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Toward a political economy of inheritance: Community and household among the Mennonites

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Abstract

Exasperated, the Marion County, Kansas, Registrar of Deeds said, "You'll never figure those people out. Their land records are a nightmare, a crazy quilt, a maze." She was standing beside a large plat map of the County and the land records of the Alexanderwohl Mennonites. Together, we examined section twenty-two in West Branch township, which consisted of seven twenty-acre plots, a forty-acre, a sixty-acre, and five eighty-acre plots. Indeed, the several townships inhabited by Mennonites looked like a patchwork. I was at first tempted to infer, as others in anthropology and sociology have, that they were merely applying a "traditional ... partible inheritance model as a means of transferring property between generations. "j After all, the aggregate data showed that the number of land divisions was increasing over time and the size of the holdings was decreasing. But one problem remained. A more careful scrutiny of the land maps and census and interview data showed that some farms were not being divided.
Toward a Political Economy of Inheritance: Community and Household among the Mennonites
Author(s): Jeffrey Longhofer
Source:
Theory and Society,
Vol. 22, No. 3 (Jun., 1993), pp. 337-362
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/657737
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Toward a
political
economy
of
inheritance:
Community
and
household
among
the
Mennonites
JEFFREY
LONGHOFER
University
of
Missouri
-
Kansas
City
Exasperated,
the
Marion
County,
Kansas,
Registrar
of
Deeds
said,
"You'll
never
figure
those
people
out.
Their
land records
are a
night-
mare,
a
crazy quilt,
a maze."
She was
standing
beside a
large plat map
of
the
County
and the
land
records of the
Alexanderwohl
Mennonites.
Together,
we
examined
section
twenty-two
in
West
Branch
township,
which
consisted of
seven
twenty-acre
plots,
a
forty-acre,
a
sixty-acre,
and
five
eighty-acre plots.
Indeed,
the
several
townships
inhabited
by
Mennonites looked
like a
patchwork.
I
was
at first
tempted
to
infer,
as
others
in
anthropology
and
sociology
have,
that
they
were
merely
applying
a
"traditional
...
partible
inheritance
model
as
a means of
transferring
property
between
generations."'
After
all,
the
aggregate
data
showed
that the
number
of
land
divisions was
increasing
over time
and
the
size of
the
holdings
was
decreasing.
But
one
problem
remained.
A
more
careful
scrutiny
of
the
land
maps
and
census
and
interview
data
showed that
some
farms
were not
being
divided.
With
notebook
and
land
maps
in
hand,
I
returned to
the
field,
looking
for
some
inheritance
rules,
for
some
logic
governing
the
devolution of
property
among
the
Mennonites.2
For
a
month,
I
conducted
interviews
among
the
oldest
members
of
the
community.3
Over
and
over
again,
no
one
could
articulate a
rule.
One
person
seemed
ignorant
of
the
pattern.
Another
was
surprised
that
I
would
see
the
pattern
as
important.
Ministers,
young
and
old,
could
point
to no
precept
articulating
inheri-
tance
rules.4
On
the
face of
it,
then,
the
data
suggested
two
differing
modes
of
devolving
property:
partibility
and
impartibility.
In
examining
the
historical
record,
I
discovered
that
Mennonites had
not
always
adopted
the
strictly
privatized
household as
the
unit of
production.
For
a
short
time in
the
United
States
and for
nearly
one
hundred
years
in
Russia,
they
had
organized
household
production
in
Theory
and
Society
22:
337-362,
1993.
?
1993
Kluwer
Academic
Publishers.
Printed
in the
Netherlands.
338
articulation with
village
social
organization. My
inquiry
revealed that
both
impartible
and
particle
inheritance
practices
were also utilized
in
Russia.
I
wondered whether or
not Mennonites had been
transferring
property by
means
of
analogous practices
under
historically
dissimilar
conditions of
production.
In
this
article,
I
demonstrate that similar
inheritance
practices
were found within two different social formations:
one with a mixture of
feudal and
capitalist
social relations
(Russia),
and
the other
strictly
capitalist
(United
States).
And,
I
argue
that even
though partible
and
impartible practices
were found
in
both,
Menno-
nite devolution of
property reproduced
different
types
of social
forma-
tions:
villages
and households.
I
have theorized inheritance
in
a
way
that avoids the characterization
of these
practices
as mere
carryovers
of
traditions
without
relationship
to the broader
political
economy.
In
the literature on North
American and
European agrarian
communi-
ties,
scholars have
shown that within different
societies
and within
distinct historical
epochs
of one
society
the
devolution of
property
is
influenced
by
numerous variables.5
Household
wealth,
productivity,
land
availability, type
and
strength
of land
tenure,
open
fields,
closed
fields,
land
use,
strong
lords,
weak
lords,
marriage,
degree
of market
participation,
and
a host of
demographic
pressures
have all
been
found,
in
varying
ways,
to be
associated with
particular
strategies
of
devolving
property
within different
social
formations.6
In
their
study
of
two
Alpine villages,
Cole
and Wolf
found that
strong
community
ties
were
associated
with
impartibility.7
Toby
Ditz,
in
a
comparative
study
of
Colonial
and
nineteenth-century
inheritance
practices
in
Connecticut,
showed
that
partibility
was
practiced
in
conjunction
with
strong
ex-
tended
kinship
ties,
which bound
households
together.8
Yet,
Salamon
and
Roger's
German-American
community practiced
partibility
where
extradomestic
ties
were
insignificant.9
Moreover,
in
drawing
a
straight
line
from the
nineteenth-century
to the
present,
Rogers
and Salamon
show that
"...some
of the
influence
of inheritance
ideologies
on demo-
graphic
behavior
observed
by
(Habakkuk)
in
preindustrial
Europe
has
persisted
in
both the
American and
French
settings
today.""'
Thus,
similar
inheritance
practices
have been
found
in
association
with
a
diverse
array
of social
formations.
Likewise,
dissimilar
practices
have
been found
in
association
with similar
social
formations.
Many
in
this literature
have
struggled
with the
lack of
historical
sensi-
tivity
of
the
concepts."
The facts
have
often
shown
that no
single
practice
dominates.'2
Though
not
his
intention,
Habakkuk
addressed
this
in his now classic
study
where he
argued
that
nineteenth-century
339
"peasant families of
Western
Europe
had
two
conflicting
aims:
to
keep
the
family property
intact
and to
provide
for the
younger
children."13
Others,
attracted
to
this
argument,
have called
this
conflict
the
"unity
and
provision
dilemma."'4
They
have used
this
conceptualization
extensively
in
formulating
research
questions
and
as
an
organizing
framework for
the
investigation
of
inheritance
practices.'5
Taking
the
family
and household
as
the
irreducible unit
of
analysis,
it
has
been
argued
that families
struggle
to
resolve this one
dilemma,
regardless
of
the
historical
epoch
or social
formation: "Partible
inheritance
always
leaves
open
a wide
range
of
strategies
for
each
individual
family,
depending
on
their
personal,
economic and
demographic
situation.""6
Inheritance
practices
shift
back and
forth from
partible
to
impartible,
from
primogeniture
to
ultimogeniture,
from
including only
male heirs
to
including
all
siblings,
and
so on as
a
response
to this one
essential
tension. Those
confronted
with
commercialization
resolve this
tension
in
certain
ways,
while
those faced
with land
shortage
deal
with the
problem
in
still
other
ways.'7
The
availability
of
wage employment
led
to
different
resolutions.
Those with limited
resources
were
forced to
devolve the
property
to a
single
heir
but
with
obligations
to assure
support
in
retirement
for
aged
parents,
assure
financial
support
to
unmarried
siblings,
or
to
provide
a
dowry.
Thus,
to
the extent
that one
discovers
shifts from
partibility
to
impartibility
(or
vice
versa)
across
time
and
differing
social
formations,
this was
explained
by
the house-
hold's
assertion
of their
options,
which
were
constrained,
in
turn,
by
unspecified
but
interacting
features of
the
household
and
environment.
In
my
attempt
to
understand
inheritance
practices
among
the
Menno-
nites,
it
became
increasingly
clear
that
no
single
set of
categories
and
oppositions
-
partibility,
impartibility,
unity,
and
provision
-
could
explain
their
analogous
practices
in
two
dissimilar
political-economies,
nor
could
one
necessarily
assume
the
household
to be
the
most
meaningful
unit of
analysis.18
I
explain
Mennonite
inheritance
practices
by
demonstrating
how
the
devolution
of
property
acted to
reproduce
community
and
household
units of
production:
when their
unit of
production
shifted
from
the
community
to
the
household,
inheritance
practices
changed
accordingly.
Toward
a
political
economy
of
inheritance
An
adequate
explanation
of
inheritance
practices
requires
the
estab-
lishment not
only
of
the
regular
associations
among
forms of
devolving
340
property,
forms
of
social
organization,
and
behavior,
but
also
of the
structures which
produce
these
regular
relations
-
when
they
occur.
A
convincing explanation,
moreover,
demands that we not
only
describe
the
process,
but
also,
it should entail a
theory
capable
of
explaining
the
events
responsible
for the
process.
To do so
requires
a
knowledge
of
the structures and
mechanisms that
produce
these
events.19
In
order
to
make sense
of inheritance
practices,
and the devolution
of
property
more
generally,
one must examine more
than what first meets the
eye.
It
is
necessary
to understand the structure
of the formations
(household,
community,
and
social)
within which
these
practices
are
formed,
codi-
fied,
and contested.2"
Throughout
this
essay,
I
call the
social totalities
within which
Menno-
nites
are located
"formations." The
use of
"society"
to
denote such
enti-
ties
is avoided
on
the
grounds
that
it is
incapable
of
capturing
the com-
plexity
and
multiplicity
of social
arrangements
characteristic
of
any
empirical
case.
A
formation,
on the
other
hand,
refers to
a
spatial-
temporal
entity
within
which individuals
materially
and
ideologically
reproduce
themselves.
