestyle rather than theology and should have a wider appeal. Highly recommended.
allthesedarnbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it's a glimpse into a fascinating religion and culture that I had previously never heard of. On the other hand, it's just not that well-written.The Hutterites are an Anabaptist sect (Mennonites and Amish are different Anabaptist traditions). They live communally, adhere to a strict religious lifestyle, and speak a German dialect. I had never read anything about the Hutterites before, and Kirkby's book succeeded in sparking my interest in the culture. I would definitely be interested in reading more about the subject.The book has its flaws, however. The many characters, members of her extended family and community, were not distinguished enough for me to always remember each one specifically. A lot of them also have more than one name, which got confusing. I would often pause and ask, "Wait. Who is it that again?" More importantly, Kirkby's prose is convoluted and clunky. There are times when she goes into far too much detail; other times where she seems to skip over important ideas altogether. The parts of the book where she writes about her family history, or her parents' or other relatives' experiences, are particularly weak. At times it reads like a high school essay. The parts, especially in the second half of the book, where she describes her own life, and the pleasures of Hutterite living, as well as the loss she felt when her family left the community, are much stronger and compelling.This book was originally self-published, and at times it feels like it. In spite of the mediocrity of the prose, the book is well worth a read if you are interested in Anabaptists, varying religious communities, or details of a simple, country life. Three stars
dk_phoenix on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In 1969, the author's parents did something unthinkable: they packed up their things and left the Hutterite colony where they'd lived with their seven children for years. They intended to start a new life outside the colony, and the entire family was thrown into a society they didn't understand and which looked at Hutterite people as strange, bizarre creatures.The book records the early days of Kirkby's parents -- before they met -- traveling through their courtship, the birth of their children, the conflict between her father and the colony leader, and eventually their 'running away' (leaving the colony was referred to as "running away").Some of the most interesting points of the book were: learning about which customs today's Hutterites have kept since their sect was founded 500 years ago; the communal nature of the colonies; the bizarre politics involved in the daily interactions; seeing Kirkby's family attempt to integrate themselves into 'modern society'.Mind you, the "running away" doesn't come until three quarters of the way through the book... and that was the thing the book description focused on the most, so I was a little surprised to see that less than half the book was devoted to this material. I understand that most people don't have any concept of who the Hutterites are, but I don't think it's fair to label a book as being about someone's journey to find her self of self outside the only life she knew, but spend most of the book talking about that former life.But, it's interesting at the very least. It's not the most riveting read -- sometimes the endless description of life inside the colony can get a bit dry, and I admit to skimming pages more than a few times -- but if you're interested in the Hutterites and who they are, you'll probably find a lot to like here. Just don't expect to spend a lot of time reading about the transition (though what IS there is fascinating).
kaulsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the last research papers I wrote for my undergraduate degree was on the Hutterites (got an A and great comments), so I very much enjoyed this selection from my SantaThingElf.Kirkby's story rings true. Her description of her childhood makes one want to join and Hutterite colony. Her description of the heart aches experienced by her parents makes one wonder how they stayed in the colony so long.Kirkby begins her story with the story of her grandparents (both sets) and the hardships they endured. She could have easily have written a story that was more bitter than sweet, and I don't think anyone would have complained. Instead she shows that other cultures have reason behind action and that well-lived lives can be happy--sometimes even happier--lived in an entirely different way than the majority culture deems possible.Throughout the second phase of the book, the theme is forgiveness. It is hard to forgive. It is sometimes even hard to believe it is possible. But for those who have been "tresspassed against," the true healing only comes through forgiveness.Many-Ann Dornn Kirby seems to have found a path for her own life to become integrated, which is perhaps another way of expressing forgiveness. Forgiving others and forgiving ourselves.
MBels on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found the information in the book fascinating. Alas, I also found the writing style jerky, and not entirely engaging. Hutterites speak a form of German. The author chose to input German phraseology into at least one paragraph on almost every single page of the book. In my opinion, a handful of German phrases would have been sufficient for the reader to get a feel for the Hutterite language. It was not necessary to inject a phrase on every page. This writing style means that the reader is jerked out of a nice reading flow to stumble over some incomprehensible words, ponder them, continue reading to find out the translation, get back into a nice reading flow only to mentally stumble over the next German phrase. Even if a reader understand written German, I'm sure they would find this writing technique equally frustrating - who wants to read the same information twice over and over and over again. It's a shame that the decision to leave so much of the foreign phrasing was made. The Hutterite culture is an interesting one, and in my opinion the removal of these excessive German phrases would elevate the book and allow the reader to enjoy learning about such an interesting and elusive culture.
coolmama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A well written account of Mary-Ann Dornn's life living in a closed Hutterite community in Manitoba during the early 70s and her family history.
thornton37814 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mary-Ann Kirkby tells about her childhood growing up on a Hutterite colony in Manitoba. Then she tells of her family's removal from the colony, and their gradual progress in integrating with the "English" in the community in which they lived. Because the Hutterites practiced communal living, leaving the colony was a very difficult decision for the family, but one which her parents knew was correct. They lived in poverty. As she described the meals they ate as a family after striking out on their own, my stomach churned just thinking about it. Fortunately things did improve for their large family within a few years. This was an interesting look at a religious group about which I knew very little.