Every
formation,
as a
totality,
consists
of one
or
more modes
of
production;
only
one
mode,
however,
is dominant
at
any
given
time,
and the
formation
is identified
by
its
dominant
mode.
A
mode
of
production
is defined
as an articulated
combination
of
a
material
base
and an
ideological
superstructure.
The former
contains
the
structured
relations
of
production
and
distribution,
while the
latter
represents
the
shared ideas
which
provide
a
rationale
for the
existing
organization
of
the
economy
as
well as the
social
relations
among
its
members.
Within
each
formation,
the material
forces of
production
are
defined
as
the elements
of
production
(land,
instruments,
and
labor
power)
whose
combined
presence
is
necessary
for
production.
The
relations
of
production,
on the
other
hand,
are
defined
as
the relations
of distribution.
Indeed,
the
manner
in which
the elements
of
produc-
tion are
distributed
among people
corresponds
to the
way
in
which
the
products
are
distributed
among
the
formation's
members.21
The mode
of
production
consists
of
more
than
"forces"
and
"relations."
Ideology, polity,
and
economy
(structured
relations
of
production
and
distribution)
form
an
inseparable
organic
unity,
a
totality.
To
reiterate,
by
totality
I
mean
an
organic
and
dialectical
unity
of base
and
super-
structure;
ideology,
in other
words,
is embodied
in
the
material
struc-
ture
just
as
the
material
structure
is embodied
in
ideology.
The
rules
that
govern
inheritance
and
property
are,
therefore,
both
ideological
and
material.
Any
separation
of the
two is
done
for
analytical
reasons
341
and for these reasons
alone.22 Formations
constitute totalities with
different
scopes
and
are differentiated
by
the
adjectives
attached
to
them:
household,
community,
and social.
Any
formation
may
establish
relations
with
others,
with
the
same
or different
scopes,
but as
long
as
these
relations
do not dissolve its
structure,
it remains distinct.
This
argument
leads
me to
conclude
that:
1)
the
reproduction
of
individuals
takes
place
predominantly
within one
formation;
2)
formations
are
located within totalities
of
larger scope;
3)
every
formation
provides
the context
for
reproduction
of
the smaller
formation, and,
in
combina-
tion with the internal structure of the
latter,
determines its
conditions of
reproduction;
and,
finally,
4)
formations
have their
own
reproduction
requirements
that are
historically
specific
and cannot be known
a
priori.
Inheritance rules and
practices
are social mechanisms
that
con-
tribute to the
reproduction
of
a
formation;
therefore,
I
argue
that
one
should first understand the
economic,
political
and
ideological compo-
nents of the
formation's structure and then look for
the inheritance
rules that
support
the
formation's
reproduction.
One
cannot theorize
from the rule to the
structure,
as Habakkuk
did when he
claimed that
partible
rules led to
industrialization.23
I
show
that
inheritance and
the
rules
that
govern
it cannot
be under-
stood in
a
social vacuum.
I
argue,
then,
that because a
(social,
com-
munity,
or
household)
formation's structure
sets the limits and
possibil-
ities
for
the
range
of
inheritance
practices,
it
is
necessary
to be
precise
about
the unit of
production.
I
demonstrate that as
Alexanderwohl
community production
and
distribution
(nineteenth-century Russia)
shifted
downward to
the household
(twentieth-century
United
States),
so
did their
inheritance
practices.
Historical
background
Sixteenth-century
Anabaptists
faced
the
combined and
hostile
forces
of
feudalism,
emerging
capitalism,
and the
Roman Catholic
Church.24
Unlike
mainstream
reformers,
however,
Anabaptists rejected
the
state
church
and
often held
radically
divergent
views on the
nature
and
pur-
pose
of
private
property.
Collectively, they
formed
independent
congregational
communities,25
each of
which
claimed to
represent
a
"true"
Christian
way
of
life.26
Mennonites
took
their
name from
an
important
Frisian
leader,
a
former
priest,
Menno
Simons.
On the
matter
of
property,
he
sought
to
342
distance
himself
and
Anabaptism
in
the
Netherlands from
the
more
radical,
often
militant,
Anabaptism
of the
groups
who
had
supported
the seizure
of
cities,
communal
ownership,
and
the
establishment of
utopian
communities.27
Although
he
equivocated
and his
statements
were
not
always
clear,
Simons
defended the notion of
private
proper-
ty.28
Followers were
admonished
to limit
voluntarily
their
private
property
insofar
as it
undermined the
common
aims,
faith,
and
prac-
tices of the
community;
individual
self-interest
was
to
remain sub-
ordinate to the
interests of the
community.
The
objects
of this
world
belonged
to
God,
and
accordingly,
it was
one's
brotherly
duty
to
share.
Through baptism,
adults
made a
voluntary
commitment not
only
to the
church,
but also to a closed
community
of
believers.29
By
making
indi-
viduals
subordinate to
community
interest,
the
ideological boundary
of
the
Mennonite
community
was
strictly
drawn and
given
real as well as
symbolic significance
through
the
threat of
being
banned,
strict rules of
endogamy,
control of
language, regulation
of
dress,
and
related
social
practices.
Without
membership
in
the
community,
individuals or
households could be
excluded
from
access to
productive
resources.3'
It
was,
moreover,
through
compliance
with the norms of the
community
that an individual was assured a
position
within the
kingdom
of God
-
anyone
who broke the rules of the
"closed order" could
be forever
banned.
In
spite
of Simon's ambivalent
defense
of
private property,
the
community
was to be
homogeneous;
within the
community,
one should
find little difference
in
dress, wealth,
and
belief. James
Urry
has
cap-
tured the essence of what the closed
community
was
to be:
No man knew better than his
neighbor,
no man claimed to be
saved,
no man
criticized his brother
for he knew not his
own
worth
in
the
eye
of the
Lord,
and
no man exceeded the wealth
of his fellow brethren. What was
created
was a
communal
egalitarianism
in which all were
equal,
but all had
freely
chosen this
equality denying
another
existence. The ideal
life was the
farming
life,
and
pursuit
of rewards
beyond
those ordained
by community,
rewards
of
wealth,
office or
greater knowledge
was forbidden.3
Hence,
between the household
and the
community
there were
conflict-
ing
and
contradictory rights
and
obligations regarding property;
on the
one
hand,
one was
obligated
to subordinate
his material
interests
to
those of the
community,
and
on the other
hand,
the
community
could
not
make a claim
to household
property.
Though
they
were to
have a
community
of
interest,
they
were never to hold all
things
in
common.
Indeed,
much
of the
history
of
Anabaptism
(Hutterites,
Amish and
343
Mennonite)
can be
written as the search
for
accommodating
social
for-
mations
within which this
contradictory
relation between the
com-
munity
and household could
be
reproduced.32
A
violent
ideological
backlash and the
resulting
persecution,
combined
with the
rapidly
emerging
capitalist economy,
led
many
to
flee
early
in
the
history
of the
movement.33 And
for
nearly
three centuries
(1525-
1800),
in
the
shifting political
contours
of
East
Prussia,
Poland
(Royal
Prussia),
or West Prussia
(after 1790),
Anabaptist refugees negotiated
with feudal lords for usufruct
rights
to
land,
religious
freedom,
and
various
kinds of
exemptions.34
The
history
of the
Alexanderwohl
Mennonites has been
punctuated
by
migration
from
one
region
to another
and
by
profound
political
and
economic
change.
First,
they
saw the
transformation of the
Nether-
lands'
economy,
violent
political
upheaval,
the
Protestant
Reformation,
and
the
genesis
of
their
religious
ideology.
Next,
they
established com-
munity
formations
in
Poland and
Prussia
(ca.
1550),
where for
nearly
three centuries
they
wrested
religious
and
economic
privileges
from
feudal
lords. Dramatic
economic and
political
changes
in
Prussia led
the
Alexanderwohl
Mennonites
to abandon
the
region.
During
the
winter of
1820,
twenty-one
families left the
Prussian
village
of
Prez-
chovka
and
sought
still
another
compatible
site for the
reconstitution of
their
community,
looking
eastward,
toward
Russia,
and
away
from
advancing
capitalism.
Mennonites
in
Russia
With
the
annexation of
south
Russia
between 1774
and
1783,
Russia
incorporated
a
vast,
virgin,
unsettled
grassland
once
inhabited
by
pastoralists.
With
these
acquisitions
Russia had
by
the
eighteenth-cen-
tury
expanded
to
include
six-and-one-half
million
square
miles. To
safeguard
and
develop
the
region,
emissaries
were
sent
(1762)
on
clas-
sified
missions
throughout
Europe
in
search of
suitable
settlers.
Between
1765
and
1790,
Catherine
II's
administration
settled
75,000
colonists
on
more
than
one-and-one-half
million
desiatini;35
by
the
mid-nineteenth
century,
450,000
foreigners
occupied nearly
six
million
acres.
Among
the
mostly
German-speaking
colonists
in
southern
Russia
were
the
Mennonites from
the
Vistula
region
of
West
Prussia.36
Russian
officials
had
formalized
their
arrangements
with
the
Menno-
344
nites
in
a
Privilegium
(1800),
which
provided
for
religious
freedom,
military exemptions,
trade
and
industry
incentives,
as well
as land.
Among
these
privileges,
and
perhaps
the
most
important,
was
their
right
to
limited
self-government.37
From
the
beginning,
the
Russian
feudal state
specified
and
designated rights
to
property,
both common
and household.
These
were,
in
turn,
specific
and
contingent
upon
other
rights governing
the
politics
within and
between the
villages,
and
within
the
colony,
as
well as commercial
life more
generally.38
Settling
in
two
colonies,
Molochnaia
and
Khortitsa,
Russian
officials
and
Russian-appointed
Mennonite
representatives
promoted
the
Stras-
sendorf
settlement
pattern
and
a
non-commodity,
usufruct
relationship
to land.
Dividing
the
village
into
halves,
households
faced
one another
along
a
single
street.
Each was
allocated
approximately
175 acres
(65
desiatini),
and arable
land
for
grains
was
divided
into
strips
and
scatter-
ed
along
the
perimeter
of
common
pastures.
In
the
state's
specification
of
the
household's
relation
to land
it was
clear
that it
was to
be
granted
in "...incontestable
and
perpetually
inheritable
possession,
not
person-
ally
to
any
one
colonist,
but to
each
colony
as
a
whole,
with
every
family
merely
enjoying
the
use
of
its allotted
portion
in
perpetuity."39
Although
land was
distributed
to
individual
households,
the
colony
and
villages
were
to
supervise
its
distribution
and,
in
significant
ways,
its use.
Adjacent
rivers,
wasteland,
forest,
and lakes
were
assigned
to
the
villages
and
colony.
The
colonies
were to
set
aside
"surplus"
and
"reserve"
lands that
were
to be
given
to
future
immigrant
and landless
families.
Moreover,
craftsmen
(Handwerker)
were
provisioned
with
land
for
a
home
and
garden
site
as
well as
rights
to
the
community
pasture.
Occasionally,
village
officials
reallocated
land
to
compensate
for
unequal
access
and
differential
fertility.
Villages
were
governed
by
an
elected
council
(Dorfsamt)
and
mayor
(Schulze).
Above
them
was
the
district
office
(Gebietsamt),
headed
by
an
Oberschulze.4"
The
Mennonites
reestablished
in
Russia
their
congregational
com-
munities
which
were
based
upon
diverse
religious
affiliations:
Old
Groningen
Flemish
(Alexanderwohl
Mennonites),
Flemish,
and
Frisian.
These
affiliations
provided
each
congregation
with
a sense
of
autonomy
and
prevented
the
development
of
a
politically
centralized
hierarchy.
It
was
through
the
policies
of the
Russian
state,
however,
that
Mennonites
adopted
common
institutions
across
congregations.
One
of
the
distinctively
Mennonite
institutions
was
the Waisenamt
-
Widows
and
Orphans
Office
-
which
played
an
important
role
in
rou-
tinizing
their
inheritance
practices.41
345
Understanding village
and domestic life in
Russia
requires
that
one
examines
the social
relationships
that linked not
only
households
to
the
local
community,
but also to
the social
formation.
The
household
in
Russia was
indissolubly
bound to the
social formation
through
a
com-
plex
web of
village
self-government,
the church
and
the
Waisenamt.
Outside of this
web,
households could
not
reproduce
themselves.
The
village
council,
for
example,
taxed and reallocated
land,
administered
community
pastures,
built roads and
schools,
managed
a
granary,
and
controlled
the
movement
of
labor. The
household's
dependence
upon
the
community
in
matters
such as access to
land,
the
deployment
of
labor,
and
inheritance,
created the
conditions for
its
articulation
with a
community
formation:
an
articulation that
the
Alexanderwohl
Menno-
nites had known for
nearly
two
centuries.
Inheritance
practices
among
the
Mennonites are
comprehensible only
against
this
backdrop.
The
community
formation
and
inheritance
Although
Mennonites
were
granted
use-rights
to
a full
farm
(or
Wirt-
schaft)
the
Russian state
stipulated
an
impartible
rule
of
inheritance,
which
was
contrary
to their
partible
practices.
In
an
official
policy
(Ukaz)
issued in
1764,
the
state
attempted
to
regularize
relations to
the
land
among
otherwise
diverse
immigrant
groups
with
potentially
dis-
ruptive
and
conflicting
inheritance
rules.
In
some
areas,
the state im-
posed
the mir
(repartitional
tenure),
and
among
the
Mennonites
they
promoted
hereditary
household
tenure.
The
Ukaz
also
stipulated
a
rule
of
ultimogeniture,
established
the
type
and
amount
of land
allotments,
rules for
distribution of
chattel,
and
provisions
for
the
care
of widows
and
unmarried
daughters.42
In
a
strongly
worded
defense of
their in-
heritance
practices,
the
Molochnaia
colonists
wrote that:
We
are unable
to
depart
in
the
least
detail from
our
rules
regarding
inheri-
tance.
On the one
hand these
regulations
are
closely
connected with
our
religious
beliefs
and are even
based on
them.
On
the basis of
the
Letter of
Privileges,
we
view
our
entitlement
to our
own
inheritance rules
as a
definite
right.
We
wish
to
maintain
these rules
in
the
future
and are
not
inclined to
alter
them in
the
slighest
detail.
Every
departure
from
these
rules
under-
mines
the
very
basis
of
our
unity
and
contentment. This
would
rob
us of
material
and
moral
well-being
and
destroy
our
existence here.43
Among
the
responsibilities
of
the
Dorfsamt
and
Waisenamt
was
the
administration
of
the
inheritance
rules.
Though
the
Mennonites
were
allowed
to
follow
their
practice
of
dividing
the
estate
equally
among
346
children,
they
were forbidden
to divide the
usufruct
rights
to the
origi-
nal
Wirtschaft
(the
full farm
along
with the web of
use-rights).
The latter
rule of
impartibility
had
been mandated
by
the Russian
state.
The
Waisenamt became the
institution which
mediated differences between
the state and the Mennonite
communities.
The Mennonites
in
south
Russia established the
Waisenamt,
an institu-
tion
charged
with the care of
orphans
and
widows,
and
the
pre-
and
post-mortem
division of movable and immovable
property.
More than
a collection of inheritance
rules,
however,
the institution was far more
wide-ranging
in
its work. Elected
by
the
baptized
males,
several
men
were ordained as
Waisenvorsteher.
Regularly they
met
to
manage
the
assets
of the
orphans,
to
arrange
for the
loaning
of
money
from
these
accounts,
and to maintain the records.44
The
unsupervised
division
of
land,
the
home,
and associated farm
buildings
among
heirs was
prohibited.
Movable
property,
in some
cases,
was
distinguished,
and could be distributed
among
heirs. Some
movable
property,
however,
could not be distributed:
a
surviving
father,
for
example,
was allowed
to
keep
a
horse,
and a
mother a
cow.45
Soon
after a
death,
the
village
head convened
relatives and
witnesses to
establish
the value
of the estate and to
identify
liabilities.
After debts
were
paid,
the
property
was then
divided between the
remaining parent
and
offspring:
the
surviving parent
received one-half
the value
of the
estate,
while the
remainder
of the estate was
divided
among
the
children.
In
the absence of
an
heir,
the
Waisenamt
stipulated
the
eligible
beneficiaries
in
precise
detail. Once
the value
of an estate
was estab-
lished,
a contract
was
signed
and a
report
forwarded
to the
Waisen-
vorsteher. Adult
beneficiaries,
according
to the
rules,
were
to receive
their
inheritance
one
year
after
the death.
When a
single
parent
sur-
vived
and continued
farming,
a
minor child's
inheritance could
be
with-
held
with the
promise
that
it be
paid
into the
Waisenamt
fund at
a later
date,
without interest.
H. B.
Friesen,
a
Mennonite
farmer
who left an
extensive
diary,
de-
scribes
how this
worked
in
actual
practice.
'After
my
father
died,
a
change
was made
in
my parent's
land."
How
had the
property
of
H.
B.'s
parents
been
put together?
At his last
marriage,
H.
B.'s
father
married a
widow
who
occupied
and controlled
a
full
farm;
before
that,
the father
had
never had
an
opportunity
to
purchase
or inherit
a
Wirtschaft.
It was
not
practical,
according
to
the
impartibility
restriction
(this
seems
to be
348
men,
the
heirs,
guardians
of
children and those
with
power
of
attorney.
About
forty
men....47
Friesen
goes
on to
describe
that the
proceedings
did not
go smoothly.
Records
in
the
Waisenamt office
had been
lost,
participants
were dis-
satisfied and
the
proceeding
"... took a
different course than
they
had
expected....
The discussion
became
quite
heated so that
when dinner
was announced some
did not want to eat with us."48 If
this
remedy
failed,
the administrators of
the Waisenamt
intervened. And as a last
resort,
discontented
parties
appealed
to
the
clergy,
whose
decision
was
binding.
The activities
of
the
Waisenamt, however,
did not end with the
planning
and final
disposition
of
property. Through
the
control
of
property,
they
assured that the
mentally
and
physically handicapped
were
adequately
cared
for;49
the
financially
insecure
elderly
were
properly provisioned;
and that
orphans
were
appointed guardians
not
only
to oversee
the
devolution
of
their
property
but
to
supervise
their
upbringing.5"
With
its
far-reaching
influence,
the
Waisenamt
could
even remove a child
from the household
of a
surviving parent
if
it ruled the care and
super-
vision
inadequate.5'
Friesen
describes
the events
surrounding
the death
of
his mother
in
1846 when the children were
removed from the
home.
The
father,
too
poor
to care for his children
alone,
allowed the
Waisen-
amt to
place
them
among
"strangers."
Jacob
Martens,
from
Blumenort,
took
Helena,
who
stayed
there until she was
married.
My
brother David
stayed
at
home. Grandmother
had
kept
Justina
already
so she
stayed
with her
for
awhile.
Later,
sister Justina
went to
live
with minister
Epp
and his wife
in Blumenort.
Afterwards,
she
had to serve as
a cook
in
several
places
until she was married. Marie was
taken
by
Gerhard
Driedgers
in
Blumenort,
but that was not a suitable
place
so after
a few
years
she
was taken into
the home of Jacob
Miraus
in
Gnadenheim,
where
she
remained until
she
got
married.
Bernard was taken
by
Peter
Loewens,
Altonau,
where he
stayed
until he was of
age.:2
Even
remarriage
of a
surviving spouse
was
regulated
and confined
to
the
period
following
disbursement
of
property.
Otherwise,
special
per-
mission
had to be
granted
by
the
church and
the
Waisenamt.
The
Waisenamt,
together
with the church
and
the Russian
state
(which
legitimized
it),
distributed
land and controlled
labor
through
the
move-
ment of
orphans
and
dependents
from one domestic
unit
to another.
In
among
the Russian
state,
the
community,
household,
and
the indi-
vidual,
stood
village
and church
officials
with the
authority
to
intervene
349
in
daily
affairs and reorder
domestic
life in
significant ways.
Individuals
were
not
allowed to
dispose
freely
of their
immovable
property, espe-
cially
the
use-rights
to land. The
village
allocation
of scattered
arable
lands and the common
pasture
created
conditions which made
the
unmediated,
free
disposition
of
use-rights
a threat to the
village
ele-
ments of
production.
The Alexanderwohl
community
had
been
granted
land
by
the Russian
state;
it
could
not
reproduce
itself as
a
village
if
a
villager
at
the
time of death
could
freely
sell or
devolve
the
right
to
pasture.
To
avoid
this,
the
community
supervised
the
disposi-
tion of land.
Mennonite inheritance
practices
had to
account for
the
state's
requirement
to
keep
the
farm intact while
providing
at
the
same
time
for the
household's
need to
distribute the
estate
equally among
children and a
surviving
parent.
The
Alexanderwohl
community
formation had
reproduction
requirements
that
necessitated an institu-
tion
like the Waisenamt
to
mediate
individual,
community,
and state
interests. These
specific
conditions of
reproduction,
therefore,
resulted
in
their
unique
combination of
impartible
and
partible practices.
Were
these
inheritance
rules,
however,
simply
transplanted
to
the
United States?
Below,
I
show
that new
conditions of
production
led to
new
practices.
On
the move
again
Increasingly,
Mennonites were
drawn
along
with
Russia
into
the inter-
national
economy.3
No
longer
able
to
compete
with the
more
cheaply
produced
wool
from
overseas
beginning
in
the
1840s,
the
Mennonite
colonies
turned
rapidly
to the
more
profitable
production
of
wheat. In
1841
Molochnaia
farmers
were
grazing
107,895
sheep; by
1855
this
number
had
decreased
by
thirty-four
percent
and never
again
reached
the 1841
level. More
and more
farmers
devoted
their
acreage
to
grain:
in
1841,
between
thirteen
and
twenty
acres;
in
1850,
about
fifty-six
acres;
in
1865,
nearly
sixty-eight
acres,
and
in
1875,
approximately
ninety
acres.
"Only
during
the
late
thirties
and
forties when
arable
farming
began
to
supplant
stock-breeding
was
most of
this
land
divided
into
plots
of
varying
sizes
and
each
farmer
given
his
share
of
good
and
bad,
near
and
distant
land."54
Just as
quickly, they
also
faced
stubborn
social,
political,
and
economic
problems.
Among
them
was
landlessness
-
roughly
six of
ten
were
without land
by
1865.55
Already
in
Russia,
though
not
uniformly,
the
350
shift
to
private
farming
was
under
way.
Three
years
before the
Alex-
anderwohl
migration
in
1874,
the
land was
transformed into a com-
modity
and
the status of
Mennonites
changed
from "Settler
Proprietor"
to
private
farmer.56
In
his
discussion of
the
changes
and
reforms
(com-
pulsory
Russian
education,
language,
military conscription,
changes
in
land
tenure)
that
followed the
Crimean war
and the 1861
emancipa-
tion,
James
Urry
has
argued
that the
very
notion of
what he calls "con-
gregational community"
among
the
Mennonites was
in
jeopardy.
Though
thousands remained
in
Russia
and
prospered during
the
period
of
the Mennonite
Commonwealth,
others
sought
to
reproduce
their
community
formations
in
North and South America.57
Along
with other
railroads,
the
Atchison,
Topeka,
and Santa
Fe,
des-
perate
to meet
its
payroll, dispatched agents
around the world
to
recruit farmers.58 But not
just
any
farmers. The A.T.&S.F. had
just
com-
pleted
a railroad to
nowhere,
and
they
needed
capable pioneers
with
experience
in
grain production
and
cash.
Zealously
they
courted the
Mennonites. And after intense
negotiations
and
competition
with the
Burlington
Northern,
the A.T.&S.F. succeeded.
Ninety-eight
Alexanderwohl families arrived
in
south central Kansas
during
the fall of
1874.
In
eight villages
of
eight
to ten families
they
created
common
pastures
with scattered
fields distributed
among
resi-
dents.
Even
though
households received
title to
land,
they
built
their
houses
on and farmed land
that
they
did not
own. The
villagers
had
committed themselves
to
something
much
greater
than
private,
simple
commodity production
-
they
had committed
themselves
not
just
to
the
allocation
of
land,
but to a
comunity
formation,
one based
upon
community productive
and distributive
activities.59
Already
by
1880 there
were
signs
of a
struggle
to
p
-eserve
the
villages.
Increasingly,
Alexanderwohl
was
placing greate
emphasis
on the
private,
owner-operator,
household
producer.6a
Ey
1882,
a
flurry
of
land
transactions
at
the Marion
County
courthlouse
indicate that
villagers
were
rethinking
the matter
of land allocation
and on the
verge
of
entering
a
dramatically
different
period
in
their
history,
a
period
in
which,
increasingly,
the
private
household
was
to
play
the dominant
role
in
virtually
every aspect
of
production
and
distribution.6'
351
Household
and
inheritance
In
less than ten
years
the
Alexanderwohl
Mennonites
transplanted
their entire
community
to the Great Plains
of North
America,
estab-
lished
eight villages,
and
dismantled those
villages
as well as their
regu-
latory
institution,
the Waisenamt.
In
a
profoundly
competitive agri-
cultural
economy, they privatized production,
purchased up-to-date
agricultural
equipment,
and
began
the
expansion
of
their farms. And
as
the
political
and economic
winds
in
North America
shifted,
they
sought
accommodation
-
never
again
were
they
to call
upon
the
strength
and resources of
the-community
formation
to
undertake
emigration.
Theirs was a
final
commitment to the
private, independent,
family
farm.
To
understand inheritance
practices
in
this
period
of
their
history,
there
was no
place
to turn but to the
private
household and its
articulation
with a
capitalist economy.
The Marion
County Registrar
of Deed's intuition about the
radical
subdivision of land was corroborated
by
an
analysis
of the
land
records. West Branch
township
in
1885 had an
average
number of divi-
sions
per
section of
4.8;
but
by
1933,
that number had
dramatically
increased
-
by sixty-nine
percent
-
to an
average
of 8.1.62 But
land
records don't tell the whole
story.
To establish how this
actually
worked,
I
followed
thirty-nine
of the
eighty-seven founding
Alexander-
wohl households
through
the federal
and state
population
enumera-
tions
(1875-1930).
I
discovered that
upon
their arrival the
majority
of
these were
in
the middle
phase
of
their
developmental cycles.
The aver-
age
age
of
the household head was
forty years
and
the mean acres
per
household was
226,
which
steadily
declined to
half that size at
retire-
ment.
Those
households
established
between 1875
and 1885
(twenty-five
households)
were
followed
through
their
respective
life
courses. Their
land
holdings peaked
and
then
sharply
declined from
a
high
of
approxi-
mately
261
acres. The
typical
cycle,
then,
was
characterized
by
efforts
to
enlarge
the estate
in
the middle
phase
and then to
reduce
holdings
near the end.
Interview
data
showed that
households differed
widely,
both in
the
relative
importance
attached to the
often
conflicting
aims
of
keeping
the farm
intact
(unity)
and
provision
-
"fair to
all the kids"
-
and
in
the
strategies
used to
accomplish
them.
At one
extreme,
land
and
cash
descended
in
equal
parts
to
each
child. At the
other,
no
land
or cash
was
available to
reconstitute
viable
enterprises
or
reproduce
non-agricultural
households.
352
In
addition to the differences
in
the extent
of
provision
for
offspring,
there were also
discrepancies
in
the
form
in
which the
provision
was
made. Often children
took their shares
only
in
land,
which resulted
in
the
radical
subdividing
of the land
that
you
see on the
plat maps.
Other
times,
they
took
only
cash. Sometimes
they
had a choice
between the
two,
and
often their decision
was made for them
according
to
parental
discretion
and market realities.
In
other
cases,
land
was
passed
to a
single
heir
and the
remaining
were
given
cash.63
Still others
were
pro-
vided
only
a
dowry.
The
land records
showed
unusual subdivision.
Life course
data
reveal-
ed
that
they
built
up
estates
and that their
intent was
not to
keep
it con-
solidated.
But these
data,
like the land
records,
do
not tell the
whole
story. Only
intensive
case
studies revealed
the
process
of devolution.
I
discovered
through
interviews
with older members
in the
community
that
a rule
did not
govern
their
inheritance
practices.
Time
and time
again,
respondents
would
say,
at
most,
"my parents
did
what we
are
trying
to do
for our
children;
'be
fair to all
of the
kids."'
That
is,
house-
holds did
not
uniformly specify
a
precise
timing
of the
devolution,
the
heirs,
or the
nature of
the
property
to
be devolved.
Individuals
were at
liberty
to divide
the
estate
according
to the
economic
feasibility
of
doing
so;
the
ability
to raise
settlements
in
forms
other
than
land;
the
accessibility
of
non-agricultural
employment;
the
preferred
retirement
strategies;
the
health
and
longevity
of the senior
generation;
family
size;
the
degree
of
ideological
emphasis
placed
on the
importance
of
agrar-
ian
life;
and
numerous
related
factors.
The
Mennonites
had
not
known
lawyers,
wills,
land
registration,
and
probate
courts.
Recall
that
it was
only
in the
early
1870s
that
the
Mennonites
enjoyed legal
title to
land
in
Russia.
The
state
of
Kansas
had
joined
others
(especially
those
becoming part
of
the
union
after
1850)
in
codifying
the
common
law.
In
the
United
States,
there
had
been
several
recent
transformations
in
property
and
inheritance
law.
First,
in
the late
eighteenth
century,
rules
favoring primogeniture
were
abolished.
In
the
nineteenth
century,
the
position
of
married
women
as
heirs
and testators
was
considerably improved.
After
1850,
the
majori-
ty
of the
states
extended
to
married
women
the
right
to
own
and
control
all
inherited
or
bequested
property.
They
were
finally
free
to
"will to
whom
they
chose
and
daughters
could
finally
benefit
from
the
intestacy
laws
that
gave
them
a
share
equal
to
that
of
the
eldest
brother."64
However,
each
state
established
different
mechanisms
for
the
property
rights
of
women.
In
Kansas,
where common
law
was
353
recognized,
property
accumulated
after
marriage
went
to the
husband.
More
specifically,
the
intestacy
law
in
Kansas
stipulated
in
1890
that
where there was
no
will,
the wife was to receive
a half of
the real
and
personal
property.
In
the absence of
children,
she
received
all
property.
Before
1890,
the Alexanderwohl
Mennonites were neither
probating
wills
nor
following
common law.
After
1890,
there were
increasing
numbers of wills with
many
and diverse solutions
to the
problem
of
inheritance.65
Consequently,
the
unmediated freedom
to
devolve
immovable
proper-
ty
in
the United
States was not
(unlike
in
Russia where it
threatened
community production)
contradictory
to
privatized,
household
pro-
duction
articulated
with a
capitalist
social
formation. As the
unit
of
production
shifted
downward to the
household,
household
heads
need
not
concern
themselves with
the
possible
threat
to
village reproduction
when
devolving
property.
It was not
surprising
then
to find
that Men-
nonites
radically
subdivided
the land.
They
were
in
effect
asserting,
for
the
first time
in
their
history,
their
right
to
devolve
property
without an
external
demand
(the
state or
community)
to
keep
the land
undivided.
The
patchwork
of
land distribution
that
I
discovered
in
the
United
States
did
not
mean,
however,
that
the
Alexanderwohl
Mennonites
practiced
a
strictly
partible
model of
inheritance.
They
had,
afterall,
devolved
farms
intact to
children
and
provided
others
with
cash
and
gifts.
Both
impartible
and
partible
models
were
present
in
the
United
States,
which
had
also been
true
in
Russia.
Are we
then to
understand
their
inheritance
practices
in
south
central
Kansas
as
merely
trans-
planted
traditions?
I
argue
that the
structures which
produced
these
practices
were
very
different;
thus,
the
outcomes
only
appear
to be
the
same.
Conclusion
My
initial
inquiry
led
me to
believe
that the
Mennonites
had
brought
with
them
from
Russia a
rule of
partible
inheritance.
I
seemed
to
have
all
the
ingredients
for
such
an
understanding:
increasing
numbers
of
divisions
and
decreasing
size.
I
might
have
stopped
my
study
at
this
point
and
reported
the
facts
just
as
they
appeared.
The
plat
maps
and
land
records
were,
however,
misleading.
Instead,
I
turned to
the
histori-
cal
record
and
theorized
inheritance
as a
mechanism
that
reproduces,
or
contradicts,
the
economic,
political
and
social
relations of
specific
social
formations.6"
354
Recall that
the Russian
government
had
imposed
limitations on Men-
nonite inheritance
practices;
the
original
land allotments could not be
divided. The
Mennonites,
though
reluctant,
passed
their
immovable
property
to the
next
generation
intact,
but not
according
to a
system
that devolved
the
property
to
a
single
heir and
deprived
others.
The
Waisenamt,
modified
by
the Mennonites
in
Russia,
helped
mediate the
concerns
of the Russian
state and the
community:
to
keep
the
Wirt-
schaft
intact
and
provision
the heirs. The
Waisenamt's
interventions,
then,
guaranteed
that
the scattered fields
and common
pasture
of the
village
would not
be subdivided
among
the children
and a
surviving
parent
and
result
in
a
patchwork
land distribution
pattern
like
that
found
in
the
United States.
Inheritance
practices
under these condi-
tions
of
production
had to
reproduce
the
structure of
the Mennonite
community
within the
Russian
social formation.
This accounts
for their
unique
combination
of
partible
and
impartible practices.
But,
these
practices,
although
similar
in
appearance,
were not
simply
transplanted
to
the United
States.
First,
the
shift to the
household
as the
unit of
production
along
with
its
articulation
with a
capitalist
social
formation
meant that
individuals
could
independently
assert,
unlike
in
Russia,
their
rights
to
property.
This is
why
the
crazy quilt-like
land
distribution
appeared
on the
plat
maps
in
the
United
States.
The
Mennonites
were
fully
asserting
their
private
property
rights
in
relationship
to the
distribution
of land.
This
was a
unique
outcome
of the
disintegration
of the
community
forma-
tion
and the
emergence
of
private
household
production,
together
with
the assertion
of the
ideology
of
individualism
and
private
property.
With
the
shift
to
independent
household
production,
a
community
institution
need not
concern
itself
with
the affairs
of
inheritance,
since
the
devolution
of
property
no
longer
threatened
community reproduc-
tion
and
the sometimes
tenuous
articulation
with
the Russian
state.
The
household's
reproduction
was
dependent
upon
its
new
articulation
with
the
broader
United
States
social
formation.
This set
into
motion
its
own
logic
of
inheritance,
one
independent
of the
community.
Second,
in
the
United
States
the
unity-provision
problem,
found
also
in
Russia,
was
produced
by
totally
different
social
realities.
In
the
Russian
case,
the
need
for
unity
resulted
from
the
combined
forces
of
feudal
economics
(common
pastures,
scattered
fields,
community
granaries)
and
the
powerful
state's
requirement
of
impartibility.
The need
for
pro-
vision
resulted
from
the
Mennonite
ideological
emphasis
on
private
property
and
its
byproduct:
the
freedom
to
provision
property
to
any-
355
one. The
Waisenamt
mediated
the
competing
tendencies
produced
by
the
specific reproduction
requirements
of
a
community
articulated
with
a Russian social
formation.
In
the United
States,
by
contrast,
the
exclu-
sive economic force
of
competition
resulted
in
the need to
keep
the
farm a viable economic
enterprise,
thus
intact.
The
household's
emphasis
on
private property,
however,
generated
the need
to
provi-
sion
all heirs
-
no
institution mediated between the external
(capitalist
social
formation)
economic
pressure
to
unify
and the internal
(house-
hold)
need
to
provision.
The radical subdivision of the land was
pos-
sible
only
when the Russian state's
demand to
keep
the land
undivided
ceased.
In
the United
States,
capitalist
inheritance law and
private
household
production
combined to
facilitate the use of both
partibility
and
impartibility
in
devolving
land.
Mennonites combined
aspects
of
both
in
Russia
and the United States to
create the
appearance
that
they
had
simply
transplanted
old traditions.
In
reality
their
inheritance
prac-
tices were
reproducing very
different
social formations.
This fact
requires
that one
theorize
inheritance
practices
within the
formations
they
help
to
reproduce.
Then,
one can
examine the relation-
ship
between
inheritance and
related variables:
wealth,
the
rights
of
women,
cash,
demography,
and
labor
mobility.
These,
among
others,
may
facilitate
or
retard
the
reproduction
of the
concrete
social
forma-
tion in
question.
The
power
of the
Mennonite
community
in
Russia to
implement
its
unique
form
of
inheritance
can be
understood
only
after
it is
situated
within the
Russian
political
economy.
In
the United
States,
the
community's
power
to
enforce
these rules
was
undermined
by
the
logic
of
community
within
capitalism.
Notes
1.
Jill
Quadagno
and John
M.
Janzen,
"Old
Age
Security
and the
Family
Life
Course:
A
Case
Study
of
Nineteenth-Century
Mennonite
Immigrants
to
Kansas,"
Journal
of
Aging
Studies
1/1
(1987):
33-49.
2. I
conducted
intensive
fieldwork in
the
Alexanderwohl
community
from
1979
to
1981
and
intermittently
thereafter.
Later,
state
and federal
census
records were
combined
with
survey
data to
reconstruct the
histories of
the
founding
households
and
villages.
A
modified version of
the
method of
household
reconstitution
was
used to
map
the life
cycles
of
the
founding
households.
Extensive
collections of
diaries,
letters and
family
histories
were
used to
supplement
these
materials.
Thanks
to the
ever-present
scribe,
church
records
dating
back to
1775 often
con-
tained
invaluable
economic
and
demographic
information
as
well as
important
insight
into
politics
and
ideology.
In
reconstructing
the
relations to the
land,
probate
court
and
County
land
records were
combined with
the
A.T.&S.F.
railroad
356
land offence records. The
A.T.&S.F. land records
were
a
rich source of
data
on the
amount
of
land
purchased,
the
degree
of
indebtedness,
and
payment
schedules.
Using
these
records,
it was
possible
to establish
how
the
community
involved itself
in
the
purchase
of
land.
Life
histories,
village
histories,
household
reconstitution,
surveys,
and
government
records
were then
used to
construct several
detailed
case
studies.
I
draw
heavily
from
a
diary kept by
a Molochnaia
villager
from Alexander-
thal. Born
in
1837,
H. B. Friesen left an
unusually
rich record of
everyday
life
through
to the establishment
of the
Alexanderwohl
community
in
central
Kansas
and his death at
age ninety
in
1926.
Although
he was not a
member of the
Alex-
anderwohl
village
in
Russia,
his observations include references
to that
village
and
relatives there. This material
allows an unusual
opportunity
to
examine the
degree
to which actual
practices overlap
with those stated
in the
Waisenverordnung
(rules
of
inheritance).
This
diary,
in
particular,
provides
a clear
picture
of the
importance
of the
Waisenamt
-
Orphans
and Widows
Office
-
in
daily
life and
of
the
domi-
nance
of
community
institutions
in
the
regulation
of
domestic
activities.
3. The initial
research was
funded
by
the
National Institute
of
Aging
(NIA
AGO1646-03)
and
more recent
work
has
been funded
by
the National
Endow-
ment
for the Humanities
(FE-23259)
and a
University
of Missouri
Faculty
Research
Fellowship.
4.
In
my previous
work,
I'd reconstructed the
formation and
disintegration
of the
Alexanderwohl
community's production
and
distribution
activities,
beginning
with
the
Netherlands'
Radical
Reformation
of
the
sixteenth-century
and
ending
in the
United
States
during
the
early
twentieth-century. Again,
I
knew that
understanding
this
bewildering present,
this
patchwork
of land
distribution,
required
that
I return
to the
past
-
not to discover
some
unchanging
and
immutable traditions
but
to see
in
these
inheritance
practices
that the
Alexanderwohl
Mennonites
were
reshaping
their
past
in the
present,
reformulating
social
practices:
"their
present
as a
re-
arrangement
of
their
past
and their
past
as
a determinant
of their
present"
-
see
Eric
Wolf,
"Aspects
of
Group
Relations
in
a
Complex
Society:
Mexico,"
in Teodor
Shanin,
editor,
Peasants
and
Peasant Societies
(New
York: Basil
Blackwell,
1987),
46.
5. A.
H.
Habakkuk,
"Family
Structure
and Economic
Change
in
Nineteenth-Century
Europe,"
The Journal
of
Economic
History
15/1
(1955):
1-12;
John W. Cole
and
Eric R.
Wolf,
The
Hidden
Frontier:
Ecology
and
Ethnicity
in an
Alpine Valley
(New
York:
Academic
Press,
1974),
181;
Jack
Goody,
Joan
Thirsk,
and
E. P.
Thompson,
Family
and
Inheritance:
Rural
Society
in
Western
Europe,
1200-1800
(Cambridge:
Cambridge
University
Press,
1976);
Jack
Goody,
"Strategies
of
Heirship,"
Annual
Review
of
Anthropology
Vol.
I I
(1982):
3-20;
Susan
Carol
Rogers
and
Sonya
Sala-
mon,
"Inheritance
and
Social
Organization
Among
Family
Farmers,"
American
Ethnologist
3/3
(1983):
529-550;
Toby
Ditz,
Property
and
Kinship:
Inheritance
in
Early
Connecticut,
1750-1820
(Princeton:
Princeton
University
Press,
1986).
6.
McCloskey,
for
example,
has
commented
on the
problems
with
correlating partible
property
devolution
with
open
field
systems,
"In
England
the
chief
anomaly
is that
partible
inheritance
prevailed
not
in
the
heartland
of the
open
fields,
the
Midlands,
but
in
the
very region
where
scattering
was least
severe,
namely,
the
Southeast.
Thirsk
has
suggested
that
partibility
was more
widespread
than
this at
one
time,
and
believes
that
at least
in the
East
Midlands
there
is
evidence
of
partibility
causing
scattering.
Yet
in
the
five counties
of Oxfordshire
to
Essex,
in all
of
which
open
fields
occurred,
David
Roden
finds
'no
evidence,'
even
in the
thirteenth
century."
See
Donald
McCloskey,
"The Persistence
of
English
Common
fields,"
in
357
William
N.
Parker and
Eric
L.
Jones,
editors,
European
Peasants
and
Their
Markets:
Essays
in
Agrarian
Economic
History
(Princeton:
Princeton
University
Press,
1975),
104.
See also Rosamund
Faith,
"Peasant Families and
Inheritance
Customs
in
Medieval
England,"
The
Agricultural
History
Review
Vol. 14
(1966):
77-95;
Philip
J.
Greven,
Four
Generations:
Population,
Land
and
Family
in
Colonial
Andover,
Massachusetts
(Ithaca:
Cornell
University
Press,
1970);
Jack
Goody
et
al,
Family
and
Inheritance: Rural
Society
in
Western
Europe,
1200-1800;
Ellen
Wiegandt,
"Inheritance and
Demography
in
the Swiss
Alps,"
Ethnohistory,
Vol.
24
(1977):
133-148;
Robert
McNetting,
Balancing
on an
Alp:
Ecological
Change
and
Continuity
in a
Swiss
Mountain
Community
(Cambridge: Cambridge
University
Press,
1981);
Ruth
Behar,
Santa Maria
del
Monte:
The
Presence
of
the
Past in a
Spanish
Village
(Princeton:
Princeton
University
Press,
1986),
83;
Mar-
garet
H.
Darrow,
Revolution
in
the
House:
Family,
Class,
and
Inheritance
in
Southern
France,
1775-1825
(Princeton:
Princeton
University
Press,
1989),
69-85.
7.
John
W.
Cole and
Eric
R.
Wolf,
The
Hidden Frontier:
Ecology
and
Ethnicity
in
an
Alpine
Valley,
10.
8.
Toby
Ditz,
Property
and
Kinship:
Inheritance
in
Early
Connecticut,
1750-1820,
32.
9.
Susan
Carol
Rogers
and
Sonya
Salamon,
"Inheritance
and
Social
Organization
Among
Family
Farmers,"
535.
10.
Ibid.,
535.
11.
E.
P.
Thompson,
"The
Grid
of
Inheritance:
A
Comment,"
in
Jack
Goody,
Joan
Thirsk,
and E. P.
Thompson,
editors,
Family
and
Inheritance:
Rural
Society
in
Western
Europe,
1200-1800
(Cambridge:
Cambridge
University
Press,
1976),
328-
360;
Richard
M.
Smith, Land,
Kinship
and
Life-cycle
(Cambridge:
Cambridge
Uni-
versity
Press,
1985).
12.
John
W.
Cole and
Eric R.
Wolf,
The
Hidden
Frontier:
Ecology
and
Ethnicity
in
an
Alpine
Valley,
179.
13.
A.
H.
Habakkuk,
"Family
Structure
and Economic
Change
in
Nineteenth-Century
Europe,"
1. In his
landmark
study
of
Western
European
inheritance
practices,
Habakkuk
helped
to
set the
terms for
subsequent
debates
on
European
and,
more
generally,
agrarian
inheritance.
Habakkuk
took the
family
as
his
unit
of
analysis,
and
then
correlated
changes
in
its
structure and
behavior
with
patterns
of
land
transfer.
Where
preference
was
given
to
partibility
(division
or
provision
of
proper-
ty
among
all
heirs),
he
found low
rates
of
celibacy,
small
family
size,
low
migration,
and
early
retirement.
Where
preference
was
given
to
single
heirs
(impartibility
or
unity),
he
found
just
the
opposite.
Habakkuk's
conclusions
were
dramatic.
He
argued
that
inheritance
practices
ultimately
affect,
if
not
determine,
the
direction
of
development
of
industry:
in
partible
areas,
you
find domestic
industry,
in
impart-
ible
ones,
industrialization and
factories.
14.
Toby
Ditz,
Property
and
Kinship:
Inheritance in
Early
Connecticut,
1750-1820,
26.
15.
In
1976
Jack
Goody,
Joan
Thirsk,
and E.
P.
Thompson
assembled a
sweeping
col-
lection
of
essays, Family
and
Inheritance,
focusing
on
inheritance
practices
in
Europe
from
1200-1800.
These
scholars
have
set the tone
and
provided
a
new
language
for
the
current
discussion.
They
have
shown the
myriad ways
in
which
inheritance
practices
correspond
to
various
types
and
features of
social
organiza-
tion;
Marvin
Sussman,
Judith N.
Cates,
and David
T.
Smith,
The
Family
and
Inheri-
tance
(New
York:
Russell
Sage
Foundation,
1970);
Emmanuel
Le
Roy
Ladurie,
"Family
Structures
and
Inheritance
Customs in
Sixteenth-Century
France,"
in
Jack
Goody,
Joan
Thirsk,
and E.
P.
Thompson,
editors,
Family
and Inheritance:
Rural
Society
in
Western
Europe,
1200-1800
(Cambridge:
Cambridge
University
Press,
358
1976),
43;
Susan Carol
Rogers
and
Sonya
Salamon,
"Inheritance and
Social
Organization
Among Family
Farmers," 529-550;
Mark W.
Friedberger,
"Handing
Down the
Home Place: Farm Inheritance
Strategies
in
Iowa,"
Annals
of
Iowa,
Vol.
47
(1984),
539.
16.
Lutz
Berkner,
"Inheritance,
Land Tenure and
Peasant
Family
Structures:
A
German
Regional
Comparison,"
in
Jack
Goody,
Joan
Thirsk,
and
E. P.
Thompson,
editors,
Family
and Inheritance:
Rural
Society
in Western
Europe,
1200-1800
(Cam-
bridge:
Cambridge University
Press,
1976),
73.
17.
Toby
Ditz,
Property
and
Kinship:
Inheritance
in
Early
Connecticut,
1750-1820,
160-163.
18.
William
Roseberry,
Anthropologies
and Histories:
Essays
in
Culture,
History,
and
Political
Economy
(New
Brunswick:
Rutgers
University
Press,
1989),
30-31;
197-
232.
19. Morteza
Ardebili,
"The Structure
of Scientific
Practice,"
Unpublished
manuscript
(1990);
Russell Keat
and John
Urry,
Social
Theory
as Science
(London: Routledge
&
Kegan
Paul,
1982),
30;
Roy
Bhaskar,
Reclaiming Reality:
A Critical
Introduction
to
Contemporary Philosophy
(London:
Verso,
1989);
Ted
Benton,
Philosophical
Foundations
of
the Three
Sociologies
(London:
Routledge
&
Kegan
Paul,
1977).
20. William
Roseberry,
Anthropologies
and
Histories:
Essays
in
Culture,
History,
and
Political
Economy,
197-232;
Gavin
Smith,
Livelihood
and
Resistance:
Peasants
and the
Politics
of
Land
in Peru
(Berkeley:
University
of
California
Press,
1989),
11-28.
21.
It should
be noted at the
outset
that
I
depart
in
significant
ways
from
the orthodox
and
often controversial
understandings
of modes
of
production.
I
do
not believe
it
possible
to reduce
or
limit the
mode
of
production
to the
economic
base,
forces
and
relations of
production.
Societies are
not
mechanically
erected
on
different
economic
bases;
nor can
they,
in
a
similar
fashion,
be
distinguished
from
one
another;
see
Eric
R.
Wolf,
Europe
and
The
People
Without
History
(Berkeley:
Uni-
versity
of California
Press,
1982),
76.
Moreover,
change
does
not result
entirely
from
developments
internal to
the
mode of
production
(i.e.,
the
developing
forces
of
production).
22. Derek
Sayer,
The Violence
of
Abstraction:
The
Analytic
Foundations
of
Historical
Materialism
(Cambridge:
Basil
Blackwell,
1987),
84.
23.
A. H.
Habakkuk,
"Family
Structure
and
Economic
Change
in
Nineteenth-Century
Europe,"
10.
24. Jan
de
Vries,
The
Dutch
Rural
Economy
in the
Golden
Age,
1500-1700
(New
Haven:
Yale
University
Press,
1974);
Lambert
G.
Jansma,
"The Rise
of
the
Anabaptist
Movement
and Societal
Changes
in
the
Netherlands,"
in Irvin
Buck-
walter
Horst,
editor,
The Dutch
Dissenters:
A Critical
Companion
to Their
History
and
Ideas
(Leiden:
E.
J.
Brill,
1986).
25.
This
is
a term
that James
Urry
has used
to describe
their
communities.
26.
From their
beginnings,
these
various
Anabaptist groups
did
not
represent
a
con-
solidated
effort.
There
were
three centers:
1)
a
Zurich,
Switzerland
branch,
2)
a
North
German-Dutch
wing,
and
3)
a
South German-Austrian
contingent.
See,
Cornelius
J.
Dyck,
An Introduction
to
Mennonite
History (Scottdale,
Pennsylvania:
Herald
Press,
1981);
William
R.
Estep,
The
Anabaptist
Story
(Grand
Rapids,
Michigan:
William B.
Eerdmans
Publishing
Co.,
1975);
and James
Stayer,
Ana-
baptists
and the
Sword
(Lawrence,
Kansas:
Coronado
Press,
1972).
Views
on
the
proper
relations
among
the
state,
the
church
community,
and
private
property
varied
according
to
where the
offshoot
found economic
and
political
conditions
359
suited to
its
particular
needs. See Peter James
Klassen,
The Economics
of
Ana-
baptism,
1525-1560
(London:
Mouton
and
Co.,
1964).
The
Alexanderwohl
Mennonites
originate
with
one of
the more conservative
of the
Netherland's
groups,
the Old
Groningen
Flemish.
See David C.
Wedel,
The
Story
of
Alexander-
wohl
(North
Newton,
Kansas:
Mennonite
Press, Inc.,
1974).
27.
George
Hunston
Williams,
The Radical
Reformation
(Philadelphia:
Westminster
Press,
1962).
28. Menno
Simons,
The
Complete
Writings
of
Menno
Simons
(Scottdale,
Pennsylvania:
Herald
Press,
1974),
558.
29.
William
Keeney,
Dutch
Anabaptist
Thought
and
Practice,
1539-1654
(Nieuwkoop:
B. de
Graff,
1968),
149-150.
30. In
1527,
at
Schleitheim,
Switzerland,
various
factions of
Anabaptist groups
gather-
ed
to discuss
theological
differences.
The
"Brotherly
Union,"
a
document
listing
seven
principles
of
agreement,
was
negotiated
and underscored
their
unanimous
decision to
utilize the
ban: "The BAN
shall
be
employed
with all
those who
have
given
themselves
over to the
lord
to walk after him
in
his
commandments. This
shall
be done
before the
breaking
of bread so
that
we
may
all
eat from one
bread
and drink
from
one
cup."
For a
copy
of
the
"Brotherly
Union,"
see John
Friesen,
"Mennonites
Through
the
Centuries: From the
Netherlands to
Canada"
(Steinbach,
Canada:
Mennonite
Village
Museum,
1985).
Still
today among
the
Amish,
Hutter-
ite,
and the more
conservative
Mennonites,
the
Ban
figures
prominently
as a
mechanism for
social
control.
31.
James
Urry,
"The
Snares of
Reason:
Changing
Mennonite
Attitudes to
'Knowledge'
in
Nineteenth-Century
Russia,"
Comparative
Studies
of Society
and
History
25/2
(1983):
311.
32.
This
argument
has
been
fully
developed
in
an
unpublished
book
manuscript
by
Jeffrey
Longhofer,
Morteza
Ardebili,
and
Jerry
Floersch,
"Moving
Backward Into
the
Future:
Community
Persistence
and
Disintegration
Among
the
Mennonites."
33.
It is
estimated
that
seventy
percent
of
the
Protestants who
lost
their
lives
in
Flanders were
Anabaptists,
see
Patricia
Carson,
The
Fair Face
of
Flanders
(Belgium:
E.
Story-Scientia,
1974),
166.
34.
Horst
Penner,
"The
Anabaptists
and
Mennonites
of East
Prussia,"
Mennonite
Quarterly
Review
22/4
(1948):
212-225;
and
Horst
Penner,
"West
Prussian
Mennonites
Through
Four
Centuries,"
Mennonite
Quarterly
Review
23/4
(1949):
232-245.
35.
One desiatina is
equal
to 2.7
acres.
36.
Catherine
had
tirelessly
pursued
the
Mennonites,
and
by
1789,
her
agents
had,
with
the
promise
of
special
privileges
and
exemptions,
lured them
to south
Russia
and
established
the
exclusively
Mennonite
Khortitsa
colony.
See,
David G.
Rempel,
"Mennonite
Colonies in
New
Russia:
A
Study
of
Their
Settlement
and
Economic
Development
from
1789-1914,"
Ph.D.
dissertation,
Department
of
History,
Stan-
ford
University,
25-32;
and
Jerome
Blum,
Lord
and
Peasant
in
Russia: From
the
Ninth
to
the
Nineteenth
Century (Princeton:
Princeton
University
Press,
1961),
482-483. In
1803,
a
second
colony,
Molochnaia,
was
founded;
by
1811
it
had
nineteen
villages.
And
by
1868,
with
many
more
villages,
they
registered
in
excess
of
25,000
inhabitants,
James
Urry,
None But
Saints:
The
Transformation
of
Menno-
nite
Life
in
Russia,
1789-1889
(Canada:
Hyperion
Press
Limited,
1989),
287.
37.
Roger
P.
Bartlett,
Human
Capital:
The
Settlement of
Foreigners
in
Russia,
1762-
1804
(Cambridge:
Cambridge
University
Press,
1979),
72-73;
James
Urry,
None
But
Saints,
71-74.
360
38. See
Robert
McNetting's
book,
Balancing
on an
Alp
for
a
similar
description
of
how
these social
relations were
negotiated
and
constrained
throughout
the
history
of an
Alpine
community.
39.
David G.
Rempel,
"The
Mennonite
Commonwealth
in
Russia:
A
Sketch of its
Founding
and
Endurance, 1789-1919,"
Mennonite
Quarterly
Review
48/1
(1974):
6;
For
descriptions
of the
settlement
pattern
see also J.
A.
Duerksen,
"Przechowka
and
Alexanderwohl,"
Mennonite
Life
10/2
(1955):
76-82;
Adolf
Ens,
"Mennonite
Education in
Russia,"
in
John
Friesen,
editor,
Mennonites In
Russia:
Essays
in
Honor
of
Gerhard
Lohrenz
(Winnipeg,
Canada:
Canada Mennonite Bible
College
Publications,
1989),
75-99;
Henry
C.
Smith,
Smith's
Story of
the Mennonites
(Newton,
Kansas: Faith and Life
Press,
1981),
262;
Peter M.
Friesen,
The Menno-
nite Brotherhood in
Russia,
1789-1910
(Winnipeg,
Canada: Christian
Press,
1978),
183-186;
and Mennonite
Encyclopedia
(Scottdale,
Pennsylvania:
Herald
Press,
1955-1959),
Vol.
1,24.
40. On
village
distribution of lands
see,
David
G.
Rempel,
"The Mennonite colonies in
New
Russia:
A
Study
of
Their Settlement
and Economic
Development
from 1789-
1914,"
111;
and David G.
Rempel,
"The Mennonite
Commonwealth
in
Russia:
A
Sketch of its
Founding
and
Endurance, 1789-1919,"
7. On
village
and
colony
administration
see,
James
Urry,
None But
Saints,
71-74.
41.
Jeffrey Longhofer
and
Jerry
Floersch,
"Old
Age
and Inheritance
in Two
Social
Formations:
The
Alexanderwohl Mennonites
in
Russia and the
United
States,"
Journal
of
Aging
Studies
6/2
(1992):
93-112.
42. On
inheritance
rules
see,
David G.
Rempel,
"The Mennonite Colonies
in New
Russia:
A
Study
of
Their Settlement and Economic
Development
from 1789-
1914,"
103-111;
Roger
P.
Bartlett,
Human
Capital,
70-73;
James
Urry,
None
But
Saints,
61;
Jacob
Peters,
The Waisenamt:
A
History
of
Mennonite Inheritance
Custom
(Steinbach,
Canada: Mennonite
Village
Museum,
1985);
Jerome
Blum,
Lord and Peasant in
Russia,
377-385.
43.
Jacob
Peters,
The
Waisenamt,
6.
44. The Waisenamt
paid
interest into
the
accounts of
orphans
while
loaning
money
to
community
members.
45. We are restrained
by
a lack
of
data
(Mennonite)
to broaden
our
inquiry
to
gender
and account
for
why
men received horses and women cows.
46. The information
on
H.
B. Friesen is taken from The
Diary
and Recollections
of
H. B.
Friesen,
trans. John F. Schmidt
(Newton,
Kansas: Mennonite
Library
and
Archives,
1974),
42-43.
47. H. B.
Friesen,
Diary,
57.
48. H. B.
Friesen,
Diary,
58.
49.
The
Theilungsverordnung
from the Gnadenfeld
village stipulates
that,
"If
among
the
inheritors,
there is an unfortunate
one,
not
responsible
for his
will,
e.g.,
one is
feeble
minded, blind,
or
cripple,
etc.,
then it
is the
duty
of the
Waisenamt,
the
village
head,
the
spokesman
and
Curators,
to determine
to what
degree
the un-
fortunate
one is
incapable
of
gaining
his livelihood.
If he
is
destined to
lifelong
in-
capacitation,
he
is entitled
in
advance
to obtain a third
of the
parental
estate,
and
then to inherit his
equal
share with the other
heritors
of the
remainder;
unless
the
estate
is
adequate
to
care for
him without this
provision.
In
this
case it
is to be
determined,
and
announced
in
advance,
what
is his
portion.
At the same
time,
it
is
to be decided
where and
how his care is to
be
secured,
so he does
not
become
a
burden to the
congregation."
From
Theilungsverordnung
1850
(North
Newton,
Kansas:
Mennonite
Library
and
Archives),
Article
7.
361
50. H. B. Friesen's
sister died
in
1872 and
he was
appointed
guardian.
He
writes,
"Soon after
we were
through
sowing,
G. Jantzen divided the
property.
I
and
his
brother
were the
Guardians
of the
children.
Since Gerhard was
blind,
he
was
given
100 Ruble
extra
and
then also
got
an
equal
share with the other brothers and
sisters,"
H. B.
Friesen,
Diary,
48.
51.
In
conducting
fieldwork
(1990)
among
the Kleine Gemeinde
Mennonites
in
northern
Belize,
I
discovered
that the Waisenamt
was
being
reconstituted
in
order
to
deal with
a
poor
widow and
her
five children.
Again,
in a
self-governing
com-
munity, they
were
faced
with
having
to
arrange
for
the care of children.
52. H.
B.
Friesen,
Diary,
7.
53. Cattle
and horses
dominated
livestock
production
until
they
were
replaced by
sheep beginning
in
1820: Peter
M.
Friesen,
The
Mennonite
Brotherhood in
Russia,
182-185;
James
Urry,
None
But
Saints,
88-89.
The
Crown,
insisting upon
the
improvement
of
agricultural productivity
in
the
colonies,
assisted Mennonites
in
raising
a
quality
of
sheep
that
produced
a
superior
wool. The
government
encour-
aged
the
colonists and
the
large
estate owners to
produce
merino
sheep.
The results
were
dramatic;
by
1846 there were
7.5
million
merinos,
the
majority
in
just
four
provinces
of New
Russia: Jerome
Blum,
Lord and
Peasant in
Russia, 340-342;
James
Urry,
None But
Saints,
83-89 and 104-116. As
wheat
replaced sheep,
Molochnaia
colonists in south
Russia
prospered,
and soon the
Mennonites
were
helping
establish Russia as the
breadbasket
of
the
world
(1870s).
Repeal
of
the
British Corn laws in
1846 had stimulated the
production
of
grain
for
export:
Peter
I.
Lyashchenko,
History
of
the
National
Economy
of
Russia to the 1917
Revolution
(New
York:
Macmillan
Co.,
1949),
367-377;
M. E.
Falkus,
The
Industrialization
of
Russia,
1700-1914
(New
York:
Macmillan
Co.,
1972),
37;
From 1800 to
1850,
Russian
grain exports
increased
by
fifteen times
-
from
2.38 million bushels
to
35.7
million. And
by
mid-century,
wheat
was
the most
significant
of the
exports
-
sixty-
one
percent,
Jerome
Blum,
The End
of
the
Old Order in Rural
Europe (Princeton:
Princeton
University
Press,
1978),
141.
54.
David G.
Rempel,
"The
Mennonite
Colonies
in
New
Russia:
A
Study
of
Their
Settlement and
Economic
Development
from
1789-1914,"
110,
126,
242-243.
55.
See,
H. B.
Friesen,
Diary,
39;
James
Urry,
None But
Saints,
196-218;
Harry
Loewen,
"A
House Divided:
Russian Mennonite
Nonresistance and
Emigration
in
the
1870s,"
in John
Friesen, editor,
Mennonites
in
Russia:
Essays
in
Honor
of
Gerhard
Lohrenz
(Winnipeg,
Canada: Canada
Mennonite Bible
College
Publica-
tion,
1989),
127-136;
Adolf
Ens,
"Mennonite
Education in
Russia,"
75-81;
Henry
C.
Smith,
Smith's
Story
of
the
Mennonites,
265-266.
56.
Each
village
was
allowed to vote on
how
to
consolidate the scattered
strips
and
how
to
distribute,
among
the
landless,
the
remaining
colony-owned
surplus
lands.
See
James
Urry,
None But
Saints,
208.
57.
See
James
Urry,
"The
Russian
State,
The Mennonite
World
and the Causes of
the
1870s
Migrations
from Russia
to North
America,"
unpublished
manuscript
(1990),
13.
58.
The A.T.&S.F.
was one
among
seven
railroads
granted
ten
million acres in
Kansas,
or
one-fifth
of
the
state's land: see
Paul
Gates,
Fifty
Million Acres
(Ithaca,
New
York: Cornell
University
Press,
1954),
252. Of the
railroad
lands,
the
A.T.&S.F.
was
granted
three
million
acres.
Nearly
all of
this
(68%)
was
in
south-central
Kansas. The
state's
transfer of
land to the
A.T.&S.F. "...
consisted
of
every
alter-
nate section of
land,
designated
by
odd
numbers,
for
ten sections
in
width on
each
side of
the line
or
6,400
acres
per
mile." See
Richard
Sheridan,
An Economic
362
History,
1500-1900,
Part
IA,
(School
of
Business-Bureau of
Business Research:
University
of
Kansas,
1956),
83,
85. In
order to
promote
the sale of
land,
the rail-
roads
organized
land-immigration
offices
around the
world. Private
agents
were
then
hired to
promote
and
negotiate
the sale.
59.
Jeffrey
Longhofer,
"Land,
Household,
and
Community:
A
Study
of
the Alexander-
wohl
Mennonites,"
Ph.D.
dissertation.
Department
of
Anthropology, University
of
Kansas
(1986).
60.
It
is not the
purpose
of
this article to
explain
why
the
Alexanderwohl
villages gave
way
to
strictly
household
production
in
the
United States. This has been
done
elsewhere and is not
relevant to the
objectives
of this
essay:
See,
forthcoming,
Jeffrey Longhofer,
"Communities
Persisting
and
Disintegrating:
Mennonites and
Two
Counterfactuals,
Amish and
Hutterite,"
Research in Economic
Anthropology,
Vol. 15
(1993).
61.
Hochfeld, Emmathal, Grunfeld,
Springfield,
Gnadenfeld,
and Blumenfeld
villages
consolidated
their
scattered land
holdings
into
private
farms.
By
1885,
in
the wake
of
privatization,
more than half the
founding
families
had
moved from
Gnadenfeld:
See
Jeffrey Longhofer,
"Land, Household,
and
Community:
A
Study
of the
Alexanderwohl
Mennonites,"
134-162.
62.
Likewise,
the increased
subdividing
was reflected
in
a
thirty-seven percent
decrease
in
their
average
size
(from
145 acres to 92.3
acres).
In
1885,
section
twenty-two
contained
six divisions and
owners;
by
1933,
these
had
more than doubled to four-
teen divisions and thirteen
owners: See
Jeffrey Longhofer,
"Land,
Household,
and
Community:
A
Study
of the Alexanderwohl
Mennonites,"
165-170;
Jeffrey Long-
hofer,
"Partible Inheritance Practices and the Commercialization
of
Agriculture:
The Alexanderwohl
Mennonites,"
Paper presented
at
the 87th American Anthro-
pological
Association
Meetings, Chicago,
Illinois.
63.
See Jill
Quadagno
and
John M.
Janzen,
"Old
Age
Security
and the
Family
Life
Course:
A
Case
Study
of
Nineteenth-Century
Mennonite
Immigrants
to Kansas."
64. Carole
Shammas,
Marylynn
Salmon,
and Michel
Dahlin,
Inheritance
in America
from
Colonial
Times to the Present
(New
Brunswick:
Rutgers
University
Press,
1987),
83-84,
232-233.
65. At
present,
we are
examining
wills to determine the
extent to
which the
changing
rights
of women affected the
division
of
land.
In
particular,
we
are
looking
for
changing
forms and amounts
of
provision.
66. Even the
discovery
of randomness
in inheritance
practices
does
not
suggest
that
they
are without structural
conditions or determination.
Practices
that often
appear
random
or indeterminate are
themselves determined
by
the structure
of the forma-
tion
in
question.
Let us
contrast,
for
example, capitalist
with
feudal formations.
Within the
structure
of
capitalism,
it is the
ideology
of individualism
and the
institu-
tion
of
private
property
that,
in
the
final
analysis,
create the
conditions
for the
indi-
viduals to assert
their
private
wills.
The
farmer
in
capitalism
is
loosed
from the web
of
use-rights
and
obligations
that
pertain
to the devolution
of
property.
In feudal-
ism,
where the household
and individual
are
often subordinate
and land
tenure
is
normally
determined
by
a set of
proscribed
political
relations,
inheritance
practices
may
be
highly
uniform:
See,
E. P.
Thompson,
"The Grid
of Inheritance."
In
differ-
ent
formations,
then,
inheritance
practices
are themselves
determined
by
the
manner
in
which the
formation
organizes
property
relations,
and
the latter
is,
in
turn,
determined
by
the
formation's
structure:
See,
Colin
Creighton,
"Family,
Property
and
Relations
of Production
in Western
Europe,"
Economy
and
Society
9/2
(1980):
139.
Agrarian
producers
face
very
different
structural
conditions
when
devolving property, depending
on the
specificity
of their
formation
and
history.