BAP1012 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting insight into a unique culture through the memoir of a former member of the Hutterite community. I learned quite a bit but sometimes lost interest because of the writing style. The last chapter was a little confusing at times, especially towards the end.
mom2childs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting book to read. Although I had heard about and visited Amish communities around northeast Ohio, and my mom lived near a Mennonite community, I had never heard the term Hutterite. Reading Mary-Ann Kirby's book, I was able to glean a little bit of information about this religious community through her eyes. The family members and friends in the book came alive through her descriptive words and funny stories. Although the way the Hutterite people interact with one another is very straight-forward and blunt, quite a few of the people had a great sense of humor, just a little more dry than what I would be used to.I appreciate that Mrs. Kirby tries to explain what it was like to live between two communities and how difficult it must have been for her parents to make the decisions they felt they needed to make in order to protect their families.The way Hutterites live is fascinating ¿ along the lines of ¿it takes a village to raise a child¿, which is very different than the way I grew up. I think it takes a special kind of people to be able to write and tell the stories, both good and bad, about her culture, its differences, knowing in advance that it will anger some people and embarrass others. I think writing this was probably very cathartic and was certainly corageous ¿ and I say ¿thanks¿ for letting me get a glimpse of your life.I was a little confused about the relationships of the numerous people who were described in the book, only to discover after I had read the book, that there was a family tree listed in the back of the book. There was also a Hutterite language glossary at the end, which could have helped me as well, if I had known it was there.
Carolee888 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is book is very special to me. I love what Mary-Ann Kirby says in this book '...for it is only when we embrace our past that we can find true fulfillment in our future' (p.228). Her statement spells out the reason for my own search for my family's beginnings. Mary Ann was invited by a friend to write a magazine article about Hutterite gardens. But it turned into a journey into past starting with her Hutterite beginnings. Her family lived in a Hutterite colony in southern Manitoba, Canada. Hutterites were one of three groups that sprang from the Anabaptists: the Amish, Hutterites and Mennonites. I enjoyed her journey, sometimes troubled, sometimes joyful so much. She lived the Hutterite life but by reflection, she learned so much. It is my hope to trace my Mennonites ancestors and learn their way of life so I can better understand my ancestors and myself. The core difference between the two other groups and the Hutterites was the belief in no personal possessions, that started with its Austrian founder, Jacob Hutterite and is still followed in the Hutterite colonies today in Canada and United States. Strangely, this principal of no personal possessions led to why her family in their good conscience had to decide whether or not to leave. Not because of a desire to obtain and keep things but because of importance of human life. There is so much to learn from this book, the true meaning of freedom, the traditions of clothing, cleanliness, humor, drinking, singing, and the expressions. A unmarried woman is spoken of as 'a jar that hadn't yet found its lid' (p. 37) The tradition of giving a daughter at the age of 15,a wooden hope chest (my father did this too). The special treatment that a woman who has just born a baby receives. I could go on but I would spoil the book for you. This book captures you at the beginning and won't let you go. I will keep it on my bookshelf for reference in the future and I hope to re-read it. It is beautifully written and from some accounts of family past come big treasures of meaning. I invite everyone interested in the past, in their own ancestry, in religion, in ways of life to read and enjoy this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read!! Love the history to this story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The real story for me is woven quietly in the background as the storyteller shares on a level that is uncommon in our culture. I enjoyed the shining honesty and quickly felt involved. I found it refreshing and encouraging. The people in this exceptional work will resonate in my thoughts for a very long time. I will be recommending this work to those I care about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good description of life within the Hutterite community. Helps in understanding strict religious communities. There are both good and bad found and one learns from both. Interesting this woman is writing of her own family in a very touching way both in and out of the community.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I knew nothing about Hutterites, and I found the book almost like a novel. I couldn't wait for the next chapter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book was informative and an easy read..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having grown up in Montana and seeing Hutterites in the community, this book was an interesting glimpse into the beliefs, traditions and lives of the Hutterites. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about these people as I did.
Barbara Lewis More than 1 year ago
I live within 30 miles of 5 Hutterite colonies. We buy lots of garden produce from them. Closest one too us just lost two young men fighting coal bin fire, they have volunteer fire dept and help with other fire depts, this fire was at the colony. Prayers are needed as they deal with their loss.
STORE NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago
This book reads as easy as an amish fiction novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago